LINGUIST List 11.804

Fri Apr 7 2000

Disc: Political Action/Linguistic Organizations

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. reynolds,

Message 1:

Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000 10:14:19 -0800
From: reynolds <>

"Clarification of LSA procedures"

I have recently had my attention drawn to a thread on LinguistList
discussing various motions and resolutions the Linguistic Society ofAmerica
has approved. Since some contributors appear to be unfamiliar with the
general procedures through which such matters are handled, Margaret W.
Reynolds, Executive Director of the LSA, has prepared the following
clarificatory statement for distribution on the list. I just want to
emphasize that all members of the LSA, whether or not they serve on the
Executive Committee, are able to introduce motions or resolutions as
outlined below. And of course members are welcome to contact me or other
officers and members of the Executive Committee about their special

Since 1973 when the rules for motions ( calls for action) and resolutions
(expressions of opinion) prepared by William Gedney and Ilse Lehiste were
adopted by the Executive Committee, members of the Society have had a
procedure for bringing matters of concern to the attention of the community.

 The motions and resolutions passed at the Annual Business Meeting over the
years cover a variety of issues. They have addressed such topics as equal
employment opportunity, deployment of nuclear systems, human rights in
Iran, natural language research, the importance of scientific peer review,
support for linguists in Central America and against US policies in
Nicaragua, congratulating the Esperanto movement on the occasion of its
100th birthday, professional standards for doctoral dissertations on Native
American languages, changing the dates of the Annual Meeting and opposing
the English-only amendments. Although there have been some exceptions,
Society statements have generally been limited to subjects for which our
special expertise as linguists is relevant.

The Society's rules for motions and resolutions are published twice
annually (in the October LSA Bulletin and in the Annual Meeting Handbook).
Given the recent discussions on LinguistList, it may be helpful to
highlight the procedures:

 Motions are only in order at the annual business meeting and may be
initiated by the Executive Committee or from the floor. Motions initiated
by the Executive Committee require for passage a majority vote of the
members voting at the meeting. Motions initiated from the floor, if they
receive affirmative vote of a majority of the members voting at the
meeting, are then submitted to a mail ballot of the membership in the next
issue of the LSA Bulletin. Passage requires that a majority of those voting
and also that the total casting votes must be at least 2.5% of the personal

Resolutions may be introduced at the annual business meeting or at any
special meeting of the Society. To pass, a resolution expressing the sense
of the majority of the meeting requires the affirmative vote of the
majority of the members voting at the meeting. If at least ten members
present at the meeting so desire, a resolution may be broadened to express
the sense of the majority of the membership by forwarding it to the
Executive Committee for submission to the membership by mail ballot.
Passage requires the affirmative vote (more than 50%) of the membership

Since the mid-1980's the Committee on Social and Political Concerns has
frequently drafted statements for the Executive Committee's consideration
which have then been affirmed by a majority of the members voting. These
have included a statement on human subjects in linguistic research, the
Statement on Language Rights, the LSA resolution on the Oakland "ebonics"
issue and the resolution in opposition to the Unz/Tuchman California Ballot
Initiative "English Language Education for Immigrant Children."

Regarding the actions limiting the possible sites for the Society's Annual
Meeting, at its December 1977 meeting, the Executive Committee determined
that the LSA would not meet in states that had not ratified the Equal
Rights Amendment. Then in 1988 the members attending the Annual Business
Meeting at the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans approved the resolution
limiting host cities for the Annual Meeting to those in states without
sodomy laws. That policy was revised in 1992 to permit the Society to
consider cities where municipal authorities have taken positive action yet
the state itself continues to ban sodomy.

Sally McConnell-Ginet
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue