Kathleen Miller millerk at NYTIMES.COM
Fri Jul 9 13:36:00 UTC 1999

I agree with the praise for the Mr. Baron' s response but what amazes me is
that LA thought a law was nec. in the first place. Having been a
Philadelphia Yankee in "King" Edwards court during my high school years, it
is my recollection that there was no lack of polite forms of address. Yes
Ma'am was used from every woman from the cafeteria ladies to the vice
principal. It just sort of rolls off Louisianan tongues. Even at my age I
was called Ma'am - or in the habit of Gone with the Wind, Miss Katy - by
those younger. I fail to see how, in just over a decade (and I do mean
just), the students at my alma mater could have gone from, "Yes Ma'am, I
did my homework" to "Yo, lady, I got yer homework right here!"

Kathleen Miller
Research Assistant to William Safire
The New York Times

At 08:07 PM 7/8/99 -0400, you wrote:
>Congratulations on a thoughtful and insightful response to the Lousiana
>bozos who would like to have every petty tyrant paid his or her "proper
>respect" (to speak a little more directly than you). Why the superficial
>aspects of school behaviors get the most attention and the underlying
>causes the least would puzzle us if it were not for the fact that we know
>(especially as linguists) that such superficialities hold such remarkable
>symbolic value (ain't it the truth!).
>I'll give you day before someone writes back upholding schoolroom
>respectful language behavior (and it ain't even gon be Bill Bennett, I bet,
>cause I'm takin odds he's not reading ADS-L).
>Dennis R. Preston
>Department of Linguistics and Languages
>Michigan State University
>East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
>preston at pilot.msu.edu
>Office: (517)353-0740
>Fax: (517)432-2736

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