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That Doesn’t Go There. By Donald N.S. Unger. Perhaps this is what drove you away from reading porn too. A scene is building, and you are with it, heading towards—heading towards... And then: “No, no, no, no—no! That doesn’t go there!” And the moment is ruined. So... you understand? I’m glad I’m not the only person upset by bad comma usage; I had never really thought that was the case but—clearly, I don’t have to tell you!—it’s just hard to figure out who’s-okay-with-what. Frankly, I’m more-than-tired at this point, about ... [ more ]
Why Linguistics is Not a Science. The SpecGram Editorial Board. In a couple of recent editorials we have answered several of the questions most frequently submitted by SpecGram readers. Since the publication of those editorials, by far the most common question received in our offices has been, “Could please furnish us with your bank account number so we can transfer payment to you?” We cannot in good conscience accede to this request, as it violates a number of constraints and therefore suffers from what we like to call “fatal infelicity.” Another frequent question, though, is more worthy of our attention, (though only due to its being fifth on the frequency list) and it is to that more ... [ more ]
Speculative Grammarian and SpecGram.com. 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 ]
Ambiguity In Action: A Bawdy Count. Norman C. Stageberg, University of Northern Iowa. One major source of humor is found in the many and various situations of everyday life, both as they occur in actuality and as they are refined and recounted in literature. A second major source of humor is language itself in its many aspects. One of these aspects is ambiguity. This is our subject for today: ambiguity in language and the pranks it plays. First, however, I believe that every gathering of people to pursue a serious subject should have a motto to give direction and purpose to their thoughts. So, I offer as a motto for us on this solemn occasion a sign that I once saw outside a dance hall near Iowa City. It goes like this: Clean ... [ more ]
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 mongering—first 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 ]
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 ]
It’s been kind of a slow day so far.
Rather than letting you escape, take a look at what’s been going on for the last 7 days that will keep you entertained for now.
Linguistics Nerd Camp. Bethany Carlson. The linguists strike back ... [ more ]
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 ]
Extract from an Interview with Eglantine Lady Fantod, Dowager Professor of Philology at Cambridge University. Eglantine Lady Fantod, the legendary raconteuse and grande dame of Golden Age linguistics, recalls halcyon days in a series of interviews with F. Shipley. The full memoir will be published in 2008 by Taradiddle Press, Oxford (8 volumes, price 17p). “How well I remember it all. A vanished world. Dear me, yes. Those gatherings at ‘Fluffy’ Jespersen’s place on Capri. The parties went on literally for weeks. I can still see Mary Haas dancing Salome on the moonlit beach, while that imp Harvey Pitkin caught live evidentials in the tide pools and dropped them down the backs of ... [ more ]
Speculative Grammarian Volume CLXXIX, Number 3 ... 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 Madalena Cruz-Ferreira Anita G. Gorman Tel Monks Bill Spruiell Sheri Wells-Jensen, Joey Whitford, Comptroller General Warning: This Product May Contain Deixis August 2017 ... [ more ]
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 ]
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 ]
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 linguistics—and now it is available in book form—both 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 ]
ADVERTISEMENT, ... It’s an old dilemma: you must publish to get ahead, but who has time when fieldwork is so exhausting, time-consuming, and difficult? You’re about to discover a veldt of a deal: !KANGA Tribal Research Resort provides the discerning social scientist with all the tools necessary for top-flight research, on some of the most fascinating hunter-gatherers around, while keeping you in the kind of style not usually associated with the Dark Continent. !KANGA resort staff are ready to assist you with a dizzying array of services: complete travel arrangements; grant-writing help; even the inside stuff on the editors of top journals. And our accommodations are first rate, as you’d expect. ... [ more ]
Language Evolution and the Acacia Tree. by Sean Geraint. Last year, renowned treethnographer Garik Roblerks noticed that two books on the evolution of language had strikingly similar covers. Both Christiansen & Kirby’s Language Evolution and Fitch’s The Evolution of Language boasted an acacia tree in the sunset. On closer inspection, these turned out to be different pictures of the same tree. ... A comparison of the books, by Christiansen & Kirby (left) and Fitch (right) Having spent a year tracking trees in Kenya, I can confirm that the tree is from Maasai Mara National Reserve. The tree has attracted a lot of attention since its entrance into the glamorous world of book cover design, and I ... [ more ]
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 ]
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Last updated Sep. 24, 2017.