We have received many letters complaining of the “absurdity” of Claude
Searsplainpockets’ proposed labio-nasal articulation. So many in fact, that not only are we unable to print them all, we seem to be unable to print anything else. The first few sum
up the general feeling quite well.
Dear editorial incompetents:
Claude Searsplainpockets is a talentless hack! Labio-nasals? Puh-leeze.
To whom it may concern,
That travesty of linguistics perpetrated by Dr. Searsplainpockets is
unforgivable. Labio-nasals have always been a myth, and will never be
anything more. I can’t make them. 7 out of 8 of my graduate students
can’t make them, and the one that can has to scrunch up her face so
badly that she can’t talk at all.
You’ve been badly hoodwinked. Cancel my subscription now!
Brussels Biolinguistic Institute
Labio-nasals, especially the trills, rate a labio-lingual trill from
Don’t you people have any standards anymore?
You are all nothing but a herd of yod-dropping Yanks that wouldn’t know a bit of real phonology if it jumped up and bit you on the behind! Labio-nasals are a fantastical farce!
Dutchester Divinity School
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.
Shades of Grey
by Piotr Pablo Paulsen
Here is the final word on the subject from our semi-loyal readers.
While I have always enjoyed his contributions to the Bizarre Grammars
of the World Series, I read with some dismay Professor
Searsplainpockets’ description of Beeg Haan Krrzian, especially after I
discovered that I, too, am unable to achieve closure between my nostrils
and upper lip.
As the dear Doctor mentions, we have all heard the (previously
completely unfounded) tales of the near-mythical labio-nasal. To have
actually discovered, which I do not doubt he has, the source of that
myth is an unequaled success.
However, to postulate that the labio-nasal actually exists as described
rails against the core tenets of phonology and even of linguistics as a
whole. Professor Searsplainpockets is proposing a phonology that is
implicitly unlearnable by many if not most otherwise normal human beings! This will not
I implore Professor Searsplainpockets to review his data and come up
with a better interpretation. Beyond his formidable reputation as a
descriptive linguist, he is also a renowned anthropologist—surely the
data can be re-analyzed to explain the apparent articulation as a
cultural, rather than linguistic, sign, which gives rise to an
allophonic free variation between labio-nasals and some other,
biologically universal, phone. Or something! Anything!
I must stop writing now, as I am overcome with dizziness at the thought
of the apparent shakiness of the foundations of our discipline!
Of course, we must allow Dr. Searsplainpockets to respond to his
To all the linguists I’ve offended:
It’s all true. You need to accept it, and move on! It’s not that big
of a deal, and it is certainly not as though I claimed to have made the
greatest linguistic discovery of
Anyone who wants to review my data, including video and audio
recordings, transcripts, and even my hand-written notes, may contact me
at any of my well-publicized addresses. The editors of SpecGram have
offered their staff to make copies of the materials and to ship them to
whomever feels compelled to continue to question my results. [A modest
fee of €17.887,37 will be charged to defray the cost of copying,
shipping, and handling.—Eds]
(Somewhere in America)
Shades of Grey
by Piotr Pablo Paulsen