Big Assibilant ʃpider—A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief SpecGram Vol CLXIX, No 3 Contents Linguimericks—Book ६

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editors,

We are writing to submit for your consideration a contender for Chiasmus of the Year 2013. In her paean to bourgeois freedom, “We Can’t Stop,” chanteuse Miley Cyrus (ABD, School of Hard Knocks) declares:

And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
We run things
Things don’t run we

We don’t take nothing from nobody

As Ms. Cyrus is evidently a speculative grammarian in more than one sense, we consider it especially appropriate that she be recognized by your publication. We await your evaluation of our submission with trepidation.

Sincerely yours,

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Dear Juicy J-Day Fresh,

Thank you for taking on the terrible responsibility of bringing this linguistic aberration to our attention. We lost several reasonably adequate interns in the mêlée to power down the Farnsworth and end the broadcast of this travesty into our office lounge.

In consultation with our Chiastic Editor & Editorial Chiasturge we must regretfully report that we can only take nominations for Periodic Chiasmoi in an actual human language. As is generally accepted among rock glossologists, Modern Pop English is actually a speech disorder, not a dialect. (See Ozzie Tchomzkij, 2006, “Speech Disorders as Indicators of Potential for Lyrical Success”, SpecGram CLI.2.)

We earnestly hope that Ms. Cyrus gets the linguistic (and psychological and maybe even psycholinguistic) help she so obviously needs. However, the chances of rehabilitation are, empirically, slim. Few if any infecteesit turns out that Quentin Atkinson’s virus model of language wasn’t completely uselesshave ever been able to become productive members of society.

The list is quite depressing: Air Supply (“Two less lonely people in the world”), The Backstreet Boys (“You will get to know me / A little more better”), Paula Cole (“... say a little prayer for I”), Neil Diamond (“Songs she brang to me”), Alicia Keys (“... concrete jungle where dreams are made of”), Phish (“You Enjoy Myself”), Shorty B. (“Tell me can we conversate”), Gwen Stefani (“... I try my bestest”), Timbaland (“The Way I Are”), Justin Timberlake (“My heart bleeded, girl”), and (“T to the A to the S-T-E-Y / Girl, you’re tasty”).

And, saddest of all and demonstrating a familial cycle of illness, there is Billy Ray Cyrus (“That’s What Daddys Do”)though there is much speculation about whether the condition can also be hereditary, possibly even in the folk sense sometimes attributed to certain forms of insanity: “Insanity is hereditary; you get it from your kids.”


Dear Eds,

I can’t believe the stupidity in the “Fifteen Linguists” puzzle from the January issue. Everyone knows that in places where we do fieldwork, by the time you’ve travelled three miles, you’re in a new language family entirely. It’s unfathomable that a single language would be spoken in multiple villages.

Phil Dwork

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Dear Dr. Dwork,

C’mon! It’s a puzzle. It’s supposed to be puzzling. Actually, it’s all one village, made up of clusters of houses, which the linguists in question call “villages”either to be funny, or clever, or to assert territorial rights and make themselves feel important. You decide.


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Dear SpecGram,

I’m disillusioned and just a little dissociative with you over your article “On How Middle Voice Should Not Constrain for Syntax.” I’m not sure we are being as patient with Middle Voice passives as we should be. I always liked a Truncated Agentless Passive, but now it just seems like Middle Voice. It’s just too Dative for meto me is dreaming. Can you fix this?

Daphne Depensive

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Dear Daff-Daph,

You need some tough love. Get over it. Stop feeling sorry for yourself or we’ll send a very large linguist named Vito over to make you translate “The rat the cat the dog bit chased ate the cheese” into Pirahã. If that doesn’t snap you out of it, then Vito has some Vogon poetry that needs translated into Shigudo.


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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.

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Big Assibilant ʃpiderA Letter from the Editor-in-Chief
LinguimericksBook ६
SpecGram Vol CLXIX, No 3 Contents