ALT Grammar Incubator

Sebastian Nordhoff sebastian_nordhoff at EVA.MPG.DE
Tue Nov 15 19:33:48 UTC 2011

Dear all,
just copying the structure of a publisher of manuscript acquisition,  
evaluation, and distribution will probably not work. There is a reason why  
Mouton employs a full time editor for linguistics, several secretaries  
etc. The reason is that it is a hell lot of work to do all those things.  
If we try to set up Yet Another Publishing House, we are likely to a) be  
less professional and b) have *higher* running costs than Mouton with  
their centuries of know-how.

Basically, when the manuscript is ready for top quality publication, it is  
too late. Chances are very low that researchers will forgo the chance of  
getting a prestige publication in return for good karma alone when the  
camera-ready copy is there. Fortunately for us, it can take forever to get  
your grammar out (writing, revising, formatting), and this is what ALT can  
use as a starting point. Speed of dissemination can be the USP (Unique  
Selling Proposition)  of an ALT Grammar Repository.

This means that we have to get the manuscripts earlier, i.e. in early  
draft stage.
One such possibility would be the "ALT Grammar Incubator". This would be a  
place where grammar writers can deposit preliminary versions of their  
grammars and publish revisions as their analyses gain maturity. This  
incubator would have feedback mechanisms where readers can suggest  
alternative analyses or new directions of research. This is a win-win  
situation for readers and writers: readers get to see bleeding edge data  
of the languages being worked on, and authors get invaluable feedback from  
expert readers.


On Tue, 15 Nov 2011 12:18:36 +0100, Christian Lehmann  
<christian.lehmann at> wrote:

> Dear Nigel and everybody,
> that is exactly the proposal that I have been waiting for and would have  
> made myself. I am willing to cooperate in your working group.
> Just a few thoughts:
> 1) Apart from a few idealists, most of those colleagues who have the  
> necessary standing to draw prestige to the online linguistics publishing  
> facility and are "prepared to be tough in terms of peer review and  
> quality selection" would want some kind of remuneration for their  
> service. That's the way this world is; we know it from experience with  
> people who are on editorial or advisory boards of journals and series.  
> That remuneration is not necessarily money, although that option would  
> always work if money is available. The problem is that it detracts from  
> the outspoken goal of making such publications freely available.
> 2) One might therefore think of a model where a member of that online  
> publishing board takes on the duty of reviewing one book or two articles  
> every two years and gets some (immaterial) benefit in return. (Ideas  
> wanted of what that might be.)
> 3) Since your idea in itself is exactly what is needed, I assume that  
> there will be, in the mid-run, more than one such online linguistics  
> publishing facility. In order to get the idea running, it might be  
> useful to allocate it rather highly. I offer to submit it to the CIPL  
> Executive Committee, if that seems reasonable to members of your working  
> group. CIPL fulfills a couple of presuppositions for that role:
> - It is international and, indeed, in charge of a couple of permanent  
> agenda on behalf of linguists worldwide.
> - It has a certain prestige (although not quite the prestige that it  
> ought to have).
> - It has a certain infrastructure (although, again, that aspect remains  
> improvable).
> - It disposes of some money (although, again, ...) and might have the  
> possibility to raise some more.
> Best,
> Christian

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