Date: Mon, 21 Oct 1996 10:22:34 +0100
From: Dennis Baron debaron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UIUC.EDU
Subject: a taste of mla
I am interested in the issue of the increased demand for standards of
behavior (linguistic, social, digital) on email, listservs, and
newsgroups--in fact I'm doing a paper on it at the ADS MLA in a session.
The ADS session is called " :) when you say that: Debating Usage
Standards for Electronic Communication" -- and this is both a reminder to
ADS members at MLA (in Washington DC, a bit too early for the cherry
blossoms) to come to the session, and a call for some discussion of the
issues on this list.
One of the tropes that I thought was dying out lately was one that we could
call "patience/impatience with newbies" -- how experienced users respond to
the errors of omission or commission of the less technically endowed. One
of the early email phenomena, flaming, isn't dead yet (I glad I'm glad
about that, so long as I'm not the flamee, that is).
Another trope concerns the apparently increasing concern with standard
English/correct usage -- to the point where even spelling errors, which
formerly were taken for granted, are now regularly chastised (or is it
Another is an apparent increased concern with matters of correct format.
With the spread of computers to desks all over the country, people want to
know _how_ to begin or end messages (is there a salutation? a farewell? an
inside address?); how to cite them in bibliographies (isn't the point of
bibliographies to recover information? doesn't most digital information
vanish when we try to revisit it?); whether to begin sentences with and . .
Does this signal the death of the electronic frontier? Is it another sign
that the millennium is at hand? the end of western civilization as we know
it (in this busy modern world of today, as our students might put it)?
I apologize in advance for opening up a thread that others might
conceivable find silly, objectionable, or statistically unsound, and look
forward (tentatively) to any responses, or flames, either personal or on
should I put my sigfile? oh, I guess so.
Dennis Baron debaron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]uiuc.edu
Department of English office: 217-333-2392
University of Illinois fax: 217-333-4321
608 South Wright Street
Urbana, Illinois 61801