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Controversy Hits LSA as “Self-Illativizing Sociolinguist”
Attacks Established Theories

SpecGram Wire Services

Tempers flared at the Linguistic Society of America meetings in New Orleans this week, as self-described “self-illativizing sociolinguist” Nigel Oliver delivered a record three keynote lectures in a single day, each one concisely and conclusively debunking a different mainstream sociolinguistic theory. Oliverwho earned a BA in sociology but has “after deep reflection” come to the conclusion that he is, “deep down inside”, a PhD Linguistfound himself at the center of a firestorm of controversy.

Sociolinguist Melissa Brantingham, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh, summed up the essence of the complaints: “I have no problem with addressing ‘Dr.’ Oliver however he asks me tobut inviting him to present in the LSA sociolinguistics sessions is just not fair. Obviously his background in sociology gives him an unreasonable academic advantage.”

Others at the meetings came to Oliver’s defense. “All three of Dr. Oliver’s talks were truly sensational,” said LSA Sociolinguistics Subcommittee Chairperson Jackson Lee. “Our field is going to be in his debt for a long time. It’s petty for some people to refuse to listen to him just because they don’t like where he came from. He’s one of us now, and may soon be our leader.”

Between lectures, Oliver tweeted “It’s my dream come true to give three keynotes at a major conference! Look out Labov! Here I come!” Asked by our correspondent for follow-up comments, Oliver said “I knew linguists were an accepting bunch, but I never dreamed they would be so cred... um, so welcoming.

When asked to comment on the depth of Oliver’s critiques of established sociolinguistic theories, University of Florida linguist Julia Marshall, a phonologist, waved dismissively, saying only, “atheoretical drivel.” Another attendee, who asked to be referred to only as a “non-sociolinguist”, remarked, “Let’s just say it doesn’t take a very big tractor to plow up your garden variety sociolinguistics theory.”

Oliver’s rise to prominence seems to have struck a nerve among sociolinguists, however. It remains to be seen whether he becomes the leader of a larger “self-illativizing linguist” movement, or if protestations of “academic fairness” result in a return to his original field.

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LinguimericksBook ७०
SpecGram Vol CLXXXVI, No 3 Contents