Which language do you research in? Which language do you publish in? There are ~7,000 known, living languages in use around the world but, increasingly, academic research is communicated primarily in English.
In a 2015 article in The Atlantic, science communicator Adam Huttner-Koros writes: “English is now so prevalent [in research] that in some non-English speaking countries, like Germany, France, and Spain, English-language academic papers outnumber publications in the country’s own language several times over. In the Netherlands, one of the more extreme examples, this ratio is an astonishing 40 to 1.” What, then, are the implications of having a lingua franca for research? Shouldn’t a lingua franca make it easier to learn from each other, to build on each other’s ideas if everyone is reading and writing in the same language? As Huttner-Kronos and Sean Perera point out, “communicating science in English promotes […] norms of describing and defining the natural world that are intrinsic to the English language, and ideologies that are conversant to its native speakers” (2016). Language is, in so many ways, world-shaping; language can define one’s experience through naming, metaphor, reflection, representation. Communicating all research in one single language means that language shapes the research, too. Language shapes what is possible to express, contextualize, or reveal. If research is primarily communicated in English, that research is bound by English-language contexts and worldviews. Furthermore, among the contexts influenced by language are publishing models and structures.
Such a hegemonic system promotes epistemic injustice through language dominance. Moreover, privileging the English language in scholarly communication marginalizes and disadvantages researchers who are not first language English speakers, or not English language speakers at all, both reinscribing a colonial framework for knowledge production and limiting diverse academic research development. Even more, even a multilingual setting where, for instance, English, French, and Spanish coexist still reifies imperial orderings of the world.
This call for papers for a special issue of the Journal of Electronic Publishing (JEP) asks: How do we integrate and practice the value of multilingualism into a more equitable and epistemically just scholarly communication and publishing system?
The co-editors of this special issue–Janneke Adema, Alyssa Arbuckle, and Élika Ortega–invite abstracts for papers of ~6,000-8,000 words that explore multilingual publishing and scholarship, including issues of:
· translation (text and / or multimedia)
· English-language dominance
· multilingual theory and praxis
· epistemic justice and knowledge equity
· digital monolingualism
· infrastructure, tools, and best practices
· access and minimal computing
· language-specific writing styles and epistemologies
· historical precedents and trajectories
· experimental knowledge production
· linguistic, national, and infrastructural contexts
· Non-imperial and indigenous language epistemologies
For this special issue, we are able to accept papers written in English, Spanish, and French. When submitting an abstract, please indicate if you are interested in pursuing a translation option and we can discuss possibilities further. Please also include a note that your abstract is for consideration in the Multilingual Publishing & Scholarship special issue. Abstract submissions are due on September 15th 2023 and should be addressed to JEP co-editors, Janneke Adema and Alyssa Arbuckle, via email@example.com.
Full papers of accepted abstracts will be due by December 31st 2023.
Please direct any questions to JEP co-editors, Janneke Adema and Alyssa Arbuckle, via firstname.lastname@example.org.