LINGUIST List 11.945

Tue Apr 25 2000

Disc: Political action/linguistic organizations

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <>


  1. Michael A. Covington, Disc.: Political action/linguistic organizations

Message 1: Disc.: Political action/linguistic organizations

Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 10:21:28 -0400
From: Michael A. Covington <>
Subject: Disc.: Political action/linguistic organizations

 Ahmad Lotfi, in Iran, writes:
 | I just want to say we Iranian linguists are so lucky that no politician
 | here (and most probably nowhere else either) cares much about the
 | political motions and resolutions LSA passes (to tell you the truth,
 | noone here even heard about LSA motion about human rights in Iran).
 | Else, doing such harmless things as drawing tree diagrams or transcrib-
 | ing sentences in IPA could cost us dear;-)

Hear, hear! We must never forget that the LSA has *members* in a lot of
places with unsatisfactory governments -- people who live there permanently
and people doing fieldwork -- and when we condemn foreign regimes, we run
the risk of hindering people's professional activity or even endangering

And that was my original point about boycotting large portions of the
United States, too. The ERA and gay-rights boycotts picked out
largely the same set of states, a rather large set -- places where
political change proceeds relatively slowly (not, as sometimes
caricatured, places where people are evil). Linguists live in those
states. Linguists would like to be employed there. Is it our policy
that we will actively discourage linguists from living and working in
places whose politics is substantially different from that of New York
and California? Is our job market so good that we no longer need to
serve the whole country?

Let's get back to being a *national*, even *international* society.
Successful international scientific organizations are apolitical.

But in response to Sally Thomason's original proposal, if UIUC is
spreading a substantially incorrect image of Native Americans, we, as
professionals with special knowledge of Native Americans, have every
right to speak out. I just don't think we should go as far as boycott
Illinois. That would be an action directed against our friends and
colleagues rather than the people who are actually doing the harm.

 Michael A. Covington / AI Center / The University of Georgia <><

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