Article 15: Questionnaire 5:

A basic tenet of human rights requires particular attention be paid to vulnerable and marginalized populations in the realization of human rights.

10. From the perspective of linguistics, what, if any, persons or communities require special protection in the realization of this right? (e.g., scientists, clinical trial participants, minority students, women, convicted prisoners)

11. What barriers exist for the general public in terms of availability of, and access to, the benefits of linguistics?

12. The development, growth and diffusion of science can be impacted by the intellectual property laws adopted and trade agreements entered into by governments.  How do government actions of this kind impact the development of science and technology and dissemination of the benefits of science within linguistics?

When you think about the right to enjoy the benefits of progress in linguistics, is there any other issue that you think we should consider and discuss?

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3 Responses to Article 15: Questionnaire 5:

  1. Claire says:

    First, the equation of indigenous peoples with ‘other vulnerable populations’ such as the elderly, the infirm, prisoners, or children, is not exactly empowering (while it is common, especially in IRB contexts). We should be mindful that the rhetoric and desire to help doesn’t just reinforce notions of powerlessness.

    Regarding question 11, a lot of information about languages is still locked up in people’s paper fieldnotes, rotting away in basements, attics, and offices. Linguists should be encouraged to deposit their fieldnotes with archives, and archives should be encouraged to digitise their holdings.

  2. Jeff Good says:

    Linguistics is a field where it is not unusual for a relatively old publication to still be quite valuable, perhaps because it is still the only available source on a language or because it serves to document an earlier stage of a language that has significantly changed. This means that linguistics has been relatively strongly impacted by the continuing extension of copyright, which prevents legal distribution of many works with essentially no commercial value. My understanding is that copyright has been extended largely to protect older intellectual property with commercial value, but one unfortunate side effect has been the “locking up” materials of great intellectual value for no good commercial reason.

  3. Paul Chapin says:

    The Statement by the LSA Ethics Committee speaks forcefully and well to #10. And the LSA considers #11 an important part of its mission, that is, reducing and overcoming the barriers to the public’s understanding of language from a scientific perspective. The barriers are not imposed by government, though, just by ignorance, so I don’t see that this document can usefully speak to that, at least in the USA.

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