June 05, 2006

Not doubting that the door could not be opened wider

In response to my post quoting from Stephen Levinson's letter to Language, Steve of Language Hat emailed:

Thanks very much for putting up that exchange of letters for all to read; it was gutsy of Levinson to send such a letter, and I'm glad it was received so well. (I don't suppose there's any chance e-Language will be readable by all comers...)

The "request for proposals" on the LSA's web site doesn't address this issue one way or the other. I'd certainly argue in the strongest possible terms for Open Access.

The fun part of Hat's note comes next:

But what caught my attention was the following sentence, which (if it was not distorted in the transition to HTML) provides a piquant illustration of the problem of accumulated negatives that the Log has discussed in the past:

"But having been shown by colleagues quite a few excellent papers that have been rejected by Language, I have not the slightest doubt that the door could not be opened a lot wider while still maintaining the very highest quality."

That's exactly how it reads in the journal, and I agree, this seems like a case of overnegation to me. As far as I can tell, the sentence says the opposite of what Levinson meant to convey. (Of course, the problem may have been introduced in editing or typesetting...)

Posted by Mark Liberman at June 5, 2006 05:24 PM