RE "Shoot beaver"?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 11 19:18:23 UTC 2010

On Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 8:25 AM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:

> It may well be that we on the list have little of real interest to share
> with the world or even with fellow specialists.

People on other listservs to which I "contribute" also complain about
the fact that "worthwhile" posts conducive to serious academic
discussion are sadly lacking. Hence, many of the great names in those
fields no longer choose to participate. So, some people have suggested
that, perhaps, the solution is to allow only dues-paying members of
the relevant learned societies to participate. But others have pointed
out that, in that case, there probably wouldn't be any participation
at all by anyone. Even under the best of circumstances, it's unlikely
that the "top cream," as we say in (some parts of?) East Texas, of the
field would ever post their works-in-progress to a listserv in order
to sollicit the random opinions of the field's hoi polloi, as opposed
to consulting personally with friends and colleagues who are their
fellow-specialists in a given niche in the broader field of
elephantology, as they do now.

That, e.g. Bill Labov doesn't post here is not a problem for me. I
don't think that I've learned particularly more useful facts than I
already knew, before I began to  Prozac my way into posting my own,
oft-times sadly-mistaken efforts to "correct" the "incredibly-naive
misconceptions" of other posters.

Of course, it more often turned out to be the case that *I* was the
one with incredibly-naive misconceptions. As a consequence, I now know
and understand much more than I ever would have, were this a site
restricted to the work of those who already know the things that I
have learned or come to understand. Most recently, I've come to accept
that IPA [a] really *is* the best-possible representation of e.g. the
pronoun *I* in its preferred - by me, anyway - BE pronunciation. I'd
long ago decided that this was most likely the case, what with IPA [a]
being the lowest-possible front vowel. But, when I heard various
spoken versions of [a], they didn't have the sound that I was looking
for. It has now occurred to me that the source of the dissonance that
I observe between various "true" pronunciations of IPA [a] and the
real-world pronunciation of BE "I" most likely to bbe explained by
"white voice" vs. "black voice." Were it not for my having been
introduced to this particular meaning of the word, "voice," I might
have gone to my grave vaguely annoyed by the fact that this very
common sound of BE - and also of some varieties of SE - was simply
being ignored. How bad wouth that have been, to die under that
misprehapprehension? ;-)

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

Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity,
or evil intent, we can uncumber ourselves of the impossible burden of
trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition
that we could be in error, without necessarily deeming ourselves
idiotic or unworthy.
–Kathryn Schulz

The American Dialect Society -

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