SpecGram Vol CLXVI, No 4 Contents Letters to the Editor

The I in Team

A Letter from the Managing Editor

The writers of business books, corporate cheerleaders in HR, and other reprobates like to say that “There is no I in team,” meaning, of course, that every team member should put aside their own ego and pull for the common good. It’s a lovely sentimentif you prefer your sentiments with a healthy dose of treaclebut it is, among many other unpleasant characteristics, ambiguous.

Linguists, orthographers, and other miscreants have been quick enough to point out that a more precise formulation would indicate that while there is in fact no ⟨i⟩ in ⟨team⟩, there is most clearly an /i/ in /tim/. This is all well and good, and the mixture of sneaky snark and supercilious smuggery goes down a bit easier, but it isn’t quite the solution we are looking for, because it doesn’t seem to really mean anything.

Blue ‘TEAM’ with a red ‘i’ inside the ‘A’.

Another versiona visual grotesquerie favored by graphic designers, typographers, and other delinquentsuses a suitable font and a play on figure/ground reversal to conjure a lowercase ⟨i⟩ from within a capital ⟨A⟩, usually accompanied by a clever comment along the lines of, “Oh, there it is, in the A-hole!” The obvious interpretation, of course, is that anyone who holds on too tightly to their ego in a team setting is indeed, colloquially, an /æshoʊl/a truth that anyone who has been forced to work on a project with an assigned team as an undergrad is well aware of. These bitter facts are less difficult to swallow because of, rather than in spite of, their acerbic authenticity.

Oliver Niebuhr, 2009, “Intonation segments and segmental intonations”, in Proceedings of the 10th Interspeech Conference, Brighton.

Chiasmus of the Month
March 2013

While the reality of working with an assigned team is often a bit less brutal in the workplacewhere, supposably, one’s superiors care about individual contributions and team effectivenessI can tell you that working with a team of associate editors, editorial associates, and other blackguards is no cakewalk. Fortunatelyfor methat is not something up with which I, personally, any longer must put.

An iron fistsans velvet gloveis all that most scribes, interns, and other rapscallions will ever understand. They can barely apprehend the grand sweep of what we, the Editorial Board, seek to accomplish in each issue; they live in a distorted state of nature, red in tooth and claw, hacking at each other with small-minded memos about “respecting the honor code of the refrigerator” while stealing office supplies from one another (they buy their own, obviously) and committing a thousand other petty affronts to their own debased humanity.

I sit above the frayfar from the concerns of readers, subscribers, and other knaveswatching the game, controlling it. It makes a hard man humbleafter all, there’s not much between despair and ecstasyand you can’t be too careful with your company.

It’s good to be the King Managing Editor.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLXVI, No 4 Contents