Thank you for your courteous and threatening response, which I take is an approach intended to continue your support for your critics by terrorizing and infuriating them.
When I read English, I found that pressure of time obliged me sometimes to appraise a work or two without actually reading it, and this was usually very successful (indeed rather better than the alternative). When, afterwards, I read linguistics for a short time, this method was often more difficult, owing to the gnarled nature of many of the authors’ thinking, but I still remember with pleasure my brief encounter with interlanguage, for instance. Fortunately I had in the interim become a statistician, which allowed me to deal more or less severely with some of the wilder excesses of linguistic behavioural studies, but I did, nevertheless, have to read the blasted things thoroughly.
I would willingly do as much with the slim volume in question here (i.e., read it), but I fear that might lead to giggles and seduction, which would disqualify me for the stern, objective task of criticizing everything.
However, I wish you well in your pursuit of the ridiculous, and I can only say that I think your choice of linguistics as a hunting ground is an excellent one; but it does raise the question whether you are acquainted with the term ‘irony’. Floreant linguisticiani ridiculi!
There’s a good joke about statisticians, but there’s at least an 80% chance you’ve heard it already
We are indeed familiar with irony, in a way that is not available to those who have not studied and lived linguistics over the last few decades. Our favorite relevant backformation, cribbed from Spider Robinson, goes like this: A person who commits a gluttony is a glutton. A person who commits a felony is a felon. Noam Chomsky is an iron.
Obviously, the Very Late dialect of PIE from which twerk is borrowed is not technically Very Late PIE at all, but rather a descendent, Very Slightly Less Late Tocharian. Note, for example, the congruity of the dance move with the iconicity of the suggestive wooden edifices of the Tarim basin cemetery site:
“The whole of the cemetery was blanketed with blatant sexual symbolism,” Dr. Mair wrote. In his view, the “obsession with procreation” reflected the importance the community attached to fertility.
—Nicholas Wade, “A Host of Mummies, a Forest of Secrets,” New York Times, March 15, 2010
I’m sure that we would all agree that a connexion between sexual symbolism and fertility is not likely to arise spontaneously; nay! it is a clear diagnostic of Tocharian cultural identity.
As for the ability of modern speakers to borrow from VSLLT, there is an obvious explanation, although not one that many will admit openly: Communities of VSLLT-
Dr. Anhedonia Squibbe
Prof. of Apophenic Philology
Johannes Betula Institute of Diachrony
Neymwith Eld, Wiltshire, UK
Forget twerk, *terkw, the Greeks, the Romans, the Vikings, and all that rot.
We think you’ve just proven that the cast of The Jersey Shore is culturally Tocharian. Fist pump! That’s got to be the anthropological discovery of the decade, if not the hemi-
Unfortunately, this is a linguistics journal, not an anthropology journal, so we don’t really care all that much. Good luck with that.
It was with great interest that my colleagues and I read the letter to your august publication from Prof. Fantilliade, particularly his discussion of Venable Blenhurst. His description of a scholar contributing to academic discourse long after his death is a sterling example of the fact that the academic world is run behind the scenes by a hierarchy of super-
Editor in Chief, Filling the Cracks in the Sacred Gourd: Studies Towards the Grand Unified Theory of the Occult Sciences, Vols. 1-74
PS. After reading several back issues, we are very impressed with your work. Would you be interested in a series of collaborations? We’ll stop by your offices in a couple of weeks for tea and a chat.
Dear Miss Fanbourne,
Ordinarily we would tell you we had scheduled your letter for publication in 2230 and leave it at that, but you seem too obtuse to take the hint, so: all future submissions from you will be published long after your and our respective putative demises, so you should be afraid, very afraid.
PS: We already apologized to Prof. Fantilliade for publishing his letter. We’d now like to apologize to everyone else.
PPS: We’re only an august publication one issue out every twelve.
V’z jevgvat gb lbh va pbqr, orpnhfr V’z jbeevrq fbzrbar jvyy pbzr nsgre zr sbe nfxvat guvf. Qvq lbhe erprag ercyl gb Xba F. Cvenpŕ-Xahgg vapyhqr n frperg zrffntr? Vg fher ybbxf yvxr vg fnvq “Jngpu Lbhe Onpx”.
V’z fpnerq. Ubyq zr.
Dear Hep Cat,
Alas, no, there was no secret message. Some of our printing presses are quite old
Our digitization interns
Funny that it seems to spell out a message, isn’t it? But these things happen. Our statistical interns
Speculative Grammarian accepts well-