Speaker citation in publications

Hi all,

I’m working on an R&R and finding myself exceedingly frustrated by many of the comments to remove “inappropriate” and “superfluous” sentences that mention the effort and contributions by local speakers.

For example, this is the first-ever publication to mention the orthography of the language. And so I include a short paragraph detailing the efforts of the three speakers that crafted the orthography, resulting in a nearly one-to-one correspondence between phonemes and symbols. Recommended to put simply “The orthography has a nearly one-to-one…” without mention of how it was crafted. I worry readers will assume that I did this myself.

Another example, all my data came from 16 speakers who of various ages, genders, dialect backgrounds. I include a table that has their name, gender, age, hometown, and citation of the recording that includes the data used for the article. I have been asked to Thank them by name in the acknowledgments but not put cite their recordings or put information about their demographics.

Finally, I’ve been asked to reformat my citations that refer to the speaker and year of the recording (e.g., Geser 2015) and an accompanying line in the References that directs the reader to that item in the archive, with a code (e.g., WGG_20150820_001) that matches the corpus and removing the line in the references. This makes it both harder for the reader to access the original files in the corpus AND reduces the contributor of this information to a code instead of a name like all other Western contributors of information in the article.

I know that my topic and language area are quite niche and that very few people will be reading these articles (a select few linguists interested in the area or my analysis) but MOSTLY these will be read and shared with local speakers who are interested in learning more about their language! I want their contributions to be highlighted not hidden!

Thoughts? Is sticking with the status quo the professional move? Also I should add that this journal is electronic only, so I don’t think that the concern is space.


I think it’s worth pushing back on many of these things. For reference to speakers, every single sentence that Marianne Mithun quotes from her fieldwork has the name of the person who said it. It’s totally appropriate for this to be used in academic papers and I think it’s worth making this clear that attribution is an ethical issue (just as it is for appropriate citation of academic publications). If it’s coming from a reviewer as long as you have a decent reason the editor should be ok with it.


Definitely push back, if you haven’t done so already. There are ethical and moral reasons for sourcing your materials to speakers (unless they want to be anonymous) — if you want academic justification cite the work of Lauren Gawne and others in “replicability” and data referencing (not that I agree with their approach, but it’s published references you can quote).

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