Ultimate Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know—Madalena Cruz-Ferreira SpecGram Vol CLXXVII, No 3 Contents “Interpretez seront les extipices”—On the Correct Interpretation of Nostradamus—Part the Third—Roger Prentiss Claremont

The Devil’s Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Fascicle 2

by David Krystal
Compiled by Adam Baker

Anaphora. Reference to a previously-introduced entity. Mistaking anaphora for cataphora is an anastrophe.

Arbitrariness. One of the fundamental properties of language; also one of the fundamental properties of how conference abstracts are judged.

Articulatory gesture. A discrete motion of the articulators; considered to be a possible point of contact between phonetic and phonological representations, particularly by those who have not had the opportunity to observe the articulators.

Forensic linguistics. A subdiscipline of linguistics that makes sure that you get the justice you deserve. Our office specializes in disputed paternity, DUIs, armed robbery, and vandalism. Standard consulting is just $200/hr. Save more than 50% over the rates charged by linguists with real jobs! Call now to get a spectrogram reading at our special flat rate of $49.95!

Functionalism. Hmmm.... not really sure about this one, but it sounds like a good thing. Certainly you’re not going to get an article published about dysfunctionalism.

Gerund. A noun derived from a verb. The term ‘deverbal noun’ is universally preferred, except by deEnglish-department grammarians.

Historical linguistics. The study of the development of languages over time. Sir William Jones’s 1786 observation that Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit “sprung from some common source” predated that book by Darwin by some 73 yearsa fact not commonly acknowledged by biologists.

Information structure. As a discipline, the study of such oppositions as old/new and important/unimportant in discourse. More generally, shoehorning ‘information structure’ into your paper title makes it 50% cooler, at least. “Information structure and universal grammar.” “Information structure in grammaticalization.” “Information structure and the pragmatics-phonetics interface.” You’re welcome.

Language documentation. A subdiscipline of linguistics that places a premium on preservation of language data rather than description of it. Practitioners of language documentation anticipate that in the future, descendants of the by-then extinct languages will use the preserved materials, much as Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin are enjoyed by the masses in the present day.

Language endangerment. The threat that a group of people who no longer want to speak their language may get their way.

Linguistic anthropology. The term disloyal linguists use to refer to anthropological linguistics.

Minimalism. An approach to grammar, first propounded in Chomsky (1993), that emphasizes minimal grammatical operations; the syntacticians’ reply to the Brainfuck programming language, another 1993 invention.

Moribund. Describes an academic discipline where older members have jobs, but the younger generation cannot find employment. By analogical extension, it also describes a language no longer spoken by the younger generation.

Neuro-bio-psycho-functional-cognitive linguistics. A new subdiscipline of linguistics, currently scheduled for release in 2027. The approach is expected to have something to do with the human brain, and is expected to be practiced by linguists who have very little understanding of the human brain.

Pitch-accent. A type of language studied by linguists who aren’t ready to admit to themselves that they study a tone language.

Pragmatics. A subdiscipline the significance of which can really only be appreciated in context.

Preterite. [Top Secret Definition. For Linguists’ Eyes Only. Note that any linguist who admits this publicly will be stripped of all linguistic degrees and have all linguistic coursework invalidated.] Past tense. Preterite just means past tense.

Psycholinguistics. A subdiscipline of linguistics that investigates the speed at which undergraduates can click buttons.

Relevance, Principle of. One of the four communicative maxims proposed by Grice (1969). Prior to Grice’s work, irrelevance was thought to be more important to successful communication.

Signifié. That which is signified. Or maybe that which signifies. Whatever signifiant is, this is the other one. No idea on the pronunciation; just give it a little French flair.

Signifiant. See signifié.

Source-filter model. A commonly accepted acoustical representation of the vocal tract. It succeeded the source-source model, which could not account for varied articulations, and the filter-filter model, which predicted much quieter articulations than are generally attested. The filter-source model is not widely used, but is helpful for explaining some of what goes on during CPR.

Translation. The subdiscipline devoted to giving people the impression that they have read a text that they have in fact not read.

Translation studies. The subdiscipline devoted to giving people the impression that the task of translation has been understood.

See also: Fascicle 1.

Ultimate Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t KnowMadalena Cruz-Ferreira
“Interpretez seront les extipices”On the Correct Interpretation of NostradamusPart the ThirdRoger Prentiss Claremont
SpecGram Vol CLXXVII, No 3 Contents