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ADS-L: email discussion list

ADS-L is a discussion list for members of the American Dialect Society and interested non-members. Among our members are linguists, grammarians, dictionary editors and lexicographers, writers, journalists, professors and other academics, students at all levels, researchers, librarians, translators, independent scholars, and language amateurs. Our primary topic of conversation is dialects of North American English, but we do wander off topic frequently.

There is an ADS-L Archive covering from 1999 to present. The archives for 1992 through present day can be searched. To participate, you must subscribe, but you can search without subscribing.

The quantity of list traffic varies greatly, usually according the fluctuations of the academic year, but the traffic level should be considered high. If you are not prepared to receive a hundred or more messages from this list on occasion, then consider using the DIGEST option below.

This list is not moderated. In other words, anything submitted to the list is automatically forwarded to the entire list without being first reviewed by a listmom, boss or moderator. You must be subscribed to participate. Completely inappropriate behavior, however, can get you banned.

Be aware that our discussion of dialects, language and linguistics may lead us to any word or phrase, “good” or “bad,” “dirty” or “clean.” We generally take a descriptivist approach: all subject matter is fair game. This can include pejoratives, curse words, euphemisms for bodily functions and body parts, and other potentially offensive language. Sometimes it’s quite colorful, but always academic and enlightening.

The list runs on LISTSERV at The University of Georgia.

To Subscribe To subscribe to the list, send “SUB ADS-L YOUR NAME” as the complete body of an email message from the email account at which you’d like to subscribe, to

To Unsubscribe From the account which you would like to unsubscribe send “SIGNOFF ADS-L” as the complete body of an email message to

To Participate

To send a message to all the people currently subscribed to the list, just send mail to This is called “sending mail to the list,” because you send mail to a single address and LISTSERV makes copies for all the people who have subscribed. This address ( is also called the “list address.” You must never send a command to that address, as it would be distributed to all the people who have subscribed.

All commands, not messages, must be sent to the “LISTSERV server address,”

To Receive Digests Only This list is also available in digest form. This means that you will receive roughly one message per day containing all the messages for the last 24 hours rather than receiving each message individually. If you wish to receive the digested version of the postings, but not the individual messages, send “SET ADS-L DIGEST” as the complete body of an email message to

To Stop Receiving Mail While Staying Subscribed If you need to temporarily stop receiving mail you can send a “SET ADS-L NOMAIL” command to from the address at which you’d like to stop receiving mail. Don’t send this to the list address! This command is also useful because it allows you to receive the list at one address while enabling you to send to the list from any account from which you’ve subscribed which you have set to NOMAIL, since you must be subscribed to the list in order to post to it. To resume receiving mail at that address, send the command “SET ADS-L MAIL” to from the proper account.

To Conceal Your Subscription Status From Others Please note that it is possible for other people to determine that you are signed up to the list through the use of the “REVIEW” command, which returns the e-mail address and name of all the subscribers. If you do not want your name to be visible, just send a “SET ADS-L CONCEAL” command to

More Commands More information on LISTSERV commands can be found in the LISTSERV reference card, which you can retrieve by sending an “INFO REFCARD” command to

List Manager

If you have questions about ADS-L, send email to Jesse Sheidlower,

Posting Files to the Email List

ADS-L does not permit files of any kind to be sent to the list. If you’d like to make files available to the list members, please do the following:

1. Send the web site administrator an email about the file, indicating what it is and how big it is. Don’t include the file at first.

2. If the file goes beyond the obvious parameters of Fair Use, is too large, or is in too strange a format, then the administrator will help you determine if any or all of the file can be posted.

3. The administrator will then give instructions on how to send the file so that it can be made available to everyone.

4. Once the file is situated on the server, the original submitter will receive a unique URL which can be included in a post to the list.