LINGUIST List 6.817

Sat Jun 17 1995

Sum: Initialization

Editor for this issue: Helen Dry <>


  1. "James L. Fidelholtz", Sum: initialization

Message 1: Sum: initialization

Date: Sun, 04 Jun 1995 21:57:22 Sum: initialization
From: "James L. Fidelholtz" <>
Subject: Sum: initialization

 On April 4th, I posted a long commentary to the list
entitled 'Against initialization', which I will summarize here:
 Since bibliographies, both independently published
ones and lists of references for articles, books, etc., are
meant to indicate the sources the author has used, and to
guide the interested reader to related literature on the topic
of his interest, they should make the work as accessible as
possible. The forced use of initials instead of names of
authors has the opposite effect, in many cases seriously
impeding the search for articles or books, and has no real
beneficial effects. The bad effects are that it impedes
efficiency in looking up references; that errors are much
more difficult to detect and correct, and often even
unrecoverable; that it is elitist in assuming prior knowledge;
and that it violates the wishes of many authors. The
supposed beneficial effects are nonexistent: saving space is
chimerical, from personal experience and calculations made;
a supposed antisexism [see further arguments below,
especially by the women who addressed the question] really
tends to have the opposite effect, making women even more
invisible and easy to overlook.
 Authors who use only initials professionally (MAK
Halliday, eg) are not the target of these comments, although
they are generally encouraged to use at least one full name
to avoid having credit for their work go to other researchers
with similar names. A plea is made to publishers to avoid
this practice. Comments and counterarguments were
 The following 37 persons responded to the posting (in
alphabetical order by last name):
Deborah Milam Berkley
Michael Bernstein,
Susan Meredith Burt
Paul Chapin, NSF
Tom Cravens
Robert Dale
Richard DeArmond
Jane A. Edwards edwardscogsci.Berkeley.EDU
Alex Eulenberg
Alice Faber
Susan Fischer
Georgia Green
Anthea F[raser] Gupta
Hartmut Haberland
[Steven] Lee Hartman
EFK[onrad] Koerner
Margaret Luebs
James Kirchner
Chris Miller
Rosa Graciela Montes
M. Lynne Murphy
Geoffrey S. Nathan
Ormsby Lowry Harold(CIESAS)
Kjartan Ottoson
Barbara Zurer Pearson
Bert Peeters
I[ngo] Plag plagMailer.Uni-Marburg.DE
Robert Port
David M. W. Powers
Tom Shannon
Amy Sheldon
Terese Thonus
Ellen Valle
Theo Vennemann
Max Wheeler
Dr. Dekai Wu

 To my surprise, EVERYONE was in substantial
agreement with the basic premise, some as vehemently as I
am. Just a couple of partly facetious arguments for
initialization [anything in quotes is cited from the indicated
contributor; further comments from me are within square
brackets and signed with my initials: '--JLF'--JLF](Alex
Eulenberg: 'Here's a great argument in favor of initialization
in published sources. If a professor requires that students'
bibliographies all be de-initialized, then this could curb the
number of references in the bibliography that the student
actually hasn't read. Come to think about it, by the same
reasoning, if publishers now all decide to stop initialization,
then this would cut down the size of newly published
bibliographies!! What this means is that by instituting
de-initialization now, we will actually save space, contrary to
popular opinion.'; Michael Bernstein: 'I think sometimes
authors and publishers are trying to hide incomplete
references by lowering the standards for all of them, and I
think that's a mistake. Even if because of limited resources
or time constraints it's not possible to give full references on
every reference (which usually indicates shoddy record-
keeping by the author), there's no good reason not to give
the full reference when it's available. Note that there's a
similarly problematic policy against giving editor's names for
working papers volumes or conference proceedings
(particularly when published by a university department).
Such volumes can be particularly hard to find when they
don't have ISBNs or ISSNs, and removing the editor's name
simply makes it that much more difficult.'; Ingo Plag: .There
is one factor which I consider the most important argument
FOR initialization, and which you did not mention, maybe for
reasons of tact [what, me tactful? I just didn't think of it--
JLF]: plain laziness. Although I am strongly against
initialization, I always was glad when publishers wanted only
initials, and I as a contributor did not have to trace
references for which I did not have any full first names.
Saved ME a lot of time (on the cost of the future readers, as
you correctly pointed out.) So I guess most of us both profit
and suffer from initialization.')
 A number of different or modified arguments for NOT
initializing were presented: (Barbara Pearson: 'I was aware
of weird first and middle names in references being helpful
mnemonics. Now I have to use more conventional ways to
remember things--like notes about what the article is about';
Amy Sheldon: 'Another reason to not have initials is that if I
learn of a reference from an initials only reference section,
but then want to put it into a first name-surname style, it
creates its own headache to find the full name'; Bert Peeters
: 'I have myself spent many an hour in various libraries trying
to find out full names, and have not always been
successful.'; Anthea F. Gupta: 'Bibliographies should enter
authors by the names they themselves use. Many of us
spend a great deal of thought about what to call ourselves &
nothing is more personal than a name ... And [the
'background' of the author] is something students need to
know.' [she also suggests reducing print size to compensate
for the extra space needed [good idea, and NOT pernicious-
-JLF], as well as short forms of journal titles [but the
abbreviations need to be understandable (ie, listed
somewhere)] & use of '&' [this may be a bad idea (bad form,
that, but discussion goes beyond the limits of ...)--JLF]];
Dekai Wu: 'I would like to add another argument against
initialization, from the standpoint of researchers with
non-European (especially Asian) names, who do after all
account for a great many publications. There are only about
100 Chinese surnames; similar facts hold for Vietnamese,
Korean, and Japanese. Chinese never refer to each other
using only surnames. Initialization is ridiculous in such cases,
yet is often imposed without the authors' consent. The
number of "C. Chan"s is enormous. Space economy is not
a valid argument, since the entire name takes less space
than many European names'; Paul Chapin: 'I must agree
that the initialization practice is a frequent nuisance for me
as well. People do this in [NSF] proposal bibliographies
sometimes, and since I use the bibliographies as one
important tool in identifying possible reviewers for a
proposal, it makes my job a lot harder when they do, for the
reasons you described. So count me as a supporter of your
crusade'; Jane A. Edwards: 'Please add the following to the
list of publications which should vitally include full names: the
online version of Current Contents!! When I try to find work
by, say, Marilyn Smith, their software shortens it to "M.
Smith", of which there can be hundreds of irrelevant entries.
Using "subject category" (SC) to restrict the search involves
risky guessing at which disciplines the data encoder might
have considered her work to belong to, which is esp. hard in
these days of interdisciplinary focus (i.e., could she have
been classified as linguistics? psychology? computer
science? anthropology? humanities?) not to mention a huge
nuisance'; Robert Port: 'I agree completely. I HATE initialled
author names. The size of libraries and `Books in Print' just
keeps on getting larger. And initials make very
EXTREMELY difficult to find names. Even if you do have
the full name, it can be very difficult to find the REAL John
Doe from all the others that we are not interested [in]. It is a
foolish economy'; James Kirchner: ' I have had experiences
when it has driven me crazy in other contexts as well. There
seems to be a Slavic text convention of referring to almost
anyone by first initial and surname. When I had to translate
things from Czech into English for publication, the
initialization sounded horribly unnatural in English, but the
names were often not recoverable. When doing art
research, this initialization is also a problem, because certain
artists can drastically change styles over the decades, and
you can't always tell if you're dealing with the same person
unless you have the full name. If you see an illustration by
someone who more or less repeated himself for half a
century, like Miro, you can usually tell who "J. Miro" is. But if
you see some Stalinist-style work by "K. Malevich", you can't
necessarily tell if it's the Malevich who'd been a contructivist,
his son perhaps, or maybe some completely unrelated
Malevich. Drives you nuts'; Susan (Meredith) Burt: 'I teach
academic writing and teach my students that THE reason for
documentation is to allow readers to follow up on cited
references, and that bibliographies ought therefore to be as
complete and informative as possible'; DeArmond: 'I don't
know how many times I have been fooled by the gender of
the cited author when it finally comes out' [this comment is
NOT based on sexism; note the points by the following
commentators, where we will also consider the question of
sexism--JLF]; Hartmut Haberland: 'I think the original source
of the idea was that we thought that initializing contributed to
the invisibility of women (note that at that time, none of the
editors of the J[ournal]o[f]P[ragmatics] was female), but I
think that your arguments based on self-correction of errors
are very important. Let's face it: many bibliographies and
lists of references are full of errors. Self-correction is
important. Or, as one of my colleagues in computer science
put it 'Beware of the null pointer since it leads to nowhere.';
Anthea F. Gupta: 'On the other hand, many people want
their gender to be known. I certainly want it to be known I
am female, as I will be if my name is used as I write it, at
least by those who know that "Anthea" is a female name. I
do not like being referred to as "he" in articles (as I have
been). If only initials are used, a person's gender becomes
negotiable & those who don't know the real gender of the
person tend to assume masculine gender, which makes
women even more invisible'; Ellen Valle: '... not so much on
grounds of potential for errors, which I must say I haven't
come up against myself, as because of its elitism and the
difficulty it poses for beginning students in the field -- whom I
teach. The official format demanded in seminar papers and
theses in our department is the initialized one; the only
grounds given are those of avoiding sexism -- i.e. not
identifying the author as a man or a woman. Speaking as a
(reasonably liberated) woman scholar myself, I consider it
more important that other writers who might cite me would
know WHO I am than what sex/gender I am. For students,
as I know from experience, it's a real stumbling block, not
only in looking up references but in the (perhaps trivial, but
still ...) context of referring to them in their own papers by a
pronoun. E.g. "Prince (1982) discusses the important issue
of hedging in medical discourse. He points out that ... ".
Prince, E. is of course Ellen Prince, (co-)author of one of the
classic papers on this subject. (Another aspect of this is of
course that with some languages the gender of the author
cannot be inferred even from the whole first name; that is
the case quite often, for [Anglophone] writers, with Finnish
names.) I wonder how many netters will respond to [the
issue], or whether most people will think it trivial [I think 37
responses is reasonable evidence that it is not considered
trivial--JLF]. It would be interesting to know about the
practices taught to beginning graduate students at various
institutions! [At least to judge by MIT 30 years ago, what
practices?--the guiding principle was more or less 'read a lot
and do whatever (or if anything: do what it says in the LSA
style sheet)', and I suspect that in most places it still is--JLF]
By the way, I also think that giving a mere e-mail address
without any indication of institution or even country is a bit
elitist -- especially when the address is a mere arbitrary
string of letters, as in your case -- only "insiders" can decode
the information' [mea culpa: you're absolutely right, and I see
that I had fallen into the same sort of trap that I'm grousing
about. I'll do better from now on.--JLF]; BW Gould: 'the
annoyance involved when trying to use pronominal
reference when talking or writing about an author and their
work, when the sex is unknown. In these days of non-sexist
language, we still do not have an adequate neuter pronoun.
There are ways of getting around this problem (e.g. "The
author says...") but I seriously don't think anybody thinks
referring to a specific individual by "he" or "she" is
considered sexist. It is much easier to use "he" or "she" as
needed, than to continually use more impersonal references.
This is much more of a problem when trying to discuss an
author and his/her work verbally. Personal pronouns are a
natural part of any conversation, [remainder of transmission
lost]'; Amy Sheldon: 'I've also heard a case FOR initials,
which is that it degenders the author. Work by women is
cited less than work by men. If initials help to change that,
then that's something in their favor. Women have long used
initials in such things as phone directory listings, mailboxes,
signatures to letters, etc. to reduce the chance of prejudice';
(Stephen) Lee Hartman: 'Don't you suppose that some
initializing policies came about as a well-intentioned tactic
against sexism? Probably it was even documented that
Jane Doe wasn't getting as much credence as John Doe.
But let's suggest that academics have learned to be a little
more open-minded since then. Also, the researcher who
goes from the "J. Doe" reference to the actual item will
usually find out the gender of the author eventually anyhow';
(M.) Lynne Murphy: 'while some people might argue that
initialization is good b/c it masks the sexes of authors, i don't
like that. i know some people in the committee on the status
of women in linguistics were trying to look at citation
practices in order to see if women's ideas get attributed to
secondary sources (by men) and this task is made more
difficult when the names are hidden. the practice in south
africa is to initialize everything. all of my mail comes to m.l.
murphy, etc. i hate that--for women, the last name has
historically been less of an identifier--with the emphasis on
the last name, it just doesn't seem to be addressing me.
However, of course, the arguments you brought up about
inaccuracies and checking for them are the most important
and the most forceful arguments against "initialization."';
Luebs: 'One reason I like to get full names is that if our
library doesn't have the reference, I will then sometimes look
up the author to see if he/she has written anything else on a
related topic, etc. Someone told me that using initials is
more politically correct because then you can't tell whether
the author is male or female. I think this is crazy, though
once upon a time it may have been necessary. Surely not
anymore!' [while I haven't lived much in the States for the
last twenty years, I've been there enough to view this last
sort of statement with skepticism--women's situation in
Western (and also in many third world) societies has
improved markedly in recent years; but it was SO bad that
this fact should be no cause for complacency, and my
experience is that the improvements are precisely more in
language than in fact--in most cases, I consider myself as
reasonable as the next guy (for me, by the way, that's a
generic term and not masculine), and I'm certainly still sexist,
although I'll admit that the non-sexist language movement
finally did convince this skeptic that the language issue is a
real one--JLF]; Rosa G. Montes points out quite fairly that
the real issue is attitudes [read, perhaps, 'jobs'--JLF] and
what derives from them, and that hiding the fact that
someone is a woman, say, is at best dodging the issue. [I
used to have a rabbi who would tell us, 'If someone calls you
a "dirty kike", you can rationalize with him until you're blue in
the face, explaining that Jews on average take 1.47 showers
daily, etc., and he'll still think you're a dirty kike. The only
solution is to beat the shit out of him. (I believe he used other
terms.) He'll still think you're a dirty kike, but he won't bother
you any more with it.' Of course this rabbi was twice as big
and strong as I am, but the point seems valid: make it
difficult for the prejudiced person to put his prejudices in
practice, and it will be almost as if they didn't exist. Old
coots like me are hard to change, but the important thing is
how we're raising the newer generations, and to at least shut
us up--JLF].
 Geoffrey S. Nathan comments: 'As someone who
recently tried to find a book by Gillian Brown, but didn't know
the title, and couldn't find her first name for a while, let me
strongly second your complaint about initialization. It seems
to me that Geoff Pullum devoted one of his columns to this
issue a few years back, and it may even have been reprinted
in his book _The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax_.' [Right
you are! Thanks for reminding me of this other screed with a
somewhat different focus. Let me, however, quote a bit (with
no permission whatsoever--and not only that, but I have left
the names of the 'baddies' unchanged to make the guilty
writhe) from TGEVH (1991.74-75 [U Chicago Press ]):
'...Academic Press and MIT Press generally refuse to permit
mention of first names of authors even when they expressly
use their first names and suppress some of their initials ...
Academic Press changes known names to obscure initials,
thus running the risk of mixing up such pairs as Arnold
Zwicky and Ann Zwicky, Neil Smith (London) and Norval
Smith (Amsterdam), etc.
 'And if you though that use of middle initials would
always sort things out, think again: there are pairs such as
Jen Cole (from Stanford) and Jennifer Cole (from MIT); John
M. Anderson (Edinburgh) and James M. Anderson
(Calgary); W. Sidney Allen (the eminent Cambridge
classicist and Caucasologist) and W. Stannard Allen (the
applied linguist); and so on. Arnold Zwicky and Jerry
Sadock ... still positively fume ... at the way Academic Press
... changed the acknowledgment "is due to Dennis Stampe"
(crediting the philosopher of language at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison) to "is due to Stampe" (ambiguous, but
likely to be read as crediting Dennis Stampe's brother, David
Stampe, then a colleague of Zwicky's at the Ohio State
University ...' This chapter 9 of his book considers several
debatable but common editorial practices, which would take
us too far afield to comment on here; as one with
considerable practical bibliographic experience, however,
both as user and as compiler, let me just say that the vast
majority of problems (once recognized as problems, of
course) can be rectified by the simple expedient of using
logical and consistent practices.--JLF]
 Chris Miller also says: 'I have been tripped up from
time to time in my searches for references not only by
unnecessary abbreviations of authors' names but also by
abbreviations for journals and conferences. In the
bibliographic database that I am building for my thesis, I try
as much as possible to include the full names of authors
*and of journals and regular conferences* for the same
reasons as you mention. I do not want to assume that
*everyone* who may happen to read my thesis will
necessarily know where to go if I inform them in my
bibliography that such-and-such an article is to be found in
SLS 14 for example, or so-and-so's paper was published in
the proceedings of ISSLR 3, though (most) people in my
field (sign linguistics) would know or be able to figure out the
references. I agree that respect for the needs of one's
readers demands that abbreviations should be avoided as
far as possible.' [Here again, logical and consistent
practices can rescue the problem: simply use letter
abbreviations, but put a list of them at the beginning of the
bibliography. Here, obviously, one mention does not merit
an abbreviation, but more than one is likely to be worth it--
 Georgia Green writes: 'earlier remarks of yours on
this theme have already had an effect--Jerry [Morgan] and I
discuss that point of view in the section on Presentation in
our Practical Guide to Syntactic Analysis that will be
published soon by CSLI. And I'm getting ready to send off
the ms for a revised edition of my pragmatics book in which
the first names are restored to 20 pages of references.'
[Great! And thanks for reminding me of my earlier
comments (in a review of _Notes from the linguistic
underground_ in _Lg_ 54:4.929-933), which give more detail
on some aspects of the problem. I quote [with permission
from the author]: 'This all-too-common practice (also
followed by, inter alia, _Linguistic inquiry_ and the _Journal
of linguistics_) ... [of] 'Initialization' of authors is elitist,
because it essentially assumes either (i) that anybody of
importance will know the first names of the authors, or (ii)
that the reader is already familiar with the article. The only
arguments in favor of the practice are specious: that it saves
space, and gives printers fewer chances to go wrong ... The
savings are minimal ... added lines would be about one per
page, or 3%, and [normally] no added pages (this could be
reduced or eliminated by using dash for multiple works by
the same author). The second point is misleading: ... e.g.
'Ieffrey' is easier to see as a mistake for 'Jeffrey' than 'I.' is
for 'J.'; furthermore, such an error is much more crucial, in
that it is not self-correcting. It can only be hoped that this
anti-scholarly practice will diminish.' (a footnote here resigns
ourselves to the difficulties presented by such persons as T.
R. Hoffman, and notes at least one 'Notice to authors' (for
the _International congress of linguists. Proceedings_ 12)
requesting that 'The Author's Names (in full: please spell out
initials, or first initial), ... should appear on the front page ...')-
-JLF]. Along with this last point, several people mentioned
'good news': Hartmut Haberland: 'the Journal of Pragmatics
has the following in the style sheet (and has had it for years
now): "Please note that authors should be quoted by full first
names, unless they always use initials themselves." (The
latter is intended to cover cases like W.V.O. Quine and
M.A.K. Halliday.) [Nota benissime: While M. A. K. Halliday
normally does publish under initials only, as far as I know,
this is NOT the case for Willard van Orman Quine, who
publishes under his full name (I just ran downstairs to check
this), so that Hartmut's comment is obviously derived from a
misapprehension which has followed from this nefarious
practice of initialization. I'd say Q. E. D., but I think by now
the reader may believe.--JLF] Max W. Wheeler writes: 'I
may say that, as editor of _Transactions of the Philological
Society_ I encourage authors both to use at least one given
name in their by-lines, and to mention at least one given
name of the authors in their lists of references, mentioning
the bibliographical reasons you give. I am not always
successful, and have not yet felt justified in refusing a paper
because the author would not comply with my referencing
preferences. But if the campaign gets off the ground, I shall
perhaps be able to insist without appearing perverse.'
Konrad Koerner: 'I have been fighting against this for over 20
years, not always very successfully ... in all my publications,
my 2 journals and elsewhere'. David M. W. Powers has a
similar idea to Wheeler's: you seem not to extend your
complaint to [middle initials/names]. I personally seek to
expand all references to "FormalUseName MiddleInitials
Surname" (not necessarily in this order in the case of Asian
names and J. Ross Quinlan, B. Ward Powers, etc.). I also
omit honorifics throughout - there is something of a tendency
to insert them these days'; Theo Vennemann (genannt
Nierfeld) says: 'Here is one example that should make you
glad: The editors of the conference volume of the Oehmann
Symposium which took place in Helsinki last September
(Oehmann actually not with Oe but with O umlaut) [query:
isn't the standard way to do this 'O"'? If not, shouldn't it be?
(I know, of course, that German is a special case, with two
ways of doing it)--JLF], Jarmo Korhonen and Jorma
Koivulehto (aren't you glad I did not abbreviate those first
names?), wrote in their letter to the authors of 7 October
1994: [trans.] "In order to produce uniform bibliographies,
please follow the attached model, with one exception: First
names should not be initialized but spelled out completely." If
you want to congratulate the two professors, here is their
address: Germanistisches Institut, University of Helsinki, PL
4 (Hallituskatu 11), FIN-00014 Helsingin yliopisto, Finland,
FAX 358 0 1913069.' [keep those cards and letters pouring
 A broad range of correspondents, and in different
contexts, cast blame on the American Psychological
Association for the current extent of the problem, if not its
genesis. Susan Fischer writes: 'APA style, which is used
very widely, requires initialization. I just had an experience
myself with an article that I am going to publish in a book
published by L. Erlbaum, which until recently published
mostly psychology-related things. I had been told to use the
_Language_ style sheet, and they changed it all to APA in
the copy-editing!' [Note that this is probably due to
misunderstandings between the volume editors (linguists, I
assume) and L. Ehrlbaum (armed with their APA style
manual)--JLF] Amy Sheldon opines: 'The windmill you need
to tilt most with though is the professional associations, like
[APA], which has a long style book, including initials in
References. Seems like the next step is an amendment to
the style books.' Terese Thonus, editorial assistant at
_Studies in Second Language Acquisition_ says: '_SSLA_
articles and reviews conform to the APA style manual, 3rd
edition. Although CUP may have chosen this rather widely
used stylesheet, it is not directly responsible for the use of
"initializations" in that publication.' [fair enough; my
comments on CUP were pretty hedged, however--JLF],
(M.) Lynne Murphy points out that 'those of us who work in
areas that overlap psych and the humanities are bound to
find ourselves trapped between practices.' In a similar vein,
Thonus indicates 'that it is at times frustrating to have to look
up first names if the stylesheet I have chosen is *not*
APA---but it seems to me that is only *one* of the hangups
encountered in "translating" from, for example, APA to LSA,
or MLA to Chicago. Par for the course.' Alice Faber
guesses correctly that CUP 'views second language
acquisition as psychology rather than linguistics, and, hence,
is following the style of the APA rather than the LSA', but
considers that 'it's a losing battle against the psychologists,
though. Some of my psychologist friends and collaborators
think I'm nuts to want to know people's names, for the sake
of complete bibiliographies.' Lee Hartman, in a long and
detailed message, points out the APA as the [current] source
of this policy, and mentions a number of other problems with
their style sheet (eg, indentation at the beginning of
references, which hides the author and complicates
searches. While this is changed to what Lee calls a 'hanging
indent' on being printed [am I the only one who uses the
term 'outdent' for this?--JLF], the problem remains in
unpublished papers. Another problem is the continued use
of Last Name, First Name order even after the first author of
multi-author works, and the non-use of semicolons when
there are more than two authors). [Undoubtedly, it was the
very extent and detail (way too much, in my opinion, even
apart from its 'errors') of their manual which appealed to
people who had to adopt a style 'package' for a new journal,
etc. -- after all, it's a major pain to set up a style manual from
scratch (I'm doing just that, so I know), so adopting an
available, acceptable, relatively cheap book that already
does it is appealing. This brings up the question: why not the
US Government style book (bigger than the APA and
probably cheaper) or the Associated Press one? I don't
know the answer to that. (Perhaps the relatively short LSA
style sheet was considered too short, although in my opinion
it has almost everything you wanted to know about style.)--
JLF] Lee is worried about offending the APA and hardening
their position ('many LINGUIST-ists identify with LSA style,
and the APA could see them as meddling outsiders if care
were not taken'). [Perhaps he's right; I just don't know how
thin-skinned the psychologists are, but they should certainly
be told ('_diplomatically_', as Lee says)--JLF]
 Well, if you're still here, you must be convinced, so
what do we do? As you can see from Max W. Wheeler's
comments and others quoted above, at least some editors
are on our side (ie, of the good guys). (Steven) Lee
Hartman says: ' Yes, let's oppose initialization. What will be
effective? Petitions directed to journals and publishing
houses? Urging authors of manuscripts to rebel, i.e. to spell
out names regardless of editorial policies?' [I would say this
last is unlikely to be fruitful--they'll just change the style back,
as happened to Susan Fischer (see above), and which is
easy in that direction--JLF]. Chris Miller asks: 'Have you
considered setting up an electronic petition against
initialisation? I suppose it could be set up in the form of a
content-less mailing list: to sign onto the petition, anyone
interested would only have to send a SUBSCRIBE message
to the listserver (preferably with their name, address and
affiliation). It would be worthwhile advertising such a petition
(with arguments against initialisation) on as many scientific
mailing lists as possible. Faced with enough people putting
themselves on record as supporting these arguments,
maybe some publishers might change their approach. [This
seems to me to be a very good idea. Anybody know how to
do it?--JLF]
 [The remainder is from JLF:] I have made up a
separate file with all the responses I received, unedited, to
send to recalcitrant editors and publishers, so they can see
the depth and breadth of the feeling towards this
phenomenon in its unexpurgated form. I haven't sent it to
anyone yet, in case someone has reasons why I shouldn't, or
comments that should or could be added. I also plan to
send this summary along (with or without the unexpurgated
file, depending on the recipient) to pertinent persons, lists,
etc. To that end, I'd appreciate receiving addresses, esp. e-
mail ones, for recipients, and any other comments you may
have (eg, toning down some of my comments).
 We seem to have a pretty good handle on what the
problem is. I'm interested in doing something more about it,
as are many of the respondents, but what is the best way to
go about it? I like Chris Miller's idea (another way to avoid
the sexed pronoun, since I'm not sure which that person is),
but would need help to carry it out. I'll try to get help, but if
anyone knows how, please let me know. Thanks for your
patience, but I hope that the fruits of this discussion will
reward the efforts of all of us.
 If the moderators have no objections, it seems to me
that the time has come to kick the discussion over to the list
(except for the things that I have asked for, which should be
sent to me). I don't mind being responsible for doing stuff,
James L. Fidelholtz
Maestri'a en Ciencias del Lenguaje
Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades
Universidad Auto'noma de Puebla
Puebla, Me'xico

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