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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Linguistic Inquiry Squibs & Discussion

Editorial board

Ora Matushansky
Hazel Pearson
Francesc Torres-Tamarit
Coppe van Urk

Submission guidelines

  • Send all submissions to
  • The editors request that Squibs and Discussion manuscripts be limited to 12 pages. These page guidelines include notes, charts, tables, and graphs but not references and are based on double-spaced pages typed in a 12-point font and with 1¼-inch margins. Manuscripts accepted as Squibs will not be required to propose a solution to problems they address as long as their relevance to theoretical issues is made clear.
  • Manuscripts submitted for review should include: no author’s name or affiliation, either on the title page or at the end of the reference list, no running heads that show the author’s name, no internal references that make the author’s identity clear, no hidden identification information, or metadata. It is the author’s responsibility to anonymize the manuscript. Manuscripts that arrive with author’s identification will be returned without review.
  • For further details, please visit the MIT journals web page.

The etymology of “squib”

One of the first editors of Linguistic Inquiry’s Squibs and Discussion section, Professor Háj Ross, was also the originator of the term “squib”. Below, Professor Ross explains the etymology of term:

With regards to the word: I no longer know – my memory is too foggy over the 48± years since I started collecting them. I got to MIT in January of 1964; George Lakoff was an assistant professor at Harvard; we both were research assistants in Susumu Kuno’s lab, and we squibbed well and truly on a daily basis. I have asked George whether he knows who came up with the term or not; he says he is positive: I was the one. Could be – I certainly can’t deny responsibility.

At some point I went looking in the OED to see if it contained a meaning like ‘short note’ or anything like that. My wretched memory tells me that yes, there was such a meaning among the many that the OED offered up, but when I went this morning to look again for it for you, not a bit of it. There is one basic meaning, which has to do with with some kind of firework. But one of the citations is:

1599 Master Broughtons Lett. 47 Your bookes [are] but squibs, compounds of gunpowder and pisse.

Which I think would be an excellent sentence to have at the beginning of every squib section in each issue of LI.

And LI is in good company – here is a famous early user of the word:

1844 B. DISRAELI Coningsby I. I. ii. 24 No one was more faithful to his early friends..., particularly if they could write a squib.

Another thing I just found in the OED right now as I was writing is this:

N. Amer. Sport (esp. Amer. Football and Baseball). A hit, kick, or throw which travels only a short distance, esp. as a result of being mis-struck.

List of former editors

David M. Perlmutter
John Robert Ross

1972–Summer 1973
Stephen R. Anderson
Barbara Hall Partee

Autumn 1973–1975
C. L. Baker

Susumu Kuno
Jorge Hankamer

Alan Prince
Edwin Williams

William Leben
Thomas Wasow

1982–Winter 1984
Larry Hyman
Osvaldo Jaeggli

Spring 1984–1985
Hagit Borer
Bruce Hayes
Timothy Stowell

Mona Anderson
Howard Lasnik
David Michaels

Gennaro Chierchia
Nick Clements
C. T. James Huang

Chisato Kitagawa
John J. McCarthy
Margaret Speas

Sandra Chung
Junko Itô
William Ladusaw
James McCloskey
Armin Mester

Peter Cole
Gabriella Hermon
William Idsardi

Elizabeth Cowper
Elan Dresher
Diane Massam

2003–Spring 2004
Kyle Johnson
Joe Pater

Summer 2004–Summer 2007
Kyle Johnson
Joe Pater
Christopher Potts

Autumn 2007–2010
Gillian Ramchand
Curt Rice
Peter Svenonius

2011–Winter 2013
Eulàlia Bonet
Joan Mascaró
Jaume Mateu

Andrew Nevins
Kriszta Szendrői
Hans van de Koot

Andrew Nevins
Yasutada Sudo
Coppe van Urk

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