The Tale of Pulju and Slater’s Volunteers—A Letter from the Managing Editor SpecGram Vol CLXVII, No 2 Contents The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sir:

An advertisement published in the most recent issue of your journal seemed to imply that chimpanzees are less capable as translators than humans. I’d like to point out that if you confined a bunch of humans to small cages, fed them nothing but peanuts and bananas, and never allowed them to take bathroom breaks, you probably wouldn’t get very good translation out of them, either.

It may interest you to know that in fact, a number of chimpanzees in the Republic of Mfasiri are employed as highly successful professional, well-remunerated translators. In fact, the letter you’re reading right now was translated from French into English by a chimpanzee, since I, the author of the letter, haven’t studied English since high school, and am prone to making embarrassing mistakes if I try to produce my own translation.

Jean-Michel Ngosolu
Acting Head, Import-Export Division
Mfasiri Bureau of Commerce

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Dear John-Michael,

Chimps are old news. The translators of the future are computers. Just for fun, this reply was translated from French to English through a genetically plausible series of seventeen languages and dialects, including French, Middle French, Old French, Late Latin, Early Latin, PIE, Proto-Germanic, Old English, Middle English, txtese, Pig-Latin, English, and five others you don’t even now the names ofjust because we can.


Dear Eds,

In a recent issue of SpecGram, Morris Swadesh III lived up to his pretentious potential by trotting out this old canard again:

After all, if you can’t trust your data, who can you trust?

What kind of question is that? The answer is clear: the theory! You trust the theory! Why can’t you imbeciles get that through your thick heads? Data is, I’ve heard some claim, sporadically usefulbut theory is the lifeblood of our discipline. Without it, we’d just bewhat?philologists?

Heaven forfend!

Somewhat Insincerely,
Noarn Chornsky

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Dear Gnorne,

We’re sorry if Morris’s article offended you with its perfectly reasonable data-driven approach to linguistics.

Except for the part where we aren’t. Pbbbblt!

You theoretical syntacticians are all alikearrogant, egotistical, and frequently wrong.


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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The Tale of Pulju and Slater’s VolunteersA Letter from the Managing Editor
The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective
SpecGram Vol CLXVII, No 2 Contents