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Good Enough for Folk Etymology— Part IV. A. Pocryphal & Verity du Bius, X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies. The SpecGram Archive Elves recently made another large collection of documents available to the XQK Directorate, by leaving them on our doorstep in black plastic sacks in the middle of the night. In order to avoid any more unfortunate incidents involving a cucumber, a marmot, or the Director’s favorite coffee mug, we were given the task of cataloging these documents. Going through the collection, we have found again that, while apparently lacking provenance (which the Archive Elves still attribute to a bizarre set of circumstances obscurely ... [ 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 ]
Speculative Grammarian Volume CLXXXIV, Number 2 ... Trey Jones, Editor-in-Chief Keith Slater, Executive Editor Mikael Thompson, Senior Editor Jonathan Downie, Contributing Editor, Associate Editors, Pete Bleackley Mark Mandel, Assistant Editors, Emily Davis Vincent Fish Deak Kirkham Yuval Wigderson, Editorial Associates, Joe McAvoy James Pasto Mary Shapiro, Joey Whitford, Comptroller General Now Largely Insect-Free April 2019 ... [ more ]
Linguistic Contributions To The Formal Theory Of Big-Game Hunting; by R. Mathiesen; From Lingua Pranca, June, 1978 — The Mathematical Theory of Big-Game Hunting must surely be ranked among the major scientific achievements of the twentieth century. That this is so is largely the work of one man, H. Pétard, in whose fundamental paper (1938) certain recent advances in mathematics and physics were employed with great skill to create a theory of unmatched—not to say unmatchable!—power and elegance. One must not, of course, dismiss Pétard’s predecessors totally out of hand: the field had a long and distinguished history as a technology, was raised to the rank of a science by the Mysore and Nairobi schools during the nineteenth ... [ listen ] ... [ read the article ]
If that’s not enough to keep you busy...
Rather than letting you escape, here are some more items from the last 7 days that should be more fun than a sharp stick in the eye.
Germanic Taboo Glottalization as a, Defense Mechanism Against Vowels. ʔAnna-ʔEmily ʔI. ʔOlivier-ʔUnderhill. It has been claimed by a reliable source (Fayce-Booke, 2018) that no Germanic language truly has vowel-initial words; rather, all the words we think start with vowels actually start with a glottal stop. Examining the empirical truth of this claim is beyond the scope of this paper; rather, I will seek to explain why. As the anthropological saying goes, anything in a culture that can’t be easily explained must have a religious or ceremonial function (Some Blog Comment or Something I Read Once, n.d.). Similar reasoning applies to sound changes: if we ... [ more ]
Rasmus Rask Mini Puzzle IX. by Lila Rosa Grau. This is the ninth Rasmus Rask puzzle, devoted to the original Mr. Charming Scandinavian Linguist. The puzzle is similar to a crossword puzzle, in that there is a grid for filling in words and phrases, and clues for the ACROSS and DOWN directions. However, all the squares in a Rasmus Rask puzzle are filled with letters, and the answers to the clues may (but are not required to) overlap. Clues for a particular row or column are given together, in the order they appear in the grid. No indication of the amount of overlap between clues is given. Letters spelling out RASMUS RASK along the diagonal are given to provide a framework for filling in the answers. Grey ... [ more ]
K-LIŊ Linguistic Radio. In an attempt to attract more people to Linguistics, not only was there an increase in the number of pop songs and films produced by and for linguists, but there was also a short-lived linguistic radio station broadcasting from Dogtooth, North Dakota, in the 1990s. The signal was so weak that the estimated listenership peaked at twelve. Once sheep and farm cats were subtracted from the total, this dropped to four. However, one listener, Nantucket McWhiskey, accidentally recorded some short snippets of the station by accident while trying to record a mix-tape for his beau. The following segment has been transcribed by SpecGram interns at great personal cost. DJ: That was MT ... [ more ]
The Hidden Source of Theoretical Linguistics. Theoretical linguistics is known to differ from corpus linguistics with respect to the source of the examples it is based on. Introspection and imagination are supposed to be the primary reliable sources for theoretical linguists. But (via means that cannot be revealed here), we have recently discovered a short text which may force us to completely revise this common assumption, and rewrite the whole history of language sciences! This rather ordinary, very short novel, written in a slightly strange pseudo-literary style, is anonymous. The old-fashioned values it expresses (and other clues not to be detailed here) clearly date it to a long time ago. Despite its dubious ... [ 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 ]
Speech Disorders as Indicators of, Potential for Lyrical Success. by Ozzie Tchomzkij, Rock Glossologist to the Stars. In recent decades, there has been a subtle shift in popular music, as the idea that the human voice itself can be considered an instrument, rather than merely a delivery system for lyrics, has gained widespread acceptance among the general public. This has led to the recognition and thus to the success of such singers as Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, and Pat Benatar, whose ethereal voices have a purity of tone unmatched among mere mortals. Most singers looking to make a name for themselves, though, do not have the kind of staggering talent that, for example, the divine Kate Bush does. However, those who are ... [ 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 ]
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 ]
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 ]
The SpecGram Ministry of Propaganda. Welcome to the SpecGram Ministry of Propaganda. The SpecGram Archive Elves™ have undertaken a project to digitize and share a sheaf of early 20th century SpecGram propaganda posters, which were used during the Great Linguistic War and the Second Linguistic War to encourage linguists everywhere to keep a stiff upper lip and a sense of humor during those trying times. We provide the digitized posters here for you to enjoy, retrospect on, and share. Select a poster to see a higher quality image, and for links to share on social media, to email friends, and to view or download the highest quality version of the image. If you have ideas for other messages that need ... [ more ]
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Last updated Apr. 19, 2019.