LINGUIST List 4.52

Sat 30 Jan 1993

FYI: Announcing

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Announcing...

Message 1: Announcing...

Date: Sat, 30 Jan 93 09:29:22 ESAnnouncing...
From: <>
Subject: Announcing...

In LINGUIST 4.37 (22 Jan 93), Steven Spackman (

 > I think we need a permanent Linguistics Server to see to the needs of
 > the field. It could provide:
 > An archive site serving the needs of linguistics, storing
 > programmes, corpora, bibliographies and papers;
 > Permanent electronic mail addresses not impacted by changes of
 > employer or internal policy;
 > A permanent home for such institutions as Linguist and the
 > Linguists address server; and
 > Perhaps even a platform for formal electronic publication, as
 > standards appear and the notion becomes more attractive.
 > ...
 > I think that something like this is quite feasible. Is it a good idea?
 > How could it be better? Is there an organiser - perhaps one with the
 > right contacts - in the house?

 *Ahem* Well, since you asked... I hadn't planned to announce this
for a while yet, because the details aren't worked out yet. But I could
wait all year and never get a better straight line, so here goes.

 I've been trying to get a Linguistics server set up since 1987. In
1991, when I was the chair of the LSA Communication and Information
Technology Committee, I conducted a computer survey of the membership;
probably a lot of you participated. If you remember, one of the
questions was whether you would be interested in a Linguistics server.
75 percent of those responding said yes, rather enthusiastically; this
was the first time in my experience that 75% of linguists have agreed on

 In the meantime, the University of Michigan has implemented its
"Institutional File System", more familiarly known as "IFS", or "The Big
Hard Disk In The Sky", accessible on the network from just about
anywhere. The IFS houses, among many other things, the enormous Public
Domain and Shareware ftp archives that many of you will know of as,,,, etc.

 These archives are a project of the Merit Network, a commercial
network group located in Ann Arbor and affiliated with the University
that maintains NSF-Net, a very high-speed backbone portion of the
Internet. Merit is also sponsoring a pilot (shoestring, skeleton,
sketchy, experimental - read "unfunded volunteer") project on what we
are calling "Disciplinary Archives".

 I am happy to announce that Linguistics is one of the three pilot
disciplines (the others are Physics and Economics); and that I have the
honor to be the pilot Linguistics Archivist.

 What that means is that anyone on the Internet may


log in as "anonymous" (giving their mail address as a password), then

 cd linguistics (to get to the top-level directory), and
 dir (to see it)

and "get" any file they can find in any of the directories. If they're
on an AFS site, they don't even have to do that much. Currently the
archives are not exactly full; we have some software and word lists
scarfed from other servers, the results of the LSA computer survey, a few
thing's I've written, and a complete run of the LINGUIST List. And
we will eventually be housing the CSWL Syllabus collection.

 There are plenty of things that we could be housing. For instance,
most of us are teachers and we all spend plenty of time making up
problems for our classes. How about sharing your favorites? Or class
handouts, charts, fonts, HyperCard stacks, word lists, syllabi,
marked-up texts, bibliographies, et cetera.

 Alas, one thing that we *can't* provide yet, if ever, is external
e-mail access. I understand that this is a problem, especially for
linguists in private practice who are not affiliated with an Internet
site. I expect it to improve with the advent of NREN (q.v. - write your
Congressperson), but that's in the future. Perhaps something can
develop along those lines here, but my guess is it's not likely soon.
This is more of a file server. Similarly, for various reasons, Helen
and Anthony inform me that it is more convenient for LINGUIST to continue
to be housed at Texas A&M, especially with the anticipated growth of the
Linguist Fund.

 But, as I said, not all the details are worked out yet. In
particular, the Linguistics Archive doesn't have any funding at all.
Yet. However, my feeling is that it's likely to be easier to get
funding to continue something already in existence that's obviously
meeting a need than it would be to start up something new and untried.
At the moment, all we need is your support, patience, and suggestions.
As situations develop, we will attempt to deal with them; and I'll
continue to post updates and calls on LINGUIST.

 - John Lawler (
 Program in Linguistics
 University of Michigan

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