[Ads-l] quote: fire in a wooden box

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Tue May 24 15:47:37 EDT 2016

query from David Gold dl.gold at yahoo.com

As a student of linguistics in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I remember reading the quip "linguistics [or maybe it was: defining linguistics] is like making a fire in a wooden box," that is, language is used to describe language.

I have a vague recollection that the quipster was Martin Joos or some other American structuralist (Bloomfield? Bolinger?).

Now that I want to cite the quip, I cannot find the exact wording or the author. Might you know?


AMZ: if you respond, please send a copy of your e-mail to David Gold, who's not a subscriber to this list. (i am not a good forwarding service.)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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