December 31, 2007

Proxy debates

Speaking (a tad belatedly) of English-only insanity (of the non-parodic kind), y'all might want to take a look at the mass of comments on my "Speak xkcd or die" from earlier this month (Dec. 6). I believe this is the most commentary I've ever gotten on a post (35 so far, several in just the past week or so). Almost certainly, many of these comments are the longest ever for one of my posts. And no doubt, several of these comments contain some very virulent vitriol (sorry, couldn't resist the alliteration). People really seem to care about this national language business, and folks like Fred Thompson are speaking right to them.

I haven't censored any of the comments, and so far I have also resisted any temptation to jump in and respond to any of them. Like the comic that was the subject of the post, I think each comment speaks for itself. But I will add here one overall response, a quote from Sally Johnson's excellent 2001 Journal of Sociolinguistics article ("Who's misunderstanding whom? Sociolinguistics, public debate and the media"), which I found via American English: Dialects and Variation (by Walt Wolfram and Natalie Schilling-Estes; see p. 212).

"It is not language per se, but its power to function as a 'proxy' for wider social issues which fans the flames of public disputes over language." (Johnson 2001, p. 599)

[ Comments? ]

Posted by Eric Bakovic at December 31, 2007 11:30 AM