More On Moundsbar—Metalleus SpecGram Vol CL, No 4 Contents How To Get A Ph.D. Without Really Trying—Dr. Wolf Kitty, B.S. Ph.D.

The Assumption of Slang

It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that cliquish groupssuch as gangs, glee clubs, and various academic fieldsseek group-defining language to set themselves apart from the rabble. The motivation, however, is so
Tropical Storm Lee
strong that these groups will manufacture such language if none exists, and will retro-fit existing language (eg, fatphat) or even mistakes (teh, pwned) to create other-excluding in-group language.

Well known examples include phat < fat, which has been shown to have actually originated one evening in Los Angeles, CA, when Zipperhead Johnson accidentally referred to Billy “The Fist” Fitzgerald’s lady-friend as fat. Zipperhead, despite his lack of social graces, had a certain fluency with neologisms, and concocted the “pretty hot and tasty” acronym on the spot.

Both this seemingly novel language itself and the ability to create it have bestowed upon particular groups a certain cachetwhich is sorely missing in public perceptions of linguistics. Rather than provide the obvious straightforward sociolinguistic analysis of this phenomenon, I propose to address a more fundamental need in linguistics: despite decades of work on the problem, linguistics still isn’t cool.

The solution? Create our own jargon. Being linguists, we can accelerate the natural process, and create group-defining, storied jargon in an afternoonwhich is precisely what I’ve done below.

’phone Pronounced like phony (by analogy with phat and historical positive uses of bad where the in-group meaning is opposite of the out-group meaning). The primary meaning is derived from allophone, maintaining the core sense of “one who is externally different, but underlyingly the same”. Thus a ’phone is a member of the in-group: in general, a linguist, or, more specifically, a member of one’s own preferred school of linguistics.

Sometimes the historical root allophones is re-analyzed as “all ou[r] phones” given a consciously ironic pronunciation. Thus a ’phone is just one of allophones. The initial apostrophe indicates contraction from allophone and, as the folk etymology goes, also signals a non-silent e as in the word apostrophe.

morpeme As with the gamer term pwned, this word is only used in writing and its pronunciation is disputed. Particularly contentious is the question of whether the p is /p/ or historic /f/. The term is sometimes claimed to be originally taken from the cover of Better Words and Morphemes (where the h is indeed “purposefully” missing). Often used with drip. Indicates disbelief, sarcasm, or lack of interest.


This discussion is boring. No one cares whether your analysis of African languages is better than Greenberg’s. I need a morpeme drip.

STFU! You need an overdose of morpeme. That’d cure you!

Cf. morphine.
ði Phonetic spelling
Hurricane Maria
of the. Used as an indicator of superiority, high quality, or respect. Originally used to indicate stressed (vs. unstressed) the, in phrases like “You are ði go-to guy!” By extension, “John finally explained the real distinction between lie and lay to me. He is ði semanticist!”

In some usage ði is seen drifting from determiner to adjective, as in “You always give a ði analysis of Inuit! Thnaks!” The word is frequently seen capitalized, as Ði, indicating grammaticalization away from its IPA transcription origins.

Some reports indicate that in non-technical Linguistic Fandom1 the pronunciation of ði is sometimes /dai/. There are some attested cases of sarcastic usage spelled dye, in reference to this mispronunciation. For example:

Why do you have to fawn over him all the time? You’re always “u r so dye linguits!” and he’s always “Thnak u! Thnak u! u may worship me!” You’re both wankers!
Cf. self-conscious ironic usage of !!!1!!one!

Jonathan “Ði ’Phone” van der Meer   Center for Computational
Bioinformatics and Linguistics

1 Yes, there is too a Linguistic Fandom!

More On Moundsbar—Metalleus
How To Get A Ph.D. Without Really Trying—Dr. Wolf Kitty, B.S. Ph.D.
SpecGram Vol CL, No 4 Contents