An Official Confession
The following was written by former Professor of Linguistics Sartoris Sampson. I’ve deemed its contents to be instructive, and so I have passed it on to the editors of this esteemed publication. They have assured me that they will publish it as it is written, and any concerns about the veracity of its contents should be reported directly to me. —Quentin Popinjay Snodgrass, Ph.D.
To my former colleagues, students, friends and family:
It is with a heavy heart that I must tender my resignation to the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences of Yoknapatawpha State University, effective immediately. In a perfect world, I would continue on doing the work I’ve devoted my life to for the past sixty-three years, but, sadly, our world is irregular, at best. Irregular though it may be, I blame no one but myself for masquerading as an honest, decent, hard-working linguist all these years, and for inflicting upon countless innocent minds dangerous and wrong-headed ideas. For in truth, though some might find these words hard to believe, I am currently, and always have been, a Lexicalist.
In a way, I am grateful that the brilliant linguist Quentin Popinjay Snodgrass, Ph.D., discovered what I have known to be true in my heart for many years. I couldn’t go on corrupting the minds of so many without receiving some form of retribution. It gladdened my soul greatly to learn that Dr. Snodgrass had planted a microphone underneath the desk in my office, and had been listening in on the conversations I’d been having with students and faculty for several weeks. In that time, he compiled a list of offenses—all of which are quite true—with which he confronted me yesterday morning. This list includes, but is no way limited to, the following offenses:
- Harboring ill will towards successful linguists.
- Engaging in original research.
- Learning natural languages other than Turkish.
- Pondering natural language data without a permit.
- Making disparaging remarks of a rather personal nature about Quentin Popinjay Snodgrass, Ph.D., and his mother.
- Experimenting with artificial languages and codes.
- Questioning the validity of the work of several linguists whose names I shall omit to spare them any embarrassment.
- Questioning the explanatory power of the morpheme.
- Suggesting that context-independent meaning is a myth.
- Attempting to coerce students into subscribing to false Lexicalist theories of grammar.
- Plotting to assassinate various members of the Natural Language Research Approval Committee (NLRAC).
- Throwing live kittens out of a seventh story window.
- Lighting live kittens on fire and then throwing them out of a twelfth story window.
Though I sorrowed greatly in my heart and mind as I committed these atrocities, I did not stay my hand, and am deserving of the greatest punishment the NLRAC can imagine. I put my full trust in its absolute authority, and shall welcome whatever justice it finds to be most suitable. Furthermore, I am remanding myself to the custody of the NLRAC, and do so without reservation. I am in no way concerned about its collective actions, or the mental stability of its leadership. I would never dream of asking my friends, family and coworkers to ascertain my secret location and rescue me, as I am certainly in no need of rescue. Indeed, I could not be safer, as my accommodations have been provided by the NLRAC, and not by a group of surprisingly well-armed lunatics.
I am writing this letter not to apologize, nor to seek forgiveness. For the crimes I have committed there can—nay, must be no absolution. I must live in shame for the remainder of my days, and all must look upon me with disgust, suspicion and contempt. Though I will never feel any solace, I will at least be hopeful that terrible acts like mine will never be committed again if those who read my confession will resolve to be ever more vigilant, and to seek out and expose those who remain sympathetic to Lexicalist theories of grammar. As harshly as you would deal with me if you could, kind reader, so must you deal with those Lexicalists that go about in the guise of linguists, and so must you struggle with the Lexicalist in yourself. For, in our heart of hearts, aren’t we all struggling with that voice inside us, weak and terrified of the truth, that seeks to subdue our better judgment and force us to give in to our darker nature? Each day, we must confront ourselves in the mirror, and ask ourselves, candidly: What have we done to halt the spread of Lexicalism today? If your answer is “Nothing whatever,” are you any better than a Lexicalist? If we pass a crying child in the street, do we not immediately seek out its mother and scold her for allowing the child to make such a racket? If we witness a deranged individual lighting a live kitten on fire and tossing it out of a twelfth story window, do we not seek a hose to douse the wretched thing? “Oh, yes!” you say to yourself, and yet, have you reported any and all suspicious and subversive behavior you’ve witnessed to the NLRAC? Have you written a letter to Dr. Snodgrass thanking him for all he’s done for us? Have you taken any time to learn the Turkish language? Reader, I may be the lowest of the low, but if you hate Lexicalism as much as you ought, I urge you, look into the mirror, and change!
As I pen this confession I am of sound mind and body, and I freely admit that every word here is my own. I am under absolutely no compulsion to write this confession—indeed, it was my own idea to do so, and I have undertaken this enterprise of my own free will. To question these facts, or even to suggest that these facts might be called into question, is tantamount to admitting to Lexicalist leanings. As another enemy of the NLRAC has been brought to justice, we are closer to victory than ever before. Take heart: We shall triumph!
Sartoris Ojars Sampson
Yoknapatawpha State University
July 19th, 3009