The Language of Fug

stonehenge imageeddie izzard photoA brief history: The Salisbury Plain in England is home to Stonehenge (image, left), the Druidic structure made popular by the comedy of Eddie Izzard (image, right). Excavations nearby have recently brought to light the remnants of a civilization roughly contemporary with that of Chaucer and Hardy. The hitherto undiscovered bucolic folk spoke a language called Fug (fug, in that language, means ‘the people,’ or ‘the folk’ or something that at least sounds like ‘the folk’), similar in many respects to the forerunners of present-day English. Although only the famous “N-Fragment” survives, consisting of a series of unrelated sentences of the kind found today only in grammar books, it is possible to examine the similarities in structure which Fug shares with English.

The mystery remains: Linguists are confounded by the meanings of these seven surviving sentences. While their structure is similar to English, their semantic content remains to be deciphered. No Rosetta Stone exists for Fug. Lowth has suggested that the seven texts form part of a sacred ritual, and warns that pronouncing them could place a non-Fug speaker in mortal danger. On the other hand, Othmer maintains that each sentence is unrelated to the one before, like examples in a grammar book. She argues that they are similar to ancient Druidic curses, powerless in today’s postmodern, post-Druidic world, adding that the name of the language itself denotes the rancor with which this Proto-Fugging people interacted with one another, before eventually succumbing mysteriously to the other inhabitants of this lush plain.

Some words in the Fug vocabulary:

tig
cobligstein
tigger
*counter
tigle
counters
gunter
haglig
gunterby
hoppel
odulbarig
o
odulbarligger
fenster
coblig
gully

 

The Fug N - Fragment


1. tig odulbarig gunter tig haglig
2. tig haglig counter tig coblig
3. cobligstein counterstein hoppel
4. o haglig fenster gully
5. tig haglig gunterby tigger odulbarligger
6. fenster tig haglig tig coblig
7. fenster tig haglig tigle coblig

 

Using your knowledge of English and other languages, speculate about the grammar of these Fug N sentences. What can you deduce about parts of speech, word order, and inflection? What can and cannot be said about this mystery language sample? Be specific, and be prepared to discuss your reasoning.