Most Popular Pages—Today

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1. “Conlang” Added to Oxford English DictionarySpecGram Wire Services (34 visits)

“Conlang” Added to Oxford English Dictionary. SpecGram Wire Services. Rejoicing has swept through the conlanging community at the news that the word “conlang” has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. A spokesman for the Language Creation Society greeted the news by saying, “We’re all delighted. This word was itself created by conlangers to describe their art. We conlangers invent words all the timeit’s what we like doingbut to get one into a real dictionary, well, that’s the ultimate accolade.” Not everybody welcomed the announcement, however. Jonny Scotland, of the Wikimedia Foundation, told SpecGram, ... more ]

2. Vol CLXXXIII, No τ (31 visits)

Speculative Grammarian Volume CLXXXIII, Number τ ... Speculative Grammarian, in association with Psammeticus Press, is proud to present a special supplemental monograph: The Splendid Words, by James S. Pasto, Trey Jones, Editor-in-Chief Keith Slater, Executive Editor James Pasto, Monograph Editor, The Splendid Words Mid-January 2019 ... more ]

3. BabelThe Priority of Written LanguageAndreas Paplopogous (23 visits)

The Priority of Written Language. One of the principle tenets of modern American linguistics is the priority of spoken as opposed to written language. This priority is understood both as importance as an object of study and as temporal precedence. Temporal precedence is further taken to include both ontogenetic and historical precedence; that is, as students in introductory linguistics classes are repeatedly told, children learn to understand speech and to speak themselves before they learn to read and to write, while historically (more properly prehistorically), the story goes, humanity had already been speaking for tens of thousands of years by the time writing was invented. It is this last conclusion, that speech ... more ]

4. JLSSCNCOld Professor HockettJames Riley Whitcomb (12 visits)

Old Professor Hockett. Old Professor Hockett came to our school one day, To teach us some linguistics and earn a little pay. More accurately, history was what he taught us all, In 1989, as the leaves began to fall; And all us graduate students, when the clock struck one, We’d gather in the classroom and have the mostest fun, A-listening to the stories that Hockett told about, And the Chomskyans that gets you, If you, Don’t, Watch, Out! Once there was a linguist wasn’t biunique, So when he went out to the field, he was up the creek. His colleagues heard him holler, his informants heard him bawl, And when they tried to find him, he wasn’t there at all!, And they looked at his phonology and found it was a ... more ] Podcast!

5. The Splendid WordsJames S. Pasto (10 visits)

The Splendid Words. James S. Pasto. I got them! It took me seven years, three jobs, two marriages, and season tickets to the Red Sox, but I got them. He knew it as soon as he looked up and saw me; knew who I was even though he had never seen me. “You found us,” he said. “How nice.” I noted the ‘us’ and I noted him. He was lean with jet-black hair, hawkish dark eyes, and perfectly straight teeth that smiled shyly. The smile irritated me. I pulled out the gun, an old .45-caliber Webley-Fosbery with a hammer. The smile faded. “Now, now, is there really need for that?” “I’ll decide,” I said. “I’m calling the shots.” The smile ... more ]

6. Podcast—Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLI (9 visits)

Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLI — The SpecGram LingNerds are joined by guest Hedvig Skirgård. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds go into denial about their own “fingerprint words”, and then flip the script with some *descriptivist* confessions. ... listen ]

7. Special Supplemental Letter from the Editor (9 visits)

Special Supplemental Letter from the Editor. One of the questions that linguistics has failed for the most part to answer is so simple a child could come up with it: where do words come from? Occasional specific neologisms aside, we generally don’t know. Sure, etymologists have traced no few back through the generations, but their ultimate origins escape our collective graspfor the signal is faint, distorted, or entirely lostthough even their mere echos stir something in the lexicographic cockles of our hearts. Ours is an incredible shrinking world made small and intimate by words whichlike jokes and legendsspring to life seemingly without source, yet ... more ]

8. Next Noam Chomsky to Be SelectedMorris Swadesh III (7 visits)

Next Noam Chomsky to Be Selected. SpecGram Correspondent Morris Swadesh III. Speculative Grammarian has learned that preparations are already underway for the selection of the next Noam Chomsky. Although the current Noam Chomsky (privately referred to as Noam III) has not yet announced when he will step down, it is believed that he has already made the decision and that he may abdicate as early as next week. The powerbrokers of Generative Linguistics wish to be prepared, and probably hope to avoid the atmosphere of crisis that has occurred twice before, when both Noam I and Noam II left the position unexpectedly. In spite of the lack of official announcements, there can be no doubt that the Council of ... more ]

9. Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart EPhonetics vs. PhonologyHilário Parenchyma, C.Phil. (7 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!

10. About Us (6 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!

11. Podcast—Language Made Difficult, Vol. L (4 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 ]

12. Podcast—UXⁿ: The Implications of Sampson’s Proof of Universal Science (4 visits)

UXⁿ: The Implications of Sampson’s Proof of Universal Science; by Bjorn-Bob Weaselflinger; From Volume CLIV, Number 1, of Speculative Grammarian, May 2008 — As this author has noted elsewhere, it is not uncommon in linguistics—just as in other sciences—for an observation with stunning implications for the field to go largely unnoticed; a researcher will advance an analysis to deal with a highly localized, recalcitrant problem without realizing that the analysis itself is a revolutionary advance. Some advances do draw attention, but the attention itself remains localized, and the wider significance of the advance isn’t recognized for quite some time. (Read by Trey Jones.) ... listen ] ... [ read the article ]

13. New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered!Yreka Bakery (3 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!

14. JLSSCNCPresidential Speech DisordersJames McCullough (3 visits)

Presidential Speech Disorders, James McCullough, Georgetown University Medical Center. During J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure as Director of the FBI (from 1924 to 1972), the Bureau collected information on the speech habits of incumbent US Presidents and had it analyzed to determine whether the President might be diagnosable as suffering from a neurologically-based speech disorder. If the determination were positive, then the analysis could be used as a weapon against any President who tried to infringe on Hoover’s perquisites; i.e. an attack on the Bureau’s autonomy could lead to a counterattack based on accusations of mental incompetence for Presidential duties. In fact, the determination was positive in five out ... more ]

15. Meet the SpecGram Editors (3 visits)

Meet the SpecGram Editors. In response to a decades-long demand to lift the veil of near-anonymity behind which the editors of Speculative Grammarian live, lurk, and work, we have begrudginglyand after a brief eight-year hiatusagreed to provide publicly a few brief biographical sketches of select editors. Those editors with multiple outstanding federal warrants for their arrest on charges of non-consensual þornography, bigramy, modalhem, sobriquettery, pejorativity, fortition with minimal pairs, disturbing the passive, and cruelty to functionalists have been excluded, upon advice from our attorneys. Three more biographical sketches are below — Bethany ... more ]

16. Choose Your Own Career in Linguistics (3 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!

17. Podcast—Evidential Complexity and Language Loss in Pinnacle Sherpa (3 visits)

Evidential Complexity and Language Loss in Pinnacle Sherpa; by Keith Slater; From Volume CLI, Number 4, of Speculative Grammarian, October 2006 — Abstract / In this paper I describe an unprecedented situation of language loss: that which is found in Pinnacle Sherpa. The language has been completely lost by the oldest and middle-aged segments of the population, but is strongly maintained by the young. The loss is due to exponential increases in the complexity of the Pinnacle Sherpa evidential system, which have rendered older speakers unable to adequately indicate the source of information in their utterances. (Read by Keith Slater.) ... listen ] ... [ read the article ]

18. Archives (3 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. Podcast—The Nasal Tone: An Honest Tale (3 visits)

The Nasal Tone: An Honest Tale; by Barb Tyd-Laika and Tessie Chopp Durnford; From Volume CLXVI, (166) Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, January 2013 — One of our favourite places for a “Speculative-Grammarian–style” afternoon is at the home of our dear friend, Sir William Jones, XIV. At 94, he’s full of strange tales and bizarre first-person accounts of the adventure of his life, which includes migrations, linguistics, and more vodka than you can swizzle a stick at. His stories are characterized by his habit of using oddly distinct language and gesticulating wildly while ranting for hours on end. (Read by Les Strabismus.) ... listen ] ... [ read the article ]

20. Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart жThe Trouble with NLPPhineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. (3 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!

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Last updated Jan. 17, 2019.