More Murphy’s Laws for Linguists
Trey Jones & Bill Spruiell
(with much content cribbed from Metalleus)
Below are some additional, updated, and eternal instances of Murphy’s Laws for Linguists:
- The breakthrough you just made will turn out to be something discussed by Pike, Gleason, or Hockett—except that your formulation is less clear, and thus struck you as more profound.
- Your formulation will strike other linguists as profound too.
- The formatting you painstakingly constructed for your paper will be scrambled when you send it in, since the recipient will have prevented MS Word from doing a set of 100 different things that is different from your set of 100 things you’ve commanded MS Word not to do.
- The zero elements in your model will all be eaten by undetectable null weevils before you can publish, but the copy editor won’t be able to notice.
- The one promising but vague forum posting, Linguist List message, or web page on a new language you are studying either has no email address or a defunct email address, and was written by a linguist with a name like
- The phonetic symbols you need to type your article are never all in the same font, and the publisher doesn’t allow any of the fonts you are using anyway.
- The primary sources for anything whatever always either are available only in a language for which no online automatic translation is available, or were published in a journal that is not available electronically.
- Going to the physical library to do research is so hard.
- What you need most was always Destroyed in the Great Hard Drive Crash.
- Whenever a group of non-linguists learn you are a linguist, someone will always ask you how many languages you speak.
- The correct answer, by the way, is π. If they don’t get it, tell them you are a mathematical linguist and accept that you will never have any friends in that group.
- The deadline for anything whatever was always yesterday.
- The most heavily weighted question on an exam is never the one you studied for.
- Your most well-known and most oft-cited work will have appeared in a satirical linguistics journal or anthology.