As the fortunes and the warlike vigor of the Celts declined, their languages were supplanted by those of their conquerors.
Have you ever, unable to sleep at five in the morning, gone to your bookshelf and retrieved your copies of A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, The Linguistics Encyclopedia, The World’s Writing Systems, Origins and Development of the English Language (quoted above), the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, and Dixon’s The Hardy Boys and the Early Migrations of the Kurgans, in which Frank and Joe solve the mystery of Indo-European language origins – have you ever stacked these volumes on the desk in front of you in the early morning darkness and thought, I’m so damned exhausted, what the hell am I doing?
No. Only one man is that tired and pathetic. But that man now calls on you to look within and consider:
Have you ever wondered when the last native speakers of Cornish and Manx died? Do you lament the dwindling numbers of strong verbs in English? Do you know what Ogham is, and how to say it? Do you know anything at all about Finno-Ugric grammar, and if not, can you make something up? Do you see yourself as the Indiana Jones of etymology? Do you like beer?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then yget upp hroffa ðine fætæss and join the Washington, D.C. Society of Would-be Historical and Comparative Philologists and Gentlemen’s Drinking Club, a cabal of untrained but ruthless intellectuals that Chris and I have founded in order to wrest philology from the dusty grip of academics and place it in the bold hands of devil-may-care youth whose stout minds will hone anew the long-dull blade of historical and comparative linguistics and raise a glass to Dolly Pentreath (d. 1777) and Ned Madrell (d. 1974), the last native speakers of Cornish and Manx, respectively!
Our group is already diversifying and conducting research. The society’s Dead Tongues Posse, after a thorough search, has identified not one remaining speaker of Tocharian B, so that’s done. And the Subcommittee on Never-More-To-Be-Seen Writing Systems Comprehended by Few has had a look at Sumerian Cuneiform. Man, it’s weird!
Not to shun the fairer sex, we are planning a Ladies’ Philological Recruitment Cotillion, so press your fancy britches, gents!
The Society of Would-be Historical and Comparative Philologists and Gentlemen’s Drinking Club’s Special Projects Cohort is currently soliciting ideas for research initiatives. Our first – The International Phonetic Alphabet: Cool! – is only one pending NEH grant away from its rollicking start. What heady days these are for bilabial clicks and epiglottal plosives!
Long live the New Word Order!