LINGUIST List 5.1495

Tue 20 Dec 1994

Disc: Letter to *Language*, Moderators' Note

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Open Letter to *Language*

Message 1: Open Letter to *Language*

Date: Tue, 20 Dec 94 09:41:33 ESOpen Letter to *Language*
From: <>
Subject: Open Letter to *Language*

Sally's posting in response to the open letter indicates that
*Language* has decided to have Illich-Svitych's book
reviewed. That is good news--unless this refers merely to the fact
that late in 1990 or early in 1991 she asked Eric Hamp
to do a review, which to my knowlege he declined to do.

If indeed Eric Hamp is now going to review the book, I will be
delighted. But it is not the case (as some have charged)
that the open letter was written in spite of the fact
that the signers knew, or could have found out, that a review was in the
works. We were informed that Hamp had declined. As recently
as March 7, 1994, the Language Advisory Committee seemed
to have no knowledge of such a review. In response to an appeal
from me, the Committee urged that *Language* do something on this issue,
but in July *Language* informed me that it would not. This, together
with the fact that the incoming editor of *Language* told me
that he would have to stand by his predecessor's decision
(something I can quite sympathize with) is what prompted
not just me but a number of distinguished members of the
Linguistic Society to resort to the idea of an open letter.

Far from wishing to be divisive, I (and others) have tried since
1990 to address what we perceived to be a major omission, and to
address it without public fanfare. However, this has had no effect.

I report this with all due respect to the achievements of *Language*
under Sally's editorship, respect which I am sure is widely shared.
It seems to me that a request that she change an editorial decision
can in no way harm that distinguished record.

Alexis Manaster Ramer

P.S. Since the original posting, the following people have asked
to have their names added to the signatories of the letter:

Edith Moravcsik
Sebastian Shaumyan
David Stampe
Daniel Radzinski
Lloyd B. Anderson


Moderators' Message: we are taking the unaccustomed step of commenting
on a discussion, because it's Christmas and we would love to encourage
peace on (the linguistic) earth if we could. With regard to a review of
Illich-Svitych's work, all parties agree that:

 a) *Language* commissioned a review in 1991
 b) the original review is now unlikely to come in

To us, these facts suggest both that (a) *Language* acted fairly in
soliciting discussion of Nostratic and (b) the signers of the
open letter acted in good faith in requesting another review.

The linguistic issue here is the merit (or non-merit) of the
book. If subscribers would like to address this issue
after the break, we'll be happy to post such messages. Otherwise,
this discussion is closed.


Helen & Anthony

Postscript: Since it's difficult to discuss a book no one has read, we would
like to remind you that the book was announced on LINGUIST as "Available for
Discussion." Contact the Review Editor for a copy if you qualify as a
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