Re: Joining FoRK?

Alexa Champion (
Wed, 4 Aug 1999 16:53:02 -0100

Jeff Bone wrote:
>> The linguistic elitism that nixes "ain't" and "y'all" is doing so
>> because of the "efficiency" of those words.
>Can you expand on this? It seems that your later statements about the
>politics of linguistics don't really speak to efficiency.


Like in many disciplines, people sort hover around two camps. In
linguistics, there are the old school/purist types and the pragmatics/new
school types. Obviously, it's not this cut and dried. Clearly, students,
practioners, and the like, fall along a continuum. But what I was getting
at later was introducing a "school" of thought that you might find useful.
Pragmatics. But it's the old school folks who are the sticklers/elitists
about words such as "ain't" and "y'all"--really, at this point, it's just
people like William Safire and columnists such as Miss Manners who go
ballistic over ain't and y'all. But some linguists will still weigh in on
it. Am I making sense? In other words, the subject has basically been done
to death in the linguist circles. That's why folks like Safire and Miss
Manners have gotten ahold of it. But in essense, issues of "efficiency" vs.
"standardization" do come up and they generally tend to show folks roots,
when they speak out. It tend to the be the case that the more conservative
types obviously favor "standardization" over this new "MTV lingo" and the
more liberal folks think kids should be able to write term papers in
"Ebonics." Like I said, most people fall somewhere in between.