Epistola ad Legentes—Dodranscentennial Disclaimerification and Enwarranticization SpecGram Vol CLXI, No 4 Contents Linguistics Nerd Camp—Bethany Carlson

Letters to the Editor

Dear SpecGram,

I’m sorry, I can’t recall the reference, but I remember reading somewhere of a study of infants where some 63% of the subjects were able to discriminate phonetic features in a manner consistent with an assumed geometric hierarchy of contrasts, while 11% demonstrated perceptions that violated that hierarchy in few but consistent ways. This shows, according to the authors, that the separation between mainstream and minority schools of thought in linguistics is not acquired, as many have supposed, but innate and universal.

Coby Ingram


Dear Coby,

You must be referring to “Is Universal Grammar Universal? Most Likely NotSo Suck It Pinker!” by Jeffrey Simpsen and Blanca Eslata, in Unconsciousness & Semantics Vol. 23, No. 1 (2004). The multi-year firestorm of criticism that followed the publication of their findings led to a lingering general apathy for the topic, which has overshadowed the fact that their work was thrice (though begrudgingly) replicated in the last two years. See “WTF!? Simpsen and Eslata Were Right!” by Ἔλλειψις Ἀστερίσκος and A.M. Schönsten in Empirically Belligerent Corpus Sociolinguistics Vol. 3 No. 53 (2009); “Ugh, UG is Not Universal” by Skögul Hildrdottir and Almaadele Shealin in (R)Evolutionary Linguistics Vol. ЖЛ No. ЙД (2010); and “The Evidence Indicates That Pinker Must Indeed Suck It” by Sovanrithy Lalofau in Keoyihōspliursian Syntax & Astronomy Vol. -e No. φ-1/φ (2011) for all the details.


Dear Editors,

I wanted to point out an inaccuracy in last issue’s Letters to the Editor. It has a cow’s moo transcribed in IPA as [ʔm̰ɨ̰̃ː˥˦˥] (with tone pattern 5-4-5). It is true that the transcription in Rhodes’ paper “Aural Imagery” has “545” in superscript. However, in note 7 of that paper, it is explained that (contrary to the usual conventions for notating tone) higher numbers are used for lower pitch levels! Hence, in standard IPA, something like ˦˥˦ (or even ˩˨˩) would be more appropriate.

This reinforces the point made in Bangzerrungen’s article about “the appropriateness of endnotes in our modern digitally typeset age”.

Siva K.


Dear Siva,



1 It is impossible to separate a concept into the main text and a footnote, or the main text and an endnote, or in general, any kind of separate note or marginalia, without loss of communicative efficacy. We have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this note is too small to contain.


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.

Epistola ad LegentesDodranscentennial Disclaimerification and Enwarranticization
Linguistics Nerd CampBethany Carlson
SpecGram Vol CLXI, No 4 Contents