saving the world

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at UMR.EDU
Mon Dec 4 15:12:34 UTC 2006

    I'll try answering Susan Bart's message below. ------ Ads-l is a forum for discussing a very wide range of topics pertaining to the English language in all its varieties.  Dialectal features are included, of course, but there's also etymology, modern usage, stylistics, early attestations, etc. etc. etc.  I believe there are some four hundred members, and the beauty of the list is its wide representation--geographically, academically (independent scholars too), and with regard to interests and life experiences.  The result is an enormously valuable exhange of information, and much of it deserves to be compiled, polished a bit and published.  I'm trying to make my own contribution in this regard with the etymological discussions.
    Every so often someone presents an offbeat idea (I do so myself occasionally), and it doesn't take long for a correcting response to straighten things out.  Mr. Zurinskas has been more persistent than most in propounding his point of view, and for at least several weeks numerous ads-l members showed considerable patience in correcting his various basic errors---all to no avail. Meanwhile, patience has eventually worn thin, and that's the point when Ms. Bart joined the list.
     In the nine years or so I've been on this list there has been only one instance of a participant being excluded due to a gross breach of netiquette.  (He evidentally was mentally unbalanced and started sending incoherent messages laced with profanity.)   I don't think the present case warrants such drastic action.  Instead, either Mr. Zurinskas should on his own realize that he has pushed his discussion on this matter as far as it will go; he might consider retiring gracefully from ads-l to find like-minded prescriptivists with whom to continue his discussion.  Those of us on ads-l are by conviction descriptivists and Mr. Zurinskas is a committed presciptivist.  From the exchange of messages over the past several weeks it is clear there is really no room for a fruitful exchange of information/opinions.
      On the off-chance that Mr. Zurinskas persists in sending messages, I'd suggest following Ron Butters' recommendation to ignore them. Members have the option of responding of course, but for most of us the guidance should be to simply move on from this topic.
 Gerald Cohen
Professor of German and Russian
editor, Comments on Etymology
University of Missouri-Rolla


From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Susan Burt
Sent: Mon 12/4/2006 6:47 AM
Subject: Re: saving the world

Hello, Everyone,

I am new to this list--been on it for about 3 or 4 weeks, perhaps.  I
had just accepted the post of "Midwest secretary" of the ADS, and
thought I should be at least listening in on this list.  So, Beverly's
call for reform (below) and several of the messages have made me wonder
what kind of list this is, and whether the messages I have seen over
the past weeks are typical or whether I have just come in at a bad
time.  Are there moderators?  What do they do?  What are the goals of
this list? The only other list I am on is the LINGUIST list--and this
seems very different (I suspect one difference may be that their
moderators are paid, though probably not much).

This real linguist (though not dialectologist), and dues-paying ADS
member would welcome non-flaming enlightening comments.

thanks, everyone,


On Dec 3, 2006, at 10:47 PM, Beverly Flanigan wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at OHIO.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: saving the world
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> <snip>
> I for one am getting tired of this kind of ranting on what was set up
> to be
> a neutral, objective, real-language-based listserv dedicated to the
> principles of the 100-year-old-plus American Dialect Society.  Are you
> aware of the ADS and what it stands for?  Are you a member?  Now I'm
> ranting!  But instead of ignoring these misguided missives, I'm going
> to
> renew the call of some years ago that we restrict subscription to this
> listserv to those who are paying members of the ADS or who at least
> have
> serious and unbiased contributions to make.  And I'm willing to let our
> moderators be the judges of that.  Anybody want to join me?
> At 01:07 AM 11/24/2006, you wrote:
>> The alphabetical principle holds that letters stand for sounds.  We
>> find now
>> that even Egyption hieroglyphic symbols stand for sounds, and we can
>> speak
>> the writings of 5,000 years ago because of this.
>> Arbitrary dialects destroy this relationship and should they take hold
>> lessen the consistency of correspondence between letters and sounds
>> and make
>> English all the harder to read and learn.  Not good.
>> Let's not be artificial dialectizers by misspeaking words, but rather
>> retainers of what semplence of alphabetic principle we have for
>> English.
>> Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL4+
>> See and the 4 truespel books at
>> _________________________________________________________________
>> Stay up-to-date with your friends through the Windows Live Spaces
>> friends
>> list.
>> href=
>> friends.aspx&mk
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
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