It’s the Independent Scholar’s Life for Me, Boyo!—A Letter from Editor-on-the-Lam Artemus Zebulon Pratt, PhD SpecGram Vol CLXIV, No 1 Contents The “Slater Method” of Linguistic Fieldwork—H.D. Onesimus

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editors,

It has come to our attention that a recent cover asserted that your journal has been “Buzzword compliant for over 300 years”. We demand that you immediately retract this claim, which is entirely untrue and misleading.

We sincerely hope it is merely a clerical error, but your institutional memory seems to have omitted mention of our latest denial of IBO 9002 Buzzword Compliant status for the periodical Speculative Grammarian. Allow us to refresh your memory with the following excerpt from our letter to you, dated 29 April 1994:

Application of the term Buzz­word Com­pli­ant to Spec­u­la­tive Gram­mar­ian flies in the face of ob­vi­ous facts and com­mon sense. Though it is true that vir­tu­al­ly all lin­guis­tics Buzz­words do ap­pear in your pages, our com­mis­sion has found (as it did with your pre­vi­ous four ap­pli­ca­tions) that you do not ac­tu­al­ly en­dorse the terms you use. That is, your use of Buzz­words is not “com­pli­ant,” but rather “crab­by” or per­haps more ac­cu­rate­ly “per­verse.” There­fore we must once again de­ny your ap­pli­ca­tion.

Furthermore, we must point out that your current claim to 300 years of compliance is utterly ludicrous, inasmuch as the International Buzzwords Organization was not formed until 1856, while the Linguistics Certification Board was not added until 1933. Thus, it is worse than misleading to claim Buzzword Compliance in Linguistics before 1933, as no such status was officially recognized until that year. In fact, our expert panel has repeatedly assured us that there were no buzzwords in linguistics previous to that time.

Again, we must insist in the most forceful terms that you cease and desist from making such claims, as well as issuing an immediate and full retraction. We interpret this misappropriation of the term Buzzword Compliant as a direct infringement on IBO authority, and will pursue this matter to the highest Buzzword authorities if you do not appease us.

International Buzzwords Organization,
Linguistics Certification Section



Our legal department advises us to ignore your letter, but we can’t resist: buzz off!


Dear Editors:

My teacher says I’m supposed to use primary sources, not just secondary ones. Does a translation count as a primary source?

Thanx U!


Dear Trevarr,

It is apparently common practice in some fields to consider translations primary sources, perhaps because the only differences between a translation and the original are in the areas of detail, general meaning, sociocultural implications, organization, style, and impact on the reader; perhaps because the researcher has a well-established idea of what a secondary source is, goes so far as to note that a translation does not match it, and then goes no further.

We at Speculative Grammarian, however, would like to encourage the use of more specific terminology. Not only does this aid the cause of some kind of specificity (certain aspects of which are frequently ignored by many), it helps create a large jargon base, which signals to the reader that the researcher must surely be in a recognized and respected field, and which is soothingly memorizable. To this end, we suggest sesquinary as the term for the status of translations as sources. Edited versions of the text in the original language are not the original, but are closer and thus become antesesquinary, a label than which very few, in our opinion, are more appealing to say in a paper presentation.



Dear SpecGram,

I’m not sure why, but there’s something about the phrase coprological material, as used by U. P. Start in “Google Results Support an Anglo-Genesis Model of Language Degradation”, that does not seem quite right to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Can you help?

P. Oopers-Kooper
Turda, Romania


Dear Pee-Pee,

First, we advise against putting your finger on any coprological material you come across. Beyond that, we understand your point and have vague feelings of the same sort. Dr. Schadenpoodle suggests that the problem is the -logical part, unless you are willing to assume that the bird is conveying symbolic intent via the droppings, which, ultimately, is very hard to rule out.



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.

It’s the Independent Scholar’s Life for Me, Boyo!A Letter from Editor-on-the-Lam Artemus Zebulon Pratt, PhD
The “Slater Method” of Linguistic FieldworkH.D. Onesimus
SpecGram Vol CLXIV, No 1 Contents