LSA Resolution passed

Stephen Morey S.Morey at LATROBE.EDU.AU
Thu Jun 3 23:39:01 UTC 2010

Dear RNLD list,

Late last year I had some discussions with Martin Hosken (Payap University and SIL) and Doug Cooper (CRCL Bangkok) about the issue of getting documentation work counted as an academic activity. I was going to send something to the list at once about this, but as I was about to head into the field (and be unable to participate in the discussion), I didn’t send the email. However following Margaret’s reminding us of the LSA resolution in January, I thought I’d forward what I had prepared earlier:

Many of us spend a great deal of our time recording, analysing and placing on-line text corpora, often linked to media files. These are substantial items of academic and scholarly work, involving a huge amount of analysis, but they do not get counted as part of our academic output because they are non peer-reviewed. 

I think we have to find a way of making this work peer-reviewable. In short we need answers to these questions:

1) is there a peer-reviewed venue for publishing corpora?
2) what scholarly community is likely to peer- and post-publication review such works?
3) how might we extend the critical apparatus associated with corpora?

To deal with (1), there may well be opportunities to publish text collections in combination with grammars or grammatical sketches. Perhaps we need something like ‘Texts and text corpora of endangered languages;’ which could encompass both critical editions and extensive (footnoted) translations – but not necessarily grammatical descriptions

As for (2), as an example, if I publish a collection of translations of Tai Ahom manuscripts, with associated corpus tools and critical annotations, it might be difficult to find people who can comment knowledgeably on the work as a whole, as would be expected for ordinary peer-reviewed scholarship. Furthermore how does one go about reviewing a long set of glossed and translated texts? What new model of peer review might we need to adopt?

And (3), to make the work more reviewable, do we need to have more in the way in the way of a critical apparatus? What would that consist of for such publications? Would it be the presentation an introduction, methodology, comprehensive critical notes and indexing; all the things an academic publication might normally contai. This is extra work of course, but by offering scholars the chance to get credit for their work, more carefully thought out text corpora for endangered languages might result, and more scholars might be encouraged to make their corpora available, and more might be encouraged to do this kind of work, which all recognise is of the utmost importance.

Finally, these text corpora would need to be accessible. They can’t be reviewable if they are not also available for the academic linguistics community to assess.

So there are some ideas, hopefully we’ll have a good discussion on this.


From: Margaret Florey [margaret.florey at]
Sent: 04 June 2010 08:01
To: rnlist
Subject: LSA Resolution passed

Dear RNLDers,

The Linguistic Society of America has passed a Resolution Recognizing the Scholarly Merit of Language Documentation<>. This resolution was adopted at the LSA business meeting in January, and has now been ratified by a poll of LSA members.

kind regards,

Margaret Florey
Consultant linguist
Director, Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity <<>>

Email: Margaret.Florey at<mailto:Margaret.Florey at>
Ph: +61 (0)4 3186-3727 (mob.)
skype: margaret_florey

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