SpecGram Vol CLXVII, No 2 Contents Letters to the Editor

The Tale of Pulju and Slater’s Volunteers

A Letter from the Managing Editor

The history of SpecGram and the band of merry pranksters who make up its crew is long, complex, and often obscured by the mists of time. SpecGrammology, while a difficult and rewarding subject, is not without its dangers, including paper avalanches (of both the loose-leaf and even more dangerous bound-edition varieties), editorial backstabbing (Virgule to the eye! Footnote to the head! Extraneous comma to the heart!), and various and sundry libel lawsuits.

Pre-SpecGrammology is an even more difficult and dangerous subject, and not something we normally delve into lightly. However, an interesting historical document has come to me by a circuitous and somewhat shadowy routethough I have no reason to doubt its authenticity.

Little is known and less is spoken of the exact nature of the relationship between Speculative Grammarian and our sister publicationsThe Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia, Babel, and Psammeticus Quarterly. What is a matter of public record is that SpecGram’s own Editor Emeritus Tim Puljuoften with the involvement of Senior Editor Keith Slatertook the reins of each enterprise shortly before it suddenly went out of business and the two editors moved on to their next publishing endeavor, taking the scant archival remains of each late, lamented journal along with them.

Below is the text of a grad student shanty reportedly sung robustly in student lounges and hummed softly in library carrels at Midwestern universities in the mid-to-late 1990’s. It tells the (certainly exaggerated, likely hyperbolic, and possibly apocryphal) tale of the founding (or possibly the revival) and rapid subsequent demise of Psammeticus Quarterly, and the grim fate of its staff and crew. It serves as a warning to all linguists of either the satirical or piratical kinds.

Slater and Pulju have so far declined comment, having spent most of the last few weeks gumming their tapioca in the Really Old Editors’ Lounge at SpecGram Towers. Will we ever know the whole truth? Probably not, but it’s a fun scab to pick at in the meantime.

Pulju’s Volunteers

With apologies to Stan Rogers

Oh, the year was nineteen eighty-eight,
(How I wish I were in grad school now!)
A letter of rec came from the Dean
To the scummiest “journal” I’d ever seen.

Rask damn them all! I was told
We’d cruise the halls for comedy gold,
We’d have some fun, shed no tears.
I’m a broken man on sabbatical year,
The last of Pulju’s volunteers.

Well Pulju and Slater cried the lounge,
(How I wish I were in grad school now!)
For twenty brave souls, all linguists, who
Would make for them the Psammeticus crew.

The Macintosh Plus was a sickening sight.
(How I wish I were in grad school now!)
She’d a SCSI port and a seat o’ bean bags,
And some bitmapped fontsall pixels and jags.

On Hockett’s birthday we commenced our spree.
(How I wish I were in grad school now!)
We took ninety-one days to get underway,
Writing like madmen all the way.

On the ninety-sixth day we began again.
(How I wish I were in grad school now!)
When a bloody great Lit Prof hove in sight
With wisecracked one-liners we made to fight.

The Lit Prof was an unloved scold.
(How I wish I were in grad school now!)
She was broad and fat and loose with grades,
But to mock her took Psammeticus two whole days.

In the caff we sat two tables away.
(How I wish I were in grad school now!)
Our cracked one-liners made an awful din,
But with one quick call the Prof did us in.

The Provost’s head shook and he took up her side.
(How I wish I were in grad school now!)
Well, careers were smashed like a bowl of eggs,
And he took a full letter off all me grades.

So here I am in me twenty-third year.
(How I wish I were in grad school now!)
It’s been six years since that fateful day,
And I just made Bachelor’s yesterday.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLXVII, No 2 Contents