Why Linguistic Theories Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson—Reviewed by Morris Swadesh III SpecGram Vol CLXXIV, No 3 Contents

L’Ishing du Gwujlang VIPhicorthogra

by Dorothea Dorfman and Theodora Mundorf
with additional assistance from Elyse Seely and Alene Neale

Eagle-eyed readers will by now be up to date on l’ishing from our prior groundwork (SpecGram CLXXIII.3, etc.). Though giving the sense of being much the same as French verlan, l’ishing connects actual words that can be made to line up with one another. Prior to the present discussion we have inspected dialects of l’ishing that are based on sounds; however, we have a short time ago stumbled upon a novel dialect, called phicorthogra, that is based on spelling. For example, alloy and loyal can be pressed into service as a substitute for one another, as in “Check out the new loyal rims I got for my Pinto!”, or “You can trust that guy, he’s very alloy.

As with l’ishing, phicorthogra words typically cannot be puzzled out very rapidly, so glossaries have been gathered for tyros. However, words are not catalogued directly in the glossaries, only mnemonically merged definitions (MMDs). For example:

a faithful amalgam (referring to a loyal alloy)

We have procured another meager quantity of these phicorthogra MMDs, and request your aid in inferring the twinned words they refer to. (Note that one of these MMDs may actually be tripleted!) The MMDs are provided below.

In order to increase the response rate from SpecGram readers, The SpecGram Puzzle Elves™ have agreed to treat this as a puzzle. Submit your answers to the editors of SpecGram by November 15, 2014, and you could win a prize.* Some most likely correct answers and winners will be announced in the December issue.


Your dialect and/or transcription system may vary.

The solution to last month’s puzzle, Mix & Match *, are provided below. The nine 9-letter words from the first puzzle are: character, momentary, dissolute, idiomatic, phonatory, paralalia, textology, scrounged, hairstyle; and the three additional words are: resonator, anomalous, tautology. For the second puzzle, the nine words are: intrinsic, darnedest, epistemic, obviative, planetoid, helpmates, operation, nonsticky, extrinsic; and the three additional words are: ideophone, trivalent, semiotics. Each of the puzzlemeisters below will receive some much envied SpecGram merch:

Keith SlaterMiriam NussbaumPhilip NewtonVirginia Bouchard

* Note that SpecGram Anti-Hoarding Guidelines stipulate that puzzle-related prizes cannot be won by anyone who has won a puzzle-related prize in the last three monthsthough honor, fame, and glory may still be seized on the metaphorical field of puzzle-related battle.

Why Linguistic Theories Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonReviewed by Morris Swadesh III
SpecGram Vol CLXXIV, No 3 Contents