Linguimericks, Etc.—Book ९६ SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 2 Contents Overheard in the Linguistics Student Lounge—Chesterton Wilburfors Gilchrist, IV

Official SpecGram Poem: The Search Goes On

By Poetical Editor Laurie Att

Our reader will be well aware from the footnote 63 in the AGM crypto-encoded classified minutes of 2009 that a global search for an Official SpecGram Poem has been underway for 15 years. In this editorial, we take the opportunity to update our reader on the progress so far.

Over the last decade-and-a-half, we’ve been inundated by seven submissions. On closer inspection, three of them appeared to be letters addressed to others which may have gone astray but we kept that cash and cashed the cheques anywaythanks! Of the other four, one was written in a northern dialect of British English and SpecGram has been clear since at least 1066 that no communication can be accepted in dialect forms associated with regions north of Kettering.

The remaining three submissions we review here. We start with the last to arrive, but one that was viewed favorably by the judges.

Fight Night, Right?!

We are the Bovva Boyz and We’ll Getcha Girlz
Of SpecGram’s multiplex linguisticky worldz.
And if you don’t like the stuff that we write
We’ll break down your door in the dead of night ...

... and you’ll find yourself in a two-in-the-morning fight.

This submission was only narrowly voted down as a contender for Official SpecGram Poem (276 votes for, 78,961 against). The committee felt that this contribution spoke to SpecGram’s values of universal peace, inclusivity, curiosity and authenticity as well as instantiating a clear theory-practice bridge between aggression as concept and as action. In particular, the metaphor subtextually implied in the string ‘if you don’t like’ was considered a powerful subversion of themes of the poetry of George Herbert, whose oeuvre has remained a resonant voice in the linguistics community.

The next submission was viewed rather less favourably:


If language can be considered to be
A case of meta-systematicity
Which flows on out from wherever you begin it
To unbounded variations of forms without limit;
And if writing is considered to be
Another case of meta-systematicity
Which flows on out from any first phrases
To take on a rich multiplicity of faces;
Then writing about linguistics should indubitably be
Whose possible number of iterations—
As communication about communication—
Will be, I suggest, more innumerable than
What can be written in a single lifespan,
And certainly morealthough I’m a fan—
Of the beginning we’ve made in SpecGram.

This kind of vague, faux-modernist idiocy is exactly the kind of rubbish we wouldn’t want anywhere near our journal. The one-dimensional superficiality and intentionally trivial tone sit uneasily with the depth and profundity of what SpecGram has to say. Needless to say, the SpecGram Special Ops interns are seeking out the writer of this doggerel, much in the spirit of the Bovva Boyz and We’ll Getcha Girlz of the earlier submission.

Finally, the submission that was considered the most popular: the title says it all really: ‘I really, really like (in fact love) SpecGram because it’s goodand others do too!’ Here’s the work in full:

I really like SpecGram
I really, really like SpecGram.
In fact, I love it.
Its really good.
what’s more,
I think perhaps some other people do as well.

This strong submission, whose nuanced yet succinct prose riffs elegantly on the fact that universal quantification can reverse the direction of hyponym:superordinate entailment while at the same time plaintively giving voice to the often overlooked and historically dispossessed sub-discipline of syntax, was in fact initially voted the winner and the stage set for the inauguration of the Official SpecGram Poem. Unfortunately, during the final minutes of the review process, the misspelling of ‘it’s’ in line 4 was noted, resulting in an immediate withdrawal of the poem from contention (see paragraph 5, subsection 423,239,012 of the submission guidelines).

This of course means that the search goes on for the Official SpecGram Poem. So, if you have something to offer, please get in touch.

Linguimericks, Etc.Book ९६
Overheard in the Linguistics Student LoungeChesterton Wilburfors Gilchrist, IV
SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 2 Contents