Placidly Pivotal—The Centrality
by Nuclear Degeneration
Editor Viquey Vauel
and Vocally Centrist
Editor Weekvoe Ell
Despite our best efforts here at SpecGram to promote the concerns of and a preoccupation with the science of language, we’re aware that linguistics still remains—although happily for only a small minority of the world’s population—a peripheral concern. Our readers, like ourselves, will already be aware that linguistics is a central (for many of us the central) explanatory concept in science in general—and this issue celebrates that centrality with a focus on that cheeky—if not quirky!—vowelissimo, our good friend the often unstressed, mid-central vowel, schwa.
Just reflect on that adjective ‘central’. The American tradition gives us not only Grand Central Station and Central Park, but also the CIA keeping Americans safe since September 1947. There’s more: if you want laughs and giggles, there’s nowhere better than Comedy Central to lift your spirits; and the cheapest—and best!—vacations for the average American holiday-maker are without doubt in Central America.
In a wider geographical sense, centrality is often a proxy for the most salient and forward-looking characteristics of a nation. Central London is the most monarchy-heavy region of that great capital and its nation, the Central United States is the most religious region, and central Australia boasts Uluru and almost no water. It’s surely no coincidence that the Mariana Trench is in the central Pacific.
The list could go on: CPUs, central banks and sandwich centres are just some of the ways in which centrality stands front and centre in how we organise and go about our daily lives, which brings us right back to linguistics and our old friend schwa, the mid-central, and often unstressed vowel. Central not just in articulatory terms but also in the configuration and development of linguistics; we’re proud to dedicate this issue to ‘Sir Schwa’, as we call him around here.
This, of course, is just the start. Plans are underway to fund up to four PhDs per year in Schwa Studies; we’re finalising arrangements to offer free advertising to any university course with 40% or greater schwa-based content—and keep an eye out for the all-new schwaTV, coming soon to an idiot box near you.
In the meantime, centre down, destress and perhaps pour yourself a glass or two of scherry. We have! And so it isch with great pleaschure that we welcome [jə] [tə] [ðə] firscht schpeschial schwa-focusched ischwu fr[ə]m SchpecGram!