[An-lang] Glossing notation

Andrew Pawley andrew.pawley at anu.edu.au
Fri Jan 25 21:11:22 EST 2019

I agree with John. Better to keep single quotes for glosses where the  focus is on the word as an item of linguistic exposition.


From: An-lang <an-lang-bounces at anu.edu.au> on behalf of John Lynch <johnlynch123 at gmail.com>
Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2019 7:07:12 AM
To: Ross Clark
Cc: an-lang at anu.edu.au
Subject: Re: [An-lang] Glossing notation

It would be interesting to know the reason for this proposed change.

Parentheses are usually used to add additional but non-essential information. Calling on my editorial experience, I can envisage two different kinds of situations. One is where the non-English term is used as if it was an ordinary word in an ordinary sentence, in which case the parenthetical translation might be appropriate. For example:
a. Only men may enter the fale (house) during mortuary ceremonies ...
b. Only men may enter the house (fale) during mortuary ceremonies ...

The other is where the focus is on the word as an item of linguistic exposition, in which case the parenthesis is mistakenly treating the gloss as non-essential. In such cases I would support retaining the current practice. E.g.:

c. The first syllable of  fale 'house' is usually stressed,although ...


On Fri, Jan 25, 2019 at 3:44 PM Ross Clark <r.clark at auckland.ac.nz<mailto:r.clark at auckland.ac.nz>> wrote:
I've had an inquiry from the editor of a journal which sometimes publishes papers of a (Pacific) linguistic nature. They are contemplating changing the format for glosses of single words in languages other than English from single-quotes to parentheses -- e.g.from

fale 'house'


fale (house).

This would bring it into agreement with the reverse situation, where a local-language equivalent is given for a word in non-linguistic discussion:

house (fale).

[Sorry, all those fale's should be in italics. Don't know how to make that happen in Outlook.]

Apparently the Chicago Manual of Style approves this.

I don’t find this change particularly disturbing, even though single-quotes is a pretty widely followed practice in linguistics. But I wanted to circulate the question a little to see if there is strong feeling about it, or if people can think of difficulties which haven’t occurred to me.
Thanks for your input.
Ross Clark

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John Lynch, FAHA
Emeritus Professor of Pacific Languages
University of the South Pacific
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Port Vila.  VANUATU
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