From Leslie to Me

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Hansun Zhang Waring


I would never have become this interested in language if it had not been for Leslie. Perhaps this all goes back to the idea of notebook data. In the mid-1990s, Leslie wrote a paper entitled Notebook data on power and the power of notebook data (Beebe, 1994), based on her experience as a juror on a high-profile case involving Donald Trump’s ex-wife. She turned her jury duty into a research project! Yes, Leslie Beebe is a different kind of a linguist—certainly not one trapped in an ivory tower. She taught me to see language as it is, not what it should be. “Leslie’s Notebook” still follows me around as I record language as lived by real people in real life, and I bring these notes into the classroom. I learned that an example, like a picture, is worth a thousand words, and a real example is worth a million. I’m a little more tuned-in, a little more relevant, and a little more interesting as a teacher because of Leslie.

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