Gordon, Matthew J. GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU
Wed Jun 18 01:36:40 UTC 2003

I find the suggestion that linguists have wasted their lives an odd attack. What is it that Fiske thinks linguists do?
Moreover, what can prescriptivists point to as evidence of their success? Most of the phenomena that prescriptivists grumble about today (malapropisms, neologisms, conversions of words across classes, etc.), indeed many of the specific features, have been the subject of complaints for centuries.
The prescriptivist tradition has certainly been successful in one regard and that is in making people insecure about their usage.

-----Original Message-----
From:   Robert Hartwell Fiske [mailto:Vocabula at AOL.COM]
Sent:   Tue 6/17/2003 6:10 PM
Subject:             Re: Vocabula

I imagine, though, that the principal reason for the vituperative (and ad
hominem) attacks against me is that people who have spent their lives studying
linguistics are infuriated when someone dares say, in effect, that how they see
things is largely nonsense. No one likes to be told, even implicitly, that
they have wasted their lives.

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