An interview with Berkeley’s Larry Hyman, author of seven chapters in five LangSci books

Larry, you have authored altogether 7 chapters in 5 LangSci books in 4 different series (see list below). That sounds very versatile! Can you give us some background on those chapters and what ties them together?

Yes, I guess you could say that my interests are wide-ranging, which I enumerate on the Berkeley Linguistics website as phonological theory, language typology, and African languages, especially Bantu and Niger-Congo. I think what ties them together is that I am always thinking about typology, about how languages are the same vs. different. I’m fascinated with the variation among related languages which respond differently to the same conflicting concerns, often involving interfaces between phonology and grammar. This is the case in my article in the Enfield collection, where I contrasted intra-phonological dependencies with the possibility that there could be non-accidental dependences between phonology, morphology, and syntax. The other six chapters derive from my deep involvement with individual and comparative African linguistics, where I go after whatever strikes me as interesting and important.

Given my extensive work on tone systems, it is perhaps surprising that none of the LangSci publications have to do with tone. In more than one occasion I have set out to work on a new tone system (there’s nothing more exciting than studying a language from scratch!), but I quickly am distracted by something unusual and hence intriguing in the grammar. This is the case, for example, in the joint article on Lusoga multiple exponence. The three comparative chapters in the Watters volume as well as the multiple argument chapter in Bisang & Malchukov synthesize my personal field work on several dozen Bantoid, especially Grassfields Bantu languages, in Cameroon, where I could not help becoming involved in reconstructing proto systems as well as the historical developments our Grassfields Bantu Working Group documented language to language, dialect to dialect.

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Our Community Proofreading setup evaluated by Library Science

The Berlin School of Library and Information Science has had a theoretical look at the way proofreading is organised at Language Science Press, resulting in a BA thesis by Lole Westedt entitled

Community Proofreading am Beispiel Language Science Press: „Gratis-Korrekturlesen“ oder auch inhaltlich anreichernd?
[Community proofreading as used by Language Science Press:  Only cost-free copy-editing, or also additional improvement of content?]

This study evaluates in how far the way we integrate the community in the proofreading of our books via PaperHive can be seen as a type of (content) open review, and what types of community comments we find (typos, wording, specialist suggestions). We have described our approach to community proofreading in a couple of blog posts:

This thesis by Lole Westedt puts our efforts in a broader context and finds that, actually, what we call “Community Proofreading” meets 6 out of 7 criteria of Ross-Hellauer‘s list of Open Review dimensions:

  1. Open identities: Authors and reviewers are aware of each other’s identity
  2. Open reports: Review reports are published alongside the relevant article.
  3. Open participation: The wider community are able to contribute to the review process.
  4. Open interaction: Direct reciprocal discussion between author(s) and reviewers, and/or between reviewers, is allowed and encouraged.
  5. Open pre-review manuscripts: Manuscripts are made immediately available (e.g., via preprint servers like arXiv) in advance of any formal peer review procedures.
  6. Open final-version commenting: Review or commenting on final “version of record” publications.
  7. Open platforms: Review is de-coupled from publishing in that it is facilitated by a different organizational entity than the venue of publication.

Westedt then had a look at a sample of 10 books, from which she selected 1 chapter each and analysed the comments she found.

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What it means to be open and community-based: The Unicode cookbook as a showcase

We are happy to announce the publication of The Unicode Cookbook for linguists: Managing writing systems using orthography profiles by Steven Moran and Michael Cysouw. Next to being a very insightful and valuable book for all linguists dealing with character encoding issues (most if not all linguists?), this publication also points the way forward in a number of domains central for the future of academic publishing in linguistics. This blog post discusses the different innovative aspects we see manifest in this book.

Multiple authors

The book has not one, but two authors. Both have contributed their respective perspectives and expertises. While we see multiple editors for edited volumes on a regular basis, multiple authors for a monograph are much less common. This has certainly to do with the fact that a monograph is much less amenable to “chunking” than an edited volume. In order to make sure that the authors do not interfere with each other’s work, a clear separation of tasks is necessary, as is version control.

Version control

The LaTeX source code of the project is available on GitHub at https://github.com/unicode-cookbook/cookbook. The authors started on 2015-03-29 with this version. All historical files are still available.
Until today, 310 updates have been made to the book, of which 174 by Moran and 121 by Cysouw.  The full history of the project can be seen at https://github.com/unicode-cookbook/cookbook/commits/master. In order to have clearly designated versions for reference, the authors have created releases. Continue reading

100/100. Funding campaign successful, we will move on!

In 2017 we announced our plans for funding the operations of Language Science Press in the future. Rather than charging readers for reading or authors for publishing, we wanted to set up Language Science Press as a true community enterprise, where research institutions worldwide collaborate to set up an Open Access publication platform.

Many linguists worldwide contacted their librarians and asked them for support, and many of the libraries they asked were happy to fund our platform via Knowledge Unlatched. We are thus proud that we can announce today that we have reached our pledging target of 100 institutions worldwide which support us with 1000 EUR a year each, for the next three years!

This means that the operations for the next three years — and the next 90 books — are secured. However, we are at the lower bound of the intended corridor of 100,000-115,000 EUR. Technically, there was also an additional pledging program for individuals for raising another 15,000 EUR. We abandoned this, as we felt that the financial burden of book publication should not be borne by individuals, but rather by research institutions. As a consequence, we will keep the institutional pledging open until we reach 115 supporters. At 100 supporting institutions, we can publish books, but we cannot provide any extras such as nice maps or extensive help with conversion. When we reach 115, we will be able to provide more extensive support for authors or subfields which require it. So, if your library is still considering whether to join or not, now is the time! You can point to this impressive list of institutions worldwide which already fund Language Science Press. THANK YOU!

Achievements 2017

We started our annual retrospectives in 2015 (2016 here). This is the third installment, for 2017.

Books and series

In 2017, we published 26 books:

99 works were proposed to Language Science Press in 2017, for a total of 324. The curve is now slightly superlinear.

 

Book proposals over time. The linear fit is based on the interval between 2014-03-01 and 2017-12-31.

The following figure gives a breakdown of the distribution of these works and their states of completion.

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Future of Language Science Press: your support required as we are hitting the home stretch

In spring this year, we launched our campaign to collect 100 institutional members to collectively fund the future of Language Science Press. The first pledge announced was from U Düsseldorf.

Since then, we have collected 60 pledges from all over the world, with U Tilburg being the latest, making it stand 60/100.

As customary with crowdfunding projects, the support rate is high at the beginning, then drops towards the middle of the funding period (summer in our case), only to rise steeply as the end of the funding period approaches. We see the pledges picking up steam in the last weeks, but we will need a much steeper rise to meet the target! The green X in the graphic marks the position where we are now.

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Workflow for edited volumes

As of today, we have published 11 edited volumes. We have found that edited volumes demand much more work from all sides, and that the procedure for publishing edited volumes with Languages Science Press seems to cause more astonishment than the process for monographs. In this blog post, I will describe some differences in the setup between monographs and edited volumes and try to explicate in more detail what volume editors can expect. Remember that, technically, submissions have to be in LaTeX. We will offer assistance to the best of our capacities if you have chapters submitted in Word, but this depends on our current work load.

Difference between monographs and edited volumes

Monograph authors directly benefit from adherence to the guidelines. They are in direct contact with the coordinator and generally understand how particular technical subtleties impact their book when explained. Their efforts will directly translate into an improvement of a work which is 100% theirs, so normally, they are eager to comply. Furthermore, they are usually responsible for any delays themselves and hence try to minimise them. Continue reading

Conversion of lexical databases into printable books

We have recently published two dictionaries in our series African Language Grammars and Dictionaries which were automatically converted from the FLEX lexical database. These two books are The Ik language and A dictionary and grammatical outline of Chakali.

 

In this post, I will detail how structured lexical data as found in FLEX can be converted to *tex, which can be compiled into a LangSci book. I will complement this with some observations about conversions from the XLingPaper format.

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Document lifecycles and fluid publication

Traditionally, once a book was published, there was little you could do to change its content afterwards. Works in linguistics which see a second edition are few and far between. The most you could hope for is a sheet of errata distributed with the book itself. One consequence of this was, incidentally, that many works were withheld for a long time to make sure they were absolutely perfect before releasing them to the printer’s, which would make the content immutable.

Errata. CC-BY-SA Sage Ross.

With electronic publication, things are different. The publication of a new version is comparatively cheap. In this blogpost, I will detail the lifecycle of a document at Language Science Press and show how we work together with PaperHive to get the document from the initial stage to the first (and subsequent) editions. At the end, I will put this approach into a wider perspective on academic publishing.

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