First of three Baggett Lectures
Directions to Marie Mount Hall.
In the preface to Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw noted that “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him." Americans, Australians, and Canadians are full partners today in the network of negativity; and writing is at least as likely as speech to provoke the haters, who are often strongly motivated to share their reactions in both public and private contexts. Based on an extensive survey of published examples, this lecture will present a taxonomy of contemporary linguistic peevishness, and will combine linguistic analysis with speculative social psychology in order to characterize the reactions, emotions and motivations of the individuals and groups who participate in this three-ring circus of linguistic naming and shaming.