The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics

For decades, Speculative Grammarian has been the premier scholarly journal featuring research in the neglected field of satirical linguisticsand now it is available in book formboth physical and electronic!

We wish we were kidding,1 but no, seriously, we’ve published a large3 collection of SpecGram articles, along with just enough new material to force obsessive collectors and fans to buy it, regardless of the cost.4

From the Introduction:

The past twenty-five years have witnessed many changes in linguistics, with major developments in linguistic theory, significant expansion in language description, and even some progress in getting a few members of the general public to realize that the term “linguist” is not defined as ‘someone who works at the UN doing simultaneous translation’. Speculative Grammarian is proud to have been a part of these changes.2, 3 And now, in our humble yet authoritative opinion, the time is ripe for the appearance of an anthology containing the most important linguistics articles to have appeared in SpecGram in the past twenty-five years. (Readers seeking articles from before 1988 should consult one of the previous volumes in this series, which have appeared at intervals ranging from twenty to one hundred years ever since SpecGram was first published).4 This anthology, it is hoped, will allow our readers to gain a deeper, wider, fatter understanding of linguistics as it evolved in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, without the trouble of having to take a graduate seminar in “Modern Linguistics” taught by a professor who’s so old that she thinks the Beach Boys are cute.5 Some of us took graduate seminars like that ourselves, and believe us, this book is better.

This book concentrates on those branches of linguistics which have always been considered central to the field: animal communication, third language acquisition, linguistic love poetry. That said, some of the most important recent advances have come in ancillary subdisciplines, such as phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and historical linguistics. Therefore, you’ll also find complete chapters on those subjects, along with other major topics such as sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, typology, and fieldwork.

2 An important part.

3 In fact, probably the most important part.

4 Previous volumes are no longer in print, and, unfortunately, not found in any major university libraries. The Folger Shakespeare Library used to have a copy of the 1592 edition, but it was eaten by rats.

5 Not were cute, are cute, right now, in the 21st century.

As you can plainly see, there is plenty of the usual high SpecGram quality inside this volume. There is considerable quality outside the (physical) book as well. The spine features the finest faux Corinthian and/or Venusian “leather” “finish”, making it suitable for placement alongside your finest volumes of literature, linguistics, or philology.5 The cover features a potentially prizeworthy photo6 that gives an intimate inside look at the life of a SpecGram editor while making you realize that your own hoarding problem isn’t really that bad.

All this can be had for only $12.99 or less! Metric pricing in £ (G. , Fr. , Sp. , It. , Can. $ ) is available as well, and has been provided by the Metric Interns.

If you’d prefer an electronic copy for your favorite PDF-enabled e-reader, the book is also available for just $5.95though we’ll let you pay more if you want to.

Visit a fine online retailer to buy your copy today!8


Here’s what people are saying about The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics:

“Don’t wait for Jon Stewart or Louis C.K. to do something with linguisticsit ain’t gonna happen. Just get this book and give a copy to everyone who needs a laugh.”

—Stephen Dodson, Languagehat

“Linguists, pick up a copy of this delightful book if you haven’t already.”

—Ben Zimmer, on Facebook

“[D]ie-hard linguists will go crazy for it. ... A definite must read for Linguists or those who just like language and have some time on their hands. It made me have some fond memories of tape recorders and the numerous ways people can pronounce a vowel. ... PS: I want to be a vowelkyrie.”

—Melissa Reynard, If It Has Words...

“The editors and contributors obviously know their stuff, don’t take themselves (or their discipline) over-seriously, and enjoy playing with linguistics, language, and languages to create something new, amusing, and (dare we say) even educational at times. The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics provides a light-hearted romp for those unafraid to plunge into the invigorating and hilarious waters of ‘satirical linguistics.’ ”

—Don Boozer, Language Creation Society

SpecGram has now condensed centuries of satirical linguistic articles, comics and pearls of wisdom into a single book. ... [T]his compilation makes a tidy package, a pleasant bit of browsing, and a convenient gift for the book-loving linguist. ... There is also some additional material in this bookit’s worth it for the self-defining glossary of linguistic terms alone.”

—Lauren Gawne, Superlinguo

More Reviews...

Bibliographic Information

Once you’ve bought a copy for yourself and all your friends and come to love it more than life itself, here’s all the information you need to give to your favorite library to encourage them to buy six or eight copies, too:

Title: The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics

Editors: Trey Jones, Keith W. Slater, Bill Spruiell, Tim Pulju, David J. Peterson

Publisher: Speculative Grammarian Press

Publication Date: July 2013

Pages: 339 + xiv pp.

ISBN: 978-0-615-84586-9 / 0-615-84586-X

Keywords / Subject: Satirical Linguistics

BISAC Category: Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics


There are errata available.


Sad Holiday Linguists (2013)
Because You Can’t Do Everything You Want for Your Favorite Linguist (2014)
Hey Linguists! (2015)
Just SpecGrammy Things (2018)

1 The human cost of producing this essential volume is well nigh incalculable. We lost eight or nine2 interns just from the team dedicated to bringing the editors green tea.

2 The exact number is hard to remember; when you know you are going to lose so many, it’s best not to give them individual names.

3 Here large is pleasantly ambiguous, but whichever meaning you took it to have, you were likely correct. There are over 160 articles in the book, and they comprise 21 chapters and take up more than 300 pages. There is a Preface and an Introduction, two Appendices, and more End Notes than anyone other than the typesetter could count. The book itself is an enormous, luxurious, tenure-sized 8.5 x 11 inches (which the Metric Interns assure us is several meters in each dimension). It’s large enough to hold open most doors, and heavy enough to kill most insects.

4 Despite this fact, we aren’t really charging very much for the thing. Keep reading.

5 By agreement with our “faux” “leather” “finish” supplier, we are contractually obligated to request that you not place this book alongside the works of any anthropologist whose fame is less than the harmonic mean of that of Claude Lévi-Strauss and that of Claude Searsplainpockets.

6 See footnote 2 on page xiv of the book itself for more details.7

7 Or you could, y’know, click on that link you just read over. Shhhhhhhhh!

8 Contents packaged by wit, not volume. Some settling may occur during shipping.

9 That’s how you know you are dealing with a serious academic treatisethere are errata.