saving the world

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Mon Dec 4 15:54:44 UTC 2006


You stinkin' little tight-fisted Glaswegian. The ADS student dues are
nae half what ye prolly spend a day on rotten grog. May the
Sassenachs come and carry ye away whilst ye sleep.

But seriously folks. This is a good example of why we must take
action in exactly the opposite direction of what the impecunious Joel
suggests. Since I inadvertently left the list, a person ignorant of
linguistics (without a clue to his own ignorance), one Mr. Zurinskas
I take it, has cluttered us with his twaddle. There are,
unfortunately, many Zurinskae waiting in the wings.

Now some of you know that, as a perpetrator of the study of folk
linguistics, I take some of this twaddle very seriously, and, indeed,
the beliefs of the folk about language are more interesting (and even
point in promising research directions) than many have linguists
taken them to be in the past.


Two things:

So far as I have seen, and it has been luckily little, Mr.Zurinskas
has provided no interesting novel data on folk beliefs about
language, nor has he engaged in any interesting discussions of
alphabet reform, a welcome discussion if it refers to the histories
of such efforts and an assessment of them or even to attempts to use
respellings as a part of educational programs (the now defunct ita -
initial teaching alphabet or Pitman system).

More importantly, Joel and other welcome lurkers like him should have
every opportunity to "hear" us talk about what we know (and what we
don't know) within a scholarly (and one hopes humane, even
half-heartedly humorous from time to time) network. To have our talk
interrupted and diverted and, perhaps worse, to have the public
exposure of what we do trivialized by such silliness is a threat to
the already weak position of our field in the public mind, not to
mention to the recruitment of novices to our siblinghood.

Let us reconsider making our list a professional discussion forum,
open to those who interest in language and variety is at least enough
to warrant the very low student rate for ADS membership. I was
persuaded once some time ago that this was not in keeping with our
educational aims, but I feel we cannot deliver on them within the
present mode, and I encourage this reconsideration. We are not far
from the Annual Meeting, and I suggest this topic should be discussed.

If we "close" the list, I will personally pay for Joel's first year membership.


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Joel Shaver <vole at NETW.COM>
>Subject:      Re: saving the world
>I humbly beg for consideration to be made for the poor student who is
>not a dues-paying member but who is content to listen and learn (aside
>from making the odd clumsy post or two)...  I hope I speak on the behalf
>of more than myself.  Some day, when I grow up, I'll pay my dues! :-)
>Joel Shaver
>University of Glasgow
>Paul Johnston wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Paul Johnston <paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU>
>>  Subject:      Re: saving the world
>>  Fine with me, Beverly.
>>  Paul
>>  On Dec 3, 2006, at 11:47 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
>>>  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>  ---------
>  >>
>  >> Mr. Zurinskas, would you please stop preaching to us about how we
>  >> "should"
>>>  speak English?  We're linguists and dialectologists, and we don't take
>  >> kindly to prescriptive preaching!   How are dialects "arbitrary"--
>>>  do we
>>>  just make them up as we go along?  And how do we stop them from
>>>  "taking
>>>  hold"?  Who ARE these "artificial dialectizers" who misspeak words--
>>>  all of
>>>  the millions of speakers of English around the world except thee
>>>  and me
>>>  (and not even me, apparently)?  Anything that doesn't match your
>>>  principles
>>>  is "not good"?  And "semplence"?  "Egyption"?  "speach"? "pear"?  I'd
>>>  suggest you check your own spelling, or are you artificially
>>>  changing it to
>>>  match your own alphabetic(al) principle?
>>>  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=
>>>>  wx_action=create&wx_url=/friends.aspx&mk
>>>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>  The American Dialect Society -
>>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>  The American Dialect Society -
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
15C Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
preston at

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list