CLIK/CLEEK & NATIVE SPEAKER [was "FAG one last time"]

Thomas Paikeday t.paikeday at SYMPATICO.CA
Wed Mar 14 15:26:49 UTC 2001

As Chomsky has stated, everyone is a native speaker of their own
idiolect(s). I am not a Chomskyan, but he has been the most
consequential linguistic thinker of our time. Here is a summation
(somewhat self-serving surely) of his latest position by Paul
Christophersen in his _A Linguist's Credo_, Odense, 1999:

"A few years ago, in a symposium edited by Thomas M. Paikeday,_The
Native Speaker is Dead_ (Toronto & New York, 1985), his contribution [to
the native-speaker discussion] amounted to saying that there are no
languages or dialects but only idiolects, and more than one such for
each individual."

So where do lexicographers stand in regard to grammar, pronunciation,
lexical nuances, etc.?

In my own practice (since 1964), I have ignored most pronouncements
based on the native speaker as authority and relied on written and
edited testimony, even if this smells like secondhand smoke. By
pronouncements I mean any utterance by practically anyone, esp. the
socalled "educated native speaker," native speakership apparently being
a question of degree, not of kind. But I have no quarrel with anyone
making use of the term, if it suits their purpose, as Ron Butters did in
AS (Spring 2000): "Words mean what native speakers tell us they mean."
If I am reopening a Pandora's box, stirring up a hornet's nest, or what
have you, it may be good for the economy.

Yesterday, for example, my cook (age 31, born of French parents, speaks
only English, lived most of her life in Windsor, Canada) said (clik) for
"clique" and left me wondering what to think of this "native speaker"
utterance. I checked the dictionaries and discovered that in Kenyon &
Knott (1953), (Webster's Third, 1961), J. C. Wells (1990), Oxford
notwithstanding, (clik) is indeed an accepted variant of (cleek), only
that it is British according to Wells (Lynne, have you heard this in
Sussex? I was in London last weekend but my head was whirling in Cockney
and Estuary English; didn't listen to higher-class words like "clique";
couldn't even get through to you on the phone!).

Ultimately, of course, all pronunciations come from the mouths of
speakers (native and otherwise). I guess the "native speakers" would
attribute their pronunciations to their mothers, if "mother tongue" has
any meaning left. So where does all this lead and which WORKING (not
just theorizing) lexicographer has the time?

(latest work: _The User's(R) Webster,_ 2000).

Beverly Flanigan wrote:
> A basic principle of linguistic inquiry is to ask for native speaker/users'
> intuitions, not only about grammar and pronunciation but also about lexical
> nuances.  Don't dictionary people do this???  I recall the controversy
> about dictionary entries for 'Negro' and 'nigger' a few years ago.  One
> would think compilers would ask those most involved with such usages.
> At 06:55 PM 3/8/01 -0500, you wrote:
> >In a message dated 3/8/01 4:11:45 PM, jester at PANIX.COM writes:
> >
> ><< we have
> >seen a variety of disparaging terms adopted with pride>>
> >
> >My quarrel is entirely with this phrase. Gay men do not use FAG "with pride."
> >Not in my experience. Not in the experience of my friends. Not in any written
> >citation that I havve ever seen. The citations that Jesse circulated in his
> >earlier posting are not attempts at appropriating FAG as a legitimate term of
> >self-reference. They are used exactly the way that black people use NIGGER. I
> >guess if Jesse wants to read his cites as "proud" I can't convince him
> >otherwise. But I know no gay men who would ever agree with Jesse's
> >assessment. This is not to say that the utterers of his cites are not proud
> >of their queer identity, only that the utterers of the cites do not think that
> >FAG is a word to be "adopted with pride." QUEER yes. FAG no.
> _____________________________________________
> Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
> Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
> Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

More information about the Ads-l mailing list