Monday, December 16, 2013

Porn for Linguists!

Finally! One thing in linguistics Len Talmy, Paul Postal, Noam Chomsky, and Joan Bresnan can agree on: At $12.99, The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics is a modest last minute Christmas gift that takes less effort to purchase than red sweaters with white fluffy trim, yay! Nerdy uncles around the world thank you!

At 10,700 single spaced pages, 9 point font, Vera Sans Bold, this thin volume is a reminder of why my dissertation never quite fulfilled its promise, or never quite filled 50 pages, for that matter (can you say Ay Bee Dee, boys and girls?).

This volume of linguistic paraphernalia appears to be an elaborate sting designed to con some otherwise reputable institution into bestowing a commemorative matchbook cover on Trey Jones, a linguist best known for not being Terry Jones.

Out of kindness to the editors, I will refrain from discussing their shocking decision, vis à vis two white spaces after a period or one (I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to judge the depth of their depravity on your own). As to their policy regarding the Oxford comma, scandalous!

Am I paranoid, or was the blank page four a none-too-subtle homage to covert logical form? Obvious Chomskyan propaganda, I was disgusted.

'Tis not without its charms, though. A personal fave: Kean Kaufmann's cartoon depiction of when Daniel Jones discovered history's first cardinal vowel by plucking it, virginal and innocent, from his perfectly formed vowel space:



The volume also contains some rarely discussed dark moments in linguistics history, such as the catastrophic linguistic consequences of the 2004–5 NHL lockout on Canadian language production. So many "ehs" lost in time, like teardrops in the rain...

Rumor has it that Steven Pinker saw the book and immediately cried out, "Jones? TREY Jones? That guy owes me money!"

There are worse things you can do than spend $12.99 on pure linguistics fun.

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