LINGUIST List 13.721

Mon Mar 18 2002

All: Remembering LINGUIST - How things have changed

Editor for this issue: Michael Appleby <>


  1. linguist, How things have changed - remembering LINGUIST as it used to be

Message 1: How things have changed - remembering LINGUIST as it used to be

Date: 18 Mar 2002 06:29:51 -0000
From: linguist <>
Subject: How things have changed - remembering LINGUIST as it used to be

Dear LINGUIST subscribers,

Believe it or not, a whole year has passed since we asked you to show
your support of LINGUIST by making a donation. It is now time for us
to call upon your generosity once again. You guessed it-the annual
LINGUIST Fund Drive has officially begun!

What a year this has been... We at LINGUIST have been working
feverishly to meet the launch dates of several exciting projects; and
we can proudly point to some new developments that are already in
place. Before we highlight (a.k.a. brag about) those developments in
upcoming issues, we'd like to indulge in a bit of nostalgia and
illustrate how, with your support, LINGUIST has grown and evolved
through the years.

To anyone just entering the field of linguistics it would appear that
LINGUIST has been around forever. And given its current "high profile"
role in the discipline, it's easy to forget that LINGUIST began with
an unassuming message in December of 1990, announcing the formation of
a list whose goal is "to provide a forum for the discussion of those
issues which interest professional linguists" (Linguist 1.0). Listed
subscribers numbered 161; there were no student editors; and the crew
numbered two--founders Anthony Aristar and Helen Dry! During its first
year in operation, LINGUIST published 868 issues under just 5 topics:
All, Confs, Calls, Disc, and Miscellaneous. And as testament to the
fact that the "crew" was two university professors, a majority of the
issues were posted on Sundays, and there were many days when no issues
were posted at all! Eleven years later LINGUIST, with its crew of 12
grad students, publishes over 3,000 issues a year under 14 different
topics, and mails them to more than 15,500 subscribers
worldwide. While its original purpose remains the same, many changes
have taken place as LINGUIST aims to bring you an ever increasing
array of services, resources, and technological capabilities.

But LINGUIST has not done this alone-far from it! In fact the majority
of improvements have come about as a result of suggestions from you,
our subscribers. For example, in the "early days" it was not uncommon
to have seven or more messages in an issue, each with a different topic!
It was subscribers who asked for single-topic issues containing fewer
messages, leading to the creation of additional topics, the now
familiar Queries, Sums, FYI, and Calls. As the list continued to grow,
it became clear that managing LINGUIST was no longer a two-person job,
so in 1993 LINGUIST published its first "thanks for the donations"
message, noting "we've now collected over $800 in the LINGUIST
Development Fund" and "We'd like to collect $5000 eventually" to fund
a graduate student to work 10 hours a week. Thanks to subscriber
support, the number of student editors soon rose to three.
Your money at work.

Late in 1995 LINGUIST announced the opening of its (drum roll, please)
direct access World Wide Web site! John Remmers, LINGUIST's software
consultant and developer of the programs that made it all possible,
explained that LINGUIST issues would now be available on the web,
complete with live links of e-mail addresses and URLs. There was even
the beginning of a search facility --"a minimal prototype that we plan
to enhance extensively to provide various kinds of selective
searching". In the days ahead, as you read about our new web site and
search capabilities, it will become clear that John was not just
making a "campaign promise". It has become LINGUIST's "modus operandi"
to outline ideas and plans for improvements at the same time that we
ask you, our readers for donations. The reason for this is simply that
there is a direct and very real link between the two--your donations
fund LINGUIST's developments. Without its subscriber support, there
would be no editors, no improvements, and in short, no LINGUIST.

In 1996, LINGUIST announced plans to begin work on two new
projects. These were to "develop the LINGUIST WWW web site into a
central site for the electronic dissemination of linguistic
information" and to "investigate (and if necessary promulgate) a
standard way of representing electronically linguistic texts and
multinational characters". Again, as you read the forthcoming letters,
it will become evident that such declarations are not just statements
of intent, they are prophecies!
Your money at work.

The following year Helen reported that 1997 had seen many new
developments; "We wrote and put in place a new search engine for
LINGUIST issues, finally managed to get all our back issues up on the
web in full HTML, wrote cgi's to collect dissertation abstracts,
revamped our issue software so that it produces more complete HTML
versions for the web, and instituted LingLite, the low-cal version of
LINGUIST." Also new in 1997 were Ask-A-LINGUIST and Notice Board.
Your money at work.

Developments snowballed in the following years, including the addition
of 3 new topics, Software, Support, and Media, as well as the
institution of the Multi-List Archive and the Multi-List search
engine. Also added were the Directory of Linguistics Programs, and
the Directory of Linguists, the Advisory Board, and LL+.
Your money ...

Of course the big news this year is the implementation of the long
awaited relational data base (more on that later, too!). The crew has
spent countless hours categorizing all the information and links on
our site, creating thousands of records which are searchable by
linguistic subfield and subject language. Truth be told, it is the
crews that have implemented all of the developments at LINGUIST over
the years; in fact, it's the crews that keep LINGUIST in operation.
But your donations are what keep the crews in operation, and that is
why we must turn to you now. In order to fund our 12 student editors
and programmers for another year, we must raise $48,000. Yes, that's
quite an increase over that first goal of $5000 back in 1993; but you
will admit, LINGUIST has come a long way since then. If you were
around in the early days of LINGUIST, you were probably nodding your
head as you read this message and recalled some of the changes.
Perhaps you were part of these changes. Perhaps it was your
suggestion or your donation that made them possible. If so, thanks
again! If you are a recent subscriber, maybe you are a bit surprised
to learn of LINGUIST's modest beginnings. Maybe you are so impressed
with all the changes you are wondering, "Can LINGUIST get any better?"
The answer, of course, is no. Not without your help. We can tell you
what our plans are, but only you can give us the means to implement
them. Please take a moment some time during the next two weeks to make
a pledge or send a donation. It's easy, and better still, it will
guarantee we have something to write about next year!

So please go to to send us your
pledge. From there you have the choice of donating straight away by
credit card using our secure form, or you can send us a cheque later.
If you do send a cheque, please make it payable in US dollars; we get
charged about $50 a time to convert currency (no such problems with a
credit card).

Alternatively, you can hit "Reply" to this message and send us your
pledge right now by email, prior to sending your cheque. Then we will
be able to list you immediately as one of our donors; and we may be
able to reach our goal (and halt these Fund Drive messages) a bit
earlier. The address to send cheques is as follows:

The LINGUIST Editorial Support Fund
c/o Helen Aristar-Dry
Dept. of English
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI 
USA 48197

As a 501(c)3 organization, LINGUIST qualifies for corporate
donation-matching programs; and, of course, your donation is tax

Don't forget that in return for a donation of $25 or more, we would
like to send you a snazzy, dark blue LINGUIST T-shirt or sweatshirt.
Already seen in the fashionable areas of Milan* and Paris**, these
shirts are perfect for both the home and the office. See for yourself
at New this year are LINGUIST
List tote bags, also available at the $25 level. Please let us know
in your pledge which you would like. Remember to let us know your
postal address and what size and style you'd like.

Please also visit our fund drive page at, where you can see how well we
are doing.

We at LINGUIST really do appreciate your support. We couldn't do this
without you.

With our sincere thanks,


Anthony, Helen, Andrew, Karen, Naomi, James, Michael, Zhen-Wei,
Richard, Karolina, Dina, Renee, Steve, Marie, Gayathri, John, Ljuba,
Terry, Simin, Tomoko.

* That's Milan, Michigan, a city a few miles away from the LINGUIST
 List offices 
** A nickname we temporarily gave Helen and Anthony's sitting room,
 for the sake of the accuracy of this letter. The 'fashionable area',
 incidentally, is in the corner next to the plants
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