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1. Vol CLXXXVIII, No 1 (61 visits)

Speculative Grammarian Volume CLXXXVIII, Number 1 Trey Jones, Editor-in-Chief; Keith Slater, Executive Editor; Mikael Thompson, Senior Editor; Jonathan Downie, Senior Editor, Pete Bleackley, Contributing Editor, Deak Kirkham, Contributing Editor; Associate Editors: Vincent Fish, Mark Mandel; Assistant Editors: Emily Davis, Yuval Wigderson; Editorial Associates: Luca Dinu, Andrew Lamont, Matthew Lee, Daniela Müller, Josh Nash, Steve Politzer-Ahles, Mary Shapiro, Reed Steiner, Daniel Swanson; Joey Whitford, Comptroller General; Promoting the Only, IPA You Can Choke On; August 2020 ... more ]

2. Letters to the Editor (CLXXXVIII.1) (30 visits)

Letters to the Editor. Dear Eds— As a marriage guidance counsellor in a deprived area of the north of England (England, near Scotland, UK), I was overjoyed to see an affirmation in the concluding paragraph of your recent article about diacritics of the important social role that diacritics can play. I have been using 8-foot foam tildes in working with quarrelling couples since 1998, finding that the smooth, flowing shape of this particular diacritic offers troubled partnerships both a symbolic and actual bridge: one partner sits on each of the curved arms thus facilitating mutually respectful and attentive dialogue. The judicious deployment of 3-foot question marks and suspension points also supports the smooth flow of ... more ]

3. Things Not to Write on Your Funding ProposalsPart IG. Reed, A. Varice, & M. Ammon (20 visits)

Things Not to Write on Your Funding Proposals Part I. G. Reed, A. Varice, & M. Ammon, X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies. Conscious of the need to improve the positive social impact of our organization, we’ve decided it was time to branch out further into studies that could improve the lot of the average linguistic researcher. We thus had our interns submit 10,000 funding proposals each to different funders around the world. We could have carefully analysed the content of successful and unsuccessful proposals and highlighted specific words, sentences and phrases linked with rejection. Instead, we gave the interns the weekend off and here present part 1 of 2 of a ... more ]

4. ‘Study Ling-mind-your-language-uistics? Abso-whoops-a-daisy-lutely Not!’Repealing the Appalling and Remaining Appealing: A Policy Document ApproachA Letter from Editorial Policy Boffin N. Effin Fickes-Achin (19 visits)

‘Study Ling- mind-your- language-uistics?, Abso- whoops-a- daisy-lutely Not!’ Repealing the Appalling and Remaining Appealing: A Policy Document Approach. A Letter from Editorial Policy Boffin N. Effin Fickes-Achin. [The Editorial Board has received many complaints about the Editor-in-Chief’s unprecedented use of the -bloody- infix in a recent editorial. Though not as many as our mother-infixin’ Linguistics of Tea issue, thank goodness. We’ve asked Dr. Fickes-Achin to address our readers’ concerns, which he may or may not have done below —Eds.] SpecGram is appealing.1 In fact, ... more ]

5. The Unbearable Light Verb of having: Urination, Defecation, Procreation and the Impossibility of a Syntax-Semantics Isomorphism in the English Light VerbHerb von Pherb (15 visits)

The Unbearable Light Verb of having: Urination, Defecation, Procreation and the Impossibility of a Syntax-Semantics Isomorphism in the English Light Verb. by Professor Herb ‘Herbivore’ von Pherb. As is well known, the light verb may be defined, at least in modern English, as a morphosyntactically verbal lexeme lacking its own ‘heavy’ inherent lexical semantics.1 This should not be taken to mean, however, as some have taken it to mean,2 that the light verb is a black hole, sucking in3 meaning not only higgledy-ly piggledy-ly but also willily-nillily. Indeed no! The light verb is no shell, no gutted sarcophagus desecrated decades ago by grave robbers, no ... more ]

6. 20 Steps to Decide Whether You Should Take That CourseC. V. Fonologist (12 visits)

20 Steps to Decide Whether You Should Take That Course. C. V. Fonologist. The points below are pieces of advice to undergrads and will soon become relevant as we are heading fast towards the autumn semester. Anyone having an intimate relationship with general linguistics will probably consider them still valuable even in the next spring semester and well beyond. As a linguistics major myself I have had to face, on several occasions, the dilemma of taking up a number of optional courses in various topics of linguistics ranging from bi-directional pragmatics, to statistical models of language processing in female quails, to implementing Panini in GPSG. Since it is a subtle matter to decide whether a course will be to our ... more ]

7. The SpecGram Linguistic Advice Collective (10 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! ... Dear SLAC, While hunting for bargains on the online antiques market, I recently obtained a vintage horse-drawn carriage. I am currently trying to acquire the services of a postillion to drive it for me, but I understand they are prone to being struck by lightning. What precautions should I take? Yours curiously ... more ]

8. A Lexical Corpus of Alphabet SoupsReed Steiner (9 visits)

A Lexical Corpus of Alphabet Soups. Reed Steiner. Most linguists opt to use lexical corpora compiled from boring texts, such as newspapers, Wikipedia, Adam Sandler screenplays, and erotic Chomsky/Bloomfield fanfiction. However, not one lexical corpus contains the many natural constructions found within one can of Campbell’s Chicken Alphabet Soup. While a few middle-aged Wisconsin parents have taken hours from their dead-end 9-to-5 work-from-home “careers” to measure letter frequencies in a can of soup, exactly zero professional linguists have examined the soup. That leaves an entire body of language completely unreferenced. In order to advance our understanding of the English ... more ]

9. /nuz baɪts/ (9 visits)

/ nuz baɪts /. Not a wire news service but still more reliable than most newspapers. Press Release on IPA Controversy. Given the ongoing alcohol/phonetics controversy over the meaning of the abbreviation “IPA” the Society for Unnecessary Corrections has published a press release on the subject. In accordance with the norms of news publishing, we print the release below with no comment. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE It has come to our attention that the people are confusing the International Phonetic Alphabet with India Pale Ale. We set out the differences below. * One is an intoxicant, overexposure to which can lead to slurring words, impaired decision-making and a nasty headache. * The other is a ... more ]

10. The SpecGram Linguistic Enhancement of English Project (SLEEP) (8 visits)

The SpecGram Linguistic Enhancement of English Project (SLEEP). As part of SpecGram’s continued commitment to maximising linguistic ‘deliverability’ we are as pleased as punch (and Judy) and as proud as Proudhon (and his children) to announce the creation, formation, staffing, hierarchical bureaucratisation and launch of the SpecGram Linguistic Enhancement of English Project (SLEEP). This brand-new institute, formed with backing from leading financiers of linguistics and the Sicilian Mafia, seeks to maximise efficiency, effectiveness and ease of communication in modern, contemporary and quotidian international English. SLEEP never sleeps, as our new motto goesand here they ... more ]

11. LinguimericksBook ७५ (8 visits)

Linguimericks, Book ७५. I am a big fan of recursion! If you’re not, then don’t cast aspersions, Rather learn cons and pros From a lim’rick that goes, “I am a big fan of recursion...” —α-Betty Abū Gida, Plato etc. were Greeky, Their writings insightful but creaky; They are all now long dead But are still being read By scholars both stodgy and geeky —Dikocrates of Garthens, An odd linguist with manner censorial Told a fantastic, outlandish story you’ll Prolly not credit— But truly he said it— Of a syntax that’s quite non-arboreal —Pumptilian Perniquity, Hapax Legomena The problem with hapax legomena Is, there’s such a humongous ... more ]

12. Towards an Emic Weltanschauung of the Language ClassroomGladys Golliday (6 visits)

Towards an Emic Weltanschauung of the Language Classroom. Gladys Golliday, Professor of Astronomy in Linguistics, The Δίς Λεγόμενον Centre for Endeepened Ideation. Although ostensibly an etic reality, composedtriviallyas it is of walls, ceiling and floor, populated as it is not only by education artefacts but also by the human givens of teacher and learners, the language classroom has masqueraded as as etic a phenomenon as the moons of Jupiter for too long. Here, we bravely seize the long overdue opportunity to rewrite the socio-culturo-cognitive topology of the language classroom as what it really is: a ... more ]

13. Sign FeverDeedles D’Dee (5 visits)

Sign Fever, (with apologies to John Masefield) . Deedles D’Dee, SpecGram Poet-in-Residence. I must read up on the sign again as a top priority And all I ask is a textbook (with extensive glossary) With examples and comments from film and culture And the biosphere (like the meaning of a corpse for a vulture). I must read up on Peirce again: his wild typologies Make a strong link (with a strong drink) to his wild philosophies. And all I ask is a year or ten in the world’s best libraries With endless coffee and deliveries of groceries. I must read up on Saussure again; my interest is piqued In the seminal (but posthumous) Cours de Linguistique. And all I ask is a pillow and soft and ... more ]

14. GlossominoesKeith Slater & Trey Jones (5 visits)

Glossominoes. by Keith Slater & Trey Jones. Traditional Dominosa is a puzzle game that requires you to pair numbers corresponding to the faces of dominoes. You are presented with a rectangular grid of numbers. Each number must be paired with one of its vertical or horizontal neighbors. As in a set of dominoes, each numerical value pairs exactly once with each other numerical value. See the original “Domiphones and Dominasals” (SpecGram CLXXXV.1) for a simple example if you are unfamiliar with the genre. Naturally, SpecGram’s version of the puzzle involves some linguistics-related twists. Rather than boring and obvious numerals, we use elements that linguists can enjoy and feel comfortable ... more ]

15. Hoity-Toity and Hurdy-Gurdy Romance in the Classical Period: An OverviewLlodio Q. Terenciano (4 visits)

Hoity-Toity and Hurdy-Gurdy Romance in the Classical Period: An Overview. Llodio Q. Terenciano, Dottore di Ricerca. The state of Romance in the 21st century was one of flux. During the Classical Period, the Romance language underwent profound grammatical and lexical changes in all its dialects, but, unfortunately, these changes can only be guessed at indirectly. Classicists generally divide the Romance of the Classical Period (1800–2200 CE) into two distinct, yet related, forms. One is what is known as Hoity-Toity Romance (HTR), which consists of the written Romance attested in Classical manuscripts and monuments. This form of Romance remained relatively stable over the centuries and exhibited little ... more ]

16. The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics (4 visits)

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, 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 ]

17. What is SpecGram Doing in Response to COVID-19?The SpecGram Pandemic Interns (4 visits)

Redirecting to the new location. ... more ]

18. Is Translation Possible?The Answer Rhymes with NohProf. Trent Slater (4 visits)

Is Translation Possible?, The Answer Rhymes with Noh. Prof. Trent Slater, Professor of Unproveable Linguistics Literature. While translation studies continues to grow as a field, with benefits being felt not only in applied linguistics but also in the world-at-large, one obvious fact continues to be overlooked. Scholars who pore over the results of the process called “translation” omit to tell their readers of the theoretical questioning of the very object of their study. Put another way, while everyone is busy examining “translations,” no one bothers to ask whether translation is actually possible. The question was first suggested to me by my good colleague, Dr Tapir-Wolf, of the ... more ] Podcast!

19. Archives (4 visits)

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 mongeringfirst 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 ]

20. Choose Your Own Career in Linguistics (3 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!

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Last updated Aug. 5, 2020.