saving the world

Chris F Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Mon Dec 4 20:16:46 UTC 2006

Beverly Flanigan wrote:
> [...]
> 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?

I feared someone would call for that at one point. Up to know I've been
careful not to feed the troll, and have therefore abstained from posting
about the most infuriating, to me, aspect of Tom Z's ego trip: that he
is giving the non-linguist here a bad name.

You don't have to be a linguist to understand the difference between
phonetics and phonology. Indeed, one look on Tom Z's spelling system
(see the phonemes /I/ and /i:/) shows that his grasp of these topics
stays far behind what's expected from any German- or French-educated
language teacher, be it native or foreign language, and the situation is
I believe similar in most non-English-speaking European countries. Where
I'm from, IPA is taught in rudimentary form to (all) ten-year-olds, and
the native-language dictionaries these children use employ IPA as well.

Anyhow, there's a difference of not knowing something (if you have no
grasp of phonetics or dialectology, don't post about it) and flaunting
one's ignorance. Tom Z's attitude would have been annoying in a
teenager. However, the typical non-card-carrying-linguist on ADS-L
doesn't behave like that.

If membership were to be restricted to ADS-L members, I'm unsure what
I'd do. I could probably now afford joining the ADS. And am confident to
be able to overcome other hurdles to membership that I presume must
exist, because otherwise your proposal wouldn't keep Tom Z from writing
here: he could simply pay-up and become a member. But there's no way I
could have afforded it when I first joined this list. Not to speak of
the massive preposterousness of becoming a member of a 100 year old
learned society specializing in a topic I have no particular achievement
in. It would be a sad day for me if I had to decide or were forced to
leave this ADS-L.

Chris Waigl

The American Dialect Society -

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