LINGUIST List 13.932

Thu Apr 4 2002

All: Helping your research with Queries and Sums

Editor for this issue: Michael Appleby <>


  1. linguist, Queries and Summaries: information at your fingertips
  2. linguist, Behind the scenes: Karen, our managing editor

Message 1: Queries and Summaries: information at your fingertips

Date: 5 Apr 2002 03:07:19 -0000
From: linguist <>
Subject: Queries and Summaries: information at your fingertips

Dear linguists,

Where do linguists, both students and professionals alike, turn when
they need information, opinions, judgements, suggestions, or people to
play Blues at LSA? (More on that last one later.) Judging by the
number of questions posted over the past twelve years, it appears that
they turn to the LINGUIST List! Yes, ever since the very first
question was posted on December 15th, 1990 (Linguist 1.1)--"Does
anyone know of any recent sociolinguistic studies of religious
language?"--and answered five days later (Linguist 1.3), the Queries
and Summaries topics have proven to be an invaluable, even
indispensable resource for the linguistic community. During 1991, its
first full year of operation, LINGUIST published around 438 Queries;
but by 1993 the number had risen to over 900! Linguists had tasted the
fruits of high-tech internet communication and they liked it!

During that first year, Jan Dings said in his summary (Linguist
2.362), "Dear Colleagues, some weeks ago I launched a query on the
net, asking for bibliographic data about compound nouns. Reactions
came at such speed and in such quantities, that we were really
overwhelmed. My colleague Lieve De Wachter and I want to thank all
that have reacted to our query. We did not yet realize that the net
was such a efficient source of information".

Heh, heh, heh...

The secret was out, and by the end of 2001, you, our subscribers, had
asked your fellow linguists for feedback on more than 8,500 questions!
Of course, one advantage of net-based communication is the speed with
which you can receive that feedback. But there appears to be more to
it than that. Read what Alexis Manaster-Ramer said in 1993 when
thanking responders (Linguist 5.16): "...I should also say that once
again LINGUIST generated an amazing response, in this case a person
who perhaps would not like to be named publicly actually offered to
give me her copy of one of the collections of... papers."

You can't get that kind of service from a library!

However, the information and responses that are gathered as a result
of these Queries are meant to benefit more than just the submitter of
the question. Therefore, we have Summaries, where the sometimes
voluminous responses are shared with anyone who cares to read
them. These are, in themselves, great repositories of information--
from Karen Chung's listing of what the "" sign is called in more than
37 different languages (Linguist 7.968 et al), to Antony Dubach
Green's report on Icelandic Phonology (Linguist 9.264), to Dorine
S. Houston's recent summary of the changes in the meaning of the word,
"gay" (Linguist 13.498).

Who submits Queries to LINGUIST? Everyone from undergraduate students,
to those with names we have grown accustomed to seeing on the covers
of linguistics books. And who has posted the most Queries/Summaries on
Linguist over the years? An unscientific survey of issues shows Marc
Picard to be the all-time winner with 29 questions and 7 summaries!
Jorge Guitart is second with 19 queries, with Mark Mandel and Dan
Everett close behind , each with 18 queries and 7 summaries. But it
isn't just those people who have benefited from the posting of their
Queries and Summaries; everyone who reads LINGUIST benefits--if not at
the time of the posting, then at some later date, as those issues are
there for your reference at any time. 

Take a moment to browse through the past issues; or just do a search
of your favorite topic and see what your colleagues have had to say
about it. Then if you agree that Queries and Summaries are a resource
and service that must continue, please consider donating to the
LINGUIST Fund Drive. Just think--if everyone who ever posted a query
to the list were to donate a dollar...

Do go to to send us your pledge.
We are thankful to everyone who has done so already, and they are
listed below. Even better: how about seeing if a group of you in your
office or department will make a joint contribution? Remember your
donation can be doubled by corporate matching, and it is
tax-deductable. From the pledge page 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 gift. This year, we introduced LINGUIST List tote
bags, which are proving popular thanks to their style, space and
sturdy construction. If you don't have anything to put in them, why
not get a LINGUIST List T-shirt too? Please visit to see what we have to offer.
Do let us know in your pledge what you would like. Remember to
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We at LINGUIST really do appreciate your support. We could not
continue without you.

With our sincere thanks,


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

 - Oh yes--about that Blues query; that was from Dan Everett, back in
1995 (Linguist 5.1456); but you'll have to read it for yourselves!


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Message 2: Behind the scenes: Karen, our managing editor

Date: 5 Apr 2002 03:07:55 -0000
From: linguist <>
Subject: Behind the scenes: Karen, our managing editor

Dear subscribers,

We thought you'd like to hear from some of the students your funds are
supporting. So this year each fund drive issue will include a brief
paragraph (or two) from one of our editors telling you, their
sponsors, about their work with LINGUIST.

A few words from Karen Milligan...

I began my work on both the Linguist List and a MA in linguistics at
Wayne State University in the fall of 1998. Although I will soon be
finishing up my degree, I hate to think of leaving Linguist! People
ask me why a ballet teacher would take up the study of linguistics
after 25 years of training dancers. (Actually, what they said was,
"Aren't you a bit old to be going back to school?) The short answer is
that I have always loved linguistics, but the physical demands of
ballet dictated that I do that first, while I was still young. So
after devoting the first 25 years of my post-bachelor-degree life to
the ballet world, I knew the time had come to explore the world of
linguistics and academia. What a great decision! And when Helen and
Anthony offered me a position on the staff of Linguist, I thought,
"Why not? Everyone thinks I'm crazy anyway; what have I got to lose?
Besides, it might be fun." Little did I know just how much fun it
would be! Four years later, I'm the Managing Editor of Linguist; my
linguistic studies have given me the opportunity to be a research
assistant for one of my professors, be involved in a study with
another, and attend the LSA institute in Santa Barbara--and I'm still
training ballet dancers!

So what's so great about working on Linguist? Lots! There's the fact
that I get to talk to (virtually, of course) professionals in the
field of linguistics every day. There's also the fact that I am right
in the middle of what is arguably "the place to turn for information"
for linguists the world over. Then there was last summer when Helen
and Anthony gave me the opportunity to attend the Language
Digitization Conference as one of the coordinators, I met (not
virtually) some wonderful people, heard about their amazing projects,
and learned a bit about mark-up language for linguistic data. But one
unexpected benefit of working on Linguist is that when I've "had it up
to here" with the slightly wacky world of ballet, I can go to my
computer, log on to Linguist, and breathe a sigh of relief;
"Ahhhh...sanity!". (Everything is relative.) 
Of course, it's all of the above; but there is one more thing: the
people--all of the people--involved with Linguist are just such fun to
work with! I don't know how they do it, but Helen and Anthony always
manage to attract the brightest, most industrious, (not to mention,
the funniest) people to Linguist. The support that Linguist gives us
is the most obvious and tangible benefit of being a part of the
Linguist crew, and all of us are extremely thankful to you, our
sponsors, for that. Even though Anthony has warned us that no one
really ever leaves Linguist (we are in it for life!), it is because of
your generous support that we all come to Linguist in the first
place. Thank you for making that possible.

Karen Milligan
LINGUIST Mangaging Editor

To donate to LINGUIST, go to :

To see and read more about Karen, go to:
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