Warning! SpecGram Could Infect Your Mind—A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief SpecGram Vol CLXX, No 4 Contents “Conlang” Added to Oxford English Dictionary—SpecGram Wire Services

Letters to the Editor

Dear Speculative Grammarian,

I am writing to lament the loss to Computational Linguistics of “Doc” Yoomin Terrean, as reported in the July issue. This is surely due to the scandalous misinformation given to him by the so-called informants he asked about dreaming in R, one of whom is reported to have said “Real Programmers use PERL”.

For shame! Surely everyone knows that the language of choice for the forward-thinking Computational Linguist is Python?

Yours without a comprehension,
NLTK Monty

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Dear Mr. Hall,

We are compounding one mistakehaving mentioned Perl and/or vi by namewith another, namely printing your letter. If we weren’t such honest and scrupulous editors, we would simply sweep all this under the metaphorical rug. While we’re at it, we should roll up the body of Skip Tacular in an actual rug and send it to Vinnie and Guido in Linguistic Enforcement for disposal.

The official position of the SpecGram Council of Computational Linguists is that NLP is an abstract art and science, practiced in its purest form independently of the programming substrate to which any implementation must be reduced. Any capable computational linguist can become effective in any programming language, environment, or framework in a reasonable amount of time, even if the programming language, environment, or framework lacks list comprehensions, lacks regular expressions, lacks hash tables, lacks pointers, uses pointers, forces you to manage your own memory, won’t allow you to manage your own memory, considers whitespace syntactically relevant, or eventhe most extreme caseis COBOL.

The semi-official position of the SpecGram Council of Computational Linguists is that talking about programming languages, environments, or frameworks (including text editors and IDEs) is akin to discussing religion and politicsit’s not something done by civilized people in mixed company.

The unofficial position of the SpecGram Council of Computational Linguists is therefore something we are not at liberty to discuss, since it is a private matter and only relevant to the personal relationship between any given computational linguist and their compiler.

The Token Sociolinguist™ on the SpecGram Council of Computational Linguists found your use of the unofficial, incorrect, and stigmatizingly infantilizing backronym “PERL” for the Perl programming language to be an interesting shibboleth indicative of your intolerance towards our Perl-using brethren (and, rarely, sistren). For shame, indeed.

if (!get_along(all[]))


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To the Editors,

It has come to the attention of the Society for the Preservation of Precision in Technical Terminology (SPPTT) that your publication Speculative Grammarian has on more than one occasion misused the term “acronym”, applying it to abbreviations that are not acronyms but initialisms.

The abbreviated name of our organization can serve as an example. While the accepted lay pronunciation, /ˈεsˈpiːˈpiːˈtiːˈtiː/, is an initialism, members are expectedindeed, after a brief introductory period, requiredto pronounce it as an acronym:


We can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that it is also often the last utterance of nonmembers who abuse technical terminology.

Most sincerely,
The Society for the Preservation of Precision in Technical Terminology (SPPTT)

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Dear Slobbr,

Initialize this: WTF?

‘When we use linguistic jargon,’ the Editors said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what we choose it to meanneither more nor less.’*


* This statement has not been evaluated by The Token Sociolinguist™. This possible world is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, particularly those suffering from bald kings of France.

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Dear Sirs/Ma’ams/Others:

In “Thirteen Untranslatable Words,” Michael Covarrubias writes concerning the Russian word toska, “This is a Russian word. It means... uhhh... it’s sort of like... hm. Well it’s a cool meaning, but you have to know Russian to understand it.” This is false. It’s a lot like Portuguese saudade. A better example would be poshlost’. Russian intellectuals and literateurs hate this word so much they’ve been inveighing against it for well over two centuries. Why, it’s such a cool word even Nabokov trashed it. Yet, at the same time, it’s simply not done in polite company, and if you ask a Russian intellectual what it means, he’ll just turn on the TV or open a magazine or point out the window and say, with expressive disgust as only Russians can, “This,” with a sweep of the arm. I think it has something to do with Russian climate, but I’m not sure.

Joseph Marie Lait-Grumuleux
Independent Scholar

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Hwæt, Joe!

Your ignorance leaves us feeling a bit friolero. We have more to say on the subject, but our publication deadline approaches rapidly and the Torschlusspanik is palpable.


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.

Warning! SpecGram Could Infect Your MindA Letter from the Editor-in-Chief
“Conlang” Added to Oxford English DictionarySpecGram Wire Services
SpecGram Vol CLXX, No 4 Contents