Ethics Committee at the LSA

December 31, 2013

The Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America will be held in Minneapolis, MN, from Jan 2-5. The ethics committee will have an open committee meeting on Saturday at 8am, in Directors Row 2.

New Sign Languages Ethics Statement

October 7, 2013

The Sign Language Linguistics Society has released their ethics statement. As noted in the introduction to the statement, the SLLS Ethics Statement particularly addresses ethical concerns for researchers working on Sign Languages and supplements more general ethics statements, such as the LSA’s.

There are several important points in the statement. One is the emphasis on ethical behavior in context; this is timely given Crippen and Robinson’s (2013) complaint that many ethical frameworks don’t allow for individual community needs. Another is the stress on the ethical problems that stem from differential power relationships. Though these inequalities stem from historical situations, they may continue to have effects on contemporary working relationships and research protocols.

The SLLS statement has been ratified and is now active. The Society intends to set up an Ethics committee to follow up on issues arising from the statement, such as research concerns specific to a particular region or group.

Community Linguist Award

April 18, 2013

The LSA has just announced a new award for what we’re calling Community Linguists, meaning members of (usually) endangered language communities who do outstanding work for their languages, either as a native speaker consultant working with a linguist or as a community member working on revitalization of their language. The call for nominations is at:

More information about what groups of people are intended for this, as well as about how to nominate someone, is available there.

If you work with an outstanding person of one of these groups, please check on this new opportunity to recognize their work.  If you know someone who works with a potential nominee, please let them know about it.

The award is not limited to the USA: the award aims to recognize community linguists from any area of the world.

The deadline for nominations is July 1st each year (beginning in 2013); nominations will be reviewed by a committee comprising members of the Ethics Committee and the Committee for the Preservation of Endangered Languages.

New Ethics CORE Initiative

July 31, 2012
The Ethics Committee recently received the following email with information about the initiative and a request for materials. The Ethics CORE library is funded by the National Science Foundation. We are posting the full email here because it contains links that may be relevant to the LSA membership. Their page on language sciences can be found here; it contains links to frequently cited papers on ethics in the language sciences, particularly in applied linguistics and linguistic fieldwork.

Sample ethics approvals for student research in anthropology

March 27, 2012

Culture Matters blogger Lisa Wynn has posted links to some approvals for ethics clearance at Macquarie University (in New South Wales, Australia). The projects are for a variety of anthropology class projects.

Conference on Language Ethics

September 7, 2011

From the LingAnth Blog:

International workshop: Language Ethics as a Field of Inquiry

November 11-12, 2011

ITHQ (3535 St. Denis), Montreal

Convenors: Daniel Weinstock and Yael Peled

The workshop “Language Ethics as a Field of Inquiry” is an innovative and a first-of-its-kind attempt to identify, conceptualise and explore the social and political ethics of human language as a distinct field of intellectual inquiry, similarly to other distinct domains of ethics such as the ethics of war, bioethics, business ethics and environmental ethics.

The workshop brings together diverse scholarly perspectives from leading experts in politics, philosophy, linguistics, history and economics, in order to explore language ethics in a strong transdisciplinary environment. It therefore sets out to identify the ways in which the intrinsic plurality and complexity of this emerging field of inquiry may be approached, defined and studied in a systematic and dedicated manner.


Friday November 11

9:00            Greetings and Opening Remarks

Session I: Language Ethics – Definitions, Contexts and Approaches

9:30            Dan Avnon (Political Science, Hebrew University)

What is (or ‘are’) Language Ethics?

10:15             Arash Abizadeh (Political Science, McGill)

Words versus the Public Thing: Verbal Threats to the Rousseauist Republic

11:00                   Break

11:15             Luisa Maffi (Terralingua)

Earth of Languages, Languages of the Earth: Towards a Biocultural Ethics for the World’s Languages

12.00                   Lunch

Session II: The Normative Theorising of Language Policy

13:00           Idil Boran (Philosophy, York)

Language, Institutions and Political Theory

13:45             Jacob T. Levy (Political Science, McGill)

The Language of Manners and the Manners of Language

14:30                    Break

Session III: Linguistic Justice

15:00                   Alan Patten (Political Science, Princeton)

Language Preservation, Fairness and Language Rights

15:45             Helder de Schutter (Political and Social Theory, Leuven)

Intralinguistic Justice

Saturday November 12

Session IV: Global Linguistic Justice

9:30            Suzanne Romaine (English, Oxford)

Towards Sustainable and Equitable Human Development: Why Language Matters

10:15             Daniel Weinstock (Philosophy, Montreal)

Is Language Death Necessarily Unjust? Three Arguments

11:00             Break

11:15             Tom Ricento (Education, Calgary)

Language Policy, Political Theory and English as a ‘Global’ Language

12:00                   Lunch

Session V: The Economics of Linguistic Diversity

13:00            David Robichaud (Philosophy, Ottawa)

Language Rights and the Costs of Language Diversity

13:45             Francois Grin (Economics, Geneva)

Is “Diversity” an Operational Concept for Language Policy?

14:30                   Break

Session VI: Language Ethics as a Field of Inquiry

15:00            General Discussion

16:30            Conclusion

Participation and registration:

Registration is free of charge but is essential, since the number of available places is limited. To register, please send a message expressing your interest For directions and map of the workshop venue see

Background: AAAS and the Human Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress

March 1, 2011

The Ethics Committee is liasing with the AAAS (and in particular its Science and Human Rights Program) as part of a survey on what is means to say that people have the right to enjoy the benefit of scientific progress. The AAAS has released a survey of 12 questions, and is now seeking the feedback of various professional organizations. The LSA ethics committee will be posting the survey questions on the blog, with some introduction, and would like feedback from readers. We will then collate responses into a report for the AAAS. Members are also welcome to submit their own reports.

Posts on this topic will be under the category of “Article15”.

Over the fold is some general background on the topic, prepared by Jessica Wyndham, Senior Project Officer in the AAAS’s science and human rights program.

Read the rest of this entry »

Article 15: Questionnaire 1:

March 1, 2011

Article 15 says that governments should “recognize the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.”  The first two questions ask you to think about the benefits of science in the context of linguistics.

1. How does linguistics benefit society and the individuals within it?

Language from your professional association’s mission and/or vision statement may be useful here.

2. Please give at least one example of current work in linguistics that is benefiting or will benefit society and/or individuals.

It might be useful to think of applications of linguistics research in answering this question.  These examples may come from your own work or other linguists.