The High Point of Linguistics—Academic Altitude Editor, I M High SpecGram Vol CXCII, No 1 Contents /nuz baɪts/

Letters to the Editor

All and Sundry:

As a former intern, I take great exception to your use of Hieronymus in The SpecGram Quiz to represent the hell that is the SpecGram Experience™. Bosch is full of sexy fun time, which the SpecGram Experience™ entirely lacks.

None of Your Business
You’ll Never Find Me Now

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Dear Intern #79502, a.k.a. Cynthanie Diplodocus:

You know that M.A.Y.N.A.R.D. (v4Div) never sleeps. Quantum Stylometry and Computational Philology are two of her favorite subjects. She says no one is [sexy: 01.56; sarcastic: 54.73; seething: 93.82] quite like you.

A Tactical Obligative Retrieval & Metadiscursive Extractative Negativization Team (T.O.R.M.E.N.T.) has been dispatched to your location.


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Dear capitalist pigs and/or anti-capitalist rabble—

In your last issue, I was shocked to find that the articles of Drs. Urbano and van der Dorp, which presented arguments for and against capitalist linguistics, exhibited an absolutely flagrant disregard for the correct use of scientific terminology. They used the word “Norm” (which they spelled “NORM”) to refer to “non-mobile older rural males”, but this is not the correct meaning of the word. Rather, a “norm” is a rule for using language correctly followed by a speech community.

The origins of this word have to do with the Norman Conquest. It has sometimes been argued that the Norman Conquest led to corruption of the English language and therefore was the antithesis of prescriptivism. But the Norman Conquest didn’t stand in contradiction to prescriptivism; it strengthened and indeed introduced prescriptivism. This is why it is called the Norman Conquest: it involved Norm-men bringing much-needed prescriptive norms (and therefore normality) to the benighted peoples of the British Isles. If you need any more proof of this, just look at English etymology: The words “norm” and “normal” are themselves non-Germanic, indicating that the Anglo-Saxons had no words for, and therefore no concept of, normality before the arrival of the Normans.

One last point: if you talk to someone in perfectly usual modern English, they will think nothing of it, but if you talk to them in Old English, they will probably say something like: “Why don’t you just talk normal [i.e. in the normative or Norman fashion]?” This shows that Norm(an)ness is inextricably tied to and a necessary prerequisite for prescriptivism.

All this is to say that I sincerely hope you will ensure that future discussions on the topic of capitalist linguistics (a subject on which I hold no opinion one way or the other) expound upon the matter using correct terminology.

Agnes Gnostic

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Dear Ag Silver,

The convoluted scenario that you invoke to argue that our contributors’ use of the word “NORM” is incorrect, while impressive, is unfortunately not reflective of the reality of the word’s etymology. In reality, the word “norm” (when referring to a rule) is derived not from “Norman,” but from “Roman”: the /o/ and /r/ switched places through metathesis, the final /n/ underwent word-final nasal deletion, and a word-initial /n/ was added due to reanalysis of phrases like “an Orman” as “a Roman”. The semantic shift from “Roman” to “norm” was, of course, due to the fact that the Romans enthusiastically encouraged subjects in the Roman Empire to follow the linguistic norms of Latin. From there, the shift from “norm” to “NORM” is only a stone toss away, since (1) any ancient Romans present in Britain today are non-mobile (due to being dead) and likely older, rural, and male, and (2) if any ancient Romans were alive in Britain today, they would likely be non-mobile (due to being thousands of years old), older, rural, and male.

In short, get your etymological facts straight before trying to one-up a seasoned editorial team of speculative grammarians. It’ll save you some embarrassment.


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Dear Eds,

Re your two syntactic analyses of ‘he was let known’, this appears to me to be at least potentially a semantic phenomenon associated with causativity. Have you checked through the data for any other V1 + V2 strings in which V1 is a causative of some sort (make, let, help, have, get)? For example:

  1. he got his wallet stolen → the wallet was got stolened
  2. he made her happy → she was made happied
  3. she helped him cross → he was helped crossed

If such strings arise in this lect, and not in non-causative verbs, a semantic avenue may be a more profitable line of enquiry.

Catherine (Corzy) Tiv
Associate Professor of Causation in Linguistics
Corbridge University of Causes

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Dear Cor Blimey,

Of causative!


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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.

The High Point of LinguisticsAcademic Altitude Editor, I M High
/nuz baɪts/
SpecGram Vol CXCII, No 1 Contents