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1. The Laziest Language on EarthAn Anthropological Linguistic Study of the Perry So-soClaude Searsplainpockets (13 visits)

Speculative Grammarian is proud to present yet another installment of indeterminate regularity in the Linguistic Anthropologic Monograph Endowment’s Bizarre Grammars of the World Series. The Laziest Language on Earth. An Anthropological Linguistic Study of the Perry So-so. Bizarre Grammars of the World, Vol. 61, Introduction. Back in 1922, my Historical Linguistics professor, Benjamin Ide Wheeler, noted that ease of articulation is a driving force in language changehence the regular occurrence of lenition rulesbut the opposing need to maintain a clear communication channel prevents everything from degenerating to a long low mid vowel. Turns out he was ... more ] Podcast! Book!



2. Tim Pulju’s The History of Rome (5 visits)

Tim Pulju’s The History of Rome . Are you looking for a book about ancient Roman history that’s interesting, informative, and amusing? No? Oh. Well, all the same, as long as you’re on this webpage already, we’d like to recommend that you buy Tim Pulju’s The History of Rome. Easy to read, full of genuine historical facts, and adorned with amateurish hand-drawn pictures, The History of Rome is so good that even Girolamo Savonarola might hesitate to cast it into the flames. And best of all, it’s only $6.99! Buy one now! Interested, but wary of being burned by a slick advertising campaign for a product that fails to live up to the hype? Then download the free preview and read ... more ]



3. Meet the SpecGram Editors (4 visits)

Meet the SpecGram Editors. In response to a decades-long demand to lift the veil of near-anonymity behind which the editors of Speculative Grammarian live, lurk, and work, we have begrudginglyand after a brief eight-year hiatusagreed to provide publicly a few brief biographical sketches of select editors. Those editors with multiple outstanding federal warrants for their arrest on charges of non-consensual þornography, bigramy, modalhem, sobriquettery, pejorativity, fortition with minimal pairs, disturbing the passive, and cruelty to functionalists have been excluded, upon advice from our attorneys. Three more biographical sketches are below — Bethany ... more ]



4. /nuz baɪts/ (4 visits)

/ nuz baɪts /. Not a wire news service but still more reliable than most newspapers. Machines Equal Professional Translators. After the disappointment of finding that recent claims that machine translation had reached human translator parity only worked if you used a very loose definition of “human translator” scientists at the University of Catool have announced that they have succeeded in equalling professional translators on more useful measures than any previous system. Using a tiered, pyramidal, pseudo-artificial neurotic network system, they have succeeded in creating a computer that can drink coffee, complain about low-paying clients and derive puns indistinguishably from any ... more ]



5. Inside SpecGram: A view from the front linesSkip Tacular (4 visits)

Inside SpecGram: A view from the front lines. by Skip Tacular, Junior Editorial Associate. [After Skip’s fabulous performance pinch hitting for the senior editors in “How It Is HangingA Letter from a Junior Editorial Associate” we promoted him from Intern to an actual Junior Associate. In recognition of his continued stellar service, we have invited Skip to write about his experience over the last year and a half —Eds.] The last eighteen months have been a real eye-opener for me. As an Intern, my primary duties in the SpecGram offices consisted of getting coffee, tea, or maté fetching lunch, dry-cleaning, or Dead Sea scrolls; making copies, ... more ]



6. Latin to 与工以口-尺口爪凡以 Converter (4 visits)

Anybody and everybody uses Roman script. 山巨 刀巨与巨尺立巨 仍巨十十巨尺。 What we need is something more distinctive. 与工以口-尺口爪凡以 亡口爪仍工以巨与 十廿巨 仍巨与十 口斤 巨凡与十 凡以刀 山巨与十。 Elegant, refined, and beautiful! 凹与巨 与工以口-尺口爪凡以! ... more ]



7. The TaalbergenWanejem Tii (4 visits)

The Taalbergen. Wanejem Tii, Department of Anthropology, University of Vienna, West Papua. A few years ago, a geological expedition into the Taalbergen of Western New Guinea (Lyell, Cuvier and Wegener (2001), henceforth LCW), previously thought to be uninhabited, found that the massif is indeed inhabited by a wide variety of primitive tribes. Indeed, this is the only thing they found, as they fled the region in a panic after a still mysterious incident none of the surviving members of the expedition was willing to say more about it. Several years later the funds and arms could be raised to go on another, this time anthropological, expedition into the area (Morgan, Lévi-Strauss and Geertz (2005), ... more ]



8. A Minim of Wine and a Minim of Confusion for Maximal ContusionArtemus Zebulon Pratt (4 visits)

A Minim of Wine and a Minim of Confusion for Maximal Contusion. by Artemus Zebulon Pratt, Speculative Grammarian Editor-on-the-Lam. Just the other night, after treating myself to the new Anti-Kosher Burger at our local eatery (shrimp, bacon, fried egg, and cheese atop locally produced rabbit patties), I had the need to treat myself for the new Anti-Kosher Burger and so was relaxing with an unfortunate bottle of experimental wine my wife had been prevailed upon somehow to buy some time ago: “A gift just for you!” she said. I smiled, but knowing her wont it was strictly wait-and-see. She held it out further. “Asparagus wine,” I replied. She held it out even ... more ]



9. LinguimericksBook २५ (3 visits)

Linguimericks, Book २५. It’s a field with une certaine mystique With models so pure and so sleek. In Deutsch, they have class ’Cause it’s Sprachwissenschaft, But in France it’s just la linguistique. —Col. O. Nihilist, An armchair researcher quite eerie Realised that fieldwork’s too dreary. So he sat in his sanctum Taking selfies at random As support for his syntactic theory —Cailín na Luimní After working all night on my thesis, I am feeling a little amnesious. All the insights I had Have begun to sound bad, And my future is looking degreeless —Morris Swadesh III, A linguist told to assimilate, So as to properly integrate, Changed ... more ]



10. A Sample of Self-DefinersEt Cetera, Et CeteraThe SpecGram Book Elves™ (3 visits)

A Sample of Self-Definers Et Cetera, Et Cetera. The SpecGram Book Elves™. Here is the eighteenth and final hand-curated selection from “Appendix A: A Self-Defining Linguistic Glossary” a.k.a. “The only truly reliable cram sheet for your Linguistics 101 final” from The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics. They used the adversative against each other. aphas......???, axapria, Mr. Aptro Nym collects names aptly suited to their owners. Attraction is the process by what a relative pronoun takes the case of its antecedent. He stole a benefactive for me. lekhmove, She said, “I will use direct quotation.” ... more ]



11. Letters to the Editor (CLXXIX.3) (3 visits)

Letters to the Editor. Dear Anachronistic Editors, In issue CLXXVIII.3, Bull and Ochs use fin de siècle to refer to a time period they also label “the 1960s and 1970s”. While I understand that fin de siècle is not being used literally, I really struggle with describing the middle of a century as the end thereof. Dr. Tim E. Liness, Dept. of Antiprochronism, and Inframetachronism, Clepsydra University, Megaannum, MA ... Dear Timey Tim, How so very prescriptivist of you! How nice (late 13th C.) of you to send your comment. We’d like to give you a nice (1500s) explanation, but you might be too nice (c. 1400) to handle it, or too nice (late 14c.) to accept it. May ... more ]



12. Proper Phonetic Pedagogy: Field Notes from a Laboratory ScienceJacob Bartholomew Pine (3 visits)

Proper Phonetic Pedagogy: Field Notes from a Laboratory Science. by Jacob Bartholomew Pine, Professor of Acoustic and Instrumental Phonetics, New University of Southern North Carolina. As Introductory Graduate Phonetics is my favorite class to teach, I was overjoyed to receive this journal’s summons to share the fruit of my many years of experience training the minds of the next generation of linguists. My first piece of advice is to pay close attention to the students in attendance. For example, Introductory Undergraduate Phonetics is a far different beast to the graduate course; in that course I have found it useful to restrict myself to slinkys, pipes, and violins until after the refund deadline, whereas with ... more ]



13. Biscuits and Languages: A Discerning Human’s Tasting GuideAdham Smart (3 visits)

Biscuits and Languages: A Discerning Human’s Tasting Guide. Adham Smart. “If music be the food of love, play on” sighs Duke Orsino at the beginning of Twelfth Night, a famous line which spawned the almost-as-famous saying known to linguists around the globe, “If language be the music of food, eat biscuits.” Linguists have been attracted to biscuits* ever since the Grimm brothers’ Einführung in der Sprachgeschmacks­wissenschaft gave the academic world the first taxonomic classification of the major European biscuits, tracing them back to the original Urkeks of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, believed to be a hard, semi-sweet, ... more ]



14. Research That CountsGnoo Merrill & Kwan T. Ti (3 visits)

Research That Counts. Gnoo Merrill & Kwan T. Ti, X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies. Once linguists turned away from trying to explain (or rather excuse) the vagaries of English orthography, it became clear that the next most significant (p < 0.05) challenge was to understand why so many languages have bizarre counting systems. French, for example, is known for its distinct lack of cognitive nous when it proceeds from the rather benign cinquante (50) and soixante (60, with an intra o, to increase the Frenchness) to the rather puzzling soixante-dix (70, literally, “sixty-ten” which should actually be the term for 600). After that, things ... more ]



15. Special Supplemental Letter from the Editor (3 visits)

Special Supplemental Letter from the Editor. The age of innocence has come to an end: You are stranger in a strange landa linguist in an English department. A brave new world, it is, but you find yourself in a catch-22. While obviously not a native son,* you don’t really want to admit to being the stranger that you are. Do you endure one hundred years of solitude, known as a misanthrope and forever among the outsiders, or do you jump straight to the heart of the matter and ask for guidance from your colleagues? A fine balance must be struck, lest your reputation be reduced to a handful of dust, or, ostracized, you become an invisible man;** your career become an American tragedy, the ... more ]



16. Unconfirmed Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t KnowMadalena Cruz-Ferreira (3 visits)

Unconfirmed Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know, (because they aren’t actually true), gathered at great personal risk of, psycholinguistic harm from actual student papers by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira This 62nd collection of students’ pearls of wisdom, laboriously digitised from hand-written papers, demonstrates once again how students new to the study of language speculate about grammar after having imperfectly absorbed what their teachers think they have taught them. Test Question Phonetic transcriptions. Discuss the use of the IPA and American phonetic alphabets in transcriptions of English, using these words as examples: caught, stir, up, you. Answers. In ... more ]



17. The Language PoliceAnita G. Gorman (3 visits)

The Language Police. By Anita G. Gorman. For quite some time Letitia Archbold had been concerned about the decline in proper English. All sorts of errors were creeping into the language, whether in its spoken or written form. Each day, it seemed, brought yet another example of ignorance, sloppiness, or even overcorrection, the tendency of some people to want to sound erudite even though they had no idea what they were doing and thereby committed an even more egregious error. “Between you and I” was such an example of overcorrection. Those who used this solecism thought they were sounding educated, but they were wrong, wrong, wrong. “Between you and me” is correct, as Letitia would tell herself and ... more ]



18. Vol CLXXVII, No 4 (3 visits)

Speculative Grammarian Volume CLXXVII, Number 4 ... Trey Jones, Editor-in-Chief; Keith Slater, Executive Editor; Associate Editors: Pete Bleackley, Madalena Cruz-Ferreira, Jonathan Downie, Bill Spruiell, Mikael Thompson, Sheri Wells-Jensen; Assistant Editors: Virginia Bouchard, Mark Mandel, Yuval Wigderson; Editorial Associates: Kenny Baclawski, Adam Baker, Florian Breit, Bethany Carlson, Robin Day, Carin Marais, David Marino, Tel Monks, Laura Ryals, Mary Shapiro, Adham Smart, Kien-Wei Tseng, Don Unger; Joey Whitford, Comptroller General; Low-Hanging Fruit Tastes Just as Sweet; December 2016 ... more ]



19. Linguimericks, Etc.Book ४९ (3 visits)

Linguimericks, Etc. Book ४९. The Voyager probe was a plan to Go beyond where our human legs ran to But the linguist in me Can so plainly see That the plaque should have used Esperanto —Col. O. Nihilist, A rare fieldworking dab hand I’d planned to be So I read all I could of the land I’d see. But schistosomes, ague, And bubonic plague mu- tated linguist to accountant quite handily —Hester Fester-Münsterfenster, Spatial / temporal / aspectual- directual / evidential / validational- aktionsartic / modal / indicative- verbal categorizational slashes —Morris Swadesh III, I muttered, “It’s 'ta.mi.əs 'stri.ə.təs ” When seeing one climbing a tree at ... more ]



20. Merchandise (3 visits)

Speculative Grammarian Merchandise. Introduction. In order to lend a hand to our good friends and steadfast supporters over at the Linguist List during their 2006 fund drive, we prepared a small selection of limited edition SpecGram merchandise, including T-shirts, stickers and magnets. Originally these items were only available as prizes awarded as part of the Linguist List fund drive. In 2012, several of the SpecGram editors suffered from a rare form of collective frontal lobe damage, which made it seem like a good idea to put together a SpecGram book. The result in 2013 was The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics. In 2014, Editor Mikael Thompson entered a deep fugue ... more ]



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Last updated Jul. 28, 2021.