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Traditional publishers tend not to publish very short books. The reasons are economic. With open-access, the problem does not arise. One benefit of the short format is that the book is accessible and quickly readable. Another is that authors will find writing such a book attractive because it is manageable, given the usual time constraints, especially for more senior authors.

To picture the sort of book we want for this series, think of a longish journal article in which a clear theoretical point is expounded in a sustained way, based on good examples and arguments, with significance for how linguists think and work. Then imagine that the author could further flesh out and expand the argument, at a length that a journal would seldom allow, yet keeping within a well-restricted page range (less than 100 pages). Here are a few examples of articles that approximate the kinds of conceptual explorations we have in mind for this series:

  • Malinowski, 1923, “The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Languages”
  • Haas, 1944, “Men’s and Women’s Speech in Koasati”
  • Sapir, 1944, “Grading, a Study in Semantics”
  • Hockett, 1960, “The Origin of Speech”
  • Jakobson, 1965, “Quest for the Essence of Language”
  • Chomsky, 1970, “Remarks on Nominalization”
  • Hale, 1975, “Gaps in Grammar and Culture”
  • Sankoff & Brown, 1976, “The Origin of Syntax in Discourse”
  • Silverstein, 1976, “Hierarchy of Features and Ergativity”
  • Lehiste, 1977, “Isochrony Reconsidered”
  • Hopper & Thompson, 1980, “Transitivity in Grammar and Discourse”
  • Levelt, 1981, “The Speaker’s Linearization Problem”
  • Bowerman, 1982, “Reorganizational processes in lexical and syntactic development”
  • Levinson, 1988, “Putting Linguistics on a Proper Footing”
  • Wilkins, 1996, “Natural Tendencies of Semantic Change”
  • Kockelman, 2005, “The Semiotic Stance”
  • Bybee, 2006, “From Usage to Grammar: The Mind’s Response to Repetition”
  • Hanks, 2005, “Explorations in the Deictic Field”
  • Haspelmath, 2010, “Comparative Concepts and Cross-Linguistic Categories”

Where applicable, we would encourage authors to use this series as an opportunity to expand on an idea that has been put forward in a shorter published article; or to bring together pieces of a larger argument that may have previously appeared in different venues (though of course with significant update and revision, as appropriate).

Here are a few examples of published books along the lines we have in mind (though some are significantly longer than we are proposing):

  • Schleicher, 1869, Darwinism tested by the science of language (88p.)
  • Müller, 1895, Three lectures on the science of language (111p.)
  • Bolinger, 1961, Generality, gradience, and the all-or-none (46p.)
  • Austin, 1962, How to Do Things with Words (166p.)
  • Searle, 1969, Speech Acts (202p.)
  • Jakobson, 1978, Six Lectures on Sound and Meaning (116p.)
  • Chomsky, 1982, Some Concepts and Consequences of the Theory of GB (110p.)
  • Wierzbicka, 1985, Semantics, Culture and Cognition (300p.)
  • Le Page & Tabouret-Keller, 1985, Acts of Identity (275p.)
  • Myers Scotton, 1995, Social Motivations for Codeswitching (177p.)
  • Goldberg, 1995, Constructions: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure (265p.)
  • Dixon, 1997, Rise and Fall of Languages (169p.)
  • Newmeyer, 2005, Possible and Probable Languages (p278.)

Books published by Language Science Press are freely accessible to all readers and indexed by major academic search services. On demand printing services for academic and personal libraries are also available.

About the editors

Mark Dingemanse ( is a research staff member in the Language & Cognition Department at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in The Netherlands. His research combines in-depth fieldwork in Ghana with collaborative work on a range of topics, from semantics and social interaction to sound-symbolism and synaesthesia. He was awarded the AVT/Anéla Prize for the best dissertation in linguistics, the Otto Hahn Medal for outstanding scientific achievements, and a competitive early career Veni grant from NWO. He has published on ideophones, iconicity, conversational structure and pragmatic typology.

N. J. Enfield ( is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. His research is based on extensive fieldwork in mainland Southeast Asia, especially Laos. His books include Ethnosyntax (OUP, 2002),  Linguistic Epidemiology (Routledge, 2003), Roots of Human Sociality (Berg Press, 2006; co-edited with Stephen Levinson), A Grammar of Lao (Mouton, 2007), Person Reference in Interaction (Cambridge, 2007; co-edited with Tanya Stivers), The Anatomy of Meaning (Cambridge, 2009), Relationship Thinking (OUP, 2013), The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology (CUP, 2014; co-edited with Paul Kockelman and Jack Sidnell), and The Utility of Meaning (OUP, 2015). He has published more than 100 articles and reviews.

Read more under submissions — or contact the editors for questions or pre-submission inquiries.