Letters to the Editor SpecGram Vol CLXVII, No 3 Contents Unending Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know—Madalena Cruz-Ferreira

The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective

Are you in a world of linguistic hurt? The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective (SLAC) will offer you empirical, empathic, emphatic advice you can use!*

Remember, if you can tell the difference between good advice and bad advice, then you don’t need advice! So, if you need advice, trust usand cut yourself some SLAC!


Dear SLAC,

My girlfriend doesn't believe in linguistic determinism, does this mean we aren't meant for each other?

—Fated to be Singular?

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Dear Question Mark,

Your query puzzled me, for two reasons.

First, if your girlfriend doesn’t believe in linguistic determinism, how come she and you became girlfriend and boy-ditto (assuming you’re a boy), since you apparently do? Deterministic congruency needs sorting out in order to decide what is meant by whom and therefore who is meant for whom.

Second, think about what you’re saying, out of the language. If linguistic determinism mattered independently of the English words for it and the amorous quagmires the stupid language thus spawns forth among its speakers, would you be asking this question?

By the way, send your girlfriend’s measurements and her preferred contact. I’m multilingual, so linguistic determinism makes no sense at all to me, I haven’t been plural for quite a while because of that, and her mindset attracts me. I also believe that measurements matter. Does she? By the way, I’m a big boy.

SLAC Unit #4d6164616c656e61

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Dear F2S,

Yes, I’m afraid it does mean that. How silly of your girlfriend to believe that language (which humans invented with their brains) isn’t more powerful than the human brain! You should dump her immediately and move furiously on to colorless greener pastures.

On an unrelated topic, if your soon to be ex-girlfriend needs help overcoming her loss, please send her to:

SLAC Unit #4461766964
SpecGram Linguistics Advice Collective
SpecGram Towers Bldg 47
11235 Panini Place
Relational, GA 30023

We have staff on hand prepared to give her intensive counseling.

—SLAC Unit #4461766964

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Dear Forever Alone,

While your girlfriend has already demonstrated a superior intellect in seeing through linguistic determinism, you may still be able to rescue the relationship. Firstly, look for studies that involve actual data and do not include the word “gavagai” or a reference to a dead philosopher. Then, bump into someone bilingual and count how many brains they have. Lastly, bring a large bunch of flowers to your girlfriend with a card including the words “like these flowers, I am linguistically determined to be included in your arms.”

SLAC Unit #4a6f6e617468616e

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Dear Fated,

Pah! If all you can manage to base a relationship on is linguistic determinism, she doesn’t need you anyway. Nobody does. Relationships require depth, not platitudes; semantics, not idiomaticity. Give her the freedom she deserves from your type.

Sheesh. Who keeps accepting letters from these losers? Is it improving our ratings?

—SLAC Unit #4b65697468

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Dear Fated To Be Single,

Teach your girlfriend Klingon, and she’ll soon embrace the Sapir-Worf hypothesis. (N.B.: Speculative Grammarian accepts no responsibility for any injuries that may result from following this advice.)

—SLAC Unit #50657465

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Dear Fated:

You need a language with a first-person dual inclusive pronoun. Kunama, perhaps? It may be difficult to create a rationale to induce your intended to learn it, but if you’re determined, you’ll succeed!

—SLAC Unit #42696c6c

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Dear Alone, So Very Very Alone,

Remember: Linguistic determinism is itself linguistically determined. You have to ask yourself, does she really not believe in linguistic determinism, or is that merely a misunderstanding on your partor perhaps hers?

If it turns out that she really does not believe in linguistic determinism, then you need to investigate further. You must next determine whether this lack is due to a less serious cause, such as bilingualism, that will correct itself with the passage of time (assuming, of course, there is no exposure in the meantime)or is it a sign of a major problem, such as developmental disorders or serious neurological deficiencies?

In the latter case, you must make a choice: Are your feelings for her strong enough to carry you through the next few decades of increasing neurological degradation? Given the fact that you wrote to us about it in the first place, I suspect not, very not indeed. In that case, you know what must be done. Be strong, but remember it is for a greater cause.

—SLAC Unit #4d696b61656c

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Dear Sappy in the Singular,

Your girlfriend is right. Linguistic determinism is provably untrue (despite what SLAC Unit #4461766964, SLAC Unit #4d696b61656c, SLAC Unit #42696c6c, or SLAC Unit #50657465 may say)I have a proof right here, but unless you speak Uhunduni, it’s almost impossible to understand.

However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t “meant” for each other. Is the English -/s/ plural marker “meant” for words that end in voiceless stops? Is -/z/ “meant” for the voiced ones? You are asking the wrong question. Is your pairing felicitous? Are you easily co-articulated? That’s what matters!

—SLAC Unit #54726579

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Perhaps, she thinks you are mad.

YES!She fancies you mad. Madmen know nothing. But she should see you. She should see how wisely you proceedwith what cautionwith what foresightwith what dissimulation you work.

How every night, you open your Hopi grammar, turning the pagesoh so gently! And then, when you find the exact lexeme sufficient to express your singular idea, you craft your argument carefully, carefully, that no detail be contestable, and then you publish.

Oh, she will laugh to see how cunningly you publish, and she will believe!

And you, then, in the wild audacity of your perfect triumph, will smile,for you will be together.

Now, I must go. The bell is sounding the hour and I must replace certain planks from the flooring of my chamber ‘ere dawn.

—SLAC Unit #5368657269

* Advice is not guaranteed to be useful, practical, or even possible. Do not attempt at home. Consult a doctor (of linguistics, philology, orin a pinchanthropology) before undertaking any course of treatment. This advice is not intended to cure or treat any disease or condition, inherent or contingent. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, except when it is not. “Empirical” means that we asked at least two other “people” whether our advice was good; one or more of those “people” may be voices in our own heads. “Emphatic” means that you may print out a copy of the advice for personal use in a medium, semi-bold, bold, heavy, black, or ultra-black weight of an italic or oblique typeface using an enlarged font size. “Empathic” means that deep down, in the darkest recesses of our blackest heart of hearts, we really, really care ♥just not necessarily about you.

Letters to the Editor
Unending Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t KnowMadalena Cruz-Ferreira
SpecGram Vol CLXVII, No 3 Contents