Quotes: What People are Saying

Here are a few of our favorite things people have said about Speculative Grammarian over the years, collected wild on the internet, or domesticated in email.

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Q1094. Needless to say, the descriptivists and prescriptivists have been fighting for years; in the academic English world, they are the Hatfields and McCoys, the Montagues and Capulets, the Sharks and Jets, the Blue Devils and Every Other Basketball Team. Now there is a movement that strives to cut the liguistic Gordian Knot by going the prescriptivists one better: The Original English Movement would return our language permanently to its form a millennium ago, at the time of the writing of Beowulf.

—The Good Reverend

Q1093. I’m howling!!

plasmodium farmer

Q1092. However, having said that I think there are untranslatable words, I don’t agree with some of those words. The can’t be translated? It is an article and certainly can be. In Spanish it is translated as el, for example. Schadenfreude? Epicaricacy or, for those who don’t think it a word..., “taking joy in another’s misery.” That is perfect. Laughing when someone slips on a banana peel, for example.


Q1091. Toska in Russian means melancholy or boredom. You don’t have to know Russian, you just know how to use a Russian/English dictionary.


Q1090. Kääntäminen on tunnetusta vaikeaa, ellei täysin mahdotonta. Lukeutuuko tämä teksti mahdottomiksi kääntää englannista suomeksi?


Q1089. Kyllähän kyseistä tekstiä tietysti voisi "kääntää" suomeksi noin pilailumielessä, mutta eipä siinä olisi juuri mitään ideaa. Englanninkielinen teksti on nimittäin virheellistä kieltä, ja mahdollisen merkityksen esiin tonkiminen jää arvailujen varaan.


Q1088. Vilkaisin sivua lyhyehkösti ja sain sen käsityksen, että koko homma oli käännetty koneella jostakin muusta kielestä.

—paljon tekstiä

Q1087. I will admit that I seldom read SpecGram, as fans call it, since I don’t really enjoy its brand of humor, generally very dry, deadpan satire of academic writing and more specifically the discourse of descriptive and theoretical linguistics. This month, however, three different acquaintances commended the latest “Special Fieldwork Issue”.

On the principle of de gustibus non est disputandum and as your humble conduit, I present links to Speculative Grammarian’s Special Fieldwork Issue 1 (April 2010) and Special Fieldwork Issue 2 (May 2010). I did get a good chuckle from Elwin Ransom’s piece, “On the Applicability of Recent Theoretical Advances in Linguistics to the Practice of Fieldwork.” And really, what more can I demand for the price of my subscription?

—Chad Nilep

Q1086. ‘My love is like a colourless green simile...’heartrending linguistics poems especially for Valentine’s Day.


Q1085. Never noticed this particular little game on the site before...


Q1084. People into linguistics probably know this one already, but [I recommend] Strangecraft.

—rotting bones

Q1083. Do you want to learn the funny sino-roman alphabet? Here you can do it.

—Massimiliano B

Q1082. Juego para lingüistas en tardes lluviosas. En realidad, no, pero me he reído leyendolo. Pobre Chomsky.

Ander Egurtzegi

Q1081. My favourite [propaganda poster] is this sensitive portrait of the old-time theoretical linguist at work.

Andrew Hardie

Q1080. Oh, PLOS ONE! Das weltweit zweitbeste Linguistik-Magazin. Solideres Fachwissen hat nur SpecGram ;)


Q1079. It’s a shame the double-dot wide O never caught on as an IPA symbol. (Or the dectuple-struck Z, for that matter.)


Q1078. “The horse raced past the garden path fell.” *giggle*

Michael Aubrey

Q1077. Das ist der Humor der Linguisten. *g*


Q1076. New desktop background.

ↁa₪ Simo₪so₪

Q1075. SpecGram is just damn good! I really love it! It helps me to survive all those dull papers and to retain a hope that linguistics does make fun sometimes.


Q1074. I think Plato should have been translated more realistically.


Q1073. This is for everyone who persists in posting those “untranslatable words” posts.

Jonathan Downie

Q1072. Thanks for the awesome stuff you do!

—Rowan Katzenmeyer

Q1071. ‘The horse raced past the garden path fell’, and other linguistic self-definers in SpecGram this month.

Mark Dingemanse

Q1070. Thank you [Madalena Cruz-Ferreira] for a true LOL experience reading [this] ... Highly recommend.

Joy Penard

Q1069. SpecGram is a blessing to the world.


Q1068. Geeking out with SpecGram’s Cartoon Theories of Linguistics!

James Venner

Q1067. “Everything psychologists wanted to know about linguistics but were afraid to ask” Do you dare?

Iker Erdocia

Q1066. For all you linguists who are just so tired of being asked that same question over and over...

Sarah McMonagle

Q1065. I’m personally fully in favour of jokelangs, especially those found from time to time within the pages of SpecGram.


Q1064. Der Unterschied zwischen der Phonetik und Phonologie ist anschaulich und zugleich unterhaltsam auf dieser Karikatur in der satirischen Online-Zeitschrift Speculative Grammarian (2007, 153-1) dargestellt.

Diana Šileikaitė-Kaishauri

Q1063. Speculative Grammarian is a notorious satirical linguistics site.


Q1062. I read this thinking it was serious by accident.


Q1061. Seems like SpecGram has been around since the beginning of time. Or at least the beginning of grammar.

Joe Salmons

Q1060. Silly, artificial illustration of statistical machine translation.

Jon Dehdari

Q1059. May your adjectives always be superlatve.

Richard L. Moss

Q1058. What did I just read?


Q1057. Thanks for the laughs!

Kiersten Henkel

Q1056. Speculate away! May your speculation never end!

Aya Katz

Q1055. Thank you for all of your linguistic quips.

Lauren Gattara Miller

Q1054. This is satire, lest anyone be fooled.


Q1053. You can’t um and er your way towards an empire, if you want indecisiveness and fillers you should learn Greek.


Q1052. This article, at a satirical linguistics website that I frequent, is pretty interestingsee if you can read it. It doesn’t require any knowledge of Chinese charactersit’s just a little visual “trick,” and after about 5 minutes, I was able to read it without problems.


Q1051. Speculative Grammarian / 言語学に関する笑えるネタや時として真面目な話を収録したオンラインの雑誌。難しいことを緩く語るのがコンセプトなのだろう。英語。

LingWebs Bot

Q1050. Speculative Grammarian is a collection of linguistic satire. There is a load of stuff there, but this set of puns caught my eye.

Sean Roberts

Q1049. Looking for a graphic illustration of the phonetic and phonology interface.

Look, I understand the basics of phonetics and phonology. Phonetics is a physical science and phonology is a psychological science, sort of. Nonetheless, they both treat the same object: linguistic sounds.

Is it possible to illustrate this interface to a naive and dimwitted undergrad?


Q1048. I’ve always liked this illustration of the difference between phonetics and phonology.

Gaston Ümlaut

Q1047. I mean come on. AIs don’t even understand something like this yet.


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Last updated Dec. 23, 2017.