Seventeen years ago, a brave, young, relatively unknown linguist dared to stand up and speak the truth about the state of linguistics at the time. He spoke with eloquence and force, passion and dignity, about a traditional discipline, an emerging science, an intellectual art form that was precious beyond words, but endangered by an academic thought police who sought to control the very fabric of all linguistic discourse. His rhetoric soared to the heavens. His criticisms stung like needles of ice. His truth, the truth, laid bare, was too beautifully cruel to look upon.
What a jackass. He should have known better. A small armada of SUVs with tinted windows showed up. The brave, young linguist disappeared, to become completely unknown, if you get my drift. And now a series of restraining orders prevent me from discussing any of it in more detail.
While that tale is sad, very few people noticed at the time or even care now, because just a few weeks later, Tim Pulju’s “A Short History of American Linguistics” appeared in Historiographia Linguistica. His truth, a half-truth, is pretty funny, though it runs a little long.
It is with great pride and a great big snarky smirk that Speculative Grammarian is pleased to reprint, with permission of the editor and publishers of Historiographia Linguistica, this unusual look at the history of American Linguistics, as seen through the eyes of a cynical, satirical, ahistorical grad student, who is as mad as a philologist.