Presidential Speech Disorders—James McCullough Gaugauh Kamadugha — JLSSCNC Vol I, No 4 Contents “Hoist ’er up and let ’er rip”: Androcentrism further Explored—Lynn Poulton

Is Manateean a Delphinic Creole?

The Manateean language, spoken by a dwindling community in tropical south Florida, has long been noted for its simple grammatical structure. Bickerton (1987) compared Manateean with other pidgins and creoles and found that it closely paralleled them in structure. The implications of this discovery for the species-specificity of the innateness hypothesis were obvious; for it, like all sensible people, we accept Bickerton’s Language Bioprogram Hypothesis as an explanation for the common structure of pidgins, then we must suppose that the bioprogram inheres not only in humans but in at least one other large mammalian species as well. On the other hand, previous work (e.g., Greystoke 1937, Link 1968) has demonstrated that the same innate structures as are found in humans do not inhere in great ape languages such as Mangani and Chimpanzee.

The problem with Bickerton (1987) is that it only suggested, rather than proved, that Manateean was a creole. If it is not, then the similarity in structure between it and human pidgin/creoles may be purely serendipitous. To demonstrate the validity of the suggestion, we must show that Manateean has in fact derived the preponderance of its vocabulary from some other language while developing a grammatical structure at odds with both its native structure and the structure of the vocabulary source language.

A comparison of Manateean vocabulary with that of Bottle-Nosed Dolphin, specifically with the Florida Keys dialect of Bottle-Nosed, reveals striking evidence of lexical borrowing. Two very obvious examples are the Bottle-Nosed words eeeeoooo&&& ‘algae’ and wa%wa^e! ‘shark’, which in Manateean are eeeugh and wa?a?ugh, respectively. Consider also the pronominal systems:

PersonBottle-Nosed       Manatee
3rd exclusiveq’aaaa’qu’w?qw?u
3rd inclusivehwii*ueeie;hiweye
3rd nonclusive        NAgh

Manateean borrowings from Bottle-Nosed naturally lost or altered the numerous unpronounceable (to Manatees) clicks of the source language. The third person nonclusive pronoun seems to be a relic from the Manateean language before Delphinic influence (the same morpheme is found in Dugong and in the now-extinct Steller’s Sea Bovine). Altogether, about 80% of Manateean vocabulary derives from Bottle-Nosed words which in turn are mostly derived from proto-Delphinic etymons. The other 20% clearly shows the original relationship of pre-Delphinic Manatee not just to the other Sea Bovine languages but also, more distantly, to the Otarid languages (but not to Walrus, which is an Elephantine member of the Pachydermic group). Yet in grammatical structure, modern Manateean evinces only trace resemblances even to other Sea Bovine languages.

The evidence points to one conclusion. At some point in the not-too-distant past, Delphinic influence within Manateean society led to the development of a Manateean Pidgin Dolphin, which eventually became the native language of the Manateean community. Given the inferior social position of Manatees vis-a-vis Dolphins, such a development was entirely natural. Although I invite dissenting viewpoints, I do not believe that any other explanation of the facts is possible.

Horatio Phocaena Kingston Marine Biology Institute

Presidential Speech Disorders—James McCullough
“Hoist ’er up and let ’er rip”: Androcentrism further Explored—Lynn Poulton
Gaugauh Kamadugha — JLSSCNC Vol I, No 4 Contents