Who speaks for us? Lessons from the Pinker letter
Itamar Kastner, Hadas Kotek, Anonymous Anonymous, Rikker Dockum, Michael Dow, Maria Esipova, Caitlin Green, Todd Snider
January 2021

Since its publication in July 2020, the Open Letter to the LSA regarding Steven Pinker has evoked many passionate reactions. This commentary discusses the letter’s reception within the field of linguistics and outside of it, in news outlets as well as on social media, from the viewpoint of junior scholars who are largely neutral or sympathetic towards the original letter and are greatly troubled by its aftermath. We document a thorough timeline of events, and go on to show a one-sided coverage of the letter in the media, including demonstrable falsehoods concerning the letter, its signatories, and the LSA itself. We then show how, within linguistics, reaction from senior colleagues has focused on general calls for good-will, without addressing the sources of disagreement. Our conclusion is that the field has failed to hear and represent the views of many members, and so we trace the reasons for this non-engagement.
[This is a revised and significantly shortened version of the previous manuscript, which was accompanied by a FAQ at https://who-speaks-faq.carrd.co.]
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005381
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted
keywords: discipline of linguistics, power structures, linguistics in the media
previous versions: v1 [August 2020]
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