As I poked around new-ish social networking sites targeted at wordy people (Library Thing — connecting through lists of books) and (Wordie — lists of words), I came across a reference to a satirical paper entitled English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subjects.1 The paper's author is listed as Quang PhÃºc ÃÃ´ng of the South Hanoi Institute of Technology. As it turns out, the Institute is fictional and the author's name is a nom de plume of a former University of Chicago linguistics professor James D. McCawley. This makes sense because the paper is both rigorously argued and penetratingly absurd (no pun intended; okay, it was). The Wikipedia entry for scatolinguistics (also known as "pornolinguistics") credits him with inventing the field, the "study (including etymology and current usage) of all rude and profane expressions." In any case, there's lots of stuff worth exploring further:
- Another satirical piece: Days in the Month of May that Are of Interest to Linguists
- A memorial site. McCawley passed away in 1999.
- Speaking of Library Thing, it has an entry for McCawley.
1 I posted the paper on my site because the current web publication appears to be part of a mid-90's‑era email thread, and is therefore rather unformatted. I posted it here to optimize for easier reading on the screen.