On gatekeeping in general linguistics

An exercise. Take 1️⃣️this paper on ‘Language disintegration under conditions of formal thought disorder‘ and 2️⃣ this Henner and Robinson preprint on ‘Imagining a Crip Linguistics‘.

Now tell us in earnest that only one of these contains “theoretical implications that shed light on the nature of language and the language faculty”. (That was the phrasing a handling editor at Glossa used to desk-reject Henner’s submission.)

The point here is not to hate on a published paper (though to be honest I think that paper is flawed at the very least because of its unexamined deficit-based view of autism). The point is also not to argue that a preprint should be published as is. It is to argue that desk-rejecting that 2nd paper as “mainly about language use” is incorrect, far from theoretically neutral, and problematic for a journal of general linguistics.

As Emily Carrigan wrote on twitter,

The difference is that paper 1 takes a disability-as-deficit approach, which is currently the status quo in linguistics/psychology/education, whereas paper 2 asks us to consider an alternative interpretation, at which point people aligned with the status quo shut down.

Figuring out the myriad ways in which the second paper interrogates, uproots, and respecifies the theoretical premises of the first is left as an exercise to the reader.

Originally tweeted by @dingemansemark (@DingemanseMark) on July 9, 2021.

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