Let a hundred flowers bloom

In the last 20 years, two specialist journals have established themselves as places to publish articles on language documentation, description, and revitalisation:

  • Language Documentation and Description (LDD) was established in 2003 (originally as print only, and moving to free online open access downloadable PDFs in 2015). Since 2011 submissions have been subject to double-blind peer review, and so far over 220 papers by more than 275 authors have been published in 19 volumes, with three others currently in production. The coverage of the journal is the theory and practice of language documentation, language description, sociolinguistics, language policy, and language revitalisation. Issues of language vitality and current work on documentation and revitalisation on particular languages or groups are discussed in short overview Language Snapshots, and longer, more detailed Language Contexts articles;
  • Language Documentation and Conservation (LD&C) was established in 2007 as free online open access downloadable PDFs. Submissions are double-blind peer-reviewed, and 15 volumes have been published so far, with a further 22 special publications. Coverage includes the goals of language documentation, data management, fieldwork methods, ethical issues, orthography design, reference grammar design, lexicography, methods of assessing ethnolinguistic vitality, archiving matters, language planning, areal survey reports, short field reports on endangered or under-documented languages, reports on language maintenance, preservation, and revitalization efforts, plus software, hardware, and book reviews.

The Linguistic Society of America (LSA) has just decided to create a new section of its flagship journal Language dedicated to language revitalisation and documentation, to be managed by Associate Editor Colleen Fitzgerald. On the LSA website there is a link to a recording of a webinar held on 26th March 2021 discussing the new section (along with downloadable Powerpoint slides). An open access article by Fitzgerald explaining the rationale and goals for the new section is available here.

Unlike LDD and LD&C, only some of the papers in the new Language section will be free open access, and others will only be available to subscribers via Project MUSE. Also, the editors emphasise that papers must be written for a general audience of linguists rather than specialists in language documentation and revitalisation, so we can expect somewhat different genres to emerge compared to the kinds of articles that appear in LDD and LD&C, however it does potentially create new opportunities for researchers to get their work known and appreciated by a broad audience of language and linguistics researchers.

We welcome the new publication in the spirit of Mao Zedong 65 years ago: “Let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend … to promote the flourishing of the arts and the progress of science”.

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