Article 15: Questionnaire 3:

Under Article 15, governments are required to take the steps necessary for the “conservation, development, and diffusion of science.”

5. In linguistics, what types of knowledge, products and tools (e.g., data, ancient texts) must be conserved (saved, stored, or protected)? What methods are best for ensuring appropriate access to that knowledge? What kinds of scientific knowledge in linguistics are currently not being conserved?

6. What are the necessary conditions for linguistics to develop and grow?

For example, equal access to high quality education has been cited as one necessary pre-condition for all scientific advancement.

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6 Responses to Article 15: Questionnaire 3:

  1. Claire says:

    Question 5: just about everything! sound, video, raw field notes, analytical materials, scripts for data processing, etc.
    One thing that worries me in terms of conservation (and here I put on my flak jacket) is the huge amount of information that our senior scholars who worked with the last fluent speakers of languages in the 50s and 60s have in their heads. They are the keeps of so much fragile information that will be lost when they pass away.

  2. Jeff Good says:

    While this is bigger than linguistics, the large set of issues surrounding intellectual property and copyright has become a major issue in the area of access to knowledge. Right now, it is hard to ensure appropriate access to documentation of the world’s languages since people are often unsure what “appropriate” access is, with a critical issue being how access permissions granted before the internet should apply to a world increasingly reliant internet-based dissemination methods. It would be incredibly helpful if general principles for dealing with the determination of “appropriate” access could be devised, especially in cases when the creators of materials have died.

  3. Nel says:

    6. A reduction in factionalism in departments, cooperation between theory/experimentation, testable theories, and large data sets.

  4. Claire says:

    Nel maybe you could be a bit more specific? Plenty of linguistics work involves large data sets, for example, but it’s also possible to do quality work with a relatively small amount of data. In both cases, the researcher just needs to know the limitations of the methods.

  5. Nel says:

    Right, yes, I was vague. I was thinking more in terms of sampling issues and quality control. I think that as more structured data becomes available and adopted throughout the field it will help searches for linguistic universals and the possibilities for variation. The more languages we have first-hand data of, the higher coverage our theories can have; and with first-hand data which has open access, researchers can replicate analyses. All things which happen now, but I think it will be very important in the continued maturing of the field.

  6. Paul Chapin says:

    Not to argue with Nel’s desiderata, but in the present case we’re discussing a document to be addressed to governments, which have no role (and should have none) in issues of data adequacy, collegial cooperation, etc.

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