[Lingtyp] Technology standards in conflict with linguistic standards

Randy John LaPolla (Prof) RandyLaPolla at ntu.edu.sg
Mon Jul 6 11:56:53 UTC 2015

Hi Martin,
Back in 2006-2007 we did have such a coming together of editors of linguistics journals and came up with the attached unified stylesheet.

All the best,
Prof. Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA (罗仁地)| Head, Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies | Nanyang Technological University
HSS-03-80, 14 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637332 | Tel: (65) 6592-1825 GMT+8h | Fax: (65) 6795-6525 | http://randyjlapolla.net/

On 6 Jul 2015, at 6:38 pm, Martin Haspelmath <haspelmath at eva.mpg.de<mailto:haspelmath at eva.mpg.de>> wrote:

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 http://www.frank-m-richter.de/freescienceblog/2015/03/18/how-to-make-linguistics-publication-more-efficient-use-discipline-wide-style-rules/

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,

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
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,


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.



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