[Lingtyp] Ethnologue goes for paid access

Dryer, Matthew dryer at buffalo.edu
Tue Jul 5 17:40:12 EDT 2016


Typologists (especially those in Russia),

I have just received an email from Ethnologue telling me that they have changed their criteria (apparently in response to my arguments) for what counts as a high-income country, so that Russia no longer counts as a high-income country, meaning people in Russia can now use Ethnologue without having to pay for it. There may be other countries also affected by this change.

I agree with those who feel that Glottolog is more useful than Ethnologue, but in my experience Glottolog + Ethnologue is better than just Glottolog.

Matthew

> On Jan 1, 2016, at 7:35 AM, Peter Arkadiev <peterarkadiev at YANDEX.RU> wrote:
> 
> Hi everyone and Happy New Year! Hedwig, thanks for your efforts and for a cool blog!
> 
> I can't help commenting on this point:
> 
> "The pay-wall is only in effect in countries with high income, as defined by the World Bank."
> 
> I've checked and found out that Russia is, indeed, among these high income countries, but this is just sadly ironical, since high income in Russia does not concern academics at all, and our financial situation is clearly going to deteriorate in the nearest future.
> However, I've already checked out the features of Glottolog and agree with Hedwig that for most of the purposes Glottolog is just as good as Ethnologue or even better, so I'm afraid SIL won't earn much - people will just stop using the paid service when there is a similar and even better one for free.
> 
> Cheers,
> 
> Peter
> 
> -- 
> Peter Arkadiev, PhD
> Institute of Slavic Studies
> Russian Academy of Sciences 
> Leninsky prospekt 32-A 119991 Moscow
> peterarkadiev at yandex.ru
> http://www.inslav.ru/ob-institute/sotrudniki/279-peter-arkadiev
> 
> 
> 01.01.2016, 11:30, "Hedvig Skirgård" <hedvig.skirgard at gmail.com>:
>> Hello again, hope you all had a Good New Year and I wish you a happy continuation,
>> 
>> There are quite a few things that are worth mentioning in relation to this pay-wall and ISO 639-3, so I decided it was easier to put all that I know in a blog post:
>> 
>> http://humans-who-read-grammars.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/clarifying-points-on-ethnologue-pay.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 15:00, Hedvig Skirgård <hedvig.skirgard at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Also, perhaps this is useful to this discussion as well: ISO 639-3 is an industrial standard for language names and codes, not necessarily "for languages" in the way that many linguists use them. Many of the users of the ISO 630 standards are not academics at all, but for example governmental bodies or companies. There are more standards of languages than ISO 639-3.
>>> 
>>> I thought maybe if we're more clear about what the standards are meant for, that clarifies what we can expect from them.
>>> 
>>> /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 14:14, Hedvig Skirgård <hedvig.skirgard at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> 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, and a related DLC conversation initiated by Martin H here.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 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> 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] On Behalf Of Everett, Daniel
>>>>>>>>>> Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 3:41 PM
>>>>>>>>>> To: Martin Haspelmath
>>>>>>>>>> Cc: 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
>>>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>>>> 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), 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.)
>>>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>>>> 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
>>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>>>>> Lingtyp mailing list
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>>>>>>>>> 
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>> 
>> ,
>> 
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