End of ADS-L Digest - 21 Dec 1994 to 22 Dec 1994 ************************************************ There are 4 messages totalling 239 lines in this issue. Topics of the day: 1. 2. your mail 3. Where and When and Who (2) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Fri, 23 Dec 1994 11:27:00 EST From: "Dennis.Preston" <22709MGR[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MSU.EDU> Subject: Friends of ADS: My friend and colleague Bill Kretzschmar has, I believe, helped close this conversation before we toddle off to San Diego. Indeed, we (at least he and I) appear to be 'deeply divided' on the question of the ADS as a linguistic society or something else. I believe, however, that I have better characterized why I believe what I believe. I have cited articles from Lg and presentations at LSA which are of obvious importance and interest to ADS members; Bill has countered by offering the observation that he has the same opinion of Lg that I have of PMLA, but he has not detailed why the linguistic (indeed even variationist and dialectological) interests of LSA are of little importance to ADS, its aims, and its members. In short, he does not explain why the presentations and articles I list are not important, nor does he provide any detail about the importance of (P)MLA to our enterprise. He does note that he 'stands with lexicographers' in this preference, but I do not know who these lexicographer are or what information they are getting from the MLA. They would learn a great deal more about their enterprise from LSA (for whom I once taught an entire course on lexicography in America at an LSA Summer Institute). In short, although I am a great admirer of Bill's important and innovative work in American linguistic geography, I cannot find convincing arguments in his responses which would persuade me to believe that I would benefit more from the study of literature in my work as a dialectologist and sociolinguist than I do from the study of linguistics. I will continue to read Lg (especially the most recent issue, which I did not have in hand when I wrote my last entry in this discussion, since I note its lead article is Nancy Dorian's 'Varieties of variation'). The 'deep divisions' between us, then, appear to be old ties, emotional links, departmental loyalties, and even, as I suggested before, matters of convenience. Those are not paltry things; some engage the emotions of many of our members, and they must not be treated lightly. I have not meant to detract from the applied, philological, literary, and other interests of our membership. Those are all important concerns to language variation study, and I hope the contributions of scholars in those areas continue, but I would be unhappy to see those issues predominate in a Society which I believe to be committed to the study of language in a scientific mode (i.e., linguistics). As Tim Frazer rightly points out, we run the risk of losing some of our English department faithful if we change our meeting to coincide with that of LSA. Do we not run the same risk if we change to another time? Will English department oriented ADS members flock to another meeting which does not offer the extensive, bonus program of LSA? Why not do our English department members a favor by allowing them to say locally that there is another reason not to go to MLA. Their professional obligations lie elsewhere, and their departments should recognize that. (I have been an English Department linguist for most of my professional life, and I have always pressed that distinction on chairs, colleagues, and administrators. We might aid younger [and perhaps less aggressive young people than I was] by withdrawing one more excuse from those who control local funding to send people off to a literary conference.) On the other hand, Bill is not the only participant in this discussion who doubts that young LSA-oriented variationists will be attracted to ADS. I agree that that is not a given, but I have not heard any argument which suggests that scads of young MLA members are panting for dialectology. In fact, that has been the model for some time, and it has not proved a good recruitment ground. I cannot guarantee you that LSA will swell our numbers, but I can observe that MLA has not. I continue to encourage you, therefore, to press your representatives (and press yourself, if you attend) to link our Society most securely to linguistics. I have paid careful attention to the arguments to the contrary, and, although I have heard misgivings about the emotional impact on some of our stalwart members (misgivings which, I assure you, I do not take lightly), I have heard no good arguments against the linguistic nature of our enterprise nor convincing characterizations of the fertile recruitment grounds at MLA. Perhaps most importantly, I am troubled by the prospect of a separate meeting as a compromise among those who are 'deeply divided.' If we are divided, let us resolve it for the good of the Society, not to assuage the feelings of one group or the other. I sincerely believe that nothing could provide a worse jumping-off place for our next 100 years than the establishment of a meeting time which would attract neither part of our traditional membership and, almost by definition, do nothing to encourage the involved participation in Society policy and leadership among the next generation of scholars. We will need new leaders as well as new members, and they will come from those who can attend an accessible main meeting. Dennis R. Preston <22709mgr[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]msu.edu>