A recent survey by the journal Incorporated Linguacolonial Anthropogenerativist rated “Linguistics” as the least sexy field, out of one hundred listed, including “Sewer Management,” “Boil and Bunion Studies” and “Deconstructivist Interpretative Liminology”.* This paper will review the varying reactions to these results from different subfields of linguistics and will delineate the future of the field in this light.
After first collating the results and subcategorizing according to distinctive feature analysis, we utilized the methodology of glottostatistical regression to demonstrate that sociolinguists, followed asymptotically by phonologists, semanticists and syntacticians, demonstrate inverse collocational correlations in their responses to the ILA study’s main findings. Psycholinguists, Romance linguists and Translation Studies scholars meanwhile demonstrated atypical responses with significantly higher (p<0.02) incidences of “whuh?” responses and wrinkled brows.
Some illustrative responses from anonymized linguists are provided below:
Chomskyan Linguist: Sexiness is a performance issue, and thus not interesting to the serious linguist.
Computational Linguist: Okay, okay, I wrote
enhanceSexy(int participants). I’ve improved the whole system! Finishes in 1/23rd the time.
Corpus Linguist: But... but... you need more data before saying that! How about a trigram model? Supervised training?
Deconstructivist Linguist: Since “sexy” is but the beginning of an endless chain of signifiers, I shall redefine it to mean “philosophically astute” and, by that definition, deconstruction is sexy.
Feature Geometer: Out here on our own tier, we can do whatever you like, baby: if I raise my tone for you, will you retroflex for me?
Functionalist: Dammit. I wore clothing-
kinda- stuff and made conversation- kinda- stuff. What do they want? I can adapt.
Grad Student: Well duh. I need food. And sleep. If I could look sexy after that Algonquian data set, I’d be getting an Academy Award.
Information Theorist: So what’s wrong with being predictable after a while? If I’m always sexy, it doesn’t mean much.
Language Preservationist: Geez, guys, bring it down some: save it for another time, can’t you?
Minimalist: All that stuff we used to do that you thought was trying to be sexy, and not working? You totally misinterpreted it. It’s really all about the mu-mus. Mu-mus, baby, sexy-
sexy mu-mus. It’s like μ, merged with μ, and ready for interfacing. You’re welcome.
Morphologist: sex + -y + -ness = me.
Neogrammarian: Was? Dieses Outfit makes me look attractively regular, mit Ausnahmslosigkeit!
OT Syntactician: If they’d just rerank their constraints, they’d find me well-
formed. I’m extremely elegant, conceptually.
Philosopher of Language: There are still linguists?
Phonetician: Oh, I’m sexy all right. I’m a really good listener, and I can make my tongue do absolutely anything you want it to. /sːːɛ̰ːks̤i̤ːːː/
Phonologist: That’s quite a maximal pair you’ve got there
— round and mound.
Pragmaticist: “It’s hot in here” entails that I’m sexy.
Prosodist: Oooo; Oooo; Oooooo.
Semanticist: “∀x(person(x) ⇒ ∃y(person(y) ∧ love(y)(x)))” is much sexier than “∃y(person(y) ∧ ∀x(person(x) ⇒ love(y)(x)))”.
Sociolinguist: Consider “Damn! That dress is hawt!” and “That’s more than a dress. That’s an Audrey Hepburn movie.” Which sounds more formal? Which would you say to your friend? To your sister? To your boss? Which would be more likely to get you to go out with me?
Stratificational Linguist: I just need another three years and I’ll have total sexiness coverage! Uh, make that four years. Oops, forgot the bit with the flowers and that other bit with the yodeling...
Syntactician #1: Don’t listen to what the morphologists say, I put the sin in syntactician. Yeah, baby!
Syntactician #2: Sexy is what I am! Fronting my constituents is what I’d do to be closer to you!
Syntactician #3: Do I have to remind you who invented government and binding?
Syntactician #4: Not to mention tough movement and minimalist phasing, of course.
Translation Theorist: What? I can say “sexy” in 16 different languages and analyze its cultural significance in fourteen world literatures. Doesn’t that count?
* No, we don’t know what it is either but we have an irresistible urge to offer Arts funding to anyone studying it.
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