Cartoon Theories of Linguistics—Part ж—The Trouble with NLP—Phineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D. SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 4 Contents Transform Puzzles I—Vaguely Linguistic Transforms—Jonathan van der Meer
Psammeticus Entertainment

Psammeticus Entertainment proudly presents...

SpecGram Suzie!


New SpecGram Suzie, Party Grrrl!
Hey there, Happy Party People! My name is Suzie. A long time ago I thought that maybe I wanted to be a linguist, but

Old Suzie, Boring Linguist
then I realized that linguistics actually isn’t very much fun! Linguists try to study human language scientifically in part because they can’t think of anything better to do with their time, and in part because they just can’t manage to get a date for Saturday night. Girls, you don’t really want to be a linguist, because sometimes it can be really, really hard, and it’s always really, really boring! If you study linguistics, you’d have to learn about weird ideas with strange names, like center embedding, ergativity, agglutination, C-command, and glottochronologydoes that sound like it would be any fun? Of course not; it sounds horrible!

So, listen to me, girls! You would be much better off if you were to stick with something that’s actually interesting and not pointlessly hard like the social sciences (they’re all so squishy). Stick to subjects based on the more straightforward hard sciences, like rocket science, neuro-surgery, or abstract mathematics. Leave the boring linguistics for the boring boys!
SpecGram Suzie

At this point, those of you with a conscience and any sense of justice and gender equality are about to have a conniption fit. It’s the same fit you had when you heard about a version of a famous doll that would vocally complain about the difficulty of mathematics. As pointed out by many concerned people at the time, a doll that says such things may encourage young girls not to pursue advanced study in mathematics. SpecGram Suzie could have a similar effect, discouraging young girls from ever pursuing advanced study in linguistics.

SpecGram Sam, Anti-Linguist and Macho Stud
And that, dear colleagues, is the point. There is an obvious gender imbalance in the field of linguistics as a whole, and SpecGram Suzie seeks to address that fact. Linguistics departments who recognize and want to correct the gender imbalance are encouraged to take a long-term view of the problem and purchase SpecGram Suzie dolls and accessories in bulk and donate them to a worthy cause, or find some other way to distribute them.

Should you find the gender imbalance in your university, town, city, or state to be too male-heavy, Speculative Grammarian also offers SpecGram Sam, a male action figure designed to discourage little boys from pursuing linguistics. SpecGram Sam is a macho, virile stud of an action figure with a kung fu grip, a fast car, and giant wads of fat cash. He also says things like, “Linguistics is an unmanly soft science!”, “The humanities are for girls and other losers with cooties!”, and “Linguistics causes erectile disfunction!”

Of course, individual Linguistics departments can choose to distribute SpecGram Suzie or SpecGram Sam in their local communities as they see fit to balance the long-term gender ratios of local applicants to their departments.

Of course, care must be taken, as SpecGram Suzie or SpecGram Sam could be over-used, possibly poisoning the local talent pool. And it would be unethical (though probably effective for youand certainly profitable for us) to use SpecGram Suzie and SpecGram Sam to try to damage the local talent of a rival institution.

Cartoon Theories of Linguistics—Part ж—The Trouble with NLP—Phineas Q. Phlogiston, Ph.D.
Transform Puzzles I—Vaguely Linguistic Transforms—Jonathan van der Meer
SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 4 Contents