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Reflections on the Dooms/Punod Manuscript. by Faoi Smacht, University of Khirokitia, Χοιροκοιτία. Arguably the third most-celebrated “mystery manuscript” behind only the Voynich manuscript and the Warren Commission Report, is the infamous Dooms/Punod Manuscript. This infamous snippet of text has been the downfall of many a young linguist, seeking the rewards that would certainly come from its decipherment—fame, fortune, renown to surpass that of even the most well-known constructors of artificial languages for television shows! The purpose of this paper is to summarize all that is known about the manuscript, and to ... [ more ]
Speculative Grammarian Volume CXCI, Number 4 Editor-in-Chief, Trey Jones, Executive Editor, Keith Slater, Senior Editors, Mikael Thompson, Jonathan Downie, Contributing Editor;s, Pete Bleackley, Deak Kirkham; Associate Editors: Vincent Fish, Mark Mandel; Assistant Editors: Emily Davis, Luca Dinu, Yuval Wigderson, Editorial Associate, Fabian Bross, Reed Steiner, Comptroller General, Joey Whitford, It’s Its Cleft Sentences Which Make It Great; March 2022 ... [ 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 ]
A New Mechanism For Contact-Induced Change: Evidence From Maritime Languages. H.D. Onesimus, Gobi Institute of Maritime Linguistics, Lanzhou, China. Modern contact linguistics has demonstrated an impressive ability to account for language change and the emergence of new languages with a remarkably small number of mechanisms: bilingualism, creolization, borrowing, and convergence (also known as “smart drift”). However, a few intractable situations of language contact seemingly cannot be accounted for in terms of this elegant system (notable examples include Wutun, Ma’a and Texas English). In this article, I show how the long-standing problem of Penguin and the Cetacean languages reveals a new type of ... [ more ]
The SpecGram Quiz to End All Quizzes. ... Everyone makes Internet quizzes—even your three richest widowed aunts use their mite, if not their might, to bedazzle the gullible and amass those sweet, sweet clicks. So stand aside, ladies, SpecGram is on the
make move! There’s a new quiz powerhouse in town, and since we don’t believe in planned obsolescence, you’ll never need nor want another!, Just answer these 17 handy-dandy mutually orthogonal questions to get the answers to all (or at least the 7 most important) of your burning questions. ... [ more ]
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Black Box Testing in Linguistics. Nachele Thanhthu and Nyklus Affanita, Dept. of Linguistics and Name Science, Orvall Oryan School for the Onomastically Challenged, Choirokoitia. “If it’s a black box, one linguist can pick it up; no number can, however, open it. If it’s any other color, it isn’t of any theoretical interest.” —SpecGram Letters Editor Despite recent stunning advances in neurolinguistics and long-standing claims of “psychological validity” in other areas of linguistics, the human language faculty is still, in the technical sense, a black box. That is, so the metaphor goes, there is no good way to see inside the box to figure out how it works; instead, ... [ more ]
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 ]
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 ]
The Joy of Old and Odd Books. A Letter from the Managing Editor. ... As I was perusing my signed 1355 first edition copy of Jötunn Svartálfar’s Teach Yourself Gothic in Six Score Minutes per Fortnight, I was struck by the stark disparity between my personal and professional collections of books, as compared to the utter disregard for the written word displayed by the general American populace. Old books and odd books, musty treatises and crumbling tomes, flights of fancy and important, eternal ideas fill the bookshelves of my library and inhabit the chambers of my mind. In contrast, the average person—barely deserving of the appellation homo sapiens—cover ... [ more ]
ADVERTISEMENT, Get the book that everyone’s talking about... Fifty Grades of A. by i ɛl dʒemz. A handsome linguistics professor draws numerous innocent young women into his class by promising them a wealth of high grades, plus lots of Language and Gender. Then he spends months torturing them with Government and Binding. See what readers and critics are saying about 50 Grades of A... “C-Command and Subjacency turned out to be a lot less interesting than I’d expected.” —Marquis de S. “Even more painful than Critique of Pure Reason. ” —Willard Q. ... [ more ]
The Cartography of the Derivation: A Brief History of the Louis and Clärque Expedition. by Carlos L. P. Rizziani. This map, the first and most impressive of its kind, is the result of an arduous, unrelenting 40-year expedition across ungovernable expanses, swaths of rich morphology, unaccusative prairies, dangerous constraints, and inhospitable aspectual projections that constitute the known expanses of The Derivation. Prior to this vast undertaking, which cost the lives of more than 28 brave men and women (and at least nine children), efforts to properly govern the peoples of The Derivation were mostly ineffective. The very nature of political borders and binding domains were often in dispute, while secessions of ... [ more ]
The “Brezel-Rätsel”: How Sign Language Linguistics Can Solve Real-World Problems. Fabian Bross. The Problem. Everyday life presents us with many puzzling questions. One famous example of such a question is the correct way to hang toilet paper (either with the loose end hanging next to the wall or the reverse). Another, similarly fascinating question is the correct orientation of a pretzel. I call this problem the “Brezel-Rätsel” which is German for ‘pretzel puzzle’. The “Brezel-Rätsel” is illustrated in Figure 1 showing the four possible orientations of a Pretzel (ignoring intermediate stages of rotation). What is clear is that the ... [ more ]
The Original Language of Winnie-the-Pooh. Aureliano Buendía, Universidad de Macondo. The text known in English as Winnie-the-Pooh occurs in dozens of different languages. Scholars have long debated the question of what was the original language of composition. One of the most popular hypotheses has been that the original text was written in English. The present paper will use textual evidence to demonstrate the impossibility of that hypothesis and to suggest a more likely candidate. Consider the following lines from the beginning of Chapter I in the English-language version. (1) ...here he is...ready to be introduced to you. Winnie-the-Pooh. When I first heard his name, I said, just as you are going to ... [ 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 ]
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Last updated May 18, 2022.