Letters to the Editor SpecGram Vol CLXXXIII, No 3 Contents /nuz baɪts/

Meet the SpecGram Editors

In response to a decades-long demand to lift the veil of near-anonymity behind which the editors of Speculative Grammarian live, lurk, and work, we have begrudginglyand after a brief eight-year hiatusagreed to provide publicly a few brief biographical sketches of select editors. Those editors with multiple outstanding federal warrants for their arrest on charges of non-consensual þornography, bigramy, modalhem, sobriquettery, pejorativity, fortition with minimal pairs, disturbing the passive, and cruelty to functionalists have been excluded, upon advice from our attorneys. Three more biographical sketches are below.

Bethany Carlson is a field linguist and polyglot bookworm, prone to intermittent bouts of binge-studying of Japanese kanji and subterfuge flirtations with Egyptology. Her most distinguished accomplishment thus far, besides the acclaimed Phonetic Dictionary of Dolphin, is her successful disentanglement of the Rongorongo Easter Island glyphs. From a recent press release: “All the evidence leads me to the inescapable conclusion that this is just a primordial recipe for beef lasagna with spinach. I’m as surprised as anyone, I can tell you!” Just a few days later, her next goal was leaked by The Guardian: “Linear A by 2020 or bust!”

Bethany plans to instruct her future children thoroughly in Ancient Near Eastern scripts and Role and Reference Grammar, and to adhere to a rigid weekly home-language schedule of Malayalam on Monday, Classical Greek on Tuesday, Quenya on Wednesday, Polynesian Sign Language on Thursday, and Azerbaijani on Friday. She explains: “There is to be no English, except on weekends, and then only by means of Morse code or braille. I really just want to position them for success, like any mother.” Should their sanity survive into adolescence, she plans to send them to Linguistic Nerd Camp (of which she is director) every summer for further indoctrination.

Name: Pete Bleackley
Title: Associate Editor
First Attested: Uncertain. An astronomer matching his description is attested in England in the late 20th century, but his first recorded appearance in linguistic circles is a few years later, and the sources are dubious.
Research interests: Nonparametric semantics, nonterrestrial morphology, nonparenthetical syntax.

Biographic Snapshot: A few years ago, a wild-eyed figure wandered into the SpecGram offices speaking a language that nobody could understand. Fortunately, he tested negative for glossolalia, so we concluded that he must be a conlanger. He answers to the name “Pete Bleackley”, but his origins remain shrouded in mystery. After discounting the theory that he came from another planet as slightly too plausible, we currently believe that he’s English.

Dr Bleackley’s contributions to the field have been wide ranging, as has Dr Bleackley himself, who can be difficult to track down when you need him. Fortunately, such occasions rarely arise. He is renowned as an expert on the use of articles in Classical Latin, the present tense of the Russian copula, the future tense in Japanese, and tonogenesis in sign languages. He has also undertaken considerable research in computational linguistics, particularly into methods for getting people to pay him for it.

Selected Publications:

[Note: Despite repeated requests to submit a bio, Mr. Wigderson was completely unresponsive. However, a few days before this issue went to press, a carrier pigeon appeared in the SpecGram offices with a crossword affixed to its foot. We have reluctantly decided to publish it in the bio’s stead. —Eds.]


1. His first name

6. Mediterranean ____ (the first Monopoly space he ever purchased)

8. “El ____” (his favorite poem, in Spanish)

9. Old English consonant cluster reduced to /l/ in words such as loud

10. An item of clothing he spurns in favor of scarves

11. His job title (abbr.)

12. Institution he co-founded with Anders Celsius in 1741 (abbr.)

13. What any self-respecting crossword editor would say about this puzzle


1. A vessel he does not own

2. A body part that sounds kind of like his name

3. The third letter of his name

4. Pál ____ (a mathematician, and his second-grade teacher’s grandmother’s best friend, but with the letters of his last name in alphabetical order for some reason)

5. Its Hieroglyphic variety is his favorite dead language

7. The refrain of Old Macdonald, as sung by someone who has decided to shun the letter I

The print edition has the solution to Mr. Wigderson’s puzzle written in lemon juice, which can be revealed by applying heat. CLICK HERE to apply virtual heat and reveal the solution.

Letters to the Editor
/nuz baɪts/
SpecGram Vol CLXXXIII, No 3 Contents