A Bit-O-History—A Letter from the Managing Editor SpecGram Vol CLVI, No 4 Contents Pivotal Moments in the History of Linguistics—John Miaou

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editors of SpecGram,

I have been closely following the discussion of center embedding in the pages of your journal (Küçük, Palin, Drome, and M.Adam), but have been reluctant to weigh in lest I be thought a crackpot. But given the recent call for further research, I’ve decided to risk what is left of my good name.

Palin’s geomagnetic reversal theory is a load of bunk, if I may be so blunt. I have another theory that fits the pivot data just as well as Palin’s “theory”. Suppose speakers of Mam and its linguistic descendants have had as a culturally transmitted collective goal the desire to supplant one or more of English, French, Russian, and Arabic as global “pivot languages” for multi-way cross translation. They could have recognized early on the linguistic and cultural prestige of being chosen as a pivot language by, say, the U.N., but for a very long time misunderstood the criteria for being a pivot language, andto show their versatilitypivoted themselves every time the U.N. or E.U. put out a request for proposals to nominate languages to study as candidates for possible consideration as future competitors for eventual use as official pivot languages.

That makes as much sense as Palin’s ludicrous geomagnetic reversals, Drome’s unfounded military explanations, or M.Adam’s ridiculous etymologies. Given my experience with Shigudo, I do not throw around such accusations lightly.

We, the community of linguistic scholars, do desperately need to get back to the data, as Küçük did, especially in the languages newly identified as relevant by the Research Staff of Edu-Linguistics-Cation: Mekem, Monom, Efe, Éwé, Noon, Salas, Solos, Laal, and Tennet.

Sir Edmund C. Gladstone-Chamberlain
Professor Emeritus of Linguistic Science
Department of Lexicology and Glottometrics
Devonshire-upon-Glencullen University, Southampton


Dear Professor Gladstone-Chamberlain,

We would never wish to dispute a distinguished scholar as reputable as yourself, and your analysis is certainly novel. By the most amazing coincidence, one of our editors has discovered a fascinating manuscript that sheds more important historical light on the subject. We will be devoting the letter from the editor to this important primary source in our next regular issue (August 2009). We look forward to your thoughts on the matter.



Dear Editors,

I found the history and results of the so-called Contest of the Longish Now to be quite intriguing. However, you made a clerical error. According to my calculations, Mr. Spero actually owes you $1.39, not $1.37 as you stated.

X. Y. Zee
Lead Linguistic Accountant
American International Group


Dear XYZ,

Yes, you are quite correct. Apparently not only are most linguists bad at mathematics, so are their accountants. Floggings and firings have commenced. We have also sent Mr. Spero a second registered letter (also at a cost of $2.14) with the updated amount he now owes us ($3.55).



To Whom It May Concern,

In a recent letter from the editor, you seemed to have created a nonce insult by referring to your readers as “panting and drooling ... Pavlovian Linguists”. I will have you know that Pavlovian Linguistics is a well-known school of thought at the University of Ryazan, regarding the role of behavioral conditioning in language acquisition. Your implied caricature of Pavlovians as somehow similar to Saint Ivan’s original canine subjects is insulting. I have much more to say, but the bell has rung and I must be away to dinner.

Вячеслав Петрович Молотов
Рязань, Россия


Dear Molly,

Oh, we knew exactly what we were doing. You are all a bunch of yod-dropping yahoos, who have a fatal flaw when it comes to academic debate.



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 letters 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.

A Bit-O-History—A Letter from the Managing Editor
Pivotal Moments in the History of Linguistics—John Miaou
SpecGram Vol CLVI, No 4 Contents