With Apologies to Editor Emeritus Tim Pulju—A Letter from the Managing Editor SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 1 Contents At the Mall of Indo-Europea—Hlökk bin Praeteritio ab Ἀπόστροφος von Sōkaiya

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editors,

I found the recent SpecGram article on the Doom/Punod manuscript fascinating. However, I am amazed that nobody so far has proposed a much more obvious explanation of the mysterious script of the text: it is actually written in the International Phonetic Alphabet! Granted, it does use a lot of obsolete symbols, such as the upside-down t’s and k’s for clicks, but that is to be expected if its origins predate the IPA Kiel Convention of 1989.

Of course, this theory leads to an even greater mystery. If the text is indeed an IPA transcription (perhaps inadvertently left by a fieldworker inside a book), what language does it represent? The phoneme inventory suggests that the recorded language was characterised by a large vowel inventory (many of its words consist of three vowels but no consonants), a complex system of rounded and unrounded back vowels (but, oddly enough, few front vowels), and a complete absence of voiceless coronals or nasals of any sort (oddly enough, “rare” phonemes such as voiced palatal stops appear widespread). The existence of such an asymmetrical language would surely threaten all of our current assumptions about phonology. Could this be the reason that the linguist who had originally stumbled upon it decided to hide the evidence forever?



Dear Effie,

There seem at times to be too many conspiracy
hounds—all raring to find some deep dark and
esoterick meaning in the most mundane things.
But if, by chance, we have an actual mystery
left, yet to be explained, then you’re hyper-
actively communicating your silly theories.
Common sensibly, there’s no reasonable way
known to Linguistics for the Doom/Punod
conundrum, genuine mystery though it may be—
or another foolishly hyped mystery manuscript—
provably, to a skeptical but fair observer,
to hold secret magical IPA incantations, or un-
explained mysteries of any similar sort. Ha!
Really!?! How would such a thing happen?
Sure, if you want, believe the fairy story.



Dear Editors of the once reputable journal SpecGram,

I am disappointed that you have published another politically incorrect faux pas from that once reputable and reputably intrepid linguistic explorer, Claude Searsplainpockets, and his poor, poor wife, Helga neé von Helganschtein. Wasn’t the labio-nasal debacle and the ensuing firestorm enough? When Helga and I worked together at the Persian Institute for Laconic Linguists, she was a hard working, serious linguist. Now she is traipsing around the world with that man, doing significant harm to her reputation and to the field at large.

Do the Searsplainpocketses not realize that their early conclusions from their work among the Tʷɪči lead to linguistic eugenics? And who is to decide that the Tʷɪči language is less fit, and in what linguistic environment? The Oboi­oboi­oboi­wi­kan­tsi­tstil suffer extreme penalties in terms of efficiency and efficacy of communication because of their non-distinctive reduplication! The Searsplainpocketses don’t thus claim that their friend Kimimininini suffers from speaking an evolutionarily inferior language do they? Such linguistic moral relativism is disgraceful!

Nordpol Übermut Schiffsunglück
UmGungundlovu University


Dear Northman Supersmut Sniffysnout,

Enough with petty slights against our good friends Claude and Helga! And we’re not just saying that because they donated over a million unspecified units of currency to the SpecGram Trust Fund just last week. Their work is as reliable as it ever was, and both inspired and inspiring! You knowingly overstate the difficulty of the labio-nasals, as you were the swing vote on the International Phonetic Association committee that denied Claude and Helga’s petition to add a labio-nasal column to the next version of the IPA chart. You also demonstrate, via a number of discourse markers, that you have had and probably still have unrequited feelings for Helga. You should see a doctor about that.

As for linguistic eugenics, you have leaped across the line between descriptive and prescriptive approaches to linguistic evolutionary fitness, haven’t you? What kind of linguist are you? Disgusting!



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.

With Apologies to Editor Emeritus Tim PuljuA Letter from the Managing Editor
At the Mall of Indo-EuropeaHlökk bin Praeteritio ab Ἀπόστροφος von Sōkaiya
SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 1 Contents