Encyclopedia of Linguistics

Scope Guidelines

Preparing Articles for the Encyclopedia of Linguistics: Guidelines on Scope, Approach, and Content

Content of Essays

The entries fall into four categories: (1) languages (and language families), (2) persons, (3) countries and regions, and (4) topics.

General guidelines for ALL articles:

The purpose of each article is to be descriptive--to place each topic within the larger context of linguistics and language studies. The work is intended to be the first point of linguistic reference for general as well as nonspecialist academic users (see point c below). Please provide as full a description of your topic as your word assignment will allow, and if appropriate summarize any competing views of the topic, but do NOT argue a specific point of view or take sides.

Because the primary reader will be a nonspecialist, bear in mind that as encyclopedia entries--rather than academic articles--these essays should provide a general introduction to the material. In other words, previous knowledge about the subject cannot be presupposed, and language understood only by specialists should be avoided. If such exclusion proves impossible, technical terms should be followed by clear definitions or examples. Contributors may wish to apply to each topic the fundamental building blocks of basic journalistic reporting: who, what, where, when, and why (e.g., who are the primary figures associated with the topic, what is the nature of the topic, where, when, and why is the topic relevant?). "How" questions should be broken down for the novice user in prose rather than diagrams; visual accompaniments are suitable only if they can clarify the subject for the nonspecialized reader, whose familiarity with even basic notational devices cannot be assumed. Rather than presenting original scholarship, each entry will define, clarify, and/or summarize the subject for its audience. Thus, the first person "I" should be avoided, and the author should take an objective stance.

The Basics:

a) Please write to the length specified--and not longer (or notably shorter) without checking with us first (see note at end). A project like this resembles a huge puzzle and the pieces need to fit together!
b) Please be very careful with facts--while all material will be edited at least twice (once for substance and once for style) we will not be able to recheck all the information you provide. If sources disagree on an important point of fact, discuss that in a brief cover note to the editor.
c) Remember that this encyclopedia is intended for the general reader as well as undergraduate and other nonspecialist academic users. It is imperative to avoid excessive verbal density and to explain the meaning of all key terms that you use. Historical material needs to be clear to modern readers who often will not remember the person, events or issues described.
d) Please list at the end of the essay any relevant encyclopedia articles you feel should be cross-referenced
e) Please provide five or so citations we can include in the Further Readings so readers can find more information. For longer articles (more than 2,000 words), we would like up to a dozen citations. This may include reference material (books, documents, or articles) that you actually used and can be found in most libraries. Provide full citations as per the Style Guide provided. Unpublished manuscripts and dissertations may be listed among Selected Works in Person Entries, but should not be offered as Further Reading.
f) The only truly useful diagrams are those that clarify complex subjects for the general reader.


These entries consist of:

The Essay (most are of 1,000 words)

A Who's-Who style Biography (Capsule Biography)

Selected Works

Further Reading

a) For the essay, focus analysis on your subject's influence and significant contributions to linguistics. What were the key accomplishments that brought this person recognition or notoriety? How was she or he perceived by contemporaries and by subsequent generations and/or historians? Assess the contributions made during the person's lifetime as well as any lasting influence on the discipline. Where applicable, keep in mind how this subject might relate to other articles in the Encyclopedia, such as other people, topics, languages, or regions. If you have an interest in a particular aspect of the person's work, do not hide it; by the same token, do not allow it to dominate the article.
b) Given the length (1,000 words) of most person articles, it is important to focus chiefly on the person's professional accomplishments. Personal biographical matters will be covered in the Capsule Biography and should appear in the body of the essay only if they significantly affected the person's career and/or thinking.
c) For the Capsule Biography see the guidelines in the Style Guide and follow the example from the parallel sample article enclosed. Include the person's full name, date and place of birth, education (college and graduate degrees), a concise listing of career highlights in chronological order, major awards or honors, and the date and place of death (or current place of habitation for living persons).
d) For the listings of Selected Works, see the guidelines in the Style Guide and follow the examples from the parallel sample article enclosed.
e) Further Reading references provided should include any key biographical books or important articles about the person and/or the theoretical issues the person raised

See sample essay Swadesh, Morris

Articles on LANGUAGES:
These entries consist of:

The Essay

Further Reading

a) Begin your essay with a statement describing the type of language. Which family does it belong to, what are its key structural features and - if applicable - what is its relevance to linguistic study? Why, in other words, was it included--why should readers know about it?
b) Relate - if applicable - the language's historical development and the changes it underwent. If sociopolitical changes had a crucial influence, be sure to include some mention of that. 
c) An essay on an individual language should highlight important structural details, place the language genetically, historically, geographically, and sociologically, and - if applicable - discuss its relevance for linguistic study. Entries on language families highlight the common traits of genetically related languages, discuss what differentiates this family from others, and highlight relevant theoretical issues. Hybrid articles on "Language X and Yian Languages" combine these two approaches by using the featured language as an example for the family in question.
d) Be sure to make ample use of examples to illustrate your points. Not only do examples help to illustrate theoretical concepts, but they also provide a flavor of the language, which is equally important.
e) For Further Reading references, provide books or articles on the language, its key features, its speakers, or its main analysts. Be sure and cite only publically accessible material.

Sample essay forthcoming

Articles on COUNTRIES and REGIONS:
These entries consist of:

The Essay

Further Reading

a) Begin with a concise statement of exactly what part of the world is included in the article.
b) Follow with a brief statement characterizing the linguistic landscape of the country in question. Always emphasize the most important issues a reader should remember about language in your country.
c) What linguistic issues are at stake, how have they been addressed, and what theoretical conclusions can be drawn from the example? Since the dominant languages in a given region will likely be discussed in separate entries in the terms described above, we are interested primarily in the socio-political aspects of language in this particular country or region.
d) The essay may be ordered topically or chronologically, providing for discussion of:
     (1) key sociopolitical developments that define language structure and language use in that country;
     (2) key organizations and groups of speakers;
e) Please provide English equivalents for any foreign language terms used.

Sample essay forthcoming

Articles concerning TOPICS:
These entries consist of:

The Essay

Further Reading

a) As with other articles, begin your essay by clearly defining your topic for the nonspecialized reader and establishing how your topic fits into the broader context of linguistics--why it is important. Part of this will be to define carefully what your essay will cover.
b) Make clear at the beginning how you are approaching the topic--historically (and, presumably, chronologically), thematically, or in some other fashion. While not required, topical subheadings may prove helpful in organizing your article (and in the reader's use of it)!
c) Be sure to make ample use of examples to illustrate your points.

See sample essay Function Words


Again, if questions or concerns arise as you write your material, please get in touch with us:

Direct questions of content substance to the editor, Philipp Strazny, mailto:strazny@yahoo.com.

Direct all other questions (points of style, length, submission, format, deadlines) to the publisher's production editor, Sue Gamer, linguistics@taylorandfrancis.com.


Encyclopedia of Linguistics | Synopsis | Adviser List | Entries | Scope | Style Guide  
Sample Entries: Function Words , Swadesh, Morris , Switzerland , Serbo-Croatian and South Slavic Languages