SpecGram Vol CLXXX, No 1 Contents Letters to the Editor

Teaching Linguistics

A Letter from the SpecGram Editorial Board

Around 2010, the discipline of Linguistics was the experiencer of a collective gasp, as we corporately realized that teaching undergraduates is not really very much like teaching graduate students. This fact may have been driven home by the flocking of undergraduate students away from the Humanities, though if that were the main cause it’s just possible that we might have noticed it a tad sooner.1

In any case, leaders within our field called for change from the top, and since around 2014 the journal Language has included a section devoted to the pedagogy of linguistics.2

We at Speculative Grammarian believe that this is a laudable development, if somewhat overdue. Not that it’s anything novel, mind youour own pages have hosted contributions on this very topic for generations. The first of these, Snorri Sturluson’s Pedagogical Edda, was serialized in our pages in the 1230s.3

More recent contributions in this vein have included Professor Shr Ji Wei’s successful attempt to transfer language teaching methodologies to linguistics teaching; Frog and Toad’s haunting interlocution about classrooms and coffee; Professor Noah McMosky’s proposal to introduce theoretical linguistics into the earliest years of education; and Associate Professor Mongo Yalbag’s attempts to apply “game” theory to linguistics education. A number of linguistics textbooks have also been flogged and/or reviewed in these pages, including Constantine Köprülü’s Linguistic Linguistics: An Intradisciplinary Introduction, H.P. Whettam’s Linguistics: an extraordinarily short introduction, and even Geoffrey Sagum’s How to Cheat at Linguistics; a standout meta-linguistic meta-educational treatise is Deepat Mintshair’s Recruiting Linguistics Students: A Guide for Departments and Deans. Editor Emeritus Tim Pulju, in his younger days, reported on the hazards of teaching (language, rather than linguistics) to non-humans, while Charles Bishop described the perils of learning from non-humansi.e., Professors of Education.4

More poignantly, James Riley Whitcomb immortalized the pleasures of learning from a great teacher in his ode to Old Professor Hockett, and the entire 70-part volume of “Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know” captures the pathos of linguistics teaching in a way that mere advice could never have done, and we recommend it for your edification if you are a teacher of linguistics.5

But though we thought of it first, and have been providing pedagogical promptings for pragmaticists and their progeny since before the editors of Language cut their eye teeth on an interdental fricative, we realize that more could be said. Therefore, we are proud to present two and a half issues of SpecGram wholly devoted to the topic of Teaching Linguistics.6

Oh, by the way, we are contractually obligated to inform you that these issues are brought to you through the sponsorship of Rosetta Stein’s German Language Learning Drinkware.7

1 Other agents of causation have been suggested, but we do not propose to unravel that mystery here. Rather, we propose to leave it as a dissertation topic, suitable to be undertaken in about 2075, when most of the principals involved have passed away. Let’s face it, the history of science is much more interesting long after the fact, when the historian is free to couch it in an egregiously anachronistic framework.

2 Graduate students, of course, are eager receptacles which do not warrant pedagogy; we therefore assume that Language has in mind purely the undergraduate classroom.

3 Due to a still unresolved copyright dispute, this work is currently unavailable. Norwegian kings have remarkable legal teams.

4 The elephant in the room: reader surveys show that most SpecGram content is used pedagogically, even though hardly any of it is actually suitable for that purpose, due to a level of academic honesty which would make Ferdinand, Leonard, and possibly even Noam blush. The editors strongly discourage any exposure to Speculative Grammarian before the 4th year of graduate education in linguistics.

5 Do not attempt to read more than three issues of TYDKYDK in one sitting.

6 The Annual Plan originally called for three issues but apparently we overestimated the enthusiasm of our regular contributors for this particular topic.

7 Some readers might doubt the relevance of language learning paraphernalia to SpecGram’s core audience, but we do not care. This is by far the most lucrative issue we’ve ever produced.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLXXX, No 1 Contents