The Dark Side of Our ABC’s—α-Betty Abū Gida SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 3 Contents /nuz baɪts/

Letters to the Editor

Dear BSteamed Editors,

Could you please explain to me why people are into procrastination but not concrastination? Why do we have superlatives but not normal-latives? Why is there tomorrow but not from-morrow?

Please help,
Ivor Question

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Dear Iqqy Pop,

Impatient and semiliterate English speakers unschooled in the classics have shortened Latin contrā to con, allowing it to be placed in admittedly pithy but etymologically ambiguous opposition to prō. This can almost be forgiven, as it has given rise to a lovely bon mot of a joke about progress and Congress.

Despite attemptsagain by semiliterate English speakers unschooled in the classicsto redefine concrastination neologically as the antonym of procrastination, the truethough obscuredefinition involves the “with” meaning of con-: namely dawdling, shilly-shallying, or putting things off until tomorrow, with friends.

We don’t need normal-latives because that which would be normal-latives are unmarked-atives, and don’t need to be called out.

As for from-morrow, it is also unneededat least in the U.S.since everyone who can leave Morrowwhether Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, or Ohiohas already left.


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Dear sirs,

It has come to our notice that the Vinland Map has finally been shown to be a fake. What is next in this brave new world of uncluttering the persiflage of the manias of yore and pumping out the Augean stables of the dead and falsified past with the firehose of reason? The Kensington Runestone? The Voynich Manuscript? The Shroud of Turin? The Sound Pattern of English? The Appendix Probi? The Book of Songs? The Song of Songs? Just on general principle, I’d wager that you lot should be scared, very very very scared.

M. Mortālis

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Dear Morty,

We should be scared? Of what?

That which is dead unfalsifiable may never die be disproven.


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Dear Eds,

Your reply to our recent letter does not surprise us. In our well received popular phonology book From Weak Syllables to Strong Democracies, we listed the dangers to society and even everyday respectful interaction that can arise when the suprasegmental tiers of the phonological hierarchy are underestimated or ignored. Of these many dangers, you are a classic example.

May we turn to another popular cartoon in your journal namely the third pictic in Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart ж? Again, you evidence a blatant disregard for certain key features of prosody. The use of pause and relative stress alone would sufficiently disambiguate these pretty little strings, indicating once again that so-called “syntax” is simply a string of lexemes whose combinatorial properties are best explained through phonology.

We’ve pierced your armour, sirs!

Sue and Pier Seckmen-Tahl
Popular Phonologists

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Dear Sick Men,

Parse this: silly little phonologists’ letter.


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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 Dark Side of Our ABC’sα-Betty Abū Gida
/nuz baɪts/
SpecGram Vol CXCIII, No 3 Contents