Open Review of “Tone in Yongning Na: Lexical tones and morphotonology”

Language Science Press109 provides books as Open Access, but we also strive to make the whole publication process more open. Our software is open source, the Latex-code for all our books is openly available, and our bibliographies are on Glottolog.

One aspect of this openness is Open Review. The idea is that instead of two blind reviewers, the whole community can comment on a new manuscript and point out merits and possible improvements. A discussion of the theoretical axes along which Open Review can be differentiated can be found here; a report of practical experiences by Stefan Müller is here. At the time Stefan wrote his report, the technical infrastructure needed for doing Open Review was not fully in place yet, but now we are happy to announce that we will start Open Review as we intend it to be. Our first book to enter this Open Review stage is “Tone in Yongning Na: Lexical tones and morphotonology“.

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5 books in 5 weeks

In the last weeks, Language Science Press has had a sustained output of roughly one book a week. The books come from very different areas of linguistics, ranging from languages of New Guinea and Nepal to agent-based models and sociolinguistics in New Zealand. This shows that LangSci is indeed well rooted in linguistics at large. The books are, in order of appearance:

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Conversion of legacy documents and community publishing

Language Science Press uses a Latex-based workflow. Authors can use our Word/OpenOffice templates as a start, but there are many manuscripts out there which predate the publication of our templates. In this blogpost, I will detail our principles of community-based publishing for one of these manuscripts.

Case study: A grammar of Mauwake

The Mauwake language is spoken in Papua New Guinea, along the North coast of  Madang province. Liisa Berghäll has worked there for over 25 years, and the  manuscript of her grammar was finalised around 2010. It was available from the University of Helsinki e-thesis service.

Re-publication of this work with Language Science Press as Open Access allows for a much broader readership, but of course the manuscript has to follow our guidelines. In order to arrive there, the following steps had to be undertaken

  1. convert the manuscript to *tex
  2. make sure the linguistic content is correct
  3. incorporate suggested changes
  4. proofreading
  5. incorporate proofreaders’ comments
  6. final typesetting

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2700+ book downloads in two weeks: Interview with Roland Schäfer

Roland Schäfer

Roland, congratulations to your text book Einführung in die grammatische Beschreibung des Deutschen which got more than 2,700 downloads within the two weeks following publication and now leads the list of our most downloaded books.

Thanks a lot for publishing the book.

What is your textbook about? Are there not enough introductory textbooks around?

The book is about the basic facts of German grammar: surely not everything, but a large portion of what students of German linguistics should know about German grammar. At the same time, it introduces students to the standard methods used by linguists (at least traditionally) to dissect a language, i.e., mostly distributional analyses in phonology, morphology, syntax, and graphemics. No matter which theories or methods you’re going to use later, it’s hard to get by without knowing your basic categories…

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New book: The Talking Heads experiment: Origins of words and meanings

Steels2015We are happy to announce the first book in the series Computational Models of Language EvolutionThe Talking Heads experiment: Origins of words and meanings” by Luc Steels.

The Talking Heads Experiment, conducted in the years 1999-2001, was the first large-scale experiment in which open populations of situated embodied agents created for the first time ever a new shared vocabulary by playing language games about real world scenes in front of them. Continue reading

New book: Einführung in die grammatische Beschreibung des Deutschen

CoverWe are happy to announce the first book in the series Textbooks in Language Sciences: “Einführung in die grammatische Beschreibung des Deutschen” by Roland Schäfer.

This textbook is an introduction to the descriptive grammar of German on the levels of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and graphemics. It is a recommended read for anyone interested in the grammar of German and especially for students of German philology. The book focuses on how grammatical generalizations are derived from concrete linguistic material while covering a huge number of the important phenomena of German grammar. No specific theoretical framework is adopted in the book but it constitutes an ideal starting point for reading more theory-specific textbooks and accessible research papers. Despite its length, the book is suitable for inclusion in all sorts of curricula because more advanced parts are clearly marked and can be skipped, and the five parts of the book can be read separately. Almost all chapters contain a large number of exercises with complete solutions in the appendix.

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Quality assurance and open review

While many of the things that we envisaged in the DFG proposal (Müller & Haspelmath 2013) are up and running already, one important thing is still missing: open reviewing. As was already argued by Pullum (1984), open review increases the quality of publications because reviewers will have to do their job carefully, as it is their reputation that will suffer if their name is associated with a bad publication. In addition, Pullum pointed out that reviews may improve a publication quite substantially and in a closed reviewing scenario the reviewers contribution cannot be acknowledged as it should be.

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New book: Natural causes of language by N. J. Enfield

Natural causes of language

Our series Conceptual Foundations of Language Science has published its first book. Listen to the author’s video below to know what it’s all about, or check out the series’ own blog at

What causes a language to be the way it is? Some features are universal, some are inherited, others are borrowed, and yet others are internally innovated. But no matter where a bit of language is from, it will only exist if it has been diffused and kept in circulation through social interaction in the history of a community. This book makes the case that a proper understanding of the ontology of language systems has to be grounded in the causal mechanisms by which linguistic items are socially transmitted, in communicative contexts. A biased transmission model provides a basis for understanding why certain things and not others are likely to develop, spread, and stick in languages.

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