Most Popular Pages—Today

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1. Thirteen Untranslatable WordsMichael Covarrubias (4 visits)

Thirteen Untranslatable Words. by Michael Covarrubias. I’m a language lover. I have been since I was a kid. Just about eleven months after being born, I started saying words and I’ve been using them ever since. I probably use words every day and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. After a while, we language lovers have a hard time learning more about our native language. That’s why we branch out to memorize other languages. It can be hard though, because a lot of foreign languages have words in them that we just can’t translate into English. Maybe it’s because we don’t have the concept in English, and that makes it impossible to make up a label for the concept. Or, more interestingly, ... more ]

2. The C-Rhyme and Pun-ish-ment of St. AlvinJerry Fyodor & Josef Dobrovskýevsky (4 visits)

The C-Rhyme and Pun-ish-ment of St. Alvin. by Jerry Fyodor & Josef Dobrovskýevsky. It is now commonly accepted that St. Alvin was always accompanied by an assistant called Theodorus. Theodorus was a budding philosopher, with interests in Kant, Hegel and innateness in generative grammar. He was however, very rotund and was therefore known as the Deep Fat Friar. As a young monk, St Alvin left his first monastery, where he had taken a vow of silence, to found an order that believed that people were best served by creating attractive paper to put around Christmas gifts. It is for this reason that his autobiography was entitled “From Trappist to Wrappist.” The members of that order were noted for their ... more ]

3. Out-of-this-World Fieldwork Puzzle #1Pecha Kucha (3 visits)

Out-of-this-World Fieldwork Puzzle #1. by Pecha Kucha. Having decided to do some out-of-this world fieldwork, you use your intergalactic tachyon communicator to contact your old friends Snurklifer and Refilkruns, who give you a lift to the planet Glectorsh Hinxdolr IX, where they speak several languages that are not among the 4,675 languages you know. Snurklifer and Refilkruns have arranged for you to meet the leaders of the Glectorsh and Hinxdolr clans so that you can get permission to do fieldwork on their respective languages. Fortunately, everyone also speaks Galactic Normal Forty-Eight, so you can all communicate relatively well, and Snurklifer and Refilkruns leave. At the meeting, the Glectorsh leader ... more ]

4. Speech Disorders as Indicators of Potential for Lyrical SuccessOzzie Tchomzkij (3 visits)

Speech Disorders as Indicators of, Potential for Lyrical Success. by Ozzie Tchomzkij, Rock Glossologist to the Stars. In recent decades, there has been a subtle shift in popular music, as the idea that the human voice itself can be considered an instrument, rather than merely a delivery system for lyrics, has gained widespread acceptance among the general public. This has led to the recognition and thus to the success of such singers as Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, and Pat Benatar, whose ethereal voices have a purity of tone unmatched among mere mortals. Most singers looking to make a name for themselves, though, do not have the kind of staggering talent that, for example, the divine Kate Bush does. However, those who are ... more ] Podcast!

5. Pseudo-Psiblings™And Other Views of Multiply-Blended FamiliesTrey Jones (3 visits)

Pseudo-Psiblings™ And Other Views of Multiply-Blended Families. A proposal for improving and clarifying family nomenclature for the 21st century. by Trey Jones. Introduction. Language evolvesotherwise we’d all be able to read Beowulf in the original, right? Sometimes language changes in response to cultural changes. But sometimes it doesn’t change fast enough to keep up with cultural changes. This paper seeks to give English a little push in a much-needed direction. There has been a fairly radical change in Western society in the last hundred years or so. It used to be that if a woman was on her fourth husband, one automatically felt a little sorry for ... more ]

6. Académie Française Has Banned Conlanging, AgainSpecGram Wire Services (3 visits)

Académie Française Has Banned Conlanging, Again. SpecGram Wire Services. Paris, FranceToday marked the 85th consecutive year in which l’Académie française has banned conlanging. The convened panel of Immortals (as members are officially known) passed the measure, a terse 400 words in French (or 70 in its English translation) in a twelve minute discussion that opened with the reading of a passage reminding everyone that the Immortals’ resplendent green uniforms were adopted specifically to denote the military spirit needed for “The War on Conlanging.” Critics of the move have lambasted l’Académie. One detractor, speaking on condition of ... more ]

7. LinguimericksBook ५७ (3 visits)

Linguimericks, Book ५७. ’Tis most strange to behold such a thing, That this journal its praises doth sing Of a friar with spunk Who showed to be bunk All the thought that its namesakes did fling —Pumptilian Perniquity, There once was a Franciscan friar Who cried out, “Your theory is dire! It has so many modes That the meaning implodes. Dispatch it at once to the pyre!” —Pete Bleackley, Occam to Entities “So, entitiesdon’t wanna phase you But this thing I’ve built here, Occam’s razor, Puts you all to the test And works out who’s best And the rest, well, I’m gonna erase you.” —Emily Deakinson, You theorists had better behave, Or ... more ]

8. “Double-Dot Wide O / Nasal-Ingressive Voiceless Velar Trill”by J–––– J––––––Reviewed by Jonathan van der Meer (3 visits)

“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 doespecially when reading journals less interesting than SpecGrambut ... more ]

9. The Atishu TribeDr. Gus Huntaight (3 visits)

The Atishu Tribe. Dear reader, please enjoy the following extract from my latest book, Don’t Sneeze, There are Snakes. [Pages 27-32, Chapter 2; “Wheeze Me Up!”] As is customary in Linguistics, in order to get the most reliable data from a language community you’re dealing with, you may have to take part in local customs and traditions. For example, my experience of dealing with English speakers in England has led me to drinking more than my fair share of tea1 or indeed many pints of beer2. Something similar was about to take place with regards to the Atishu people of the Amazon Rainforest, and thankfully did not require any tea to be consumed. For you see, what you will already ... more ]

10. Why Linguistics is Not a ScienceThe SpecGram Editorial Board (3 visits)

Why Linguistics is Not a Science. The SpecGram Editorial Board. In a couple of recent editorials we have answered several of the questions most frequently submitted by SpecGram readers. Since the publication of those editorials, by far the most common question received in our offices has been, “Could please furnish us with your bank account number so we can transfer payment to you?” We cannot in good conscience accede to this request, as it violates a number of constraints and therefore suffers from what we like to call “fatal infelicity.” Another frequent question, though, is more worthy of our attention, (though only due to its being fifth on the frequency list) and it is to that more ... more ]

11. Point: Why Linguistics is Not a ScienceAlpberta Cedium-Ndelemeiyerov (3 visits)

Point: Why Linguistics is Not a Science. [Editor’s Note: This opinion piece is the first of a contrasting pair discussing the relationship between Linguistics and Science. The opposing piece will run in the next issue of SpecGram.] While many have claimed, and probably rightly so, that Linguistics suffers from a bad case of Physics Envy, it is Mathematics, the Queen of the Sciences, which is best suited to provide a role model for bringing some sorely needed rigor to the field. Any practicing mathematician will speak of the crucial role intuition plays in the formulation of ideas--the mysterious spark, the gut feeling, the leap of faith that points the way to a difficult but elegant theorem ... more ]

12. Questions to Ask After Any Linguistics TalkJuan Point and Justin I. Dear (3 visits)

Questions to Ask After Any Linguistics Talk. Juan Point and Justin I. Dear. Academic conferences. You know you love themcatching up with your grad school cronies; checking proudly on the progress of your own former students; commiserating with that former colleague who (ouch!) didn’t get tenure and has moved on; checking publishers’ booths for books to have the library order; delivering your paper to a packed room (more or less). Endless mealtime discussions about the good old days and the hopelessly directionless state of the field; late nights at the hotel bar; late mornings at the buffet breakfast. It’s all good. And then there are the actual sessions. You can only skip so many of them, ... more ]

13. Hunting the Elusive Labio-NasalClaude Searsplainpockets (3 visits)

Speculative Grammarian is proud to present yet another irregular installment in the Linguistic Anthropologic Monograph Endowment’s Bizarre Grammars of the World Series. Hunting the Elusive Labio-Nasal. An Anthropological Linguistic Study of the Beeg Haan Krrz0. Bizarre Grammars of the World, Vol. 57, Introduction The now well-known clicks found in certain African languages must have come as quite a shock to the first European linguists who heard them. Many of the sounds were familiar, of course, but the idea that they could be a component of language had to have been hard to believe. Even now the languages of Africa have secrets to sharenote the ... more ] Podcast! Book!

14. Letters to the Editor (CLXVI.1) (3 visits)

Letters to the Editor. [We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of Speculative Grammarian. —Eds] Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say that Linguistics is a science. Papa says “if you see it in Speculative Grammarian it’s so.” Please tell me if Linguistics is a science. Virginia O’Hanlon — Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scientism of an obsessive age. They believe that only science is worth believing, and that nothing can be which is not reducible to ... more ]

15. The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics (3 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,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 ... more ]

16. LingDoku IIMore, Better, HarderTrey Jones (3 visits)

LingDoku II. More, Better, Harder. Trey Jones, l’École de SpecGram, Washington D.C.. In the April issue, Speculative Grammarian made a shameless attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Japanese number/logic game SuDoku by concocting a SuDoku-like activity suitable for Linguists. Our original LingDoku puzzle simplified the logical reasoning component of traditional SuDoku, and introduced a thin veneer of linguistics to create an artificial barrier to participation for non-linguists. The solution to last issue’s puzzle is given here. In all likelihood it is the correct solution, but nothing in life is certain. Well, as it turns out, the original LingDoku puzzle is ... more ]

17. Vol CLXIV, No κ (3 visits)

SPECULATIVE GRAMMARIAN, —in association with—, PSAMMETICUS PRESS, —is proud to present a special supplemental monograph—, Volume CLXIV, Number κ ; April 2012, On Variation Under Earthlings. by Churles R. Darewin. ... MANAGING EDITOR, Trey Jones, EDITOR EMERITUS, Tim Pulju, SENIOR EDITOR, Keith Slater, MONOGRAPH EDITOR, Florian Breit, ... more ]

18. Grey Duck or Goose?Mapping variation in a children’s game in MinnesotaSven Slater and Ollie Bickford (3 visits)

Speculative Grammarian Youth Research Focus is proud to bring you the finest language-related research by the world’s school-aged youth. Grey Duck or Goose?, Mapping variation in a children’s game in Minnesota. Fifth Grade Science Fair Project, by Sven Slater and Ollie Bickford, J. O. Nelson Public School, St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA. Research Question. Last year, a new kid named Tyler P. joined our fourth grade class. Tyler was from Illinois or some other southern state, and she told us that down there kids play “duck, duck, goose,” instead of “duck, duck, grey duck” like we do here in Minnesota. We thought this was strange, even for the South, but then we ... more ] Podcast! Book!

19. A Love/Hate Relationship: Pesky AntonymsJessie Sams (3 visits)

A Love/Hate Relationship: Pesky Antonyms. Jessie Sams, Stephen F. Austin State University. When students get to college, the majority of them have never thought about antonyms as being anything more than “opposites.” So big is the opposite of small, just like buyer is the opposite of seller. Then, all of a sudden, students are forced into a linguistics course with a professor who tells them that they have to learn to differentiate among different types of antonyms. Student’s minds are nearly exploding with information as they have to learn definitions of terms like ‘converse’ and ‘gradable’ and ‘complementary’ in the world of ... more ]

20. Ps. Q.The Effect of Coffee Consumption on Adults’ Average MLU at the Breakfast TableSuzy X. (3 visits)

Dear Sirs: When Mommy fell asleep at the computer during her third straight all-nighter and accidentally erased her doctoral thesis, I wrote this to help her out. She graduated with honors, and so I thought I’d do a paper on it and send it to you, since I’ve heard it’s your kind of thing. Please do not print my full name with this article, because I am not allowed to use Mommy’s computer at all. Thanks, Suzy X. P.S. My little brother Jimmy also contributed to this work, but I only let him touch the computer once. The Effect of Coffee Consumption on Adults’ Average MLU at the Breakfast Table. Jimmy and I have always thought that the way Mommy and Daddy act in the morning has something to do with how ... more ] Podcast!

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Last updated Feb. 29, 2024.