Sample Linguist’s Virtual Social Meeting Agenda—>The SpecGram Information Technology Elves™ & The SpecGram Culture and Socialization Elves™ SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 4 Contents On Homeopathic Linguistics—Trent Slater

Years ago, so he claims, Frank Quipley managed to decipher a certain ceremonial language Down Under without going through that other ritual that they do, um, ... down under. Is history about to repeat, or rather, peat itself?

Quipley’s newly discovered language has only fifteen words, an amazingly small number even among minimalist conlangers. Yet the combinatorial expressive potential of this language is further constrained by its highly restrictive grammar. Specifically, there are only two classes of grammatical sentences:

  1. S: Det N, and
  2. S: V.

Quipley reports that the obligatory determiner corresponds to a positive integer no greater than seven, speculating that the speakers had recent contact with the Klum Zee tribe. The five nouns have a well-defined hierarchy, representing stages in the evolution of their society. At the bottom is the weapon of their primitive ancestors. Next is a valuable gemstone, symbolizing a society obsessed with wealth accumulation. Above that is a vital organ that has clear cultural associations with love, obviously representing their transition to a more enlightened society that achieved peace and harmony. Next comes a garden implement, indicating a post-industrial society that has reconnected with the land. But the most revered noun was puzzling. At first it appeared to be a dire warning against a possible catastrophic future. Quipley later learned that its origins are too far in the past for that interpretation, though he will keep poring through the quatrains of Nostradamus to see whether his initial suspicion may have been correct after all.

The three lousy verbs are avalent, from the French for “they swallow”. One of them could be interpreted as “multiply by four”, which seems pretty useless if you can’t count past seven!

Each quartet of interlocutors would align with the cardinal directions, according to Quipley, a man who struggled to find east on a clear mountaintop on the department’s annual sunrise hike, though fortunately the grad students carrying his sedan chair had a good sense of direction. Conversation proceeds clockwise, suggesting that the ritual originated in the Northern Hemisphere. Quipley thinks that this may be because of the “Corliolanus effect” [sic]. By this point it was abundantly clear that the quality of Quipley’s research was circling the drain, so we tuned out.

We realize that Dr. Quipley is a man whose abilities are better matched to crushing candy or launching upset avian creatures, but to believe he hasn’t encountered this before is a bridge too far. Let’s call a spade a spade: this isn’t language! As we look up Merriam Webster’s definition of “language”, we say Don’t Believe It ... Or Do?

Sample Linguist’s Virtual Social Meeting AgendaThe SpecGram Information Technology Elves™ & The SpecGram Culture and Socialization Elves™
On Homeopathic LinguisticsTrent Slater
SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 4 Contents