Mouton "discounts" for ALT members

TRUDGILL Peter peter.trudgill at UNIFR.CH
Fri Nov 11 16:40:04 UTC 2011

Let us not forget the British Publisher Oxford University Press. Calculations show:

Dixon: Grammar of Jarawara (OUP) 732 pages £39.99 = 0.052p per page = c. €0.06 per page

Aikhenvald: Grammar of Manambu (OUP) 732 pages £39.99 = 0.052p per page = c. €0.06 per page

I suggest potential authors try them. And they have made offers on particular books to ALT before, and are likely to do so again.


On 11 Nov 2011, at 15:40, Alexander Bochkov wrote:

Let me raise another issue here. Are scholars allowed to upload their work (published in a journal that is behind some paywall or in a collection of articles etc.) to their websites? There are some conscientious linguists who upload their papers from journals and sometimes even scanned chapters. If it's ok, more researchers should pay more attention to the content of their websites and not simply have a CV in a pdf format.

On Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 5:47 AM, Ulrike Zeshan <UZeshan at<mailto:UZeshan at>> wrote:
This interests me as I am in charge of the Ishara Press, a social enterprise publisher under the Deaf Empowerment Foundation. In response to Mark, Joseph et al: Our currently emerging in-progress model is maybe something in-between commercial and Open Access, and we keep looking for the best model. We want to make profits with the Press, as all profits go to Foundation projects, e.g. for fees bursaries for deaf university students in India, but we also want research to be available, especially in developing countries. Therefore, we aim to sell publications during a grace period of 3-4 years, and it is our expectation that sales after this period will be negligible, as any university libraries etc wanting the books will have bought them by then. After the grace period, our policy is that books will go online and be available for free, or on DVDs at cost price (not everyone can download large videos). As far as possible, net profits earned from publications relating thematically to a particular country are channeled back into projects run by the Foundation in the same country (e.g. sign language teacher training in Turkey), or else the profits are used for general and international activities.

Open Access to all is not a straightforward concept for us because real access depends not only on the stuff being free but also on people’s abilities to engage with and use this stuff. So given low levels of education and literacy among the signers we work with, whatever we gain from research with sign language using deaf communities is not accessible to them merely by being cheap or free. We do not yet have a solution to this dilemma.

Ulrike Zeshan

From: Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG<mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG>] On Behalf Of Liisa Berghäll
Sent: 11 November 2011 12:53

Subject: Re: Mouton "discounts" for ALT members

This thread interests me very much, since I am still editing my Ph.D. dissertation “Mauwake reference grammar” in order to submit it to one of the major publishers. (We have an oral agreement but nothing signed so far.) My two main concerns are 1) the availability also for people who do not have a lot of money to buy expensive books, and 2) the ease of use: handling a physical book is often easier than scrolling up and down a PDF document or thumbing through a printout version of the same. For the first, an open access publication would seem a better solution, for the second, a printed book. I do not have to worry about the prestige question, as I am close to the end of my career and am not seeking academic positions.

The grammar is currently freely available online in the form that it was during the defence in Sep. 2010 (see link below to the University of Helsinki e-thesis service). The link was publicized on the LinguistList, as well as a few other places. It would be interesting to get an idea of how many of the subscribers to this list, for instance, have downloaded it (and also how many have actually used it!). Could I ask for a quick reply from those who have done so, with just something like: downloaded (+ used)?

Liisa Berghäll

Liisa Berghäll, Ph.D.
Helmiäispolku 5 B 26
00530 Helsinki

050-323 0845

From: Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG<mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG>] On Behalf Of Joseph T. Farquharson
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2011 2:05 PM
Subject: Re: Mouton "discounts" for ALT members

This is a matter that has concerned me for a number of years especially since I work at a university which serves several developing countries. I have a recent edited volume with John Benjamins that nobody I know can afford. This is sad since even persons who are not linguists wanted to buy copies of the book. I get a book grant from my university but the sum per year is hardly enough to buy 5 books from publishers such as Benjamins or Mouton. The money normally gets spent on introductory texts and material to enhance my teaching and cannot really stretch to buy specialist volumes to enhance my research. One solution is spending my research time or my sleeping time to scout used book sellers online to get bargains.

I have also noticed that purchasing one PDF version of a journal article is the same as buying a book elsewhere. There is something fundamentally wrong here, even in a capitalist market.

It has already been pointed out by Sebastian and a few others that we need to change the political culture in academia. When we stop (automatically) judging publications on which publishing house they are produced by as opposed to their content then we should see an improvement. Senior scholars who make decisions in terms of appointments and promotions need to ensure that the works of their colleagues are evaluated based on merit and not on publishing house. Until we do that we really cannot point fingers at publishers. They are in it to make money and if they can get EUR 139 for one book they will take it!

By the way, two years ago when I had a full-time faculty position in Jamaica, EUR 139 represented 11% of my monthly salary.

On 11 November 2011 07:41, Martin Haspelmath <haspelmath at<mailto:haspelmath at>> wrote:
I haven't made a systematic survey, but it seems to me that the claim that Mouton grammars are especially expensive is largely a myth.

For instance, consider the following recent Lincom grammars:

Marian Klamer, A short grammar of Alorese, 142 pp., EUR 48,80
Muhammad Fannami & Mohammed Aminu Mu'azu, An introduction to morphology and syntax of the Kanuri language, 292 pp., EUR 74,60
Stevenson, Grammar of Palestinian Jewish Aramaic, 98 pp., EUR 42,70

These cost on average EUR 0.31 per page.

Or consider the following Benjamins grammars:

Dileep Chandralal, Sinhala, 296 pp., EUR 110
Ramesh Vaman Dhongde and Kashi Wali, Marathi, 340 pp., EUR 110
Yamuna Kachru, Hindi, 309 pp., EUR 125

These cost on average EUR 0.36 per page.

Now compare the four most recent Mouton Grammar Library books:

Marian Klamer, A grammar of Teiwa, 540 pp., EUR 149.95
Birgit Hellwig, A grammar of Goemai, 612 pp., EUR 149.95
Næss & Hovdhauden, A grammar of Vaeakau-Taumako, 380 pp., 139.95
Tasaku Tsunoda, A grammar of Warrongo, 850 pp., EUR 149.95

These cost on average EUR 0.24 per page.

What is special about the Mouton Grammar Library is that it's the only grammar series of a major linguistics publisher that includes grammars of very small languages, i.e. languages that are interesting only to comparative linguists (this is unlike the Benjamins grammars, for example, which are all on major Asian languages).

I think that in general, journals of shareholder-owned publishers are the real culprits; compare the following estimated page prices of selected journals (2011 volume):

Lingua (Elsevier): EUR 0.47 per page
Language Sciences (Elsevier): EUR 1.42 per page
Australian Journal of Linguistics (Taylor & Francis) EUR 1.32 per page

(For this reason, I've made it a personal policy not to collaborate with shareholder-owned publishers. These include Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Routledge, Pearson, and Wiley-Blackwell.)

But the points raised by Harald and Sebastian are still very much worth debating. The conclusion to draw from their messages is that the publishers just do what the academics want. If we change our behaviour, they will, too.


On 11/11/2011 03:12, Harald Hammarström wrote:
Dear Mark,
I don't know if it can be called a solution but one possibility for
authors is to submit to open-access monograph series that welcome
descriptive materials, e.g., Cadernos de Etnolinguistica for
(South-)Americanists or Himalayan Linguistics Archive for
Himalayanists, or even the MPI EVA Language Description Heritage
repository (<>) then it'll be accessible to any
scholar with a computer and some indirect or direct access to the
internet. I suppose few authors are ready to do this because of the
prestige associated with the magna publishers. But the prestige comes
from senior scholars acting as series editors, reviewers and the like,
who might as well do this for an open-access publisher. I have never
understood why senior scholars continue to do this instead of doing
the same for an open-access publisher. Perhaps someone who knows
better could comment?

If you are thinking of a printed and bound version to be affordable to
a member of the speaker community who is not necessarily a scholar or
has access to a computer, it seems possible to have a local publisher
publish the grammar/dictionary giving a much more reasonable price. I
believe Robbins Burling did exactly this, with a publisher somewhere in
NE India (so it should be comparable to your case) but I don't know what
the exact price was and whether it was affordable and actually bought
by many interested locals.

It is sometimes argued that high book (& journal) prices is necessary
and justified for added value and development of infrastructure with
frontline publishing companies. But the overview of profit margins with
academic publishers by McGuigan and Russell [1] claims that this is not
at all enough to explain the profit margins (and thus, in turn, the book/
journal prices). For this they cite a report from an analysis conducted
under Deutsche Bank which I have not read, but in any case, does anyone
know the specifics for de Gruyter, Mouton, and/or the MGL book series, i.e.,
what are their profit margins and what is the added value they can be
said to bring?

all the best,


Glenn S. McGuigan and Robert D. Russell, 2008. The Business of Academic Publishing: A Strategic Analysis of the Academic Journal Publishing Industry and its Impact on the Future of Scholarly Publishing. Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, volume 9, number 3.
2011/11/11 Post, Mark < at< at>>
Dear Typologists,

I thank Bill Croft for raising this point, but would further suggest that there is a deeper issue involved, particularly as regards large-scale descriptive work such as grammars and dictionaries. Most work currently being done in language description relates to communities or localities in which institutions and individual scholars alike have so little purchasing power that obtaining an MGL volume is a straightforward impossibility - with or without an ALT or similarly-scaled "discount". While exceptions can be found, the overall effect of this situation is, one, to radically restrict research opportunities in exactly the places where they are often most in demand, and two, to foster inequality among our colleagues. I'm sure I will be reminded that most scholars are aware of this problem, and that there is no point in bringing it up unless I can put forth an acceptable solution. I really wish I could. But I do want to propose that the current status quo is ethically flawed to a very serious extent, and that authors contribute to this problem when we submit our work to publishers whose pricing schemes are so dramatically prohibitive as is MGL's (whatever other merits they may have). I would also warmly welcome suggestions for how matters might be improved from listmembers who might have made more progress in their thinking about potential solutions than I seem to have.

Regards all around,


Mark W. Post
The Cairns Institute
James Cook University
Smithfield, QLD 4878

Tel: +61-7-4042-1898<tel:%2B61-7-4042-1898>
Eml: at< at>

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG<mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG>] On Behalf Of Bill Croft
Sent: Friday, 11 November 2011 1:28 AM
Subject: Mouton "discounts" for ALT members

Dear typologists,

    Some of you have taken advantage of the discounts that Mouton has
offered to ALT members for the Mouton Grammar Library and Empirical
Approaches to Language Typology series. The discount, available in a
list at the Lingtyp website, used to be around 50% of the (very high)
list price of the volumes in these series. After 2009, no new volumes
were added to the discount list. Now the new discount list has
reappeared but the discount has shrunk to 20%.

   The change in the discount has made the MGL and EALT volumes go
from (barely) affordable to completely unaffordable to individual
scholars. This is particularly serious because Mouton volumes are so
expensive - pretty much the most expensive in the field of
linguistics - that it is difficult if not impossible for university
libraries to purchase them. I inquired about the change, and was told
that De Gruyter decided to standardize the discount for all societies
at 20%, and since Mouton is owned by De Gruyter, Mouton has to
conform to De Gruyter policies.

    At this point, according to the current ALT discount list,
volumes published before 2009 are still available at their original
discount price. I do not know how long that will last.

   I do not know if it is worth trying, but I would urge members to
object to this change in policy to Mouton and De Gruyter.

Bill Croft


Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at<mailto:haspelmath at>)

Max-Planck-Institut fuer evolutionaere Anthropologie, Deutscher Platz 6

D-04103 Leipzig

Tel. (MPI) +49-341-3550 307<tel:%2B49-341-3550%20307>, (priv.) +49-341-980 1616<tel:%2B49-341-980%201616>

Joseph T. Farquharson
Department of Liberal Arts
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine
Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies

Telephone: (868) 662-2002 ext. 3493<tel:%28868%29%20662-2002%20ext.%203493> | Fax: (868) 663-5059<tel:%28868%29%20663-5059>
Email 1: jtfarquharson at<mailto:jtfarquharson at>
Email 2: joseph.farquharson at<mailto:joseph.farquharson at>
New co-edited book: Variation in the Caribbean<> (2011)
Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children. Godliness--godlikeness--is the goal to be reached. Before the student there is opened a path of continual progress. He has an object to achieve, a standard to attain, that includes everything good, and pure, and noble. He will advance as fast and as far as possible in every branch of true knowledge. But his efforts will be directed to objects as much higher than mere selfish and temporal interests as the heavens are higher than the earth. - E. G. White

Alexander Bochkov

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