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Ten New Commandments for Linguists. Transcribed from the original Stone Tablets by Trey Jones, With much help from the Commandment Clarification Committee, including Joel Boyd, Aya Katz, Jouni Maho, Ken Miner, Daniela Müller, David J. Peterson, and Joey Whitford. As a Linguist, thou art an ambassador for the scientific study of Language and languages in the land of the monolingual naive speaker. Even though the monolingual naive speaker roll their eyes at thee and chastise thee as a word-obsessed fool and exalt their own native speaker competence, thou shalt proselytize the study of “Language with a big-L” whenever and wherever thou mayest do so, spreading the true word of descriptivism and railing ... [ more ]
“Double-Dot Wide O / Nasal-Ingressive Voiceless Velar Trill” by J–––– J––––––. From Speculative Grammarian CLI.3; July 2006. Reviewed by Jonathan van der Meer. ... Double-Dot Wide O, Spoiler Alert !. It’s been more than eight years, so I’m going to go ahead and let you in on a little secret: the nasal-ingressive voiceless velar trill is a pig snort, and the double-dot wide O looks like a pig snout. (Some phoneticians will argue that they themselves produce a uvular trill. They probably do—especially when reading journals less interesting than SpecGram—but ... [ more ]
How Will COVID-19 Affect the World, Toponymically and Onomastically?. Joshua “Jozza” Nash. We have watched the world change linguistically these last months. Concepts like COVID clusters, COVID hot spots, tracking the virus, now is not the time (to take a holiday), stay at home, stay safe, and save lives, we’re flattening the curve, keeping to essential services, stopping the spread, social distancing, self-isolation, acquiring or contracting versus transmitting or infecting, when we get through this, on the other side of this, the new normal, and many others now occur in common parlance and have all taken on their own new and possibly improved meaning. There are the names of the cruise ships like ... [ more ]
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SpecGram Archives. A word from our Senior Archivist, Holger Delbrück: While bringing aging media to the web and hence the world is truly a labor of love, SpecGram tries the passion of even the most ardent admirer. Needless to say, we’ve fallen behind schedule. At every turn, the authors found in the pages of this hallowed journal stretch credibility with their gratuitous font mongering—first it was the IPA, then a few non-standard transcription systems, then Greek, and not just the alphabet, but the entire diacritical mess, and now I’ve got some god-forsaken Old Church Slavonic glyph sitting on my desk that no one can even name, and which would give the Unicode Consortium ... [ more ]
[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 next—like, certain kinds of waves never come after certain other ones, certain ones always go together, whatever—and you pick ... [ more ]
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 ]
Speculative Grammarian and SpecGram.com. Our Story. The august journal Speculative Grammarian has a long, rich, and varied history, weaving an intricate and subtle tapestry from disparate strands of linguistics, philology, history, politics, science, technology, botany, pharmacokinetics, computer science, the mathematics of humor, basket weaving, archery, glass blowing, roller coaster design, and bowling, among numerous other, less obvious fields. SpecGram, as it is known to devotees and sworn enemies alike, has for centuries sought to bring together the greatest yet least understood minds of the time, embedding itself firmly in the cultural and psychological matrix of the global society while ... [ more ]
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 ]
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 ]
Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, Part ж—The Trouble with NLP. Phineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. Unintentional University of Lghtnbrgstn. Please review previously discussed materials as needed. Now that that is taken care of, let us consider why Natural Language Processing (or, its alter-ego, Computational Linguistics) has not been the resounding success regularly predicted by the NLP faithful: We gave the monkeys the bananas because they were hungry/over-ripe. Time/Fruit flies like a(n) arrow/banana. pretty little girl’s school crying computational linguist Up next: Lexicostatistics vs Glottochronology. References, Baeza-Yates, Ricardo and Berthier Ribeiro-Neto (1999). Modern Information ... [ more ]
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 ]
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 linguistics—and now it is available in book form—both physical and electronic! We wish we were kidding, but no, seriously, we’ve published a large collection of SpecGram articles, along with just enough new material to force obsessive collectors and fans to buy it, regardless of the cost. 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 ... [ more ]
Cartoon Theories of Linguistics, Part 3—Morphological Typology. Phineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. Unintentional University of Lghtnbrgstn. No need for an introduction, it was covered in previous installments (on non-configurational languages and ergativity). Instead, let us proceed to the next chapter of our Cartoon Theories of Linguistics. I have provided the following cartoonish exegesis of morphological typology for your edification: ... Up next: Statistical Machine Translation. References, Baker, Mark. (1988). Incorporation: A theory of grammatical function changing. Baker, Mark. (1996). The polysynthesis parameter. Comrie, Bernard. (1989). Language universals and linguistic typology (2nd ... [ more ]
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Last updated Jul. 13, 2020.