Festive Arborolatry—The Speculative Grammarian Editorial Board SpecGram Vol CLXXXV, No 1 Contents /nuz baɪts/

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editors,

The mental faculties of your regular contributors have always been the subject of a certain, shall we say, dubiosity, but heretofore your editorial board has been, frankly, above reproach. This changed, dramatically, in the May 2019 issue, which contains quite the worst piece of editorial writing we have ever seen. Whoever “Weirahl Innitto Gaither” may be a pseudonym for, we cannot help noticing that his/her/its writing is somewhat less coherent than that of any other linguist we have observed, including You-Know-Who herself.

The abject dismality of this “editorial” has unfortunately ruined your chances with us; we regret to inform you that we have removed Speculative Grammarian Editorial Board from our list of considerees for future journalism awards.

The Pulitzer Prize Committee

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Dear Pully Price,

No skin off our nose, as they say. We totes understand that you’re in a difficult position and have to grasp for any vague justification you can find for disconsidering someone. Otherwise everybody’d be winning all the time.

For the record, though, we would like to point out that we are way funnier than most of your 2019 “winners”. And a lot more highbrow, too.


P.S.: You guessed it, by the way! Weirahl Innitto Gaither is a pseudonym alright. In fact, that editorial represents the very latest in Human Mimicry of Automated Text Generation, a cutting edge field in which humans pretend to be algorithms in a “nothing-to-speech” AI random generation program, generating individual sentences and interstitializing them into coherent text. We’re quite pleased with the results, and although you may not approve, we are already licensing the technology widely. In fact, given the cost-cutting measures affecting the entire journalism industry these days, you may find that within a couple of years you will be unable to award your prizes at all, since you’ll have been forced to disconsider the entire industry once everyone is using our superior (and cheaper) approach.

So, hah!

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SpecGram’s Top Visitor of the Month

This month’s award goes to
Lana McElvoy

Lana made 47 visits to the site, viewing 279 pages total, bought 3 copies of the SpecGram book, gave her mother a SpecGram terrycloth bathrobe as a birthday gift, renewed her subscription for an additional 14 years, and donated generously to the Grad Student Legal Defense Fund.

(Will you be next month’s winner?)

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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.

Dear Editors,

The June 2019 editorial made this dubious claim: “humans can put their tongue in their cheek (but only one at a time) if they’re being ironic.”

This is just the sort of short-sighted, unimaginative drivel I’ve come to expect from your so-called “journal”. True to form, you fail to imagine even very simple counter-examples to the most trivial claims. In this case, it only takes a single co-locutor, supporting one’s irony verbally, to achieve the placing of two tongues simultaneously in one speaker’s cheeks. Or cheek, for that matter.

I suppose there’s no point in encouraging you to exercise just a bit of academic curiosity when composing your editorials.

A. Reader

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Dear A,

We hate to be blunt, but you’re wrong. Entirely wrong.

In fact, the suggestion you make (in woefully inadequate detail, we might add) was considered multiple times, and was represented in several early drafts of that editorial. No less then four working committees submitted briefs regarding its plausibility, and the legal department had a heyday (their word, not ours) outlining possible repercussions if we made that suggestion in print; in fact they submitted a 300-page contingency document in case the relevant lines eventuated in publication. No less than 14 months of intense discussions were involved.

In the end, Pragmatics Subcommittee A.2 (chaired by Editor Deak Kirkham) made the arguments which prevailed. Though we cannot reproduce them here, due to considerations of space and legal implications (and don’t even think of submitting a Freedom of Information Act request, ’cause we are a private publication, buddy), we assure you that we are greatly confident in the rightness of the eventual decision.

Thanks anyway for your concern. We do our best to accommodate all reasonable suggestions. If only yours hadn’t been so woefully out of touch with the thoroughness of our editorial processes...


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In last month’s Letters, we published a letter from Rev. P. Earl Klutcher of Focus on the Language Families, who complained rather rudely about Pumptilian Perniquity’s use of the language family Cushitic in a limerick.

I was severely disappointed to see that the Pumpkin of Iniquity managed to sneak a curse word into your poetry.

While we initially thought that the Letters’ Editors’ reply to Klutcher’s suggestion of Cucrapic was sufficient“Thic raps the stupid nail on its stupid head.”we decided that Mssr. Perniquity should have the opportunity to respond to Klutcher’s “concern” directly.

When asked for comment, our inveterate Notorious Gourd replied “Harumph” and was soon on a roll. He dedicates the following verse to P. Earl Klutcher:

Freshmen studying ling analytics
Laughed at labials despite looks acidic,
And the titters for Jackendoff
That had climaxed and slackened off,
Retumesced with the next topic, clitics.

He expressed the hope that this is not too subtle for him, given the orthographic rather than conceptual bent he’s got (as it were), and added, “Don’t worry, I can keep this up aaaaaall night.”



Festive ArborolatryThe Speculative Grammarian Editorial Board
/nuz baɪts/
SpecGram Vol CLXXXV, No 1 Contents