More on "JASS"

George Thompson gt1 at NYU.EDU
Fri Mar 30 17:14:08 UTC 2001

Thomas Paikeday writes:  "I have always considered any linguistic
expression, visible or spoken, as evidence to be taken into account in
defining lexical items.  ***  I have been in the habit of making notes
on 4" x 6" slips of anything interesting in what I see and hear, radio
and TV being the prime source of such data.  ***  Oral testimony can be
made textual by being taken down and authenticated as to source and
date. Isn't this what is done in linguistic fieldwork, as in DARE?"

Those of us who have read the HDAS will have noted with amazement and
admiration citations taken down by Jon Lighter apparently in his junior
high school playground.  This is certainly valid evidence, as is movie
dialog, song lyric (as recorded, rather than printed), tapes of radio
broadcasts, and is of a completely different order than the recollection
of a spoken statement.  And within the realm of recollection, I see a
great difference between a recollection in the form of "I was a coal
miner in the 1930s, and we said ??? all of the time." and a recollection
like the one I recently posted, that I had heard "ball bearing
mousetrap" on one occasion only in the mid 1960s.  I'm certain I'm not
mistaken, but other people (lexicographers particularly) don't need to
be as sure.

What has me so frustrated about the non-appearance of vol. 3 of the HDAS
is that I have read vols. 1 and 2, and I want to know how it comes out!


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African
Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

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