2602: Linguistics Degree

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Linguistics Degree
You'd think 'linguistics' would go to someone important in the field, but it's actually assigned to a random student in Ohio who barely graduated and then went into automotive marketing.
Title text: You'd think 'linguistics' would go to someone important in the field, but it's actually assigned to a random student in Ohio who barely graduated and then went into automotive marketing.

Explanation[edit]

Hairbun hands Megan a linguistics degree, and informs her she is now "in charge of" the word 'bassoon.' Watching this, Ponytail and Cueball compare the words they were assigned when they got their linguistics degrees, 'jackalope' and 'slurp' respectively. Ponytail thinks bassoon is a cool word but thinks her own is better, whereas Cueball is not satisfied with his word. A bassoon is a woodwind musical instrument with a double reed, while a jackalope is a mythical creature, a jackrabbit crossed with an antelope.

It is never clarified what being "in charge of" a word entails. It could mean being in charge of keeping track of the word, or having actual authority over the use of the word, which is unlikely as normally language use cannot be dictated by a single person. Also, no specific university has control over all of linguistics as far as we know, so it would require every university capable of giving people linguistics degrees to co-operate, so nobody is assigned the same word. Any well-educated member of the linguistic community will know what is being suggested is impossible hence why they are the only ones aware of how important it is.

The title text merely furthers how seemingly random the entire situation is. The word "linguistics" was assigned to a "random student in Ohio who barely graduated and then went into automotive marketing", who we can assume isn't very important to the field of linguistics.[citation needed] But this means that no one is actually taking care of this important word, since it must be assumed that the student is no longer interested in linguistics.

The idea of individuals having a guardianship of an idea or concept has appeared in science fiction. For example, in Fahrenheit 451 characters have memorised books to save them from book-burning and... spoiler-stuff.

It also exists in reality. Members of the Royal Spanish Academy, the institution that defines the official dictionary of the Spanish language, are symbolically put in charge of one letter of the dictionary each to take care of it.

Transcript[edit]

[Megan, who is wearing a graduation cap, receives a degree which is handed to her by Hairbun. They are standing on a podium with Ponytail and Cueball standing below as onlookers.]
Hairbun: Congratulations on the degree! Your word is "Bassoon."
Ponytail: Oh nice! Not as cool as my "Jackalope," but still not bad.
Cueball: You all are lucky. I'm stuck with "Slurp."
[Caption below panel:]
Every linguistics degree comes with one word that you're put in charge of.


comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!

Discussion

I think i messed up with the file upload- i was trying to help, sorry guys! Mushrooms (talk) 07:00, 5 April 2022 (UTC)

I think I fixed it. We use the small version of the file, not the x2. --Kynde (talk) 12:47, 5 April 2022 (UTC)

Not to be too nit-picky, but the legendary animal is a combination of jackrabbit and antelope, no jackal in it, therefore it’s jackelope. 172.70.126.65 07:18, 5 April 2022 (UTC)

Uh, no. It's "jackalope": Google is your friend. 172.70.130.153 09:51, 5 April 2022 (UTC)
Yes, I saw the wiki article. Either the person who coined the word was an idiot who thought it was spelled “antalope” or didn’t know how to make a portmanteau. Either way, it is NOT a portmanteau of jackrabbit and antelope, because that would be jackralope or jackelope. At best, you can call it a portmanteau of jackrabbit and a _misspelling_ of antelope.172.70.126.87 17:44, 5 April 2022 (UTC)
Excuse me? Are you in charge of "Jackalope" or Ponytail? ;) Lexi (talk) 20:36, 5 April 2022 (UTC) JACKrabbit + AnteLOPE = JACKALOPE . . . . (Was that so hard?) 172.70.130.153 10:57, 6 April 2022 (UTC)
Definitely jackalope in Texas, their native territory. 172.69.69.170 01:41, 25 April 2022 (UTC)
"Jacklope" Oh DEAR. You are so very and hilariously wrong on the Internet.

My immediate reaction to this was to see where ///bassoon.jackalope.slurp (What3words) took me. Nowhere - but suggested ///passion.jackpot.slurps is near Chausserais, 100 km ESE of Nantes in central France.Jmbryant (talk) 10:22, 5 April 2022 (UTC)

That's nearer Dahu-country, though! 172.70.86.64 10:38, 5 April 2022 (UTC) (P.S. Not that this is even a valid example why, but I rather think What3words is a bad development that will do more harm than good in serious navigation/geolocating purposes. Just sayin' in passing.)
In some languages, a bassoon is called fagotto i.e. faggot, which in English is an offensive word addressing a male homosexual person (Note: I'm describing the word, not discriminating against any people). The word jack also means a male person, and an antelope is horny. With slurp, these three words happen to be kind of inappropriate or graphic, if seen this way. Maybe? Thoughts? Yosei (talk) 05:02, 6 April 2022 (UTC)
Long leap. Or easy leap, as pretty much every word of significance has been (mis)appropriated, and has variable connotations anyway (someone mentions Slurp's variable offensiveness, below). "Faggot" is as likely to be a kind of sausage (an actual sausage, though of course "sausage" has its own innuendo!) or an actual bundle of sticks, round these parts, though we probably do recognise it as (US movie?) slang, if spoken in the more obviously offensive context.
Linking the woodwind ("erection-fart?") directly to ludeness is so easy. Perhaps also through onomatopeia? Or else "bassoons" is reminiscent of "bossoms". "Jack" might be "-the-lad", but no more sign of sexual-male than many other names (There's a John, naturally. Or the naming-of-parts via John-Thomas/Dick/Peter/”Hugh Jampton", etc?). And you missed in the jackrabbit that rabbits themselves have a certain reputation, beyond munching on carrots. Or, the question is, did your 'uncle and antelope'? And, like many ungulents, I believe they like pronking!
Low-hanging fruit (testicles?), I'd say. Not wishing to blow my own trumpet. (Well, I m not really supple enough to try!) 162.158.159.125 09:09, 6 April 2022 (UTC)
This use of faggot is American (and possibly other dialects). In the UK a faggot is a type of liver dumpling, or a wooden branch or a bundle of wooden branches - often intended as firewood.Jmbryant (talk) 08:50, 6 April 2022 (UTC)

Could the random student in Ohio be a cousin of the random programmer in Nebraska? --Quazgar (talk) 11:53, 5 April 2022 (UTC)

There's a Linguistics Society of America, maybe they could coordinate the assignment of words to graduates. Barmar (talk) 13:44, 5 April 2022 (UTC)

In the US, yes. In most of the rest of the world follows ISO 1806. 172.70.130.153 16:43, 5 April 2022 (UTC)
ISO 1806 Determination of mesh breaking force of netting? -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:55, 5 April 2022 (UTC)
I'm sure it was a typo for ISO 24612 Philhower (talk) 12:44, 6 April 2022 (UTC)

Cueball's objection to "slurp" is not explained; what's wrong with "slurp"? I think it's great word! (I wonder if trades are allowed...) 172.68.146.81 21:31, 5 April 2022 (UTC) Corin

You're right. The word slurp is just a word, value-neutral. What this word means can be seen variously, though. In some countries, slurping (e.g. noodle) is not only culturally acceptable but possibly seen positively, implying what they're eating is delicious. In some other countries, slurping may be a no-no, seen negatively. Some webmasters may not like the Yahoo Slurp bot, as it might misbehave. Yosei (talk) 05:02, 6 April 2022 (UTC)

I wonder if those who graduated with honors are entrusted with more difficult words, like irregular verbs or ones with tricky homophones. 172.70.38.41 01:21, 6 April 2022 (UTC)

Or both..? ;) 172.70.85.177 02:37, 6 April 2022 (UTC)

My sister was wondering if the assignment is specific to English, or whether you own the word in every language where it's a, well, word. Like if you got "eleven", are you merely in charge of "the integer between ten and twelve [English]", or are you also the administrator of "lively, alive [Hungarian]"? 172.70.38.41 18:25, 6 April 2022 (UTC)

Oh, no... I believe that the only way to get responsibility for the English word "eleven" is to do a mathematics degree, via the responsible governing body for assigning integers, fractions (vulgar or decimal*, including irrational) and various trans-finite notations. Although, only an infinitesimal number of numbers have been so assigned, so practically no-one else has noticed. Practically zero. Including the person who was actually assigned 'Zero' but was still suffering from a celebratory hangover at their graduation ceremony and apparently never realised.
(* - For historical reasons, however, all your other base belong to Sega.)
Due to an oversight, though, yes the person given "Eleven" has precedence over the Hungarian Linguist (who also has not realised... again due to a hangover). 162.158.159.43 21:17, 6 April 2022 (UTC)
My graduation was bi-lingual (English/Welsh) so, although I got "moron", I've never been quite sure if it was in the sense of "idiot" or "carrots". And actually, come to think of it, the Pro Vice Chancellor did inexplicably say "dirigible" at one point, so maybe it was neither and he just thought I was a moron. Or he fancied some carrots.
Better start researching airships... Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 14:26, 8 April 2022 (UTC)
Or pannas/parsnips (see Welsh Duolingo and FB Owen a'i pannas) 172.69.69.170 01:38, 25 April 2022 (UTC)

Explanation Tag[edit]

"Created by a JACKALOPE SLURPING UP A BASSOON, GRADUATED BACHELOR OF SCIENCE WITH A GUARDIANSHIP OF 'EXPLAIN'" This seems wrong, as the stewardships of words are gifted to recipients of Linguistics degrees, not Science degrees. --These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 00:30, 10 April 2022 (UTC)