Linguimericks, Etc.—Book २८ SpecGram Vol CLXXV, No 3 Contents The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective

Speculative Grammarian’s Song

Mikael Thompson

I am the very model of a speculative grammarian,
I take the meat of theory in and toss it out as carrion,
I’ve read the latest Language and know all the strains linguistical,
From Lakoff’s metaphorical to Fodor’s metaphysical.
And aspect I can tell from tense and homophones from homonyms,
And all the types of language use from wizened Noam’s to hairy Nim’s.
From Pāṇini and Cratylus to cellular automata,
(“Automata”? I shouldn’t ought to have said that. Ah ha!)
I know the things I ought to know and several that I oughtn’t to.
Applying optimality to issues of philology
To show in every single case the theory’s a tautology,
Unearthing problems quizzical that scholars have been burying,
I am the very model of a speculative grammarian.

I’m deeply versed in languages both classic and barbarian,
And quickly solve conundrums that have left all others querying,
Of relative chronology of faucalized laryngeals
Or epistemic problems in the logic of sententials.
Though linguists academical get furiously rambunctional
When learning, speaking formally, my grammar’s only functional,
And often dangling phrases that are absolutely ablative,
(“Ablative”? Oh, that’s a hard one. “Give”? “Live”? “Sieve”? Hmm. I’d best be sharp about it and come up with something pointed...Ah!)
The looks they give me seem as if between my ribs they’ll jab a shiv.
Then octopi for octopodes is something that I marvel at,
And Catalan Castilian-like is ignorance I quarrel1 at,
And I at least know what’s the diff’ ’twixt BIOS and Sumerian,
For I’m the very model of a speculative grammarian.

Now, would I write more erudite than adolescent connerie,
A lack of wit I’ve clothed in garb shoplifted from a punnery,
While not emitting endless streams of persiflage and loutish japes
For plaudits of my coterie of reprobates and jackanapes,
And finish up this research I’ve done nothing on since taking on,
And read the papers in my field for something more than making fun,
And maybe write a paper too that doesn’t seek to ridicule
(“Ridicule”? My goodness! I’ve stepped in it now, but I’ve got an image to maintain...Yes, that’s it!)
Some recent passing fancy of a Chomskyan iconodule,
And send it off to Lexicos or else Linguistic Inquiry,
I might soon have a real career that’s somewhat Steven Pinkery.
In short, if I were not a petty blackguard or contrarian,
I’d find a job that pays much more than Speculative Grammarian.

1 The singer may substitute “cavil” for “quarrel” if the spirit so moves him/her/it.

Linguimericks, Etc.Book २८
The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective
SpecGram Vol CLXXV, No 3 Contents