Language, as Spoken by Linguists—A Letter from the Managing Editor SpecGram Vol CLVII, No 3 Contents The Chiasmus of the Month Award—Psammeticus Press

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editors,

I was disconcerted to see that you had printed Prof. Wahnsinnbetrunken’s “reply” to my squib on Cat. I like to think of Speculative Grammarian as a journal at the forefront of linguology, morphemology, morphemonomy, and the recently fashionable phonetosemantiscatology. It saddens me to see you stoop to the level of a tabloid or gossip rag in giving voice to cranks and mudslingers like Wahnsinnbetrunken. Since he has taken it upon himself to “call me out”, as it were, I feel it only right that you also print my reply:

First, Wahnsinnbetrunken, “negative one cat” is indeed ungrammatical; you’re just naysaying because you’re a big meanie poopoo head. Furthermore, I’m puzzled that you would refer to my research as “infantile”, when you’re the one who’s a great big wah-wah crybaby. In fact, do you hear that right now? It’s your mommy calling you, because it’s time for your bottle and your binky, you big, fat baby-waby.

Oh, and, yes, I have read Bubo, et al. Stephen Strix is a former student of mine, and I made comments on an early draft of that paper, so you can go marry a stupid baby, because you’re a stupid baby, and together you’ll be two big stupid babies who baby around doing stupid baby things, you fart head.

Respectfully Yours,
Hoam L. E. Orange


Hey Hoam-Boy!

We’re glad to print your reply to Wahnsinnbetrunken, and to give Dr. Wahnsinnbetrunken a chance to respond to you in turn and in kind. It seems he became rather impassioned and fell back to his native tongue, which may well be Lëtzebuergesch.

Weechteegtooir! Seei keein Ideeut! Doo hest eeinee Foorz eem Hurn! Ich peesse-a dur gleeich uns Beein!
As best we can tell, via output from our AutoGrammatikon™ quasi-universal translator, what he meant was something along the lines of this:
You think you are hot snot on a silver platter, but you are just a cold booger on a paper plate!

We love to see this level of mature debate. It is this kind of academic give-and-take that brings out the best in all of us.



Language, as Spoken by Linguists

In response to a question as to why it didn’t matter whether the stimulus showed one frog or several frogs: “Our subjects are graduate students, so they are intelligent people. When they are presented with [a picture of] five frogs, they don’t say ‘frog-frog-frog-frog-frog’, they say ‘five frogs’.”


To the editors of SpecGram:

How many linguists does it take to pick up a box from the ground?

Thank you,
Ms. Bophary Laksmono
Dept. of Linguistics and Name Science
Orvall Oryan School for the Onomastically Challenged


Dear Ms. Laksmono,

Picking up a box from the ground requires at least 1 + N linguistsone to identify the language in which the action is to be conceptualized, and then a variable number of additional linguists depending on the particular language and the various analytic stances on it among the linguists who study it. After all, in some languages one might not pick a box up from the ground, but rather move it off the ground’s head, or shove it antigroundwards. If you’re studying English, assume N = 250 ±100. Generativists and their modern equivalent can be discounted, since to them, picking up the box is irrelevant; it’s the valid potential for pickupability that’s the key, and that exists even if there are no people to pick up the box, or no box, or no ground. If you’re dealing with a South American language, a good rule of thumb is to assume N = (the staff of the SIL)/5. If it’s a language only studied by the Russians, N will remain undefined, since we can’t read their articles; if it has only been studied by the French, N will likewise remain undefined, since if we read their articles, they will gloat because they’ve forced someone to find French relevant.



Language, as Spoken by Linguists

From the author of a paper with a longer-than-usual title: “The title is quite lengthyand I skip it.”

Dear Mr. or Mrs. Editor,

We use “Historicity of Texts and Textuality of History” in my Historical Socio-Pragmatic Discourse Analysis class, and my History 101 teacher recommended it, too. Does that mean that Historical Socio-Pragmatic Discourse Analysis and History are just the same? If there is no difference, why do historians still have their own department? Shouldn’t they be integrated within Linguistics? Please help!

A Puzzled First-Year Undergrad


Dear Puzz,

We’ve often asked ourselves a similar question. We agree with Editor-at-Large Jonathan van der Meer when he wrote about how generally awesome Linguistics is:

[Consider] the yin and yang of the diametrically opposed intellectual challenges presented by fieldwork and theoretical syntax, and how linguistics is “potentially the most cognitive of the cognitive sciences,” or how comp ling synthesizes the best of both the humanities and the sciences while potentially rewriting the book on how the human mind works.

Indeed, the idea that Linguistics is the ultimate field of study was proposed (with evidence) more than 15 years ago by noted scholar of the Linguistic History of Historical Linguistics, I.M. Shirley Wright.

[T]here is a universal trend for highly motivated, hard working people, who tire easily of lesser subjects, to progress along a hierarchy of disciplines, culminating with linguistics.

We believe, and the evidence cited supports the notion, that everything eventually goes back to Linguistics. We also believe, more speculatively, that eventually all fields should and could be integrated into Linguistics. The main problem with the second part of that idea, though, is that historians have a bigger and better funded lobby than Linguists.

Another issue is that if all fields were integrated under Linguistics, then Linguistics itself would, in some sense, lose all meaning because it would refer to absolutely everything. Thus it is possible that the merger has already happened in academic pre-history, and the cycle is now repeating.

Karmically yours,


Language, as Spoken by Linguists

“I’m an alien here. I work in Motor Control, but that does not prevent me from speaking here because nothing ever does.”
“I know you’ve come to a speech pathology session, but we’re actually not talking about pathologyor speech.”


To the editors of Speclative Gramarian [sic—Eds.]:

One of the linguistics guys at my work was dissing my electronic dictionary because it didn’t have the word “quotidian” in it. I said I didn’t know what that word meant, so I probably didn’t need it to be in my dictionary. He said that was the whole point of a dicitonary [sic—Eds.]. Then he pulled out this big fat book he said was an entomological (sp? Outlook fixed it for me [of course it did—Eds.]) dictionary. It had pages of words I never heard of [of course it did—Eds.] and all this stuff about where the words come from. I told him that seemed kinda dumb. He tried to explane [sic—Eds.] it to me, but I didn’t get it. He said you could explane [sic—Eds.] it to me more better. [Sick!—Eds.]

What’s the dilly, yo?

Dwayne Earl Bouffon


Dear Dr. Bouffon,

Under no circumstances is it a felicitous proposition to engage in a “my lexicon is more unabridged than your lexicon” altercation with a linguist. They might proffer the Compact Oxford English Dictionary. While it may not impress you, it most unquestionably will give you eye-strain. If that is not sufficiently bellicose for the pugnacious linguist whose probity you have besmirched, the Compact OED, with a poundage in excess of a stone, is a tome with which you could straightforwardly be bludgeoned with such force so as to induce your expiry.

That, dear sir, is why it matters.



Language, as Spoken by Linguists

“We discounted perturbations, such as when subjects coughed or took a deep breath or when an imbecile knocked on the door of the lab...”

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.

Language, as Spoken by Linguists—A Letter from the Managing Editor
The Chiasmus of the Month Award—Psammeticus Press
SpecGram Vol CLVII, No 3 Contents