Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 17:27:16 -0400

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: vernacular


In fact, this is one of difficulties I had in mind. What a 'native speaker'

is (and, therefore, what the intepretation of their 'strongest' or 'most

deeply-embedded' variety would be), as you point out, not a given by any



Dennis Preston writes:

These are some very important issues. I would add to the style and status

senses of vernacular the other 'acquisition' one, namely, the

sociolinguistic 'commonplace' that your vernacular is your 'first learned'

and hence 'strongest' variety.

There are also many instances where a speaker's vernacular is not

their first language or mother tongue, but a variety acquired much

later--especially those cases in which a speaker's first language has

fallen in attrition. This is actually one of the problems with our

sublimation of the native speaker's authority in linguistics. Not all

native speakers are adequate judges of well-formedness/acceptability of

utterances, nor adequate sources of data, although in the majority of cases

non-native speakers just do not do any better, except where they are the


I agree with your other comments.



Salikoko S. Mufwene s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

University of Chicago 773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924

Department of Linguistics

1010 East 59th Street

Chicago, IL 60637