Quotes—Page 11: More of What People are Saying

Here are a few more of our favorite things people have said about Speculative Grammarian over the years, collected wild on the internet, or domesticated in email.

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Q650. Poor choice of title! Why not Optimality Theory was a CON job—Prince and Smolensky finally come clean?


Q649. We can assume that the Rich OT Joke Base made thousands of such jokes available, so we should be able to work backwards from the ones that made it to output to infer the constraints. We can, for example, immediately posit *emu.


Q648. I was disappointed by the lack of OT jokes.


Q647. Lol what an elaborate and nerdy way to prank your colleagues.


Q646. Careful—if you replace “OT” with “minimalism” people might think this story isn’t a joke.


Q645. I knew it.


Q644. The Speculative Grammarian Podcast‽ How could I have been missing this‽


Q643. TIL about Language Made Difficult—a podcast series by Speculative Grammarian.

[se˞̙ mäɾi pẽ͡ə̃nts]

Q642. 言語学に関するオンライン雑誌 Speculative Grammarian の2012年7月号が出されています。 注意:真面目な内容ではありません。

Fumiaki Nishihara

Q641. Speculative Grammarian / 言語学に関する笑えるネタや時として真面目な話を収録したオンラインの雑誌。難しいことを緩く語るのがコンセプトなのだろう。英語。

LingWebs Bot

Q640. Why didn’t I know about @SpecGram? Thankfully one of my students pointed it out. Love this.

Rob Drummond

Q639. For a bit of culture/humor, read Speculative Grammarian. The more linguistics you know, the more funny it gets.


Q638. SpecGram podcasts are the best medicine for the flu!

—Tanjam Jacobson

Q637. Australian English is just a few years from becoming Perry So-so.


Q636. I like to jump head first into subjects that I have no understanding of at all. Here’s a site that meets the criteria. ... Speculative Grammarian.

Doug Klippert

Q635. For more details [on majoring in linguistics], you can read through this. It’s quite exaggerated as you’ll see, but useful nonetheless.


Q634. One last thing I’m particularly unhappy about is that [The Oxford Handbook of Language Evolution] doesn’t have an Acacia Tree on the cover—which seems like a missed opportunity.

Michael Pleyer

Q633. Everybody should take a look at [this]. It is full of good humor, some of it good Norse/Gothic humor...and we know what delightful people they were.

Jim Brotherton

Q632. Here are some Gothic phrases that could come handy on your travels.

Jonny Axelsson

Q631. I really want to know who wrote this. Brilliant.

Brent Henderson

Q630. It’s actually worse than this.

—Bert Vaux

Q629. Die Märzausgabe der Linguistiksatirezeitschrift Speculative Grammarian ist dieser Tage erschienen–sie befasst sich unter anderem mit den schädlichen Folgen von Sprachkontakt und mit Degenerativer Grammatik.

Kristin Kopf

Q628. Well I read some of it ... and then gave up.


Q627. Let’s all just be glad we’re not learning Mid. after-Nguyen Knap.


Q626. The search ii “anthropic principle” lojban leads to Speculative Grammarian, a website devoted to satirical linguistics, and specifically to the hilarious article “Survey of Linguistic Evidence of Meta-Consciousness in Tier-19 Terran Primates,” which reads like a blasphemous cross of Noam Chomsky, G. I. Gurdjieff, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (in Mindhacker: 60 Tips, Tricks, and Games to Take Your Mind to the Next Level.)

Ron Hale-Evans and Marty Hale-Evans

Q625. An advert not to be taken seriously: The Stylistic Writing Academy of Academic Writing Style


Q624. Linguistic Levity: Our friends and colleagues at Speculative Grammarian have published a wonderful list of ancient and wise sayings, relevant to linguists like ourselves. Read them here. [And here and here. —Eds.]

A favorite: “Give a man a parse and you give him data for a day; teach a man to parse and you give him data for a lifetime.”


Q623. Haha what a cute song! Makes me wanna sing now!

SLP Blueviolet

Q622. Filing this under songs I’m going to sing to my hypothetical future children.

All Things Linguistic

Q621. Love, love, love these very important and informative essays.

Mary Clarkson Rempel

Q620.How to Do Fieldwork on Proto-Indo-European”: An informative article from Speculative Grammarian.

—bradshaw of the future

Q619. For anyone who does or did fieldwork, I’m sure they’re aware of Murphy’s Law as Applied to Field Linguistics.


Q618. Gibt’s einen Link zu SpecGrams EtymGeo™, wo man Städtenamen rauskriegen muss–absolut empfehlenswert.

Kristin Kopf

Q617. Speculative Grammarian is the premier badassical scholarly journal featuring research in the neglected field of satirical linguistics. Check [it] out.


Q616. Seriously, I read this and my jaw dropped. Not only at the hilarious footnotes but the incredible story of how a language came to be made up almost entirely of adverbs. A bit longish but well worth the read.


Q615. I ... initially thought it was authentic. I planned on finishing this and jump right to Wikipedia in hope of finding more information. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of it. I thought it probably meant that it was an old disproven analysis of the language. I myself thought (a still think for that matter) that if every clause begins with “do PRONOUN shi” followed a single component, a simpler analysis would involve prounouns sharing a common “do-” prefix and verbs a common “shi-” prefix, which every semantic elements analysed as verbs, some of which translatable into “to be a X”, “to use a X”. “Do ki shikabayo shilolo” = I use-a-horse [and] run = I run on a horse = I ride a horse. However, perhaps the author did explain, with further data, that this analysis was mistaken.

I had absolutely no doubts until the author (although I should now say narrator) introduced elements of his personal lifeusing people or dumping his fiancéethat I thought were completely inappropriate even for an informal account of such a monumental finding. Then came the part about the 400-year-old writing and my disbelief overloaded, fell, and came to crash right on the floor.

Next time I should just read the notes under the pictures. 16 years old, seriously?

—Maxime Papillon

Q614. I was happy to read your honest fable for our times, as I fear the Linguistic Doomsday is causing old myth to die.

—Tanjam Jacobson

Q613. [On podcast recommendations:] Speculative Grammarian: linguistic humor digest. I don’t really grok “Linguistics Made Difficult”, their live chat/interview series, but what got me hooked were the humor pieces.


Q612. I love this. I don’t know some of them, which probably makes me a bad linguist, but it’s a clever, simple illustration of some concepts in linguistics.


Q611. This made me chortle. Particularly the ones on Grimm’s Law, markedness, and weakly vs strongly transitive verbs—“Hopper kept on insulting Thompson, so Thompson killed Hopper.” Ha.


Q610. That I find this funny probably doesn’t reflect well on my social development, but whatcha gonna do.


Q609. Choose Your Own Career in Linguistics! Hint: To win great glory, double major in physics, and work on the temporal wormhole project.

Will Fitzgerald

Q608. My first instinct was to try to major in econ, and I got to be rich but had a crushed spirit. Life is tough, one wrong turn and there you go.

Daniel Lemire

Q607. Then I went to [SpecGram], a Journal of Satirical Linguistics, and read this very entertaining article: “Los Eres y el Erre”. I was most amused to have read it in Spanish and caught almost some of the funny parts.

even function

Q606. Dikembe Mutombo, the 7-foot 2-inch center for the Houston Rockets and the oldest player in the NBA, authored a groundbreaking study when he was a student at Georgetown in which he assailed “one of the sillier ideas of modern linguistics... that one language is as good as another, that no language is clearly superior to any other.” His idea has been further developed with added criteria. Spanish comes out on top; English is in second place.

[Note: The actual author of the paper was not that Dikembe Mutombo, but rather another scholar of the same name and similar height. —Eds.]

Lonely Man of Cake

Q605. The Original English Movement ... does not go back far enough.


Q604. Go forth and people the planet Suck!

Speculative Grammarian is the premier scholarly journal featuring research in the neglected field of satirical linguistics.

SpecGram has had a long, rich, and varied history, including notable classics such as Lingua Pranca and Syntactic Structures.

SpecGram has also brought us the tree diagram of love and other poetic observations involving linguistic pain and discovery. In addition, SpecGram has been home to many scientific breakthroughs.

But if this is all a bit much, they tone it done a notch with collected wisdom, Indo-European crosswords, classifieds, and book reviews.

Be sure to check out their current issue, featuring Obama’s denial, re: Romney’s accusation of his plan to eliminate verbs from the English language.

—Kim Witten

Q603. SpecGram is a fairly well-known parody linguistics journal. However, I just found out they also have twitter and it is quite entertaining.

All Things Linguistic

Q602. “Is Russian pro-drop? Hell if I know, but it sure sounds foreign! Close enough.” Science at its best!


Q601. You know you’re a linguist when you see that they forgot to devoice one of the final consonants, as per the normal rules of Russian.


More ...

Last updated Nov. 29, 2019.