Structural Linguistics

MIT 1980

The Language of Butchers versus the Butchers of Language

Language Politics in the Culture of Colloquia

Its harsh outlines blurred by clouds of trailing smoke, the weavings of the chic Datsun around and around in the drizzle of the Cambridge night sent drizzles of sparks weaving through the Cambridge night drizzle.

In the back of the car weaved the blurred outlines of two of MIT's learned structural linguists. Between the two of them, they weaved an interminable discourse on the subject of the interminable. (the streets smoky with drizzles of sparks), their interminably discourse mangling with many a mixed metaphor the underlying strings of the syntax of the language of night.

In the front seats of the car sat the two directors of the National Illiterate Butcher's Academy, it's motto: Live and Loin! .

The butcher behind the steering wheel resembled a mallet, the other looked like a meat cleaver. The scholar seated in the back on the left looked like a polytope, his colleague resembled a googleplex. They adamantly refused to speak with people like the two illiterate butchers up front, people speaking the mere language of butchers.

Likewise, the two butchers steadfastly refused to speak with people like the two learned scholars in back, people who so dreadfully butchered the language. As this heterogeneous collectivity struggled along in incurable incommunicado the car approached the harsh, drizzle-blurred outlines of MIT's Building 20 where, so they had been led to believe, were maintained in state Many Mighty Masters of Modern Thought, able to dissipate their linguistic differences like so many trailing clouds of smoky drizzle.

The chic Datsun, its weavings in the drizzle blurred by a harsh evening sky trailing many mangled clouds of smoky metaphor, trailed through Kendall Square, snagging the jagged jointures of jellid junctures as it swerved between MIT's Sloan School and Department of Psychology.

Finally it ground to a blur beside the rotunda of the Student Union.

As if cleaving the air with flailing meats, the butchers pouring out of the chic Datsun flailed the air with meat cleavers. As if flailing the air with meat cleavers, the MIT police waiting for them cleaved the air with their meaty flails. A meeting in the air of cleavers and flails! Cops and butchers chased each other round many a mound of mangled metaphor, while the shadows of the learned linguists, (still seated at the back of the car, (still embroiled in interminable controversy)), weaved many a cloud of smoky drizzle trailing round all the batteries of transforms of all the aforesaid underlying syntactic strings of the language of the night's senseless butchery.

The Joint Meating of the International Association for Structural Linguistics (IASL) with the National Illiterate Butchers Academy (NIBA) was called to order.

The illiterate Dean of Academic Studies at NIBA opened the meating by flailing his arms and cleaving the air, while at the same time reciting the followed pre-memorized statement:

" Structural Linguists, those butchers of language, butcher the language with the language of butchery! Butchering the language these butchers of language butcher even the language of butchers!

Yea! And even their own language, the language of butchery, do they butcher with their butchery!

Therefore, we exhort you: Slight not the modest butchers who, in their modesty, do not butcher their own language, to wit the language of butchers, nor do they butcher any language other than their own, but speak always in a manner appropriate to their station and calling, that of butchers!"

The syntax of the Many Mighty Masters of Modern Thought, (commingling with the many underlying strings (mingling with the many mouthfuls of mysteriously mangled metaphor (translated through many a marvelous and miraculous transformation into ludicrous coils, boils, broils, pretzels, links and braids (coming out in dribs and drabs)))), fairly took the collective breath away from the assembled membership of NIBA, it's motto Live and Loin!

And yet ... as the collective memory of this assembled membership dismembered the dissembling of the rambling underlying syntagmatic strings, there arose such a bumbling mumbling in the stumbling multitude, that with a grumbling rumbling all the syntactic structures came tumbling, sending many a mighty linguist fumbling through many a tome of forgotten lore: Quoth the buzzard: "What a bore!"

And, even as the on-going process of language butchery was (using the language of the butcher process) butchering the language process through the zealous over-activity of processed language butchers, including finite state grammars, phrase structure grammars, transformational grammars, valency grammars, relational grammars and generative semantics, A GREAT ROAR arose from the membership of the IASL, which included so Many Mighty Masters of Modern Thought:

" Structure the Formal Categories of Syntax that Formalize the Syntax of Structural Categories while Categorizing the Syntactic Structures of the Formal Syntax of the Categorical Formalism of Structure!

"Structure the Formal Syntax of those Categories which Formalize the Syntactic Categories of the Structural Categorization of the Syntactic Formalism of the Structural Syntax of the Categorical Structure of Formalism!

" Structure the Catagorical Syntax of those Formalisms which Formalize the Structural Categories of the Syntax Categorizing the Structural Formalisms of the Syntax of Syntaxtisized Formal Structures of the Categories!

" Structure the Categorical Formalism of the Syntax of the Formalization of the Structural Syntax of the Categories of Categorization of the Structural Semantics of Formal Syntaxes of Formal Categories of Structure!

"Structure the Syntactic Formalities of the Categories of the Categorical Syntax of Structure Categorizing the Formalizations of Structural Syntaxes of the Structural Categories of Formalism!

" Structure the Syntactic Categories of Formalism!

" Formalize the Categorical Structure of Syntax!

"Categorize the Formal Structure of Syntax!

"Syntaxtisize the Structural Formalism of the Categories!"

That about did it for one night. The remainder of the meating was taken up with given each other honorary degrees. Then everybody went home.
Return to Universities and Colleges