Stephen Morey S.Morey at LATROBE.EDU.AU
Thu Apr 4 01:28:35 UTC 2013

Dear All,

Some thoughts on this.

I have published two grammars on North East Indian languages through Pacific Linguistics - an option no longer available. Thanks to the generosity of PL, I was able to purchase multiple copies of the books (at a reasonable rate) and distribute them to as many villages as I could; the cost of buying them would certainly have been well out of reach of almost all consultants. Now that PL is in different hands, I'm not sure that option exists any more.

Consequently I'm not sure what I will do the next time I complete a grammar of a North East Indian language (or group of languages); the pressures of academia and the need to publish with 'respected' publishing houses will push in one direction, the desire to make the thing available in the NE will push in the other. For younger scholars, prestigious publication remains very important for future job prospects.

Two things that are now possible which help to mitigate this a bit

1) For many community members the more important thing is access to the original data, recordings and in some cases transcriptions. The former are still large files and not easily downloadable from the various archives because of internet speed (even if they are on open or relatively open access); but it is now much cheaper to buy pen drives and copy onto those and I've been able to do this for several communities with recordings going back to the 1990s. Recently I joined Facebook and have gathered many friends there from the different communities I have been working with, and I can announce to them where on-line or copyable resources are and how to get them.

2) Once our field accepts that on-line publication is absolutely as prestigious as printed publications - if the review and editing processes are equally rigorous - then there's less reason to publish in print at all, and the on-line varieties ought to be very cheap or completely without cost.

This doesn't solve the problem of the community members wishing to have a printed book in their hands, of course,  


Stephen Morey
Australian Research Council Future Fellow
Centre for Research on Language Diversity
La Trobe University

Language data website:
Dictionary websites:;;

Linguistic data archived at::
DoBeS: and follow a link to projects, then Tangsa, Tai and Singpho in North East India
North East Indian Linguistics Society:

From: The Tibeto-Burman Discussion List [tibeto-burman-linguistics at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG] on behalf of Mark W. Post [markwpost at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: 03 April 2013 22:45
Subject: Publishing

Dear Listmembers,

I am sending the following link on behalf of Rob Burling. It is a post
by Rob Burling on the LSA's Ethics Blog relating to high-cost private
publishers, descriptive works, and the ethics of making such works
available to speech communities (or not, as the case may be), and
focuses in particular on North East India. Rob has mentioned that he
hopes to hear comments and suggestions on this topic, which is certainly
timely as a number of young TB-ists are no doubt thinking, or soon will
start thinking, about where to publish various grammars and dictionaries...


Mit freundlichen Grüssen

Dr. Mark W. Post
Universität Bern
Institut für Sprachwissenschaft
Länggassstrasse 49
3000 Bern 9

Tel +41 31 631 37 07
Eml markwpost at

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