We are often asked1 why we don’t use “the” in front of “Speculative Grammarian” in the name of our journal. It’s a noun like any other, after all. Many inquire whether we are against determiners for some reason.2
It’s a perfectly good question. Most of our staff have become so used to the name Speculative Grammarian that we interpret “the Speculative Grammarian” as using “celebrity the”
But stepping back, it’s clear that others do not share our familiarity or ease with such use. Truth be told, as a cub reporter for SpecGram back in the day, I also let slip “The Speculative Grammarian” once or twice. Then-
While he is technically correct,5 looking back I feel he may have made a sort of category error. Language can be a mass noun, but grammarian is not
1 Well, that’s a bit generous. Not enough people ask. Many fail to notice, and use “the” without asking. This editorial is a nicer response than having them caned
2 The editorial board of SpecGram can categorically and collectively state that we are not against determiners in the slightest. We are against determinism, though. Collectively, we do not have a position on determinism because it is impossible to agree on the truth of the matter. Thus we have instituted a ban against discussing it during editorial meetings. It is the only topic that is both more contentious and less consequential than comma placement.
3 After the requisite caning, of course. See footnote 1.
4 In the time-
5 Normally the best kind of correct
6 On the other other hand, I suppose if a set of grammarians grew so large that they fused together, like a forest with a shared root system that is arguably one biological entity,7 then maybe one could use grammarian as a mass noun,8 or at least a collective one.
7 Some have argued that this has already happened, intellectually, in many academic circles.
8 Alternatively, if the fused grammarian exploded, deflated, or otherwise experienced severely compromised structural integrity, grammarian obviously could be used as a mass noun, as in, “Eww, I’ve gotten grammarian all over my good shoes.”