I recently fell in love. I didn't mean to. Neither did she. I'd always wondered what it could be like. Well, let me tell you that it's wonderful. Especially if, as in our case, you're both linguists.

I actually see this poem as more of a song; the italicised bits in parentheses I envision as being spoken in an earnest voice over background music in between the verses. I even have several possible tunes jangling around in my head, but as I don't have a piano available, I can't really formalise them just yet.

Linguists In Love

by Damon Harper

dedicated, of course, to Laur

O to be in love
with a linguist:
a phoneticist, morphologist, syntactitian
or jingoist.
We can talk about things
in our own special lingo, it's
really being in love.

We met by chance some time ago,
my linguist bride and I,
and as occurs with language contact
we shape each other's lives.

(No language is entirely free from the effects of contact. Modern day English itself has borrowed approximately half its vocabulary from French, most of it during the Norman occupancy.)

To casually speak of the IPA
and discuss Sapir's theories
and wonder if UG has seen better days
makes me quite weak in the knees.

(The International Phonetic Alphabet is a system that attempts to encompass all possible speech sounds. It even has a symbol for a bilabial trill... kind of a meaningful raspberry.)

While browsing through all those old journals
if my hand should happen upon yours,
it's only because we're so in synch
and we both like Warlpiri's vowels.

(Actually, Warlpiri's vowels are not the most exciting in the world, there being only three of them. In the Australian languages, the consonants tend to be much more entertaining.)

Our sociolect, it shapes our tongues
when they meet in the middle of the night,
and to feel another's alveolar ridge
sends shivers up and down my spine.

(The alveolar ridge is relatively easy, since it is located directly behind the upper front teeth. I suspect the velar and uvular areas could be much harder to reach. And perhaps more painful.)

Language sounds may change through haplology,
apocope take vowels left and right;
you can speak of lenition and aphaeresis
but our love, my dear, will never die.

(Haplology refers to the deletion of a syllable when it occurs next to another identical or near-identical syllable. ...Much the same way that I occur next to you.)

So three cheers for the linguists in love!
They make the world go 'round.
And if there's anything better than Sign
it's the utter bliss we've found.

(Did you know that babies who grow up with parents who use only a sign language babble using their hands instead of their mouths? I wonder how they wake up their parents to be fed in the middle of the night?)

O to be in love
with a linguist:
a phoneticist, morphologist, syntactitian
or jingoist.
And if muttered phrases
into your ear I blow then it's
probably in French.

(French is descended from Latin, and is thus a Romance language. What could be more appropriate?)

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