In Defense of Silly
by Irrationally Optimistic Editor
So, it’s pretty bad. It’s even worse than the noises first-years make in a phonetics exam and more confusing than native speaker intuitions in borderline cases of wh-island violations. The 2020 lexicon is without doubt or dubiousness statistically unique: ‘unprecedented’ ranks above ‘happy’, ‘carefree’ and ‘light-hearted’ in the Annual Adjective Awards for the first time since 1936 and, in an unprecedented event (there we go again!), ‘global pandemic’ was voted Christianity’s number-one adjective-noun collocation beating both ‘Biblical inerrancy’ and ‘the Johannine Jesus’.
And it’s not just the whole world, but, even more worryingly, linguistics itself which has been impacted by COVID-related symptoms. At SpecGram, we were poised to commence the world tour of our subjacency-themed ballet ‘Movement Rules’; the Director of Linguistic Entertainment had just commissioned a new 6-part series of lingua-stand-up ‘The Great Eskimo Snow Ho-ho-ho-hoax’; and our Sapir–Whorf-hypothesis-themed series of reflections ‘Take a moment to think (like you talk)’ was ready to start filming in Hawai’i. All of this left the world of satirical linguistics in limbo, which, on top of rising infections, restrictions to travel and other personal freedoms, and the ever-increasing polarisation of extremist political ideologies almost felt like too much bear.
So (to paraphrase King Theoden), what can linguists, or for that matter normal people, do in face of such reckless disorder? We at SpecGram believe we have the answer. Sure, our talkshows, gameshows, sitcoms, and ballets may be in hiatus but as surely as INFL is not really the head of the sentence (except in the heads of some who deserve a fairly lengthy sentence), SpecGram will press on with its usual menu of silliness, satire and lighthearted lingua-laffs. So, if we all go down in a blaze of glory before the next issue is out, let’s make sure we do it while tittering at a linguimerick or marvelling at the insights of the Δίς Λεγόμενον Centre for Endeepened Ideation.
To love, laughter, linguistics and life!
Best wishes from SpecGram!