To the Editorial Board
Your journal recently featured a series of articles debating a variety of pseudo-
Don’t you believe there is a GENERATOR who not only set everything in motion, but creates each individual form each time a sentence is uttered?
Don’t you believe that each word has its own abstract underlying representation which will persist in the language even when it has been forgotten and is no longer in use?
Who do you think created the constraints in the grammar? Who fine-
According to the second law of thermodynamics, the grammar of a language should increase in complexity over time to the point of becoming really unwieldy and incomprehensible. Yet this isn’t happening. How do you explain this without resorting to a superior Prescriptor whose laws keep the grammars of our languages in the beautiful order we know?
How could we lovingly care for each idiom, no matter how distorted or pidgin-
How could anyone find it not utterly unbelievable that constructions of such intricate complexity as the Basque auxiliary verbs could have come into existence without the considerate planning of some higher being?
We concede that microevolution does exist
Show us the evidence for real language change! As far as we know, every stone tablet scientists have found in the desert displays an already fully developed language system. There are no intermediate forms in the paleographic record. Besides, nearly all papyri found in the Middle East and North African deserts are fakes.
Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but we have Truth on our side.
Dear Mr. Right,
Despite your lack of understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (which states that entropy, not complexity, increases with time in a physically closed system (which belies your lack of familiarity with the more relevant Thirty Fourth Law of Linguodynamics (which states that linguistic entropy increases with time in a linguistically closed system (that is, one which has no socio-
Believe what you will, but call it by what it is. “Truth”? Bah!
I’m puzzled by the decapitated i’s in the recent article “Descrıptıvısm X!”. Is this symbolic of something that I’m missing? I thought the first 53 of them might be typos but then I decided they must be intentional.
We used the dotless i’s (and even a dotless j or two) because the author of that article, Ldaxın Kushtaka, has a pathological fear of dotted letters, and we are obligated by the International Linguists with Diacritical Disabilities Agreement, and compelled by common decency, to accommodate such authors if possible. We regret that we have not been able to accommodate linguistic authors who suffer from verbophobia and submit verbless papers. As a matter of principle, we do not cater to adjectivophobes because (a) that’s not a real condition, and (b) they can get jobs as newspaper journalists.
Speculative Grammarian accepts well-
I have been discussing with several of my grad students the correct participle forms of words like cancel and travel. Our conclusion is that they ought to be formed with two l’s, but for some reason, aren’t. We considered travel(l)ing to the university library to research the situation, but none of us remember where the library is, so we cancel(l)ed the trip. One of the grad students searched on the internet, but she didn’t get an easy answer in three clicks or less, so we gave up. We thought you could help explain the situation and maybe even help to change it.
PS: We’re your biggest fans!
What is a proper linguist doing using words like “ought” in reference to how language works? You are veering dangerously close to prescriptivism. Also, orthography is not language
Dozens of the senior editors and junior editorial associates of SpecGram attended the American Standardized School of Hortatory, Axiology, & Textology over the decades. All of them studied the prescriptive rules of Standard American English under the firm tutelage of Ms. Gertrude Henderson-
Through some malevolent confluence of polysyllabicity, lack of ambiguity, and the miasma of general prescriptivist malaise exuded by William Safire and his ilk over the years, long words ending in “-el” seem to be exempt from the rule on the western shores of the Atlantic. Perhaps Noah Webster’s attempts to differentiate American from English are to blame. Whatever the cause, the British often treat their English better than Americans
So, in principle we support simplified spelling, though in practice we don’t, because there are necessarily inconsistencies to be had in any proposal of substance. Does one spell “caught” and “cot” the same in California, but not New York? If one is crafty one might get a one-
We have considered contacting the Γραμματο-
PS: We have to admit that we doubt your claim that you are our biggest fans. Our biggest fans are most likely Lucille and Annette McPherson of Bloomington, Indiana. Lucy and Annie are six-
You may, however, be in the running to be named our most fanatical fans, now that the Roberts Brothers (Robby and Bobby) have been committed to the Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane and, thanks to a restraining order, are no longer permitted to subscribe to SpecGram.
Dear, beloved, much cherished editor,
Your “Meet the SpecGram Editors” feature is getting less and less informative as it goes along. For example, in the most recent offering, you printed a picture of several odd-
Dear Mr. Hill,
The picture in question is a digitally enhanced version of a very faded, blurry photograph, on the back of which someone once wrote “SpecGram office Christmas party, 1911”. Pulju claims that he’s the guy in the hat. We have no idea who the other guys are.