Happy New Year—01.01.21 Editors Yan F. Urst and Dan U. Errie SpecGram Vol CLXXXIX, No 2 Contents University News

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editors,

I see that you’re still blatantly s for biased interest groups as your recent article completely failed to acknowledge the contributions of currency-named Americans such as the great Vin¢ Price, ℳ Twain, ₭ Thorne, William J. Lan֏, ₾ Metcalf, ₣ Lloyd Wright, R Paul, ₥dred Pierce, and ƒce Nightingale. I’ve got a ¥ to cancel my subscription and read a ﷼ news source instead. To be ₣, you’ve got ฿ in the belfry.

Mike d.

PS: Don’t forget that we ₩ this election, by a lot!

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Dear J. C. Penney,

Complaints like yours are a dime a dozen! You can go £ sand.


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Editor’s Note: 2020 was a very odd year in so many ways. A perfectly reasonable article by Horace Hemingway on the Cultural and Indexing Role of Acçèntéd Chårâctërs (SpecGram CLXXXVII.2, April 2020) led to a perfectly reasonable letter to the editor (SpecGram CLXXXVIII.1, August 2020) from an epistolarian named Tilda. After publication of Tilda’s missive, one Dan D. Crocker-Diall wrote a moderately reasonable reply to Tilda and sent it in to the SpecGram Letters address; we attempted to contact Tilda for a reply, but it seems likely that the not entirely reasonable reply we received (from one alleged “Tidal Rip”) came from an imposter. So far, par for the course, frankly.

However, one or more of the Letters Interns found this happenstance so hilarious that they promulgated it on any number of sites for the so-called “antisocial networking”i.e., πchan, ClikClok, Fork, PhraseBook, FirstPersonSpace, Peruzdit, etc. This led to a flood of replies, which we have been collating and preparing for publication for several months. However, once it became clear that publishing all of Ti{a,d,l}’s fan mail would require us to publish 1,002⅝ issues containing nothing but these replies, we asked M.A.Y.N.A.R.D. to step in and save us from our correspondants.

Using a combination of principal component analysis and latent semantic analysis over word embeddings, she (M.A.Y.N.A.R.D., that is) was able to create both a generative adversarial network and a constructive cooperative disorganization that were each allowed, in turn, to synthesize a reply to stand in for the 1,002⅝ issues’-worth of correspondence.


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Dear Tilda,

I am a marital and relationships consultant in Canberra. This summer I shall be presenting at a professional conference in Newcastle. I hope to have the opportunity to meet with you and learn more about your innovative use of foam diacritics. I have had considerable success in treating couples with issues of disagreement and violence by encouraging the supervised use of foam boxing gloves, on a trampoline decorated to resemble a boxing ring with myself as referee, costumed as a kangaroo. I believe we both, and our clients, could benefit from an exchange of ideas.

In addition, the conference program includes a dance. I would be honoured beyond words to waltz with you.

Sincerely yours,
Dan D. Crocker-Diall

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Dear Davy Crocket,

I have never been to a New Castle although there are lots of old castles around the UK (Europe, north of France). I imagine you regularly visit your friend Al O’Moe at his old castle in Mexico.

Anyway, back to diacritics and your tempting offer of a dance: I’m currently constructing a thirty-foot waterproof plastic anusvara (yellow) with outboard motor and matching exclamation mark paddles (pink and blue respectively). If I start paddling from Dover next Tuesday I should reach you in Can Of Beer-a in time for the promised waltz.

In anticipation,
Tidal Rip

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Dear Van Winkle,

Forget these wimpy foam punctuation marks. I never attend linguistics conferences without a set of throwable asterisks made of Hanzo steel (bit of a nuisance to get them past the TSA, but well worth the effort), which I keep on hand in case a speaker tries to support their argument with dubious grammaticality judgments. Nobody attempts to rebut my, shall we say, pointed arguments, which obviously means I’ve won.

Kat Ana

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Dear Kate and Anna,

You’re both stars! Any kind of launched weaponry can enliven the most tedious of linguistics presentations. However, have you considered a pair of parentheses (one for each of you) like that? Boomerang-like, they achieve their goal and then return to the hand offering unlimited opportunities to make forceful points in the Q&A.

Brad Kett

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Dear sirs,

I write to apply for the position of part-time teaperson/interactional linguist advertised in your recent June issue. My qualifications for the position are as follows.

I have often driven through Catterton, always with only my left hand on the steering wheel. I admire its beauty and boarded-up high street but am yet to pull over and actually explore the town and its environs. Employment at the Catterton Left-Handed Institute of Linguistics would enable me to fulfil this ambition.

Although I own no cats, I do sponsor a buffalo from Buffalo, New York. Incidentally, the coincidental homophony of ‘buffalo’ and ‘Buffalo’ (shared also with the transitive verb ‘to buffalo’) have often suggested to me the possibility of some play on words here. Something like ‘Some buffalo from Buffalo which some other buffalo who are also from Buffalo have been buffaloing, are themselves buffaloing some other buffalo from Buffalo which yet another set of buffalo from Buffalo are themselves buffaloing.’ Some other string based on cats might be relevant to the CLHIL: ‘Some catty cats from Catterton caterwaul at some other cats from Catterton’. Anyway, I digress.

As regards my contribution to interactional linguistics, my 2018 article in the International Journal of Trainers and Trainors entitled ‘It’s all about the ‘Mmmmm’ ’, examines the distributions, meanings and semantics of the interactional particle ‘Mmmmm’ in group discussions of female teenagers regarding the artistic merits (or otherwise) of Megan Trainor lyrics. I found that ‘Mmmmm’ was systematically polysemous both as a referential and interactional particle, but manifested asymmetric distribution governed by hair colour of interlocutor. I would thus consider myself competent to teach the required classes and look forward to the opportunity to expand my research into the interactional dynamics of discussions regarding Taylor Swift and Kary Perry lyrics.

As regards the role’s requirements viz. tea, I am a coffee drinker myself, the imbibement of which I find neatly offsets the effects of the cocktail of prescription drugs I take daily. I am nevertheless eager to learn the lore, mystique and logistics (in that order) of teapersonhood as relevant to the role.

Kat O’Tonne

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Dear Kate O’Ruh,

On behalf of the Catterton Left-Handed Institute of Linguistics, you’re hired!


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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.

Happy New Year01.01.21 Editors Yan F. Urst and Dan U. Errie
University News
SpecGram Vol CLXXXIX, No 2 Contents