Dialect variation in the Times

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Jun 30 22:17:32 UTC 2008

At 6/30/2008 02:41 PM, Baker, John wrote:
>         The Supreme Court has the opportunity to correct its opinions
>before their publication in definitive form in United States Reports.
>It will be interesting to see whether it does so in this case.

Perhaps if Laurence writes to Roberts' clerk?

>John Baker
>-----Original Message-----
>From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
>Of Laurence Horn
>Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 2:30 PM
>Subject: Dialect variation in the Times
>Nobody has yet mentioned this piece from yesterday's Week in Review at
>The Chief Justice, Dylan and the Disappearing Double Negative ADAM
>LIPTAK, June 29, 2008
>Four pages into his dissent on Monday in an achingly boring dispute
>between pay phone companies and long distance carriers, John G.
>Roberts Jr., the chief justice of the United States, put a song lyric
>where the citation to precedent usually goes.
>"The absence of any right to the substantive recovery means that
>respondents cannot benefit from the judgment they seek and thus lack
>Article III standing," Chief Justice Roberts wrote. " 'When you got
>nothing, you got nothing to lose.' Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone, on
>Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records 1965)."
>Alex B. Long, a law professor at the University of Tennessee and perhaps
>the nation's leading authority on the citation of popular music in
>judicial opinions, said this was almost certainly the first use of a
>rock lyric to buttress a legal proposition in a Supreme Court decision.
>"It's a landmark opinion," Professor Long said.
>Chief Justice Roberts gets the citation wrong, proving that he is
>neither an originalist nor a strict constructionist. What Mr. Dylan
>actually sings, of course, is, "When you ain't got nothing, you got
>nothing to lose."
>It's true that many Web sites, including Mr. Dylan's official one,
>reproduce the lyric as Chief Justice Roberts does. But a more careful
>Dylanist might have consulted his iPod. "It was almost certainly the
>clerks who provided the citation," Professor Long said. "I suppose their
>use of the Internet to check the lyrics violates one of the first rules
>they learned when they were all on law review: when quoting, always
>check the quote with the original source, not someone else's
>characterization of what the source said."
>I was especially interested in the question under investigation, since I
>cited the same line in my ADS paper on double negation in January as an
>instance of code switching between negative concord and standard
>varieties, and I also checked to make sure I had the line right after
>noticing, as Liptak and Long did, that it shows up in the "When you got
>nothing" (as well as the "When you ain't got nothing") form on various
>web sites.  I ain't got no iPod, but I did check the two "original
>source" versions (live and studio) of "Like a Rolling Stone" in my
>iTunes, and indeed both have negative concord, pace the Chief Justice.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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