Not Even Wrong—A transcript of the 2010 SpecGram Free Form Linguistics Slam SpecGram Vol CLX, No 3 Contents Missed It By THAT Much!—Tel Monks and the SpecGram Puzzle Elves™
Linguistic Cocktails

Prepared and extensively taste-tested
by the SpecGram Mixologists

Interest in cocktails has had a resurgence lately, with people trying new combinations and reviving forgotten blends. We shouldn’t forget the long history the grand subfield of Mixological Linguistics has. Below is a mix of old favorites and new delights.

The Newmeyer

  • 1 martini, dry, with olive
  • 1 gin and tonic

Disparage the martini vigorously for ten to twenty years, arguing that no real establishment should serve it. Urge everyone to drink gin and tonic (“the one true cocktail”) instead. Redefine “gin and tonic” so that it can refer to lots of things other than a cocktail that has gin in it, and tonic. Continue until the martini can fall into the category of “gin and tonic”. Vigorously argue that you’ve been in favor of martinis all along, since they can be gin and tonics, and that your friends actually invented the martini, in a sensebut that civilized people take the olive out. Remove the olive from the martini, look confident, and drink.

The Cultural Translation Scholar

  • 1 dash Scotch whisky
  • 1 dash Irish whiskey
  • 1 mug German beer
  • 1 mug Belgian beer
  • 1 small glass Czech vodka
  • 1 small glass Russian vodka

Lay out all the drinks in an orderly fashion on a table in a specified country, preferably one with a monocultural outlook. Pour all the drinks into one container, preferably a container that only speaks one language. Observe the interactions of the drinks with each other and with the surrounding meta-culture. Assume that, eventually, all the drinks will translate themselves to the surrounding culture while maintaining their original cultural uniqueness. Write a paper in a translation journal that uses “translation” to refer to this process and not to anything as vulgar as the production of a written, spoken, or signed text. To ensure acceptance of your work redefine “text” too. Drink the mixture.

The Systemic

  • 1 jigger of whiskey
  • 1 jigger of gin
  • 1 jigger of Cointreau

Put each liquor in a separate glass. Give them names other bartenders will probably not recognize. Suggestion: call the whiskey “armagnac”. Drink each in quick succession while staring at the same object.

The Pullum

  • 2 jiggers of Maotai, or other 140+ proof liquor
  • 1 cocktail napkin

Put the liquor in a small glass. Tear the cocktail napkin into strips; insert one end of one strip into the glass. Light the strip. Hurl the flaming cocktail at anyone in the bar who is drinking a Strunk and White.

The Chomsky

  • brandy (any kind)
  • parsley (lots)
  • 1 stalk of celery

Stick the celery in a glass. Garnish with plenty of parsley. Add a cocktail umbrella, a plastic sword and a few toothpicks. No brandy necessary.

The Labov

  • orange juice
  • pear liqueur
  • Southern Comfort peach liqueur
  • Bacardi rum

Request a drink from a local bartender. Record the ensuing conversation. Request another drink from another bartender. Record the ensuing conversation. Repeat as needed. Write a paper.

Pairs well with hidden microphones, lamb.

The Stratificationalist

(This is both a cocktail and a party game.)

  • Two jiggers each of absinthe, blue Curaçao, orange juice, grape juice, and green crème de menthe (or other liquors/mixers that are vividly hued)
  • Approximately $5000 worth of glassware and transparent tubing.

Create an enormously complex, layered apparatus out of glassware and tubing. It should be designed so that gravity induces liquids to percolate downward, with actual paths dependent on which way valves are set at any particular time. Have an assistant pour liquors into the top of the array. Try to guess which nozzle that liquor will come out of, while your friends mess with the valves! Try to name novel combinations generated by the array! (Note: do not get the apparatus near bunsen burners!)

The Old-Fashioned Satirical Linguist

  • 2 dashes Lack-of-Tenure Bitters
  • 1 tsp water (or substitute extra dilute Chomskian Kool-Aid)
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 oz SpecGram Extra Dry and Somewhat Sly Bourbon
  • 1 slice of rhyming orange
  • 1 cherry (or substitute an unbound “cran” morpheme)

Fill an old-fashioned glass with hope, dreams, and exuberance. Wait several years until they have completely evaporated, then, using the back of a teaspoon, muddle the bitters and water into the sugar cube. Almost fill the glass with cubes of ice-cold sarcastic disappointment, then add the bourbon. Garnish with the orange slice and the cherry. Serve with a cynical swizzle stick. Stir up controversially.

Drink one! Two! Many! Goes well with almost any whine chaser.

The Phonetic Sprinkler

  • vodka
  • green olives

Open mouth. Make velar closure. Insert vodka. Add an olive. Make labial closure. Flap your apex repeatedly and rapidly. Make labial trill. Repeat.

Perfect Mix

  • an inventory of basic liquids (most commonly, rums, whiskeys, various juices, and colorful liquors)
  • a piece of fish

Sort liquids according to thickness. Adjust the thickness parameter by mixing with other substances, as suitable. Determine pouring velocity for each of the liquids. Pour the liquids into a glass. Pour in-phase liquids simultaneously. Observe what happens. Interesting findings will include blending of liquids (e.g., grapefruit juice and orange juice), hiding of some liquids (e.g., rum inside coffee), and apparent deletions. Use ultrasound if the mixture becomes too opaque. Observe changes in the magnitude of each liquid and its extensions as you drink up to determine changes in the temporal dimension. Prepare another sample of the drink. Remember that the law of large numbers calls for a large number of observations. Recall that entrainment will make people in your environment want to have the same drink as you. Repeat the previous steps until you have the opportunity to present your findings to the scientific community.

Add the fish where appropriate.

Center Embedding

  • 4 cherries
  • 4 almonds
  • cranberry juice
  • vodka

De-stem the cherries, stick an almond inside of each one. Place each cherry in an ice cube tray, cover with cranberry juice, and freeze. Place the ice cubes in a glass, cover with vodka.

Pairs well with DP movement, uncooperative informants.

The Multilingual

  • one of each language
  • one of each individual
  • oil
  • water
  • gin

Pour any number of languages into a transparent glass, alternating with layers of oil. Pour one individual at a time, alternating with layers of water. Add more languages and individuals. Stir vigorously, to make sure that stirring fails to cause mixes. Let the cocktail stay, as-is, forever. Pour large quantities of gin into another glass. Drink up the gin, until you forget that multilinguals are not what the cocktail shows. Pour another glass of gin and drink. Write a paper about multilingualism.

The Psycholinguist

  • wine (any kind: color is not a dependent variable in this study)
  • several glasses
  • 1 stopwatch

Pour the wine into a glass while whining about how no one has properly modeled the process of wine pouring. Observe the wine under controlled conditions for an hour. Present a wordy but content-less paper to an international conference on what wine might look like in infants. Rerun the analysis in a different glass in case the receptor affects the nature of the process. Wait another hour. Drink the wine. Drink more wine. Fall onto the floor drunk, bumping your head on a pipe on the way down. Write an even less coherent paper on the effects of head bumping on linguistic processing. Gain professorship.

Not Even WrongA transcript of the 2010 SpecGram Free Form Linguistics Slam
Missed It By THAT Much!Tel Monks and the SpecGram Puzzle Elves™
SpecGram Vol CLX, No 3 Contents