Hu ða Æþelingas? or, Who are the Linguists?—A “Monolingual” Analysis—by B. E. O’Wulf SpecGram Vol CLXIII, No 2 Contents Frog and Toad Teach Linguistics—Keith Slater and Kean Kaufmann

Spaghetti or Lasagna for Linguists

LSA Committee on Comestibles in Linguistics

In order to understand various types of linguists better, we conducted a controlled experiment. Very simply, we asked each linguist “Do you want spaghetti or lasagna for dinner?” We think the replies we got are instructive, and so we are sharing them with you.

Classical Generative Phonologist: “Whether it’s spaghetti or lasagna will be predictable from context. Give me either one, and call it ‘pasta.’ ”

Structuralist: “Both. Neither one will have any flavor unless I can compare them.”

Typologist: “Spaghetti. It’s a more prototypical instance of the category of pasta.”

Discourse Functionalist: “I don’t know. Are we eating with spoons or forks?”

Corpus Linguist: “Lasagna. The bigger noodles are more impressive.”

Semanticist: “Lasagna. Lasagna noodles are larger, and therefore they entail spaghetti noodles.”

Sociolinguist: “I’d like two plates of spaghetti with different sauces.”

Psycholinguist: “Spaghetti. No, wait, that was just the primacy effect, sorry. Lasagna. No, hang on, that was just recency....”

Neogrammarian: “Neither. They are both borrowed, and I will go hungry rather than accept a borrowing.”

Contact linguist: “I’d like lasagna with refried beans.”

“Aspects” Syntactician: “I’ll take spaghetti. Lasagna is just spaghetti that’s been conjoined.”

X-bar theorist: “There’s no difference; they’re both just Specs of the plate.”

Minimalist Syntactician: “I’ll have whatever Chomsky is having.”

Phonetician: “Could you say that second word again more slowly?”

Relational Grammarian: “I’ll take spaghetti. Lasagna is underlyingly spaghetti that’s been raised into a bigger pan.”

Systemicist: “At this level of delicacy, I really need to know more about the genre (business dinner? date? lonely carbo-chowdown?) and register (is there a maitre’d, or am I dealing with Edna, who calls me “hon”?). Can I do MOOD and APPRAISAL analyses first?”

Deconstructional linguist: “Spaghetti is just lasagna that has been digested many times by previous speakers.”

Literary linguist: “The important thing is what spaghetti and lasagna mean in the context of the entire meal.”

“Mass Comparison” Historical Linguist: “I want both of them mixed together.”

Nostraticist: “They’re both flatbread, you know.”

Statistical Linguist: “I’ve recorded the past two thousand instances of dining, and so far, there’s a much higher incidence of lasagna-ordering on days when it’s the special. Today it’s not the special, so I’m going to flip a coin.”

Stratificational Linguist: “Spaghetti, without sauce. Throw it on the table and I’ll write a paper about it.”

Field Linguist: “Would it mean the same thing if I said ‘spaghetti or else lasagna?’ ”

OT Phonologist: “Spaghetti. Fatal choking may result from eating pasta in larger-than-optimal pieces.”

Tagmemicist: “Lasagna is pasta viewed as a wave, while spaghetti is pasta viewed as a string of particles. To eat one is to eat the other.”

ESL Instructor: “Be careful when you ask this, because some English speakers use ‘dinner’ to mean ‘lunch.’ ”

Graduate Student: “Which one can I finish faster?”

Department Chair: “I’ll have to appoint a food committee to make that decision. Otherwise Professor S. will make a fuss no matter what I choose.”

Teaching Assistant: “Does either of them come with a parking pass?”

Satirical Linguist: “Give me two strands of spaghetti in a glass of beer.”

[Editor’s Note: Leftovers will appear the in May 2012 issue of Speculative Grammarian.]

Hu ða Æþelingas? or, Who are the Linguists?A “Monolingual” Analysisby B. E. O’Wulf
Frog and Toad Teach LinguisticsKeith Slater and Kean Kaufmann
SpecGram Vol CLXIII, No 2 Contents