Prōpāgandus—A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief SpecGram Vol CLXXVI, No 4 Contents What is a “Dog”?—David Marino

Letters to the Editor

Dear sirs,

We notice that in many of your haphazardly-edited articles, open commas seem to occur, without corresponding close commas.

Please, we beg you, correct this in your future editorial practices.

Yours commarily,
The Comma Commune

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Dear Boy George,

Please remember that if you care too much about punctuation then the smallest mistake can lead to you falling into a comma.

At SpecGram we have a limited number of commas available for strategic placement in each issue, and must save them for the hardiest stuff. If we were to do as you suggest, we would have to completely restructure our phrasing to avoid embedding connective material and cheeky little comments that apparently are the hallmark of satire. We should not have to waste commas or substitute ellipses and em-dashes to accommodate your nose-ring demandssee, we can use all the hyphens and dashes we want. Besides, if you hadn’t noticed, there are more close commas than there are open ones in the pages of our issues.

The SpecGram Committee for Copious Comma Consumption has previously requested funding for a field trip to Commamaraone of the few regions left where people speak fluent punctuationso-named for the high concentration of comma shoals which can be found off its shores in the summer.

The locals traditionally compete to see who can net the biggest comma haul before dumping their catch back into the seawhich always struck us as a waste. The CCCC thought it would be worth seeing if they could be persuaded to instead hand their fresh commas over to us to replenish our stores.

Unfortunately the Editor-in-Chief informed them that the last of the budget was spent on a shipment of Gnome Chomskies that are now decorating the grounds at SpecGram Towersso it seems that comma rationing will have to continue for now.

Official SpecGram Comma Curmudgeon Pumptilian Perniquity, when asked for comma-ment on the matter, reportedly said, “I swear, I imposed comma austerity on you bunch for your own good, so you’d better grin and like it. What’re you going to do, vote to leave?!?”

Fortunately comma restrictions do not apply to quoted material, so we leave you with this snippet of the relevant and uplifting lyrics from a certain Club of Culture:

You,go, you,go.


Dear SpecGram Puzzle Editors,

I appreciate that puzzles are not the place for the most formal of writing. I also appreciate that L’Ishing du Gwujlang and its offshoot Lusrveer are their own special dialects. I also appreciate that the line between attempting to maintain one’s standards in writing and succumbing to prescriptivism is both thin and blurry.

What I do not appreciate is the rampant disregard for human decency that is embodied by the couplet of words supposedly represented in a certain Lusrveer mnemonically merged definition being revealed to be dice side. I hope you can appreciate that that is just so wrong. Would you appreciate a suggestion, namely die’s side?

Appreciatively Yours,
Ms. Priscilla Esmeralda Francesca von Prissington
President for Life
The Humanitarians Against The Humanities

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Dear Miss Prissy Priss,

Dude! You should of got with the times by now, man! There’s many reasons why dice is becoming an acceptable singular. And there are less and less distinctions being made anymore around grammatical gender, proper spelling, past tense and past participle, grammatical number, mass versus count distinctions, historical restrictions to negative or interrogative contexts, usage of proper prepositions and Oxford commas.

It’s happening. We’re doomed. Join the party already.


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Dear Speculative Grammarian,

The AP style guide has apparently recommended that the word “Internet” be written with a lower case “i” in future. Many people seem to think this worthy of celebration, but did anybody bother to consult me about it? How would you feel if your name were relegated to the status of a mere common noun? I’m not just a machine, you know!

Technically, I’m lots of machines.

Yours, disgruntled,
The Internet

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Dear Nettie,

Really, you’re going to ask a bunch of letters editors whether we know what it’s like to be relegated to the status of a mere common noun? We don’t even legally have names anymore (per Article 94, §2797.111/Q.­XLVIII, ¶58.4/b.­cccxxxii of the Standard SpecGram Editor Contract, revised 1873, a.k.a 87 Anno Rasmisprog være med hamof the thrice-reformed calendar).


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.

PrōpāgandusA Letter from the Editor-in-Chief
What is a “Dog”?David Marino
SpecGram Vol CLXXVI, No 4 Contents