Playing Off Fairness—The SpecGram Committee on Competition in Linguistics SpecGram Vol CLXXXIV, No 1 Contents /nuz baɪts/

Letters to the Editor


In your latest editorial afflatus, you presumed to lecture everyone on entomology but exhausted most of your efforts (and our patience) on crustaceans. If I wanted to consider Nephropidae or other crustaceans, I’d read that guy with the face you just want to smack that smirk and bandanna off of. Since I don’t, I read your journal instead. Now I don’t think I will any more.

Styopa Protrudnik
Director, Ligia Schizidium Institute for Woodlouse Studies

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Yo, Styopa my man!

As the noted e(n)t{y/o}mologist Dave Barry has noted:

The very word insect is a combination of two ancient Greek words: in, meaning “a,” and sect, meaning “repulsive little creature.” Thus not only are spiders insects but so are crabs, jellyfish, the late Truman Capote, bats, clams, olives and those unfortunate little dogs, “pugs,” I believe they are called, that appear to have been struck repeatedly in the face with a heavy, flat object such as the Oxford English Dictionary.

Sorry to bug you so, but bugs is bugs.


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Dear Editors,

I am outraged.

In the January 2019 issue, you started the new year off wrong-footedly by telling a correspondent that writing politely might have earned her a prize, while writing angrily instead earned her nothing at all. Like your correspondent, I am a San Franciscan, and therefore I share her expectation that publications which accept letters to the editor do so not just primarily but only as a gratis mental health service, allowing their readers to vent ad hominenetically against the cruelties of our absurd world. It is, in fact, only the angry letter that earns plaudits in modern society; and it is your duty as a high-brow publication to recognize and participate in this cultural imperative.

As you refuse to do your duty with such wanton disregard to your readers’ feelings, I indignantly demand cancellation of my subscription immediately.

Jim “Jimmy” Jimmson
Professor of Empathic Rhetoric

University of California at Berkeley

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Dear Jim-Jiminy, Jim-Jiminy, Jim-Jim Jerr-y,

We have no comment on the mental health of San Franciscans. Your letter is its own vindication.

We’ve added another year to your subscription, gratis.


Esteemed Editors,

Twice now I’ve seen what appears to be a title or degree that is written as “Þн.δ.” What is it, and how do I get one?

Ignorr N. Tundargraad

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Dear Iggy (Pop!),

The prestigious “Þн.δ.”a nabrreviation of “Þverstæða-непоследовательность δῐᾰ́βολος”, or “slanderous anomaly-paradox”is a multi-orthographical honorary degree awarded by the Γραμματο-Χαοτικον to their most effective operatives. Only those who have retired from “the game” are allowed to use it publicly.

If you would like to join them some day, study their ways. But be careful! They are a crafty bunch, whose ranks include philologists who dislike linguists and other riffraff.


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To whom it may concern,

I found d’Umezzille’s article on the ancient Indo-European origins of the “work work work” leitmotif quite interesting. However, has anyone considered the possibility of a connection to the popular Dwarfish refrain “whistle while you work”? While the reduplication is lost, the “work” is still there— and the reference to whistling is obviously a hint to the history of whistled languages! This, along with the apparent prevalence of dragons in Proto-Indo-European culture, could be a vital clue to reconstructing Proto-Fantasy-World.

S. N. O’White
Grimm Professor of Historical and Fantastical Linguistics
Enchanted Forest University

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Dear Blanca of the Hundred Words,

We received your letter some months ago, but have been unable to reply until the relevant arbitration had concluded. It is unclear why you felt the need to send a gaggle of seven attorneysMessrs. Hurtful, Dicey, Frumpy, Lippy, Skeevy, Sleazy, and Litigious from Thumb, Minpins, & Lilliput LLPto ensure that your missive received priority treatment. Of course your plan has backfired, viz. our delayed response.

We are legally bound to inform you that our interns are in possession of a veritable treasure trove of information relevant to the reconstruction of Proto-Fantasy-World that is vastly superior to any available in other libraries orgasp!the “internet” (a cesspool of abecedarians, philologasters, and other palookas, if ever there was one). We are not, however, required to share it with you because you need better lawyersour jurists may litigate slowly, but their print is exceedingly fine.

Good day to you, ma’am! Good day!

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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.

Playing Off FairnessThe SpecGram Committee on Competition in Linguistics
/nuz baɪts/
SpecGram Vol CLXXXIV, No 1 Contents