So 2020’s part of history; gone, flown, disappeared, taking with it a rough-
But if 2020 is rich in collocations and cultural connotations, 2021 is an anno of veritable linguistic celebration. We’ve gathered together a few top linguisticky 21s with which to see in this newest of New Years.
Early formulations of Chomsky’s Principles and Parameters period theorised that there would be 21 principles (and maybe only 42 parameters). In the end they found three-
Charles F. Hockett, having added 3 features to his original list of 13 to make the 16 not-
Edward Sapir and fire prevention engineer,
BS B. L. Whorf had transcribed a whole 21 sentences of Hopi between them (2 of which made reference to time) when Benjy boy came up with the amazing idea that Hopi makes no reference to time.
No subparts of the standard IPA chart can be expressed neatly in units of 21 or multiplicates thereof.**
Father Francis Xavier Morgan forbad a teenaged John Ronald, of whom he was custodian, from seeing fellow orphan, the older (and Protestant!) Edith Bratt, until the age of 21. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (almost) completely obeyed, writing to Edith on the eve of his 21st birthday (3rd Jan 1913), meeting her 5 days later at Cheltenham whereupon she broke off her engagement to George Field (whom history fails to remember). Cue her conversion to Catholicism; dancing ’mid the hemlocks in Roos; 4 kids; and a retirement in Bournemouth the level of material comfort of which most of us can only dream of
The average human has read fewer than 21 articles of SpecGram.**
Some alphabets have 21 letters.**
Some languages have 21 phonemes/
Some linguists have written and sent 21 emails in a day.**
Some lists of linguistically interesting/
So there we go. 2021: a linguistically auspicious year. We’re already planning the January editorial for 2022 but all we’ve got so far is ‘two little ducks’. So do please send in your linguisticky 22s; otherwise, we’ll have to come up with something prosaic, generic, vanilla and ostensibly fantastical
Happy 2021 from SpecGram!
* Abbreviated version for easier reading: ‘Happy New Year’.
** Actually true (as opposed to simply ‘true’).