Haj Ross Squibber Scholarship name graphic



John Robert "Haj" Ross is a poet and linguist whose contributions to linguistics are significant over his 50 year career. At MIT from 1966–1985, he worked with great thinkers and friends like George Lakoff, James D. McCawley, and Paul Postal. Ross played a central role in the development of syntactic theory, making a huge impact with his 1967 MIT dissertation, which established the importance of syntactic islands. Ross coined many new terms describing syntactic phenomena that are now common linguistic parlance including: copula switch, Do-Gobbling, freeze(s), squib, squishes, and syntactic islands among many others. The UNT College of Information is excited to share that Dr. John ‘Haj’ Ross has been designated Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus by the UNT Board of Regents. This designation honors his dedication to the University of North Texas, his prolific research endeavors, and his impact on the students that he taught.

Haj Ross’s students commonly reflect on how he has changed their lives through his classes – he is loved by students, faculty, and friends alike. Over his career, he has amassed over 5,000 “squibs,” short descriptions of linguistic data that resist standard theoretical analysis. The Squibber Scholarship is for students who excel and revel in the art and science of the Squib. Help us honor Haj Ross and his significant contributions to linguistics by making a donation to the Squibber Scholarship today!

So what is a squib?

A squib is a language puzzle that has yet to be solved. Squibs exercise your analytical skills in language and can lead to new research in Linguistics.


Here’s a squib for you to try

Most people say: Whatever’s good for you

But some people say: What’s ever good for you.

What are the rules of this construction?

Can they say:

What’s ever been broken, I’ll pay for.

What’s ever time good for you is fine for me.

What’s ever wrong with Tom?


Can you solve this squib?