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Complete Works of Metalleus

From:Ed Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 29, 1999, 1:51
I apologize if this has been posted here before; but I love this
stuff.  His notes on Moundsbar are either (a) a brilliant bit of
conlanging, or, if you prefer, (b) brilliant field research that
should stimulate all of our imaginations. :)

I understand that Metalleus's real name is Ken Miner.

+ Ed Heil ---------------------- +
|    "What matter that you understood no word!       |
|    Doubtless I spoke or sang what I had heard      |
|           In broken sentences."  --Yeats           |


                         MORE ON MOUNDSBAR

      My title is, despite its melisonance, not quite apt, since my
 previous note on this strange language, published in the journal
 _Quaestio_, was in error in almost every respect.  Afterthought
 prompts the conclusion that this was due to my having obtained most
 of the data by telephone.

      In any event it turns out that the many vowel phones of
 Moundsbar can be wrestled down to seven vowel phonemes: an open
 central unrounded, written /a/, two close back rounded, two close
 front unrounded, and two central vowels, a higher and a lower,
 which can only be described as square.  Examples follow:

      _mi_      'one juju bean'
      _me_      'he flies up'
      _su_      'he flies down; two juju beans'
      _so_      'so?'
      _sa_      'mother (son or daughter speaking)'

      Especially important is the distinction among /o/, /0/, and

      _kpo_     'pigs; linguists'
      _kp0_     'he keeps pigs; he is an informant'
      _kp+_     'he has much pudding'

      Apertures for these last three vowels are shown below:

      \     /             \     /             \     /
      O     O             O     O             O     O

         ^                   ^                   ^
         o                   0                   +

      (Though I am not a physical anthropologist it is hard to
 the fact that younger Moundsbarians have no ears.  This is due to
 rather severe nature of topicalization; see my earlier article.)

      In addition to the seven vowel phonemes there is a nasal
 which I write as /N/.  Its two principal allophones are shown below.

      \     /             \     /
      O     O             O     O

         ^                   ^
         N                  /\/


      _dNk_          'they (pl) walk'
      _tNk_          'how many string-shaped avocado peelings?'

      My next note on Moundsbar will treat the (controversial)
 pulmonic ingressive uvular trill, or "voiced snore."  If, that is,
 my funding holds out.

                               - Metalleus


                     THE VOICED SNORE DEBUNKED*

      I promised, in my last note, now to discuss that feature which
 has made Moundsbar such a catchword among students of exotic
 languages (hod-carriers and sheet-metal workers being notably less
 concerned with it), the so-called "voiced snore."  "So-called" I
 say, because it has turned out to be perhaps the rankest hoax to be
 put over on the scholarly community since Cognitive Spelling, or
 the smoking of oven-dried banana peelings in the late seventies.

      Let us face facts.  There are, essentially, only two ways in
 which a pulmonic ingressive uvular (properly, velic) trill can
 possibly be voiced.  For if the vocal cords are approximated during
 its production, they are doomed.  Indeed, in December of last year,
 the Nepalese phonetician Ramawatar Dhati attempted it, and
 according to reports, swallowed his own larynx.  Normal voicing,
 then, is definitely out.  Forget it.  Kiss it off.  There remains
 either vibration of the lips during ingression, against which the
 laws of physics amass themselves in galloping herds, or a jaw-harp
 may be twanged against the upper incisors.  Any other expedient
 would make breathing an accomplishment of the highest order, let
 alone anything we might call speech.

      Nonetheless, there you have it; and since the phoneme
 definitely exists in the language, though we do not know what it
 is, I propose that we symbolize it as /5/ (there is no need, you
 will recall, for numeral symbols in Moundsbar, the first twenty-
 five numeral words being taboo, so we may as well use them for
 something else).  We will say that this phoneme has the
 *underlying* properties that a voiced snore would have, if there
 were any such sound; there are many precedents for this in
 Classical Phonology, and if this is not the best possible analysis,
 it definitely beats whatever is in second place.

      We (you and I) have now described the Moundsbar syllabics,
 including /N/, and the consonant /5/; the sound system up to now:

      i    u         m    N         kp

      e    o         s

      0    +         5


                                    - Metalleus

 *The first token of "phonemes" in my previous note should have been


                    PARABLE OF THE TWO KINGDOMS

      Two kingdoms had been at war for thirty years, but the time
 came when the crown prince of one kingdom fell in love with the
 vizier's daughter of the other kingdom.

      Now these two had roughly the worldly sophistication of your
 average pair of iguanas, and they said, "Lo, we will teach our two
 kingdoms to speak the same language, and then they will understand
 each other and will be at peace."  So they cast about for a
 suitable, neutral language and eventually decided upon Ethiopian,
 because most of its vowels were schwa, and they reasoned, not
 wholly lacking in prudence, that "Anyone who can't pronounce schwa
 can't pronounce anything."

      But while attending to schwa the crown prince and the vizier's
 daughter overlooked the inhibiting effect upon the average citizen
 of deponent verbs and object participles.  In fact, when the people
 of the two kingdoms discovered that their new language had deponent
 verbs and object participles, they seized the unfortunate youths
 and shoved them off the edge of a cliff.

      Then they resumed their fighting.

 ANALYSIS: If the two kingdoms had learned the same language and
 understood each other, they probably would have fought even harder
 than they did.

                               - Metalleus



      *In this note topicalization will mean the simple designation
 of what the speaker is talking about.  To those enemies of clarity
 who object to this, I say, Poo.

      As is well-known by now, modern Moundsbar, cursed with perhaps
 the most rigid word-order known to us, not only disdains movement
 rules, but actively pursues them with an eye to their destruction.
 As a result, shouting, accompanied by a tensing of the facial
 muscles, is the most common means of foregrounding a constituent in
 this language, bolstered on certain occasions by the severer
 device of grasping the intended hearer by the ears and lifting
 slightly.  This second strategy is rarely needed other than
 in speaking to children, however, since adult Moundsbarians have
 acquired the ability to watch each other's lips carefully in order
 to distinguish the various vowels, and under these conditions it is
 hard to miss the facial tensing just mentioned.

      This of course raises the question of topicalization in the
 written language.  At earlier stages of both the spoken and the
 written language, a constituent could be moved to the extreme left,
 slamming it into a major juncture and giving rise to various
 particles.  This is still possible in the more archaic written
 styles; however very few Moundsbarians can read and write today,
 probably in part a result of their having acquired the cathode-ray
 tube before they had completely mastered agriculture.  Those few
 who are literate usually do not read aloud, in fear of losing their
 lives by appearing to move constituents.

      Constituents are backgrounded, or removed as it were from the
 spotlight, by deleting them.  This may include entire predicates,
 resulting in sentences which convey no new information whatever,
 other than underlyingly.  This is either good or bad, depending on
 one's linguistic theory; the Moundsbarians themselves do not have
 linguistic theory and thus it is not surprising that they have not
 been heard to express a viewpoint on the matter.  One of my older
 informants suspended his ritual insults long enough to opine that
 in general there *is* no new information.  Make of this what you

      Being double-parked at the moment, I am unable here to go into
 the question of the origin of the Moundsbarian fear of movement
 rules.  Comparative evidence would be of help, and despite the
 vehement protests of the peoples involved, there are a number of
 languages in the area related to Moundsbar,  several of which
 appear to have movement rules.  When I understand all this, I will
 let you know.

                          - Metalleus

 [I have received inquiries about further notes by my colleague
  Metalleus on the Moundsbar language; unfortunately in the late 20th
  century there is almost nothing too absurd to be taken seriously,
  fear that there may be even more misunderstandings than I have been
  made aware of forbids the issuance of more of the Moundsbar
  results, at least until I can figure out how to prevent the stuff
  showing up as footnotes in _Linguistic Inquiry_. -KM]


                           THE INFORMANT

      It was Scott's first field experience, so his professor was
 with him to assure nervousness.  The informant, who had one massive
 eyebrow extending all the way across his forehead, glared at them
 across the table.  Scott pressed the record button and surveyed his
 Swadesh list.

      "All right, Mr. Pematesit, how do you say 'one'?"

      The informant raised his eyebrow.


      The professor frowned as Scott carefully transcribed "w^n" and
 added, in parentheses, "rising intonation."

      "Ah, wait a minute, Scott."  Then to the informant: "Yes, Mr.
 Pematesit, how do you say 'one'?"

      The informant stared.

      "One," he slowly replied, with a look of incredulity.

      Scott inserted "or falling" between "rising" and "intonation."

 The professor closed his eyes momentarily, as professors will do

      "In your _language_, Mr. Pematesit; how do you say 'one' in
 your language?"

      "In Basilewe?  Oh."  Mr. Pematesit looked somewhat more
 cooperative.  After a moment: "One what?"

      "Aha," cried Scott, beginning to write.

      "No, no -- I think we need to put the number words in a frame.
 Pick a noun from the list."

      "Oh, right.  Okay, how do you say 'one man'?"

      This the informant pondered for some time.  Finally he said,

      "That doesn't make any sense."

      Scott and the professor looked at each other.

      "Unless you mean a prisoner.  That's _bakje_.  Prisoner.  You
 win him, like."

      "Mr. Pematesit," murmured the professor, sensing the situation
 slipping out of control, "can you count for us, slowly, from one to
 ten?"  Scott readied his pencil, grimly.

      "One," began their antagonist, opening his eyes widely and
 extending his thumb.  "Two..."

      "Stop," ordered the professor, seizing Scott's hand in

      "Professor," said Scott, "I hate to ask this..."

      "Go ahead, my boy.  Do you see what we are learning so far?"
 He laid a consoling hand on his student's shoulder.

      "Yes!" replied Scott, excitedly.  "The Basilewes borrowed
 their numbers from the British."

      "No," said the professor firmly.  "We are learning that
 intelligence is inequitably distributed across members of all
 cultures equally.  Now then, Mr. Pematesit: can you count for us,
 in your language, from one to ten?"

      "Yes," responded the informant, now smiling broadly.  Several
 moments passed.  Scott poised his pencil.  The professor stared at
 the table.  After about thirty more seconds there was a soft click,
 followed by a papery whirring sound.

      "Your tape ran out," observed the informant, helpfully.

                     - Metalleus



 *This manuscript was found in an empty xerox-paper box at Harvard
  University.  Within the history of linguistic science we believe it
  dates from the early medieval period, but we do not really care

      Assemble a judicious amount of grammar, preferably English
 grammar since you're aiming at readers of English.  (If you feel
 there might be a market for linguistic theories written in Cebuano,
 by all means, give it your best shot.)  Be sure to include passive
 constructions, accusative-with-infinitive constructions, and
 constructions with front-shifting.  Leave everything else to future
 research (don't worry, you'll never have to actually do it).

      Set up two levels of linguistic representation; call them
 Level 1 and Level 2, or even better, Level Alpha and Level Beta.
 This is to divide your explicanda into two conceptual domains so
 you can let one explain the other.  Leave these levels and all
 constructs supporting them undefined; these will be your
 Theoretical Primes.  Define everything else, however, not only as
 rigorously as possible but using as many symbols from the predicate
 calculus as you can understand.

      Be sure to leave undefined the notion "mu."  Now make "mu" a
 unit at both undefined levels.  For each "mu" use ordinary English
 spelling, but in upper case letters on one level, and in lower case
 letters on the other.  Use abbreviations with upper case; for
 example ERG, PRO, +ITAL for "ergative," "pronominal," "borrowed
 from Italian."

      From this point on you need a graphics expert.  Draw guitar
 strings (don't call them that, of course) from units on one level
 to units on the other level.  Count and classify the various
 arrangements of strings you need for the amount of grammar you
 began with; then pronounce all other logically possible
 arrangements of strings forbidden by Universal Constraints.
 Give each constraint a handy name, such as "The Adjustable Bridge
 Constraint," "The Open-String Pull-Off Constraint."  Always
 capitalize and use "the" with constraints.

      At this point it will be proper, though not absolutely
 necessary, to bung in a bit of data from other languages.  Since
 ultimately theories like yours can be constructed only by trained
 linguists who speak natively the languages they are examining,
 frankly, the Second Coming will be upon us well before you'll
 really have to think seriously about other languages.  Besides, you
 have this neat argument:

           Premiss 1:     If my theory won't account for English,
                          then it won't account for all languages.

           Premiss 2:     My theory won't account for English.

           Conclusion:    Bingo.

      With regard to marketing your theory, this is a cinch because
 of the way the academic world works.  Your theory won't work, even
 for English, right?  That's a foregone conclusion.  But for twenty
 or thirty years, other people will make such a good living patching
 it up that they'll praise you as a genius even while they're
 bashing the daylights out of you, since without you, where would
 they be?

      Make occasional references to Kuhn.

                               - Metalleus


                       MOUNDSBAR CONNECTIONS

      On the isle of Dolop, off the coast of Gwap, lies the tiny
 community of Pif.  However, we know nothing about it.

      Turning to Moundsbar, there are at least three languages
 related to it, Aro, Sorno and Koro.  Aro is spoken by a few hundred
 souls in an enclave in the "Fan" district of Richmond, Virginia;
 Sorno has been extinct since the third century but was spoken on
 Guam and Saipan in the last years of the Roman Empire, though you
 would never know it from Roman history; no speakers of Koro have
 been located but a Koro language must be hypothesized to account
 for certain telegrams received through the years by the
 Moundsbarians which they were unable to read.

      Moundsbar /kp/ corresponds to /p/ in Aro, /k/ in Sorno, and
 /h/ in Koro.  As we know, anything can become /h/, and /h/ can
 become nothing; thus *h becomes nothing in Aro, /s/ after a glottal
 stop in Koro (or maybe the other way around), and /5/ everywhere in
 Moundsbar.  Moundsbar /N/ surfaces as /m/ after another consonant
 except /p/ in Koro, either /n/ or /m/ in Aro other than before a
 non-nasal consonant where it becomes mere prenasalization, except
 in a stressed syllable, and a ticket to Pasadena in Sorno.  As for
 vowels, they are poorly understood.

      Since Aro has a movement rule, we set it up for the proto-
 language.  It is easier for three languages to lose the same thing,
 than for a single language to acquire a marked feature at the
 expense of a family universal.

      Naturally the Sorno evidence has special importance, since it
 is the oldest attested member of the family.  However, everything
 we know about it comes from Higgins, who believed that Sorno was
 the language of the Voynich manuscript;  Higgins also believed that
 the Apostle Paul reached Guam, so there are limits to what you can
 do with Higgins.

      This is all I know about the genetic relationships of
 Moundsbar to date.  Needless to say, the Moundsbarians will have
 none of it, insisting that their language was given to them by
 Hercules as a punishment for making clothing out of two different
 kinds of yarn.  In these seas of ignorance, science splashes on.

                          - Metalleus



      The recent scarcity of reports on the linguistic _rara avis_
 Moundsbar will, I am sure, be understood by all upon perusal of
 the present communique; indeed I have placed myself, as the reader
 will see, in certain bodily danger in order to update the matter.

      The existence of the curious phoneme /5/, once erroneously
 termed a "voiced snore," and of the square vowels in particular,
 persuaded recent researchers that their uniformitarian assumptions,
 triumphant as they had been thus far in our noble discipline,
 must be suspended in the case of Moundsbar.

      Their idea was, essentially, that the Moundsbarian speech
 apparatus must be different from that commonly encountered.  This
 idea was at first greeted with derision by the scholarly community,
 but once assurance was given that no one was saying the
 Moundsbarians were inferior, merely that they were different,
 opposition waned.  Desiring to show themselves second to none in
 the celebration of diversity, Higgins and his students obtained
 several grants, and eventually spent one of them on the problem.
 In spite of their suspicions they were not wholly prepared for what
 they found.

      It turns out that all Moundsbarians are multilingual.  That
 is, they actually have several tongues, each equipped with
 partially separate musculature, and so amazingly dexterous (if that
 is the correct word) that an individual is able to lift a single
 garbanzo bean out of a bowl without a spoon, to say nothing of the
 fact that, in the case of the square vowels, the first formant is
 actually above the second formant.

      Individuals differ as to which tongue predominates; this is
 now known as "tonguedness" and has some relationship, as yet
 undetermined, to regional specialization in the brain.  There is a
 tendency toward prognathism and very high cheekbones; even so, a
 Moundsbarian is very likely, especially when speaking rapidly, to
 accidentally bite one of his tongues, which is probably the cause
 of their rather mean disposition and the popular, heretofore
 bewildering saying, "Sharpness of tooth yieldeth wisdom."

      Several issues are raised here for universals, both linguistic
 and, one might say, lingual.  For one thing, inhalation is
 phonemic, which accounts for the "voiced snore."  (Yes, I mean
 exactly that; you cannot predict when a Moundsbarian is going to
 inhale, and when one does, a token of /5/ occurs.  Linguists must
 simply gird up their loins and deal with it.)  The question of
 whether we are confronting a new species here I concur with Higgins
 in leaving up to the exobiologists.  They have had entirely too
 much time on their hands, in my opinion.  In any event: it is
 clearly the multilingualism, that is the polyglossia, that produces
 a great deal of fleshy tissue in the velic and pharyngeal area
 causing strident ingression of air.

      Thorough anatomical studies are being planned; these will of
 course require more funding, and also a bit of luck.  A disgruntled
 former student of Higgins maliciously spread the rumor that autopsy
 was to be the preferred stratagem, and now the people tend to
 scatter when a linguist approaches them, and there has been a
 certain amount of sniping in the towns.  Higgins and I in fact
 barely escaped from our last visit, and we lost Higgins's laptop.

      We bide our time.

      - Metalleus


                         THE SORNO SCRIPT

      As is glaringly obvious to the merest twit, a human utterance,
 objectively and dispassionately considered, consists chiefly of a
 series of vowels, interrupted occasionally by heterogeneous and
 evanescent perturbations of formant patterns, called consonants.
 Nothing could be clearer, than that speech is essentially a matter
 of vowels.  It might even be said that a consonant is nothing but
 a gleam in the eye of a vowel.

      Nonetheless, certain ancient peoples, innocent as the driven
 snow of the above fact, converged with one mind upon systems of
 writing in which only consonants were, for the most part, written.
 This perversity was so widely imitated, that all ancient writing
 systems, with the exception of the inscrutable Chinese, at one time
 or another fell into the error of taking that unit of sound which
 is as varied as the proverbial snowflake, and scarcely more
 lasting, to be the very building block of speech.

      All, that is, but one.  As the reader may schon already have
 surmised, I refer to the original writing system of Sorno, the
 Moundsbar relative spoken in late Roman times on Guam and Saipan,
 and researched extensively, as I have mentioned before, by my
 colleague Higgins.  In this script, only vowels were represented;
 this constituted a very significant advancement, in anticipating
 the sound spectrogram by some two thousand years, and in
 representing a great step forward in economy to boot.

      With regard to economy, we know well that a typical language
 has fewer, usually considerably fewer, vowels than consonants, and
 especially, if you don't count the long vowels separately.  Sorno,
 like modern Moundsbar, had seven vowels, and its consonants
 numbered about fifteen.  The need to learn only seven symbols,
 rather than fifteen, in order to represent any utterance, is
 obviously to be preferred.

      One should not be misled by the "silent" vowels of certain
 modern languages such as English.  Few indeed could make out the
 message: o auae ae oe ooa a oe.  But compare the same message in
 Spanish, which is not known for its silent letters: a aoia e o iioa
 iee a ooae e oae.  It is thus astonishing that consonant writing
 is praised for its efficiency.

      Unfortunately the Sorno script was rather short-lived (lasting
 according to Higgins only a few months) before being abruptly
 replaced by a system of pictographs.  My own suspicion is that some
 natural cataclysm accounts for its sudden disappearance, while
 Higgins seeks a cognitive explanation.

      The Sornos wrote by carving the vowels into solid rock with
 entrenching tools, so what data there is is in quite good
 condition.  We also know that the vowel symbols were called
 "animals."  Why, is a mystery.  I would gladly provide a specimen
 of the script, but for the limitations of the medium.  We are in
 the process of wearing down the usual resistance of the scholarly
 journals to our findings, and some texts should appear shortly.

           - Metalleus


                      MOUNDSBAR CONSONANTISM

      To the sound system of Moundsbar as established previously
 must now be added the familiar /p t k/, withheld from us up until
 just this last week by our informants, whose odd sense of humor we
 must simply live with:

                     p    t         k

      i    u         m    N         kp

      e    o         s

      0    +         5


      The stops are never noticeably aspirated but speakers' eyes
 appear to take on a certain glint during their production, as if
 they had it in mind.  The labial nasal /m/ is dull and
 uninteresting.  The voiced quality of the pulmonic ingressive velic
 trill, which the speakers produce upon inhalation, is as we have
 said before, merely underlying and not to be taken seriously.  /N/
 is syllabic, with flared nostrils and a general chimpanzee-like

      The previously established "doubly"-articulated stop /kp/ is
 now known, in the light of Moundsbar multilingualism (the speakers
 actually have several tongues), to have a lot more going on than we
 thought.  The same may be said for the square vowels /0 +/.  It has
 proven very difficult to study these sounds, since the usual X-ray
 cinematography produces things that look like Cleveland at night.
 The speakers have so far resisted our having recourse to surgery
 and so further work stands in abeyance.

      Clearly the most interesting systemic aspect of Moundsbar
 consonantism is phonemic inhalation.  This controversial claim has
 been fairly well received, the opposition being limited for all
 practical purposes to editors, publishers and reviewers.  We state
 once again that our logic is beyond reproach: /5/ is not
 phonetically similar to any other sound of Moundsbar (or, for the
 record, of any other language).  Indeed, it is not even in the same
 ball park, as it were, with any of them.  There is therefore
 nothing it could be an allophone of, and its occurrence is not
 predictable.  Its phonemic status thus follows as the night the

      Be it noted that the fact of phonemic exhalation, to wit, the
 /h/ liberally sprinkled amongst the world's languages, has normally
 been established by the same reasoning.  As for contrast, both /h/,
 in those languages in which it is a phoneme, and /5/, contrast with
 whatever you please, including your Aunt Minnie, depending on the
 phonotactics of the language.

      It surely will not be objected, that inhalation is restricted
 to the latter boundaries of breath groups.  To offer such a
 patently circular piece of nonsense in order to render /5/
 predictable would surely meet with universal hoots and catcalls.

      Other matters: following a square vowel, /k/ is square.
 Velars, as is well-known, tend to be weak; Moundsbar /k/ has also
 little compunction about becoming rounded preceding a rounded
 vowel.  *Between* rounded vowels, however, /k/ is not rounded; and
 *between* square vowels /k/ is not square.  One might expect some
 degree of velar integrity given these latter two facts; yet when
 between a rounded vowel and a square vowel /k/ apparently is unable
 to make up its mind and alternates with zero.  (To those
 phonemicists of the late Pleistocene who still object to
 alternation with zero, we say, as we have said before, Poo.)

      The sibilant /s/, run-of-the mill in most respects, is voiced
 between vowels whenever the temperature falls below about 10
 degrees C.  There was a time when such a rule would have called for
 a certain amount of hullabaloo, possibly even talk show
 appearances; but now that we know more about the language, not to
 mention the people, it hardly seems worth crowing about.

           - Metalleus


                        THE PHONOLOGY CLASS

      Prof. Higgins and his sauntering band of disciples filed out
 of Mudd Hall in a merry mood.  To say the class was feeling chipper
 would be a considerable understatement.

      For today's phonology class was to be held on the lawn, in
 celebration of the first sunny day of Spring.

      Higgins took up a standing position midway under the shade of
 the redbud tree while the dozen or so students circled round and
 assumed sidesaddle or squatting positions on the fresh green grass,
 notebooks at the ready.  Beaming, he started his lecture.

      "Today I'd like to say a little more about duplication in
 phonological description."  So saying the professor turned around,
 faced the north side of the administration building a few hundred
 yards in the distance, blinked and frowned.  "But there's no

      "No chalk, either," volunteered Mavis, supportively glancing
 around the lawn.

      "Yes, well."  Higgins was silent for a few moments.

                          *      *      *

      How brief a time is often sufficient to apprehend long and
 serious things!  Higgins stared at his students, the surrounding
 expanse of grass, the redbud tree.  Now he saw where he had made
 his error, his great error.  But as we all know, the truth cannot
 be taught.

      "Consider the following forms," he began.  The students, I
 suppose we are entitled to believe, did their best to comply.

      Somewhere in the distance, a dog barked.

 ANALYSIS:  A hunt on a krayd iz oys fonolog.

                - Metalleus


                      MOUNDSBAR NUMERALS

      As mentioned in earlier work, the first twenty-five numeral
 words of Moundsbar are taboo.  Oddly, although these words are not
 used, everyone seems to know what they are, except, unfortunately,
 us.  The fact that words similar to them in sound are also avoided
 explains one heck of a lot of the problems we have had working on
 this language.

      There is, as one might have known, a compensatory, somewhat
 massive, system of number marking on the noun, from dual to

                /mi/      'juju bean'
                /su/      'two juju beans'
                /pa/      'twenty-five juju beans'

      While Moundsbar morphemes are often quite short (e.g., /-p-/
 'old toothless tentmaker'), nonetheless the above examples do not
 analyze.  Despite the ample morphological resources made available
 to the world's languages by the human mind's rich stock of
 universal categories and parameter settings, Moundsbar, with nearly
 unfathomable perversity, has chosen suppletion as its chief means
 of number marking, with the result that well over 65% of the
 nominal vocabulary of the language is unfamiliar to the average

      Since Moundsbarians have as much need to count as anyone, and
 more now that they are experimenting with off-track betting as a
 strategy for economic development, there are several standard
 evasive manoeuvers that everyone accepts, such as indicating body
 parts, carrying about a supply of pebbles, or carrying about a
 supply of body parts.  Some individuals make up their own words,
 but then of course no one understands them.

      Many people have asked us how the numeral words might have
 become taboo.  The original Moundsbarian religion, Mism, practiced
 by the primitive Mists, posited two opposing cosmic forces, Even
 and Odd, and held that by the end of the world, Even would win.  We
 think the Misthood became convinced that if counting had to begin
 at twenty-six, the evens would be way ahead, encouraging, one might
 say, the eschaton.

      Of course the Moundsbarians have some damn fool explanation of
 their own and say they never heard of Mism.

      We do not anticipate a lexicon in the near future.

                     - Metalleus



      I have just been informed that during this last month one
 Silas O'Toole, a dedicated abstractionist known apparently to his
 linguistic colleagues as "Rules" O'Toole, in a paper delivered to
 the Linguistic Circle of Wyoming, proposed deriving Middletown from
 Moses with "only eighteen ordered processes."

      I will not dignify these "rules" by repeating them here;
 O'Toole obviously takes us for a bunch of low-watt bulbs.  Who,
 blown by what ghastly winds of theory, is going to believe, outside
 of Wyoming at any rate, that from five segments you can get eight?
 Forms do not attract matter to them like black holes in the course
 of their derivations; rather they lose matter, like shrinking

      I have therefore proceeded to invert O'Toole's analysis and
 derive instead Moses from Middletown; there are two possibilities.
 (To be sure, the first alternative leaves the issue of accretion
 vs. loss somewhat moot.)

 I. A naive solution.

      -idltawn Deletion          m

      -oziz Insertion            moziz

      This solution definitely has the advantage of simplicity, but
 the rules seem somewhat ad hoc.  The second solution posits rules
 which are or will be well-motivated either (a) now or (b) later:

 II. A sophisticated solution.


      d-Assimilation                  milltawn
      l-Deletion                      miltawn
      l-Deletion schon wieder mal     mitawn
      Spirantization                  misawn
      Voizing                         mizawn
      Monoflippinphthongization       mizon
      Vowel Harmono                   mozon
      Syncope                         mozn
      Anglo-Frisian Brightening       <:->
      n-Assimilation                  mozz
      Epenthesis                      moziz

                        - Metalleus