Letters to Atticus Ps. Q. Vol XVI, No 4 Contents The Native Speaker Fallacy—Keith Slater

The Poets’ Corner

Welcome once again to the poets’ corner, that quiet, comfortable place to which we retire every August in order to take a brief respite from the hurly-burly of linguistics. This year we are proud to present poems from a more varied set of philosophical and poetic backgrounds than ever. As always, we caution that we always print the name signed to the poems we receive, even though we think that often the attestation is inauthentic. Therefore, if you receive credit for a poem not your own, don’t worry, but rather enjoy the compliment.

We are truly sorry if the reprinting of any poems below violates any copyright restrictions. It is impossible for us to check every literary magazine published to make sure submissions are not stolen from others. If this happens to be the case with any of the poems this year, don’t sue us, sue the plagiarists who submitted the poems. We’ll be happy to give you their names and addresses. But now, without further ado, the poems.

              by Pocus Pisces

Linguistic thought’s been full of folks
  Who’ve known the psych-real rules;
Each one is sure that he is right
  And all the others—fools!

They’ve fought and quarreled and carried on
  And argued lots about it
To prove that what they thought was true
  So no one else would doubt it.

Deep structures, tagmemes, archiphones,
Case-grammar, “topic”, “focus”,
Phonology, semantic roles—
It’s all just hocus-pocus.

   To the Field Workers,
        to Make Much of Time

Gather ye data while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying.
Informants that can speak today
Tomorrow will be dying.

           by Robert, Earl of Herrick

There once was an old syntactician
Whose theories had come to fruition
     To describe any clause
     He would shout without pause
“That’s a matter of simple addition.”

                        Edward Lear

 ḲelHā weṭei ʕaḲun kāhla
   ḳaλai palhΛ-ḳΛ na wetā
     śa da ʔa-ḳΛ ʔeja ʔālā
       ja-ḳo pele ṭuba wete.

            V.M. Illič

I am a cowboy in the boat of langue
          —Ishmael Reed

I am a cowboy in the boat of langue
Sidewinders in the classroom
  of fools
Bite my forehead.
Like, oh,
The untrustworthiness of
Who do not know their trips.
Who was that dog-faced linguist,
  they asked,
The day I rode from town.
Professors with gingivitis cannot
  see the light of truth.
Black Bart speaks Hittite in the
  semantic field.
Wherefore ride, like a wolf at the
  door, into the sunset.
We are tall, casting long shadows
As we fade to black.

Letters to Atticus
The Native Speaker Fallacy—Keith Slater
Ps. Q. Vol XVI, No 4 Contents