"ain't gonna back down"

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Thu Sep 12 15:36:44 UTC 2002

Hmmmmm. Isn't all spelling normative? Should I respell all
Northerners who conflate 'hoarse' and 'horse'? Should I be annoyed to
find my 'pen' spelled 'pin'? I think there is a
'phonological-morphological' line for respellings (which I wrote
about pretty extensively in the Journal of American Folklore many
years ago but raised the ire of many folklorists who seemed eager to
defend their "quaint" spellings). It was odd, however, that this
quaintness seemed to be used on for quaint people, a peculiarly
unrelativistic stance, one would think, especially for folklorists,
who ought to have some anthropological moxie).


Please do not point out that "Dennis" is respelled in my messages
(and that morphology is clearly not involved). I get to make all the
fun of myself I feel like.

>Mai Kuha said:
>>Yeah, I couldn't find it by googling either. Other possibilities besides The
>>Bozo Effect: maybe an overzealous transcriber removed nonstandard features,
>>or maybe the quote is less likely to be found on the web if it is from a
>>speech given before the internet era. I remember reading it in some printed
>>source as an example of intentional nonstandardness used to give an
>>impression of toughness. Oh, well... for the moment, I can use "you ain't
>>seen nothing yet" from the last presidential election instead.
>I don't know if it's a matter of being overzealous.
>Years ago, for a graduate course in conversations and interviews, I
>transcribed one of the Carter-Ford Presidential debates and compared
>my transcript with the "official" transcript published in The New
>York Times. Working from memory now (I'm not sure which box at home
>the materials are in), there were two sorts of discrepancies. First,
>disfluencies (hesitation marks) were cleaned up and some false starts
>were removed, in the NYT transcripts. Second, there were some changes
>from more to less marked syntactic structures (a problem for me,
>since I was looking at relative clause structure). In addition there
>were normative spellings ("going to" for "gonna") and the like.
>>From what I read about how transcripts were prepared for the next
>day's newspaper, transcribers were working very quickly and any
>double-checking would have been concerned with factual distortion
>rather than seemingly small syntactic and or lexical discrepancies.
>Alice Faber                                             faber at haskins.yale.edu
>Haskins Laboratories                                  tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
>New Haven, CT 06511 USA                                     fax (203) 865-8963

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
      Asian & African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
e-mail: preston at msu.edu
phone: (517) 353-9290

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