Most Popular Pages—Last 7 Days

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1. Vol CLXXXVII, No 4 (208 visits)

Speculative Grammarian Volume CLXXXVII, Number 4 Trey Jones, Editor-in-Chief; Keith Slater, Executive Editor; Mikael Thompson, Senior Editor; Jonathan Downie, Senior Editor, Pete Bleackley, Contributing Editor; Associate Editors: Mark Mandel, Deak Kirkham; Assistant Editors: Emily Davis, Vincent Fish, Yuval Wigderson; Editorial Associates: Abby Crisp, Luca Dinu, Andrew Lamont, Matthew Lee, Joe McAvoy, Josh Nash, Steve Politzer-Ahles, Mary Shapiro; Joey Whitford, Comptroller General; Emic, Etic; Put Up in the Attic; June 2020 ... more ]

2. Letters to the Editor (CLXXXVII.4) (67 visits)

Letters to the Editor. Dear Speculative Grammarian, I was shocked to see that the wugs depicted in “When Irregular Forms Become Productive” were not observing social distancing. Don’t they know there’s a nasty bug going around? Yours concernedly, E.P. di Miologist ... Dear Epiglottal, You need to brush up on your ornithological virology and/or virological ornithology. Wugs are quails and thus not vulnerable to CORVID-19 —Eds. ❦ ❦ ❦ ❦ ❦ Yo, chum(p)s, I would like to chime in with complete agreement with your recent article on the role of diacritics in silencing critics. This is entirely true. I have found that a swift diaeresis to the eyes with the index and ... more ]

3. Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart BErgativityPhineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. (62 visits)

Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, Part B—Ergativity. Phineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. Unintentional University of Lghtnbrgstn. As set forth in the previous installment (on non-configurational languages), our goal is to illustrate important concepts in linguistics via cartoons. (And, as mentioned last time, in so doing perhaps illustrate our own mastery of the material!) For our next foray into the Cartoon Theory of Linguistics, I present the following visual explanation of ergativity: ... Next time, we’ll look at morphological typology. References, Anderson, Stephen R. (1985). Inflectional morphology. In T. Shopen (Ed.), Language typology and syntactic description: Grammatical categories and the ... more ] Book!

4. A Public Service AnnouncementThe Ministry of Silly Sounds (54 visits)

From the Ministry of Silly Sounds. A Public Service Announcement. The Ministry of Silly Sounds wishes to inform the public that the following sounds have been collaboratively developed in EU laboratories or successfully replicated from aberrant non-major languages. All of them will soon be released to the public and thus become available for borrowing or wholesale phonological restructuring projects. As some sounds may have detrimental effects on either speakers or speaking targets, a modicum of caution is suggested. Select sounds are tentatively scheduled for official promulgation and may be required in future dialects of English. Ambi-Articulated Syllables: Segments characterized by distribution across ... more ] Podcast!

5. Satirising Satire: A Plea for Help From Our Loyal ReadersA Letter from Associate Editor Deak Kirkham (52 visits)

Satirising Satire: A Plea For Help From Our Loyal Readers. A Letter from Associate Editor Deak Kirkham. After a relatively quiet spring here at SpecGram Towers, whispers of malcontent which threaten to bubble over into genuine worry are audible throughout the marble-floored corridors. Staff writers are peering over the tops of their computers with looks of consternation; the interns are visibly jumpy; the SpecGram hairdresser has handed in his notice; even the Management is spending less time in the Executive Suite-cum-Spa and more time in the Lingua-Boardroom doing what it does best: discussing things. What could possibly be the concerns that give rise to such worry?, you naturally ... more ]

6. A 21st Century Proposal for English Spelling ReformH. Sanderson Chambers III (47 visits)

A 21st Century Proposal for English Spelling Reform. by H. Sanderson Chambers III, Associate Professor of English at an elite northeastern university that costs more in tuition and fees for one semester than most people earn in a lifetime, (I can't tell you the university's name, but it rhymes with Little Gary). As is well-known to all educated people--and if it's not well-known to you, then you're not one of us--the early part of the 20th century was the heyday of the Simplified Spelling movement, which sought to reform English spelling on the grounds that it was "mard by absurdities and inconsistencies". So what, you might say? Well, among other things, the simplifiers claimed that the spelling system ... more ] Podcast!

7. Letter to the Recently Discovered Murapirã PeopleG. Stuart Dent (37 visits)

Letter to the Recently Discovered Murapirã People. G. Stuart Dent. Hi there! I’m a linguistics graduate student at the University of the Northwest Corner of the Land of Enchantment, and documenting your language will be my thesis project! I was supposed to fly down to Brazil this weekend and make the arduous journey to your little out-of-the-way corner of the Amazon, but, you know, coronavirus. Wait, maybe you don’t know? It’s this massive pandemic that is killing lots of people and shutting down pretty much all travel worldwide. My university has decided to do this project using videoconferencing tools to protect you.1 You’ll surely be disappointed since—instead of ... more ]

8. The Incipient Colonialism of IPAWallace Workaday (33 visits)

The Incipient Colonialism of IPA. Wallace Workaday, Professor of Meat Flapping in Linguistics, The Δίς Λεγόμενον Centre for Endeepened Ideation. If to describe is to own then to transcribe is to enthrone. From the grooming of a sciento-social race with the fast adoption of the Latin alphabet as the foundation of the linguistic enterprise, instantiated and exemplified by /k/ and /æ/ to cordoning off its extent with the refusal to acknowledge the / double-dot wide o / and the / ʙ –/, the International Phonetic Alphabet subjugates the subconscious mind of the researcher by enforcing a Platonian cave of Pavlovian conditioning. This much ... more ]

9. LinguimericksBook ७४ (32 visits)

Linguimericks, Book ७४. When lecturing on infixation, Be prepared for a little titillation. For examples in English Are often distinguished By a four-letter word: fornication —Emily Davis, A linguist there was of the Old School, Adhering to regular sound rule. In the evenings he’d stew As he guzzled his brew And called August Schleicher a damn fool —Pumptilian Perniquity, doctorate schmoctorate five years of shooing pre- scriptivist dogma and scripts’ joys and thrills, apothecarial powers don’t follow from studying syntax: I can’t get you pills! —Andrew Lamont, The Field Philologist A philologist went back in time To one thousand and seventy-nine. He saw a Dane fair And ... more ]

10. What is SpecGram Doing in Response to COVID-19?The SpecGram Pandemic Interns (31 visits)

What is SpecGram Doing in Response to COVID-19?. The SpecGram Pandemic Response Team Interns. As the scourge of COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in linguistics departments, universities, and elsewhere around the world, the average linguist may feel overwhelmed and helpless. To comfort our readers, we present what are possibly the nine most reassuring words in the English language: “We’re from Speculative Grammarian, and we’re here to help.” Below we outline the steps we are taking internally to slow the spread of COVID-19, followed by recommendations for linguists everywhere. What SpecGram is Doing For Everyone As part of our commitment to ... more ]

11. University News (29 visits)

University News. Textbooks Hold the Key to Second Language Learning Development. by Ruthlessly Roving Reporter Miss Deakina Andrea Kirkhamia Results published yesterday from the Consortium of Higher Education Approaches to Teaching (CHEAT) suggest that textbooks hold the key to second language learning development. A series of experiments suggest that vocabulary, grammar and even abstract features of pronunciation such as liaison, ellipsis, etc. that emerge in connected speech, as well as the phonological rules underlying dialect forms, can in fact be learnt simply from being in the same room as a well-produced textbook, assuming it has lots of colourful pictures of happy language ... more ]

12. Vol CLXXXVII, No 3 (29 visits)

Speculative Grammarian Volume CLXXXVII, Number 3 Trey Jones, Editor-in-Chief; Keith Slater, Executive Editor; Mikael Thompson, Senior Editor; Jonathan Downie, Senior Editor, Pete Bleackley, Contributing Editor; Associate Editors: Mark Mandel, Deak Kirkham; Assistant Editors: Emily Davis, Vincent Fish, Yuval Wigderson; Editorial Associates: Abby Crisp, Joe McAvoy, Josh Nash, Steve Politzer-Ahles, Mary Shapiro; Joey Whitford, Comptroller General; More “Rah!” for Your Mora; May 2020 ... more ]

13. Gavagai with PeppersRob van der Sandt (29 visits)

Gavagai with Peppers (serves 4) Many tasty gavagai recipes were brought from the jungle by linguists and missionaries in the first half of the 20th century. After the publication of Quine’s Word and Object they gained popularity among philosophers, though the book’s underlying idea was soon attacked from linguistic circles. As an unfortunate consequence, gavagai recipes emanating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tend to be inedible. In most gavagai recipes quantities are vague, as is the exact nature of the meat to be used. Many recipes prescribe sundry undetached rabbit parts as a basic ingredient. The following is an exception. Ingredients 800g of properly detached rabbit parts ... more ] Podcast!

14. Sonority: A Space Elevator StoryMatthew “MattGyver” Lee (28 visits)

Sonority: A Space Elevator Story. By Matthew “MattGyver” Lee, Student at Dallas Intergalactic University. I watched the new Star Wars trailers before writing this. Able to tell you might be. Hrmmm (Yoda 3ABY). To adapt a sentiment from Lovestrand (Lovestrand 2014), any claim of a universal and well-defined ranking in linguistics might very well be a lie. Nevertheless, sonority, like many generalizations, is at the very least a promising and productive lie that is useful to study and build on. Sonority is the force that gives all phonologists their power (to be more precise, sonority and NSF Grants (Maling et al. 2019)). It is a mysterious energy found in all vocal sounds. It surrounds all classes of vocal ... more ]

15. Choose Your Own Career in Linguistics (26 visits)

Choose Your Own Career in Linguistics. by Trey Jones. As a service to our young and impressionable readers who are considering pursuing a career in linguistics, Speculative Grammarian is pleased to provide the following Gedankenexperiment to help you understand the possibilities and consequences of doing so. For our old and bitter readers who are too far along in their careers to have any real hope of changing the eventual outcome, we provide the following as a cruel reminder of what might have been. Let the adventure begin ... more ] Book!

16. Cartoon Theories of LinguisticsPart EPhonetics vs. PhonologyHilário Parenchyma, C.Phil. (26 visits)

Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, Part E—Phonetics vs. Phonology. Hilário Parenchyma, C.Phil. Unintentional University of Lghtnbrgstn. We will skip the introduction, as we have been there, done that. Once more into the breach! For this installment in our series on Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, we will turn our attention to Phonetics and Phonology and the difference between the two: Phonetics:, ... Phonology:, ... Thanks to Professor Phlogiston, of the Unintentional University of Lghtnbrgstn, for the opportunity of a lifetime, as a student, to, on this occasion, share with so many of my fellow linguisticians my views, as illustrated above, concerning matters, which are of such immeasurable import ... more ] Merch! Book!

17. Οо Εе, Оο Аa ΑaΑ СrурtοgrаmTing Tang, Walla Walla, & Bing Bang (25 visits)

Οо Εе Оο Аa Αa Α Сrурtοgrаm. by Ting Tang, Walla Walla, & Bing Bang. For your puzzling pleasure, we present to you the following somewhat unconventional cryptogram. Unlike many other cryptograms, you probably can’t begin to solve this one by eye, and even pencil and paper may prove to be tools insufficient to the task. Welcome to the 21st Century! If you solve the cryptogram and send your solutions to the editors of SpecGram by June 15th, 2020, you could win some SpecGram merch. The correct solution and winners will be announced in the next issue of Speculative Grammarian. — The ... more ]

18. [sɜɹfsʌpdydz]Stephen Politzer-Ahles (24 visits)

[sɜɹfsʌpdydz]. Stephen Politzer-Ahles. I’m telling you, man, back then no one had ever dreamed of waves like that. We were wanting to try something new, we wanted to “experience strange shores”. Now this shore, it didn’t feel like anything any of us had ever done before. The waves coming out from it didn’t make any sense to us. It wasn’t like when you surf a familiar shore. You know how if you’re at a shore you know well, then you can understand the feel of the waves, and you can tell what’s coming nextlike, certain kinds of waves never come after certain other ones, certain ones always go together, whateverand you pick ... more ]

19. The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective (23 visits)

The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective. Are you in a world of linguistic hurt? The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective (SLAC) will offer you empirical, empathic, emphatic advice you can use!* Remember, if you can tell the difference between good advice and bad advice, then you don’t need advice! So, if you need advice, trust usand cut yourself some SLAC! ... Your Royal SLACness, Since you have previously offered such useful advice on English plurals, I have a query of my own: what is the plural of haggis? Having recently relocated to the land of tartan and bagpipes, I would find it quite useful to know. And speaking of which, where can I find one of those “wild ... more ]

20. A Primer in SF XenolinguisticsJustin B. Rye (23 visits)

A Primer in, SF Xenolinguistics. - eep opp ork ah-ah -, Justin B. Rye. - ash nazg durbatulûk -, Table of Contents. Fantasy Exotic TonguesAn Introduction, Let’s Speak AlienIn Ten Easy Lessons, The UnspeakableAnd The Unthinkable, Universal TranslatorsA Buyer’s Guide, CETI for BeginnersLittle Green Manuals — - borag thungg -, FANTASY EXOTIC TONGUESAn Introduction. If you’ve reached the online version of this article chasing the search-string “ +fantasy +exotic +tongues ” then I’m afraid you’ve probably come to ... more ]

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Last updated Jun. 4, 2020.