Earlier this year Associate Editor Jonathan Downie made the bold move of interviewing several members of the editorial board and distilling the information, stories, and rumor he got in the process down to a one-
You are a serious linguist specialising in multilingualism and child language learning. What made you first decide to contribute to SpecGram?
MCF: The hilarious nature of what goes on being published about multilingualism, child language and, especially, child multilingualism. SpecGram and its readers had much to learn, I decided.
You are now most well-
MCF: This came about when I was first allowed out of the top-
My shrink advised me to take cathartic action against still-
I think this has worked well, actually. I think I’m a little better now. I think.
How has the column been received by students?
MCF: I have no idea. Since the column appeared in SpecGram I haven’t left home unless surrounded by armoured security, and all communications to me except from SpecGram are intercepted and deleted 24/7.
You have also appeared on Language Made Difficult, the SpecGram podcast. What was it like for you?
MCF: Terrifying. Lots of intimidating Texan- and likewise-
What effect(s) do you think SpecGram has had on the linguistics community as a whole?
MCF: Now that it’s gone fully electronic, I don’t know. I used to see it wrapping fish and chips at academic linguistics watering holes quite a lot before.
Have any of your colleagues ever reacted (positively or negatively) to one of your SpecGram pieces?
MCF: Oh yes, both. Positively negative.
What is your favourite linguistics area to satirise and why?
MCF: Phonsody. Because my take is that sound is the sound way to sound out what we do when we speak, which is to wiggle our vocal tracts around, and most linguistics worries instead about obnoxious things like syntax and language typology.
SpecGram recently celebrated its tenth online year. What do you think are the reasons for its longevity?
MCF: Stubborn self-
Lastly, if you could pick any linguist, alive or dead, and poke them until they wrote a SpecGram piece, who would it be and why?
MCF: Er... What’s his name now?? I forget. The guy who said that a lamppost or telephone pole or something is as exposed to language as his niece or granddaughter or something, yet the niece ends up developing language whereas the lamppost doesn’t, and this is evidence that the role of exposure to language to promote the development of language is a figment of our collective imagination? Or something. I laughed my socks off at that one. I know I have a collection of this and other pearls of his stashed somewhere, but I can’t remember where, either. Maybe one day I’ll submit them to SpecGram. “Things He Didn’t Know He Didn’t Know”, who knows? If my shrink says it’s OK, of course.
More to come...