Get Your Handbaskets Here—A Letter from the Managing Editor SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 2 Contents The Phonology Class—Metalleus

Letters to the Editor

Much to our surprise, the Monster LingDoku presented in the last issue was a resounding success. The SpecGram puzzle team was looking to go on vacation for a couple of months, and so they pulled out the most horrible puzzle they had in reserve, confident that no one would try to solve it. To their dismay, hundreds of correct solutions poured in. Rather than go to all the trouble of actually comparing the submitted answers to the hastily constructed “solution”, we had some of the interns pick out their favorite accompanying letters. As previously discussed in these pages, there is nothing wrong with some appropriate sucking up. Below are some excerpts from winning entries. —Eds.


Hi SpecGram!

... This mighty sudoku variant was actually a pretty fun and straightforward puzzle to solvefor me at leastbut it took a while. ... To be frank, it was a PITA to solve it with them all combined. Not only [were there] totally unfamiliar symbols but as I also had to keep track of which sudoku I was on; it made me really confused at times.

I would love to see you continue in the same spirit, whether it’s Linguistically-Themed Pseudo-Nihonese Puzzles or sudoku adaptations as in this month’s edition, or any new ones of course.

Erik Gedeborg


Dear editors,

I have taken some time off my thesis and lost some sleep to finish your magnificent Monster LingDoku. Thanks for teaching me how Hangul works! I hope you have as much trouble reading my solution as I had constructing it.

By the way, I really love your magazine; and in [the last] issue, I particularly liked the phonetics-phonology cartoon. Great stuff!

Best regards,
Nynke de Haas


I am enclosing my (purported) solution to the [Monster LingDoku] puzzle.

With appreciation to the devious mind that concocts these things for our distraction,

Jonathan Kew


Here’s my solution to the Monster LingDoku. ...

By the wayI only recently discovered SpecGram, but I love it! Thank you for publishing it!

Michael Gottlieb


I ... humbly suggest that, should you do this again, you forgo the double consonants, as it would seem that one needs a PhD in the computer sciences in order to enter them on the keyboard.

Amy Peters


Dear SpecGram,

I was both surprised and pleased to see the recent article on the lovely language Spanyol. That was some of our best work.

That is to say, Spanyol is actually a constructed language created by the Γραμματο-Χαοτικον in the year 1313, and used as a pidgin by Aztec migrant basket weavers working in Mongolia. Its social and historical development from that point on is fairly obvious to any well-read linguist.

I just wanted to thank you for sharing that anarcho-linguistic gem with a wider audience. I haven’t though of it in years. I do so miss my old job!

Dr. L. Spay Ekker-Chey, Ph.D.
Former head proofreader of the ΓΧ

[Editor’s note: We attempted to get verification of this amazing claim from Dr. Ekker-Chey, only to find that he has died under “mysterious circumstances”namely, that he seemed to have choked to death while attempting to produce an implosive pharyngeal trill. An alternative hypothesis is that he produced an implosive pharyngeal trill while choking to death. In any event, there are unconfirmed rumors that Dr. Ekker-Chey was visited by some shady looking phoneticians shortly before his death. —Eds.]

Dear SpecGram,

I am very concerned after seeing two surprising references to your journal’s finances in the last issue. First, you found it necessary to “pimp out” the space usually reserved for the letter from the editor to fund the issue. Second, you claim that a $1,000,000 grant from that Rapscallion fellow would only fund SpecGram for a week. How much does it cost to run an academic journal these days? Should I be worried that the entire enterprise will collapse and disappear? I just pre-paid for 500 issues to get the 0.005% bulk-buyer’s discount; am I going to lose money on this investment?

Klaatu Rennie
Barada Nikto, Malawi


Dear Gortie,

You needn’t worry. As we mentioned before, we suffered a temporary illiquidity event. We can’t go into too many detailswhich are both confidential and boringly technical, but several members of the SpecGram Board of Trustees took part in a scheme to short sell schwa futures on the Thai phoneme exchange. An unexpected margin call left us short on cash. It all worked out in the end.

As for running a journal, it is incredibly expensive. But that’s why we have those insanely lucrative library subscriptions. (We recently expanded to 16 pages per issue in part to settle a class action lawsuit filed by a coalition of subscribing community colleges.)

We aren’t currently worried about our immediate future, though. Worst case scenario: SpecGram goes underground again for a decade or two until our funding sources recover and the publishing environment becomes more hospitable.



To the editors:

In Claude Searsplainpockets’ otherwise excellent article on Spanyol, he wrote:

I was able to load considerable Middle and Modern Spanyol data into the Hockett Syntacular Morphemic Resonance Spectrometer, which is capable of measuring glottoradiological Swadesh Shift down to a hemidemisemiformant.

Everyone knows that glottochronology is frivolous and without merit. The Hockett SMRS is no good!

Somewhat disappointed,
Helga von Helganschtein
Tehran, Persia


[We let Claude respond and explain in his own eloquent way. —Eds.]

My dearest Helga,

First, let me say that the perfume on your letter was delectable. I am sure that when I opened it I was surrounded by a sweet cloud of feminine lavender and lilac. Did I also detect a subtle hint of bladderwort?

But to your question, I don’t find either glottochronology or the Hockett Syntacular Morphemic Resonance Spectrometer to be completely useless. However, the publication of the article has resulted in the desired “more and abundant funding,” and, as a consequence, I have been able to reanalyze my data with a newly acquired electromagnetic Zipfian Emic Alignmentation Locus. A couple of the lower branches of the family tree moved a bit, but the result was essentially the same.

I hope this minor dispute will not take away from what I believe may develop into a beautiful friendship, Helga!!



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.

Get Your Handbaskets Here—A Letter from the Managing Editor
The Phonology Class—Metalleus
SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 2 Contents