P. Ublekkoppen Ñon & Suṛɨ Vē
X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies
Linguistics, as a subject—despite its obvious universal appeal and global applicability—is not well-known or well-understood by non-linguists. We—and a large team of uncredited and unpaid XQK interns—have taken it to the streets, so to speak, to get a better sense of how the linguistic laity grok our jargon and/or terms of art. Presented below are over 100 “definitions” of linguistic and linguistic-adjacent terms, provided to us by the general public. A small number of terms appear more than once, or appear along with closely related terms. Good help is so hard to find.
[Note: Technically, no interns were harmed in the making of this glossary. Legally-binding XQK-internal research shows that interns do not have a sufficiently sophisticated nervous system to feel pain. And it’s not like flogging hurts all that much anyway. —Eds.]
Acoustic Phonetics: A moral code for playing billiards as a hobby.
Adjacency Pair: When Jason Collins and Jason Campbell are spotted together.
Affrication: Slogan for a travel agent based south of the Mediterranean.
Analogy: Immune response to a harmless stimulus.
Analysis: Analiese is what?
Analysis: And Alice is what?
Apocope: Ability to put up with primates.
Autosegmental Phonology: An aversion bordering on neurosis to ordering car parts over the telephone.
Back Formation: What goes wrong in scoliosis.
Bloomfield: A necropolis full of discarded beer heads.
Breathy Voice: Nuisance caller.
Broad Transcription: Shorthand by a woman.
C-command: “Walk the plank!”
Cherology: The study of pretending to give a crap.
Chomsky: A skiing trip with your chums.
Code-Talker Paradox: Two professors talking shop.
Conlang: Tongue spoken by convicted criminals.
Coronal Stop: Grain imports will end.
Corpus Analysis: The prelude to painting a nude.
Covert Prestige: Cred for being 007.
Data Scientist: Academic courtship.
Delayed Release: Parole refused.
Descriptivism: The belief that learning to write is a waste of time in our digital age.
Diachronic: Recurring bowel trouble.
Diacritic: Color a reviewer.
Digraph: Chart of mortality rates.
Diphthong: A sandal worn when going to take a short swim.
Discourse: What students do after an unfair exam.
Discourse Analysis: What students are invited to write on disevaluation form.
Distinctive Features: Memorable face.
Documentary Translation: National Geographic in Welsh.
Epenthesis: Manufacturing of writing gear.
Etymology: The study of the origin of insects.
Euphemistic: A young Cockney given to spiritual apprehension of super-intellectual truths.
Face Management: Plastic surgery.
Generativism: Admiration for high-ranking Army officers.
Goidelic Languages: What they speak in Gentile delicatessens.
Google Translate: The rail cars tasked with removing birds from the oil slick are past their time.
Grammar: Mother of one’s mother.
Grimm’s Law: Just the cabbage; sad, sad cabbage. Maybe some rutabaga mixed in.
Havlík’s Law: Keep the cabbage but reduce yer other ingredients.
Indirect Translation: Interlingual work managed by a pub.
Infix: Doing up a pub.
Instrumental Translation: Working for a mad saxophonist.
Isolating Language: That thing you said that means nobody wants to be your friend any more.
Lexis: A really nice car.
Linguist: Someone who speaks more than one language.
M-command: An order given by the head of MI6.
Maximal Projection: IMAX screen.
Metathesis: A primary claim about a primary claim.
Minimal Pair: Person who always buys the cheapest brand.
Minimalism: Emphasis on tiny shopping centers.
Morphology: Additional phology.
Morphophonology: Additional fake study of cellular usage patterns.
Negative Politeness: Passive aggression.
Omission: A bit like p mission but earlier.
Onomatopoeia: Not house-trained.
Optimality: Choosing to invite men rather than women to tea.
Orthoepic Diaskeuast: The raised table on which the non-heretical heroic poem rests is the least straight one.
Orthography: Charts showing the effectiveness of orthopedic surgeries.
Paradigm Leveling: Rounding all costs to the nearest twenty cents.
Parole and Langue: Getting let out of prison, and not just for a little while.
Passive Aggressive: You’ll get killed.
Phoneme: Call the man.
Phonetics: Nervous habits that arise when you hear the words “your call is important to us.”
Phonology: The study of cellular usage patterns.
Phonotactics: Strategy for deciding when to make a call.
Pidgin: A berd similar to a duv.
Pitch Accent: What you sound like with a mouthful of tar.
Plagiarism: Dancing to Shakespeare.
Plosive Stop: Bomb disposal equipment.
Politeness Theory: The monster in the Loch might be nice to us, but we haven’t tested that yet.
Polynesian Language: A language spoken by a people with many legs.
Polysynthetic: Plastic parrot.
Portmanteau: A variety of steamed bun common in the coastal cities of China.
Poverty of the Stimulus: Lack of quantitative easing.
Pragmatics: Maternally Czech blood-sucking parasite.
Prescriptivism: The belief that one should learn to write in preschool.
Repair Strategy: Should I fix the roof or the plumbing first?
Research: To look again for your keys at the request of your wife.
Retroflex Sibilants: Contortionists sharing the same parents.
Rhotacize: What the dressmaker did after taking a customer’s measurements.
Ruki Rule: A special requirement for beginners.
Secondary Split: The milk-based dessert you eat after the first one.
Semantics: A species of blood-sucking parasite whose preferred host are able seamen.
Semiotics: Halves of blood-sucking parasites.
Sibilant: A shibilant as pronounced by an Ephraimite.
Siever’s Law: Grind the cabbage and all other ingredients through a fine steel mesh.
SpecGram: Courier service for eyeglasses.
SpecGram: Unit of mass for things that are almost too small to see.
Structuralism: Admiration for buildings, edifices, and architecture in general.
Superposition: Ideal location.
Synchronic: Long-standing moral problems.
Syntax: A letter of indulgence obtained in return for monetary donations.
Taboo Avoidance: Going as a silent ghost on Halloween.
Translator: Worker applying tiles to a TGV.
Triphthong: A sandal worn on vacation.
Typology: Linguists according to Meyers and Briggs.
Underlying Representation: To give yet another talk about the deliberately misleading foundation of one’s research program.
Velarize: A choice between ossobuco and pilaf.
Verner’s Law: Cabbage with overly sweet ginger ale dressing.
Vocal Tract: A strident pamphlet.
Voice Offset: A device for muting a telephone.
Wackernagel’s Law: Cabbage plus a firmly struck nagel.
Whorfian Hypothesis: Any theory involving a quay.
Word-Final Devoicing: Speech ending in a tracheotomy.