Practical language development: Whose mission?
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The purpose of this paper is to acknowledge and explore the relationship between academic and mission linguistics, focusing on their main areas of overlap, language documentation and fieldwork. Our orientation is forward-looking: to consider the implications of this relationship for the future of basic linguistic research. The simple proposition we take as our starting point is one that some linguists are unaware of, while still others take it for granted: that there are institutionalized dependencies between academic linguistics on the one hand, and Christian missionary organizations and their products on the other. Linguistics is unique among academic disciplines in this being so. The topic is a sensitive one that some might rather avoid in the interest of maintaining a mutually comfortable status quo. But for a number of reasons that we will try to make clear, the time is ripe for the community of academic linguists to reconsider its own role in sustaining this status quo.