Judy Prince jbalizsprince at GOOGLEMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 24 15:31:36 UTC 2010

Amy, your last post about the relative usefulnesses of Hacker and the MWDEU
answered my questions beautifully.  Made me almost wish I was  back on the
comp textbook committee.  <g>

New question:  Re the bio prof frustrated at having to "unteach" what comp
profs teach, can you give some examples of the offending comp teachings?
[Might help me figure out if I was on The Wrong Side or The Right Side of
comp teaching.]

Actually, my "take" is semi-permanently on the fence:  Present the
prescriptions and descriptions with the realistic proviso that context is
all (e.g., persons addressed, occasion, subject, one's place in a pecking
order, and so on), and, reasonably, that will determine one's choice for
prescrip or descrip writing or a mix of both.

The students usually quickly "got" what I told them was "tone" [I
gather from discussions on this list that it's somewhat comparable to
"register"], but they certainly needed *specifics* about the menu of choices
before them, and those specifics strengthened their confidence; they were as
crucial to their future as job interviews.  The more information they got,
the better decisions they could make about which words to use on which

You now see the penalty for writing clear, succinct prose, Amy.  Folks will
want more more more.....



On 24 February 2010 09:29, Amy West <medievalist at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
> Subject:      Re: MWDEU
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I have a secret, ulterior purpose in my composition class. One reason
> that I'm using the nebulous topic of language in my reading and
> writing assignments is to arm them when they encounter the
> prescriptivists not just in my department, but elsewhere on campus.
> There's one particular pompous blowhard bio professor who is the most
> notorious. I've actually had him tell me about how he has to
> "unteach" the students what they've learned in their composition
> classes. I want the students to realize that they may not win the
> battle because of the student-teacher power relationship, but that
> they can find out the truth of the matter.
> ---Amy West
> >Date:    Tue, 23 Feb 2010 08:44:11 -0800
> >From:    Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> >Subject: Re: MWDEU
> >
> >On Feb 23, 2010, at 6:59 AM, Judy Prince wrote:
> >
> >>  A question for you and Arnold ...:  Why do we need to get a Hacker,
> >>  if she so desperately needs
> >>  "balancing out"?  What, in short, does she have that MWDEU does not?
> >
> >she's explicitly directive, something that's genuinely useful for
> >students in composition classes (though a lot depends on the accuracy
> >of the directions).  students need and want advice -- but good advice.
> >
> >arnold
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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