electronic materials [Re: Mouton "discounts" for ALT members]

Peter Arkadiev peterarkadiev at YANDEX.RU
Fri Nov 11 14:30:42 UTC 2011

Dear all,

I think it is a really good idea to empirically test the "rating" of freely available grammars. Thank you, Liisa.
I would like to make a couple of comments on Liisa's and other colleagues messages, and since it does not have full relevance to the discussion of Mouton's discount, I've changed the subject.

1) Availability to the language community
Do you really think that a MLG or any other academic reference grammar could be a really useful thing for a linguistic community? As a symbol of prestige to be put among other sacred and venerable objects, perhaps, but for actual use - hardly. What native speakers of our languages need are teaching materials and texts in their own language, enhancing its use and transmission. Huge volumes to understand which one must not only know English but also have special training are largely useless for linguistic communities. Probably I am mistaken, please, tell me if I am.

2) Handling ease of printed books
This is not an easy issue, either. Printed books are easy to use when you have a library where they are collected and a large desk where you can put them beside your PC. Not all of us have such a library, and not all even such a desk. And even if both are available, not every printed book is easy to handle. Just a personal example: I've recently bought Givon's "Ute Grammar" for a really bargain price, and I am happy I have this book, but in order to open it I have to take it with both hands. If I need to copy examples from the book to a file on my computer, I must either tear the book into separate pages or probably print with my nose, or use some intricate devices. To have a neat searchable PDF which one can take on one's PC anywhere (who of us hasn't had to do some urgent work while travelling?) would be much more convenient. 
This does not mean that I am against printed books (there are environmental issues here, too, though I think that much more paper is wasted on bureaucratic documents than on books), but I think that in our age both options should be accessible. For instance, I would find it fair if publishing houses provided their customers with free electronic copies of printed books they buy.

Sorry for intoducing a potential new topic of discussion, but I hope this is at least a bit relevant.

Best wishes,

Peter Arkadiev

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