Date: Wed, 7 Dec 1994 11:44:52 EST From: TERESA M LOCKHART Subject: Re: The ADS crystal ball > > My dear ADS colleagues: > > It is heartening to see the electrons of ADS-L at last beginning to tingle > with contemplation of where we should go for the Annual Meeting. Two months > ago, I found it odd that the ad hoc committee's recommendation, to boldly go > where no ADS annual meeting had ever gone, published prominently (p. 2 - > that's the hot-news place) in the ADS newsletter, met with - just about > perfect nonresponse. The s-mail writers remain almost 100% silent, but those > who are fortunate enough to be Internetworked are at last giving the proposal > a working over. > > Qui tacet consentit, could be argued by those who approve the committee's > proposal. But now the silence is being broken, and it is much better to break > the eggs before cooking the omelet. Mirabile dictu, we are also having a > civilized conversation, though I know the various sentiments are strong. > > I know because, having conducted last year's poll of all members, I know that > our strongest advocates, as well as our more moderate ones, are almost > exactly divided between those in favor of MLA and those in favor of LSA. The > number of those who wanted something else is much smaller. So the committee > went against the sentiments of the membership. > > I came a day late to the committee meeting last summer and was myself amazed > to be told of their conclusion. I believed them when they said they hadn't > come to the meeting with the April alternative in mind. Rather, it began to > emerge the more they considered the serious disadvantages of deciding on > either one or the other of the midwinter meetings. > > So it could be said that the April choice was for negative reasons - to avoid > dissing nearly half our membership, as we now do by meeting with MLA, and as > we would (with a different half) if we switched to LSA. > > But as the committee considered the April alternative further, it began to > seem not a last resort but an opportunity. And as ADS-L is now beginning to > replicate conversations the committee had, let me take this opportunity to > explain the opportunity. > > The opportunity is to make something significant of the ADS annual meeting. > As I try to think about it now, I think we have always had a sense that the > ADS annual meeting wasn't much; it was an adjunct to something else, whether > MLA, or MLA plus LSA (remember the years when both of them met in the same > city at the same time?), or DSNA (in the summer), or Methods, or even NWAV > (in 1978, in Washington). In every case the other meeting was larger, and the > sense was that people came for the other meeting and then took time for ADS. > Even now, for example, we have a day and a half of ADS sessions, while MLA > (and even the Name Society) goes on for three or four days. > > And it's not as if we've selected just a few papers from a heap of proposals. > We get only a handful of abstracts every year, and accept almost all that > look reasonable. This, by the way, can give outsiders the impression that we > favor an in-group that gives papers year after year. In fact, the program > chairs have made efforts to encourage newcomers (as in this year's special > session on Spanish and English), and still there is plenty of room even in a > short program for repeaters. > > As I read the arguments for going with LSA or continuing with MLA, they seem > in essence to say: I need to go to LSA/MLA, and am able to take some time > for ADS if it's there; perhaps if it's there, it will attract other > like-minded LSA/MLA attendees. That's a fine principle, but it doesn't seem > to work, mainly because LSA/MLA has so much else going on, including sessions > in our areas of interest. It could be argued that this is true for MLA but > wouldn't be for LSA; but consider that ADS did meet in the same city and > place with LSA as recently as 1986 (NYC), 1987 (S.F.), 1988 (New Orleans), > and 1989 (Washington DC); the latter three years in independent hotels, so we > weren't favoring MLA; and our attendance was pretty much the same as it is > now, in fact very much the same. The only thing that has notably increased > attendance is "New Words of the Year," which now gets about 70, compared with > 30 - 50 for other sessions. > > And I think we've been busy enough with the MLA/LSA meetings at the time of > ADS that we've let the ADS meeting coast along. > > Frankly, I question whether ADS needs an annual meeting at all. And I think > that's the thought in most of our minds, that ADS by itself isn't worth a > meeting. It's just a nice adjunct. > > But suppose we look on the April meeting as an opportunity: not to aggrandize > ADS for aggrandizement sake, but to contribute significantly to the study of > the English language in North America & other languages as they relate to it. > > What comes to mind as a model for this is the conference on Language > Variation in the South, that brought together linguistic geographers and > variationists and lexicographers and - well, people who regularly go to MLA, > to LSA, to DSNA, to NWAV - they all got together, met each other, exchanged > insights. That's the potential for an independent ADS meeting. > > It would *require* active planning, and probably a different theme, each > year. Perhaps each year, in addition to the supervising vice > president/program chair, there should be a special-topic organizer, chosen at > least a couple of years in advance - who would organize the ADS meeting > almost as a special conference. The Council could call for topic proposals, > appoint organizers, announce topics in the Newsletter and in kindred forums; > and make a significant contribution to a particular topic. > > What could such topics be? Well, we might consider other places, e.g. > Heartland English or New York City speech; we might revisit the Linguistic > Atlas of New England; we might ponder slang with Jonathan Lighter; wonder > about innovation in AAVE; review the neologisms of the 20th century. Pick > keynote speakers and organize panels early; seek grants; perhaps publish > proceedings. > > That would give ADS something distinctive to do. > > You who have read thus far, thanks for your patience. I will not weigh down > your e-mail boxes so heavily again. But this is a crucial decision, and a > crucial opportunity. - Allan Metcalf > It seems that you have given this a lot of thought and I would like to know your descision. Good luck!!