SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 3 Contents Letters to the Editor

Chomskadamus Predicts The Future

A Letter Channeled through Editor-at-Large Jonathan van der Meer

The scene: a darkened, cavernous lecture hall. Most of the seats are empty. A stodgy, inconsequential professor pedantically drones on and on while stumbling around the front of the room. None of the students are really paying attention, and a few even snore gently in the front row. This is Linguistics 101. Suddenly, the professor pauses mid-“morphosyntax”, transfixed by an unnatural shaft of light stabbing through a window. He seems to gain stature and presence as he begins to speak, loudly and with force, in an unspeakably ancient and unutterably eldritch tongue, which, to understand even a syllable, requires an affinity for amoral syntax and a naked phonological madness. Two ravens, whom educated introspection reveals must be named Emic and Etic, appear seemingly from nowhere and settle on the professor’s shoulders. The ravens begin to speak, translating the professor’s vociferant reverie into a barely comprehensible patois of Finno-Ugric inflections unwholesomely layered over pan-Polynesian roots. Their twisted, tortured words spoke of the future.

This vision, and numerous others like it, came to me as I slumped, slumbering, over my computer keyboard in the SpecGram main offices. A natural skeptic, and nurturally so as well from a steady diet of linguistical sciences, I was all but set to dismiss these phantasmic apparitions as the random firings of fevered neuronshow else to explain the fact that I could even begin to understand the Hungarian/Rapa Nui creole?when I realized that to do so would be the gravest mistake.

Why? As linguists, we are consummate seekers of pattern, lovers of language, needers of cash. Whether real or imagined, these deranged ramblings clearly provide an insight into some mental faculty, even if only the linguistic consequences of pyrexia. Also, given the gullible naïveté of the unwashable masses these days, one can spin such intangible visions into cold, hard coin if sufficient mystical panache is applied to the process.

Combining two of the greatest traditions of academic entertainment and intellectual mentalismnamely, those of the Amazing Kreskin and the Grumpy ChomskyChomskadamus will reveal to you the Linguistic Future. Because of the irrelevance of such limited and limiting notions as the Unidirectionality of Time’s Arrow to the Multidimensional Chomskadamus, his pre-cognitive visions are not limited to the future, but may equally apply to the past. If you do not immediately understand why this is so, do not think upon it, lest the creeping madness take you!


• 1787: Denmark produces the most finely-named linguist to ever grace the cover of Speculative Grammarian.

• 2005: No one notices or discusses positive anymore anymore.

• 2007: The poorly spelled w00t is recognized as the word of the year.

• 2009: Documentary Linguistics overtakes Sociolinguistics as the most clichéd butt of intradisciplinary linguistic jokes.

• 2010: Irregular past participles completely disappear from regular usageand William Safire will have went insane. As a result, Safire has his tongue surgically replaced with an 18-inch segment of Roto-Rooter plumbing snake.

• 2011: The distinctions between good and well, and fewer and less disappear, with such variation as remains being largely regional, as with soda and pop.

• 2013: Sociolinguistics, no longer the most clichéd butt of intradisciplinary linguistic jokes, loses its will to live and commits memetic seppuku. Linguistics departments everywhere mourn for minutes at a time.

• 2014: Using there’s and where’s for both singular and plural is recognized as “correct” by most professional prescriptivists.

• 2022: The leveling of any, some, and none to be syntactically analogous to all is complete (as planned).

• 2025: Esperanto is generally recognized as a useful Major World Language, to everyone’s surprise, including most Esperantists.

• 2031: The European Union accepts Esperanto as an official language, booting out Swedish and German. The World Chocolate Embargo of 2031-2039 ensues.

• 2032: The needs washed construction becomes part of Standard American English.

• 2042: The European Union makes Esperanto its only official language, and all national tongues are thereby “deprecated”.

• 2044: The Anti-Esperanto Revolt occurs, the European Union dissolves, national tongues are restored to their rightful place. However, no one under 20 years old has learned anything other than Esperanto, because the grammar is so intuitive and obvious.

• 2045: As a preemptive move against the spread of Esperanto, English is declared the official language of the United States.

• 2046: The new Esperanto Union unites and restores a benighted Europe.

• 2047: The Supreme Court, in its capacity as the judicial branch of the American Language Academy, and under duress from William Safire, rules singular they unconstitutional. Academic linguists revolt en masse, and are rounded up and held in internment camps, some for up to 14 years. Computational linguists largely escape the pogrom by pretending to be computer scientistsas usual.

• 2048: Québec secedes from Canada, declares French its national language, and bans all English.

• 2049: The citizens of Nunavut follow the lead of their Francophone brothers-in-arms and also secede from Canada, declare all non-Germanic languages in the world to be Nunavutian national languages, and ban all English.

• 2050: Pachuco Caló is declared La Official Idioma of La New Republica of Tejas y Kali. The national garb of La NRTK is the Zoot Suit, and the national motto is ¿Qué pasa, vato?

• 2051: The remaining Canadian provinces and territories join the Diminished United States. The borders are redrawn: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario become the 37th state of the union, Up There, while the Yukon and Northwest Territories are joined into the 38th state and renamed Way Up There. All “foreign” languages, particularly Spanish, French, the Inuit languages, and Canadian English are banned throughout the D.U.S.

• 2057: With 28% of its citizens officially employed as Language Authority Officers, tasked to police the speech of the remaining 72%, the Semi-United Federation of English-Only States collapses.

• 2058: English ceases to exist as a living language (a few months later than had been previously predicted).

• 2072: All 16 nations of North America are united under the leadership of Francisco “Ponch” Villa. Nuyorican is the de facto standard language of the land, but all Romance languages are officially nurtured and encouraged.

• 2104: Linguistics finally gets solid scientific underpinnings in an ingenious interdisciplinary academic fusion achieved by none other than Noam Q. Chomsky, IV. The field is more accurately renamed “Neuro-quantum-stomatology”.

• 2231: A frozen Neanderthal found in the mountains of Palestine is revived and discovered to be named Roash-Baer. He speaks nearly perfect Proto-Nostratic. Nikolay Marr and Joseph Greenberg’s books become some of the most mindloaded texts of the year.

• 2233: Roash-Baer is revealed to be a hoax. “He” is in fact a genetically modified female orangutan taught to speak reconstructed Proto-Nostratic by a bunch of grad students from the Massachuey Institutito de Teknolojía as part of a prank they had planned to play on their Hahvahdiño rivals.

• 3015: William Safire (who has become fully cyborg) finally accepts plural there’s and where’s but still holds out against singular they. He is the only semi-living native speaker of something resembling Semi-Modern Semi-English.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 3 Contents