[Ads-l] OT: comments re: assumptions about dialects was Re: Miscellanea: Well, that makes sense.

Baker, John JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM
Tue May 30 15:09:03 EDT 2017


I believe that there is ample anecdotal evidence that at least some Nigerian 419 scam emails do in fact emanate from Nigeria.  While hardly dispositive, it may perhaps be relevant that "419" is the section number of the Nigerian criminal code provision dealing with fraud.  It outlaws fraud generally and is not directed specifically to email scams.

I am personally leery of the hypothesis that scammers make their scams low-quality in order to focus on the naïve.  I tend to the belief that they would improve the quality of their scams if they could.


John Baker


-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Robin Hamilton
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 1:32 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: OT: comments re: assumptions about dialects was Re: Miscellanea: Well, that makes sense.

It's years (possibly fifty) since I read _The Palm Wine Drinkard_ (and thanks
for reminding me -- it's a fine book, and thoroughly readable), but my immediate
thought was that I'd never till now considered a possible connection between the
register there and that in The Spanish Prisoner (Electronic Variety).

As the book is available online --
https://archive.org/details/ThePalmWineDrinkardAndMyLifeInTheBushOfGhostsAmosTutuola
-- I nipped across and reread the first paragraph.  I'm not, yet, convinced that
there is a connection -- that is, that the register of the Nigerian Scam emails
(if there is, in fact, a consistent register between the various instances)
reflects a specifically *Nigerian* register of speech, in the way that Amos
Tutuola's prose does.

I'm prepared to stand corrected here, but I think I'd like a little detail as to
how the 419 Scam Register is specifically Nigerian, and (related) whether or not
it's "authentic" -- that, rather than Sanders of the River territory.  (I once
started to collect a set of 419s, but no longer have it.)  An extended analysis,
based on a range of instances, dated at least roughly, would be more than
interesting.  My impression was that they tended to evolve over time.

Has anyone done this?  My own reaction is both impressionistic and more than a
little uninformed, so I'd be delighted if either Herb or Margaret (or both)
would expand on this a bit.

I don't know why I never followed through on the rest of Tutuola's work, so it
looks as if I have a treat in store.

Robin.

> 
>     On 30 May 2017 at 03:05 Herb Stahlke <hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> 
>     The language of the Nigerian Scam letters tends to represent a register of
>     Nigerian English used in formal contexts by writers who have not mastered
>     the various registers of British or American English. This register feels
>     like a more formal variant of the register made familiar by the works of
>     Amos Tutuola, which, if you haven't read, are worth the time.
> 
>     Herb
> 
> 
> 
>     On Mon, May 29, 2017 at 4:44 PM, Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>
>     wrote:
> 
>     > > On 29 May 2017, at 11:21, Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM> wrote:
>     > >
>     > > On 5/22/17 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system (Actually, Wilson)
>     > wrote:
>     > >> that Nigerian Letters are always easily recognizable by
>     > >> the clumsiness of their English composition. It was explained to him
>     > that
>     > >> the poor English was the very heart of the scam. A reader alert to
>     > >> the
>     > >> niceties of written English is also likely to see the illogic of the
>     > scam.
>     > >
>     > > As, always a day (or 7 late) . . .
>     > >
>     > > I haven't seen any follow-up comments to this, and these comments I'm
>     > about to make are only tangentially related to American dialects just by
>     > being about dialects, and I realize that my job here on the list is to
>     > point out the obvious . . .
>     > >
>     > > But, wow, there's a whole mess of assumptions about dialects packed
>     > > into
>     > here, aren't there? And these are not necessarily Wilson's but the folks
>     > on
>     > Dr. Phil, and I think Wilson is merely calling them out. (See the point
>     > above about me pointing out the obvious.)
>     > >
>     > > First, can we treat Nigerian English as a dialect of English? (Yup.)
>     > > Is
>     > the "clumsiness of their composition" rooted in the dialect? Perhaps.
>     > And
>     > the assumption that someone who is "smart" (my word)/educated enough to
>     > recognize non-standard/non-dominant dialect is going to be
>     > "smart"/educated
>     > enough to not fall for the scam. Wow. This is a great example of popular
>     > assumptions and attitudes about language (I truly mean that, Wilson) and
>     > could really be richly used in a classroom.
>     > >
>     > > ---Amy West
>     >
>     >
>     > In dialects where the plural -s and third-person -s are used in
>     > variation
>     > with s-less forms, such as found in Indian and Hawaiian, are such
>     > variations treated as syntactic variations, just as n/ng are treated as
>     > phonetic variations for the -ing suffix?
>     >
>     > Are such syntactic variations considered by native speakers to be more
>     > offensive than phonetic variations?
>     >
>     > Benjamin Barrett
>     > Formerly of Seattle, WA
>     > ------------------------------------------------------------
>     > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>     >
> 
>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>     The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> 

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