Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Tue Jun 17 11:55:10 UTC 2003

One need go no further in associating a right-wing approach in
general and Mr. Fiske's notion of language than his own self-damning
assertion of his apparently innate ability to see the difference
between right and wrong, true and false. The liberal-scientific
position takes quite a different view of the world in general. What's
so annoying to true believers is that we refuse to declare all-time
truths and continue to muddle around seeking better answers.

If I went on a chemistry discussion list (although it perplexes me
why I might) and found that my beliefs were at odds with all
professional chemists I could either 1) begin to at least question my
belief about the chemical makeup of something, or 2), take a Fiskean
position, and note that professional chemists didn't know
doodly-squat about chemistry.

But so it goes with linguistics, and since it is more "human" than
chemistry (and considerably less "scientific" in the popular mind),
it will always attract crackpots like Fiske.

I guess I am still on the side of having a professional ADS
discussion list. In my case, I spend a great deal of professional
time recording and studying exactly the sort of popular linguistic
belief (folk linguistics, if you will) espoused by Fiske. But when I
am with my colleagues (even electronically), I guess I'd like to take
a break.

On the other hand (and I think Ron Butters is one of the principal
supporters of this view), I'd like to aid wherever I can in bringing
linguistic sophistication to the public. I doubt, however, if
participation in Mr. Fiske's publication or discussion with him
(since he is in full possession of the truth, a common characteristic
of folk belief about language in the US) would further that aim any
more than the occasional liberal lamb slaughtered on Fox News [sic].


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.

If you're so keen to read Trudgill's 1500-word rebuttal of Halpern, I trust
you'll be equally interested to read Halpern's 4400-word response to Trudgill
in the July issue of TVR.

Robert Hartwell Fiske
Editor and Publisher
The Vocabula Review

The Vocabula Review
A measly $8.95 a year

The Vocabula Review
10 Grant Place
Lexington, MA 02420
United States
Tel: (781) 861-1515

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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