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LSPNG Constitution & Rules

Language & Linguistics in Melanesia (LLM): Journal History

44 years ago, in October 1967, the Linguistic Society of the University of Papua New Guinea founded Kivung ‘to promote the study of linguistics and to provide its members a forum for discussion.’

Kivung became the Journal of the Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea (LSPNG) in 1968, according to the Editorial comment inKivung Vol. 9 (1), 1976:

Kivung was founded in 1968 as the Journal of the Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea. It is concerned with all branches of linguistics, although preference will be given to contributions of general theoretical interest, to articles dealing with the languages of Papua New Guinea, and to the application of linguistic research to the teaching of language.

To see scans of selected past editorials (including the very first issue of Kivung), please click HERE

Kivung, renamed Language & Linguistics in Melanesia in 1981-1982, rallied and inspired linguistic thought in Papua New Guinea and beyond for thirty years, until the end of 1997.

The Kaleidoscope of LLM Past

This section brings to you the memories of Kivung/ LLM pioneers - past Editors and Editorial Board members. These glimpses of past endeavors, struggles and achievements help us today ‘carry the torch,’ continuing the efforts of those people who made our journal what it became over the years – a major international journal of linguistics in Melanesia.

John Lynch, Editor of Kivung, 1974–78

I took over as Editor of Kivung from Andras Balint, presumably when he left UPNG (which must have been 1973). I began with vol. 7, no. 1, in 1974, and remained as editor until vol. 11, no. 2, in 1978.

Kivung—which during my time as editor had not as yet changed its name to Language and Linguistics in Melanesia—had come out in three issues per year, up until the end of volume 7. After that, a decision was made to produce only two issues per year, though to aim for at least the same number of pages per year, if not more. The rationale here was to save on time and printing costs: articles, etc., were typed at UPNG, but then sent to SIL in Ukarumpa for the actual printing and distribution. Trying to deal with three separate issues, while teaching, administering, and conducting research proved somewhat onerous. Two, somewhat larger, issues per year meant less rush, and still meant that subscribers got the same or more value for their subscription.

I mentioned above that articles “were typed at UPNG”. By “typed” I mean exactly that: I think originally on manual typewriters, though I have a vague memory somewhere along the line that the Language Department acquired a fancy electric typewriter which used an interesting font. These were definitely not the days of computers, PDF files, and email: cut-and-paste, for example, meant literally that—scissors and glue. Florence Wala, the departmental secretary, did most of the typing, though of course any small error meant an erasure and a retyping, and any more serious error meant retyping a whole page or, in extreme cases where pagination went awry, retyping a number of pages.

There was a sort of Editorial Board: as I recall, my original set of Associate Editors were Adrienne Lang from the Language Department of UPNG, Keith Johnson from the Education Department (also UPNG), and Ken McElhanon from SIL. Obviously, home-grown contributions were the most numerous, coming mainly from UPNG and SIL; but I note browsing through a couple of volumes we also received articles from the Australian National University, the University of New England, and the University of Kansas, among other places; so the journal was at least acquiring something of an international flavor.

There was one unusual year: in 1977, we produced a combined vol. 10 (nos. 1 and 2 as a single issue), which consisted only of a set of Tolai texts by Ulrike Mosel. Thirty-four years later, I can't recall the circumstances behind this departure from the norm: whether it was because we had insufficient articles to fill two issues, or whether for some other reason, it is now lost in the mists of time.

Apart from that issue, the papers published during my tenure covered a range of topics: descriptive studies of Papuan languages, historical studies of Austronesian languages, and English language teaching were probably the dominant ones, though there were others.

I finished my tenure as editor at the end of 1978, though I was Reviews Editor of what had now become LLM from 1982 to 1986, and Associate Editor from 1986 onwards.

John Lynch                                                                                                                                             October 2011

Download John Lynch's memories HERE

John M. Clifton: Reflections 

My involvement with Language and Linguistics in Melanesia began in 1983 when I became secretary of the Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea, a position I held until 1989. Later, I took over as editor of the journal in 1992 when Karl Franklin left PNG. I served as editor until I left PNG in 1995.

As secretary of the LSPNG, it was my job to collect membership dues for the society. That was challenging enough as it was, since the society only had a PNG kina bank account. In numerous situations, the bank fees associated with various currencies were almost equal to the actual membership fees of PNG K7.50. Of course, society membership included a copy of LLM. That was not a problem in 1983, as I was able to send volume 14 of LLM to the members. Beginning in 1984, I had the unenviable task of asking for membership fees without having a journal to send to the members.

Of course, similar situations had arisen in the past: Issues 1 and 2 of volume 12 of Kivung served as the journals for 1979 and 1980, respectively. And volume 13 was for 1981-82. So a temporary lapse in publication was not a cause for concern. But the lapse continued into 1984, then 1985 and finally into 1986. We had some serious discussions as an executive committee as to whether we should simply abandon the journal. The major problem was that we had no one to take up the mantle of editor. That changed when John Verhaar agreed to take on the responsibility of getting the journal back on schedule in two years. John was the editor of Foundations of Language (now Studies in Language), and had recently finished a stint as editor of Nusa: Linguistic Studies in Indonesian and Languages in Indonesia. As such, he brought enormous expertise to LLM. He managed to get volumes 15 and 16 out in 1987, and volume 17 out in 1988. Karl Franklin took over as editor of LLM, and published volumes 18 and 19 in 1988 – between John and Karl we published three volumes in a single year. While that kept me busy sending out back issues, it was a good busyness!

By 1983, all the manuscripts were prepared by computer rather than typewriters. Some time during John Verhaar’s tenure as editor, I got involved in copy editing and layout. Although John Verhaar was on the faculty at the Divine Word Institute in Madang, the journal was still being printed at the SIL centre in Ukarumpa. I’m not sure exactly when I began, but I know that I worked on volume 17 since I recognize the phonetic fonts I designed for use in the article by Rick Speece that formed the greater part of that volume – this was in the days before Unicode! John would do the content editing in Madang, and then send the manuscripts to me for processing. I also oversaw the actual printing at Ukarumpa.

One of the problems faced by regionally-oriented journals like LLM is a shortage of submitted papers. It falls to the editor to actively seek out papers. And one of the largest repositories of papers dealing with the languages of PNG is at the SIL centre. So John would regularly come to Ukarumpa to look through the files for papers which could be brought up to the necessary standards with a minimum amount of work on the part of the editor. These visits were also valuable for those of us involved in writing, as John would give informal seminars on editing. Many of the rules of thumb I still use (for example, the first person singular is fine in technical writing) are rooted in those seminars. John was also open to publishing longer articles. It was not at all uncommon to include papers that were 40-50 pages in length; Rick Speece’s MA thesis took up 139 pages in volume 17.

While I was handling the copy editing and layout, I read Pullum’s column on the ‘perfect journal’ (Pullum 1984). We started to slowly incorporate his suggestions. Starting with volume 18, all articles begin on odd pages; starting with volume 19 the journal name and article titles appeared in headers and bibliographic information was included at the bottom of the first page of each article. In volume 22, the author’s name was added to the running header.

Karl Franklin kept LLM on schedule, getting out volumes 20-22 for 1989-1991. (A piece of trivia regarding volume 22: The spine is printed bottom-to-top instead of top-to-bottom like all the other volumes.) When he got ready to leave PNG, I took over as editor. It was time to put into action the lessons I had learned from John and Karl! I served as editor for four years, from 1992 to 1996, when I left PNG.

I continued making changes based on observations made by Pullum (1984). In volume 23, the author’s contact information, and the dates the paper was originally received and revised (if relevant) were added at the end of each article. Another, more visible, change was that the journal reverted to a two-issues-per-year schedule. This had been the plan from the beginning as indicated by the fact that all volumes of LLM had been identified as numbers 1-2. The publication of two issues per year opened the possibility of thematic issues. It was my intention to publish one thematic issue per year. Issue 2 of volume 23 (1992) was devoted to papers from the Symposium on the Papuan Tip Cluster from the Sixth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (6ICAL). The following year, papers from the Third International Conference on Papuan Linguistics filled both issues. Those were the last of the thematic issues. Some ideas prove more difficult to keep going over the long term than others!

I resurrected a sporadic Editor’s Page in volume 23(1). Balant had included an Editor’s Page in two issues back in volume 2 of Kivung, but I believe the practice had been dropped after that. In that first column, I called for 3-4 page squibs, notes and discussion. This was one other suggestion taken from Pullum (1984). Again, a few short contributions along this line had been included in early volumes of Kivung, but the practice had been dropped for some reason. We included a number of these shorter contributions in volumes 23 and 25.

One of the strengths of LLM has always been the fact that it accepts data-rich papers. Looking back over my sporadic Editor’s Page columns, I am struck by how many of those researchers working in PNG over the years have anticipated the current interest in basic language documentation. While we were not able to include sound files in a printed journal, we were able to include extensive appendices for data including word lists, annotated texts, and dialect maps. My hope is that this rich legacy will continue in LLM’s reincarnation as an online journal.


Pullum, Geoffrey K. 1984. “Stalking the perfect journal.” Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 2: 261-267.

Download JMC Reflections HERE

Editorial Board (History)

To see the history of past Kivung/ LLM Editorial Board memberships, please click HERE

Author Index to Kivung: This index includes all material published in Kivung (from 1967 onwards) and in the special publication Tok Pisin I Go We? (1975).

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