query about a saying, and an announcement

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Fri May 21 18:11:30 UTC 2010

message from John Rickford today to the Stanford ALLers, about the news that our very prolonged negotiations over a ms. submitted to Language Variation and Change are now at an end:

> As we say in Guyana, "De langes' road gat a en'; de langes'  prayer gat 'Amen'."

the query is about the history of this saying, in any of several variations -- e.g., "The longest road got/has an end; the longest prayer got/has 'Amen'."  i'm away from my sources; anyone have a file on it?  (it has a vaguely familiar sound to me, but maybe just because it sounds like folk wisdom.)

the announcement: LVC has accepted the manuscript, so it's now officially "in press" ...

The sociolinguistics of a short-lived innovation: Tracing the development of quotative _all_ across spoken and internet newsgroup data

Isabelle Buchstaller, Newcastle University
John R. Rickford, Stanford University
Elizabeth Closs Traugott, Stanford University
Thomas Wasow, Stanford University and
Arnold Zwicky, Stanford University


This paper examines a short-lived innovation, quotative _all_, in real and apparent time. We used a two-pronged method to trace the trajectory of _all_ over the past two decades: (i) Quantitative analyses of the quotative system of young Californians from different decades; this reveals a startling cross-over pattern: in 1990/4 _all_ predominates, but by 2005 it has given way to _like_; (ii) Searches of internet newsgroups; these confirm that after rising briskly in the 1990s, _all_ is declining. Tracing the changing usage of quotative options provides year-to-year evidence that _all_ has recently given way to _like_. Our paper has two aims: We provide insights from ongoing language change regarding short-term innovations in the history of English. We also discuss our collaboration with Google Inc. and argue for the value of newsgroups to research projects investigating linguistic variation and change in real time, especially where recorded conversational tokens are relative!
 ly sparse.


an example of quotative _like_ followed by quotative _all_, in the title of a song by the Bay Area band The Mr. T Experience:
  "I'm Like Yeah, But She's All No"


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

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