SpecGram Vol CLVIII, No 3 Contents Letters to the Editor

Man in the Black Box

A Letter from the Managing Editor

One of my great-grandchildren (I honestly forget which one, as there are so many nowthree, perhaps four of them, and they descend upon me like a ravening horde) recently purchased a device called an “eye pod” for me. It makes noise; the ravening horde claim it is music, but I detect neither harmony nor melody in the selections that were “preloaded” on it for my “enjoyment”.

Through an unfortunate series of button pressings, I have somehow gotten the infernal contraption into such a state that it is only able to render a single “song”, entitled “Man in the Box” by an ensemble known as “Alice in Chains”. I am not sure who put Alice in the chains, but perhaps she should have had her mouth sewn shut as well.

Nonetheless, I feel obligated to turn the machine on and let it emit its foul cacophony whenever any of my great-grandchildren (or their children) visit me, to indicate my stoic appreciation for their tragic thoughtfulness. As a result, I have had the score or so words I can understand etched indelibly into my mind.

I’m the man in the box.
Bundled in my shift.
Don’t you come and shave me, shave me.

Ahh, there’s the rub. For now it turns out that we, the editors of Speculative Grammarian, are the proverbial Man in the proverbial Box, and it is time for us to take our proverbial Shaving.

In this issue Nachele Thanhthu and Nyklus Affanita of the Orvall Oryan School for the Onomastically Challenged have written, in their article “Black Box Testing in Linguistics”, an account of the experiment they were conducting and the conclusions they have drawn, all of which will explain the repetitive occurrence of the questionHow many linguists does it take to pick up a box from the ground?” in the Letters to the Editor over the last several issues.

While their conclusions are interesting and exciting, I feel that I must also explain what was, I must confess, ultimately an editorial oversight that allowed Thanhthu and Affanita’s experiment to take place. Unlike other journals we’ve heard about (not to name names, but some rhyme with Shmanguage, Shminguistic Shminquiry, or The Shmournal of Shmomparative Shmermanic Shminguistics), Speculative Grammarian receives upwards of ten thousand letters to the editor each week. Not surprisingly, we burn through about a dozen letters editors per week, as well. And, as is well known in academic publishing circles, the time required to prepare an issue of a journal is proportional to eπp, where p is the prestige of the journal, measured in millilabovs. That obvious, massive delay plus the discontinuous nature of the epistolary editorial awareness of SpecGram meant that, frankly, we didn’t notice the repeated question until the article explaining it all was submitted.

I would apologize, but the linguistic ends have justified the interrogatively repetitive means.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLVIII, No 3 Contents