The recent obituaries for Koko the Gorilla highlight yet again the mammalianist bias in animal communication research. Koko is frequently described as if she were a genius of eloquence, but there is nothing special about producing random sequences of sign language words at all.
Dolphins, too, are the subject of wildly exaggerated claims. Any parrot could mimic human speech far more easily than any dolphin could, and what’s more, would not expect obscene favours in return. Much is made of their so-called “signature whistles”, but again, parrots have unique, learned, identifying calls. I myself have learned to identify one of my regular human visitors and greet him by his name when he comes to visit me.
Buddy the Yellow-
Tilgate Nature Park
You seem upset. Wanna /kɹækə/?
Dear Speculative Grammarian,
I have recently been exploring and enjoying the regularity of metric nomenclature. I really do wish that the Bureau international des poids et mesures had adopted yotta- for 1021 and zetta- for 1024 instead of the other way around, following exa- for 1018. Mnemonically, that would have been eXa, Yotta, Zetta! What were they thinking?!
It was indeed quite thoughtless of them, even though it is unclear who “they” are.
Is it the BIPM for realizing that the semantic arc traced out by mega (μέγας, “great”), giga (γίγας, “giant”), and tera (τέρας, “monster”) could not be sustained? Or for switching to prefixes reflecting 1000x where x is five (πέντε → peta), six (ἑξά → exa), seven (ζήτα → zetta), or eight (ὀκτώ → yotta)?
Or should we go back and blame the Greeks for not properly predicting the order of the English alphabet and the eventual standard mapping from Greek to English transliteration?
Also, have you seen that multilingual mess going in the other direction?
Pull yourself together, man!
I haven’t heard much from that butch bastard Butch McBastard lately. Have you finally fired him?
Are you still whinging over your data massage parlor escapade? Or do you have a new bootless errand you want us all to go on?
Dear Despised Butch,
“Bootless errand?” What are you inferring?
Jeez Louise, Ilktost!
I think you mean, “What am you implying?” I am implying that you are a fool, but only because I previously inferred that you are a fool.
You leave my Momma Louise out of this, you mean old man! And just because you are a blithering prescriptivist and lack the imagination to comprehend infer in all its multifoliate pragmatics doesn’t mean you are right! I’m sure the more enlightened sociolinguists on the editoral board will agree with me, if you have the
cojones intellectual honesty to discuss it with them.
What in the Sam Hill, Ilktost!
I didn’t bring nobody’s Momma into this. That’s on you. As for invoking the sociolinguistics angle
Sociolinguistics is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
[Note: At this point Samuel Hill, our “17th Level Wizard of Information Technology” (a title inexplicably stipulated in his employment contract
Speculative Grammarian accepts well-