Most Popular Pages—Last 30 Days

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1. Thirteen Untranslatable WordsMichael Covarrubias (519 visits)

Thirteen Untranslatable Words. by Michael Covarrubias. I’m a language lover. I have been since I was a kid. Just about eleven months after being born, I started saying words and I’ve been using them ever since. I probably use words every day and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. After a while, we language lovers have a hard time learning more about our native language. That’s why we branch out to memorize other languages. It can be hard though, because a lot of foreign languages have words in them that we just can’t translate into English. Maybe it’s because we don’t have the concept in English, and that makes it impossible to make up a label for the concept. Or, more interestingly, ... more ]

2. Vol CLXXXII, No 2 (357 visits)

Speculative Grammarian Volume CLXXXII, Number 2 ... 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, Florian Breit Bethany Carlson Emily Davis Vincent Fish Deak Kirkham Andrew Lamont Tuuli Mustasydän Tim Pulju Mary Shapiro Bill Spruiell Sheri Wells-Jensen, Joey Whitford, Comptroller General The Pen is Mightier than the Sword, —If Launched with Sufficient Speed August 2018 ... more ]

3. Sleeping Furiously Since 1986Everyday OptimalityLaura Ryals (224 visits)

Sleeping Furiously Since 1986 Everyday Optimality. by Laura Ryals. Input: Hair down + wearing skirt + wind ... All three options violate the “Remember to bring a hair tie” constraint, so I didn’t even include it in the tableau. ... more ]

4. Linguistics Nerd CampBethany Carlson (222 visits)

Linguistics Nerd Camp. Bethany Carlson. Marty pleads his case. ... more ]

5. University News (198 visits)

University News. Taxing Phonotactics. by Ruthlessly Roving Reporter Miss Deakina Andrea Kirkhamia The teaching of phonotactics is to be taxed by the government from the academic year 2019, a leaked report reveals. Recent government funded research reveals that the learning of phonotactics in undergraduate and post-graduate degree courses correlates with lower earning potential throughout adult life and in some cases, descent into a life of violent criminality and sociopathic, destructive behaviour. One source told us that individuals who have studied phonotactics as part of their degree may be responsible for up to 17.5% of graffiti in the world’s capitals, some of which is ... more ]

6. Sleeping Furiously Since 1986Hamlet Tries PraatLaura Ryals (194 visits)

Sleeping Furiously Since 1986 Hamlet Tries Praat. by Laura Ryals. A [b]... or not a [b]... Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and I think it’s his sampling rate. ... more ]

7. The Origin of Tonal Consonants in Native American LanguagesIain Paul Anderson (189 visits)

The Origin of Tonal Consonants in Native American Languages. Iain Paul Anderson, Junior Data Scientist (FTC), Munich University Deep Diachronic Linguistics Experiment. While preparing data from a sample of Native American languages for mass lexical comparison, I noticed a curious feature of the phonology of these languages. We normally expect tone to occur on vowels, but a large number of the languages in the sample contained consonants marked for tone. It was always the same four consonants on which tonal marking occurredthe palatal stop and approximant, and the alveolar fricatives, and they always contrasted rising tone against unmarkedno other tone was marked on these consonants, nor were ... more ]

8. Tim Pulju’s The History of Rome (181 visits)

Tim Pulju’s The History of Rome . Are you looking for a book about ancient Roman history that’s interesting, informative, and amusing? No? Oh. Well, all the same, as long as you’re on this webpage already, we’d like to recommend that you buy Tim Pulju’s The History of Rome. Easy to read, full of genuine historical facts, and adorned with amateurish hand-drawn pictures, The History of Rome is so good that even Girolamo Savonarola might hesitate to cast it into the flames. And best of all, it’s only $6.99! Buy one now! Interested, but wary of being burned by a slick advertising campaign for a product that fails to live up to the hype? Then download the free preview and read ... more ]

9. LinguimericksBook ५३ (179 visits)

Linguimericks, Book ५३. To Fieldworkers of Old in Evenkia Raw sewage that downstream is heading To where our tap water’s inletting Might scare you, but never fear! The harsh winter weather here Prevents most diseases from spreading —Hester Fester-Münsterfenster, Every fairy tale makes itself true With a witch or a goblin or two. When a linguist tells tales What phantasm prevails? Well, I guess that the phoneme will do —Morris Swadesh III, sibilant schmibilant jusht how progreshshive’sh pre- shervative shpread as di- rectional tact?, anteriority recheshshive harmony shiftsh shetsh of fricativesh into [+back] —Andrew Lamont, Linguistics teachers, they say, “An apple ... more ]

10. Describe This!A Letter from the Managing Editor (172 visits)

Describe This!. A letter from the Managing Editor. Perhaps the stress of managing and publishing SpecGram has finally gotten to me, or maybe I've just seen too many poorly written manuscripts describing half-baked ideas lately.1 Whatever the cause, I have, of late, felt a strangely compelling need to abandon my Descriptivist Idealism in favor of Prescriptivist Tyranny. I've never been a big fan of rules that derive their legitimacy from the notion that "That's how it has always been."2 And as far as I'm concerned, erudite appeals to etymologically correct grammatical etiquette fall into that category. So, in no uncertain terms, let me say that graffiti and data are mass nouns in ... more ]

11. All Hail the RomansTHoR, LOKI, and RAGNaROK (!??)A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief (168 visits)

All Hail the RomansTHoR, LOKI, and RAGNaROK (!??). A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief. Editor Emeritus Tim Pulju has been spending his emerital free time writing a history of Rome. In fact, he seems so sure that his book is the definitive work on the subject that he’s titled it The History of Rome, though admittedly he didn’t go so far as to bold the The in the title. Perhaps that’s only becausethe book being about Romehe decided to stick with the more etymologically Italian formatting. So, how did Speculative Grammarian Press come to publish a book on history? Well, of course, Old Man Pulju still ... more ]

12. The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics (158 visits)

The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics . For decades, Speculative Grammarian has been the premier scholarly journal featuring research in the neglected field of satirical linguisticsand now it is available in book formboth physical and electronic! We wish we were kidding, but no, seriously, we’ve published a large collection of SpecGram articles, along with just enough new material to force obsessive collectors and fans to buy it, regardless of the cost. From the Introduction: The past twenty-five years have witnessed many changes in linguistics, with major developments in linguistic theory, significant expansion in language description, and even ... more ]

13. Letters to the Editor (CLXXXII.2) (157 visits)

Letters to the Editor. Dear SpecGram, The recent obituaries for Koko the Gorilla highlight yet again the mammalianist bias in animal communication research. Koko is frequently described as if she were a genius of eloquence, but there is nothing special about producing random sequences of sign language words at all. Dolphins, too, are the subject of wildly exaggerated claims. Any parrot could mimic human speech far more easily than any dolphin could, and what’s more, would not expect obscene favours in return. Much is made of their so-called “signature whistles” but again, parrots have unique, learned, identifying calls. I myself have learned to identify one of my regular human visitors and greet him by his ... more ]

14. Podcast—Language Made Difficult, Vol. L (151 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 ]

15. Archives (144 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 ]

16. The Words of the Prophets Are Written on the Restroom Walls...Art Paul and Simon Garfunkel (135 visits)

The Words of the Prophets Are Written on the Restroom Walls.... Art Paul and Simon Garfunkel, X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies. We here at the X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies pride ourselves on the well-above-average level of discourse that takes place in our hallowed halls. It turns out that a well-above-average level of discourse also takes place in our bathroom stalls. Below we’ve collected a small sampling of the overly educated graffiti that has appeared in the Little Linguists’ Room outside Linguistic Collaborative Space #34b in our secondary satellite office in Seattle. A language whose word for ‘interpreter’ is incredibly ... more ]

17. Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart 九Lexicostatistics vs. GlottochronologyPhineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. (135 visits)

Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, Part 九—Lexicostatistics vs. Glottochronology. Phineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. Unintentional University of Lghtnbrgstn. If you are new to Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, please review back issues of this journal. Now let us consider the fundamental difference between Lexicostatistics and Glottochronology: ... Up next: Feeding and Bleeding with guest cartoonist Erin Taylor. References, Arndt, Walter W. (1959). “The performance of glottochronology in Germanic”. Language, 35, 180-192. Bergsland, Knut; & Vogt, Hans. (1962). “On the validity of glottochronology”. Current Anthropology, 3, 115-153. Chretien, Douglas (1962). “The ... more ] Podcast!

18. Letters to the Editor (CLVIII.3) (131 visits)

Letters to the Editor. Dear Editors of Speculative Grammarian, I have just finished Trent Slater’s recent article on the impossibility of translation. (Well, to be honest, I read a bootleg Basque translation of it. I was travelling in Spain and couldn’t wait until I got home to read the February issue of SpecGram.) While I agree with both his premise and his conclusion, I have to take issue with the bit in the middle. In particular, he writes: In English ... while farmers raise “pigs,” we eat “pork, bacon, sausages and scratchings.” I’m not sure where Prof. Slater hails from, but here in the civilized parts of the English-speaking world, we most certainly do not eat ... more ] Podcast!

19. Académie Française Has Banned Conlanging, AgainSpecGram Wire Services (128 visits)

Académie Française Has Banned Conlanging, Again. SpecGram Wire Services. Paris, FranceToday marked the 85th consecutive year in which l’Académie française has banned conlanging. The convened panel of Immortals (as members are officially known) passed the measure, a terse 400 words in French (or 70 in its English translation) in a twelve minute discussion that opened with the reading of a passage reminding everyone that the Immortals’ resplendent green uniforms were adopted specifically to denote the military spirit needed for “The War on Conlanging.” Critics of the move have lambasted l’Académie. One detractor, speaking on condition of ... more ]

20. Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart JFeeding and BleedingErin Taylor (126 visits)

Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, Part J—Feeding and Bleeding. Erin Taylor, Cal State Fullerton. Those unacquainted with the form and purpose of the Cartoon Theories of Linguistics can probably fake it if they are able to locate previous installments of this series. Let us turn our attention to Feeding and Bleeding Rules, as explained by Erin Taylor: ... Next time: Prescriptivism vs. Descriptivism. References, Baron, W. (1983). “Cases of counter-feeding in Fas.” Language and Linguistics in Melanesia. Blumenfeld, L. (2003) “Counterfeeding, derived environment effects, and comparative markedness”. Theoretical Linguistics, Vol. 29, No. 1-2, pp. 89-99. Hastings, A. J. (1974) ... more ]

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Last updated Aug. 17, 2018.