Dialect variation in the Times

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 30 22:57:40 UTC 2008

At 6:17 PM -0400 6/30/08, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>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?

Well, I'm sure his clerks read the Week in Review, so they, and he,
must know of the problem without my help.


>>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

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

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