Academic journal article Southwest Journal of Linguistics

On the Occasion of Our 30th: A Retrospection. (Presidential Address)

Academic journal article Southwest Journal of Linguistics

On the Occasion of Our 30th: A Retrospection. (Presidential Address)

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. In 1972, under the leadership of Winfred Lehmann, linguists in the southwestern United States founded The Linguistic Association of the Southwest (LASSO) to address a number of regional needs. Among these were the need to improve communication among regional linguists, the need to provide more opportunities for public presentation and publication of work on the languages of the Southwest, and the need to study linguistic problems specific to the region, such as those relating to language education. Over the next three decades the association grew from a small, regional group to an international organization with over 200 members, conferences featuring up to 100 presentations, and a high-quality scholarly journal. Despite this growth, the association still devotes proportionally more space to papers and articles on regional subjects than comparable organizations, remaining true to the vision of its founders. *

INTRODUCTION. When Executive Director Mary Jane Hurst contacted me in the summer of 2001 asking for the title of this address, I told her I didn't have one yet, but I knew the address would have something to do with the history of our organization. So I thought about it a little and seized on the nicely round number of this year's annual meeting and came up with `On the occasion of our 30th: A retrospection'. Now this has a nice ring to it, but it is also potentially misleading. This is not our 30th anniversary, as `our 30th' might suggest. Our first annual meeting was in 1972, but we were not one year old then; in fact, we were not any age at all because we did not exist before our first meeting. For this reason, we are celebrating only our 29th year of existence, even though this is our 30th annual meeting.

Organizational age has in fact been confused with annual-meeting number several times in our recent history. For example, the April 1992 LASSO Newsletter called the conference of that year the `twentieth' (2, 3). The August 1992 Newsletter repeated the error, calling that conference the `20th annual LASSO meeting' (2). Not so. Nineteen ninety-two was LASSO's 20th year of existence, but the 1992 conference was not its 20th conference. It was its 21st. The error appeared again the following year. The February 1993 Newsletter called the meeting of that year `LASSO XXI' (2). Happily, the error was not repeated in the next Newsletter where the meeting was accurately designated `LASSO XXII' (August 1993:1). However, that was not the last of the confusion. The February 1996 Newsletter correctly called that year's meeting `LASSO XXV', but then incorrectly declared it the `silver anniversary meeting' (1). Our silver anniversary came 25 years after 1972, our birth year, and that year would have been 1997. The erroneous designation was not repeated in the following newsletter, which contained additional conference information, but curiously, no mention was made the following year of that year's meeting being the true silver anniversary.

This is a little like the popular confusion--and disagreement--over how to count the millennia, our Local Arrangements Chair, Garland Bills, remarked to me at dinner the evening before the conference. And it is, to some extent, although I am in no doubt myself about when the second millennium ended and the third began. I interpret the numbers of the years quite literally, and so `2001' rather straight-forwardly means to me the first year after the first two millennia. Had I had this in mind when answering Mary Jane's question, I might have come up with a title such as `On the occasion of our 30th, and of our 1st in the Third Millennium ...' But that, fortunately for rhetorical restraint and stylistic grace, is not what I said.

Let me turn now to the matter intended by my title. In the business session of the charter meeting of our association, on the afternoon of Friday, October 27, 1972, in the Adams Room Mezzanine of the Adams Hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first LASSO constitution was adopted, so officially bringing LASSO into existence. …

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