One Hundred and Fifty Romans, or the French Sky--A Letter from the Managing Editor SpecGram Vol CL, No 1 Contents Poetry Corner

Letters to the Editor

To the Editors:

I find the idea of the Japanese R and the Chinese L being Siamese twins demeaning and insulting. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Name Indignantly Withheld


To the Editors:

I find the idea of the Japanese r and the Chinese l being siamese twins hilarious. So much so, that I peed myself. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Name Withheld in Fear of Indignant Colleague


Dear Names Withheld,

It was all just a dream. Relax. No actual phonemes were harmed in the production of the article.




I just had to write in and tell you that I purchased details of the vonn Güügënschnëchtën-d'Qi Optimal Article Length™ process and I couldn't be happier. Everything they say is true.

I re-wrote three papers that had each been rejected five or six times. Once they were the Optimal Length, though, they all got accepted in the same month. All three were cited in at least two articles in peer-reviewed journals within a month!

Anyone who wants bigger reactions and longer citation lists needs v.G. & d'Q.--my wife has never been happier!

'Sully' O'Sullivan, ABD
Minnesota Institute of Terraforming



You are a shameless hussy! But we'll print your thinly-veiled plug despite the fact that we're getting 5% of net proceeds from all purchases of v.G. & d'Q. when the buyer mentions they read about it in the pages of this hallowed journal.



To the Editors:

I attended the very interesting symposium supporting the view that Language might be a Virus from Space. The talks were very high quality, and the organizers should be commended for that. However, they did not do so well enforcing the quarantine procedures for travel to the Sky-Hook Hotel.

As a result, several of the participants seem to have come down with a particularly virulent form of German.


Gillian Robespierre


Dear Ms. Robespierre,


Dear SpecGram,

I recently applied to the MIT Linguistics Department for grad school. Sadly, I was not accepted, so now I have to go to my safety school, Podunk County Teachers College in Lower Possum Trot, Arkansas. Below is the main essay from my application. Can you tell me where I went wrong?

      STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Write a concise statement concerning why you wish to undertake graduate study in linguistics at MIT.

I wish to become a linguist in order to counteract the malign influence of Noam Chomsky on the human mind. In much the same way as a squid covers its escape, so Chomsky has emitted an impenetrable cloud of ink to mask the absence of real substance in his theories of linguistics. We need to eliminate the rationalism of modern linguistics in favor of the rational.

It has been said that linguistics took a great step forward in 1957, but viewed objectively, the "progress" of linguistics since then resembles nothing so much as a great plunge off a cliff into a swamp. In the thirty-odd years since the publication of The Sound Pattern of English, linguistics adopted a most unsound pattern of investigation. The name of the succeeding spectre haunting American linguistics is itself revealing: Government and Binding. According to the political theories in vogue at MIT, government is a tool whereby the Gnomes of Zurich oppress the masses; it is also, however, a tool whereby the Noam of Cambridge oppresses the intellectuals. Binding is the flimsy gauzy fabric used to cover over gaping holes in the bodies of humans and theories. Moreover, just as the Mummy was covered in bindings and could not speak, so American linguistics, wrapped tightly in Binding, is mute about the real problems of language and the human mind.

In short, Chomsky has erected ever bizarrer syntactic structures with each book he has published, until now American linguistics is an enormous overcrowded ghetto lining the Great A Priori Way in Cloud Cuckoo Land, a fit symbol of the intellectual poverty of its creator. What we need now above all is a vast program of urban renewal of the intellect--but I hasten to add that this is not a program that can be undertaken by Government! I wish to study at MIT for the same reason Hercules undertook to clean the Augean stables: Fertilizer will make plants grow only if it is buried.


Adrian Hester
Houston, TX


Dear Adrian,

Great essay! Those fuddy-duddies at MIT really don't appreciate or understand the true spirit of innovation. Since you are already acclimated to the subtropical jungles of Houston, you should go ahead and apply to Rice University instead.



Speculative Grammarian accepts well-written letters commenting on specific articles that appear in this journal or discussing the field of linguistics in general. We also accept poorly-written articles that ramble pointlessly. We reserve the right to ridicule the poorly-written ones and publish the well-written ones... or vice versa, at our discretion.

One Hundred and Fifty Romans, or the French Sky--A Letter from the Managing Editor
Poetry Corner
SpecGram Vol CL, No 1 Contents