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Description:

SpecGram—the premier scholarly journal featuring research in satirical linguistics—is now available as an arbitrarily irregular audio podcast. Our podcast includes readings of articles from our journal and our talk show, Language Made Difficult.

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Podcast Episode's:
Language Made Difficult, Vol. L
Language Made Difficult, Vol. L — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are on their own this time. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss the dangers of mispronouncing the names of Canadian provinces, and then advise students as to what they should <i>not</i> do. They also fail to celebrate the 50th episode. Many outtakes are provided.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLIX
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLIX — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by returning guest Tim Pulju. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss purported evidence against Chomsky, and then reveal the titles of their books, all beginning with <i>Language:.</i>
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLVIII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLVIII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by returning guest Kean Kaufmann. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss a one hundred word language, and then move on to the royal and other orders for adjectives.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLVII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLVII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by guest Kean Kaufmann. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds briefly discuss some innovative bits of English Grammar—no, totally!—and then try out some new parlor games featuring archaic English words.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLVI
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLVI — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by returning guest Pete Bleackley. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss something <i>else</i> that tries to look like iconicity, and then look at some innovative and/or abominable on-going changes in English.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLV
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLV — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by guest Pete Bleackley. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss something that tries to look like iconicity, and then share their favorite linguistical jokes.
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The History of the Indo-Europeans—An Agony in Six Fits
The History of the Indo-Europeans—An Agony in Six Fits; by Tim Pulju; From Volume CLXXIV, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> December 2015 — Once upon a time, on a warm spring day about 5500 years ago, a young Indo-European named Bright-Fame drove an ox-cart into the family compound. “Greetings, father,” the young man said, using the vocative case. (Read by Zack Sjöberg, Claude Searsplainpockets, Declan Whitford Jones, Trey Jones, Joey Whitford, and Mairead Whitford Jones.)
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Plagiarize This!
Plagiarize This!; by An Unidentifiable Subset of the SpecGram Editorial Board; From Volume CLXXII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2015 — It has come to our attention that entirely unfounded, spurious, and indefatigable accusations of heinous plagiarism have been made against the X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies. Specifically, these allegations involve recent articles in degenerative linguistics, which, we are told, included “large” blocks of “identical” text. (Read by Zack Sjöberg.)
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Plagiarism Uncovered in SpecGram Pages
Plagiarism Uncovered in SpecGram Pages; by The Linguistic Inquirer; From Volume CLXXII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2015 — Pursuant to the terms of the pre-litigious resolution of “Grammar Entelechy v. <i>Speculative Grammarian</i>” the editors of <i>SpecGram</i> have recently disclosed the truth about the academically distasteful practices by which the allegedly “esteemed” journal foists its linguistic and paralinguistic agenda on the profession. (Read by Butch McBastard, Jonathan van der Meer, Declan Whitford Jones, and Trey Jones.)
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Degenerative Grammar
Degenerative Grammar; by Desirée-Debauchée Cyntacks & Dec A. D’Cadence; From Volume CLXXII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> February 2015 — Since the 1950’s, linguistics has been wild with excitement over Chomsky’s insights, collectively known as “generative grammar.” As all non-linguists know, however, grammar as speakers encounter it in daily life is actually <i>degenerative.</i> As one prominent analyst (Ellen DeGeneres) has put it, “Entropy rules.” (Read by Phineas Q. Phlogiston.)
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Hazards of Fieldwork Among the Hiithrobnsn
Hazards of Fieldwork Among the Hiithrobnsn; by William Moore-Crusoe; From Volume CLXXIV, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> October 2015 — The Hiithrobnsn live in a remote, marshy and inhospitable region of Guyana. A traditional greeting amongst them is “Mind where you walk,” wise advice, as it is vitally important to make sure that you remain on what passes for dry land locally. Stray into the mire and you risk being bitten, stung, infected or electrocuted by the various unpleasant creatures that dwell therein. The Hiithrobnsn have 27 words for “swamp”, and all of them are pejorative. (Read by Pete Bleackley.)
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Top Tips For Linguists—Part II
Top Tips For Linguists—Part II; by The <i>SpecGram</i> Editorial Board; From Volume CLXXIV, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> December 2015 — Realizing that many linguists, young and old, find themselves unsure of how best to succeed (or have success thrust upon them), we of the <i>Speculative Grammarian</i> Editorial Board have assembled a collection of high-impact protips that will help any linguist achieve their full potential—and then some! (Read by The <i>SpecGram</i> Players.)
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Top Tips For Linguists—Part I
Top Tips For Linguists—Part I; by The <i>SpecGram</i> Editorial Board; From Volume CLXXIV, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2015 — Realizing that many linguists, young and old, find themselves unsure of how best to succeed (or have success thrust upon them), we of the <i>Speculative Grammarian</i> Editorial Board have assembled a collection of high-impact protips that will help any linguist achieve their full potential—and then some! (Read by The <i>SpecGram</i> Players.)
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Linguistic Contributions To The Formal Theory Of Big-Game Hunting
Linguistic Contributions To The Formal Theory Of Big-Game Hunting; by R. Mathiesen; From <i>Lingua Pranca,</i> June, 1978 — The Mathematical Theory of Big-Game Hunting must surely be ranked among the major scientific achievements of the twentieth century. That this is so is largely the work of one man, H. Pétard, in whose fundamental paper (1938) certain recent advances in mathematics and physics were employed with great skill to create a theory of unmatched—not to say unmatchable!—power and elegance. One must not, of course, dismiss Pétard’s predecessors totally out of hand: the field had a long and distinguished history as a technology, was raised to the rank of a science by the Mysore and Nairobi schools during the nineteenth century, and finally achieved the exalted status of a professional discipline at the seminal First International Congress of Elephantology (held at London in 1910), where delegates from many nations discovered that they shared not only a common set of goals, aims, and targets, but also a common set of methods, theoretical predispositions and indispositions, and preferences in hard drink. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Pétard was the first to treat any aspect of the field with full mathematical rigor mortis. (Read by Les Strabismus.)
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Ye Olde Punnery—The Jigglepike Fragment
Ye Olde Punnery—The Jigglepike Fragment; by <i>SpecGram</i> Wire Services; From Volume CLXX, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2014 — A small fragment of a manuscript believed to be part of the lost play “Ye Olde Punnery” by Willhebe Jigglepike has been unearthed at the bottom of a centuries-old Oxyrhynchus® Brand Garbage Dump outside the sleepy burg of Stratford-upon-Revlon. (Read by The <i>SpecGram</i> Players.)
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Reviewerish Field Notes
Reviewerish Field Notes; by Cy Tayshon and M. Paktphaq-Torr; From Volume CLXXV, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> February 2016 — One of the most important skills linguists-to-be must develop is the ability to interpret the true meaning behind apparently transparent locutions used by more senior practitioners of the art and science of linguistics. (Read by The <i>SpecGram</i> Players.)
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Features of Tea: A Potted History
Features of Tea: A Potted History; by Pete Bleackley; From Volume CLXXIII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> June 2015 — According to legend, tea originated when an emperor of China was adding the feature [+boiled] to his drinking-water, having deduced the correlation with [−disease]. A chance gust of wind led to the water becoming [+leaves], and the Emperor noticed it had become [+flavour]. (Read by Pete Bleackley.)
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The Devil’s Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics
The Devil’s Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics; by David Krystal &Adam Baker; From Volume CLXXV, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2016 — C-command. A f-formal r-relationship m-made n-necessary by an u-unfortunate e-early c-commitment to b-binary t-trees. (Read by Phineas Q. Phlogiston, Trey Jones, Butch McBastard, Declan Whitford Jones, Claude Searsplainpockets, Joey Whitford, Mairead Whitford Jones, and Zack Sjöberg.)
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Close and Extended Relative Clauses—A Critical Account
Close and Extended Relative Clauses—A Critical Account; by Fang Gui-Ling; From Volume CLXIV, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> June 2012 — Analytical approaches to relative clauses have by and large incorporated the growing body of evidence regarding biological constraints on embedding. Labeling higher-ranked relatives as mothers, for example, sits well with our understanding that mother-child is the closest relative bond there is. Laboratory research on mice confirms that naturally embedded offspring are regularly found within their mothers, not their fathers. (Read by Cathal Peelo.)
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Handy Definitions for Newcomers to the Field of Linguistics
Handy Definitions for Newcomers to the Field of Linguistics; by Ken Miner and David J. Peterson; From <i>Collateral Descendant of Lingua Pranca,</i> October 2009 — back-formation: lumbar exercises / circumfix: unhealthy fascination with circuses; a cross inside a circle... (Read by Brock Schardin.)
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Parenting Styles and Progeny Success—A Practical Guide to Broken-Record Parenting
<i>Parenting Styles and Progeny Success—A Practical Guide to Broken-Record Parenting;</i> by Psammeticus Press; From Volume CLXXI, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2014 — Parents, do you feel like a broken record? “Bath time!” ... “Shut the door!” ... “Don’t talk with your mouth full!” ... “Stop hitting your brother!” ... “Be quiet!” ... The list of repetitive parental complaints seems endless and, at times, fruitless. But now you can put the nature of your nurture to work for you and your child! (Read by Trey Jones, Joey Whitford, Claude Searsplainpockets.)
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The Man Who Left His Deictic Center in San Francisco
The Man Who Left His Deictic Center in San Francisco; by Edward Tapir and Benjamin Wharf; From Volume CLXX, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2014 — One of our esteemed colleagues has attended numerous semantics conferences around the world, from the sad streets of Paris to gloomy Rome and even lonely Manhattan. A recent conference at the University of California, San Francisco on spatial representation, however, has left a particularly significant impact on his idiolect. (Read by Elizabeth Hackett.)
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The Compleat Linguist
The Compleat Linguist; by John-Boy Walton; From <i>Collateral Descendant of Lingua Pranca,</i> October, 2009 — Man’s sentence’s in vain, for it’s subject is pain... (Read by Brock Schardin.)
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Perpetuation of Traditional Gender Roles by European Languages
Perpetuation of Traditional Gender Roles by European Languages; by Douglas S. Files; From Volume I, Number 1, of <i>Babel,</i> March 1990 — Several European languages encourage the continuation of traditional sex roles through the gender underlying their nouns. In this paper, the French, Spanish, and German gender systems will be examined for their contribution to sexism in housework (traditionally the domain of the female) and the nouns relating to bars and pubs (traditionally the domain of the male). (Read by Trey Jones, et al.)
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Selections from Hymns for the Reverent Linguist
Selections from Hymns for the Reverent Linguist; from The Linguistick Hymnary (1845); From Volume CLXVI, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2012 — Typology, Typology; Joy to the Word. (Performed by Anna Weingarten.)
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Saving Endangered Languages with Prescriptivism
Saving Endangered Languages with Prescriptivism; by Neil de Veratte; From Volume CLXXII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2015 — All over the world, languages are being lost at an alarming rate. Field linguists do their best to preserve these languages, but find their speaker communities apathetic. “Why should I learn Wotʃa-Korlitt?” they ask, “It’s Spanish I need to get a job.” We need to look at successful languages, whose speakers are engaged with their language, to see what endangered languages can learn from them. When we do, we inevitably find that the most successful languages are those which possess a tradition of prescriptivist grammar. (Read by Brock Schardin.)
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On the Mytholinguistic Significance of Butterflies
On the Mytholinguistic Significance of Butterflies; by Mary Hadlitt-Lamb; From Volume CLXXI, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> December 2014 — A remarkable cross-linguistic pattern can be observed in the words for “butterfly”. While these words seldom appear to be cognate even in closely related languages, they are surprisingly similar between apparently unrelated languages. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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A Possible Prional Source for Linguistic Degeneration from Prolonged Ailuric Exposure
A Possible Prional Source for Linguistic Degeneration from Prolonged Ailuric Exposure; by B. Bubo, T. Tyto, S. Strix, and A. Asio; From Volume CLIII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2007 — Over the past two decades, an increasing number of adult patients have presented for treatment of symptoms associated with linguistic deficits not characteristic of known neurological syndromes. Less severe cases entailed impoverished vocabulary and syntax, while more severe cases resemble a mixture of glossolalia and ludic language in which most sentences had been reduced to two-word combinations characteristic of early stages of language acquisition in infants. Patients’ homes were examined to no avail until it was noticed that all of them owned cats and displayed the aforementioned symptoms most strongly when interacting with them. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Redundantly Multilingual Pretension Markers in BWFSEDPRCLCEE
Redundantly Multilingual Pretension Markers in BWFSEDPRCLCEE; by Saszkwacz Qumkwaat & Yýŷỳ Yẙÿẙÿẙ; From Volume CLV, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> February 2009 — After generating minimal interest in linguistic circles during the 1960’s, very little linguistic attention has been paid to a once semi-(in)famous dialect of English, namely Beret-Wearing, Finger-Snapping, Espresso-Drinking, Poetry-Reading, Cafe-Lounging Culturally Elite English (commonly abbreviated BWFSEDPRCLCEE). (Read by Zack Sjöberg.)
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How Linguistics Got Her Groove Back
How Linguistics Got Her Groove Back; by Gunnr Guðr Entgegenlächeln; From Volume CLXIII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2012 — Common wisdom—an oxymoron if ever there was one—has it that linguistics and linguists themselves have a bit of a reputation problem. Are linguists boring? Incomprehensible? Pointless? Evil? The contention of this paper is—given that perception is nine-tenths of reality—unless we ask, we’ll never know. (Read by Trey Jones, Joey Whitford, and Jonathan van der Meer.)
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The Quotta and the Quottiod
The Quotta and the Quottiod; by Vére Çélen; From Volume CLI, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> October 2006 — It is not news to linguists that particular forms of punctuation can be problematic. One frequent source of considerable friction in certain circles is the unending debate over whether and when (and, increasingly, <i>why</i>) commas and periods go inside or outside quotation marks—especially when they are not actually part of the material to be quoted. Typically careful linguists usually prefer not to include punctuation in a quoted citation form or gloss, while many punctilious punctuationally prescriptivist publishers demand they be (or worse, silently and patronizingly move them) inside. (Read by James Campbell.)
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The Laziest Language on Earth
The Laziest Language on Earth; by Claude Searsplainpockets; From Volume CLIII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2007 — Back in 1922, my Historical Linguistics professor, Benjamin Ide Wheeler, noted that ease of articulation is a driving force in language change—hence the regular occurrence of lenition rules—but the opposing need to maintain a clear communication channel prevents everything from degenerating to a long low mid vowel. Turns out he was wrong. (Read by Claude Searsplainpockets and Trey Jones.)
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On the Cryptographic Uses of TLAs
On the Cryptographic Uses of TLAs; by Dash Ŋ. Ooba-Nuhd; From Volume CLXXIII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2015 — Claude SPP in his angry screed, “TLAs DOA? TBD!” entirely missed the point of BizSpeak, as do most speakers of BizSpeak. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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TLAs DOA? TBD!
TLAs DOA? TBD!; by Claude Searsplainpockets; From Volume CLII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2007 — In the course of several months of anthropological and linguistic data collection among native speakers of BizSpeak, a degraded and virulent offshoot of English used by mentally deficient holders of MBAs and their ilk, I noted several disturbing trends. (Read by Claude Searsplainpockets.)
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Großwortbuch—Book Announcement from Psammeticus Press
<i>Großwortbuch</i>—Book Announcement from Psammeticus Press; by Vürffle Tsyllynda; From Volume CLVIII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2010 (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Proto-Indo-Spamopean—An Early Exemplar of “Ye Olde Baite of Yon Clicke”
Proto-Indo-Spamopean—An Early Exemplar of “Ye Olde Baite of Yon Clicke”; by X. Kuvador, R. Kialugist, and Pael E. O’Ntolojiss; From Volume CLXXIII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> August 2015 — While many today lament the imminent demise of the English language (Hat 2006), the corrupting influence of western culture (Bolson 2014), and the amorality of advertising and the pursuit of the mighty dollar (Board 2010), it is nonetheless clear to the classically educated scholar (Plaid’oh 2009) that, really, there is nothing new under the sun (van der Meer 2013). (Read by Trey Jones & Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Labyrinths & Linguists
Labyrinths & Linguists; by Craig Kopris; From Volume CLXXIII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2015 — While perusing the wax cylinder recordings stored at one of the major archives on the eastern seaboard (which will be left unnamed to protect the reputations of all concerned), I ran across a particular cylinder that caught my attention. Sticking out of one end was the charred remains of a wick. Curious as to why someone would attempt to destroy such a precious object (assuming, of course, that they hadn’t simply mistaken it for a defective candle), I searched the online catalog for more information. Nothing was to be found electronically, so I turned to the old card catalog. I was about to give up hope after searching without success, when I found hidden under the cards a slip of burned paper (perhaps used to light the candle?). (Read by Trey Jones. Performed by The <i>SpecGram</i> Players.)
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The Linguistic Placebo Effect
The Linguistic Placebo Effect; by I. Tinerant; From Volume CLXXI, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2014 — Literature Review / Of course it is important, when setting out on an academic adventure, to properly prepare by briefly reviewing the relevant existing literature. A brief review of various studies concerning impact factor shows a clear correlation between interdisciplinarity and tenure-trackedness. A similarly brief review of similarly various studies in the medical literature demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that the placebo effect is quite real, and best of all, it works whether you believe in it or not. A somewhat briefer review of somewhat less various psychological studies hints at the idea that the use of electric shocks is correlated with increased citation. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Phonologist’s Shanty
Phonologist’s Shanty; Traditional; From Volume CLXXIV, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2015 — What shall we do with the velar nasal? / What shall we do with the velar nasal? / What shall we do with the velar nasal? / Early in the morning. (Performed by Pete Bleackley.)
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Chickenese—A Grammatical Sketch
Chickenese—A Grammatical Sketch; by Damon Lord; From Volume CLI, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2006 — Many linguists and animal psychologists have sought to discover if mankind is the sole species to have developed language. Recent experiments with chickens at Foxchester University, in Foxchester, England, have discovered that mankind is no longer alone. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The “Vowel Space” DVD Boxed Set
The “Vowel Space” DVD Boxed Set; Advertisement; From Volume CLXXI, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> December 2014 — The “Vowel Space” DVD Boxed Set—Available for the first time ever in one collection! (Read by Trey Jones.)
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“Language” Characteristics in Certain Higher Primates—(Professors of Education)
“Language” Characteristics in Certain Higher Primates—(Professors of Education); by Charles Bishop; From Son of Lingua Pranca, November, 1979 — Scientists have long recognized that the average professor of education is remarkably close to man himself in brain capacity and physiology, and we have all marvelled at how human they sometimes appear. Yet these creatures—far more intelligent than the chimpanzees with whom they are often compared—seem unable to use language, and until recently it was assumed that they were incapable of learning any form of true human language. (Read by Les Strabismus.)
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On THE Speculative Grammarian
On THE Speculative Grammarian; by THE Editor-in-Chief; From Volume CLXXIII, (173) Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2015 — We are often asked why we don’t use “the” in front of “Speculative Grammarian” in the name of our journal. (Well, that’s a bit generous. Not enough people ask. Many fail to notice, and use “the” without asking. This editorial is a nicer response than having them caned—though that, too, would be fair.) Speculative Grammarian a noun like any other, after all. Many inquire whether we are against determiners for some reason. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Ambiguity In Action: A Bawdy Count
Ambiguity In Action: A Bawdy Count; by Norman C. Stageberg; From Lingua Pranca, June, 1978 — One major source of humor is found in the many and various situations of everyday life, both as they occur in actuality and as they are refined and recounted in literature. A second major source of humor is language itself in its many aspects. One of these aspects is ambiguity. This is our subject for today: ambiguity in language and the pranks it plays. (Read by Mark Brierley.)
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The Art of the -ome
The Art of the -ome; by Z. En ‘Bud’ Dhist; From Volume CLX, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> October 2010 — Despite the fact that, contrary to my expectations, I did not receive a request to be an invited speaker at the CELGA workshop “Perspectives on the Morphome” this month, I thought it important for me to reveal my important work in the important field of -ome-ology (of which the study of morphomes is but a minor, somewhat important component). (Read by Trey Jones.)
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A Warning for Linguists
A Warning for Linguists; by Keith Slater; From Volume I, Number 2, of <i>Babel,</i> April 1990 — We in linguistics are well-accustomed, by now, to the fact that other disciplines—notably the “hard” sciences—regularly upstage us and grab all the glory in the public eye. Normally, this doesn’t, and shouldn’t, bother us in the least, because aside from the fact that the other guys get most of the NSF grants (to say nothing of the SDI grants) the consequences of this are minimal. They do their thing; we do ours. Everybody gets tenure. Now, however, a movement is underway, particularly among astrophysicists, of which we cannot afford to not sit up and take notice. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Linguistic Emissions Reduction Sought
Linguistic Emissions Reduction Sought; by <i>SpecGram</i> Wire Services; From Volume CLIII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2007 — Sanaa, Yemen—Tempers flared at global climate talks today, as environmental and linguistic concerns met head-on. The dispute is about so-called “inefficient articulations,” which detractors say increase the metabolic cost of speaking, while offering no linguistic benefit to speakers. These articulations, such as the large transition between the uvular [q] and palatal [i] in the Arabic surname Sadeqi, require more metabolic energy than most other segmental transitions, and are contributing to global warming, detractors say. (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Grammar Cop
Grammar Cop; by Trey Jones; From Volume CLXXIII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2015 — Theirs know kneed two feere! / Grammer Kop iz hear! (Performed by The 3x3 Men’s Room Chorus.)
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Linguistics Nerd Camp—Marsha and Her Thesis
Linguistics Nerd Camp—Marsha and Her Thesis; by Bethany Carlson; From Volume CLXI, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2011 — Marsha and her thesis made a cute couple, but their friends worried that she was trying to change him. (Described by Keith Slater.)
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One Hundred Words for Snowclone
One Hundred Words for Snowclone; by Claude Searsplainpockets and X. Izthunüblakk; From Volume CLXX, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> June 2014 — Any linguist worthy of attending SALT knows of the linguistic myth that eskimos have hundreds of words for snow. There was even some sort of vocabulary-related hoax or other about it back in the day. (Read by Claude Searsplainpockets.)
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Current Issues in Gastronomy
Current Issues in Gastronomy; by Elan Dresher and Norbert Hornstein; From Lingua Pranca, June, 1978 — The mounting rumours that the noted linguist James D. McCawley has written an annotated translation of a Japanese cookbook on oriental cuisine have proven to be well founded. A usually consistent informant has brought it to our attention that a major American publisher is preparing the final galleys, and the author’s students and friends are already hailing it as an “underground classic”. (Read by Les Strabismus.)
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Cartoon Theories of Linguistics—Part 九
Cartoon Theories of Linguistics—Part 九; by Phineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D.; From Volume CLIV, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2008 — Lexicostatistics vs. Glottochronology ("Insightful!" ... "Balderdash!") (Described by Keith Slater.)
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The ’Trilaa Counting Song
The ’Trilaa Counting Song; A ’Trilaa Folk Song; From Volume CLX, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2010 — ʙ̥ r̥ ʀ̥ ɦ / 1 2 4 8 / ʀ r ʙ ʙ̥͡ʀ̥ ʙ̥͡r̥ / 12 10 9 5 3 (Performed by Trey Jones.)
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On the Correct Usage of the Ellipsis
On the Correct Usage of the Ellipsis; by Darius D. Dolesworthy, Otis Oswald Ott, and T. Thadeus Theotokopoulis; From Volume CLX, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2010 — It has come to our attention that there are certain individuals associated with this otherwise reputable journal that appear to be ignorant of the rules regarding the proper usage of the ellipsis. In their ignorance they have proposed what they call a “⅔ Ellipsis” as a way of saving on printing costs. It is this proposition with which we at the BIGRAC must take issue. (Read by James Campbell.)
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Ten New Commandments for Linguists
Ten New Commandments for Linguists; Transcribed from the original Stone Tablets by Trey Jones, et al.; From Collateral Descendant of Lingua Pranca, October, 2009 — 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 against the evils of prescriptivism. Beware the Silver Tongues of Safiric Demons, and follow these, My commandments, forsaking all that may have come before. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Introducing.. The SpecGram ⅔ Ellipsis™©
Introducing.. The SpecGram ⅔ Ellipsis™©; by The Editors of SpecGram; From Volume CLIX, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> June 2010 — Introducing.. The SpecGram ⅔ Ellipsis™©—More than a Comma.. Less than a Semicolon!℠® (Read by James Campbell.)
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The Typesetter’s Nursery Rhyme
The Typesetter’s Nursery Rhyme; by Author Unknown; From Volume CLXXII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2015 — soft hyphen, &amp;shy; hyphen, / a little break prefer... (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments; by Evan Smith; From Lingua Pranca, June, 1978 — The Ten Commandments: Linguistic Universals—A Finite Set of Rules from Infinite Wisdom, As Told To Moses by God. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLIV
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLIV — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined once again by returning guests Jason Wells-Jensen and Tim Pulju. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss tongue twister research and reveal their academic nightmares. Stick around for the outtakes to hear some “interesting” “musical” interludes and other fun stuff.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLIII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLIII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by returning guests Tim Pulju and Jason Wells-Jensen. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss how to fake a language, and then contemplate ways in which English spelling, morphology, etc., could be revamped.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by returning guest Hedvig Skirgård. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds see what comes out of their mouths after reading an article claiming awareness comes after speaking, and then they discuss various linguistical ideas—real and imagined—that are ready for retirement.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLI
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XLI — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by guest Hedvig Skirgård. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds go into denial about their own “fingerprint words”, and then flip the script with some <i>descriptivist</i> confessions.
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The Nasal Tone: An Honest Tale
The Nasal Tone: An Honest Tale; by Barb Tyd-Laika and Tessie Chopp Durnford; From Volume CLXVI, (166) Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2013 — One of our favourite places for a “Speculative-Grammarian–style” afternoon is at the home of our dear friend, Sir William Jones, XIV. At 94, he’s full of strange tales and bizarre first-person accounts of the adventure of his life, which includes migrations, linguistics, and more vodka than you can swizzle a stick at. His stories are characterized by his habit of using oddly distinct language and gesticulating wildly while ranting for hours on end. (Read by Les Strabismus.)
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Evidential Complexity and Language Loss in Pinnacle Sherpa
Evidential Complexity and Language Loss in Pinnacle Sherpa; by Keith Slater; From Volume CLI, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> October 2006 — Abstract / In this paper I describe an unprecedented situation of language loss: that which is found in Pinnacle Sherpa. The language has been completely lost by the oldest and middle-aged segments of the population, but is strongly maintained by the young. The loss is due to exponential increases in the complexity of the Pinnacle Sherpa evidential system, which have rendered older speakers unable to adequately indicate the source of information in their utterances. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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UXⁿ: The Implications of Sampson’s Proof of Universal Science
UXⁿ: The Implications of Sampson’s Proof of Universal Science; by Bjorn-Bob Weaselflinger; From Volume CLIV, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2008 — As this author has noted elsewhere, it is not uncommon in linguistics—just as in other sciences—for an observation with stunning implications for the field to go largely unnoticed; a researcher will advance an analysis to deal with a highly localized, recalcitrant problem without realizing that the analysis itself is a revolutionary advance. Some advances do draw attention, but the attention itself remains localized, and the wider significance of the advance isn’t recognized for quite some time. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Language Reviews
Language Reviews; by Dr. P. Nonoir; From Volume CLIX, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2010 — This month we asked avid <i>SpecGram</i> reader Dr. P. Nonoir, Professor of Oenological Linguistics at the Sorbonne, to review some of his favourite languages. (Read by James Campbell.)
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A Yonge Philologiste’s First Drynkynge Poime
A Yonge Philologiste’s First Drynkynge Poime; Author Unknown; From Volume CL, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2005 — Whan that Apryl, with hir bosooms soote, / The draughtes of beere hath feched barefoote ... (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Velum, Velum, Little Thing
Velum, Velum, Little Thing; by Phrançoise Phonétique; From Volume CLXVI, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2013 — Velum, velum little thing. / How I wonder where you swing. / Up above the tongue so high, / Like a larynx in the sky. (Read by Les Strabismus.)
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ODE TO ALCUIN
ODE TO ALCUIN; by Anonymous; From Volume CLVI, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2009 — ALCUIN, O ALCUIN, YOU RENAIS- / SANCE-Y CAROLINGIAN BASTARD, / YOU HAVE GONE AND NEARLY DOUBLED / THE COUNT OF LETTERS TO BE MASTERED. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Spaz Attack in the Corner—Look! Look! I’m flying...
Spaz Attack in the Corner—Look! Look! I’m flying...; by Don & III; From Volume CXLVII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 1993 — Linguistics: “Look! Look! I’m flying...” (Described by Keith Slater.)
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Linguistics Nerd Camp—Small Talk
Linguistics Nerd Camp—Small Talk; by Bethany Carlson; From Volume CLX, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2011 — Surprisingly, Marty found that his small talk skills had actually declined during his summer at linguistics school. (Described by Keith Slater.)
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The Dog Days of Summer—A Letter from the Nordic Editor
The Dog Days of Summer—A Letter from the Nordic Editor; by Rötmånad Mätäkuu; From Volume CLIV, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> August 2008 — Welcome to the time of year when the seas boil, wine turns sour, dogs grow mad, and all creatures become languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies. Here in the Nordic countries, where we all speak English better (and with notably classier accents) than most so-called “native” speakers from North America, linguists fight off the heat-induced phrensies of the rotting months with a tall, cool glass of iced gløgg, and a refreshing, cool new issue of Speculative Grammarian. (Read by James Campbell.)
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SpecGram, the Religion
SpecGram, the Religion; by Margo T. Cip, A. M. Grössten, & Strčprst Kskrzkrk; From Volume CLXI, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2011 — Linguists have always had several choices of deity—including Bloduwedda and her lot, or Θωθ, the pre-technological deity of computational linguistics—but there have never been any gods of satirical linguistics. However, on a recent data-diving expedition, we three junior SpecGram archivists have discovered that we are not as theologically lonely as we might have once thought. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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New Course Offerings in Linguistics
New Course Offerings in Linguistics; from l’École de SpecGram, Paris; From Volume CLXVI, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> February 2013 — NEW: Degree in Linguodontics / The Paris campus of l’École de SpecGram is pleased to announce the introduction of a new degree program in Linguodontics. (Read by Les Strabismus.)
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The Necessity of Sound Theoretical Frameworks in Linguistic Education
The Necessity of Sound Theoretical Frameworks in Linguistic Education; by Noah McMosky; From Volume CLXVI, (166) Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2013 — Theoretical Linguistics has the loftiest of goals, namely the creation of a theoretical framework that can explain the features of all languages. Lamentably, however, the pursuit of this goal is often frustrated by the activities of field linguists, who seem to take perverse delight in presenting data that apparently contradicts whatever theory seems most promising at the time. Sometimes, the data can be reanalysed in a more reasonable fashion, but to this day I remember my bitter disappointment as a young postdoctoral fellow when no amount of analysis would make Welsh and Hebrew yield to the perfectly straightforward prediction of Metasyntactical Heuristics that all VSO languages should be ergative. (Read by Pete Bleackley.)
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How They Do It In Linguistics
How They Do It In Linguistics; by James Crippen; From Volume CLV, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> December 2008 — Sociolinguists do it with variety. ... (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Prudent Fieldworker’s Guide to Preparation and Packing—Part II
The Prudent Fieldworker’s Guide to Preparation and Packing—Part II; by Athanasious Schadenpoodle; From Volume CLIX, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2010 — [Editor’s Note. This is Part II of Professor Schadenpoodle’s authoritative guide to preparing for the vicissitudes of fieldwork.] (Read by Keith Slater.)
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The Prudent Fieldworker’s Guide to Preparation and Packing—Part I
The Prudent Fieldworker’s Guide to Preparation and Packing—Part I; by Athanasious Schadenpoodle; From Volume CLVIII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2010 — [Editor’s Note: While Prof. Schadenpoodle has, to our knowledge, only gone on two excursions, he is quite famous in our field for his awareness of, and proactive preparation for, hazards. On six separate occasions, campus security has had to rescue students who inadvertently triggered the defensive perimeter around his office, and two hapless sophomores spent over three days lost in the steam tunnels under the campus trying to find it in the first place.] (Read by Keith Slater.)
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On the Meta-Abstractness of the Abstract Abstract
On the Meta-Abstractness of the Abstract Abstract; by Métha Maxwell; From Collateral Descendant of Lingua Pranca, October, 2009 — ABSTRACT: Little note has been taken of the linguistically universal logical and empirical implications and consequences that bear crucially on linguistic methodology and meta-processes that arise from E. Maxwell’s 1979 paper, On the Abstractness of Abstractness. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Abstract Abstract
The Abstract Abstract; by Edith Maxwell; From Son of Lingua Pranca, November, 1979 — On the Abstractness of Abstractness / This paper will present new evidence which bears crucially on an empirical question not only directly relevant to the future of generative phonology but also clearly pertinent to the field of linguistics as a whole, as I have shown elsewhere. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Linguistic Deskwork
Linguistic Deskwork; by H.D. Onesimus; From Volume CL, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2005 — Since the so-called ‘discovery’ of endangered languages, much breathless attention in linguistics has been devoted to the topic of methods for linguistic fieldwork. So much breathless attention, in fact, that our field is in danger of losing its foundational and most critical resource: the linguistic deskworker. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XL
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XL — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined yet again by returning guest Madalena Cruz-Ferreira. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss Twitter Tribes and why biologists shouldn't do corpus linguistics, and then make a number of particularly humorous prescriptivist confessions.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXIX
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXIX — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined again by returning guest Madalena Cruz-Ferreira. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss angry texting orthography, and then attempt to lend a helping hand to non-academics.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXVIII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXVIII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined yet again by returning guest Tim Pulju. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss automating historical linguistic reconstructions, and then discuss ideas for new linguistics- and language-themed holidays.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXVII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXVII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by returning guest Tim Pulju. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss cross-linguistics differences in language acquisition (with special references to lemurs) and share some more Randomata. Also, identify the Secret Word of the Day and email Trey (@SpecGram.com) within a week of the episode's release for a chance to win a free copy of The <i>Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics!</i>
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXVI
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXVI — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined again by guest Jason Wells-Jensen. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss the pointlessness of baby talk compared to the pointlessness of lemur screeches, and review more comprehensive exam questions. Also, identify the Secret Word of the Day and email Trey (@SpecGram.com) within a week of the episode's release for a chance to win a free copy of The <i>Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics!</i>
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXV
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXV — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by guest Jason Wells-Jensen. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss the wisdom of trying to revive “Indo-European”, and partake in some Linguistic Parlor Games. Also, identify the Secret Word of the Day and email Trey (@SpecGram.com) within a week of the episode’s release for a chance to win a free copy of The <i>Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics!</i>
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Old Professor Hockett
Old Professor Hockett; by James Riley Whitcomb; From <i>World of Language,</i> Volume I, Number 2 of <i>The Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia,</i> February 1991 — Old Professor Hockett came to our school one day, / To teach us some linguistics and earn a little pay. / More accurately, history was what he taught us all / In 1989, as the leaves began to fall; / And all us graduate students, when the clock struck one, / We’d gather in the classroom and have the mostest fun / A-listening to the stories that Hockett told about / And the Chomskyans that gets you / If you / Don’t / Watch / Out! (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Annual Realgedankenexperiment Grant
Annual Realgedankenexperiment Grant; by the <i>Journal of Forbidden Experiments;</i> From Volume CLXVII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2013 — Once again, the <i>Journal of Forbidden Experiments</i> is accepting applications for its Annual <i>Realgedankenexperiment</i> Grant, underwritten by the generous donations of the Van Tricasse family. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Texas World Cultural Festival and Poetry Recitation Competition
The Texas World Cultural Festival and Poetry Recitation Competition; by Damian Grammatical — I’m Damian Grammatical, Radio Highbrow’s Culture Correspondent based in Austin, Texas. On Saturday, the 18th of October, 2014, the Texas World Cultural Festival and Poetry Recitation Competition was held in Corsicana, Texas. The day began with the “Not Square But Just as Interesting” ethnic dance exhibition, which featured such dances as the Viennese waltz and the Argentine tango. (Performed by Mark Brierley, Jason Wells-Jensen, Insook Kim, Brandy Graham, Les Strabismus, Mikael Thompson, Joyce Almaguer-Reisdorf, Trey Jones, Bill Spruiell, Tim Pulju, Bethany Barber, and Georgina Hall.)
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The Definition of Progress
The Definition of Progress; by Sam Crusemire; From Volume CLXVI, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> February 2013 — The average member of Richmond’s “jeunesse dorée” will be delighted to discover that our university plans to release its own “Dictionary of the English Language”. Over the course of a few decades, the Departments of English, Classics, and Modern Literatures and Cultures developed the dictionary, considering Webster pedantic and the OED too wordy. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Using NLP to Defeat NLP
Using NLP to Defeat NLP; by The Γραμματο-Χαοτικον; From Volume CLXV, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> October 2012 — We are the Γραμματο-Χαοτικον, an underground alliance of linguists, philologists, and polyglots. Our self-appointed role is to encourage arbitrary and capricious change both in Language and among languages, world-wide. Our exploits are legion, and now reasonably well documented (see “The Γραμματο-Χαοτικον Manifesto”, <i>SpecGram</i> CL.4). (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Important Idioms in Contemporary Science
Important Idioms in Contemporary Science; by Metalleus; From Lingua Pranca, June, 1978 — Text: (28) is very likely a universal constraint. / Read: I know, for sure, that (28) works for English, French, and certain Lolo-Burmese dialects. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Linguists Don’t Need Prescriptivists
Linguists Don’t Need Prescriptivists; by Dr. D. Schkrbtov; From Volume CLVIII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2010 — I was very disturbed and exceedingly disappointed when I first read Afiresay, Iresaf, and Safopireop’s screed “Linguists Need Prescriptivists (and probably Pig Latin, too)”, for a variety of different reasons. The authors, in discussing language games and their importance to the field of linguistics, only mention the English transformative “games” Pig Latin and Opish. (Really, was that the best they could come up with? Even first-years should know something of Cazarny, or Obby Dobby, or Cockney Rhyming Slang!) (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Linguists Need Prescriptivists, and probably Pig Latin, too
Linguists Need Prescriptivists, and probably Pig Latin, too; by Dr. Illiamway Afiresay, hDPay; Dr. Iamwill Iresaf, DPh; and Dr. Willopiamop Safopireop, PophopDop; From Volume CLVI, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2009 — It has been theorized before that many of the perceived constraints on human language (and thus on any universal grammar of human language) are actually more likely to be constraints on the ways that human languages can change as they are transmitted from one generation to the next. On the other hand, language games, such as Pig Latin, Verlan, or Opish, often require transformations that violate the so-called “rules” of Universal Grammar. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Don’t Baby That Baby, Baby
Don’t Baby That Baby, Baby; by Butch McBastard; From Volume CLXVIII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> October 2013 — Despite the attempts by those who study the phenomenon to dress it up in jargon (“caretaker speech”), cutesiness (“motherese”), or TLAs (IDS/CDS—“infant-/child-directed speech”), baby talk is still baby talk, and frankly as a linguist I’m insulted that you think I’d fall for that kind of whitewashing of such a despicable practice. That’s right, I said it, baby talk is despicable. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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A Psychosis of the “Framework Psychosis” Framework
A Psychosis of the “Framework Psychosis” Framework; by Jonathan van der Meer; From Volume CLXVIII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2013 — Framework Psychosis, as expertly reified by Dr. Pill, is a very useful window on the world. It provides an explanatory model of the success of the most successful frameworks, of tribalism in linguistics, and of Chomsky’s successful decades-long trivialization of performance in favor of competence. (Read by Jonathan van der Meer and Trey Jones.)
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Linguistic Koans
Linguistic Koans; by Z. En ‘Bud’ Dhist; From Volume CLIII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2007 — What is the sound of one vocal cord flapping? (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Swiss Data Massage Villa
The Swiss Data Massage Villa; From Volume CLXVIII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2013 — Are your data feeling tense? Unable or Reluctant to bend gently to fit the graceful contours of your new theory? Are your N’s too small? Your P’s too big? Decimal point in the wrong place? Is your Chi not square? Is your bell curve not ringing true? (Performed by Jason Wells-Jensen.)
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Where are the Vampire Linguists?
Where are the Vampire Linguists?; by F. Ang Bangah; From Volume CLVII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2009 — Though many people have had trouble coming to terms with the truth about vampires since they “came out of the coffin” in the so-called Great Revelation—made possible by the creation of the Japanese synthetic blood substitute—their presence represents a unique and untapped opportunity for historians, linguists, and anthropologists. Non-supernaturals have had much opportunity to learn about vampires and others in the biographic works of Charlaine Harris, which have recently been dramatized in the HBO documentary television series <i>True Blood.</i> But one aspect of vampires’ existence has been largely ignored; since vampires are effectively immortal, and several are hundreds of years old—and a few thought to be even thousands of years old—the insight and data they can provide offer an unparalleled chance to pierce the mists of time and peer back into (non-vampire) human history. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Dialect Continuum Language Studies
Dialect Continuum Language Studies; by Psammeticus Institute; From Volume CLIII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2007 — Psammeticus Institute—the Language Education branch of linguistics publishing powerhouse Psammeticus Press—allows you to harness the amazing transformative power of dialect continua in your own personal language learning. By attending a Dialect Continuum Language Studies course, you can slowly but surely transform the language you speak into the language you want to speak. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Symptoms and Warning Signs of Framework Psychosis
The Symptoms and Warning Signs of Framework Psychosis; by Dr. Pill, M.D.; From Volume CLV, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2008 — Framework Psychosis, a new and dangerous affliction sweeping through academia like wildfire, is the unhealthy (and unfounded) belief that one’s framework, whatever it may be, is the one true framework. As a public service, I have written up a set of guidelines that will allow concerned individuals to identify those suffering from Framework Psychosis. If you are an academic, I encourage you to post this list in your lounges, labs, lecture halls, and latrines. With your help, we may yet be able to eradicate FP in our lifetime. (Read by Tuuli Mustasydän.)
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Degenerative Grammar—Our Current State of Linguistic Degradation
Degenerative Grammar—Our Current State of Linguistic Degradation; by D. T. R. O’Rait, D. Bauch, and Wayne N. DeKay; From Volume CLXVI, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2013 — Since the 1950s, linguistics has been wild with excitement over Chomsky’s insights, collectively known as “generative grammar.” As all non-linguists know, however, grammar as speakers encounter it in daily life is actually <i>degenerative.</i> (Read by Peter Carrillo.)
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On Linguistic Death Cults
On Linguistic Death Cults; by The Managing Editor; From Volume CLXII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2011 — For those not familiar with the casting of pods in which some of the editors of <i>SpecGram</i> engage, I feel obligated to comment on a story we recently discussed, in which it was reported that the last two speakers of Ayapaneco refuse to talk to each other (“Language at risk of dying out—the last two speakers aren’t talking” by Jo Tuckman, The Guardian, April 14, 2011). This is clearly a linguistic suicide pact. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The No. 1 Linguists’ Detective Agency
The No. 1 Linguists’ Detective Agency; by Keith W. Slater; From Volume CLXIV, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> February 2012 — M̥ma Makutsi had just poured the tea. Red bush tea for M̥ma Ramotswe, and ordinary tea for M̥ma Makutsi, who preferred ordinary tea and had told M̥ma Ramotswe so, though not until after a long period of uneasiness and indecision. That had been in the early days of the Agency, before M̥ma Makutsi had become an Assistant Detective and had become engaged to the morphologist Phuti Redupliphuti, indeed even before M̥ma Ramotswe, who founded the Agency, had become the wife of Mr. N.L.P. Matekoni, the finest computational linguist in all of Gabarone, in all of Botswana, perhaps even in all of Africa. Botswana had been little different then, of course, but the lives of so many linguists had changed in those few short years. Lives were always changing, M̥ma Ramotswe reflected, and one could never predict beforehand in what way they would change. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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University Sues Self for Plagiarism
University Sues Self for Plagiarism; by <i>SpecGram</i> Wire Services; From Volume CLXVII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> August 2013 — The University of Texas at Austin has filed suit against itself for theft of intellectual property. A countersuit, also by the University against itself, demands recompense for emotional damages. The University expects a net windfall of at least $12 million from these lawsuits. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Compound Nouns for Frances
Compound Nouns for Frances; by Keith Slater and Kean Kaufmann; From Volume CLXVII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> August 2013 — Frances and her baby sister Gloria were playing dodge ball in their front yard when Albert came along. Albert was pulling a toy wagon with a large picnic hamper in it. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Speculative Grammarian—Our Story
<i>Speculative Grammarian</i>—Our Story; by Trey Jones; From the <i>Speculative Grammarian</i> “About Us” web page — The august journal <i>Speculative Grammarian</i> 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. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Patented SpecGram 5 Minute Interview: Arika Okrent
The Patented <i>SpecGram</i> 5 Minute Interview: Arika Okrent — My guest today is Arika Okrent, linguist, author of <i>In the Land of Invented Languages,</i> fan of conlangs and, I think, conlangers, speaker of Klingon and Hungarian, signer of ASL, and contributor to <i>Mental Floss</i> and <i>Slate</i>’s Lexicon Valley, where she writes about conlangs, ASL, old fonts, and even makes a decent case for the use of “I could care less”.
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The Patented SpecGram 5 Minute Interview: Philip Resnik
The Patented <i>SpecGram</i> 5 Minute Interview: Philip Resnik — My guest today is Philip Resnik, a professor at the University of Maryland, with joint appointments in the Department of Linguistics and at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. Phillip is the director of the University of Maryland Computational Linguistics and Information Processing Laboratory, and a researcher and consultant with extensive experience in natural language processing and text analytics, specializing in combining knowledge based and corpus based statistical techniques. He is also a Strategic Technology Advisor to 3M Health Information Systems and the Founder of React Labs.
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Grrr!
Grrr!; by Trey Jones—from <i>The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics</i> Video Contest
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I Study Linguistics
I Study Linguistics; by Vince Wilson—from <i>The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics</i> Video Contest
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We Didn’t Start the Satire
We Didn’t Start the Satire; by Audie O. & Hannah Graham—from <i>The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics</i> Video Contest
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Studying Abroad
Studying Abroad; by Tuuli Mustasydän—from <i>The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics</i> Video Contest
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Rasmus McRask of the Clan McRask
Rasmus McRask of the Clan McRask; by Rasmus McRask—from <i>The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics</i> Video Contest
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXIV
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXIV — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by once again by returning guest Devan Steiner. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss whether or not all the forms of "to be" in Indo-European languages are derived from Arabic roots (hint: they're not!), and take on Comprehensive Exam Questions in computational linguistics, pidgins, phonology, and more.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXIII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXIII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by returning guest Devan Steiner. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss how physicists rediscovered glottochronology and have used it to date the Iliad less accurately than philologists already had, and in the spirit of such cross-disciplinary enterprise, they offer a helping linguistic hand to other fields, like math, biology, astronomy, and chemistry.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds go it alone again in this episode. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss their prescriptive confessions, whether science is generally screwed, and whether linguistics is a science and thus also screwed.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXI
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXXI — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds go it alone in this episode. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss word aversion and random interesting linguisticky factoids.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXX
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXX — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined yet again by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss a prescriptive terrorist, and our favorite <i>SpecGram</i> articles.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXIX
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXIX — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined again by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss a proposal for a new character for "the", and reflect on the coolest features English could have.
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Remembering Better Times
Remembering Better Times; by Herbert Theodore Howlingstonshire, XII; From Volume CLXIII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2012 — It wasn’t long ago that the editors and staff of <i>Speculative Grammarian</i> could be found enjoying a snifter of brandy and a fine cigar in the Henry Suite of the Pāṇini Memorial Hall and Arcade in genial collegiality (or collegial geniality). Back in those days, we would gather together and pass the stogie and snifter around and chat about the golden days of antiquity: when spectrograms were measured manually, and a linguist commanded respect, whether it be in his office, in the lecture hall, or even the local speakeasy. (Read by Tuuli Mustasydän.)
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SpecGram Suzie!
SpecGram Suzie!; by Psammeticus Entertainment; From Volume CLIII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2008 — Psammeticus Entertainment proudly presents... <i>SpecGram</i> Suzie! (Read by Trey Jones and Sheri Wells-Jensen.)
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Frog and Toad Teach Linguistics
Frog and Toad Teach Linguistics; by Keith Slater and illustrated by Kean Kaufmann; From Volume CLXIII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2011 — Frog was sitting in his office. He looked at his watch. He saw that it was 10:00. “This is a fine time for a morning coffee,” said Frog. “I will invite Toad to join me in the faculty lounge.” (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Kill All Phoneticians
Kill All Phoneticians; by Die Lingulelen; From Volume CLXIX, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2014 — The taste of love is sweet / When two syntacticians meet / But can our love survive / If we don’t agree how to derive? (Performed by Die Lingulelen.)
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Riches of Embarrassment
Riches of Embarrassment; by The Managing Editor; From Volume CLXVII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> August 2013 — Every young, eagerly partying Facebook user has, at some point, woken up one morning to discover that they have posted online an ill-conceived and spectacularly embarrassing series of photos, drunken rantings, or worse. What, you may ask, would be the analog for a staid and proper philologist of the early 15th century? (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The I in Team
The I in Team; by The Managing Editor; From Volume CLXVI, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2013 — The writers of business books, corporate cheerleaders in HR, and other reprobates like to say that “There is no I in team,” meaning, of course, that every team member should put aside their own ego and pull for the common good. It’s a lovely sentiment—if you prefer your sentiments with a healthy dose of treacle—but it is, among many other unpleasant characteristics, ambiguous. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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To the Computational Linguists
To the Computational Linguists; by The Managing Editor; From Volume CLXV, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2012 — First, why isn’t there more Computational Philology out there? Okay, I know no one is going to actually answer that, and most computational linguists don’t even know that Computational Philology exists. Kids these days—no respect for their elders, and no knowledge of the classics! (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Linguistic Cocktails
Linguistic Cocktails; by The <i>SpecGram</i> Mixologists; From Volume CLX, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> December 2010 — Interest in cocktails has had a resurgence lately, with people trying new combinations and reviving forgotten blends. We shouldn’t forget the long history the grand subfield of Mixological Linguistics has. Here is a mix of old favorites and new delights. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Assumption of Slang
The Assumption of Slang; by Jonathan “Ði ’Phone” van der Meer; From Volume CL, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> October 2005 — It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that cliquish groups—such as gangs, glee clubs, and various academic fields—seek group-defining language to set themselves apart from the rabble. The motivation, however, is so strong that these groups will manufacture such language if none exists, and will retro-fit existing language (eg, fat → phat) or even mistakes (teh, pwned) to create other-excluding in-group language. (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Public Service Announcement from The Ministry of Silly Sounds
Public Service Announcement; by The Ministry of Silly Sounds; From Volume CLXVI, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2012 — The Ministry of Silly Sounds wishes to inform the public that the following sounds have been collaboratively developed in EU laboratories or successfully replicated from aberrant non-major languages. All of them will soon be released to the public and thus become available for borrowing or wholesale phonological restructuring projects. As some sounds may have detrimental effects on either speakers or speaking targets, a modicum of caution is suggested. Select sounds are tentatively scheduled for official promulgation and may be required in future dialects of English. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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An Apology to Mathematicians
An Apology to Mathematicians; by Yahya Abdal-Aziz; From Volume CLVII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2009 — It has been brought to our attention that the ‘Lettres to the Editour’ in the special “Canada Day” edition of SpecGram, Vol CLI, No 3, is an imperfect translation of the ‘Letters to the Editor’ to be found (cunningly!) on the same page. (Read by Tuuli Mustasydän.)
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The Hidden Language of Public Seduction—An Anthropological Linguistic Study of Spanyol
The Hidden Language of Public Seduction—An Anthropological Linguistic Study of Spanyol; by Claude Searsplainpockets; From Volume CLIII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2007 — Earlier this year, in preparation for fieldwork in Mozambique, Chad, and Japan, I decided to review some Spanish-language pedagogical audio materials. As I was listening intently and re-acquainting myself with this beautiful language, I was quite surprised to hear many seemingly innocuous phrases presented with a tone of voice that would normally only be appropriate in a love song by Barry White. I wondered, why did the “native” speaker’s pronunciation of “uno, dos, tres” make me feel oddly hot and bothered? (Read by Claude Searsplainpockets.)
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The Original English Movement
The Original English Movement; Announcement; From Volume CXLIX, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2004 — For decades descriptive linguists and professional prescriptivists—technical writers, editors, and English teachers—have been at war. As most linguists know all too well, the prescriptivists say that descriptivism is at best a weak philosophy of usage, and at worst an invitation to grammatical chaos. However, too many prescriptivists maintain what is, to descriptivists, an illogical position: language should not change—or at least not until all the opponents of a particular change are long dead. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Review of “The Semantics and Pragmatics of Voice Systems: A Functional Analysis”, by Carrie Cameron
Review of “The Semantics and Pragmatics of Voice Systems: A Functional Analysis”, by Carrie Cameron; by Zoltan Lazar; From Volume I, Number 2, of <i>Babel,</i> April 1990 (Read by Keith Slater.)
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A Review of Wailin’ Jennings’ “Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Linguists”
A Review of Wailin’ Jennings’ “Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Linguists”; by Praenomen Gentilicium Cognomen, Esq.; From Volume CLXV, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> August 2012 — Well-known kʌn.trɪ.n.wɛs.tʌrn star Wailin’ Jennings—son of famed rhotacism and blues crooner Moanin’ Jennings and grandson of beloved buggie-wuggie icon Hollerin’ Jennings—has released a groundbreaking new album. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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People with Lack of Original Research Ideas (PLORI)
People with Lack of Original Research Ideas (PLORI); Advertisement; From Volume CLXVIII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> December 2013 — People with Lack of Original Research Ideas in Linguistics (PLORI), is a national support group for postgraduates and early-career researchers in the broad field of linguistics who are affected by the negative psychosocial, physical and academoprospective effects of Lack of Original Research Syndrome (LOR-Syndrome). (Read by Tuuli Mustasydän.)
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Recision and Precall—Accuracy Measures for the 21st Century
Recision and Precall—Accuracy Measures for the 21st Century; by Jonathan van der Meer; From Volume CLII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2007 — Thanks to a decades-long case of physics envy and the advent of cheap computational power, linguistics has devolved from a cultured gentlemen’s pseudo-science into a debased money-grubbing quasi-science. (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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On Saving Endangered Languages as Part of Doing Doctoral Research
On Saving Endangered Languages as Part of Doing Doctoral Research; by Albertrinette Q. Yue-Ramirez; From Volume CLXIV, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> June 2012 — Searching for a dissertation topic gives one an abundance of time for introspection. And watching old TV programs. Personally, I get my jollies through archived episodes of <i>The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island,</i> and <i>Hogan’s Heroes.</i> Those were great shows, let me tell you. Can’t get enough of them! (Read by Zac Smith.)
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Ozymandian semicolon.. lying in the sand.. An Ode to the Two-Dot Ellipsis..
Ozymandian semicolon.. lying in the sand.. An Ode to the Two-Dot Ellipsis..; by J.. K.. Eats..; From Volume CLXV, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> August 2012 — Thou still incomplete bride of punctuation.. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Traditional Grammarian as Poet
The Traditional Grammarian as Poet; by Ted Hipple; From Volume CLXVIII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2013 (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Paramount Seeks To Leverage Linguistic Capital
Paramount Seeks To Leverage Linguistic Capital; by <i>SpecGram</i> Wire Services; From Volume CL, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2005 — Attempting to leverage the success of its Klingon monopoly, Star Trek owner Paramount Pictures has been making aggressive advances on the world’s minority languages. Offers for majority ownership of such diverse languages as Eastern Yugur, Basque, and Mofu are reported by knowledgeable sources as running well into the tens of millions of US dollars. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Death by Speaker Rejection—More Case Studies
Language Death by Speaker Rejection—More Case Studies; by William Carlos Williams Carloses Williamses; From Volume CLXV, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> August 2012 — In a previous article I introduced a new mechanism of language death: that by which languages actively reject their speakers, rather than the other way around. I have discovered a number of additional examples of this phenomenon, and I summarize them here. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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On Some Acoustic Correlates of Isoglossy
On Some Acoustic Correlates of Isoglossy; by Robert L. Rankin; From Lingua Pranca, June, 1978 — At the very end of Anton Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard there is a reference to a peculiar sound. (Read by Cathal Peelo.)
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Language Death by Speaker Rejection—A Few Case Studies
Language Death by Speaker Rejection—A Few Case Studies; by William Carlos Williams Carloses Williamses; From Volume CLXV, (165) Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2012 — Much recent work has focused on the death of languages worldwide. Such sad events are almost invariably attributed to a conscious decision by the speaking population to reject their language in favor of some more prestigious tongue, often in pursuit of the opportunities for education and economic advancement that the prestigious language seems to offer. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The European Dialects of Cheese
The European Dialects of Cheese; reviewed by Ms Carpone; From Volume CL, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2005 — This comprehensive study of European Cheese dialects contains chapters on historical reconstruction, olfactory linguistics, politics, dialectology and geography. The authors carried out extensive field and cellar research, investigating far flung Swiss cottages, Welsh valleys and French chateaux to collect the necessary data to compile this encyclopaedic tome. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Tridekavalent Verbs of Telenovelity in Mydlováskji
Tridekavalent Verbs of Telenovelity in Mydlováskji; by Śūnyatā Qoɣusun; From Volume CLIX, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2010 — This summer I set out to do some introductory fieldwork on an endangered minority language in Mexico of possibly Slavic origin, called Mydlováskji by its speakers, and referred to as simply “lengua eslávica”, “Slavic language” or “lengua Ruski”, “Russian language”, by the local Spanish-speaking majority population. My efforts were thwarted by the fact that the men and women of the barrio in which the majority of Mydlováskji speakers live engage primarily in two activities: working on off-shore oil drilling platforms, and watching telenovelas. While potential informants are engaged in either of these activities it is not really possible to do much in the way of productive fieldwork, though one extremely unusual feature of Mydlováskji did present itself during my time in Mexico. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Original Language of Winnie-the-Pooh
The Original Language of Winnie-the-Pooh; by Aureliano Buendía; From Volume CXLVIII, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 1998 — 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. (Read by Mark Brierley.)
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Davie Dunnit’s Disparaging Dictionary
Davie Dunnit’s Disparaging Dictionary; Advertisement; From Volume CLXVI, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2013 — Davie Dunnit’s Disparaging Dictionary — Practical Prescriptivism at its Finest! (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Dates in the Month of May that Are of Interest to Linguists
Dates in the Month of May that Are of Interest to Linguists; by James D. McCawley; From <i>Lingua Pranca, An Anthology of Linguistic Humor,</i> June, 1978 — May, the month in which Goodspeed day is celebrated, by recently established tradition, can be seen from the following to be a linguistically auspicious month. (Read by Brianne Hughes.)
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The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics Book Trailer
<i>The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics</i> Book Trailer; by Trey Jones.
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Review of John Stuart Mill and the Temple of Doom
Review of John Stuart Mill and the Temple of Doom; by Vervet Vandiver Vanlandingham-Vanderveer; From Volume CLXVII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> June 2013 — This weekend I went to see the new high-spectacle action-adventure film, “John Stuart Mill and the Temple of Doom”. While the special effects were noteworthy, I was most impressed by the reflorescence, if not recrudescence, of Hollywood linguistics. Intended as a high-brow response to the recent Sherlock Holmes movies, this film begins with the hero recovering from his once-famed nervous breakdown by defeating Tennyson in a poetry slam during the Great Exhibition; while the rest of the audience thrilled to the CGI recreation of the Crystal Palace, I was enthralled by the fast-paced exchanges of Cockney and Geordie in iambic pentameter—truly a treat for our culturally denuded age! (Read by Mark Brierley.)
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Everything psychologists wanted to know about linguistics but were afraid to ask
Everything psychologists wanted to know about linguistics but were afraid to ask; by Herr Prof. Dr. Harold Twistenbaum; From Volume CLXV, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> September 2012 — Where’s linguistics? / Linguistics is a branch of psychology, which is a branch of biology, which is a branch of digital electronics. (Read by Declan Whitford Jones and Trey Jones.)
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The Speculative Grammarian Survey of Grammar Writers—Phonology
The Speculative Grammarian Survey of Grammar Writers—Phonology; by Morris Swadesh III; From Volume CLXVII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2013 — Introduction / For the past 40 months, Speculative Grammarian’s Office of Linguistic Documentation has conducted an extensive survey of linguists who have published descriptive grammars. Over 600 grammar writers responded to our extensive questionnaire, covering all areas of data-gathering, analysis, theory, and the processes of writing and publishing. (Read by Tuuli Mustasydän.)
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The Sociolinguistic Impact of Hippie Linguist Naming Practices
The Sociolinguistic Impact of Hippie Linguist Naming Practices; by ɹɒbɪn O’Jonesson; From Volume CLXIII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2011 — There is little discussion in the literature concerning the social and psychological effects of the distinctive and unusual names given to children by their hippie parents, such as Moonbeam, Peacekarma, Ryvre, Starchild, Redpony, and so many more. Even less attention has been paid to the naming practices of the particular sub-culture of hippie linguists, who advocated for free morphemes in the 60’s and gave their children names such as Monophthongbreathstream, Pronouncopula, Rezonator, Asteriskchild, Redponymy, and Noam. (Read by Trey Jones, Mairead Whitford Jones, and Joey Whitford.)
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O Socio, Socio! Wherefore art thou Socio?
O Socio, Socio! Wherefore art thou Socio?; by Thomas Basil Callan Bernstein-Hodson; From Volume CLXVI, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2013. (Read by Brianne Hughes.)
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Philologer’s Kvetchwhinge 32
Philologer’s Kvetchwhinge 32; by Athanasious Schadenpoodle; From Volume CLXVI, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2013. (Read by Brianne Hughes.)
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Texan for Linguists
Texan for Linguists; by Katy Jo Parker and Truman ‘Tex’ Beauregard; From Volume CLXI, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2011 — This article is not about the descriptively interesting linguistic features of Texan dialects of English (such as incipient “fixin’”, singular “they”, modal stacking, second person plural “y’all”, “ain’t” and “cain’t”, “bidness”, “coke” for “soda”, etc.) nor is it about any of the interesting Spanish-related linguistic phenomena in Texas (such as “Spanglish”, Chicano and Tejano English, code-switching, or Pachuco slang). (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Verner’s Law, Parts 1-3
Video: Verner’s Law, Parts 1-3; by Ari Hoptman. Part 1 deals with the “discovery” of the first consonant shift, which, in effect, gave birth to the Germanic languages. Part 2 deals with Verner’s Law itself, an exception to the first consonant shift. Part 3 discusses some problems scholars have encountered with Verner’s Law. Used by permission.
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Adaptive Heuristic Caching in Name Recall
Adaptive Heuristic Caching in Name Recall; by Trey Jones; From Volume CXLIX, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2004 — This paper will present a brief case study and provide data pertaining to an apparently inconsistent linguistic behavior concerning name recall. This inconsistency will be resolved by means of a novel computational explanation for the phenomenon. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXVIII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXVIII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds go it alone once again. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss some problems with (the) French, and reveal their least favorite subdisciplines of linguistics.
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Linguistics and Television
Linguistics and Television; by C Robson; From Volume CLXVI, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2013 — It occurred to me the other day that despite a great range of educational channels available to the modern television viewer, it appears that linguistics has been somewhat ignored. Try as you might, but your cable or satellite provider will sadly not feature “Channel Schwa”, for it does not exist. (Read by Veronika Reeve.)
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Simon M. Tating
Obituary for Simon M. Tating; From Volume CLXVI, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2012 — Prof. Simon M. Tating, 63, of Farborough, passed away 19th November 2012 attempting to learn the pronunciation of certain Bantu words involving various voiceless implosive phonemes. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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On the Quantum Nature of Linguistic Fame—A Reply to Slater
On the Quantum Nature of Linguistic Fame—A Reply to Slater; by Cadwallader Colden; From Volume CLXVII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> June 2013 — Dear Sirs: / Your a̶u̶g̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶s̶t̶e̶r̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶h̶o̶n̶o̶u̶r̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶e̶s̶t̶i̶m̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶c̶r̶e̶d̶i̶t̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶p̶u̶t̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶o̶c̶c̶a̶s̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶i̶n̶o̶f̶f̶e̶n̶s̶i̶v̶e̶ journal recently published a sketch of a mathematical model for the fame of a linguistic theory. While it deserves some small credit for broaching the topic, perhaps brief mention in a footnote forty years down the line in a little-read and oft-forgotten book of quaint and curious lore for the entertainment of amateurs, fanboys, and other innumerate juvenile delinquents, it is itself muddled and befuddled and would only serve to muddle the issue and befuddle others were it published where genuine scholars might actually read it. (Read by Cathal Peelo.)
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Fifty Grades of A
Fifty Grades of A; by i ɛl dʒemz; From Volume CLXV, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> July 2012 — Get the book that everyone’s talking about... (Read by Trey Jones, Cathal Peelo, Claude Searsplainpockets, Veronika Reeve, and Brianne Hughes.)
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Optimality Theory Was a Hoax—Prince and Smolensky finally come clean
Optimality Theory Was a Hoax—Prince and Smolensky finally come clean; by <i>SpecGram</i> Wire Services; From Volume CLXVI Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> March 2013 — At a tearful news conference during the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, Allen Prince confessed that Optimality Theory was a hoax. “I just can’t live with the lies any longer,” he said. (Read by Brianne Hughes.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXVII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXVII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds go it alone this time. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss the grammaticalization of "slash" and review some Comprehensive Exam questions and answers.
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A Student’s Guide to the History of Linguistics Based on Example Sentences
A Student’s Guide to the History of Linguistics Based on Example Sentences; by Franz Neumayer; From Volume CLXII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> August 2011 — The following sentences exemplify important concepts in linguistics, and relate them to the linguists whose names are most associated with their development. They are provided as a service to MA students reviewing for comprehensive exams. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Linguist Sues Language Community
Linguist Sues Language Community; by <i>SpecGram</i> Wire Services; From Volume CLXVI, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2013 — Graduate student Simon Ticks, of University of Minnesota Department of Linguistics, is suing a White Hmong village in Northern Thailand for failing to provide the evidence needed for his dissertation project. (Read by Veronika Reeve.)
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Rock, Paper, Scissors, Computational Linguist, Nasal-Ingressive Voiceless Velar Trill, Chomsky—A New Game for Every Linguist
Rock, Paper, Scissors, Computational Linguist, Nasal-Ingressive Voiceless Velar Trill, Chomsky—A New Game for Every Linguist; by Phlange Kadigan; From Volume CLVII, Number 3, <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> November 2009 — We are almost all quite familiar with the game commonly known as Rock-Paper-Scissors (also known in some circles as <i>Rochambeau</i>), in which two opponents face off, simultaneously choosing a hand shape to represent one of the three eponymous “weapons”. The interest in the game stems from the non-transitivity of the superiority of the weapons. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Strings and Things: A Unificational Meta-Theory for All Linguistics
Strings and Things: A Unificational Meta-Theory for All Linguistics; by Trent Slater; From Volume CLXVII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2013 — Despite the best efforts in those sciences that ignore the importance of morphological historiography, it has so far proved impossible to provide one theory to rule them all. Thus, as head of the largest group of linguistic meta-theoreticians in the Whole World, I feel that it falls to me to propose and prove a Grand Theory of Everything Linguistic. (Read by Cathal Peelo.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXVI
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXVI — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined again by guest Aya Katz. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss whether English has a perfectly phonetic orthography, and some of the interesting languagey things that linguists notice out in the world. (And in the outtakes Trey insults various programming languages left and right, potentially sparking a future holy war.)
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Everything Linguists Ever Wanted To Know About Prime Numbers
Everything Linguists Ever Wanted To Know About Prime Numbers; by A. Nonymous; From Volume CLXII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> June 2011 — How do various types of linguists go about analyzing, for themselves and their conspecifics, the primality of odd numbers greater than one? The methods vary by discipline, but the results are all equally valid. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Guidelines for the Behavior of Graduate Students of Phonetics
Guidelines for the Behavior of Graduate Students of Phonetics; by Felicity Conditions; From Volume CLVI, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2009 — 1. The IPA symbol for a bilabial click is not called “the cervix,” even if it really looks like one. (Read by Veronika Reeve.)
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Whettam’s “Linguistics: an extraordinarily short introduction”
Whettam’s “Linguistics: an extraordinarily short introduction”; by Reviewed by A. Crostic; From Volume CLI, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2006 — “Linguistics: an extraordinarily short introduction”. / H.P. Whettam. Droxfo University Press, 2006. 1p. $137.00 (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Handbook for Linguistic Elicitation, Volume 28: Laziness and Inactivity
<i>Handbook for Linguistic Elicitation,</i> Volume 28: Laziness and Inactivity; by Editors of Psammeticus Press; From Volume CLXVII, Number 2, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2013 — <i>Handbook for Linguistic Elicitation,</i> Volume 28: Laziness and Inactivity / From the Editors of Psammeticus Press / Published 2013. (Read by Cathal Peelo.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXV
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXV — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds (including new LingNerd Sheri Wells-Jensen) are joined by guest Aya Katz. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, the LingNerds discuss the applications of involuntary gripping in response to hand-related verbs, and review a surprisingly large number of language-related books.
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Help with the SpecGram Podcast!
Help with the <i>SpecGram</i> Podcast; by Trey Jones
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The Γραμματο-Χαοτικον Manifesto
The Γραμματο-Χαοτικον Manifesto; by The Γραμματο-Χαοτικον; From Volume CL, Number 4, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> October 2005 — We are the Γραμματο-Χαοτικον, an underground alliance of linguists, philologists, and polyglots. Our self-appointed role is to encourage arbitrary and capricious change both in Language and among languages, world-wide. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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On the Taxonomic Classification of minimalistici
On the Taxonomic Classification of <i>minimalistici;</i> by Athanasious Schadenpoodle; From Volume CLXIII, Number 1, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> October 2011 — To the toiler in the full-furrowed fields of taxonomy, there can be no surprise attendant upon the discovery that a previously well-established classification has been called into question by closer scrutiny of the species involved, or by advances in the analytic mechanisms underlying the distinctions informing the taxonomy itself. The very act of assigning a token to a type bears the potential of alternate assignment, and each move toward greater abstraction does naught but amplify the range of possibilities. When the specific field one is attempting to segment is that of the family <i>Linguisticus,</i> even less surprise is possible, both because of the prevailing lack of agreement among zoölogists about the criteria to use, and because of the general sense of enervation any analysis of <i>Linguisticus</i> evokes (the latter being, perhaps, one of their defense mechanisms). So it is with a distinct sense of Unüberraschungkeit that this author has noted the recent disagreement—one could almost say a kerfuffle, were it not for the air of fraught excitement the term calls forth—concerning the proper assignment of the group initially classed as (<i>Neoplatonicus</i>) <i>Americoformalisticus minimalistici.</i> (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Términos Lingüísticos Autorreferentes
Términos Lingüísticos Autorreferentes; by T. B. Geller; From Volume CLXVII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> May 2013 — Términos Lingüísticos Autorreferentes / eɫe veɫar / elʲe palʲatalʲ / cponsonante cpoarticulada ... (Read by T. B. Geller.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXIV
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXIV — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined yet again by Gabe Olsen. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics—with returning guest Jonathan Downie—the LingNerds discuss the unreasonable prestigiousness of mathematics, and review likely comprehensive exam questions and effective answers thereto.
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Review of Crystal Gayle’s “Dictionary of Essential Linguistics Vocabulary”
Review of Crystal Gayle’s “Dictionary of Essential Linguistics Vocabulary”; by Jean-Pierre LeBeau; From Volume I, Number 1, of <i>Babel,</i> March 1990 — Seldom does a field so young and controversy-fraught as modern linguistics benefit from disciplined research into its synchronic terminology as much as linguistics will from Crystal Gayle’s “Dictionary of Essential Linguistics Vocabulary”. Students and scholars alike will find Gayle’s work thorough, insightful, careful, and most of all, readable. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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An Analysis of easy-Type Adjectives
An Analysis of easy-Type Adjectives; by A. Word; From Volume CLIII, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> January 2008 — In certain academic circles, there is a well-known category of adjectives, often referred to as <i>easy</i>-type adjectives. These include “hard”, “difficult” and others. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Saussure and Bloomfield: The Question of Influence
Saussure and Bloomfield: The Question of Influence; by Tim Pulju; From Volume I, Number 4 of <i>Gaugauh Kamadugha,</i> The Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia, August 1991 — One of the more vexed questions in modern linguistic historiography concerns the extent of Saussure’s influence on Bloomfield and through him on American structuralism as a whole. Rather than add to the discussion of that issue, I intend in this paper to point out the importance of another, related, but hitherto ignored question, to wit, what was the extent of Bloomfield’s influence on Saussure? (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXIII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXIII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined again by Gabe Olsen, this time for the whole show. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics—with guest Jonathan Downie—the LingNerds discuss whether English is a Scandinavian language, and review a list of the worst words of 2012.
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Review of “Mathematical Games, Puzzles, and Fallacies” by Sydney Lamb
Review of “Mathematical Games, Puzzles, and Fallacies” by Sydney Lamb; by Henry Morgan; From Volume I, Number 4 of <i>Gaugauh Kamadugha,</i> The Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia, August 1991 — Review Article: Lamb, Sydney. 1977. Mathematical Games, Puzzles, and Fallacies. New York: Arco Publishing Company, Inc. 71 pp. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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The Linguist’s Self-Definer for Humanistic Greek and Latin Lingo
The Linguist’s Self-Definer for Humanistic Greek and Latin Lingo; by R.L. Rankin; From <i>Lingua Pranca,</i> June 1978 — vowol harmono / ümlaut / dithsimilation / to back formate / metasethis ... (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Review of Zhang, Jiannan, “The Relationships between Processes and Participants in Chinese: A Cognitive Approach”
Review of Zhang, Jiannan, “The Relationships between Processes and Participants in Chinese: A Cognitive Approach”; by Jan Vanderkeller; From Volume I, Number 3, of <i>Better Words and Morphemes,</i> The Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia, May 1991 — Dr. Zhang seems to be laboring under a strange delusion. To wit, as far as I can tell, he thinks that there are only 300 verbs in Chinese. Where he got this idea, I have no idea, since most people know that there are a total of 307 verbs in Chinese. Even more strangely, he has included in his sample two verbs, kan ‘look at, read’ and chi ‘eat’, which are not even really Chinese, but rather pseudo-Chinese (see Pengyou 1988 for discussion). This means that he includes only 298 of the actual 307 verbs of Chinese in his discussion. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Review of Van Der Fort’s Guide to Field Linguistics
Review of <i>Van Der Fort’s Guide to Field Linguistics;</i> by Webley Louis Severson III; From Volume CLXI, Number 3, of <i>Speculative Grammarian,</i> April 2011 — <i>Van Der Fort’s Guide to Field Linguistics</i> by J. S. S. van der Fort / Rating: ƛƛƛƛ / ƛƛƛƛ (Underlyingly Good) (Read by Joey Whitford.)
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Review Article: Carmichael, James Grant III. The Structure of Bee Communication.
Review Article: Carmichael, James Grant III. <i>The Structure of Bee Communication</i>; by James Grant Carmichael III; From Volume I, Number 2, of <i>World of Language,</i> The Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia, February 1991 — Truly a breath of fresh air in the recently-stale field of animal communication studies, Carmichael’s book is a pure delight from page one. Apart from his lucidly clear prose and strikingly funny sense of humor, this highly respected author exhibits characteristically lucid analysis and clear formulations of his obviously profound thoughts. Space allows us here to touch on only a few of the books’ many engaging features. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Review of Pinkerton-Umlaut’s Back to Basics: The Real Truth About Language
Review of Pinkerton-Umlaut’s Back to Basics: The Real Truth About Language; by Dave Kathman; From Volume XVI, Number 1, of Psammeticus Quarterly, November 1988 — William D. Pinkerton-Umlaut: Back to Basics: The Real Truth About Language. Adelaide, Australia: Zyx Press, 1988. 547 pp. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Reply to Kathman (Letter to the Editor)
Reply to Kathman (Letter to the Editor); by William D. Pinkerton-Umlaut; From Volume XVI, Number 2, of Psammeticus Quarterly, February 1989 — Attn: Editors / I have never been so insulted as when I read Dave Kathman’s thoroughly unfounded attack on my work and character. I shall not even deign to defend my theories—any unbiased reader of my book will certainly see that they are well-founded and insightful. However, I must protest K’s depiction of my work as full of savage “ad hominem attacks”—but that’s the sort of unfounded charge you can expect from a self-important half-wit like K. An ego the size of his, when paired with a brain the size of a walnut, will naturally belittle that which it could never hope to understand. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Grey Duck or Goose?—Mapping variation in a children’s game in Minnesota
Grey Duck or Goose?—Mapping variation in a children’s game in Minnesota; by Sven Slater and Ollie Bickford; From Volume CLXIII, Number 4, of Speculative Grammarian, January 2012 — 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 talked about it and discovered that even some Minnesota kids in our own class had heard this at their grandmas’ houses. Our teacher, Mr. Olson, said we could study isoglosses to learn about that, so we decided to do that for this year’s science fair. (Read by Jesse Slater and Elizabeth Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined yet again by Sheri Wells-Jensen. After some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, they discuss whether linguists make grammaticality judgements like "normal people", and confess more of their prescriptive tendencies.
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Hymns for the Reverent Linguist
Hymns for the Reverent Linguist; from The Linguistick Hymnary (1845); From Volume CLXVI, Number 1, of Speculative Grammarian, November 2012. — Great is Thy Faithfulness; Typology, Typology; The Linguist’s One Foundation; Joy to the Word. (Performed by Jay and the Fictones.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXI
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XXI — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by returning guest Sheri Wells-Jensen for Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, and she sticks around for the rest of the show. They discuss the "reading level" of US Congressional speeches, and then they discuss the ins and outs of teaching linguistics at university.
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A Preliminary Field Guide to Linguists, Part Two
A Preliminary Field Guide to Linguists, Part Two; by Athanasious Schadenpoodle; From Volume CL, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, April 2005. — The previous installment, dealing with Neoplatonicus and Functionalisticus, comprised a brief discussion of the less problematic genera in the family--less problematic in the sense that their grouping is not contested among those working in this area. This section will deal with two groups whose taxonomic status is a matter of quite some debate; to a large extent, the groupings presented should be taken as tentative, and done largely for the sake of organized presentation (cf. Gnibbes 1998 and Czechzindemeyl 1999 for representative positions on grouping of these species). There is wide consensus that all linguistica families are descended from a single precursor species, linguistica saussurii, but the exact relations among branches are obscure. While isolated members of all of the daughter species share significant similarities to the parent saussurii (e.g., a diet supplemented by ethanol), none of the groups do so consistently. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XX
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XX — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined again by guest Madalena Cruz-Ferreira for Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics. They also discuss the spread of the -ome suffix and the biological approach to solving the riddle of the urheim of PIE. Finally, they discuss more questions and answers from comprehensive exams.
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A Preliminary Field Guide to Linguists, Part One
A Preliminary Field Guide to Linguists, Part One; by Athanasious Schadenpoodle; From Volume CL, Number 1, of Speculative Grammarian, January 2005. — While naturalists have long observed the behaviors of some of the better-known families within the Order Academica, producing for the lay person such fascinating and useful volumes as Jane's Guide to Physicists and The Sierra Club Picture Guide to Psychologists, the Family Linguistica has so far not been shown a great deal of attention. This is, in part, justifiable--the small numbers of linguists, and their comparatively drab plumage, draws fewer amateur naturalists. Still, there is a need for at least one major publication on the subject. While the current article does not fill that role, it is hoped that it is a step in the right direction. In this installment, I shall attempt a cursory description of two of the major genera, Neoplatonicus and Functionalisticus. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XIX
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XIX — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by guest Madalena Cruz-Ferreira for Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics. They also discuss the fact that German speakers can’t say “squirrel” and whether “modulo” is the nerdiest preposition. Finally, they give more Prescriptivist Confessions.
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Variation in the English Indefinite Article
Variation in the English Indefinite Article; by Tim Pulju; From Volume XVI, Number 4, of Psammeticus Quarterly, August 1989. — The problem of variation in the English indefinite article between the forms “a” and “an” has long vexed linguists. In his 1933 classic, “Language”, Bloomfield cited this case as an example of free variation at the morphological level, saying, “There seems to be no principled basis for predicting which form occurs in which contexts.” This solution was accepted by the neo-Bloomfieldians in general. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XVIII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XVIII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined again by guest Editor Emeritus Tim Pulju for Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics; and then he sticks around for the rest of the podcast, <i>again.</i> They also discuss otovermology and whether Burushaski is Indo-European, and interview Tim about his early days with <i>SpecGram.</i>
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Hunting the Elusive Labio-Nasal
Hunting the Elusive Labio-Nasal; by Claude Searsplainpockets; From Volume CLI, No 3 of Speculative Grammarian, July 2006. — 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 share—note the recent addition of “right hook v” to the IPA as the symbol for the “labiodental flap” found in numerous African languages. (Read by Claude Searsplainpockets.)
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The Language of Prehistory
The Language of Prehistory; by Merritt Greenberg and Joseph Ruhlen; From Volume CLI, Number 4 of Speculative Grammarian, October 2006. — Sticks and stones may break my bones and words used to hurt a lot, too. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XVII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XVII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by guest Editor Emeritus Tim Pulju for Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics; and then he sticks around for the rest of the podcast. They also discuss aggressiveness in teenage girls caused by the character limitations of social media and the information density of various languages, as well as exploring a number of phonetical things you know that you may not know that you know.
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Descriptivism X!
Descriptivism X!; by Ldaxin Kushtaka; From Volume CLX , Number 4 of Speculative Grammarian, January 2011. — Most practicing linguists (and even many who have gotten pretty good at it) will declare a philosophical allegiance to descriptivism, while harboring a number of prescriptivist pet peeves. Even the Managing Editor of Speculative Grammarian has admitted “a strangely compelling need to abandon my Descriptivist Idealism in favor of Prescriptivist Tyranny.” (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XVI
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XVI — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined again by guest Scott Yarborough for some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics. They also discuss doing NLP “from scratch” and automated news story writing, as well as exploring a number of language-related conspiracy theories.
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Book Review: Point’s A Grammar of the Lederhosen Tai
Book Review: Point’s A Grammar of the Lederhosen Tai; by Enrich Barbarosa del la Boca, Ph.D; From Volume CLII, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, January 2007. — After her landmark lexical study of the Frog-eating Aika in 1999, this year Point has given us another extensive monograph on the Migratory Tribes of Thailand. While other minorities in Thailand are torn between integrating into the larger society and maintaining their unique cultural identities, the so-called Migratory Tribes have completely isolated themselves from the mainstream. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures (Review)
Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures (Review); by Robert E. Lee; From Volume XVI, Number 3 of Psammeticus Quarterly, May 1989. — This slim volume, first published in 1957 and occasionally reprinted since then, has attracted surprisingly little attention in linguistic circles. It is unfortunate that this is the case, for in the book Chomsky proposes a truly innovative approach to syntactic problems which have plagued linguists since the days of Bloomfield. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XV
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XV — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by guest Scott Yarborough for some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics. They also discuss bio- and linguistic diversity, the likability of simple names, and give high-quality sample answers to common linguistics comprehensive exam questions.
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Review of Pulju’s An Optimality-Theoretic Account of the History of Linguistics: Past, Present, Future
Review of Pulju’s An Optimality-Theoretic Account of the History of Linguistics: Past, Present, Future; by TJP, Lecturer in Linguistics and Classics, Dartmouth College; From Volume CLI, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, April 2006. — It is a great sorrow to those of us who remember the glory days of Psammeticus Press—those fabled days when it was the leading linguistics publisher in the world—nay, what is more, in the entire history of the world—it is, I repeat, a great sorrow to us to witness the depths to which the beloved imprint has sunk with the publication of this lamentable volume. What could have possessed PsPress’s current chairman K. Winnipesaukee Slater III, a meek man, to be sure, and mild, but still a reputable scholar, and not, so far as we know, entirely devoid of common sense nor of the finer aesthetic feelings, to defile his company’s good name by foisting upon an unsuspecting public this lunatic political screed thinly disguised as a bit of historico-linguistic scholarship? (Read by Joey Whitford.)
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The Collected Wisdom of Linguists, Part Γ
The Collected Wisdom of Linguists, Part Γ; by The <i>SpecGram</i> Council of Sages; From Volume CLXIV, Number 3, of Speculative Grammarian, May 2012. — In this third of three installments, we share with you the proverbial wisdom of ancient sages of philology and linguistics, honed and refined through the ages by the folk wisdom and common sense of the masses. Should you sense a contradiction, recall also that “Proverbs run in pairs.” (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XIV
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XIV — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined again by guest Gabe Olsen for some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics. They also discuss how our brains make other people less boring, the likability of left-handed- vs right-handed-typed words, and a book about hyperpolyglots.
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Is Translation Possible? The Answer Rhymes with Noh
Is Translation Possible? The Answer Rhymes with Noh; by Trent Slater; From Volume CLVIII, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, February 2010. — 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. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Reconstructed Proto-Franco-Sino-Indonesian: Eleven Examples
Reconstructed Proto-Franco-Sino-Indonesian: Eleven Examples; by Tim Pulju; From Volume XVI, Number 3, of Psammeticus Quarterly, May, 1989. — In 1986, I published in Psammeticus Quarterly (Vol. XII, No. 4) an article entitled “Similarities in Form and Meaning in French, Chinese, and Indonesian,” which noted several similarities in form and meaning in French, Chinese, and Indonesian, and suggested that someone do further research to determine whether the languages were genetically related. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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The Collected Wisdom of Linguists, Part Β
The Collected Wisdom of Linguists, Part Β; by The <i>SpecGram</i> Council of Sages; From Volume CLXIV, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, March 2012. — In this second of three installments, we share with you the proverbial wisdom of ancient sages of philology and linguistics, honed and refined through the ages by the folk wisdom and common sense of the masses. Should you sense a contradiction, recall also that “Proverbs run in pairs.” (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XIII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XIII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by guest Gabe Olsen for some Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics. They also discuss chimpanzee gestures and the shutter-upper gun, and indulge in more Prescriptivist Confessions.
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The Collected Wisdom of Linguists, Part Α
The Collected Wisdom of Linguists, Part Α; by The <i>SpecGram</i> Council of Sages; From Volume CLXIV, Number 1, of Speculative Grammarian, February 2012. — In this first of three installments, we share with you the proverbial wisdom of ancient sages of philology and linguistics, honed and refined through the ages by the folk wisdom and common sense of the masses. Should you sense a contradiction, recall also that “Proverbs run in pairs.” (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Spaghetti or Lasagna for Linguists
Spaghetti or Lasagna for Linguists; by The LSA Committee on Comestibles in Linguistics; From Volume CLXIII, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, November 2011. — In order to understand various types of linguists better, we conducted a controlled experiment. Very simply, we asked each linguist “Do you want spaghetti or lasagna for dinner?” We think the replies we got are instructive, and so we are sharing them with you. (Read by Elliott Hoey.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss goat and other mammalian accents, and liberal vs. conservative linguistics. They also investigate more Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics with repeat guest Sheri Wells-Jensen, and have another visit with Mr. Linguist.
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Ph.D. Qualifying Examination for Linguistics (2009)
Ph.D. Qualifying Examination for Linguistics (2009); by Saudade Gezellig; From Collateral Descendant of Lingua Pranca, October 2009. — Historical & Comparative Linguistics ... Computational Syntax ... Sociolinguistic Semantics ... Documentary Linguistics (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Ph.D. Qualifying Examination for Linguistics (1978)
Ph.D. Qualifying Examination for Linguistics (1978); by Keith Mountford; From Lingua Pranca, June 1978. — Historical ... Theoretical (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Gavagai with Peppers
Gavagai with Peppers; by Rob van der Sandt; From Volume CL, Number 3, of Speculative Grammarian, July 2005. — Many tasty gavagai recipes were brought from the jungle by linguists and missionaries in the first half of the 20th century. After the publication of Quine’s Word and Object they gained popularity among philosophers, though the book’s underlying idea was soon attacked from linguistic circles. As an unfortunate consequence, gavagai recipes emanating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tend to be inedible. (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Language Acquisition Device Found
Language Acquisition Device Found; by R. Davis; From Volume CLI, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, April 2006. — At a recent press conference in Istanbul Prof. I. Jones, chief on-site archeologist at an excavation of an Upper Paleolithic site in central Turkey, made an announcement that stunned the linguistics community: a language acquisition device, or “LAD” has been found. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. XI
Language Made Difficult, Vol. XI — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss how vowels control your brain, and whether toddlers listen to themselves, or are just stupid. They also investigate more Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics with guest Sheri Wells-Jensen, and discuss their futurological visions for English.
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Feature Girl Episode 1
Feature Girl Episode 1; by Friday Night Linguistics — Linguistic superhero Feature Girl enjoys a night out.
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Speech Disorders as Indicators of Potential for Lyrical Success
Speech Disorders as Indicators of Potential for Lyrical Success; by Ozzie Tchomzkij; From Volume CLI, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, April 2006. — 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. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Val Harmony
Val Harmony; by Edgar Allan Slater; From Volume XVI, Number 1 of <i>Langue du Monde,</i> The Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia, September 1991. — It was many and many a year ago, In a tower of ivory, That a maiden there lived who I did love, By the name of Val Harmony (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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The Phonetician’s Love Poem
The Phonetician’s Love Poem; by Epiphanios o Phantasiopliktos; From Volume CLXI, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, February 2011. — Sweet modulations of fundamental frequency / Air particles dancing to and fro (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Love Queries of a Linguist
Love Queries of a Linguist; by John Miaou; From Volume CLVII, Number 3 of Speculative Grammarian, November 2009. — If I were a stop, would you be my explosion? If I were a nasal, would you be my syllabification? (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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My Love is Like a Colorless Green Simile
My Love is Like a Colorless Green Simile; by Rasmus Burns; From Volume CLXIV, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, March 2012. — O my love's like a colorless green simile That's newly sprung from your lips. (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Draw a Tree Diagram
How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Draw a Tree Diagram; by Alex Savoy; From Volume CLXI, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, March 2011. — How do I love thee? Let me draw a tree diagram— I was maundering, lonely as a bilabial trill, When I first heard your voice—(some breathy strange tongue) I was love-struck at once—(after all, I was young) (Read by Jonathan van der Meer.)
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Stepfather Goose, or, Just Take a Gander
Stepfather Goose, or, Just Take a Gander; by U No Hu (alias Carleton T. Hodge) ; From Lingua Pranca, June 1978. — This little phone had high tone, This little phone had low, This little phone was nasalized, This little phone was not so, ... (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Learner’s Task
The Learner’s Task; by K. Slater; From Volume I, Number 1 of <i>Linguist of Fortune,</i> The Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia, November 1990. — Some say it isn’t any fun to imitate another’s tongue; while idioms and turns of phrase can often baffle and amaze the novice who must learn their ways. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Gothic for Travellers
Gothic for Travellers; by A Judzis, the Visigoth; From Volume CXLVII, Number 4 of Speculative Grammarian, April 1993.. — Hints for the traveller: The Goths are a very friendly and gregarious people. They will be quick to invite you to their homes for special ceremonies and entertainments. They also have hot tempers, so don't turn down an invitation to go home with a Goth. Good conversation starters are death, torture, eating and drinking. (Read by Daniel Nuance and Trey Jones.)
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The Linguistic Rapture
The Linguistic Rapture; by LaTim ElHaye and Leeeerooooy Jiŋkins; From Volume CLXI, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, February 2011. — We have been watching with interest the ongoing debate in Speculative Grammarian over the so-called “ultimate truth” of cosmolinguology. The arguments for and against the various linguistic bangs, crunches, rips, freezes, and bounces have been fascinating, but all are ultimately hollow and meaningless because they are made by theolinguistically uniformed physicolinguists. Even an amoral neo-Chomskyite lexicalist Bloduweddan knows that only theolinguistically-motivated accounts, such as wrathful dispersion, are even possibly relevant in discussions of the true fate of the linguoverse. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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An Editorial Comment on ElHaye and Jiŋkins
An Editorial Comment on ElHaye and Jiŋkins; by Butch McBastard and Jonathan van der Meer; From Volume CLXI, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, February 2011. — We, too, have been “watching with interest” the “ongoing” cosmolinguological “debate” among several well-known and well-respected physolinguists. As supporters of free speech and vigorous debate, the editors of Speculative Grammarian encourage and support the energetic exchange of ideas, even when those ideas are tripe. Thus, we felt compelled to let ElHaye and Jiŋkins have their say, even though their anti-lexicalist and anti-Bloduweddan comments are anathema to even the least tolerant among us. (However, of note, their anti-Chomskyite implicatures are generally acceptable to all but the most tolerant among us. Funny that.) (Read by Daniel Nuance.)
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The Linguistic Doomsday
The Linguistic Doomsday; by Dr. X. Nibiru; From Volume CLX, Number 4 of Speculative Grammarian, January 2011. — While the parallels between physics and linguistics, between the physical universe and the linguoverse, are useful as a metaphorical lens through which to contemplate the role and fate of language, the parallels are far from complete. Unlike the physical universe, which is cold and at best apathetic toward the fate of humans, the linguoverse is warm and alive and intimately linked to the humans who form the substrate for the very existence of the linguoverse. There will be no Linguistic Big Crunch, Rip, Freeze, or Bounce. There will be no Linguistic Singularity, either, because the Linguistic Doomsday will destroy the linguoverse long before there is time for anything else to happen. (Read by Karen Nuance.)
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The Linguistic Singularity and the Linguistic Multiverse
The Linguistic Singularity and the Linguistic Multiverse; by Mikio Chachu; From Volume CLX, Number 3 of Speculative Grammarian, December 2010. — The tripe piles higher and deeper in the pages of SpecGram, a journal I once respected, as so-called “linguophysicists” barely worthy enough to utter the name of our noble profession spew out wholly inappropriate and wildly unsupported theories of Big Linguistic Crunches, Rips, Freezes, and Bounces. While the immature pretenders to cosmolinguistics paddle around in the shallow end, the true deep thinkers have deeply pondered the deep future. Their deep conclusions are deeply profound. (Read by Joey Whitford.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. X
Language Made Difficult, Vol. X — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss Danish and its vowels, and Proto-Ape-Wave. They also investigate more Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, and confess their prescriptive tendencies.
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The Linguistic Big Bounce
The Linguistic Big Bounce; by Dyman Freeson; From Volume CLX, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, November 2010. — I have watched with horror over the last several issues as the wrong-headed, ill-conceived, tripe-laden discussion of the ultimate fate of the linguoverse has unfolded in the pages of this once proud journal. Block’s Linguistic Big Crunch, Saygone’s Linguistic Big Rip, Tipler and Barrow’s Linguistic Big Freeze—all are once-enlightening but no-longer–enlightened models of our linguistic future. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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The Linguistic Big Freeze
The Linguistic Big Freeze; by John Tipler and Frank J. Barrow; From Volume CLIX, Number 4 of Speculative Grammarian, September 2010. — It is with some disappointment that we feel obligated to submit this article to the previously respectable Speculative Grammarian, which has now been demoted to the position of Purveyor of Meta-Tripe. (Read by Serena Nuance.)
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The Linguistic Big Rip
The Linguistic Big Rip; by Charlie Saygone; From Volume CLIX, Number 3 of Speculative Grammarian, July 2010. — In the June 2010 issue, Block claims that there is an impending “Linguistic Big Crunch.” I am appalled that <i>SpecGram</i> would allow such tripe to be published. (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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The Linguistic Big Crunch
The Linguistic Big Crunch; by M. Adam Block; From Volume CLIX, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, June 2010. — In my role as Physologist at the High-Energy Pronoun Accelerator, I have been charged with the complex task of determining the physical laws of language. Throughout my long and distinguished career these first three days on the job, I have come to a startling conclusion: the universe of language as we know it will ultimately and spectacularly conclude in a Linguistic Big Crunch. (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. IX
Language Made Difficult, Vol. IX — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss parrot naming practices and "discuss" the "loss" of "cursive" "handwriting". They also investigate more Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, and Ask Mr Linguist about the legitimacy of the word "funner".
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Je suis /hoze/
Je suis /hoze/; by Chesterton Wilburfors Gilchrist, Jr.; From Volume CLVII, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, August 2009. — Once again I am compelled to relate the tale of graduate students who have displayed shocking behaviour in the pursuit of linguistic analysis. I have written previously of some students who left me flabbergasted after proposing an analysis of Spanish "hola" as an inflection of a back-formed infinitive "holar", meaning “to be greeted”. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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In space no one can hear you scream
In space no one can hear you scream; by Keith W. Slater; From Volume CXLVIII, Number 3 of Speculative Grammarian, February 1998. — I opened my ears and the stars came down / speakers of languages I once called exotic / but now call data (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. VIII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. VIII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss the "oldest" words in English and whether kids really are better than adults at learning languages. They also investigate more Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, and Ask Mr Linguist about a mythical beast called the "thesaurus".
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A New Mechanism For Contact-Induced Change
A New Mechanism For Contact-Induced Change; by H.D. Onesimus; From Volume CL, Number 3 of Speculative Grammarian, July 2005. — 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”). (Read by Keith Slater.)
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The Glottal Stop Word
The Glottal Stop Word; by So /ʔːː/ Confused; From Volume CLVIII, Number 3, of Speculative Grammarian, March 2010. — Dear Editors, I think I may have discovered an unexpected allomorph of the so-called “F-word”. I have a long-time friend—the sort with whom one may seem to share a psychic connection, able to complete each other’s sentences and speak volumes with the a flick of an eyebrow. We were discussing a mutual enemy when she said: “I wish he could get his /ʔːː/ act together.” (Read by Lee Nuance, Trey Jones, and Fiona Nuance.)
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Dissection
Dissection; by Bryan Allen; From Volume CL, Number 1, of Speculative Grammarian, January 2005. — Dissection—extracted from the ether it lies... (Read by Bryan Allen.)
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How Computers Can Do Fieldwork For You: A Case Study
How Computers Can Do Fieldwork For You: A Case Study; by Chit Fullah; From Volume CLVIII, Number 4, of Speculative Grammarian, April 2010. — So, as a very mature and worldly individual—I am 20 years old after all—I am continually surprised by the lack of sophistication among the older generations—y’know, from 30 on up. They seem to be oblivious to the most rudimentary facets of everyday life, like Twitter, Reddit, and Fark. I mean, these people grew up on this planet—not like in Africa or something. Posers. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Veritas
Veritas; by Pocus Pisces; From Volume XVI, Number 4, of Psammeticus Quarterly, August 1989. — Linguistic thought’s been full of folks/ Who’ve known the psych-real rules;/ Each one is sure that he is right/ And all the others—fools! (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. VII
Language Made Difficult, Vol. VII — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by surprise guest Comptroller General Joey Whitford for Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, discuss stubborn speakers of a dying language and robot conlangers, enjoy more Words of Wisdom from Lady Fantod, and discuss the Slater Method with its creator.
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How to Pay for Linguistic Fieldwork
How to Pay for Linguistic Fieldwork; by The <i>SpecGram</i> Editorial Board; From Volume CLVIII, Number 4, of Speculative Grammarian, April 2010. — The thing is is that fieldwork is expensive, and yet we have to somehow pay for it. Or we won’t get to do it. And really, heaven help the poor soul who can’t pay for a trip even to Tahiti, and has to try to come up with some topic on English syntax that hasn’t already been beaten like a dead metaphor. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Linguistics Manifesto
Linguistics Manifesto; by Ling M. Anifesto; From Volume CLXI, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, March 2011. — Introduction to Linguistics Manifesto—There have been many linguistic manifestos over the course of the many centuries since man uttered his first schwa. But never, in the entire history of the universe, according to my private research, has there ever been a linguistics manifesto—that is, a manifesto on linguistics itself. (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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To the Field Workers, to Make Much of Time
To the Field Workers, to Make Much of Time; by Earl Herrick; From Volume XVI, Number 4, of Psammeticus Quarterly, August 1989. — Gather ye data while ye may,/ 
Old Time is still a-flying./ 
Informants that can speak today/ 
Tomorrow will be dying. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. VI
Language Made Difficult, Vol. VI — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds are joined by guest Devan Steiner for Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics, discuss a Boston Accent Eradication Program and the suddenly uncertain future of the Oxford Comma, enjoy more Words of Wisdom from Lady Fantod, and answer tweets from fans.
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The Uncanny Science of Linguistic Reconstruction
<i>Speculative Grammarian</i> proudly re-presents “The Uncanny Science of Linguistic Reconstruction” by Timothy Pulju. Originally presented at TEDxDartmouth 2011. ©2011 TEDxDartmouth; licensed under the Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. V
Language Made Difficult, Vol. V — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss just how wrong Chomsky is and whether phoneme inventories shrink with distance form Africa, and investigate more Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics. We also enjoy more Words of Wisdom from Lady Fantod and grill DJP on his experience creating the Dothraki language for HBO.
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The Joy of Old and Odd Books
The Joy of Old and Odd Books; A Letter from the Managing Editor; From Volume CLVIII, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, February 2010. — 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 <i>homo <b>sapiens</b></i>—cover what shelves they have with worthless gewgaws while their minds echo hollowly with a vapid emptiness. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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λ♥[love] (Linguistics Love Song)
λ♥[love] (Linguistics Love Song); by Christine Collins; From Volume CLXII, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, June 2011. — let me have your heart and i will give you love / the denotation of my soul is the above / if there’s anything i lack, it’s you / as my double brackets, you make me mean things / i can’t say enough (Used with permission.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. IV
Language Made Difficult, Vol. IV — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss the anatomical oddities of phoneticians, the fact that Big Brother may now be watching your every word, and more Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics. We also enjoy Words of Wisdom from Lady Fantod and discuss Twitter Feedback from “fans” of the show. Someone leaves the tape running too long, but power through it for an explosive musical bonus at the end of the episode.
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Video: Linguistic Stand-Up Comedy from Gabe Olsen
Linguistic Stand-Up Comedy from Gabe Olsen
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Survey of Linguistic Evidence of Meta-Consciousness in Tier-19 Terran Primates
Survey of Linguistic Evidence of Meta-Consciousness in Tier-19 Terran Primates; by Cëŏjpruustcrêrt êe Âgriüsturttâiy Fuördrêostsklanöukklėû Růŕskramnnuũrgciwä and Ëø Daerl stiic Uasŝăź swerz Ê; From Volume CLV, Number ζ of Speculative Grammarian, January 2009. — The following message arrived several months ago at the <i>SpecGram</i> main offices as a steganographic message encoded in the gift card attached to a Big Ol’ Bucket O’ Meat gift basket from Big Stu’s World of Taste—which had been the usual method of communication between the <i>SpecGram</i> editorial board and one of our top informants, known only to us by the code name Elbüo. We have good reason to believe Elbüo has regularly worked as a top exolinguistic consultant to one or more three-letter agencies of the United States government. We have not heard from Elbüo since this message was sent. In keeping with Clause 17 of our consulting contract with Elbüo, we must (1) assume he or she is dead, (2) stop payment to the numbered Swiss account, and (3) publish this, the last missive we received. Fortunately, with the new Obama administration coming to power, we are considerably less concerned about our chances of winding up in Gitmo over this. (Read by Rachel iVox and Peter iVox.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. III
Language Made Difficult, Vol. III — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss linguistic “thought experiments”, physicists modelling bilingual societies, a letter from a young proto-linguist concerning the word “lukewarm”, and Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics.
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Doing Fieldwork on Constructed Languages
Doing Fieldwork on Constructed Languages; by Curtis U. Lehder; From Volume CLIX, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, May 2010. — As all linguists know, there are only about 6,000 languages left in the world today, and that number is shrinking rapidly. Constructed (or created or invented or planned) languages, on the other hand, number more than 128 trillion, according to conservative estimates, and more and more flower into existence each and every day. Though up to now, formal linguists (or, at least, respectable formal linguists) have largely ignored the works of language creators, it seems inevitable that at some point in time during the late 21st or early 22nd century, there will remain only one natural language (Lithuanian), while constructed languages will number, quite literally, in the decillions. (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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The Other Sino-Tibetan Languages
The Other Sino-Tibetan Languages; Book Announcement from Psammeticus Press; From Volume CLII, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, March 2007. — This volume fills in the considerable gaps left by Routledge’s slim 2003 volume The Sino-Tibetan Languages. Displaying an uncharacteristic lack of ambition, Thurgood and LaPolla treated, in that otherwise excellent work, less than 40 of the 400+ languages of this important family. Clearly, much work remained to be done, and we at Psammeticus Press have undertaken to do it. The Other Sino-Tibetan Languages describes the remaining 90% of the languages in the family. (Read by Keith Slater.)
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. II
Language Made Difficult, Vol. II — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss mammal individuality and population size, architectural linguistics, a letter from a young proto-linguist concerning Urban Dictionary; and Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics.
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Language Made Difficult, Vol. I
Language Made Difficult, Vol. I — The <i>SpecGram</i> LingNerds discuss the Sapir Worf Hypothesis; “New” vs “Nyoo”; and a letter from a young proto-linguist concerning IBM’s Watson on <i>Jeopardy.</i> Plus Lies, Damned Lies, and Linguistics.
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An Iñupik Linguistic Fragment (or, the Last Grammarian)
An Iñupik Linguistic Fragment (or, the Last Grammarian); by Metalleus; From Lingua Pranca, June 1978. — The following fragment was found in a shoe box at Indiana University. It was translated by Metalleus with the help of a Phi Beta Kappa key. The author is unknown. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Nursery Rhymes From Linguistics Land
Nursery Rhymes From Linguistics Land; by Yune O. Hūū, II; From Collateral Descendant of Lingua Pranca, October 2009. — Continuing in the great tradition of Stepfather Goose, the following nursery rhymes are presented to ensure their preservation for future generations of young linguists. (Read by Peter iVox, Trey Jones, Rachel iVox, Ryan iVox, Heather iVox, Klaus iVox, Lucy iVox, and Graham iVox.)
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They Don’t Have a Word for It
They Don’t Have a Word for It; Book Announcement from Psammeticus Press; From Volume CLVII, Number 4 of Speculative Grammarian, December 2009. — With the inexplicable success of pseudo-lexicons such as Howard Rheingold’s 2000 “They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases”, C. J. Moore’s 2004 “In Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World”, and Adam Jacot de Boinod’s 2005 “The Meaning of Tingo: And Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World”, a native speaker of English could get the sinking feeling that English lacks the basic expressiveness needed to convey the most basic human needs and desires. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Regular Isomorphisms of Categorization in the Apathetic Informant
Regular Isomorphisms of Categorization in the Apathetic Informant; by Angus Æ. Balderdash, Esq.; From Volume CXLIX, Number 3, of Speculative Grammarian, July 2004. — Unfortunately, it is often the case that when working with data sets containing particularly uncommon kinds of data, the number of qualified consultants available to provide native-speaker interpretations of the data is quite low. In such cases, it is often necessary to work with consultants who have one or more sub-optimal characteristics: poor work ethic, lack of attention to detail, weak fashion sense, surly attitude, inclination toward insubordination, poor personal hygiene, difficulty following instructions—the list is all but endless. (Read by Peter iVox.)
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Twenty Special Forms of Rhetoric
Twenty Special Forms of Rhetoric; by Dawn B. Seely; From Volume CXLVII, Number 3, of Speculative Grammarian, March 1993. — Rhetoric has been a topic of academic interest for, approximately, forever. Below are detailed a number of special types of rhetorical argument, some of which, for example, Proof by Impressiveness, have been observed since the time of Aristotle and before. Others, for example, Proof by Intimidation, have been clearly recognized only within the last century. Some of these, for example, Proof by Loudness, have never been explicitly delineated before. The uses of rhetoric are manifold and many explications of such have been made before, which this paper will not repeat. (Read by Peter iVox, Trey Jones, and Joey Whitford.)
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The Oxford Comma: A Solution
The Oxford Comma: A Solution; by Eliza Doolittle; From Volume CL, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, April 2005. — The Oxford Comma has once again raised its nasty little head in linguistic circles, thanks largely to the efforts of one Ms Truss and her book, Eats, Shoots and Leaves. It is time once and for all to put this little beast to rest. (No, not Ms Truss, you moron—the Oxford Comma). (Read by Rachel iVox.)
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Ready! Fire! Aim!—A New Approach to Military Combat Using Language Science
Ready! Fire! Aim!—A New Approach to Military Combat Using Language Science; by François Achille Bazaine; From Volume CLVIII, Number 3 of Speculative Grammarian, March 2010. — One of the aims of any branch of scientific inquiry is to improve the lives of men. Surely the Science of Language is no different, and just as surely the lives of soldiers are among those most in need of improvement. The French military has had a long and varied history, with its share of both victory and defeat. There is as much if not more to be learned from failure as from success, if only one will take the time to understand. After much reading of the writings of my countryman Jean-François Champollion, I have taken it upon myself to apply the principles of Language Science to the goal of the betterment of the French military. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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An Introduction to Linguistics in Haiku Form
An Introduction to Linguistics in Haiku Form; by Anonymous; From Volume CLIX, Number 4 of Speculative Grammarian, September 2010. — linguistic theory / hidden representations / to surface structures (Read by Peter iVox.)
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Towards a Perfect Definition of the Term “Sign”
Towards a Perfect Definition of the Term “Sign”; by Louis Capet; From Volume I, Number 3 of <i>Better Words and Morphemes,</i> The Journal of the Linguistic Society of South-Central New Caledonia, May 1991. — Saussure defined the sign as the union of the signifier and the signified. Steinmetz emphasized the importance of the interactional element. Burma-Shave proposed that a sign could only be understood in the context of adjacent signs. Modern linguistics has elaborated the concept of the sign system. (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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French Sues English
French Sues English; by <i>SpecGram</i> Wire Services; From Volume CLIX, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, June 2010. — The Académie Française filed a lawsuit today at the European Court of Language Slights in Brussels against the English language, claiming 650 million euros in compensation. The suit against the English language describes “the intentional misappropriation of core elements of French and imitation of its distinctive sound.” The Académie seeks damages and an injunction that, if granted, would prevent English from being spoken until the case has been resolved. (Read by Stephany Dunstan.)
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The Linguistics Wars
The Linguistics Wars; by Dæriam Landec, Ph.D., l’École de SpecGram, Istanbul; From Volume CLI, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, January 2006. — As is widely known—though not exhaustively covered in the linguistic, academic, or mainstream press—an unfortunate series of events that have become widely known as “The Linguistics Wars” unfolded in Montana in the spring of 2005. Over the course of a few days, several devastating attacks were launched between the Montana Morphemic Militia (or M³)—a group that has been variously described as a linguistic-oriented paramilitary organization and a military-oriented paralinguistic organization—and the Montana field office of the First Earth Battalion (or F.E.B.)—a formerly secret but still active unit of the U.S. Army established in the late 1970s to exploit paranormal and other alternative forms of military intervention. (Read by Trey Jones, Joey Whitford, Bill Spruiell, David J. Peterson, Kristin Franco, Colleen Barry, and Brendan “Schnookywookums” O’Toole.)
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The Encyclopedia of Mytholingual Creatures, Places, and Things—Part II
The Encyclopedia of Mytholingual Creatures, Places, and Things—Part II; by Jʚsɘph Cɑɱpbɛɬɭ; From Volume CLIX, Number 3 of Speculative Grammarian, July 2010. — Noams: Small, wizened, earth-dwelling mytholingual creatures of Europe and North America. Generators of controversy and vitriolic rhetoric among such detractors as Traskus—Basque-speaking etymological kobolds—who often claim that noams publish “dogmatic”, “half-baked twaddle” on universal mythogrammar, despite the fact that “UM is a huge waste of time.” (Read by Trey Jones.)
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The Encyclopedia of Mytholingual Creatures, Places, and Things—Part I
The Encyclopedia of Mytholingual Creatures, Places, and Things—Part I; by Jʚsɘph Cɑɱpbɛɬɭ; From Volume CLIX, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, June 2010. — Abominable Synonym: A mytholingual creature of Nepal and Tibet that causes speakers within the radius of its effect to pathologically doubt their ability to choose the right word. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Phonological Theory and Language Acquisition
Phonological Theory and Language Acquisition; by Notker Balbulus, Monastery of St. Gall; From Volume CXLVIII, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, January 1998. — Gildea has argued that modern phonological theorizing suffers from a tendency toward over application of a particular insight. That is, a particular theory is developed to deal with a particular sort of problem, which it handles well. However, the theory's creators, emboldened by their success, and eager to win a Kuhnian victory over their rivals, then start applying the theory willy-nilly to areas for which it is not well-suited. (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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Morphemes: A New Threat to Society
Morphemes: A New Threat to Society; by Susan Wishnetsky; From Lingua Pranca, June 1978. — This leaflet was produced by the Council On Morpheme Abuse (COMA) to increase public awareness of the most recent health hazards. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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How to Do Fieldwork on Proto-Indo-European
How to Do Fieldwork on Proto-Indo-European; by Tim Pulju, Dartmouth College; From Volume CLVIII, Number 4 of Speculative Grammarian, April 2010 (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered!
New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered!; by Yreka Bakery, Egello College; From Volume CLI, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, April 2006. — An apparently new speech disorder a linguistics department our correspondent visited was affected by has appeared. Those affected our correspondent a local grad student called could hardly understand apparently still speak fluently. (Read by Jouni Filip Maho.)
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Subliminal Linguistics
Subliminal Linguistics; By Trey Jones, at Rice University; From Volume CXLVII, Number 2, of Speculative Grammarian, February 1993. — The new field of subliminal linguistics questions whether or not it is possible that there are clues available to children for language acquisition which are not obvious to those who study the process, and which may occur below the level of conscious recognition, but nonetheless aid language acquisition. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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What is Linguistics Good For, Anyway?
What is Linguistics Good For, Anyway?; An Advice Column by Jonathan “Crazy Ivan” van der Meer; From Volume CLV, Number 4 of Speculative Grammarian, February 2009. — The most commonly asked question of a linguist, when one’s secret is revealed, is (all together now!): “How many languages do you speak?” I’ve decided that a good answer to this question is π. More than three, less than four—though if you discover that your interlocutor is singularly unsophisticated or otherwise from Kansas, you can call it three to keep things simple. (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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The Braille Song
The Braille Song; by Innocuous Mustard; Music and Lyrics by Sheri Wells-Jensen, Sam Herrington, and Jason Wells-Jensen; From Volume CLVIII, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, January 2010. — You can read it in the sunshine, / Standin’ in the lunch line, / Under cover after bedtime: Braille, Braille, Braille.
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The Boustrophedon-Plummerfeld Hypothesis and Futurological Linguistics
The Boustrophedon-Plummerfeld Hypothesis and Futurological Linguistics; by Jay Trones; From Volume CXLVII, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, February 1993. — Recently I found myself "fortunate enough to find such occasion" (Pyles & Algeo, P.46) as to weasel the word 'boustrophedon' into a conversation. After having expounded on the many joyous properties of this word, I entreated my fellow conversational participant to remember the word, and attempt to become one of those few and proud who have used it casually in non-academia. In a subsequent discourse with my native English speaking informant, I asked her to recall the illustrious word. Her response was 'plummerfeld'. (Read by Josephine Whitford.)
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The Tribesman
The Tribesman; by Aya Katz & Leslie Fish; From Volume CXLVII, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, January 1993 —— Once a fieldworker hiked into unknown terrain, / Seeking someone to question, he came. / When he asked of the natives what language they spoke / There was one who was glad to explain. / Behind lay a linguist, as well as a saint, / Who would translate the Bible for them. / Would decipher the code of their language so quaint, / And secure for himself lasting fame. (Performed by Leslie Fish.)
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A 21st Century Proposal for English Spelling Reform
A 21st Century Proposal for English Spelling Reform; by H. Sanderson Chambers III; From Volume CXLIX, Number 2 of Speculative Grammarian, January 2004. — As is well-known to all educated people—and if it’s not well-known to you, then you’re not one of us—the early part of the 20th century was the heyday of the Simplified Spelling movement, which sought to reform English spelling on the grounds that it was “mard by absurdities and inconsistencies”. So what, you might say? Well, among other things, the simplifiers claimed that the spelling system kept English from being adopted as an international language: “A language, in which to learn to spel imperfectly takes two ful years of scool-time in the countries where it is spoken, does not recommend itself to the forener as a convenient medium for conducting his relations with other foreners”. (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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Reanalysis of Spanish by Naïve Linguists
Reanalysis of Spanish by Naïve Linguists; by Chesterton Wilburfors Gilchrist, Jr.; From Volume CLV, Number 1 of Speculative Grammarian, September 2008. — While sitting in the Linguistics Lounge the other day, I overheard some first-year grad students discussing the day’s Spanish class. My eavesdropping turned out to be much more interesting than I had anticipated. (Read by Trey Jones.)
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Nasal-Ingressive Voiceless Velar Trill (Letters to the Editor)
Letters to the Editor; From Volume CLI, Number 3 of Speculative Grammarian, July 2006. — To the most respected editors, In the fall I’ll be a first-year grad student in linguistics at R—— University. A couple of the current fourth-years told me that the International Phonetic Association was adding several new symbols for sounds that have previously been considered to have questionable status as phonemes. They said that the most contentious new addition was double-dot wide-O, a nasal-ingressive voiceless velar trill. (Read by Declan Whitford Jones and Trey Jones.)
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Where No Researcher Should Tread
Where No Researcher Should Tread; By Cowell R. Augh, Ph.D.; From Volume CLVI, Number 3 of Speculative Grammarian, May 2009. — We, the linguistic community at large, owe a great deal of thanks to our esteemed colleague Quentin Popinjay Snodgrass for alerting us to the dangers of lexicalism. A hero of his stature doesn’t come along every day, and it would be wise of us to pay close attention to his advice—and, may I say, it is my general belief that many of us have done just that. There are those, however, who either remain ignorant of the horrors of lexicalism, or deny its ability to corrupt the minds of students and academics alike. “Everyone in my department abhors lexicalist theories of grammar!” chortles John T. Department Chair. “Why should I remain on guard?” In times of war (for, realistically, what is this if not warfare?), though, one must be prepared for anything—especially when the enemy appears in the guise of an ally: language itself! (Read by David J. Peterson.)
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The Effect of Coffee Consumption on Adults' Average MLU
The Effect of Coffee Consumption on Adults’ Average MLU at the Breakfast Table; By Suzy X.; From Volume XVI, Number 3 of Psammeticus Quarterly, May 1989. — 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. (Read by Mairead Whitford Jones, with Declan Whitford Jones, Joey Whitford, and Trey Jones.)
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