Most Popular Pages—Last 30 Days

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1. Vol CLXXX, No 4 (372 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 ]

2. New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered!Yreka Bakery (364 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!

3. Evidence of Extraterrestrial Contact in English Function WordsWolf Muddler (280 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 ]

4. Letters to the Editor (CLXXX.4) (234 visits)

Letters to the Editor. Dear You, We were greatly pleased to read Mead D’’Cruft’s “Teacher, Teacher on the Wall...” It is a perfect example of our dictum that when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonguistics problems. Sincerely, Billy “Bully” Bullmoose, President, Purdue University Normal School, Linguistics Teaching Department ... Dear Billy, Or should we say “Bully” for you? We appreciate the hard-won praise from P.U.N.S. L.T.D. and especially your recognition that we practice lemonguisticslike linguistics, only sourer, we always say, and to be strictly distinguished from what is practiced at MIT and related departments, lemminguistics. Sincerely ... more ]

5. Cryptolinguistic Puzzle 0110Mary Shapiro (230 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 ]

6. Οrthоgrаphiс Реrрlехеr (228 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 ]

7. Linguist DubstepRebecca Lovering (179 visits)

Linguist Dubstep. Rebecca Lovering. WUG WUG WUG WUUUUUG WUG WUG ... more ]

8. Linguimericks, Etc.Book ४७ (165 visits)

Linguimericks, Etc. Book ४७. It wasn’t the first morpheme cut that made me a linguist. That was merely an analytical baby step. The moment is clear— the first time I made a word out of analyzed bits and realized the power and delight of stepping into another language with no more than ten fragments of meaning. Suddenly I could think a Swahili thought, imagine that I shared a tiny piece of a million Swahili minds. From then on I could no longer retreat to one beautiful language, for beauty no longer had limits —Morris Swadesh III, TA for Ling 101 Fresh-faced frosh evoke Kindness, warm benevolence— ’Til one called me “ma’am” —Lauren Ipsum, Statistical ... more ]

9. Homophonic Aphorism Confusions ClarifiedDonald N.S. Unger (162 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 ]

10. Arabic Numeral to Numeri++ ConverterDaniel Swanson & Trey Jones (157 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 ]

11. Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart EPhonetics vs. PhonologyHilário Parenchyma, C.Phil. (157 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. Letters, Letters, and More LettersA Meta-Letter from the Editor-in-Chief (156 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 ]

13. Maybelline and the Cliché CaperAnita G. Gorman (153 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 ]

14. Ps. Q.Variation in the English Indefinite ArticleTim Pulju (144 visits)

Variation in the English Indefinite Article. The problem of variation in the English indefinite article between the forms a and an has long vexed linguists. In his 1933 classic, Language, Bloomfield cited this case as an example of free variation at the morphological level, saying, “There seems to be no principled basis for predicting which form occurs in which contexts.” This solution was accepted by the neo-Bloomfieldians in general. It was Jespersen who first questioned the Bloomfieldian solution. In 1941, he proposed that the syntactic class of the following word determined the form of the indefinite article; specifically, an occurred before adjectives, and a before nouns. He ... more ] Podcast! Book!

15. Οrthοɡrаphiс ΡеrplexеrAnnouncement (138 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 ]

16. Ps. Q.The Effect of Coffee Consumption on Adults’ Average MLU at the Breakfast TableSuzy X. (133 visits)

Dear Sirs: When Mommy fell asleep at the computer during her third straight all-nighter and accidentally erased her doctoral thesis, I wrote this to help her out. She graduated with honors, and so I thought I’d do a paper on it and send it to you, since I’ve heard it’s your kind of thing. Please do not print my full name with this article, because I am not allowed to use Mommy’s computer at all. Thanks, Suzy X. P.S. My little brother Jimmy also contributed to this work, but I only let him touch the computer once. The Effect of Coffee Consumption on Adults’ Average MLU at the Breakfast Table. Jimmy and I have always thought that the way Mommy and Daddy act in the morning has something to do with how ... more ] Podcast!

17. Letters to the Editor (CLI.3) (130 visits)

Letters to the Editor, ... To the most respected Editors, In the fall I’ll be a first-year grad student in linguistics at R––– University. A couple of the current fourth-years told me that the International Phonetic Association was adding several new symbols for sounds that have previously been considered to have questionable status as phonemes. They said that the most contentious new addition was double-dot wide-O, a nasal-ingressive voiceless velar trill. I’ve leafed through several back issues of SpecGram, Language, and a few other journals. I’ve searched the Linguist List archives, and scoured the web. I can’t find anything about it (though right ... more ] Podcast! Merch!

18. Archives (128 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 ]

19. About Us (124 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!

20. Podcast—Language Made Difficult, Vol. L (115 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 ]

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Last updated Feb. 18, 2018.