[Lingtyp] linguistic standards

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at eva.mpg.de
Mon Jul 6 15:14:12 UTC 2015

I would say that both Grev Corbett and Dan Everett are right:

Dan is right that similar categories across languages are often not "the 
same". The Tagalog ang-Nominal is similar to a Subject in English, but 
it's not the same, and the German Future tense is similar to the French 
Future tense, but they are not "the same".

Grev is right that different terms can obscure the similarities, and 
since we want to understand the similarities, we should see beyond the 
accidents of local traditions.

Dan has in mind the level of descriptive categories (which are different 
across languages), and Grev has the in mind level of comparative 
concepts (which are a prerequisite for cross-linguistic generalizations).

An interesting question is whether comparative concepts can/should be 
"standardized" (perhaps so), and whether one should urge grammar writers 
to use these standard comparative terms for the language-specific 
counterparts. I'm less sure about the latter, because I wouldn't want to 
send the message that there are only as many possible categories as 
typologists have set up comparative concepts.


P.S. And of course Bernhard Hurch is right as well: In a diverse world, 
different styles should be acceptable. But to be honest, globalized 
science is not a diverse world -- it's supposed to be ruthlessly 
efficient, like globalized business. (In this way, and quite ironically, 
globalized language typology is part of the kind of process that is 
drastically reducing linguistic diversity.)

On 06.07.15 08:29, Everett, Daniel wrote:
> Wrt the larger issue, Grev, about things being "the same" I am not so 
> sanguine. Many people think there is a passive construction that is 
> universal but I think that is mistaken. I am more concerned about over 
> homogenization of typological/descriptive terms than LaTeX. But I am 
> sure you are too. The problem is when people begin thinking that there 
> are "same contructions" - this can become self-fulfilling. Not always 
> perhaps.
> Dan
> Sent from my iPhone
> On Jul 6, 2015, at 09:23, "g.corbett at surrey.ac.uk 
> <mailto:g.corbett at surrey.ac.uk>" <g.corbett at surrey.ac.uk 
> <mailto:g.corbett at surrey.ac.uk>> wrote:
>> I guess there is a small answer and a larger answer.
>> small: changing commas to full stops for journal A, and then back to 
>> commas for journal B isn't a great use of people's time. Better we 
>> diversify our thinking rather than our reference formatting. Share 
>> the tools but diversify the products.
>> larger: we don't always realise which things are the same and which 
>> are different, and that's a waste too. For instance, there are 
>> Africanists who believe that 'pluractionals' are special to the 
>> languages of Africa. But they are what others call 'verbal number' 
>> and you can find that all over.
>> And then there's the worst case scenario:
>> http://www.cse.lehigh.edu/~gtan/bug/localCopies/marsOrbiter 
>> <http://www.cse.lehigh.edu/%7Egtan/bug/localCopies/marsOrbiter>
>> Very best, Grev
>>> On 6 Jul 2015, at 13:30, Hurch, Bernhard (bernhard.hurch at uni-graz.at 
>>> <mailto:bernhard.hurch at uni-graz.at>) <bernhard.hurch at uni-graz.at 
>>> <mailto:bernhard.hurch at uni-graz.at>> wrote:
>>> Can anybody tell me why everything must be standardized, unified, 
>>> vereinheitlicht?
>>> Can't people live with diversification / in a diversified world?
>>> Aren't different styles the (necessary) result of different 
>>> traditions, different discourse types and different views of the world?
>>> I seem not to know what modern typology is about. Traditional 
>>> typology presumably wasn't like that.
>>> Best wishes,
>>> Bernhard
>>> Am 06.07.2015 um 12:38 schrieb Martin Haspelmath 
>>> <haspelmath at eva.mpg.de <mailto:haspelmath at eva.mpg.de>>:
>>>> 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.
>>>> Regards,
>>>> Martin
>>>>> 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 <?> 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 ?, 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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