The Decline of Academic Language Departments—Whom Can We Blame?—Very Nearly a SpecGram Roundtable Discussion SpecGram Vol CLXXXIV, No 3 Contents Snot-Caked Coke Nuggets XXIII—Advertisement

Diary of a Xenolinguist

So-She Hat’O

Stardate 010118

While staying with my parents for the holidays, I had a rather unfortunate incident. I was wearing the sturdy black boots my mum got me for Christmas. As I walked through the door, my dad spotted them and burst out laughing. I attempted to elicit the reason why but all he kept saying was “Xeno’s pair of Docs”. I must ask my semanticist colleagues to help me work it out.

Stardate 200118

Serious linguists such as I really should be entitled to better roommates. I share our significantly small flat with Boris, who is a philosopher specialising in something Greek and boring, and Chelsea, a mathematician working on some kind of calculus stuff.

Today, when I announced that my latest paper had been accepted for presentation at a prestigious conference in Fudgesnot, Missouri, Boris argued that I would never get there as I could only ever travel half the remaining distance and that the distance between my current and intended location could never get to zero. Chelsea said it was possible but would just take an infinite amount of time.

They both found this hilarious! I felt the need to differentiate myself from them by doing something useful and went to work on my research on the plausibility of Klingon evidentiary suffixes being found in Pisces. I really have no idea how they would be integrated into normal society if academia rejected them. It’s sad really.

Stardate 070218

I am now single. My boyfriend, whom I had already had to forgive for calling the pub used for our department meetings “The Mars Bar”, just took one small step too far.

His best friend, Brad, who has shown no interest at all in Dothraki morphology, made a small typo and referred to me as a “Xeroxlinguist” this morning. Since then my boyfriend has insisted in ending every sentence addressed to me with “Do You Copy?” before falling into fits of laughter. I have suggested he get counselling. He said that I was taking his remarks in the wrong toner. I literally have no idea what he meant.

Stardate 150318

Today was a breath of fresh air. I happened to wander past some friendly people passing out literature on Scientology, which I believe to be a new branch of Popper’s work. When they heard what I did, they got very excited. Before long, they had called over some friends, who insisted on heaving me onto their shoulders and parading me round campus chanting “Xenu Xenu”. Their enthusiasm was touching, even with the obvious performance error, which I shall resolve with them later.

Stardate 280318

After hearing about my newfound singleness, my mother decided to send me a book to help me understand the opposite sex. I could not even get past the front cover, as even the title contained a giant inaccuracy. The authors of “Men are From Mars; Women are from Venus” need to take elementary classes in astronomy and panspermia.

Stardate 200618

I wandered along to a local Convention, which attracted all sorts of interesting informants, many of whom were dressed in traditional garb of their home planets. Many agreed to be interviewed and I was pleasantly surprised at how many spoke flawless English, despite their extra-terrestrial origins. I met citizens of the planet Orc, several people who told me that they came from a galaxy far, far away and a few who were happy to demonstrate local customs to me. It is surprising how many of these involved some form of fighting and Klingon curses.

One group seemed somewhat perturbed at my work. After a rather confusing conversation involving something called “episode numbers” and discussions of who the head writer was (me, of course), one older male respondent said to me “Xenolinguist, eh? Well, you don’t dress like a warrior princess.” I have no idea what he meant. There are very few princesses doing PhDs right now. Something to do with funding, no doubt.

Stardate 010818

Astrophysicists are not at all serious scientists. Despite a long chat over coffee, none of them would take seriously my suggestion that they should be tuning their telescopes to pick up frequencies between 20Hz and 20kHz and trying to pick out plosives, sibilants and non-human diphthongs. Honestly!

Stardate 101018

I have, at last, managed to read the literature on Scientology that I received back in March. It is hard to believe that they could make such basic errors. For one, glottostatistics proves that their chronology is all over the place and even a smidgen of mass comparison linguistics would tell them that the craft must have landed somewhere in Mesopotamia. At least I understand their earlier performance error with my research now. Perhaps I will give them a call and go clear up some misunderstandings. They might welcome the input.

Stardate 011218

Oh, Xeno’s “pair of Docs”. I get it now. It’s still not funny though. Now to get back to this analysis of Jovian verbs of motion. What a very odd year.

The Decline of Academic Language DepartmentsWhom Can We Blame?Very Nearly a SpecGram Roundtable Discussion
Snot-Caked Coke Nuggets XXIIIAdvertisement
SpecGram Vol CLXXXIV, No 3 Contents