LSA Resolution passed

Mark Post at JCU.EDU.AU
Fri Jun 4 05:48:39 UTC 2010

Hi all -

Thanks for this great overview of the problem Stephen; I certainly agree 
with the thrust of what you're saying, as you know; in a very short 
period of time, we've watched our discipline become increasingly focused 
on the building and maintenance of ever-richer, larger, and 
better-annotated databases - something which requires significant, and 
increasing, time-expenditure and expertise - at the same time as our 
universities, in Australia at least, become increasingly focused on 
defining and quantifying "output" in a way that explicitly excludes 
virtually everything of this nature (short of a collection of 
written-out texts which bears an ISBN)! This is a plain contradiction 
which can't continue indefinitely.

The most immediate solution that I can see for those in a position to 
publish a corpus together with a grammar (or a dictionary) would be to 
include the corpus as a CD-ROM, as you did with your Tai Languages of 
Assam book, /but/ for it to be treated not as a supplement, but instead 
as a second volume of the book. It could simultaneously be hosted online 
(as yours is); since CDs cost very little to produce and in this case 
don't cost anything additional to distribute, this is likely to be less 
worrisome to commercial publishers than it otherwise might be. Books 
with two volumes in principle get two ISBNs, and would in principle be 
quantified as two books for research output purposes by our 
universities. Although I can imagine that a lot of finessing would be 
required to pull this off, there's no reason in principle that it 
couldn't, and shouldn't, be done. The same person that peer-reviews the 
book then simultaneously peer-reviews the corpus.

This doesn't solve the problem of assessing (and crediting) a 
documentation which is completed in advance of a grammar/dictionary, and 
which is just as important to review, quantify and credit in a 
reasonable period of time. I don't see an easy answer here, and hope 
that someone else will!


On 4/06/2010 09:39, Stephen Morey wrote:
> 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.
> Stephen
> ________________________________________
> 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
> --
> 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

Mark W. Post, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Anthropological Linguistics
The Cairns Institute
James Cook University
QLD 4878 Australia

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