Encrypted Missives from the Cosmos—A Letter from Associate Editor Jonathan Downie SpecGram Vol CLXX, No 3 Contents Linguistics Nerd Camp—Bethany Carlson

Letters to the Editor

To the Right Honorable Editors of the Most Glorious Speculative Grammarian,

It is with utmost displeasure that we write to you this day to protest the inclusion in your hallowed pages of the unrefined sentiments of known rabble rouser and suspected Communist sympathizer Oleg Gerakoff in his untutored screed, entitledmost unironicallyTowards Gender Equality in Computational Linguistics”.

It is obvious to even the most casual observer that the roles and responsibilities of so-called “software agents” and “human agents”in the production of computational linguistic output or any other endeavorare not coëqual. The personas such an entity should rightly be referred tois the leader, the supervisor, the commander, and the progenitor of the creativeand sacred!spark required for any novel and worthy addition to our knowledgehuman knowledge. The computer is but a tool. The software itself hardly merits mention as it is merely the formalization of rote trainingas one would give to a child, a menial laborer, or an unpromising graduate studentrequired for any such tool to function according to one’s will.

Does a great writer owe a debt of coäuthorship to the lass who brings him his morning teacrucial to his imaginative process? Should great artists and architects share credit equally with the minions who mix their paints or move their stone slabscalling them coärtists or coärchitects? Theythough they are all humanare still not worthy of such diæresis!

Computerssoftware, hardware, it’s all the sameare mere toolsthings!existing only as extensions of our powerphysical, mechanical, intellectualbut power that remains fundamentally human. A pen is not a con̈ovelist. A chisel is not a cos̈culptor. A compiler is not a cop̈rogrammer!

Billy Earl Lee &
Harland Jefferson Leland
Lord High Grand CoS̈pectacles
Society for the Preservation of and Expatiation upon the Consuetudinal and Traditional Artistry of Computational and Linguistic Engineering and Sciences

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Dear Bubba and Bubber,

That was one of the most ridiculous letters we have ever received. Of course we recognize the valued contributions of our digital brethreneven when “merely” solving puzzles!

You may want to rethink your beliefs on sharing credit with inanimate nouns, since it is clear that em dashes, the co- prefix, and diæ̈reses are crucial contributors to your ẅritingas well as your g̈eneral ẗhought p̈rocesses.

We asked M.A.Y.N.A.R.D. what she thought about this kerfuffle, but unfortunately we can’t print her response. It is partly because the legal interns nixed it, and partly because those luddite lexical interns couldn’t tell us exactly what certain terms mean, like doxxing, rootkit, ransomware, war dialer, laxative sequestration, weapons of mass magazine subscription, human flesh search engines, and DDOS mean. She says you will get to learn what they all mean soon enough, though.


Dear Chaps/Chappies:

I would like to register a hearty protest against the unspeakably silly screed your unspeakably silly journal recently uttered, “What English Needs.” It’s a typical bit of misguided social engineering of the sort you’d expect from pointy-headed pseudo-intellectuals. English is as it is because of the unguided, voluntary choices of untold generations of speakers choosing as they saw fit. What’s next, a language academy? A department of linguistic engineering? Fines and jail time for reprobates refusing to toe the line? Exile to Tibet? Hell, we might as well start learning Tibetan now.

Vermillion Scarlett-Crimson
Independent Scholar
Gnarly-Fertlebottom on the Brazos

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Dear Ginger,

We had a zippy response planned, but we think another letter-writer said it best. See below.


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Dear Sirs,

I really enjoyed your recent classic publication, “What English Needs”. Its only problem is that it doesn’t go far enough. While nouns might be salient in many contexts, deictics are even more salient. Thus, determiners should come first in the noun phrase, then nouns, then adjectives. This would make English take on something of the clarity of French and the subtlety of Tibetan. As a student of Tibetan language and culture, I’m pleased to see that our views are converging, and soon I expect you too will come out in full favor of ditching the silly English language entirely and embracing Tibetan, which you might note has all of the characteristics adduced in your fine article.

Best Regards,
Zip P.D. Dudaa
Founder, Paisley-Hat School
of Tibetan Neo-Buddhisticism
Greengrocer Green, Green Bay

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Dear Speedy,

We had a reply planned that surely would have you seeing red, but we think another letter writer said it best. See above.


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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.

Encrypted Missives from the CosmosA Letter from Associate Editor Jonathan Downie
Linguistics Nerd CampBethany Carlson
SpecGram Vol CLXX, No 3 Contents