[Lingtyp] Ethnologue goes for paid access

Hedvig Skirgård hedvig.skirgard at gmail.com
Thu Dec 31 03:14:28 UTC 2015


A source within SIL International just enlightened me to the following
points that I would like to share with you:

* the process for amending the Ethnologue and the ISO 639-3 standard are
completely separate.
More here:: http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/scope.asp

* people can advocate that their libraries to purchase an institutional
subscription.

* Ethnologue pay wall is not in effect for certain countries.

/Hedvig

*Hedvig Skirgård*
PhD Candidate
The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity

ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language

School of Culture, History and Language
College of Asia and the Pacific

Rm 4203, H.C. Coombs Building (#9)
The Australian National University

Acton ACT 2601

Australia

Ph: +61 (0)451 878 060

E: hedvig.skirgard at anu.edu.au

On 31 December 2015 at 13:59, Hedvig Skirgård <hedvig.skirgard at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Hi again,
>
> Sorry, "being" -> "behind".
>
> For some handy links and thoughts on Glottolog and Ethnologue's
> classification criteria, might I be a bit self-absorbed and recommend
> this?:
> http://humans-who-read-grammars.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/food-for-thought-language-is-dialect.html
>
> /Hedvig
>
> *Hedvig Skirgård*
> PhD Candidate
> The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity
>
> ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
>
> School of Culture, History and Language
> College of Asia and the Pacific
>
> Rm 4203, H.C. Coombs Building (#9)
> The Australian National University
>
> Acton ACT 2601
>
> Australia
>
> Ph: +61 (0)451 878 060
>
> E: hedvig.skirgard at anu.edu.au
>
> On 31 December 2015 at 13:57, Hedvig Skirgård <hedvig.skirgard at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
>> Just to be clear:
>>
>> The ISO 639-3 codes can still be freely accessed here
>> http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp and via glottolog.org.
>>
>> Ethnologue is not the registration authority for IISO 639-3, SIL
>> International is. Not all SIL international products are being a pay-wall
>> (yet?). Sorry for being nit-picky, but it makes a difference.
>>
>> /Hedvig
>>
>> *Hedvig Skirgård*
>> PhD Candidate
>> The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity
>>
>> ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
>>
>> School of Culture, History and Language
>> College of Asia and the Pacific
>>
>> Rm 4203, H.C. Coombs Building (#9)
>> The Australian National University
>>
>> Acton ACT 2601
>>
>> Australia
>>
>> Ph: +61 (0)451 878 060
>>
>> E: hedvig.skirgard at anu.edu.au
>>
>> On 31 December 2015 at 13:33, Mark W. Post <markwpost at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>> Well, as Stephen pointed out, one of the main uses that many linguists
>>> have for the Ethnologue is to find out the "three letter codes" for
>>> particular languages, since SIL as registration authority for ISO 639-3 is
>>> responsible for creating and maintaining this code set. Furthermore, if
>>> linguists want to argue for changes to the ISO 639-3 code set, we need to
>>> interact with the Ethnologue and its staff, who are ultimately responsible
>>> for these sorts of decisions. The official ISO 639-3 code set must be
>>> purchased from the ISO in Geneva, so up to now, Ethnologue has been the
>>> only free way of accessing the current code set, so far as I am aware.
>>>
>>> As near as I can tell, this job - of figuring out how many distinct
>>> languages there are in the world, assigning unique identifiers for them
>>> (and even figuring out what the relationships among them are, which is
>>> another job that SIL was supposed to do for ISO) - is being done at least
>>> as well by Glottolog, and is arguably being done better (because
>>> Glottolog's decisions seem to be based on the widest possible reading of
>>> the scientific literature, whereas Ethnologue's decisions seem to mostly
>>> privilege their own internal resources, which are rarely cited or made
>>> publicly available).
>>>
>>> The problem is that since that since (a) the ISO maintains the
>>> "official" list, and (b) the Ethnologue is the registration authority for
>>> ISO 639-3, and (c) ISO 639-3 codes are increasingly obligatory features of
>>> archival deposits and even some publications, many linguists are currently
>>> forced to engage with this system. I share several of the concerns that Dan
>>> Everett expressed earlier, and agree that we do, as a field, need to have a
>>> conversation about whether or not it is desirable to rely primarily or
>>> exclusively on SIL for these sorts of services. Part of the argument that
>>> I've often heard against moving away from SIL (for example, as ISO 639-3
>>> registration authority) is that while its funding and permanence seem to be
>>> relatively assured, the same can't be said of organizations like Glottolog.
>>> So one question that I think that this episode naturally raises is whether,
>>> as a field, our faith in SIL has been too great. Note that in saying that,
>>> I don't imply that SIL itself has done anything wrong. Ultimately, it's up
>>> to linguists (who are on funding boards, who are on boards of archives, who
>>> are on editorial boards, etc.) to decide whether we should be requiring our
>>> colleagues to engage with SIL/Ethnologue in this way, or not. Speaking for
>>> myself, I'd vote "not".
>>>
>>> Cheers
>>> Mark
>>>
>>> PS - if anyone's interested in thinking about this further, there is a
>>> handout from the 2013 PARADISEC conference that discusses some of these
>>> issues here
>>> <https://www.academia.edu/4725536/The_language_codes_of_ISO_639_A_premature_ultimately_unobtainable_and_possibly_damaging_standardization>,
>>> and a related DLC conversation initiated by Martin H here
>>> <http://dlc.hypotheses.org/610>.
>>>
>>> On 31/12/2015 12:57 PM, Hedvig Skirgård wrote:
>>>
>>> Hi,
>>>
>>> The main use I have of Ethnologue is for looking up population stats,
>>> which I can also do elsewhere but it's more cumbersome.
>>>
>>> Many of the other functions I get elsewhere.
>>>
>>> Endangerment level - UNESCO's Atlas
>>> Codes and classification - Glottolog
>>> Genealogies - Glottolog or MultiTree
>>> Alternative names - Glottolog
>>>
>>> Then there's some summaries and calculations like Greenberg Diversity
>>> Index, indigenous vs immigrant languages, the "statistics" pages and some
>>> more functions that Glottolog could do maybe sometime in future, but
>>> doesn't right now.
>>>
>>> What are the main uses for the linguists in this mailing list for
>>> Ethnologue?
>>>
>>> Best,
>>> Hedvig
>>>
>>> *Hedvig Skirgård*
>>> PhD Candidate
>>> The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity
>>>
>>> ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
>>>
>>> School of Culture, History and Language
>>> College of Asia and the Pacific
>>>
>>> Rm 4203, H.C. Coombs Building (#9)
>>> The Australian National University
>>>
>>> Acton ACT 2601
>>>
>>> Australia
>>>
>>> Ph: +61 (0)451 878 060
>>>
>>> E: hedvig.skirgard at anu.edu.au
>>>
>>> On 31 December 2015 at 12:49, Everett, Daniel <DEVERETT at bentley.edu>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>> The issue is not whether SIL will discontinue the service. It is
>>>> whether the support will be sufficient to meet the expectations of the
>>>> academic community.
>>>>
>>>> On the one hand, I am concerned that SIL has taken so long to make any
>>>> public statement about this. But on the other, the more fundamental
>>>> question is whether it is appropriate for data bases of this type to be
>>>> kept and controlled exclusively by a missionary organization. That is not a
>>>> problem for SIL. It can build any data base it wants. That is a problem for
>>>> the academic community.
>>>>
>>>> As was discussed at an LSA meeting several years ago, via a panel
>>>> organized by Lise Dobrin (and which I participated in with several others),
>>>> a concern that was expressed had to do with the fact that as the academic
>>>> community allows SIL to take on a quasi-official capacity in certain areas,
>>>> e.g. the Ethnologue, SIL thereby is able to further the myth that it is an
>>>> academic organization, when in reality (as I know having been a member of
>>>> SIL from 1976-2002) it is a missionary organization, its members dedicated
>>>> to the establishment of churches among indigenous communities around the
>>>> world. The church support for the Ethnologue is not for the furtherance of
>>>> scientific research but to have a more accurate assessment of Bible
>>>> translation needs of the world’s languages.
>>>>
>>>> That might be fine for some, but I think it is time that the academic
>>>> community think about funding for a parallel project. Otherwise, no one
>>>> should be concerned about paying the fee. This is the only way SIL seems to
>>>> be able to support the project and if interested academics are willing to
>>>> cede that responsibility to SIL, then they ought not to complain or worry
>>>> about fees.
>>>>
>>>> In any case, I don’t use Ethnologue much anymore so am indifferent to
>>>> the outcome. I simply believe that it is worth discussing the general
>>>> situation, perhaps at a LingTyp meeting, and LSA, etc.
>>>>
>>>> Dan
>>>>
>>>> On Dec 30, 2015, at 8:24 PM, Les Bruce < <les_bruce at sil.org>
>>>> les_bruce at sil.org> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> I don’t think we need fear that Ethnologue will be discontinued by SIL.
>>>> People like Joe and Barbara Grimes who pioneered this work have been
>>>> strongly supported by their constituency who have appreciated the academic
>>>> work of these people.
>>>>
>>>> Les Bruce
>>>>
>>>> *From:* Lingtyp [mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>>> <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org>] *On Behalf Of *Everett,
>>>> Daniel
>>>> *Sent:* Wednesday, December 30, 2015 3:41 PM
>>>> *To:* Martin Haspelmath
>>>> *Cc:*  <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>>>> lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>>> *Subject:* Re: [Lingtyp] Ethnologue goes for paid access
>>>>
>>>> It is not at all clear that SIL is trying to make money. Maintaining
>>>> these pages costs thousands of dollars per month and, as Martin says, SIL
>>>> has no academic funding. Its funding comes from churches by and large and
>>>> they have no particular interest in supporting non-mission related
>>>> academics. I strongly urge the academic community to develop its own
>>>> resources in this area.
>>>>
>>>> DLE
>>>>
>>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Dec 30, 2015, at 16:28, Martin Haspelmath <haspelmath at shh.mpg.de>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> Yes, that's true, and here's the description:
>>>> <http://www.ethnologue.com/ethnoblog/m-paul-lewis/ethnologue-launches-subscription-service>
>>>> http://www.ethnologue.com/ethnoblog/m-paul-lewis/ethnologue-launches-subscription-service
>>>>
>>>> They say you can access seven data pages per month for free.
>>>>
>>>> I don't find this surprising. Ethnologue (and the entire academic
>>>> branch of SIL) has no proper academic funding, so it's normal that they are
>>>> trying to make some money out of their flagship publication.
>>>>
>>>> Incidentally, Glottolog has no proper funding either, but as it is now
>>>> hosted by MPI-SHH in Jena (
>>>> <http://www.shh.mpg.de/48816/research_outline>
>>>> http://www.shh.mpg.de/48816/research_outline), at least its continued
>>>> existence is assured for the next dozen years or so.
>>>>
>>>> (I think we should try to tell our administrators that it makes little
>>>> sense to try to sell academic publications. Instead, they should by
>>>> properly funded by the academic publishers themselves, in order not to
>>>> drive academics even further into questionable practices
>>>> <http://www.frank-m-richter.de/freescienceblog/2015/12/18/is-our-scholarship-based-on-illegal-foundations/>
>>>> .)
>>>>
>>>> Martin
>>>> On 30.12.15 22:16, Peter Arkadiev wrote:
>>>>
>>>> Dear all,
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> does any one know whether the access to the Ethnologue is going to be by paid subscription only? When trying to routinely access the information about a random language, I got a screen advertising paid subscription for $60 per year, and there is no way to bypass it and get access to the information which was freely available a week ago. This looks pretty distressing.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Best,
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Peter
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> --
>>>>
>>>> Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
>>>>
>>>> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
>>>>
>>>> Kahlaische Strasse 10
>>>>
>>>> D-07745 Jena
>>>>
>>>> &
>>>>
>>>> Leipzig University
>>>>
>>>> Beethovenstrasse 15
>>>>
>>>> D-04107 Leipzig
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
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>>>>
>>>>
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>>>>
>>>
>>>
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>>
>
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