NEW SERIES OF SERIES
Grammars in Contrast Series Series
presented by Psammeticus Press
We at Psammeticus Press had never really understood the point of “contrastive” grammars. Who in the world cares what features of Kham Tibetan are not like Swahili (or vice-versa)? We can only suppose that these people are trying to show off their knowledge of two unrelated languages.
But then recently, we got to thinking. If we’ve learned anything from structuralism (and honestly, we’re not entirely sure that we have), it’s that meaning is found only in contrast. But grammatical contrasts are not bilateral—they are systematic. Saucy Freddy said it himself: the meaning of any grammatical form is found in the entire set of contrasts across that entire linguistic subsystem.
Well shoot, we thought. Maybe these contrastive grammars aren’t so bad after all. They just don’t go far enough. To really understand any particular verb in, say, Japanese, we do need to see how it contrasts with all the other verbs and nonverbs in Japanese, and also how it contrasts with the entirety of the verb system, and the nonverb systems in Swahili. What the Japanese verb is, essentially, is not the Swahili verb.
But even that’s not enough. We also need to see how it contrasts with verbs and nonverbs in Basque, Mixtec, Oromo, Nenets, and so on. In fact, we need to know everything that a Japanese verb is not, in order to know what it is. Descriptive adequacy demands nothing less, and we Psammeticoi proudly accept nothing less than descriptive adequacy.
And it’s not just other languages that help us understand. A Japanese verb is a verb in part because it’s not a Honda, not a commuter rail line, not packaged wasabi-flavored seaweed, not salt thrown on the dohyō, not the dohyō itself, and so on.
Thus enlightened, we are embarking on the publication of the Grammars in Contrast Series Series, a series of series in which each series describes a single language, in adequate detail, treating every feature known to occur in any language other than the one being studied. Each volume of each series will describe one such feature.
Series #1, which we have already commissioned, is entitled The Contrastive Grammar of Japanese. Here is a sampling of the titles in this Series:
The Contrastive Grammar of Japanese Series|
Series Editors: Shoichi Iwasaki (and his designated editorial heirs)
||Part 1: Japanese in Contrast to Other Languages (3,275 Volumes; Expected Publication 2015)|
|Part 2: Japanese in Contrast to Non-material Culture (4,662 Volumes; Expected Publication 2043)|
|Part 3: Japanese in Contrast to Material Culture (1,593 Volumes; Expected Publication 2062)|
|Part 4: Japanese in Contrast to Platonic and Mathematical Ideals (4 Volumes; Expected Publication 2089)|
The culminating installment of the series will be:
||Part 75: Japanese in Contrast to the Remaining Unknown Unknowns (12,844 Volumes; Expected Publication 2130)|
Subsequent series will proceed more quickly, as they will incorporate material from previous series, either directly, or by reference. The final planned series in the series of series is The Contrastive Grammar of Rongorongo Series. Here is the complete list of planned titles in this Series:
Advance Praise for the Psammeticus Press Contrastive Grammars Series Series
The Contrastive Grammar of Rongorongo Series|
Series Editor: R. A. Panui (currently in cryogenic stasis awaiting editorial reactivation)
||Part 1: Rongorongo in Contrast to Everything (2 Volumes, Expected Publication 2295)|
“Grand is its scope, sweeping in its scale, almost mathematical in the inexorable precision of the contrastive cross-product it seeks to reveal, The Contrastive Grammar Series Series from Psammeticus Press is poised to become the most important exercise in contrastive grammar, if not in all of linguistics, ever undertaken. Come the year 2295, when the final volume is set to be released, the OED had best watch its back.”
|—An anonymous scholar, based in Europe|
Advance Praise for The Contrastive Grammar of Japanese Series
“The Contrastive Grammar of Japanese is the most ambitious Grammar ever written. Initial drafts of Volumes 1 and 2 are, quite honestly, the first time that I can truthfully say I have seen Linguistics practiced as a discipline and as an art. I can think of no higher praise than to say, simply, that I will read every word which is published in this series until I die.”
|—Susumu Shibatani, holder of the Iwasaki Chair in Japanese Linguistics at UCLA|