Mission of the American Dialect Society

Mai Kuha mkuha at BSU.EDU
Sat Nov 1 15:38:12 UTC 2003

> On 10/31/2003 08:50 PM, AAllan at AOL.COM wrote the following:
>> It is not surprising, therefore, that our discussion list, as well as our
>> publications, includes matters lexicographical as well as phonological and
>> morphological and syntactical; and the history as well as the present
>> status of American English.

on 11/1/03 3:33 AM, Scott Sadowsky at lists at SPANISHTRANSLATOR.ORG wrote:

> (...) although the original complaint was about the antedating
> permaflood, some list members have been portraying the issue as one of
> linguistics vs. lexicography, which isn't the case at all.  The real issue,
> in my opinion, is one of discussion vs. the continual spewing forth of raw
> data.
> Discussion is interesting.

Thanks for articulating that, Scott. This is what I've felt for years.
Interesting messages are the ones in which the answer to "so what?" is
stated, hinted at, asked about, or recoverable to readers. We can all
benefit a great deal when lexicographical contributions make a more or less
explicit point about, say, a folk etymology, an interesting word formation
process, an inaccuracy in current thought on which sounds can occur
together, or the relationship between language and social conditions or
political events. (Maybe the "so what" is always perfectly obvious to all

Sometimes we post raw data on other topics (who says "pop" and who says
"soda", who has this consonant and who has that one); here, the
recommendation to use the "delete" key works really well, because these
threads are not so frequent.

As many people have pointed out, it is a great resource for researchers to
have access to others' field notes, but I still question whether sending
those notes in raw form to hundreds of people is the best way to accomplish
that, not only because some of those people prefer not to get the notes, but
also because the search tool at the ADS-L archives isn't the best way to
accurately search and sort a database (or maybe I just don't know how to use

However, every time this topic comes up, it seems we end up with the
majority view that the list should not split, so I assume that will happen
this time too. It sure would be great if subject lines could be used to
filter out unwanted messages, as someone suggested. I would be thrilled
silly if we could do that--not just "ante" for antedatings, but more
informative subjects instead of the occasional "Query". I'd hate to filter
people out.


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