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A S S O C I AT I O N B U S I N E S S May 2010 • Anthropology News

Engaging a Plurilingual Scientific Community


Multiple Languages for International Academic Publications

Rainer Enrique Hamel even more so, the production and diffusion of Others proposed evaluating non-English
U Autónoma Metropolitana research generated outside of English. Those papers in their original languages and trans-
of us who publish occasionally in English but lating accepted papers into English. Although
Most anthropologists in the Anglophone realm primarily in other languages have to struggle logistical concerns remain, such a procedure
probably do not spend too much time reflecting with barriers far beyond sheer linguistic compe- could offer more publication opportunities for
on the role of English as their only linguistic tence in order to have an article accepted in an non-English scholars and ensure that original
tool of scientific endeavour. They read the “English only” journal. We are forced to formu- discourse styles and research paradigms rooted
abundant academic literature in their field, late or rewrite our work according to Anglo- in different cultural models be preserved.
discuss their research and ideas, and teach Saxon discourse structures and cultural models No doubt more proposals and ideas will
and write their papers in English only. They of doing research, a process that may severely emerge through this ongoing discussion if inter-
may never question whether there should be hamper our own message in terms of the national academic bodies—including primarily
any relevant research or even theory outside cultural context and research traditions within English-language bodies from the US, UK and
the English-speaking world. Unfortunately, this which we work. Canada—prioritize the creation of a plurilin-
gual and intercultural field of research and
COMMISSION ON WORLD ANTHROPOLOGIES academic communication.

attitude ignores to a large extent the existence A third argument relates to the danger of For a longer version of this article see the
of a wide academic world “outside.” But why the growing monolingualism of Anglo-Saxon CWA website, and for related articles see www.
should that be a problem worth discussing? academia and the professional class itself. hamel.com.mx. You can contact the author at
Over the twentieth century, international In the US, 65% of foreign language knowl- rehamel@gmail.com.
scientific communication has shifted from a edge stems from heritage languages and only
plurilingual model that included at least English, the rest from new acquisition. The US is the Please send news, items of interest and ideas for
French and German on fairly equal terms, to a only Organisation for Economic Co-operation future AN columns to CWA column editor Fran
clear pre-eminence of English. In international and Development (OECD) country with no Rothstein at rothsteinf@mail.montclair.edu.
periodical publications, more than 75% of the foreign language requirement in public educa-
articles in the social sciences and humanities tion, except for a few states. David Graddol,
and well over 90% in the natural sciences are one of Great Britain’s leading futurologists on
written in English. A central question from
a perspective of cultural and linguistic world
the language question, argues forcefully that
“English will not be enough” in the UK, the US
AnthroSource
A service of the American Anthropological Association
diversity is whether the actual hegemony of or elsewhere to survive in a future multilingual
English will lead to a total monopoly, at least world society.
on the international level, or whether changing How can we reverse this shift toward scien- As a central membership benefit, AAA members enjoy full
global conditions and language policies might tific monolingualism if we feel it moves in the access to AnthroSource, the premier online portal serving
move academia toward pluralingualism. wrong direction? Such an endeavour would the needs of educators, researchers, students and
A number of good reasons indicate that certainly have to challenge existing power rela- practitioners. AnthroSource contains over 100 years of
world academia would be well advised if it did tions in academia. At the recent AAA Annual anthropological research!
not allow scientific monolingualism to take Meeting in Philadelphia, the Commission on
To learn more about AnthroSource, visit
over and determine the future of research. A World Anthropologies convened a meeting
www.aaanet.org/publications/anthrosource
first argument is that reducing the production for editors of leading anthropology journals to
of models, topics and strategies of research to discuss the possibilities of opening up mono-
one language might lead to a dangerous impov- lingual journals to contributions from multiple
erishment of scientific creativity itself, as it languages. One suggestion was to publish some
obliterates its constitutive, historical base of articles in other languages, possibly with a
diversity in ways parallel to other ecological link to a translation on the journal’s website.
systems and fields. This becomes more evident
when we move beyond language structure to
the realm of discourse, language ideologies 17760_2.75x2.75.indd 1 4/7/10 2:54 PM
and cultural models. What might have been
the fate of such seminal work as developed by Coming Soon to an Inbox Near You
Foucault, Bourdieu or Habermas—three theo-
rists who are eminently universal, because their A Survey on AAA Publications
work is so deeply rooted in their national tradi-
tions—had they been forced to discuss, write Over the next few months, AAA will seek your input. AAA’s Committee for the Future of Print
and, ultimately, think in English right from the and Electronic Publishing (CFPEP) needs to develop a recommendation to the AAA Executive
beginning of their academic life span? What Board later this year about our publishing partnership with Wiley-Blackwell. To make the most
about the knowledge and theory represented informed recommendation possible, CFPEP will be asking members to complete an electronic
in Aztec, Mayan, Quechua, Hindi or Tamil survey this month about our journals and AnthroSource. It will also solicit written memoranda
languages and cultures? from section leadership, editors and other stakeholders before September, and it will draw on
Second, the imposition of English mono-
the results of a survey of current editors conducted in February of this year. Please help us all
lingualism in science would further deepen
existing inequalities, both in terms of access out by participating. 
to international scientific publication and,

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