Date: Tue, 22 Oct 1996 12:42:34 +0100

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

Subject: Re: a taste of mla

I agree, Bill, that demographics plays an important role. There were quite

a few humanities types using computers in the mid-80s, and a lot of the

participants in newsgroups like alt.usage.english, which is concerned with

proper language and conventions, are in fact computer nerds rather than

corporate types. But it does seem to me interesting that as the electronic

frontier recedes toward the horizon, the city slickers have taken over from

the pioneers.



It occurs to me that demographic changes among email-users might account for

some of the changes in "custom", in addition to any "evolution" of the

field. In the mid eighties, email users were primarily academics (from the

physical sciences) and engineers/programmers, etc.; not groups you would

expect to be grammatically or formally punctilious. Once email started to

become part of the standard operating procedure of large businesses, one

could expect some of the same concerns that those businesses had about their

written communications to be applied to their electronic ones. Since most

large corporations want to focus on anything but actual content [I don't

know of an emoticon to mark a gratuitious dig, but insert one here] form

becomes a driving issue.

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