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

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Tue May 30 16:06:12 EDT 2017


On the whole, I'd be inclined to agree with the points John makes in both
paragraphs below.

But turning the issue on its head, IF the 419 emails do represent unmediated a
specific register of Nigerian speech, THEN they are possibly an important source
of linguistic data, perhaps comparable to the way in which Old Bailey Trial
reports are crucial to a knowledge of how Cant was actually used by (mostly
eighteenth century) actual criminals.  

(My particular dog in this fight.  Stretching it a bit, I wonder how far the
Nigerian 419s can be compared to the sharply-defined corpus of 1780s Dublin Cant
poems?  Another area no one seems to have taken up, much to my bemusement.)

Two brief observations.  One thing which struck me about a certain point in the
419 Scam was the moment when it began ambulance-chasing -- within weeks of a
major conflict, 419s allegedly from individuals caught up in the conflict would
appear.  Another thing which intrigued me was the way which certain 419s
constructed figures with a religious background, and the consistency with which
the idiom and reference of those particular 419s was sustained.  Almost tiny
short stories, some of them.

So I'd love to see this issue carried further, and dealt with in more detail --
if someone else was doing it.

Robin

> 
>     On 30 May 2017 at 20:09 "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM> wrote:
> 
> 
>     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
>     >
> 
>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>     The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> 
> 
>     ------------------------------------------------------------
>     The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list