Most Popular Pages—Last 7 Days

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1. New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered!Yreka Bakery (326 visits)

New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered!. An apparently new speech disorder a linguistics department our correspondent visited was affected by has appeared. Those affected our correspondent a local grad student called could hardly understand apparently still speak fluently. The cause experts the LSA sent investigate remains elusive. Frighteningly, linguists linguists linguists sent examined are highly contagious. Physicians neurologists psychologists other linguists called for help called for help called for help didn’t help either. The disorder experts reporters SpecGram sent consulted investigated apparently is a case of pathological center embedding. Yreka Bakery (Egello College). ... more ] Podcast! Book!

2. Οrthоgrаphiс Реrрlехеr (175 visits)

Оrthоgraрhіc Perрlехer. Welcome to the Speculative Grammarian Оrthοɡrаphіс Ρerplехеr! This not-quite-pointless little tool will munge your text, randomly replacing some characters with homoglyphs that are nearly identical1or at least quite reasonably similar to the untrained eye. Why? To make text both very hard and very easy to find via normal search (try to find “οrthoɡrарhіс реrрleхer” on this page, for example); to confuse and amaze your friends and enemies alike;6 to pass the time in a ... more ]

3. Cryptolinguistic Puzzle 0110Mary Shapiro (94 visits)

Cryptolinguistic Puzzle 0110. Mary Shapiro, Truman State University. Like other cryptic crosswords, the clues in this puzzle are not straightforward. Unlike most, however, this one focuses mainly on languages and linguistics. For instance, the clue for Zapotec might be “Oto-Manguean variety alters pez coat” (anagram of pez coat), or “Indigenous Mexican language to destroy overtime prior to European Commission” (ZAP + O.T. + E.C.), or “a nice top, a zany blouse conceals retro Oaxacan language” (niCE TOP, A Zany), or many other combinations of puns, anagrams, or typographic quirks. Punctuation in clues is often misleading. Each clue contains both a definition ... more ]

4. Language as a Virus from SpaceAnnouncement (74 visits)

ANNOUNCEMENT Further Evidence for, Language, as a, Virus from Space, A Symposium in Two Movements. Fred Hoyle has forcefully and, many would say, persuasively argued for the existence of viruses floating free in space. Hoyle, Wickranmasinghe, and Watkins in their seminal work, Viruses from Space go so far as to suggest that life on Earth may have been seeded by such viruses. These claims are certainly worthy of consideration, but they fail to address an important corollary: if life on Earth was seeded by viruses from space, then shouldn't such viruses--most likely completely different ones, in fact--still be falling to the Earth's surface from time to time? After abstractly pondering these facts for several years in ... more ]

5. Arabic Numeral to Numeri++ ConverterDaniel Swanson & Trey Jones (66 visits)

Arabic Numeral to Numeri++ Converter. by Daniel Swanson & Trey Jones. Cognomen 2018 (SpecGram, CLXXX.3) in footnote ‡‡† lays out “a superior, novel solution” to extending Numeri++, his science-nerd–friendly upgrade to Roman numerals, to accommodate values beyond 5,000. We have provided a handy converter on the SpecGram website for the mathematically and/or typographically challenged among you who would like to use this system — It appears that our buddy Prae-Prae put a little too much faith in the Unicode Consortium. Obviously any entity with “Consortium” right there in the name is not to be trusted ... more ]

6. Maybelline and the Cliché CaperAnita G. Gorman (63 visits)

Maybelline and the Cliché Caper. By Anita G. Gorman. Maybelline knew about clichés. She’d been taught all about them in school. Yes, they were clever sayings. Well, they were clever sayings when they had been invented, and they were so clever that lots of people started using them, and then they became worn and tired and automatic. For example, her ninth-grade English teacher, Ms. Braxton, would play a game from time to time. “Now, boys and girls, let us think about clichés. I will begin a cliché and you will end it. Are you ready? Here we go!” And Ms. Braxton would shout out the beginning of a tired saying, and her students would dutifully respond. “She’s pretty ... more ]

7. Οrthοɡrаphiс ΡеrplexеrAnnouncement (51 visits)

Оrthоgraрhіc Perрlехer. The Speculative Grammarian Оrthοɡrаphіс Ρerplехеr is a not-quite-pointless little tool that will munge your text, randomly replacing some characters with homoglyphs that are nearly identical1or at least quite reasonably similar to the untrained eye. Why? To make digital text both very hard and very easy to find via normal search (try to find “οrthoɡrарhіс реrрleхer” on this page, for example); to confuse and amaze your friends and enemies alike;6 to pass the time in a ... more ]

8. Vol CLXXX, No 4 (49 visits)

Speculative Grammarian Volume CLXXX, Number 4 ... Trey Jones, Editor-in-Chief Keith Slater, Executive Editor, Associate Editors, Pete Bleackley Jonathan Downie Mikael Thompson, Assistant Editors, Virginia Bouchard Mark Mandel Yuval Wigderson, Editorial Associates, Brenda Boerger Vincent Fish Anita G. Gorman Andrew Lamont Beth Martyn Mary Shapiro Bill Spruiell Daniel Swanson Don Unger, Joey Whitford, Comptroller General Even Our Navels Are Hilarious February 2018 ... more ]

9. Collateral Descendant of Lingua PrancaNursery Rhymes From Linguistics LandYune O. Hūū, II (48 visits)

Nursery Rhymes From Linguistics Land. Yune O. Hūū II. Continuing in the great tradition of Stepfather Goose, the following nursery rhymes are presented to ensure their preservation for future generations of young linguists. P’op’ Goes The Ejective! All around the agreement bush, The noun chased the adjéctive. The noun thought ’twas all in fun. P’op’! goes the ejective!, A penny to pay the undergrad, For judgments introspective. That’s the way the money goes. P’op’! goes the ejective!, If John kissed Mary habitually, The action’s imperfective, That’s the way the aspect goes. P’op’! goes the ejective!, Half a pound of subjective case, ... more ] Podcast! Book!

10. Evidence of Extraterrestrial Contact in English Function WordsWolf Muddler (41 visits)

Evidence of Extraterrestrial Contact in English Function Words. Wolf Muddler, Functionalism and Binding Institute. The distribution of the phoneme /ð/ in English is somewhat peculiar. It is normally confined to word-internal positions, with one strange exception. Function words may have /ð/ in initial position, provided that the second phoneme is a vowel. This is usually explained in the following way: [ð] was an allophone of /θ/ in Old English, occurring between vowels. Many Old English words ended with /e/, which has been muted in modern English. Since function words are generally unstressed, their word boundaries were weaker, thus causing the initial /θ/ to be interpreted as intervocalic, ... more ]

11. Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart EPhonetics vs. PhonologyHilário Parenchyma, C.Phil. (36 visits)

Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, Part E—Phonetics vs. Phonology. Hilário Parenchyma, C.Phil. Unintentional University of Lghtnbrgstn. We will skip the introduction, as we have been there, done that. Once more into the breach! For this installment in our series on Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, we will turn our attention to Phonetics and Phonology and the difference between the two: Phonetics:, ... Phonology:, ... Thanks to Professor Phlogiston, of the Unintentional University of Lghtnbrgstn, for the opportunity of a lifetime, as a student, to, on this occasion, share with so many of my fellow linguisticians my views, as illustrated above, concerning matters, which are of such immeasurable import ... more ] Merch! Book!

12. Choose Your Own Career in Linguistics (31 visits)

Choose Your Own Career in Linguistics. by Trey Jones. As a service to our young and impressionable readers who are considering pursuing a career in linguistics, Speculative Grammarian is pleased to provide the following Gedankenexperiment to help you understand the possibilities and consequences of doing so. For our old and bitter readers who are too far along in their careers to have any real hope of changing the eventual outcome, we provide the following as a cruel reminder of what might have been. Let the adventure begin ... more ] Book!

13. Archives (28 visits)

SpecGram Archives. A word from our Senior Archivist, Holger Delbrück: While bringing aging media to the web and hence the world is truly a labor of love, SpecGram tries the passion of even the most ardent admirer. Needless to say, we’ve fallen behind schedule. At every turn, the authors found in the pages of this hallowed journal stretch credibility with their gratuitous font mongeringfirst it was the IPA, then a few non-standard transcription systems, then Greek, and not just the alphabet, but the entire diacritical mess, and now I’ve got some god-forsaken Old Church Slavonic glyph sitting on my desk that no one can even name, and which would give the Unicode Consortium ... more ]

14. About Us (28 visits)

Speculative Grammarian and Our Story. The august journal Speculative Grammarian has a long, rich, and varied history, weaving an intricate and subtle tapestry from disparate strands of linguistics, philology, history, politics, science, technology, botany, pharmacokinetics, computer science, the mathematics of humor, basket weaving, archery, glass blowing, roller coaster design, and bowling, among numerous other, less obvious fields. SpecGram, as it is known to devotees and sworn enemies alike, has for centuries sought to bring together the greatest yet least understood minds of the time, embedding itself firmly in the cultural and psychological matrix of the global society while ... more ] Podcast!

15. Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart жThe Trouble with NLPPhineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. (27 visits)

Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, Part ж—The Trouble with NLP. Phineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. Unintentional University of Lghtnbrgstn. Please review previously discussed materials as needed. Now that that is taken care of, let us consider why Natural Language Processing (or, its alter-ego, Computational Linguistics) has not been the resounding success regularly predicted by the NLP faithful: ... Up next: Lexicostatistics vs Glottochronology. References, Baeza-Yates, Ricardo and Berthier Ribeiro-Neto (1999). Modern Information Retrieval. Manning, Christopher, and Hinrich Schütze. (1999). Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing. Russell, Stuart J. and Peter Norvig. ... more ] Merch! Book!

16. Homophonic Aphorism Confusions ClarifiedDonald N.S. Unger (25 visits)

Homophonic Aphorism Confusions Clarified. By Donald N.S. Unger. A Stitch in Thyme Saves Nine: [archaic] Derives from the medieval belief that thyme, properly sewn into clothing, is an effective form of birth control. Brass Tax: Fine assessed as a penalty for particularly arrogant behavior. Dammed if You Do, Dammed if You Don’t: An environmental conundrum in which damming a river as an anti-beaver measure is mooted by the fact that, undisturbed, the damage the beavers would cause would be the damming of the river. Discretion is the Better Part of Velour: Older women in track suits are good at keeping secrets. Give the Devil His Dew: Extreme expression of the Christian admonition to ... more ]

17. Podcast—Language Made Difficult, Vol. L (25 visits)

Language Made Difficult, Vol. L — The SpecGram LingNerds are on their own this time. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss the dangers of mispronouncing the names of Canadian provinces, and then advise students as to what they should *not* do. They also fail to celebrate the 50th episode. Many outtakes are provided. ... listen ]

18. An Introduction to Linguistics in Haiku FormAnonymous (24 visits)

An Introduction to, Linguistics in Haiku Form. Anonymous. linguistic theory, hidden representations, to surface structures phonology is, sound patterns of languages, phonemes, allophones phonetics is sounds, articulation of them, acoustics, hearing comp. linguistics is, theory into efficient, implementation morphology is, if same structure, same meaning, then it’s a morpheme syntactic theory, blah blah chomsky chomsky blah, blah chomsky blah blah ... more ] Podcast! Book!

19. Linguistic Poems for Valentine’s Day (24 visits)

Linguistic Poems for Valentine’s Day. From the SpecGram Podcast. ... For your amusement as Valentine’s Day approaches, we present a collection of recordings of various poems that have appeared in SpecGram and our sister publications over the years, all read by Editor-in-Love Jonathan van der Meer. These vignettes of love, lust, longing, loss, and linguistics are sure to stir your heart. How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Draw a Tree Diagram by Alex Savoy; From Volume CLXI, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, March 2011. My Love is Like a Colorless Green Simile by Rasmus Burns; From Volume CLXIV, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, March 2012. Love Queries of a Linguist by John Miaou; From ... more ]

20. Letters, Letters, and More LettersA Meta-Letter from the Editor-in-Chief (24 visits)

Letters, Letters, and More Letters. A Meta-Letter from the Editor-in-Chief. The zeugmatic theme of this month’s issue is letters. In the epistolary department, a long-standing logjam has been broken, and a flood of missives has been released. The logodaedalists among the Letters Interns had been at loggerheads over how to handle the logorrhea so common among our correspondents. The vast majority (of the interns, not your letters) have been sorted into the round file, as per usual, but a larger than usual number (of your letters, not interns) made it through to publication. Enjoy!or, Regret!, as appropriate. Numerically speaking, last month’s publication of Praenomen ... more ]

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Last updated Feb. 18, 2018.