Date: Tue, 20 Dec 1994 13:23:00 EST

From: "Dennis.Preston" 22709MGR[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MSU.EDU

Subject: No subject given

Friends of ADS:

I would like to thank the special committee to determine future ADS meeting

sites for their careful consideration of the matter and offer my vigorous

opposition to their proposal.

Let's me review the results of the advice from the membership. Apparently

nearly one-half voted for continued meeting with MLA; one-half voted for

association with LSA. At first glance that would seem to argue for the

recommendation the committee will make in San Diego. Why

'disenfranchise' either of these large groups? I believe the most

straightforward argument against that is simply to note that surely the best

solution is not to disenfranchise both, but I want to raise issues other than

those of simple preferences.

In messages to the list, a number of members have expressed concerns of

both convenience (spouse goes to MLA) and other professional obligations

(recruitment duties at MLA). Only one or two have noted that there are a

few programs of interest to the typical ADS member at MLA. Except for

this last matter (I assume that nearly everyone would agree that there is

much more of interest for the typical ADS member at LSA), we might safely

assume that matters of convenience and professional obligations (spouse

attending LSA, recruitment responsibilities there) could just as well be

mentioned for LSA. Doubtless, such matters as these are what led to the

draw in the vote taken by the membership at large.

My original concern in recommending a change of meeting site had, in fact,

little to do with concerns of our current membership's convenience and/or

professional responsibilities and, in fact, only partly to do with the fact that

the LSA meeting was an obviously more important gathering for most of


I was principally concerned (and still am) with the growth and continuation

of the Society. Where will our new members come from? Who will step

into the leadership roles in the future? Frankly, when my new graduate

students in sociolinguistics, dialectology, and language variation begin their

work with me, they often want to know how they can join NWAV (they

can't of course; it's not a organization), and, although I set them straight

about their professional, organizational home (not to mention the best

bargain in all of linguistics), I wonder how many others are being directed

into ADS? I fear not as many as the future health of the Society requires.

Briefly, if we are to attract active, contributing new members, I believe they

will come principally from the ranks of young linguists who are interested

in the great array of facts, puzzles, and theories concerning language

variety. Current, innovative work in dialectology proper (DARE, LAGS,

LAMSAS) shows that the most traditional concerns of the field are not in

the least being left behind, but these projects can attract only a few of that

new generation of scholars for whom we should be a home. I believe we

must show them that we are a contributing, innovative branch of the study

of language. Having our principal meeting with MLA instead of LSA sends

the opposite message to the very group from which our new stalwarts

should be drawn.

Of course there is nothing to prevent us from spreading our fame even

wider in the popular press, as we have done with our Word of the Year

contest, nor should we hold back from carrying out thematic meetings and

workshops and continuing to expand our presence at allied meetings, but

our meeting with LSA would do nothing to curtail such promotional

activities. If we are to carry out such an enthusiastic program, however, we

must have the membership to back it, and some of that membership should

come from a newer generation of scholars. Those scholars are not at the

MLA. Those scholars will also have limited travel funds, busy teaching

schedules, and need, I think, least of all, to have another meeting placed

before them for the choosing. I think they will not choose it.

Our regular publications are in order, and, with our new appointments, will

be in good hands for the future. We have a distinguished group of senior

scholars, some still engaged in the most impressive variation work of this

century. There is even a pretty respectable number of us whose age I will

not even characterize with an inoffensive euphemism. I believe, however,

we are precisely the ones in the hot seat. We may choose to opt for meetings

which are convenient for some reason or another, or, worse, we may opt

for an independent meeting, which, with our senior status and the money

and time which such status permits, might allow us to gather together in

pleasant circumstances for a few years, leaving behind us warm and fuzzy

memories of the good old ADS and how it faded.

I prefer to return to the fold such active scholars as Bethany Dumas and the

many others like her who cannot come to ADS because of their commitment

to linguistics, a scholarly commitment shared by the great majority of our

membership. I say let us come into the next century with all the vigorous

initiatives and program innovations Allan and the committee have

recommended. but I also urge you to have us come into that century as

linguists, drawing from that group their brightest and most talented

students, many of whom are increasingly committed to the study of

language variation. We are their home; let's make it available to them. Let us

thank the committee for their careful consideration in the face of the most

important decision our Society has had to make, show them how they were

wrong, and come out linguisticing (linguistiking?).

Dennis R. Preston