Delivery Attempt Notification SpecGram Vol CLXIX, No 2 Contents Tin Reasons to Sillybrate—Ithyl Hipburn

The Spec—A New Measure for Linguistic Humour

Prof. Trent Slater

While sarcasm, satire and snarkiness (the 3 Ss1) have long been thought to be present in most forms of linguistics research, never has a single measure been created to measure their co-presence. This article therefore, in tribute to some of the greatest minds of their generation,2 posits the creation of a single measure for all linguistic 3S humour.

Before revealing this measure, it is vital to first delineate and deconstruct the delimitations and derivation of 3S humour, as well as its modus operandi, modus vivendi and Depeche modus. However, since we are aware that most of those words have little meaning to anyone outside of the Clique of Unclear Linguistics Terminology, we shall simply write random arguments and hope that you don’t notice.

The first is that the 3Ss do not exist, as it were, in co-operative symphony. Indeed, outside of those rare fields, such as satirical linguistics, where the three interact in a linear, and perhaps even complementary fashion, it is far more common to see one S predominate. Take, for instance, a line from a PhD viva in subterranean semi-glottal neuro-linguomatosis, where one examiner said:

“Your research is reminiscent of a computational linguistic understanding of poststructuralism.”

Now, obviously, this shows deep understanding of sarcasm, not to mention a sprinkling of snarkiness, but the satirical element is not present. In fact, it is logical to assume that, by the student, this remark may actually have been interpreted as a compliment. After all, understanding poststructuralism using computational linguistics would count as a novel contribution to human knowledge.3

Thus, any measure of the trois Ss4 must take into account their general lack of alignment. One way of stabilising this measurement then would be to subject the levels of each S to a compound arithmetical operation involving extension by mutual combination.5 This gives us the following:

S3S = Sarc + Snark + Sat

Where S3S is the Spec,6 our new unit of humour measurement, Sarc is the sum of all sarcasm, Snark is the sum of all snarkiness and Sat is the sum of all satire present.

Applying this formula to previous articles in the August journal, Speculative Grammarian, allows us to sort said articles into distinct brackets. These represent high, low, and neutral values, where high Spec bracket articles include an optimum Spec level per word.

High Spec bracket articles include all editorials and responses to reader letters and, curiously, all articles including the words “structuralist”, “cartoon”, “fieldwork” and “universal grammar”. Low Spec bracket articles tend to be associated with sales pitches, begging and anything to do with hippies. Articles on translation, interpreting, constructed languages and finding a job in linguistics tend to be Spec Bracket Neutral (or, as certain francophone linguists who have developed a cultish devotion to SpecGram’s Managing Editor and who thus have lobbied intensely for an alternate name for the unit of humour measurement might put it, “Trey BN”7).

In conclusion, measuring linguistic humour according to the Spec scale gives us an efficient way of approximating how likely we are to laugh, spit out hot coffee or giggle uncontrollably at a piece of writing. It is our ingenious recommendation that Spec values and bracketing be calculated for all pieces of linguistics research, apart from linguistic theory. The reason for the exclusion of the latter is that it is expected that the requirements of printing computed values for such research would exceed the length of the texts themselves.

1 Not to be confused with the Three Stooges, the Three Musketeers, the Three Amigos or the League of People Who Dislike Pluralising the Letter S.

2 In their own minds, that is, but we don’t mind, mind.

3 Albeit not a very useful one; but then, if we were into useful knowledge, we would have all studied interpreting.

4 Random French is cool. Don’t mock it!

5 That’s “addition” to those who don’t read thesauri all night long.

6 The Spec is an imperial unit; the corresponding metric unit is the SpecGram, which is 1.05669 Specs.

7 Wait for it... Wait for it... And now you get it.

Delivery Attempt Notification
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SpecGram Vol CLXIX, No 2 Contents