Wednesday, March 30, 2011


uploaded by user jayrandall22011 to YouTube on 14 Feb 2011

The boys' Mother, herself a twin, blogs at Twin Mama Rama.

The temptation to put words in their mouths, at first overwhelming, fades the longer that this linguist watches and listens.

About:Com, under a banner ad for Strattera, sums things up this way:

One of the popular myths about mulitples is that they share a secret language, a form of communication known only to them. Terms such as idioglossia, autonomous language or cryptophasia describe the phenomenon of twin language, a fascinating concept that has intrigued researchers and parents alike. However, it's actually very rare for twins to develop a true "language," and usually only in cases of extreme isolation.
In trailblazing fashion, the author reduces the phenomenon to "incorrect" mimicry.  As opposed to your correct mimicry.  But that goes without saying.  Actually, I've read that -- at least in older twins -- cryptophasia is more about reinforcing the language of their other, their other self, their twin.  Not a secret language, not an out-and-out mimicry of more mature speakers.

This video, though, despite being an example of such an abstracted form of "secret" conversation, is hardly secret at all.  It's so close to being understandable -- from that mimicry point of view -- that it's a bouffonnerie of a linguistic striptease. 

*** ((( ***  (((  ***  (((  ***  (((  ***  (((  *** ((( *** ((( *** ((( *** ((( *** (((

Je divague... je dis vague... jeudi vague...

We're never satisfied with language as accretion.  Instead, we (adults) play at finding worth only at genesis --

George Bernard Shaw offered a reward to the inventor of new set of characters, independent of any extant alphabets, that successfully represented every sound in the English language. In 1958, as a provision of his will, a committee selected a submission;  Four years later, Penguin books published an edition of Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion with English text in traditional font on the left hand page and the Shaw phonetic alphabet on the facing right hand page:

I've always enjoyed Raynor's Ragbag and his take on Poul Anderson's uncleftish beholding *:

one of my sixteern recurring fantasies involves a world where, in 1066 harold the second was able to defeat william “the bastard” and those pesky normans had to retreat back to france and bake baguettes with their salty tears. there’s grade-a babes in this fantasy too, but let’s not get into that now.

at any rate, in a world where english never got jiggy with norman french nor any other romance language, how would our mother tongue sound? fortunately for you and i, we don’t need to strain too hard with this thought experiment because sci-fi author poul anderson has done all the work for us. in his short piece “uncleftish beholding,” he rewrites the first few principles of atomic theory using only words of germanic origin. it is—to say the least—a trip. it starts like this:

For most of its being, mankind did not know what things are made of, but could only guess. With the growth of worldken, we began to learn, and today we have a beholding of stuff and work that watching bears out, both in the workstead and in daily life.

The underlying kinds of stuff are the *firststuffs*, which link together in sundry ways to give rise to the rest. Formerly we knew of ninety-two firststuffs, from waterstuff, the lightest and barest, to ymirstuff, the heaviest. Now we have made more, such as aegirstuff and helstuff…

* Uncleftish Beholding (1989) is a short text written by Poul Anderson. It is written using almost exclusively words of Germanic origin, and was intended to illustrate what the English language might look like if it had not received its considerable number of loanwords from other languages, particularly Latin, Greek and French.

The text is about basic atomic theory and relies on a number of word coinings, many of which have analogues in modern German. The title "uncleftish beholding" calques "atomic theory".

Me? I don't mess much with accretion; No, I bury you in attribution...  Still, I don't doubt that it's all just a bunch of da!

On the serious side of academics, there is true excitement to be had in things like the "discovery" of the Koro language, for instance. I guess it's best said to be a heretofore "undescribed" language. Here is an interview of two of the National Geographic fellows from the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, Dr. Greg Anderson and Dr. K. David Harrison, who "discovered" Koro in northeastern India.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Haddock Corporation's newest dictate: Anonymous comments are no longer allowed. It is easy enough to register and just takes a moment. We look forward to hearing from you non-bots and non-spammers!