[Lingtyp] On policing linguistic examples

Maia Ponsonnet maia.ponsonnet at uwa.edu.au
Sat Mar 19 07:38:51 UTC 2022


As an aside, and echoing Postal's critique, in my teaching I make sure to use diverse first names in my examples instead of Mary and John. If anything, Mary, John and the like are simply completely at odds with the first names of my students (and presumably with articles readers' first names by now).

(Postal's critique is important and it generally applies to any attempt to counter discrimination. Essentially, to counter discrimination we have to identify it, and by doing so we acknowledge the relevance of one category against others. E.g. we do not worry about the number of individuals with blue eyes on a research team. But perhaps this is fine.)

Cheers, Maïa

Dr Maïa Ponsonnet
Adjunct Researcher, Discipline of Linguistics

Building M257

The University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Hwy, Perth, WA (6009), Australia

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Hagay Schurr <hschurr at gradcenter.cuny.edu>
Sent: Friday, 18 March 2022 7:18 PM
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Subject: [Lingtyp] On policing linguistic examples

Dear Sebastian,

I'm only aware of the debate around LSA guidelines in the early 2000's, including, among others, Postal's (2003, 187) reply  :

"it is arbitrary and discriminatory to try policing them only with respect to one or more favored victim groups, the policing code is necessarily incompatible with the principle of free speech, and, finally, it is in any event not possible to actually codify usage conditions that genuinely pick out all and only the offensive. Given all this, codes like the LSA guidelines are in part harmful and in part useless." (Postal 2003, 187).

Postal's paper will lead you to some relevant publications that defends policing to some extent.


Postal, P. M. (2003). Policing the content of linguistic examples. Language, 79(1), 182-188.
From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of lingtyp-request at listserv.linguistlist.org <lingtyp-request at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2022 12:00 PM
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Subject: [EXTERNAL]Lingtyp Digest, Vol 90, Issue 21

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Today's Topics:

   1. Reference for violence (hit,      kill) in articles in linguistics
      needed (Sebastian Nordhoff)


Message: 1
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2022 12:51:15 +0100
From: Sebastian Nordhoff <sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de>
To: "lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org"
        <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Subject: [Lingtyp] Reference for violence (hit, kill) in articles in
        linguistics needed
Message-ID: <7a23c27d-4cc4-e57b-37c6-ac5570a6d144 at glottotopia.de>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed

Dear all,
I have occasionally been part in discussions where the frequent use of
violent concepts such as 'hit' or 'kill' in linguistics is mentioned and
sometimes criticized.

I believe there is some research article providing empirical evidence
for  linguistic articles being unnecessarily "violent", but I am unable
to locate it. Could the list members help me?

Best wishes

PS: I am aware that 'hit' and 'kill' have a number of semantic
properties which make them very suitable for a number of research questions.


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