Conversate and basically

Bob Haas highbob at MINDSPRING.COM
Thu Jan 25 02:45:26 UTC 2001

It was a visceral reaction, Dennis, but I'm not certain that I'd categorize
it as a prejudice, and I certainly hope that you'd not categorize me as
prejudiced.  I did and do find "conversate" yucky, but I also find that
other words and other writing have the power to make me laugh or cry or grow
angry or any of several other reactions.  Are those the result of prejudice?
Humm, I hope not, especially since I encourage my comp students to embrace
their own dialect and learn how to express it on paper.  But I also
encourage them to learn how to express themselves in a more standard fashion
when the writing situation call for it.  That's the mission that I've been
given as a comp teacher, and I think that it serves my students fairly well.

I think that a columnist, unless he or she is using "conversate" in an
ironic fashion, would do better to avoid the term.  I think that a
politician, and a national one at that, might do better, but I could be
wrong.  It's my reaction to the word and what it implies to me.  But I think
it's an honest reaction, and I've tried to be honest about my reasons--the
ones that come to mind--for such a reaction.  If my tone was too lively or
heated for some, please excuse me, but I had a fairly long day today and
perhaps felt a bit too itchy.  I really do attempt to be the paragon of
tolerance with regards to non-standard words and idiom.

And Beverly, please don't think that I'm being patronizing when I say I find
something charming.  I don't deem it as laziness, necessarily.  I do to some
extent, in this specific case, but at other times, I find different usage to
be . . . well, charming.  Isn't that a good thing?  I appreciate your
position as a language scientist, but am I not allowed to be moved by
language simply because I'm an academic?

Thanks for the sounding board.


Bob Haas
Department of English
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
High Point University

"Shun the frumious Bandersnatch!"

> From: "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU>
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 19:17:21 -0500
> Subject: Re: Conversate and basically
>> Please continue to expose your prejudices about language on this
>> list. I copy them down for folk linguistic work with great relish.
>> I'm especially fond of particularly visceral reactions.
> dInIs

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