The most comprehensive interspecies dictionary available in paperback!

Over 5,000 references, 80,000 translations and hundreds of new expressions! Contains usage notes to avoid being bitten, and slang signals on a wide variety of subjects. Contains examples to show how sounds are used… Edges treated with bitter apple to deter chewing.

The sample page contains entries such as:
eee ee ee [iii:’ii:i] v. to go away; eee ee ee eep! get out of the hammock now, it’s my turn.
eee eee ee [iii:’iii:ii] v.tr. to explore; eee eee ee e ee eek, Let me out so I can explore behind the filing cabinet!
And there are carefully researched etymologies, for example for a word meaning ‘That’s my pea!’:

From high classic Rattus [1.75 million BCE]: eeeee, mine; + ee-e, small round; + ee-ee; give me, 2nd person singular, imperative mood of ee-e-e, to give, v.t.

Clearly a major advance in lexicography! (Via Language Log.)


  1. Hi!
    I’ve been back for a bit (though I am not sure my email address there is working) and here in Istanbul. Love the Rattus reference–when I get back I want one (not a rattus–got one already here), but the book!
    Hope you are well.

  2. Michael Farris says

    I don’t know if I can endorse this ….
    “eee ee ee [iii:’ii:i] v. to go away”
    The most commonly accepted form is actually ee eee ee, derived from reconstructed proto-Rodent *ei iig ei’ (the loss of voiced stops, final glottals and compensatory vowel heightening is well attested in mouse, rat (and somewhat irregularly in grey squirrel, though curiously, red squirrel retained them, giving the modern forms ea eeg ea).
    shoddy scholarship, i’m afraid

  3. aldiboronti says

    A purported work of learning, and it gives no etymologies?

  4. aldiboronti says

    My lesson for the day: read posts carefully before replying with a fool-born jest.
    My apologies.

  5. Sorry, the rats are already on their way. You’ll have to convince them you meant no harm. (You’ll want to pick up a copy of the dictionary before they get there…)

  6. But what does “high” signify? High German comes from parts further above sea level than Low German, and High Elves are superior to those proletarian low elves.
    If I got a high rat, I’d probably try and talk it down until things wore off.

  7. I take issue with Michael Farris’s reconstruction of Proto-Rodent *ei iig ei ‘v. to go away’. The vowels seem accurate, but surely everyone has agreed by now that Proto-Rodent (hint! hint!) had neither labials not velars, but only dentals. Only Proto-Lagomorph evinces hare-labial fricatives corresponding to Proto-Rodent dental fricatives.

  8. Ben, you’re always running here and there …
    (Only hit love song addressed to a rat I can think of.)

  9. Michael Farris says

    It’s certainly true that non-dental consonants are controversial in historical rodent linguistics.
    My transcription is the standard followed by both Szczurowski 1954 and Patkanyi 1963, in which g is understood as a voiced obstruent of unknown/indeterminate value and many (perhaps most) scholars interpretet it as dental [d] or even interdental fricative [D]!! Though early scholars chose g due to modern reflexes (though those are hardly uncontroversial themselves).

  10. Another controversial area of Proto-Rodent reconstruction is the vowel system. Because of the paucity of vowels, basically *e (probably pronounced [i]), vowel quality can be reconstructed fairly reliably, but there is considerable disagreement among specialists about vowel length. For instance, does the verb eeeeeee ee [iiiiiii:’ii] v. ‘to move’, as in
    e eeeeeeee ee eerp mph; ‘move over, you meatball, I can’t breathe under your furry butt.’
    indicate a unique system of octopartite length distinctions, or does it indicate octogemination of like vowels? Where does Prof. Farris stand on this theoretically crucial distinction?

  11. This is sooo what I needed to see today. Perhaps I’ll set up another little service that directs you to a randomly chosen LH page, and get Steve to post the link to it in the sidebar.

  12. I’m eagerly awaiting the essential explanations of the differences between Rattic, Murine, and the lagomorph languages.

  13. Rattic and Murine languages distinguish several dental places of articulation. Lagomorphic languages also have trans-dental consonants.

    Intra-dental, rather.

  14. I had forgotten about this delightful thread!

    Perhaps I’ll set up another little service that directs you to a randomly chosen LH page, and get Steve to post the link to it in the sidebar.

    I will, of course, be delighted to do so.

  15. Rather than a separate page, I’ve added Random Link to the top of the “Commented-on Language Hat Posts” page. If you click on it, it will take you to the top (rather than the bottom) of one of the posts on that page. That means it will not currently find any post that has never had a comment on it.

    The link is updated every minute, so I have changed the page to refresh itself every minute as well rather than every 11 minutes. Hopefully this won’t be a big concern for anyone.

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