The Untimely Death of Dr Smith

My good friend, the linguist Dr Richard Smith, died in the fire in his home about seven months ago, as you will know. The authorities believe that he committed arson and meant to kill himself, though naturally enough his family find such a conclusion hard to stomach. I’m not sure I believe it myself.

Nearly all of his personal and professional papers, and most of his books, were destroyed in the fire, and he seems not to have owned a computer. But shortly after he died I received a printed document from Richard by post. There was no note with it, but Richard had scribbled his signature at the end, as if to stop anyone adding anything later. The text purports to be a preliminary description of a hitherto unknown language known as Múntavut. With the gracious permission of Richard’s father (and with thanks also to university colleagues) I have made a thorough search of his office on campus. But no texts in the original script have since come to light, nor indeed other supporting documents of any kind, and there are no indications of where the language might have originated, or whether it still survives. Some colleagues who have seen the manuscript doubt that the language is anything other than invented.

My beliefs are familiar enough to you, I’m sure. All I ask is that you approach the following with an open mind. I will say only that there is more intelligence in this universe than exists within the confines of the Earth’s atmosphere.

I have come to believe that, whether the language ever existed or not (and I am sure it did and does), Richard left the story of his death for me in this manuscript, and I have spent much of my spare time over the last six months attempting to uncover it. The full text of the grammar he left behind may be found below. The only changes I have made to the original are the passages marked in bold font, which I point out to you because I believe they are suggestive. The examples he uses to illustrate points of grammar are surely too odd not to require some kind of explanation? And I cannot think that this small mystery is not connected to the greater one of Richard’s death.

I would particularly draw your attention to the proper names, including the marodal tree. And the strange phrase ‘silvery ring.’ Is it silver or not? I hope one day to find this ring to prove my case – but sadly that day has not yet arrived.

I leave it to the curious reader to fill in the blanks if you are so inclined. If you persevere, and discover anything that you think I may have missed (and obviously I am no student of languages), I would be delighted to hear from you.

Thank you for reading this far. I sincerely hope you will continue to the end.

Link to Múntavut

G. Salisbury, December 2010

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