Linguistic hoarding: the making of LB 2015

Why is it that the Linguistic Bibliography for the year 2015 was published in 2016 and not in 2015?

The yearbook of the Linguistic Bibliography (LB) appears in the year after the date on the cover because we need extra time to collect as many bibliographical entries as we can. Sometimes we have to wait for information about publications to become available at publisher’s websites or university libraries. We also need to give contributing bibliographers, publishers and journal editors enough time to send us their data. Data collection usually ends in the summer, after which the production process starts. After proofreading, several correction rounds, creating the frontmatter and indexes, the yearbook is off to the printer!

How did you collect 20,486 bibliographical entries over the past year?

Bibliographical descriptions are collected with the indispensable help of around forty contributing bibliographers from around the world. The contributors and the editorial team based in Leiden locate the latest publications on linguistics, analyze and annotate them, and add them to the database.

The volume for 2015 is actually an extract from the database; some bibliographical entries do not appear in the book, but can be found in the online database (which means that we collected even more than 20,486 entries during the past year!). Entries that typically appear online only are publications older than five years, student-oriented textbooks and online resources.

Where do you find linguistic publications?

A number of publishers and journal editors send their latest books and journal issues on language and linguistics to the editorial office, to make sure that they are indexed in LB. This is extremely helpful! Fortunately, nowadays most publications are accessible online, but sometimes it is necessary to make trips to university libraries, and some contributors even travel abroad to get certain items.

What kind of publications are included in LB?

We index all publications on theoretical linguistics and we pay special attention to publications on lesser-studied languages. Especially thanks to the help of our contributors we are able to include data on publications that would otherwise be very hard to access. Publication types in LB include journal articles, monographs, edited books, individual articles/chapters from edited books, reviews, dissertations, and online resources (databases, corpora).

Which publications are rejected for indexation in LB?

The LB is a very specialized bibliography of theoretical linguistics, which means that the publications it contains are hand-picked, and that those falling outside of the bibliography’s scope are not recorded in LB. It often happens that journals are partially indexed, for example, we select only linguistic articles from the journal Science, and do not index this journal as a whole. The same goes for the more language-oriented journals: articles on literature, culture, or purely applied linguistics (pedagogy, translation studies) are not indexed. However, we tend to make exceptions for research on lesser-studied languages: if a language learning coursebook is one of the few resources available for a certain endangered language, we will make sure to record it.

Also, we do our best to collect only high quality, original research. While the appearance of more and more open access journals opens up many new opportunities for the linguistic research community, unfortunately we need to beware of predatory open access journals and “fake” publishers with unethical practices. Needless to say, these journals do not make the cut.

What if my publication has not been indexed?!

If you cannot find your publication in the yearbook or the online database, it does not necessarily mean that it was rejected for inclusion. Assuming that the book or article falls within the scope of LB, it is most likely that the omission was unintentional and due to lack of detailed information or time to find it before the print volume’s deadline. You can help us index your publications by sending the details to If you would like to provide us with bibliographical information about important publications in your field on a more regular basis, you may consider becoming a bibliographer. Your help would be very much appreciated!

What is next?

We are currently collecting publications from 2016 for the next LB yearbook! The volume won’t come out until after the summer of 2017, but new bibliographical entries are added to the online database monthly.

We look forward to recording your latest linguistic writings!

Eline van der Veken
Editor of Brill’s Linguistic Bibliography

Linguistic Bibliography for the year 2015 covers publications on language and linguistics from 2015 as well as recent publications from previous years that had not been indexed until now. The yearbook contains a total of 20,486 entries and features indexes of names, languages and subjects. All of the bibliographical references collected in the yearbook for 2015 are digitally available in Linguistic Bibliography Online.

Sapir-Whorf and science fiction

The recent film Arrival has become the talk of the town among linguists. The film features a linguist who has to learn the language of aliens who have landed on Earth, in order to be able to communicate about their purpose. So how do linguistics and science fiction films work together? It seems that despite the genre, this film took the correct representation of reality rather seriously, as linguist Jessica Coon was recruited to advise the filmmakers about the way in which a linguist works.

In the film, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (also called linguistic relativity) is an important plot point. This hypothesis, very simply put, states that the language one speaks affects the way in which one thinks. For example, speakers of a language with no separate word for green would have more difficulty distinguishing between what we call “green” and “blue”, simply because for them one word covers what we see as two colours. Now, this theory is controversial and there are more nuanced versions of it, but Arrival takes the theory rather literally. (The following contains plot spoilers, so be warned!)

Thanks to linguist Louise’s work we find out that the aliens did not come to Earth to destroy us with a “weapon” (as Louise’s original translation seemed to imply), but to give humans a “tool” or a “present”, and that present is their non-linear language. This is then taken to mean that once you learn the aliens’ language, you can think non-linearly as well, meaning that you can see into the future. This seems rather far-fetched, of course, but we are talking about a science fiction movie. At least the film introduced the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis to a broad audience, and demonstrated the importance of language/communication as a tool to avoid war.

If you would like to read more about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and related subjects, you can refer to the bibliography below. For even more publications on the topic, you can search the Linguistic Bibliography Online with the keyword “linguistic relativity”.

Anne Aarssen
Editor of Brill’s Linguistic Bibliography


Casasanto, Daniel J.: A shared mechanism of linguistic, cultural, and bodily relativity. – Language learning : a journal of research in language studies 66/3, 2016, 714-730

Deutscher, Guy: Through the language glass : why the world looks different in other languages. – New York, NY : Metropolitan books ; New York, NY : Holt, 2010

Enfield, Nick J.: Linguistic relativity from reference to agency. – Annual review of anthropology 44, 2015, 207-224

Pavlenko, Aneta: Whorf’s lost argument : multilingual awareness. – Language learning : a journal of research in language studies 66/3, 2016, 581-607

Skerrett, Delaney Michael: Can the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis save the planet? : lessons from cross-cultural psychology for critical language policy. – Current issues in language planning 11/4, 2010, 331-340