Ten Years of Linguistic Mischief
by Keith Slater and Trey Jones
The dialectic which is reified as Speculative Grammarian has marked more momentous milestones in its illustrious history than you can shake a stick at, and in this issue we mark the fruitionization of yet another one: the tenth1 anniversary2 of SpecGram’s online publication.3
Prior to January 2004, linguistic satire languished in predigitalism—the scholarly Scylla and Charybdis that ironically deforested Siberia even though distribution was limited to only the self-appointed Inner Circle.
Boldly, a mighty group of giants among the feeble-minded backed by a shadowy and powerful benefactor banded together to change all that.
Armed with a borrowed 1984-era Apple Macintosh, a refurbished TRS-80, and a wicked set of IPA TECkit mappings, these linguistic misfits launched a merciless assault on mountains of legacy satire, uploading the resulting modernizations with wanton abandon, creating a media empire larger than the Khanate of the Golden Horde at its greatest extent.
Admittedly, they had help.
But this is not the place to acknowledge that help. For such acknowledgements, readers must search the archives. Here, we only wish to celebrate, with the customary academic nonchalance, the joys which SpecGram has brought to linguists everywhere; no longer must we wipe the proverbial tears of laughter from our eyes with the endpapers torn in our paroxysms from print journals; nor do SpecGram back issues need occupy twelve feet of shelf space in our crowded offices—instead, every one of us is rewarded with pleasure each time we open our respective web browsers and experience that most satisfying of home pages.4
Much has changed in the ten years since SpecGram went online. Quality submissions have allowed us to increase our publication frequency from quarterly to monthly.5 The editorial board has increased from a handful of bozos to a full staff of highly-qualified bozos. Citation rates are literally through the roof, and semantic change in English has been substantially halted. Grammaticalization has been debunked, and Optimality Theory has been extended even unto Semantics.
But within the swirling winds of change, a couple of things remain comfortingly the same: interns are still flogged with regularity (but sign up in droves anyway); and our institutional server is still that same old and faithful TRS-80—we had to eventually return the Mac—with a bit of help from time to time from Λόγος, and even Σκέψη (when M.A.Y.N.A.R.D. is feeling helpful).
These ten years have seen the birth of more than ninety new issues of SpecGram and the anthology Collateral Descendant of Lingua Pranca.
To celebrate, we—in association with our friends and fans at Panini Press—offer up this over-sized Tenth Digiversary Issue, which highlights links among SpecGram’s technologically barbarous past, omnipresent nonrepresentational present, and glorious, glittering future.
We’ve included new installments of two of our long-running series—Linguistics Nerd Camp and Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know—and a new installment of a new series—Linguimericks. We’ve reached into the past to resurrect the once wildly popular LingDoku puzzle form and to correct an egregiously mistaken etymology of Timothy from decades ago. We’re stretching from past to future with another in a long line of articles debating spelling reform—which has included those that are in favor,6 against,7 or perhaps merely observational8—and with not one, but two new revelations from The SpecGram Archives.
We also have many glowing testimonials from friends and colleagues—both new and old—about what SpecGram means to them. And we’ve included a number of candid “Behind the Scenes” daguerreotypes throughout the issue for your amusement and edification.
And to celebrate our official collaboration with9 Panini Press, we’ve followed the advice found in the helpful discussion in the minutes of an earlier editorial board meeting, and put Panini on the cover of this month’s issue. For those who are interested, here’s the larger context from which that image was taken:
Panini (left) participates in the
first Phonetics Round Table,
in which early Indian linguists transcribed each others’ vowels.
Thanks, Ladies and Gentlemen, Linguists and Others, for a great decade.
1 Traditionally, the tenth anniversary gift is ‘tin’—though in one of our Texan-influenced idiolects (TJ), that seems like a bit of mockery, since he says “tinth” as often as “tenth”. Thus we prefer the alternative, ‘aluminum’, though that admittedly riles up the UK contingent of the Editorial Board almost as much.
2 Astute long-term readers will note that January was technically the tenth anniversary of SpecGram’s digital resurgence. An awful lot of year-end flogging of interns (the term preferred by our Human Resources Department is “performance reviews”) had to be completed before we could properly set ourselves to the task of preparing this issue. Lifetime subscribers who have purchased chrono-remediation insurance will have had their issues sent back in time so as to arrive in January 2014. But they already knew that. We apologize for any inconvenience.
3 Status update: Ashes? Proverbial! Phoenix? Clichédly risen! Names? Taken! Ass? Kicked!! (See “From These Ashes...”, SpecGram CXLIX.1, 2004).
4 The SpecGram author index page listing authors beginning with “Sla”, naturally.
5 Non-quality submissions have been forwarded to IJAL.
6 See Chambers, 2004, Tthm and usn trryv Aluuaj, 2011, and Mottainai and Hopper, 2011.
7 See Trismegistus, 1990.
8 See Kore-Eckly, 2008, and Xanderson, 2011.
9 And hefty financial contribution from.