Language, Languages, Languaging and Linguistics: The Friends and Companions of Cold Winter Evenings—A Letter from Assistant Editor Deak Kirkham SpecGram Vol CLXXXIII, No 3 Contents Meet the SpecGram Editors

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sirs,

I generally find your limericks dry, unfunny, and pointless. However, the most recent scribbling from P. U. Meign was a particular stinker because it was also ungrammatical. He just lays there and groans? What is he laying down while groaning? Clearly, the correct form for Standard Englishwhich one presumes you make some small attempt to adhere towould be lie.

Charges of prescriptivism against me de damned!

Ē. Plūribus Χάος, Þн.δ.

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Dear Wile Ē.,

Several members of the SpecGram editorial and poetical staff feel like they can rightfully levy charges of baseless prescriptivism against you, for they are members of a cultuh, club, yeah, clubthat holds that the lay/lie distinction in English is not helpful or necessary, and that lie should only be used when prevarication is involved. For example, it would be a lie to say that you are ugly and your mother dresses you funny, because you almost certainly dress yourself.

The regular stipend from the Γραμματο-Χαοτικον doesn’t hurt.


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I am outraged.

I have carefully researched the regulations governing prizes, giveaways, and sweepstakes in the jurisdictions listed (or shall I say “alleged”) in the cover of print copies of The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistic Inanity (final word mine), which is the only suggestion I can find as to where your gang may be hiding out. In each and every one of those regions, you are required by strict laws to announce the terms of any giveaway prior to announcing the winner.

As no such notice was given for the giveaway announced in your editorial in the previous issue, I am filing suit in each of the aforealludedto jurisdictions.

You will be hearing from my lawyer immediately. Meanwhile, I demand that you cancel my subscription forthwith.

Lila Put, Ph.D.
Doctor of Linguistic Endocrinology
University of California, San Francisco

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Dear Lilliput,

Your lawyer doesn’t scare us. But let us just say that since you adopt a combative tone rather than asking nicely, it’s you that suffers, not us. If you’d made a polite request, we probably would have sent you a prize, too.


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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.

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Most Ignoble Editors and Most Duped Readers,

You recently accepted advertising copy submitted by Gillette for their product Occam’s Safety Razor™. All well and goodI suppose you’ve got to manage the bottom line somehow.

However, you’ve done the Wider Academic Public a grave disservice by not requiring full disclosure by the advertiser. Please inform your readers forthwith that the Occam’s Safety Razor™ model advertised in your pages is suitable only for Linguists. I lent mine to an Anthropologist friend, and not only did all her emics become etics, but nearly half of the “technical terms” in her latest conference paper were replaced with plain English equivalents. I personally thought it improved her work considerably, but she was laughed out of the conference and subsequently denied tenure.

Readers, please ensure that the model of Occam’s Safety Razor™ you purchase is the one intended for your discipline. What’s “simple” for someone else might be fatal for you. And absolutely never lend those things exogamously.

Bruce “Bruce” Bogart, PhD (of Linguistics)
University of Bogartsville, NSW

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Dear Bogeyman,

We are surprised that you actually think that we take responsibility for anything. Responsibility is, after all, a proto-hegemonic imperialist imposition subsuming the ideas of a pseudo-quantum patriarchy in a Hamiltonian path through Brownian motion. And if you understand that, you need more than Occam to help you. Besides, didn’t he have a beard?


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Dear sirs:

In a recent issue, some sub-Saussurean at the Third Autonomous Bilborough Linguistics Circle wrote, “As the Proto-Indo-Europeans (probably) said *Hoop *hoop *ghooray!” I assume that the first two h’s represent different flavors of laryngeals. If so, please tell us which ones, and please indicate the comparanda used to derive those forms. Also, would it be possible to get a peek at the proposed development of the long o-grade in the last word and an explanation of the last syllable?

Thank you,
Every Indo-Europeanist Everywhere

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[Note: We decided to let the eggheads fine scholars from TABLC answer this one for themselves. The answer below in no way reflects the views of Speculative Grammarian or its Editorial Board, lesser editors, leastest interns, greatest lawyers, other contributors, or readers. Not even the ones who agree. —Eds.]

Dear EvIEe,

I’ll resist the temptation to reply simply *Go, *go *away, and address the substance of your pernickety hair-splitting fascinating observation. As for the variants *H/h, following O’Mwulez and Qatotheron’s (2016) iconicity thesis (you’ll recall their enlightening presentation at the Lubbock, Texas, PIE conference entitled ‘Towards an iconic representation of PIE phonemes’) the former denotes a voiceless pharyngeal when articulated with both hands in the air, the latter with only the right hand in the air. (We’re still working on the icon for the left-hand only articulation.) As for the long o-grade: our error. This should have been *gho-oray (or if you follow Dangler’s notation, *gho’oray) where the Wakernagel clitic *gho- (here inexplicably in third position) is usually interpreted as an interactional particle with the broad intent ‘We’re very happy that we’re Indo-Europeans but don’t want to be too boastful about that as we move westards into Europe in successive migratory waves’. The root of the lexeme *oray now speaks for itself I think.

*Hope *that’s *okay

Hend O’Europe (pianist (and linguist))

Language, Languages, Languaging and Linguistics: The Friends and Companions of Cold Winter EveningsA Letter from Assistant Editor Deak Kirkham
Meet the SpecGram Editors
SpecGram Vol CLXXXIII, No 3 Contents