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Phorensic Phonology

The SpecGram Puzzle Elves™

Forensic linguistics has received a fair amount of attention of late. This has mainly involved the use of corpus linguistics to identify the authors of disputed documents, but the field is older and more broadly based than is generally realised. How did the following sound changes put away a notorious prohibition-era gangster?

If you think you’ve figured it out, send your solution to the editors of SpecGram by April 15th, 2018, and you could win some SpecGram merch. The correct solution and winners, if any, will be announced in the next issue of Speculative Grammarian.

The one-word answer to March’s question, What Is Sil Doing? is merchant. How to uncover that fact is a bit involved, and is briefly outlined below. First, let us congratulate the puzzlemeisters Adam Bernard and Trey Jones who completed the puzzle and will be receiving prizes in addition to the obvious everlasting glory. An honorable mention and moderately less glory accrue to Keith Slater.

Sil’s merchant status is encoded as follows. If you convert each language to its three-letter ISO 693 code, you’ll find that in each set of four, three of the codes combine to spell out a nine-letter linguistical word or phrase. The remaining ISO 693 codes from each set together spell out a phrase that points to two writing systems. The ISO 15924 codes for those two writing systems spell out merchant. There is a bit of ambiguity here and there throughout the process, but overall it is as easy as could be!

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SpecGram Vol CLXXXI, No 2 Contents