The Universal Language Forsooth!—A Letter from Associate Editor Mikael Thompson SpecGram Vol CLXXV, No 4 Contents Linguistics Nerd Camp—Bethany Carlson

Letters to the Editor

Dear SpecGram,

I enjoyed your delightful Speculative Grammarian’s Song in your most recent issue. Unfortunately, though, reading it has infected me with a pernicious ear-worm in the form of The Elements by Tom Lehrer! What advice can you offer for getting rid of this psycholinguistic pest? I don’t want to resort to harsh chemical otovermicides.

Yours vexedly,
Antimony Arsenic

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Dear Old Lace,

Hey there Pretty Womansounds like you’re going to need a homeopathic otovermicide. Don’t You Want Me, Baby, to explain how you can make your own?

You can skip the exotic ingredients like Karma Chameleon and Eye of the Tiger. They aren’t really necessary. Just record three seconds of the offending song to an old cassette tape, then play it very quietly on an old tape deck (the older the better; we swear by the old Macarena! brand decks) and record it over-the-air to another tape deck. That’s 1xbut You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet. Repeat the procedure 8 more times, and then, Baby, One More Time, to make a strong 10x homeopathic otovermicide.

You’re going to Wannabe careful!that’s strong enough to MMMbop you right off your feet! But if you get knocked down, just get up again. In extreme cases, you may need something even strongerbut don’t worrybe happy!we’re never gonna let you down: you can make a 20x or even 30x distillation if you need it. Hope you feel better. Remember, We Will Always Love You!

Now Beat It!

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Note: Our letters errata process is editorially and operationally independent of both the normal article publication process and the letters publication processwhile being significantly more Byzantine than either. As a result of historical losses to our archive, we don’t have any additional context concerning this correction, but feel obligated to print it, even at this late date. —Eds.

Errata: In Þe Eald Letres to þe Ēditores from Volūmen MMDCCXCII, Numerus IIII of Íslensk Tölvumálvísindi, letter writer Håkon the Crazy was inappropriately referred to by our letters editors as an “artless unwash’d maggot-ridden pox-pie”. He should have been more properly referred to as an “artless unwash’d pox-ridden maggot-pie”. We regret the error.

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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.

Dear SpecGram,

I very much appreciate that SpecGram, while English-dominant, is not English-only. However, I don’t know any Chinese. Of course, any linguist knows that one can’t really trust any of the more popular online translators, so when I wanted to understand Shr Ji Wei’s recent article, I turned to SpecGram’s own AutoGrammatikonthe only reasonable alternative.

When I translated the Chinese portions of the title individually, this is the result:

Review of Lily Brown’s review of (It’s all Chinese to me.) review of (Go Away!) review of Roger J. Smith’s Reported Speech in Chinese-(Pardon?!!) Codeswitching.

When I translated the whole title from Chinese to English I got this:

Translation is a difficult art. The quality of the input text matters much more than the average reader can imagine.

I don’t understand. What gives?

Confused Conflicted Confucius

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Dear (Conf*)3,

Oh, M.A.Y.N.A.R.D.she is such a hoot. And as for the full-title translation, while it isn’t what you were asking for, is it not both true and appropriate?


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Dear Fellow Eds,

I enjoyed the most recent installment of Davis Prickett’s Grapholinguist, but I would much prefer if X were on the x-axis of the two graphs, since the implication is that this is the independent variable. And only economists dare put independent variables on the y-axis.

Edward-Colm Mistretta

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Dear E. Coli-mist,

You caught us! Our patented Speculative Cartoonist Training Programme includes (among other subjects) a 6-month crash course in macro-economics. We find that the best cartoonists are ones whose tethering to reality has been severed by unhealthy immersion in the most ethereal “theories” on the planet, and since they have already mastered linguistics (as a prerequisite) before they get accepted onto our staff, economics is the worst we can do to them.


The Universal Language Forsooth!A Letter from Associate Editor Mikael Thompson
Linguistics Nerd CampBethany Carlson
SpecGram Vol CLXXV, No 4 Contents