Date: Mon, 21 Oct 1996 10:22:34 +0100

From: Dennis Baron debaron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UIUC.EDU

Subject: a taste of mla

Dear ADSers:

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)?

Or what?

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

the list.

Yours truly,



should I put my sigfile? oh, I guess so.


Dennis Baron debaron[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Department of English office: 217-333-2392

University of Illinois fax: 217-333-4321

608 South Wright Street

Urbana, Illinois 61801