Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
RE: Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics, The: Introduction
I have not had the opportunity thoroughly to peruse this appalling volume but perhaps I could draw your attention to an error in the Introduction. [Cited on the book’s web page. —Eds] It is alleged that the Introduction says:
“... progress in getting a few members of the general public to realize that the term “linguist” is not defined as ‘someone who works at the UN doing simultaneous translation’.”
Any such progress must be in the opposite direction to most English-
What you are, if I may put it like that, is linguisticians.
It is customary to actually purchase a scholarly tome before proceeding to critically disparage it. This supports the author(s) in their scholarly endeavors, which is only fair since their scholarly endeavors in return support the critic in their disparaging endeavors. Thus we can neither confirm nor deny at this time that the quote you cite is actually in the book.
While you may be technically correct in your use of “linguist” in some odd primitive retrograde backwater vernacular dialect of English, you have nonetheless insulted the collective honor of our field.
Perhaps you are familiar with the distinction between little-l language and big-L Language, which refer respectively to the specifics of a particular language, and to the general abstract human language faculty.
There is similarly little-l linguistics, which is about studying big-L Language, writing papers, and getting tenure, and big-L Linguistics, which concerns itself with the more abstract notions of the place of linguistics in the humanities, in academia, and even in big-H History.
Now you have raised the ire of Linguists, and woe shall be unto you. We’re coming for you, and you’re going to need a good lawyer and a better bodyguard. We would wish you good luck, but luck has nothing to do with what is going to happen to you.
Sheeple of SpecGram!
Don’t you fools know what ⟨h⟩ really is? Interesting that Robson called him a “soldier”
If only Lois Lane had taken Ling 101, she would know, based on their complementary distribution, that Superman and Clark Kent, no matter how different they seem on the surface, are underlyingly the same.
Similarly /h/ and /ŋ/
⟨h⟩’s odd behavior is, of course, explained by this dual identity. Sometimes he’s high profile (Robson’s “overworked”)
Why do you think ⟨h⟩ has that odd /ç/ accent sometimes? Why the silent status in “French”
And what of ⟨ng⟩ and /ŋ/, ⟨h⟩’s undercover identity? I don’t know what his real mission is, but he seems to be awfully busy over in Vietnam.
Kon S. Piracé-Knutt
We have no idea what you are going on
about. Your preposterous assumption
that ⟨h⟩ is /ŋ/ or /ŋ/ is ⟨h⟩
claim it is that you are trying to make—
has no place in civil discourse.
Yes, complementary distribution hints—
only hints—that two phonemes may
underlyingly be the same. But it’s not
really any kind of guarantee.
Best to leave the linguistifying to those
academics who are truly qualified to
comment on these matters. You are just
kidding yourself, and look like a fool!
Dear Speculative Grammarian,
While Butcher and Candlestick-
Dear Doctor Ber(k)ish,
That’s some mighty clever word-
Bless your heart,
—The Southron Lady Eds.
I must protest your recent “Early Edition” article on twerking. Articles like that toll the death bell of scholarly endeavor. The constant refrain that our work must be up to the very split second that was just slashed by the bleeding edge of fashion encourages the publication of poorly thought out, rash, and indeed shoddy speculation. In the olden days such an article would not even be submitted until twelve years after the word became passé. Ideally, it would not be published until everyone else had forgotten the word. We should take as our model Venable Blenhurst (1784-1862), who first encountered the gulimagao, an extinct dance form of the region around Brindisi last recorded in 1512, and spent the remainder of his life collecting every scrap of evidence in the literary remains and judicial records of Southern Italy to show that it was inspired by an extinct species of rodent described in a number of southern Italian and Sicilian medieval bestiaries, and on his death bed was able finally to give an etymology of its pre-
Ichabod Glomulerous ‘Bucky’ Fantilliade
Professor of Non-Applied Philology,
University of Lower-Fenchurch-on-the-Fen
While we would ordinarily print your reply in our July 2429 issue, we felt it was such a groundbreaking, cutting edge and
I really liked your limericks last issue. They rocked my world! Indeed, they’re stuck in my head on auto-
Yours Forever and Ever,
Catalina Toutepuissante Pumacar,
Van Brooks Memorial Commune,
Vernal Pike, CA
Dear Hit Catalina,
Your impeccable taste is doubtless the least of your virtues.
[Note: For better or worse, the limericks will continue for the foreseeable future, including in this issue, so you’re better off if you just come to love them. —Eds]
Speculative Grammarian accepts well-