Old Wives Tales
Sarah M. Isaac
X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies
Below is a collection of old ƿīfa tales, passed down from professor to grad student across countless generations. As with any such lore, here you will find nuggets of wisdom mixed with nuggets of sh—... uh, not-wisdom. Unfortunately, if you can tell good advice from bad advice, then you don’t really need advice. For the rest of you, good luck!
- A shoal of Pirahãs can strip the recursion from a language in three seconds.
- Your thesis committee can smell blood in water from six miles away.
- In compensation for blindness, the acuity of the other mental faculties is greatly enhanced, such as native-speaker intuitions and syntactic analysis.
- If in a falling dream you actually hit the ground, you’ll gain tenure.
- Drinking coffee, smoking, and practicing lexicalism stunt your growth.
- If it rains during your dissertation defense, you’ll make all your students cry.
- If you see an academic procession go by, make a sign of the cross or one of your family will be next.
- A dog howling at night when you’re cramming one of your Cambridge red books means you’ll flub that section of your orals.
- The Ayapaneco language of Mexico is now understood only by two elderly men who haven’t spoken to each other for twenty-five years.
- If your nose itches, your advisor remembered to write you an email asking how your dissertation is coming. If your ear itches, she cc’ed your whole committee.
- If your left ear itches, your students hate you. If your right ear itches, your students really hate you.
- You should wait one hour after reading before dissertating.
- Eating bread crusts makes your stipend go further.
- Thirteen at a table means the faculty member with highest seniority will die within a year. (Hence the deep, deep spending cuts for entertainment budgets in most faculties.)
- Red Bull at night, grad student’s delight; Red Bull at morning, grad student take warning.
- It takes seven years to digest a grad student after you admit it.
- Three off a match means three people are about to get fined for violating university smoking regulations, or else will get punished for slacking off so far from their desks.
- If you break a mirror it will add seven years to the length of your dissertation.
- It’s bad luck if an untenured faculty member crosses your path.
- Don’t cry over crossed lines.
- According to the laws of aerodynamics, [b]’s can’t be pronounced. But they are!
- If you pronounce funny phonemes when the wind changes, your vocal tract will get stuck that way.
- Data contrary to your theory travels fast.
- If your journal reviewers see their shadows, you get six weeks of revisions.
- Plosives are actually very slow-flowing liquids.
- You swallow eight glottal stops in your sleep every night.
- Most people only use 10% of their language.
- Your left brain is dedicated to logical language and your right brain deals with postmodernism, poststructuralism, lies and coffee.
- Diphthongs that fall from a high vowel are dead before they hit the ground.
- Whoever dies with the most publications wins.
- Every language has at least a dozen words that cannot be translated into English. (In contrast, English words can all be straightforwardly translated into all other languages.)
- It’s bad luck to shave before giving a colloquium talk.
- If you see a grad student out of the nest, don’t touch them, or their advisor won’t take them back.
- One reviewer for sorrow, two for joy. Three for a hurl and four for a really indecisive editor.
- As for grad students, centri-frugal force keeps money pinned to their pockets.