Preliminary Report: Speculative Grammarian—Quine & Assoc SpecGram Vol CLXIII, No 3 Contents The Legend of Trey—Hemeralda Ilissey

Secret Places Discovered

Alibaba Loquat Smith-Guernsey
l’École de SpecGram, Washington D.C.

Dedicated to Trey Jones, the most outstanding computational linguist ever to prowl
the campus network of l’École de SpecGram, and chairman of my dissertation committee

Albert (2005) proposed a groundbreaking new method for demographic study. For those whose browsers do not support hyperlinks, let me summarize briefly: Albert showed that simply finding the string “I live in” within the American National Corpus, and quantifying the list of nouns which follow this string, yields an accurate count of Americans, grouped by their places of residence.

Extending Albert’s methodology just a teensy weensy bit yields a surprising insight into the machinations of government, as I will now demonstrate.

Finding myself in somewhat of a hurry to find a dissertation topic before my graduate credits in Speculative Computational Linguistics expire, I read Albert’s article in Speculative Grammarian and hit upon the idea of studying a computational linguistic topic more interesting than static populationsnamely, population movementsby modifying Albert’s methodology and querying the string “I am from.” The collected collocating locations (that is, the places that follow “from” in meaningful linguistic strings) ought to tell us which places people leave with the greatest frequency, no? That was rhetorical; of course it should. Think about itnobody says “I’m from Boise” when they are in Boise. It only makes sense if they are no longer in Boise but once were.

Furthermore, using a universal search engine, rather than a nation-specific corpus, ought to allow us to find equivalent data for the entire world, not just for dinky little America (once we’ve factored out language, of course, which is an essentially trivial operation with modern search engines). Equipped with this unassailable theoretical grounding, I bought a new computer, subscribed to the Wine of the Month Club, and started googling.

As is frequently the case with research conceived in momentary brilliance, the results were startling.

Well, not all of the results. The top three results, actually, were unstartling. “China” was by far the largest point of origin, followed closely by “India” and “Manila.” The immigration rates of these three countries are well-known, and merit no particular comment. Below this, recognizable political points of origin were distributed just about as we would predict, looking at published government census data, such that few conclusions of interest to human geography could be drawn from the data. Basically, a whole lot of people are from heavily populated places, and not many are from places where nobody lives. So actually, the vast majority of the results wouldn’t have startled the most startle-able.

However, startling (and amazing) results did obtain, in areas that neither I nor the SpecGram graduate school’s minigrant agency predicted.

For one thing, there is a fascinating list of places from which nobody has ever moved. That is, these locations never appeared as the prepositional objects in the “I am from” construction. These include the following: Pasadena, Mexico City, Nirvana, Manitoba, Malvenas, and Washington, D.C. We might conclude that, like the Hotel California, these are places from which one is never permitted to leave, or that human beings are constitutionally incapable of doing so. I was startled by this result.

More startling still, however, is the following fact. This research methodology turned up a number of places that are not, according to my research, included on any map or in any gazetteer. That is, many people are from places that our governments are not telling us about.

My research turned up the following list of previously unknown places: next door, space, poem, your worst nightmare, titov, plastic, the black eyed peas, and the future.

Clearly, these places exist, and yet our map-makers not only omit to include them in their proper locations, but in fact do not include them at all. This evidence suggests that our governmentsin fact, all human governmentsare unified in their determination to withhold knowledge of these locations from all of humanity. I can imagine no one who would not be startled by this discovery!

Therefore, I propose that immediate steps be taken, preferably at the United Nations, to ensure that government transparency triumphs, that veils of silence are lifted, that maps are suitably and accurately corrected, and that these points of originwhich are the very wellsprings of life for many of our fellow travelers along the paths of human experiencemay be acknowledged. This, after all, is the debt that all of us owe to one another.

May I have my degree now, please, Mr. Jones?

Preliminary Report: Speculative GrammarianQuine & Assoc
The Legend of TreyHemeralda Ilissey
SpecGram Vol CLXIII, No 3 Contents