Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 11:03:10 -0600 From: Thomas Creswell Subject: Re: Openness AAllan wrote: > > Let's not bite the hand that extends itself to us in friendship. > > For decades, members of ADS have worried that there aren't enough of us. > Membership has been a little over 500 for the past 20 years, and before that > it was even lower. That's not enough to conduct all the important research > that needs to be done; not even enough to make a full program for all of our > meetings. As we grow older, some of us wonder whether there will be much of a > new generation to take our place. > > We also worry that our important discoveries don't get enough attention. We're > reconsidering the publication arrangements for our two journals because they > reach such a limited audience. We lament that "usageasters" (to use Tom > Creswell's word) ignore our findings about actual usage; we despair at > mistaken popular notions about American dialects (well, dInIs doesn't despair, > he studies them) and the origins of "hot dog" or "Big Apple." > > And we worry about funding for our research. We need to convince people > outside our field that we deserve money for great surveys of vocabulary like > the Dictionary of American Regional English, of pronunciation like the > Phonological Atlas of North America, or of everything in a region like LAGS > and LAMSAS, as well as for our individual endeavors. We also need to convince > deans and department heads of the importance of time and money for our > projects. > > Do we refuse to let non-majors into the courses we teach? Do we speak and > write only for our learned peers, refusing to offer talks to the general > public or articles to newspapers and magazines? If so, then we have only > ourselves to blame that no one else cares or listens. > > But instead . . . > > If on ADS-L we often need to point out that DARE has the answer: what an > affirmation of the value of the millions of public and private money spent on > it, and what a useful reminder of the value of turning to that book for > answers. > > If we have to remind others that an important article on a particular topic > recently appeared in American Speech, > > that's a useful reminder of the value of consulting it regularly, and of > belonging to ADS in order to get it. > > And if we have to explain basic concepts and facts to outsiders - well, most > of the population consists of outsiders to our field. If we can talk only to > ourselves, we're pretty lonely. Besides, some of the most important advances > in a field come from attempts to explain and justify it to the rest of the > world. We can't sit on our laurels but must rethink what we do. > > Some of the most active people in our field are not on the list, or drop off > from time to time. That's fine. We all have to closet ourselves now and then > to get our work done. But when we do participate in the list, and when we open > it to all who are interested, I think we perform an important service to our > field too. > > - Allan Metcalf Allan, I agree with your well-argued sentiments. But I must decline taking credit for Tom Clark's (the originator of this thread) coinage _usageasters_. Tom