Language notes from the slopes of E-15.

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 25 23:26:33 UTC 2010

It's also a good bet that any Icelander that you encounter will have
heard of any other Icelander of any note, e.g. "famous in the field."
At M.I.T in the '70's, I had an Icelandic classmate who is now
somewhat known in the field. In the '80's, I encountered a random
Harvard undergraduate from Iceland. When I started to tell him about
my former classmate, he interrupted, saying, "Of course! You're
referring to Prof. [Hoskuldur] Thrainsson!" He went on to explain that
Iceland is such a small country, without a lot happening, that, in
effect, the entire population has already been (in)famous, locally,
for at least fifteen minutes. It was very likely that, if I met
another Icelander and mentioned my interlocutor's name, that Icelander
probably would be at least familiar with it - Local Boy Makes Good!
Admitted To Harvard! - and, perhaps, might even be from the same

OTOH, I peaked dekkids ago, when George Lakoff, famous in the field of
linguistics, upon meeting me, expostulated, "Oh, yes! I've heard of
you!" Otherwise, though I have been close to greatness, yet have I
failed to achieve greatness.

BTW, a nephew of the late William Safire is FITF of M.I.T.-school linguistics.


On Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM, Gordon, Matthew J.
<GordonMJ at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Gordon, Matthew J." <GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Language notes from the slopes of E-15.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On 6/25/10 9:52 AM, "Jonathan Lighter" <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 6. English-language T-shirts warning "DON'T FUCK WITH ICELAND! We may not
> have cash, but we've got ash!"
> ---
> It took me several readings before I realized this was not a proclamation of alphabetic pride.
> -Matt Gordon
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
–Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list