Ode to Suppletion—Deedles D’Dee SpecGram Vol CLXXXVIII, No 4 Contents The Predicament of the Predicate, or, What Have the Grecians Ever Done for Undergraduates?—Mavis Mandalay


by Grammaticality Brown

At this time of year, I often get asked how my model utterance farm and show garden manage to be so productive all year round. Aside from my liberal use of data-free linguistic theory fertiliser to keep my spluttering spuds growing just right, I also have some favourite tricks to keep my morphemes pushing up and my sentence trees branching.

First off, too many people think that made-up example sentences (lotta crappus) sprout naturally. Nothing could be further from the truth! If you want your garden paths to twist right, you have to plant just the right idea in heavy grey or bald soil, water it in with some yeasty beverage and then let it sit surrounded by vanillin and aged, flattened cellulose fibres. You can use some cracked leather too, if you’re feeling fancy. Some folks even reckon that your lotta crappus grows best if planted in a tenure pool. That might be true but some of us ha’n’t got one of them yet.

Right, when it comes to your syntax trees, it helps to realise that, while the wood ain’t up to much, the tree is very ornamental. There’s nothing your green grad student ducks (vide decashus) like more than nibbling the fruit that falls into the little ramen lake I made them.

Now, your minimalists like to make a show of chopping off half the branches and making a display of the trunk. I doesn’t. I much prefer to form mine into logical loops and grow it into clumps like a monkey puzzle. If your syntax tree is climbable you’ll just get a bunch of pests, like CompLing (multicorus geepeeyoo) and Nelpee (neuralus algebraeus peehackii) hanging around. While you can spray the whole thing down with opaque philosophy of language, you really don’t want any of that stuff to get on you, as it’ll give you a horrible case of the Foucaults or worse, you might catch poststructuralism. There’s no medicine in the world that can treat that. So it’s best to keep things organic and just make your tree indecipherable.

A lot of people ask me for my thoughts on wild data. Does it help, they ask, to seed the ground with the stuff to help your plants come up stronger. Dangerous, the lot of ’em! Those young whippersnappers don’t remember what it was like when the wild data used to blow in off the babbling sea on a wet, cold Thursday morning. There’s nowt worse than scabby, straggly fieldwork plants (mondus stinkus) growing up amongst your meticulously grown lab data (itfittus mytheoryum). Yuck! Don’t even get me started on those weirdos who keep contact linguistics gardens!

I could go on but, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get my evergreen Chomsky’s Fancies (universalis grammati) sorted for a show. I’m trying to place ahead of Nimoy Spock’s xenolinguistics garden. It’s out of this world.

Ode to SuppletionDeedles D’Dee
The Predicament of the Predicate, or, What Have the Grecians Ever Done for Undergraduates?Mavis Mandalay
SpecGram Vol CLXXXVIII, No 4 Contents