Collecting reader feedback with PaperHive, docLoop and GitHub

Back in 2017, we wrote a blog post on fluid publication. This explained the development of a book by the author together with the readership, reusing techniques well-known from software development.

The author 1) starts with a draft version, collects feedback from colleagues, and then the stages of 2) (open) review, 3) acceptance, 4) community proofreading and finally 5) publication of the first edition follow. A history of the different versions is kept on GitHub. GitHub also provides functionalities to manage lists of open issues which still have to be addressed before the next stage can be initiated.

As detailed in various posts on this blog, we use PaperHive for community proofreading. Today, we can showcase docLoop, which allows us to transform the community comments into todo lists on GitHub, closing the loop from author to reader and back from the reader to the author.

Let’s look at an example, Voice at the interfaces: The syntax, semantics, and morphology of the Hebrew verb by Itamar Kastner. We can see the progress of this book on its GitHub page. The book was started in June 2018 and finalised in June 2020. Between the setup of the project and the publication, we count 259 different versions. Next to the author itamarkast, who provided 227 improved versions, kopeckyf and Glottotopia from the LangSci team provided 24 and 3 commits, respectively.

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Writing AVMs easily in LaTeX: The new langsci-avm package

Attribute-value matrices, also known as feature structures, are used by various theories to describe linguistic objects and their complex properties. Among others, they are used in HPSG and LFG, and so several of the books submitted to Language Science Press depend on a comprehensive and user-friendly way to input them to LaTeX.

An example structure created with langsci-avm. See the Section “Example 1” below for how to create this AVM.

Our users almost always use the avm package or the extended avm+, of which an unkown amount of modified versions are circulated online. The original avm package is not a bad package at all, but it has not been updated for some years, which has led to problems. For example, some of the versions assume that the old font selection commands, \it, \bf, etc. are still used, which should be avoided in modern documents. Continue reading

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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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 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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