Literally the Best Contronym Ever!—A Letter from Associate Editor Pete Bleackley SpecGram Vol CLXXXI, No 3 Contents Linguimericks, Etc.—Book ५०

Letters to the Editor

Dear SpecGram,

It is my not unconsidered opinion that those pied babblers at the Committee on Animalian Pejoratives in English have unfairly pejorativitizivitized the good names of several noble species of bird. What a flock of noddies and dotterels!

Robin Kestrel Carbonated-Swamp-Warbler
University of California, Seagulls’ Domain

P.S. And they overlooked “dickcissel.”

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Dear Mademoiselle Oiselle,

Your hypocrisy towards noddies and dotterels stinks higher than a griffon vulture can fly. Your postscript is unmentionably cruel, so I will not mention it again.

Dr. Richard Cissell, Ph.D.
Ornithological Editor
Speculative Grammarian

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Dear guys and gals,

I just read your article that states, “We have incontrovertible evidence that China’s rolling hills explain its tonal system; Japan is, in comparison, much flatter, and as such is pronounced sans tones.” What the hell are you bozos talking about!?! Japan is well known as a largely mountainous country right near the edge of where two tectonic plates meet!!! Haven’t you blighters ever heard of the Japan Trench? You get a drop from 3,776 m above sea level to more than 10,500 m below sea level over only 700 km!!! That causes a massive vertical pressure that causes massive earthquakes and volcanos!!! That’s why Japan’s so mountainous!!!!! C’mon, guys, get it right for once.

Fern Sliglicious,
Graduate Student,
Dept. of Geology and Oceanography,
Winnemucca Community College, Winnemucca NV

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Dear Fern,

At first we were puzzled by your assertions, so we dug out the map from our old Risk set and squatted next to the table edge and squinted at it from all angles, and nope, still no mountains. We then checked on your MyLife page (you still have one!?!?!) and discovered you are trying to create ab novo the special subgenre of geological science fiction, which you rashly claim might even eclipse linguistic science fiction in the near future (strongly suggesting you’ve never looked into the circulation figures for Language or Linguistic Inquiry). So, in the interests of fair and benevolent competition and all that, we’re pleased to publish your first effort and wish you continued success in the future and lots of luck... because judging from all that information below your name, you’ll need it.


Dear Sirs/Assorted others:

One of your correspondents reported, “We have incontrovertible evidence that China’s rolling hills explain its tonal system; Japan is, in comparison, much flatter, and as such is pronounced sans tones.” As is well known, Japanese has a well-studied pitch accent system. We are therefore pleased to learn you’re not supporting any more research by this tone-deaf piker.

Sincerely Yours,
Rocky Cove ’20 and Sandy C. Beach ’21,
Department of Linguistics,
Muddy Gap Community College, Muddy Gap WY

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Dear Rocky and Sandy,

This is yet another of the countless spurious linguistic forms repeated from generation to generation in academia by a bunch of linguists who never went there but read that neato nugget in an article by someone who never went there, teaching it to a bunch of other linguists who will never go there but will include it in the problem sets in their textbooks when striving for tenure but will never get there. During our detailed study of animé in the original language over the past twenty years, we have never observed tones of any sort in Japanese, and who are we supposed to trust, our own expertly trained ears or some pointy-headed egghead in Cambridge who only buys the dubbed versions?


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Dear Speculative Grammarian,

Your obituary for Velma Hortensia Schleppengruber quotes Karen Bolognese-Parmesan as saying

It was a joke in our lab that whenever a grad student got too cocky, we’d make sure she was in the candidate pool. Many tried to get data from her but none succeeded, and all were the better for the experience.

Alas, this is no longer the case. The graduate student who was with Velma when she died in a bizarre laboratory accident during a study of the phonation of English plosives is still receiving counseling. We hope he will soon make a full recovery and be able to return to his studies.

Ivor Smallrod
Professor of Phonology
University of Central Nebraska

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Dear Mr. The Boneless,

Social Science is, as they say, a contact sport. Grad students should know what they are signing up forunless the human subjects review board approves an appropriate level of deception as needed to prove a scientific point.


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.

Literally the Best Contronym Ever!A Letter from Associate Editor Pete Bleackley
Linguimericks, Etc.Book ५०
SpecGram Vol CLXXXI, No 3 Contents