June 3rd, 2004

ninja, silly

Linguistics BA-holders hold out hope for first contact jobs

As the economy continues to crumble, and jobs remain hard to come by, hordes of well-meaning, unemployed former students of linguistics look to the skies for chances of first contact with alien species. This week's Emergence of the Ogdru Jahad gives a sign that job prospects are looking up for those willing to go work for translating for our new Alien Overlords.

"It's the only chance for paid work I've heard of", said one recent graduate. "Well, that or go work for Microsoft, but that would be, um, working for the Evil Empire. And I'd have to learn Hindi, move to Bangalore, and teach American pronunciation to call-center workers. And I'm not interested in Indo-European languages."

While First Contact employment undoubtedly increases the demand for linguistics talent, academic programs pooh-pooh this concern. "First contact really isn't very interesting from a linguistics point of view -- at least not without a complete theory of Minimalism. We are still working on the astonishing complexity of human syntax -- I don't see how we could possibly work on alien 'languages' yet," said one professor who asked not to be named. "It's just a Program, not a Theory. I mean, is it really a 'language' if they aren't human? Besides, only certain very advanced students can fully grasp the theory."

Speaking through a translator, the Alien Overlord said "Actually, we've been following your human religious practices for quite a while. Any well-educated Jahad, back in the Central Empire, would want one on the wall of zis data-parlor." When asked what religious structures are interesting, the OL replied "Publications on linguistic theory are especially good. Our syndication arrangements in the over-hub indicate that these sell very well. You humans would say we find them 'quaint'. We would like to encourage further research in this area. Oh, and your local tribe Hyundai makes excellent-tasting -- what do you call it? -- kharz."

Enrollment in linguistics department jumped up by 30% this quarter, on news of Overlord interest. Linguistics rights organizations have questioned the manufacturing of intricate linguistic theory for resale to the Ogdru tourists. "These intellectual artifacts are important to our culture," said one Generative Rights activist. "If we mass-produce a complex optimality-based theory of phonology for financial profit, its meaning as a scientific artifact is sullied."

The Jahad Representatives responded to these concerns yesterday by issuing a written statement, which read in part "we are aware of the superstitious concerns in some communities about the wide distribution of culturally-exclusionary stories. We fully intend to reimburse the communities from which we take these resources. How about some glass beads?"
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