Phonemes я No Longer Phun—A Letter from the Managing Editor SpecGram Vol CLII, No 4 Contents The Sorno Script—Metalleus
Text Tricks

Letters to the Editor

Dear Members of the Editorial Board:

As you know, since 1832, as per an agreement made between the Editorial Board at that time and the Grammar Entelechy, your journal and its stylistic guidelines have been reviewed at 52-year intervals by the Managing Archon. Enclosed below please find the Archon’s dicta regarding your current publication standards:

We note with approval the very low incidence of that horrid prodigy of plebeian publishing, the “exclamation point.” We have found it lurking in your advertisements section, and understand that merchants are a base lot, and hard to manage; we urge you to keep strong the barriers preventing its migration into the more civilized sections of your journal.

We have noted, with some concern, that your authors are inconsistent in their placement of commas relative to quotation marks, frequently putting the comma outside the quotation marks when using quotation marks to set off terms, but inside the quotation marks when such marks indicate a true quotation. This is variation you must firmly quash, since authorsparticularly linguistsare wont to run quite wild with it if unrestrained; you may soon find yourself receiving note cards with masses of commas, and the article they are attached to only later, or worse, simply a second note card with an ellipsis mark and an address to which royalties are to be sent. Remind your authors that terms may be introduced in italics, thus obviating the need for False Quotations entirely.

In a related vein, we note that some of your authors seem to have fallen under that heretical school of thought that holds that the presyndetic item in a series need not be marked off by a commai.e., that the sequence “x, y, and z” should be written “x, y and z.” This position was proposed by certain American editors whoin an effort to substitute what is novel for what is competentdecided to do away with the serial comma entirely, saying, “it is not necessary.” We remind you and your authors that academic publishing is also not necessary. Having two kidneys is not necessary. The realm of the truly necessary is one that contains a fire, a cave, and a slab of raw mammoth. Necessity, while the mother of Invention, is the child of Desperation, and is of no relation to the Muses.

Your journal being a scholarly publication, we would expect a far greater incidence of ablative absolutes in your authors’ prose than we have found. We trust this defect will be addressed. The occasional allusion to Juvenal or Anaximander would not be amiss either; keep in mind that this publication is for a literate audience.


Hieronymous Wilte
Managing Archon
Grammar Entelechy


Dear, Heiro

Thank, you, for, your, recent, missive!! As, always, we, look, “forward,”, to, your, guidance, on, all, matters, concerning, style, formatting and, punctuation!! Your, guidance, has, always, helped, our, journal, improve!!

(Royalties?! Ha!!)

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, . , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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, , , , , , , , , , , , ! , , ,
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Satire! Satire! Satire! Juvenal rocks!
Rhetoric! Rhetoric! Anaximander rolls!

See you in 52 years!


To the Editors,

At first I took your publication of my presumed private proposal as a brazen attempt to ruin my reputation, my career, and my life.

I have been assaulted by email, by telephone, and in person.

Homeopathic practitioners have attacked me for questioning their beliefs and methods. Linguists have attacked my for daring to use my language skills for personal financial gain.

The hubbub made the local papers, and then got picked up by Reuters and AP.

As a result of the national, even international, publicity, I have suffered many personal and professional setbacks. I was fired from my job as a Medical Idea Engineer at RRDC for disclosing an idea outside the firm.

My M.D. was revoked by Cornell University for publicly supporting anything akin to homeopathy. My linguistics Ph.D. was revoked by Rice University for trying to make money in linguistics. My linguistics MA was revoked by Georgetown University for trying to make money in linguistics and failing to do so. All I have left are my BA in English and my MBA; but both are from CalTech, and so are virtually worthless.

I was ready to sue your journal and the entire editorial board, but every lawyer I spoke to said I got what I deserved and I’d be laughed out of court.

I fell into a depression, and considered ending my miserable existence, but I lost my prescribing privileges along with my medical license, and I don’t have the guts for self-inflicted violence.

Instead, I have decided to make amends to all aggrieved parties by starting a new field: Homeopathic Linguistics. I’m going to get back up to speed on current linguistic theories, then water them down repeatedly, calling them more powerful with each dilution. This parallels the methods of homeopathy and, because it is guaranteed to fail to make any money, it honors the spirit of real linguistics.

This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I just wanted you to know.

Reginald R. R. Rapscallion, BA, MBA
Homeopathic Linguistics Institute


Dear Reg,


You say you “have been assaulted by email, by telephone, and in person.” So, it’s true: letter-writing is a lost art.



Correction: In “Ye Olde Letres to Ye Olde Editor”, in the May 1643 issue of SpecGram, Ye Olde Editors incorrectly attributed a letter, heretically criticizing the Pope’s supposedly infallible pronunciation of Latin, to Señor Rafeal Esposito Ferrera of Madrid, Spain. In fact, the letter was written by Herr Gerbhard Schwarzburg-Arnstadt of Turingia, Germany. We also mistakenly sent confirmation of the attribution to the office of the Inquisitor General of the Spanish Inquisition upon request for such confirmation in 1644. Our records indicate that this may have led to some religiously motivated political difficulties for Señor Esposito from 1645 up to and including his accidental death at an Inquisition Spa and Resort in 1646. We apologize for any inconvenience.


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.

Phonemes я No Longer Phun—A Letter from the Managing Editor
The Sorno Script—Metalleus
SpecGram Vol CLII, No 4 Contents