Date: Fri, 23 Dec 1994 10:46:24 -0600 From: "Timothy C. Frazer" Subject: Re: your mail Dennis, thats a good summation. Blessings on all of you who are travelling. I'm staying here in the so-far-not-so-cold midwest, where I biked 10 miles yesterday and wanted to do more. I hope someone is saving all of these comments. Thy say a lot about various visions of the future of ADS, and would be very interesting for someone writing a history of the society in years hence. Feliz navidad! Tim On Fri, 23 Dec 1994, Dennis.Preston wrote: > 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]> >