Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 19:10:39 -0400

From: "Bethany K. Dumas" dumasb[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UTKUX.UTCC.UTK.EDU

Subject: Re: Dictionary-Thumping

On Mon, 13 May 1996, Tom Creswell asked that I "post the entire message

from which the "dictinnary thumper" paagraph was extracted." Tom said

further that he has

some doubts about the accuracy of the analogy between quoting the

bible as a source of information and doing the same with a dictionary.

Sounds to me like the writer just lost an argument and was trying to

rationalize his indefensible position.

Tom, I could do that, but I don't think it would help. The post was part

of a rather long essay explaining why a listmember had been kicked off

the list. One reason many listmembers (including me) had found the person in

question obnoxious was that he attacked many individuals, using words

that many of us found highly objectionable. When challenged, the

individual quoted dictionary definitions, ostensibly to show that he was

using what he called the "technical definitions" of words. He was, in

other words, ignoring connotative meanings of words in favor of narrowly

denotative ones. In my opinion, the poster I quoted was 100% justified in

taking the stand and action that he did. It would take many postings to

establish the full context, and I would have to get the permission of

many posters, including someone who has been banned from the list for at

least a month.

And all I was interested in was whether others had heard the phrase

"dictionary-thumper" in the same sense.


Bethany K. Dumas, J.D., Ph.D. | Applied Linguistics, Language & Law

Dep't of English, UT, Knoxville | EMAIL: dumasb[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

415 McClung Tower | (423) 974-6965 | FAX (423) 974-6926

Knoxville, TN 37996-0430 | See Webpage at