LINGUIST List 27.5169

Fri Dec 16 2016

Media: Night Before Xmas Linguists' Version! & Other Gags

Editor for this issue: Yue Chen <>

Date: 16-Dec-2016
From: Dave Sayers <>
Subject: Night Before Xmas Linguists' Version! & Other Gags
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Tis the season folks, for my annual spamming of the best seasonal in-joke
around. That's right, it's time for The Night Before Christmas (linguists'
version!), where we learn finally Santa's secret, any with the help of

Now, I tried to send this message along with a selection of other
linguistics-based Christmas memes that I'd found lying around the internet
(didn't just want to give you the same old pair of socks as last year), but I
was politely informed by the vigilant LinguistList staff that they don't link
to just any old website. Who knows what other naughty stuff might show up
there in future? This is a family show after all. Fair enough, so I had
another look round for cheesy linguistics Christmas gags limited to academic
websites, and WHO KNEW? It's quite the topic of discussion! Here's are a few
of the best, including, of course, technical linguistic discussion of the
humour (this skill will come in very handy round the Christmas dinner table,
I'm sure):

And so now to my little poem, for your seasonal delectation:

Twas the night before Christmas in the ivory tower,
Not a creature was stirring at the midnight hour,
Twas a problem for linguists who live to hear sounds,
Consonants, vowels (open or round).

We linguists were nestled all snug in our beds,
While visions of fricatives danced in our heads.
Snug in our gowns and our four-cornered caps,
We pondered enigmas like bilabial taps.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter.
I sprang from the bed hoping for research matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Hoping my equipment would record and not crash...

(Poem continues here:

And If Twitter is your thing, you can share the joy:

Happy holidays, everyone :)


Dr. Dave Sayers
Senior Lecturer, Dept Humanities, Sheffield Hallam University |
Honorary Research Fellow, Cardiff University & WISERD | |

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Page Updated: 16-Dec-2016