Lingua Disinformation

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[This is a repost of an article on my personal blog. It continues the saga of the Lingua/Glossa Affair that Eric Bakovic and I wrote about here recently.]

Linguists today received a misleading email from Elsevier sent to everyone who has ever submitted to or reviewed for Lingua, the journal whose editorial board has decided to not work with Elsevier anymore and restart the journal as the open-access journal Glossa. Here is Elsevier’s email:

Dear Lingua Authors and Reviewers

As I am sure you are aware, as of the end of December 2015 the current Lingua Senior Editorial team will be standing down from their roles on the journal. Together this team and the Publisher would like to reassure you that while still in post they will continue their work for Lingua as they have always done during their tenure.

Further information regarding the handling of papers from January 2016 onwards will be sent in due course, but should you have any queries or concerns in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact us via the ‘Contact’ button on the journal homepage or via the following email address: .

My colleagues and I would also like to take this opportunity to reaffirm that we remain totally committed to the publication of Lingua as a quality journal serving the field of linguistics and look forward to supporting the journal and the linguistics community for many years to come.

Best Regards

Ann Corney, Publishing Director, Applied Social Sciences, Elsevier Ltd

There has been a lot of puzzlement over this message. Some comments below, but first a message from the interim editors of the successor journal Glossa, which I have been asked to help disseminate:

Dear colleagues,

Those among you who have been authors and/or reviewers for Lingua were sent a message today by Elsevier, and you might wonder about the journal, Glossa, to be set up by the very same editorial team which has contributed to the high reputation of Lingua in the past.

As of the end of December 2015, the current executive and associated editors of Lingua will stand down. The next day, they will be in charge of Glossa. Until that date, the undersigned will be in charge as interim editors of Glossa, (backed up by the entire former editorial board of Lingua which already resigned in October).

In that capacity, we would like to reassure you that Glossa will pick up where Lingua left off. We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that any author has the right to withdraw their submission from any journal as long as the copyright forms have not been signed.

We are currently working on the website (including an online submission system etc.) for Glossa, and will come back to you as soon as it is operational. In the meantime, you can send your questions to both of us.

All best wishes,
Waltraud Paul and Guido Vanden Wyngaerd, interim editors of Glossa &

Some comments:

  1. I would like to reiterate that despite the desperate rhetoric in the last sentence of Ms. Corney’s email, there is no way at all that whatever zombie journal Elsevier manages to keep running under the venerable name Lingua will have any moral right to be seen as the continuation of Lingua. Instead, Glossa is the rightful continuation.
  2. I also reiterate my call to the community not to work with Elsevier in propping up Zombie Lingua. Instead, get ready to support Glossa once it’s fully running in January.
  3. Lastly, authors with manuscripts currently under submission to Lingua should consider their options; please contact the interim editors of Glossa with any questions about that.

[In related news, the Open Library of Humanities announced today that in addition to Glossa, three other journals will flip from for-profit models to open access in 2016.]


  1. Rubrick said,

    November 27, 2015 @ 4:29 pm

    I really wanted to come up with a zippier pejorative name than "Zombie Lingua", but the best I could do was "Failingua", which is not a very good best (where does the stress go?).

  2. Stephen R. Anderson said,

    November 27, 2015 @ 5:17 pm

    People with influence on journals published by Elsevier and Springer (essentially just as bad) need to work to get more of them to follow the Lingua–>Glossa model. I tried hard to persuade the editors of Morphology to do this, but for reasons that came down in the end to inertia, they wouldn't, and I was the only one on that board to resign. Perhaps others will have more success with other journals. And perhaps the editors of Morphology will see the light one day.

  3. Jason said,

    November 28, 2015 @ 9:22 pm



  4. Andrew John said,

    November 28, 2015 @ 9:54 pm

    Or, building on Jason's idea, how about Malingua?

    (Although, on reflection, this may be backwards, given that Lingua is pretending to be healthy when it is fact not.)

  5. Jonathan said,

    November 29, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

    'Faux' is a pretty good dismissive prefix in English, and 'Fauxlingua' has a pretty obvious pronunciation. And as I think of 'faux' connoting "looks like X, maybe even is called X, but isn't really true to the spirit of X" it really applies here.

  6. mollymooly said,

    November 29, 2015 @ 4:53 pm

    So it's like the Cleveland Browns move except the movers are the good guys?

  7. Bruno Estigarribia said,

    November 29, 2015 @ 7:52 pm

    I fully support Glossa, but I fail to see where the disinformation is in Elsevier's email. There is no false information in that email. I think this kind of hyperbole does the open access movement a disservice.

    [ Bruno: It's disinformation through obfuscation and omission. Most of the editorial team has already stepped down, only two editors remain before the lights turn out. The email was sent under the subject "Important information regarding your submission to Lingua" even to loads of people who have no manuscript under submission to Lingua, thus designed to make people think it is about a submission to Lingua when in fact it is (if anything) merely about submission to Elsevier's will and greed. Understandably, but still underinformative, there's no mention of the fact the editors aren't simply retiring but taking their operation to an open access platform. Elsevier is portraying this as no big deal and are acting as if Zombie Lingua is the legitimate continuation of Original Lingua's venerable tradition.

    — Kai ]

  8. Rod Johnson said,

    November 30, 2015 @ 7:59 pm

    When did the original Glossa cease publication? (Or did it?)

  9. Rod Johnson said,

    November 30, 2015 @ 8:06 pm

    Oh wow, this is actually the third (at least) journal published under that name.

    The Canadian one.

    The Puerto Rican one

  10. Nathan Myers said,

    December 1, 2015 @ 5:18 am

    Does it strike anyone else as odd that people are still unnecessarily assigning copyright to journal publishers at this late date? Does Lingua still insist on it? Do others?

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