End of ADS-L Digest - 10 Apr 1994 to 11 Apr 1994 ************************************************ There are 9 messages totalling 179 lines in this issue. Topics of the day: 1. Ode to Janus 2. ink pen (8) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 08:12:50 -0500 From: Joan Livingston-Webber Subject: Ode to Janus I've been thinking in other contexts about a "rhetoric of sincerity," which, it seems to me, has several varieties. Dialect, as a savior from banality, seems to be of the "authentic voice" variety: if it sounds like something someone might say, then it's "authentic." Trained academics tend to find this kind of authenticity marker suspect and seem to prefer irony (especially about the self) as a marker of sincerity or authenticity. I think this goes along with a belief that, at some point, you have to be objective about the self in order to know what it is one has to be sincere about. My students tend to believe the opposite, even after study of rhetoric: that revising first impulse talk makes it insincere or inauthentic. Because dialect sounds/looks like first impulse speech, it also sounds/looks authentic or sincere--so you have to respect it because it's somebody's "real" opinion. Obviously, then, sincerity etc. is an irrelevant value for scholarly (aka revised) writing/speech, and respect as someone's opinion is equally irrelevant. In the discourse of the girl-produced zines which I've been looking at, dialect representation isn't a marker, but other elements of speech are, e.g. "anyway," "well," "you guys," and a kind of self-effacement that reaches, on occasion, a sophisticated irony of self. The perceived sincerity of dialect and other oral markers in text is reminiscent of--and probably comes from the same source as-- country talk as honest when set against city talk as slick, as in movies like what-his-name goes to Washington. Of course, the dialect represented is percieved as honest and sincere only if its speakers in general are perceived to be. So country talk can be honest or dumb, depending on if the speaker is simple country or redneck. A black dialect representation also can go both ways--authentic or slovenly or or gangster. It all depends. Rescuing from banality is interesting in this regard. Is it that sincerity dresses up banality and makes it less banal--or at least makes it necessary to respect that banality as real? Could M-J be a covert dialectologist with an appreciation for dialect well-rendered? What dialect, pray tell, was being represented in the novel? -- Joan Livingston-Webber webber[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]unomaha.edu "What gets better is the precision with which we vex each other." -Clifford Geertz