Right Hemisphere Damage as a Result of Exposure to Slovene Humor--D. Reindl SpecGram Vol CXLVII, No 1 Contents The Tribesman--Aya Katz

Scientific Linguistics

Throughout its history, linguistics has progressed only when modelled after more naturally scientific disciplines. In the 1800s, linguists copied the terminology and methodology of botany and Darwinian evolution. At the start of the new century, following Durkheim's success in establishing sociology as a science, Saussure defined language as a social fact. Bloomfield later eliminated mentalism and brought scientific rigor to the field. Finally, Chomsky imported mathematics and logic, thus making linguistics explicit and quantifiable.

The time is now ripe for a further advance in the scientization of language study. To date, linguistics has taken little notice of theoretical physics, a field which is widely held to be primus inter pares among Naturwissensschaften. A careful examination of the fundamental tenets of physics indicates that several are applicable to language as well. For example, consideration of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle leads us to realize that it is impossible to simultaneously know both the synchronic state of a language and the direction of its drift (for drift as a technical term cf. Sapir 1921). In a way, this is a restatement of Saussure's synchronic/diachronic distinction, but our phraseology is more scientific than Saussure's and hence better.

Then there is relativity. The well-known equation E=mc2 has an exact correlate in the linguistic equation M=ws2, where M=the number of potential pragmatic meanings a sentence may have, w=the number of words in the sentence, and s=the number of situations of use in which the sentence may occur. Note that M will be a very large number for most sentences.

A number of numerical constants important in physics also prove to be significant in linguistics. Among these are Planck's constant, which is equal to the ratio between the number of phonemes in a language and the number of times a speaker will utter those phonemes during a 74 year lifespan. Also significant is π, which is equal to the average number of plural pronouns in all languages. (For those who wonder how such a number could be both irrational and transcendental, we note that language is itself irrational [cf. Norris 1990] and transcendental [cf. Hjelmslev 1943]).

Lastly, we must consider the possibility of a Grand Unification Theory, which obviously has nothing to do with unscientific Functional Unification Grammar and everything to do with GUTs in physics. The grammatical equivalents of the four fundamental forces are obviously the four fundamental grammatical categories, N, V, A, P, which are recognized as basic by all competent syntacticians. The easiest to unify are N and A (cf. the many analyses which mistakenly treat them as identical in some languages), which is natural inasmuch as they correspond to the weak nuclear force and electromagnetism, respectively. V corresponds to the strong nuclear force and broke apart from the electroweak force only a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. Thus far, we have been unable to formulate a GUT linking P to the NAV coagulation, largely because P has been conceived of in Einsteinian terms as a bending of grammar rather than a force proper. We are, however, hopeful that such a formuation will soon be forthcoming.

In conclusion, we would like to make clear that this paper is only a prolegomenon. We hope and expect that others will continue down the trail which we have blazed, as we ourselves intend to do, provided that such others, bearing in mind their enormous debt to us, begin every paper they write by acknowledging that they are only building on the foundation that we have created.

James Coffey and Mark Matney

Lockheed Incorporated

Right Hemisphere Damage as a Result of Exposure to Slovene Humor--D. Reindl
The Tribesman--Aya Katz
SpecGram Vol CXLVII, No 1 Contents