Tea Encompasses All—A Large Majority of the SpecGram Editorial Board SpecGram Vol CLXXIII, No 2 Contents The Hegemony of American Coffee and the Fight for Universal Tea—Prof. Dr. phil. Johannes Schomski

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editors,

In reply to a recent (alleged) letter to the editors, someone representing your editorial cabal made the following egregiously untrue claim:

While it is widely known [that] we fought the British to be free to drink coffee rather than that ghastly tea they forced down our throats, it is less widely known that punctuation was a contributory cause.

It is frankly hard to know where to begin to respond to this atrocity, but I feel compelled to make an effort to set the record straight.

First off, you have omitted the complementizer “that,” which was entirely necessary for the grammatical construction which your writer ineptly attempted. I have epenthesized it in the quote above, so as to spare my readers from unnecessary pain. SpecGram already has a reputation roughly on par with PLOS ONE; perhaps you could make some efforts toward rising above that debased level.

Secondly, one cannot help pointing out that you have British people on your own editorial board. What exactly are you trying to claim here? How can “we” be a meaningful anaphor of anything at all, when you prominently list Pete Bleackley and Jonathan Downie on the very cover of your journal, not to mention other individuals who may very well also be British? Downie himself is actually credited with contributing an article to that very issue. Have you developed some sort of American-exclusive “we”? If so, stop it.

Finally, to come to my main objection. Not only did the British never force you self-described “Americans” to drink tea, nor prevent you in any material way from exposing yourselves to the harmful effects of coffee, but everyone knows that tea qua tea was not the issue at all. If you can be bothered to read any historical treatise on the matter (such as for example any third grade American history textbook), you will find explication that the colonists liked teait was the shipping boxes that they objected to.

Governments, they insisted, should not constrain tea drinkers in any way, including limiting the proportions of the shipping containers into which the raw stuff is packed. Rectangular boxes represented overregulation and interference with unbridled consumption. Their motto was “tea from a box isn’t fit for an ox”.

Frankly, this reader is aghast at the lack of professionalism which has been exhibited. Please make efforts to redress these wrongs.

Patrick O’Conneghy
Program in Linguisticism
University of Toronto

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Dear Paddy,

Good to hear from you again. Unfortunately, we once again find ourselves unable to satisfy your capricious demands. Try enclosing a larger check next time.

As a self-professed linguist, we expect you are aware of the expediency of presupposition. Well, if you’ll just point your mental browser back to the context of the clause to which you objected, you may discover that the claims you dispute are not asserted for discussion, but rather are presupposed in an adverbial clause.

Presuppositions cannot be challenged. Thus, your objections are unwarranted, and we find it impossible to discuss them.

So just go redress your own self, how about?


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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.

Tea Encompasses AllA Large Majority of the SpecGram Editorial Board
The Hegemony of American Coffee and the Fight for Universal TeaProf. Dr. phil. Johannes Schomski
SpecGram Vol CLXXIII, No 2 Contents