Caedmon’s Hum—Kid & Mann SpecGram Vol CXCII, No 4 Contents The Serial Comma—The Language Debate Society

SpecGram Dictionary of the Linguistics of Mythological Beasts

It’s Not Just Legendary; It’s Unreal

Volume 2 (Legs and Wings): The Wyvern
by Miss Ickle, B. Easts

Where are my dragons!?’ is an exclamation as familiar to the ear of the popular culturite as ‘I am your father’, ‘I’ll be back’ and of course Pozzo’s response to Vladimir, ‘Where?’. However, after the admin interns recently discovered a literal flurry of letters from our readers from back in 2012, we feel it our bounden duty to point out that the beasts referred to in this famous phrase are not in fact dragons but wyverns, dragon-like beasts but with only one pair of clawed limbs, and lower ones at that.

Why should this form of the exclamation have been chosen when every other detail of the acclaimed TV drama was spot on from start to finish? Our computer modelling of the cognitive processing of ‘Where are my wyverns!?’ in the context of the climactic dramatic tension of the scene in which it is uttered, dramatic tension being well known to interfere with the parsing of wh- items, indicates that there may be a 12% chance that the utterance would be heard as ‘How are my whereverns?!’ or ‘Wheretofore are my whomsoeververns?!’. This of course would have impacted the viewers’ experience for the negative, hence the choice of the anatomically inexact but linguistically safer choice of ‘dragon’.

All of which neatly leads us to this volume of the SpecGram Dictionary of the Linguistics of Mythological Beasts. ‘Why the wyvern?’ you ask. ‘Because the becausevern’, we reply. And that’s about all there is to it. So, let’s not flap about any longer, but instead, rising skyward on our two metaphorical wings, let us enjoy another fiery edition of the linguistics of mythical beasts.

Wyvern: A winged, fire-breathing beast, often used in heraldry. Not to be confused with the ‘dragon’, despite sharing the same number of syllables and stress pattern due to the wyvern having two legs and preferring monochrome, yet bright, hues.

Whyvern: A philosophically inclined wyvern.

Vernwhy: A wh-in situ wyvern.

Y-vern: A wyvern who believes English has six written vowels.

YY-vern: A female wyvern.

Wife-vern: Mrs Wyvern.

Guy-vern: Mr Wyvern.

Wyvermicelli: An Italian pasta dish flavoured with wyvern.

ʍyvern: A wyvern losing its voice.

Wyfern: A winged, fire-breathing plant.

Wyayevern: A Geordie wyvern.

Whereforevern: An antiquated whyvern (qv) that is frequently mistaken for a wherevern (qv).

Whovern: An unidentified wyvern.


  1. An unidentified wyvern in object case.
  2. A hypercorrect unidentified wyvern.

Caedmon’s HumKid & Mann
The Serial CommaThe Language Debate Society
SpecGram Vol CXCII, No 4 Contents