The Collected Wisdom of Linguists, Part Γ
Aphoristically Conveyed from Ancient Sages
Collected and presented for your edification by
The SpecGram Council of Sages
Jouni Maho, Bill Spruiell, Keith Slater,
Daniela Müller, David J. Peterson, and Trey Jones
In this third of three installments, we share with you the proverbial wisdom of ancient sages of philology and linguistics, honed and refined through the ages by the folk wisdom and common sense of the masses. Should you sense a contradiction, recall also that “Proverbs run in pairs.”
You can’t teach an old professor new theories.
When the idiom chunk hits the fan.
Once bilingual, twice shy.
Linguists who live in structuralist houses shouldn’t investigate idioms.
Don’t miss the phonemes for the trees.
Everything good in linguistics is either ill-formed, imperfect, or fiction.
Speak not, offend not.
Don’t put the theory before the data.
Never put things off into the lexicon that you can deal with already.
Cast not corpora before formalists.
As fit as a figure of speech.
For want of a phoneme the morpheme is lost, for want of a morpheme the sentence is lost, for want of a sentence the meaning is lost.
Inflections maketh the word.
Better latent than negated.
A half syllable is a whole rhyme.
It’s the creaky voice that gets hoarse.
Direct objects are the better part of valence.
The Devil’s in the endnotes.
An empty mouth makes the most noise.
The meanings justify the morphemes.
Keep your front vowels close, but your back vowels closer.
Active verbs speak louder than passives.
Better the idiosyncratic theoretical framework you know than the one you don’t.
Data if you do, data if you don’t.
Two noun heads are not better than one.
This, too, shall parse.
The best morphemes in life are free.
A rising tone lifts all vowels.