Astute students of the SpecGram author indices are aware that some of our material is published in nom de plume fashion.* Even the most perceptive may have failed to notice, though, that some superficially straightforward attributions are in fact pseudonymous. In the spirit of elevating the educational level of our readership, we offer this guide to the question of when and, more importantly, how to use a proper pen name.
Leaving aside the question of the thematic and obvious false names (such as my own Sven Slater, Robert F. Scott, and Edgar Allan Slater), minor orthographic variants such as Keith W. Slater and Thik Trals, and trivially explicable alter egos such as editor or LingNerds, there is an additional large category of pen names which are superficially identical to one’s own real name.
There are many reasons for using identical pseudonyms; primary among these is that our readers tell us they enjoy seeing pieces by so many different authors of the same name. “It’s so great,” one long-
This is really the key to our decisions about pseudonyms. We want our readers to be happy, and they are happiest when multiple Keith Slater authors (including the one writing this column) entertain them with a variety of areas of expertise, a variety of writing styles, and a variety of approaches to linguistic satire.
We recommend that you rely upon similar principles in your academic work. Multiply your (identical!) pen names, and let each specialize in an area that will garner the interest of a different set of readers. Your overall impact upon the field will grow, and yet no one will accuse you of overproduction or of belonging to that lowest class of linguists, the “serial novelist” of linguistic paper writers.
* The SpecGram Satirical Authors Guild is butting in here with this footnote to take issue with this claim. Significantly fewer than 95% of our authors use their real name in the pages of SpecGram, and to claim otherwise is an insult!