LINGUIST List 4.298

Fri 23 Apr 1993

Sum: Reversal

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. "RAD232", Lasrever Citsiugnil

Message 1: Lasrever Citsiugnil

Date: 17 Apr 93 21:08:56 GMT
Subject: Lasrever Citsiugnil

 A few people have already heard from me privately, but I wished to
send thanks to EVERYONE who responded to my inquiries regarding
linguistic reversal, and individual replies were seriously encroaching
on my workload (so said my boss, but you know how they are...]).
Either I hit a topic nearly as interesting as the rude negators,
or there are LOTS of people out there.
 For those interested, evidently it is possible to approximate very
closely the sounds of reversed speech (several people wrote with
examples of class exercises involving trying to phonetically reverse
a word or phrase "in-the-head" and reversing the tape of these to
see how closely they came to the original), although it sounds like
it takes a lot of practice.
 No-one was clear on whether reversing tapes of vocal tracks can
change the number of syllables (sounds like I've got a few people
trying, however), but reversing the spelling of a word can. Example
given was a language with syllabic nasals and prenasalised stops.
<badn> would have two syllables, but <ndab> would have one. How
closely the pronunciation of a reversed phonetic spelling will
approximate the actual reversed sound of a word is (obviously) a
function of how much phonetic detail the alphabet can capture.
 As to whether Satan is using this method to consume the minds of
our youth, I think he'd be better off putting messages in forwards
(incidentally, it was mentioned that "Jesus loves me" played backwards
sounds a bit like "We smell sausage"; evidently Satan works at Pizza
Hut..:-). If there is some subconscious recognition of backwards mes-
sages, no-one has demonstrated it yet.
 All this gookledegob has been interesting to me as I am trying to
conjure up a language based upon a reversible alphabet. It's fairly
phonetic, but the reversibility throws a twist into it from the stand-
point that words are never upside-down, they just read differently
(and presumably have contrasting meanings).
 The question is an interesting one: how would a language develop
and/or utilize such a property? I'm currently trying to figure a way
to define the individual phonetic particles (a la d'Olivet's Hebraic
Language Restored) to give me something to work from in defining words,
but the construction of same is proving no mean feat. Prefix/suffix
takes on a new meaning when each has to serve the purpose of the other
(and do it upside-down)] Sentence structure shall not even be considered
in this lifetime.
 Anyhow, I'm raving now, and this was meant to take up as little
space as possible (alas...). Thanks to all for your responses (and
patience), and as always, any information or advice is welcome. I'm
off to the speech lab.
Scott Edgar
*Another Actual Fact: The meaning of the word "mutant" has changed
gradually over the years.*
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