Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The mystery of language

Just as there are real human languages (French, Chinook, Burushaski, etc., just to name the best known) and imaginary human languages (the most famous of which is Psalmanazar's Formosan), there exist real animal language, (the language of crows, for instance) and imaginary animal languages (among which one can cite the language of Swift's Houyhnhnm and that of Edouard Chanal's sea lions). To these, we must add the dog language found in Chapter 13 of Sylvie and Bruno.

Lewis Carroll provides a corpus of nine sentences that allows us to identify eighteen different words, whose meaning one can discover thanks to the translations he provides. (It is somewhat curious to note that Swift also reveals only seventeen words of Houyhnhnm to us--but leaves the meaning of five of them uncertain.)

—Raymond Queneau, from “On Some Imaginary Animal Languages & On the Dog Language in Sylvie and Bruno in Particular”

(From L.G. Thos.)

II. Sine-wave speech

(From Dzyd Sarah)


zsl.ΩΩΩ t gb 1k `
M a111q61

—Infant at keyboard, 12/3/08

The Mystery of Language,” as I understood it, 11/30/90

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Blogger Mollie said...

Is that your infant's work? If so, could he explain to me how he found the "special objects" palette? I can never call it up when I need to insert, oh, an omega, for instance.

10:53 AM  

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