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The LINGQUEST Saga Begins

Chapter 1

The Metafortress

Our story begins in the articulatory setting of Panglossia, specifically in the Morpheme Mountains above the Data Mines of Mora. Affixed here polysynthetically is the Metafortress, home of the Illocutionary Force. This universally accepted band of heroes' sole purpose is to make Panglossia the best of all possible worlds. Usually, this involves tasks like maintaining vowel harmony and deconstructing language barriers. However, little do they know of the significant and irregular developments which await them.

"'Sindon. Definition: the horse hairs used for a mandolin bow.' You were aware that mandolins do not require bows, correct?"

"Oh, deuce! Well, at least I do not confuse my Greek and Latin like some people."

"Well now, Proto Baggins was not present... I thought I could get away with it."

The members of the Illocutionary Force were playing a rather intense game of Balderdash during their lunch break. It was hard for this group to find a game where one hero did not have the language of power. Prof. P!γαʂɮɜq showed no constraint during IPA scrabble. Semantique was logically connected to victory during WFF n' Proof. In poker, Max M. Quality and Sir ApropOH over-analyzed every comment in order to pick up on any bluff. The two bickered so much during the last game that everyone else resorted to excessive politeness strategies just to shut them up. So usually the only game left was Candy Lande.

Today, the diversion was both necessary and sufficient. Work had not been exceptionally busy, but there had recently been an alarming number of misguided prescriptivists.

"If I get one more request to rescue dangling prepositions from trees or repair split infinitives..." sighed Superior Whorf.

"Look on the bright side! I just bought a throng of invisible unicorns! That should come in handy for something, I am sure," said C-Commando, practically beaming as he did. The rest of the team groaned.

"I don't believe you! Honestly, if only you could exercise a bit more selectional restriction over your purchases," replied Semantique.

"I have perfectly functional control when it comes to spending, thank you very much." declared C-Commando.

"Well, it can't be as bad as the 'buffalo' incident." derived the INFLtrator, laughing. "I don't think any of us could handle that level of abuse again!"

The laughter and playful banter stopped almost immediately as an impressive figure entered the room.

"General Ling, sir, what a surprise. To what to we owe the honor?" asked Prof. P!γαʂɮɜq.

"We seem to have an usual problem. My office is overcrowded with messenger pigeons." said General Ling. He paused for a moment as though to reflect on the weight of this implication.

"As my cousin would often say..." began Max M. Quality.

"Is this relevant, Max?" interrupted Sir ApropOH.

"Oh, no, it's Quantity, but I can certainly understand your confusion. What I meant to say was... could you elaborate a bit?" asked Quality.

The Illocutionary Force

"As I was saying, there are an incredible number of birds carrying messages from all over the land with frightening tales of linguistic injustice. I've never seen anything like it."

Superior Whorf looked hopeful. "We've done language preservation before! Perhaps the Swadeshbuckler can send a team over..."

General Ling shook his head. "It isn't just one endangered language. I'm hearing stories of complete linguistic and digital chaos. It sounds widespread and I am unsure of the source. I don't know what is possible, but there is no hope if the discipline doesn't work together as a whole. I suggest that you band together immediately and consult the Polyglot."

And so, with the help of their LL-MAP, representatives from each subfield glided/moved/jumped/etc to seek guidance from the Polyglot. The ancient silver dragon was highly regarded for its wisdom, for it possessed a head for each language it spoke. (Which, Superior Whorf argued at least five times during the journey, sounded like excellent evidence that different languages were practically like different minds.) Polyglot both guarded and relied on the legendary MultiTree, monitoring its nodes and branches while feeding off of its resources. She was sensitive to language change and often consulted the MultiTree for hypotheses. If anyone could point them in the right direction, it was her.

The Polyglot

She also happened to be a bit terrifying.

After a moment of hesitation, C-Commando heroically took the lead and cautiously stepped forward.

"No worries, brave one. I have been expecting you." said one of the heads of the Polyglot, smiling grimly. She had generously chosen a head that spoke a compatible language.

"Then you know of the problems which plague our land." said C-Commando.

"Yes. Many of my sisters suffer. Even our beautiful tree shows the signs of abuse. If this is not addressed soon, I believe our very survival is at risk."

The Second Lieutenant peered at Polyglot from the safety of the group. "Analyzing contrastingly, it can't all be bad... can it?" Noting one of the smaller heads, "After all, it appears that you are acquiring. Is it a pidgin? A creole?"

Several of Polyglot's heads winced, "Novelty, I believe. There's been an increase of paranormal teen romances in literature, which has resulted in a number of whimsical, half-formed languages. The poor things tend to live short, painful lives. But that is not the real issue here.

"What is it then, great Polyglot? What is the root of this evil?" inquired the INFLtrator.

"You are not prepared for such a battle yet. In this case, if you do not investigate the symptoms, you will not have the strength to fight the disease."

"So where do we begin?" asked Proto Baggins.

There are two problems that I have heard of which must be addressed as soon as possible. There is a rumor of severe diachronic damage which will change forever the development of language. For this quest, however, you must traverse the Tenuous Career Path, a journey which is as arduous as it is uncertain. Many have taken this path only to find themselves forever lost at the Job Dead End. There is another option, though no more attractive. I have sensed unholy terrors from the Data Graveyard. Here, hideous structures have risen which should never see the light of day, and they are on the move. Travel south and you will be certain to find them, although this is as much a threat as a promise. Choose your first adventure wisely."

"What do we do at this juncture?" asked Prof. P!γαʂɮɜq.

What journey should our proud force take first? You can decide! Donate by March 8th to vote for the next installment of our saga.

Tenuous Career Path Data Graveyard

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