Attention All Satirical Linguists of Good Conscience! Rise Up! Rise Up!—A Letter from the Speculative Grammarian Interns SpecGram Vol CLXI, No 3 Contents Further Discoveries Pertinent to The Public Humiliation of Si—Tom Stinnett for SpecGram Wire Services

Letters to the Editor

To the editor(s) whom it may concern:

While I take issue with Rhodes’ original Tame/Wild scale, as well as Bangzerrungen’s (aptly labelled) “Wild Extrapolation of Rhodes’ Tame/Wild Scale”, I did enjoy Rhodes’ very close transcription of “wild” onomatopoeia as cited by Bangzerrungen.

One of the things I love about the IPA is that it is almost a schematic recording of soundlargely as it was intended to be. I was explaining this fact to my (very patient) husband. I worked out [ʔm̰ɨ̰̃ː˥˦˥], and he was impressedit is better than any cow imitation I’ve ever come up with on my own.

Arcana Orexis


To the Arcana(s) whom it may not concern:

Your writing style is a bit impersonal, and we take that personally! On the other hand, your point about Rhodes’ transcription is much appreciated.

As with acquiring nasal-ingressive voiceless velar trills, practicing these onomatopoetic tongue twisters (mouth manglers?) is best done in public. We gave our interns a phonetic pop quiz out in the hall and the neighbors called animal control. That is a victory for the Art and Science of Linguistics if ever there was one.



Dear SpecGram,

Reading Tthm and usn trryv Aluuaj’s article in which they propose a new compressed version of English, called Huffmenglish, has left me flabbergasted and frustrated. What hogwash!

Their proposal is inherently ridiculous, because with greater compression comes decreased redundancy, which means a greater chance of errors. I propose instead Hamminglish, which introduces Hamming error-correcting codes to the Huffman Coding compression, thus allowing for correction to partially damaged signals.

Hamminglish is, literally, the language of the godsor at least of the Old Ones. My initial training corpus was a large collection of late 19th and early 20th century public domain texts, which have a fairly different word distribution from early 21st century English. To my surprise, some of the compressed forms looked familiar. Ultimately, I discovered the true translation of this infamous phrase:

ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn
It is in fact:
Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagelsbring home for Emma
Chilling, is it not?



Dear Howie,

Look, we gave in to pressure from the ACL (Association for Computastic Language) and printed the damn article. If you guys don’t stop it with this nonsense, we’re going to drop the subscriptions of every computational linguist we can identify. That should decrease entropy and the rate of errors, while vastly improving the signal to noise ratio in the letters and submissions we receive!


Dear Editors,

I was recently doing some research for the Pythoness Chiastic Quarterly on the linguistics of witchcraft and the witchcraft of linguistics when I stumbled upon “Arguments Against English Spelling Reform,” by Hermes Trismegistus (Babel I.3). As Babel is now defunct, I thought I’d write to you to share my thoughts in this matter.

As Trismegistus pointed out, changes in language may render spells powerless, or worse, change their effect in unpredictable ways. Spelling reform, then, is almost certainly contrary to the goals of spell users everywhere. With all these points I agree.

However, Trismegistus failed to account for dialect differences, particularly as they relate to accent. Novice spell casters are encouraged to apprentice with someone with a very similar accent. As Trismegistus pointed out, changing /ðaw/ to /yu/ can greatly change the outcome of an incantation. Similarly, naively changing /faɪər bɜːn ænd kɔːldrən bʌbl/ to /faɪr bɝːn ən kɑːldrən bʌbl/ can have dire consequences.

What many spell casters don’t know is that, unless spells were created from scratch in a particular dialect (there are many fine sorceresses in Appalachia doing original research, for example), the UK RP accent is the best modern dialect for casting spells. Two fun facts: first, the British Royal Family has cast spells in that accent to maintain their wealth and power and eliminate their enemies for generations; second, why is it called “received” pronunciation? Received from whom? From Ba‘al Azabab, of course!

May the godess guide all your trills to their proper place of articulation,
Hecate Elizabeth Xanderson


Dear H.E.X.,

Unfortunately Hermes himself is unable to answer your intriguing letter. Alas, there was an accident during a spell casting demonstration for a class of elementary school necromancers. Hermes was showing off and attempted a transmogrification spell in a creole of Rongorongo and Tokharian D. He accidentally performed an ingressive pharyngeal fricative as glottal, and turned himself into a mute newt. He probably shouldn’t have tried to do it with two hot dogs in his mouth. As an aside, that is the origin of the phrase “hot dogging”, meaning “showing off”.

We’re pleased to hear that PχQ is continuing its fine tradition of magical crossovers!

We take your point about accent variation, and applaud the spell-casting community at large for taking proactive measures to prevent mishaps. We don’t need another “Stay Puft” incident, do we?

As for your claims about the royal family, we can neither confirm nor deny such allegations, and it is miscarriage of justice even to mention such claims in printlargely because they are all true (though you didn’t hear it from us).



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.

Attention All Satirical Linguists of Good Conscience! Rise Up! Rise Up!A Letter from the Speculative Grammarian Interns
Further Discoveries Pertinent to The Public Humiliation of SiTom Stinnett for SpecGram Wire Services
SpecGram Vol CLXI, No 3 Contents