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LINGUIST List 17.1846

Wed Jun 21 2006

Disc: RE: Disc: Linguists and the Journals Nature, Science

Editor for this issue: Ann Sawyer <sawyerlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Paul Chapin, RE: Disc: Linguists and the Journals Nature, Science

Message 1: RE: Disc: Linguists and the Journals Nature, Science
Date: 17-Jun-2006
From: Paul Chapin <pchapinalum.mit.edu>
Subject: RE: Disc: Linguists and the Journals Nature, Science

I'm not an officer of AAAS Section Z, but I have been active in it, and in
AAAS affairs more generally, and I have a couple of remarks in response to
Annie Zaenen's posting.

The first is that the journal _Science_ operates with complete editorial
independence, so neither Section officers nor AAAS officers can control the
journal's content.

Second, it would be entirely appropriate for the Section Z officers, or any
linguist who is a member of AAAS, for that matter, to write to the Editor
of _Science_, Don Kennedy, and express concerns of the kind Geoff Pullum
and others have raised, about inadequately informed discussions of
linguistic issues. Identification of specific instances would of course be
important in such a letter. I'm not speaking about a letter for
publication, but a letter calling the Editor's attention to a problem.

Let me add a more general comment about AAAS. Its meetings are by design
not targeted at specialists in any field (which is what I take Zaenen to
mean by having 'little of direct interest' for linguists). Rather, they
provide up-to-date, intelligible presentations of current hot topics across
the sciences, for the benefit of scientists in other fields and science
journalists. Anyone attending such a meeting does better to go to sessions
outside his or her own field. I for one consistently find them of great

Section Z is not one of the larger AAAS Sections, but I believe it is not
the smallest either. And, importantly, it has been quite successful in
organizing sessions at the Annual AAAS meeting over the past decade,
sessions that have served to introduce linguistic science to the broader
scientific community in a way that I consider unmatched by other efforts to
accomplish this. I encourage other linguists to participate in it and help
increase its influence.

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
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