Mark Worden mworden at WIZZARDS.NET
Tue Jun 17 01:49:29 UTC 2003

dang, my sentiments, too, not exactly, but well put.

yo, I subscribe to TVR, what's the big deal?

Quark out
Lower Umpqua Addictive Conundrum Institute

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Wilton" <dave at WILTON.NET>
Sent: Monday, June 16, 2003 5:42 PM
Subject: Re: Vocabula

> ---------------------- Information from the mail
header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dave Wilton <dave at WILTON.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Vocabula
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > I see I have no allies among the members of ADS. So be it. I am quite
> > confident in my approach and how I see things -- more perhaps
> > than any of you (who need to rely on mockery, insult, and even, I am
> > disturbed to read, copyright infringement to make your points) are.
> First, don't equate the "members of ADS" with the small cadre who actively
> post to the email discussion list. While I would venture to say that most
> ADS members don't fall into the prescriptivist camp, I would also guess
> a fair number would agree with many of the opinions voiced in TVR.
> The problem is that you are not making a very good argument for the merits
> of TVR. There are potential "allies" here. Virtually everyone on this list
> loves language and celebrates superb writing and speech. There are
> arguments to be had for careful and aesthetically pleasing use of
> but they are not given in the TVR marketing collateral. Your examples,
> good and bad, are not convincing.
> As to the examples of "bad English" mentioned so far:
> 1) "Is our children learning?" Clearly this is a grammatical error on the
> part of our president. But this has been roundly criticized by all
> He flubbed a line. Everyone recognizes that he made an error. How is this
> example of declining standards in our language or in public discourse? Now
> if a number of people rose up claiming that Bush's usage here was
> grammatically correct, you might have a point. But they didn't and you
> don't.
> 2) "Conversate." As Beverly Flanigan pointed out, this is a common verb in
> AAVE. Would you take a Scotsman to task for saying "a wee lass"? After
> "wee" and "lass" are not standard American English terms. One must make
> allowances for dialect and a black basketball player using "conversate" is
> not an example of "devolving English;" it is an example of dialectical
> English. Now if "conversate" appeared, for example, in a piece of formal
> academic writing, criticism would be warranted. Whether or not a
> term is appropriate depends on the context. You claim to celebrate the
> richness of the English language, but isn't African-American and other
> dialectical speech part of this richness?
> 3) "Juggernaut" and "vociferous." These are simply lexical errors. The
> speakers in question were ignorant of the words' commonly accepted
> Again, this doesn't prove declining standards; it simply proves individual
> ignorance. Who among us hasn't misused a word at some point or another?
> Now some examples of "good English" have been provided. Personally, I find
> these to be examples of terrible writing, far worse than the simple errors
> of 1 or 3 above.
> "Even today -- subjected as we are to the apotheosis of popular culture --
> using the English language respectfully helps us maintain a sense of
> ourselves and our values. To do otherwise, to disregard the ways of our
> words, is to forsake our humanity and, perhaps, even forfeit our future. A
> society is generally as lax as its language. And in a society of this
> easiness and mediocrity are much esteemed."
> This is purple prose of the worst sort. While I can't spot a grammatical
> error--the sentences all parse correctly--there is lexical muddiness and
> weakness in the logic. What exactly is societal laxness and how is it
> connected to language usage? What are the "ways of our words"? It's nicely
> alliterative, but could you be more vague? And the conclusion that society
> is going to hell in a hand basket does not necessarily follow even if one
> grants the premise that language is declining. (And how does one measure
> that?)
> The other, newer, example from the TVR marketing collateral is better, but
> still not good. Some examples:
> 1) "Plodding" is contrasted with "precise." These are not antonyms. They
> measure different qualities. One can be both plodding and precise. In
> one who is plodding will tend towards precision. (Also, precision is not
> always a virtue. In some cases ambiguity can highly desirable.)
> 2) The "language," as a whole, cannot be either precise or plodding. These
> are not properties of the language. Rather they are properties of
> use of the language. It would be better to say, "While some use these new
> additions to and changes in the language with care and elegance, others do
> not."
> 3) "Not a small part of this new cumbrousness is due to..." This is
> and requires careful parsing to avoid confusion. Further, "cumbrousness"
> itself a cumbersome and unwieldy word.
> 4) Quotation marks are omitted around "Is our children learning?" and
> the other listed words in the paragraph, making it difficult to read.
> Finally instead of complaining about copyright infringement (not that I'm
> advocating that), a better marketing strategy would have been to make the
> Trudgill article available, gratis, to members of the list. Tease 'em the
> Trudgill article and let 'em know the Halpern response will be available
> subscribers in the next issue. Many would have been interested and you
> have gotten more subscribers out the deal.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list