[Lingtyp] Technology standards in conflict with linguistic standards

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at eva.mpg.de
Mon Jul 6 10:38:08 UTC 2015

On 04.07.15 08:37, Kilu von Prince wrote:
> Dear all,
> I agree that acceptance of articles in LaTeX format should be more 
> widespread than it is at the moment. I may add that the style guides 
> of many linguistics journals could be significantly improved if they 
> incorporated more of the established best-practices in typesetting 
> that are automatically implemented by default LaTeX styles.

Moreover, it would be better if linguistics journals agreed on a single 
style guide, see 

These issues should ideally be discussed by a committee of linguistics 
editors, such as the LSA's CeLxJ (http://celxj.org/).

There will be a meeting of European linguistics editors just before the 
next SLE meeting in Leiden (see http://sle2015.eu/programme, 
"pre-conference mini-workshop"), which will primarily discuss other 
issues, but where we may decide to found such a committee of the SLE.


> Also, to share a related anecdote,  it is sometimes in fact the 
> editors rather than the publisher who insist on a submission in .doc 
> format. I once submitted an articles to a Benjamins journal. When the 
> editors requested a .doc version, I asked them to speak with their 
> publisher if they couldn't work with a LaTeX or PDF file. Then I 
> learned that it was the editors themselves who needed the .doc file 
> for their workflow during the revisions process. I'd like to appeal to 
> editors to have mercy on their LaTeX-using authors and try to develop 
> a workflow that is compatible with PDFs. Converting LaTeX to .doc is 
> time-consuming and depressing.
> Kind regards,
> Kilu
> On Sat, Jul 4, 2015 at 1:35 PM, Guillaume Jacques 
> <rgyalrongskad at gmail.com <mailto:rgyalrongskad at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     Dear Don,
>     It is obvious to anyone who has learned LaTeX that word-processors
>     like "word" or "open office" are completely inadapted to the
>     typesetting of linguistics dissertations or articles. LaTeX is
>     superior in particular for handling aligned glossed examples
>     (package gb4e), complex figures (tikz), Stammbäume,
>     cross-references, bibliography, complex scripts and of course math
>     formulas. I actually now require from all my new MA and PhD
>     students to write their dissertations in LaTeX (in general, three
>     days are enough to master the most important commands).
>     Fortunately, the number of linguistics journal and of publishers
>     accepting LaTeX is now growing year after year. At the present
>     moment, most if not all linguistics journals published by the
>     following major publishers accept LaTeX submissions (only those I
>     have personnally tested; the list is not exhaustive):
>     Mouton de Gruyter
>     Benjamins
>     Brill
>     Elsevier
>     MIT Press
>     I rarely have to convert my articles into word format anymore.
>     Publishers that are still lagging behind with LaTeX include (we
>     should collectively give them some pressure to catch up with the
>     rest of the world):
>     Cambridge University Press (for instance, Journal of the IPA)
>     Chicago University Press (IJAL)
>     (perhaps also Wiley)
>     Some journasl do not use LaTeX files, but will convert them for
>     you (from my personal experience, Anthropological Linguistics and
>     Journal of Chinese Linguistics)
>     If you submit to a collective volume for Mouton de Gruyter or
>     Benjamins, they should be able to handle a LaTeX submission even
>     if most of the volume is in word, but the editors of the volume
>     may have to insist a little bit.
>     Best wishes,
>     Guillaume
>     2015-07-04 11:22 GMT+02:00 Don Killian <donald.killian at helsinki.fi
>     <mailto:donald.killian at helsinki.fi>>:
>         Dear all,
>         After fighting with Microsoft Word for the past few weeks, I
>         was wondering if there is any way we can find additional
>         standards for article and chapter submission?
>         It seems that a majority of editors still have a fairly strict
>         requirement of Microsoft Word and Times New Roman, even if the
>         publisher itself is more open to other formats. Times New
>         Roman is more flexible, but I have not had very much luck with
>         alternatives to Word (such as Open Office or pdfs made from
>         LaTeX).
>         This is a problem for more than one reason. The biggest
>         problem I can see (in addition to the fact that both Word as
>         well as Times New Roman are proprietary!) is that the
>         technological requirements do not actually support the
>         formatting requirements we suggest. Neither Word nor Times New
>         Roman support the IPA in its entirety.
>         While these problems do not affect all linguists (such as
>         those who do not have certain sounds in their languages they
>         work on), it definitely affects plenty of others.
>         For instance, there is no way to change glyph selection in
>         Word, and <a> changes to <ɑ> when italicized. It is relatively
>         common to italicize words when you mix languages in text. But
>         if you are discussing a language which has both a and ɑ, this
>         is problematic. Furthermore, Word has no way of rendering the
>         MH or HM tonal contours properly, in any font. Those symbols
>         are only supported in Charis SIL and Doulos SIL fonts, and
>         Word renders them incorrectly.
>         There are plenty of other difficulties (e.g. making a vowel
>         chart), so these are just some examples.
>         I realize the main reason for using Word/TNR is simplicity and
>         what people are used to, but I do find it problematic that our
>         technology requirements do not support or make it easy to deal
>         with common problems in our field.
>         Is there any way to change this? LaTeX does support almost
>         everything I have ever needed, but I admit it is not always
>         very easy to learn or use. I would be happy to hear
>         alternative views or suggestions.
>         Best,
>         Don

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