Celebrating 1000 books in 35 years of Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters

6 April 2017

With the recent publication of the 6th edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, we hit a real milestone and published our 1000th book since the company began. In this post, Tommi reflects on the last 35 years leading up to this point and discusses how the company and wider world of publishing has changed over time. 

Tommi and David Singleton at the MM drinks reception at AAAL

At the recent AAAL conference in Portland, OR, we celebrated the publication of our 1000th book, the 6th edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, co-authored by Colin Baker and Wayne E. Wright. Since I remember the publication of our very first book in 1982, Bilingualism: Basic Principles by Hugo Baetens-Beardsmore, this led me to reflect a little on what has changed at Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters (CVP/MM), in the world of academic publishing, and attitudes to bilingualism since then.

Marjukka and Mike at Frankfurt Book Fair

Many of you will know that CVP/MM is a family business, founded originally by my parents in response to being told by our family doctor not to speak Finnish to my brother and me, stating that “they didn’t know what damage they were doing”. Fortunately, being a formidable combination of a stubborn Finnish mother and an entrepreneurial Essex-man father, they not only refused to take such unwelcome advice, they took it as an opportunity to find and publish world-class research focusing on the many positive benefits of bilingualism. Although we now publish in a very wide range of topics – including applied linguistics and sociolinguistics, educational research, language disorders and translation studies under our Multilingual Matters imprint and, under our other imprint Channel View Publications, tourism studies – language rights and positive attitudes to bi- and multilingualism remain at the heart of what we do. We believe that no mother or father should ever be told not to speak the language of their heart to their children without extremely well-informed reasons for doing so.

Although in many cases attitudes towards bilingualism may have switched towards the more positive and even aspirational, this is often only the case if the languages you speak are privileged western languages, and in many cases only if you are of the majority population. It is fine and admirable to learn Spanish or Arabic if you are white, but society might be less positive about you retaining your Spanish or Arabic if you are an immigrant. There is still much work to do in changing attitudes towards languages where these languages are associated with immigration or are minority indigenous languages.

Some of my first memories include sitting under our dining room table, “helping” my parents stick the mailing labels onto envelopes that would carry our first catalogues out into the world. Among the many addresses we sent catalogues to, 252 Bloor Street West stuck in my mind. As a 6 year old child I struggled to understand how so many people lived in this one house! In the years since then I have come to know the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) well, and have got to know the very many authors and friends who are based there. We no longer pack and mail our catalogues ourselves, this is one of those tasks that computers and automation have simplified, but as the editor of my local orienteering club newsletter I have to pack and mail all the copies to our members, so I like to think that I have retained those valuable skills!

The office in Clevedon before everything was done on computers

In 1982 we were already using computers for journal subscription processing, but all correspondence with authors and editors was by mail. We used to do so much mailing back and forth that the local post office gave us our own postcode! All of our records were kept in large filing cabinets and a system of racks, T-cards and folders would track the process of book and journal manuscripts from initial proposal to published book. Sales reports from our distributor would be couriered once a month to us in a large box, and even as recently as the late 1990s we would wait with excitement to go through the monthly sales reports and see how well our books had been selling. These days everything we do is reliant on computers, the internet and data. We only have to log in to our distributors’ reporting sites to get the sales figures from the day before, and we can communicate easily even while travelling. This availability of data and immediacy of communication brings with it a new set of demands and challenges. There is a sense that we must respond to everything as quickly as possible and that we absolutely have to know how many books were sold in the last 24 hours. A lot of time is taken up by responding to queries that in the past would have waited for a single letter, and of course we put the same pressures on to other people.

In the early days of our company the only reliable way to purchase books was via the bookshop, or to put a cheque in the post with an order form from our catalogue. These days the rise of companies like Amazon, Books etc. and the Book Depository, as well as our own website, means that wherever you are you should be able to order a print copy of our books and have it posted to you quickly. If you choose to purchase an ebook, you can place an order now and have the full text, even in some cases with embedded video files and links to relevant websites and resources, delivered direct to your computer, tablet or reading device within seconds.

Libraries are able to buy one multi-user license of a digital book, which does not degrade with age and usage, and are able to share this with multiple users of the library, even off-site users of the library, at the same time. Shelf space is making way for more computer spaces and learning environments, and university campuses are changing accordingly. Of course the downside of this is that the number of copies required to service the same population has fallen, and so in general across the publishing industry we have seen the total number of sales of any one academic title fall quite dramatically in the past 10 years or so. Since the majority of overhead and fixed costs of publication have not fallen, this means that book prices have risen much faster than inflation in order to cover those costs.

While it is interesting to look at what has changed, it is also very instructive to consider what has stayed constant over all this time. Digital technology and distribution has meant that the barriers to entry into the publishing industry have fallen dramatically. In a world where anyone can write, typeset and publish a book relatively quickly, easily and inexpensively, the role of the publisher in providing a measure of review, revision and quality control is just as important as it was in 1982. It is arguably even more important now, given the recent attention to fake news stories and alternative facts. CVP/MM has always believed in reviewing manuscripts thoroughly and as transparently as possible, and while peer-review is not a flawless system, it is a vitally important step in ensuring that the books we publish can be trusted by students, researchers, parents and policy-makers.

Flo, Sarah, Anna, Tommi, Elinor and Laura

We continue to grow as a business, this year we will publish 60 titles across all of the various subject areas, where just 10 years ago we would schedule 30 titles. But we remain a small and friendly operation with approachable staff. We have fostered an atmosphere where we can thrive and grow within our jobs, and so our staff turnover is extremely low. It is highly likely that you will deal with the same people through the life of your book project, if not your whole career! You will have seen me at every AAAL for the past 19 years, but you may not be aware that Sarah and Anna will this year celebrate their 15th anniversary of working for Multilingual Matters, and Elinor and Laura are not that far behind. Our most recent full time colleague, Flo, already feels like part of the family, and our intern, Alice, reflects the values that we all share.

Although my father, Mike, is no longer around to see the progress we have made since he and my mother, Marjukka, retired, he would still recognise everything that we do and be proud of how we have continued to build on what they started 1000 books ago. We would not have been able to publish 1000 books if it wasn’t for the many authors, series editors, reviewers and readers who have contributed in so many different ways. There are too many to name here, but I hope you know just how important you are to us. It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I hope that you will continue to partner with us, to work with us and to hold us to account when we do occasionally get things wrong, so that as we go on to publish books together we can all grow and improve, and look back on the next 1000 books with just as much pride!

Tommi


Should children with language disorders still be brought up multilingually?

3 February 2016

In January we published Multilingual Perspectives on Child Language Disorders edited by Janet L. Patterson and Barbara L. Rodríguez which explores the issues surrounding multilingual children with various language disorders. In this post, the editors explain how the book will be useful for speech-language pathologists as well as researchers in the field.

Multilingual Perspectives on Child Language DisordersWhat good timing! Two questions addressed in our edited volume, Multilingual Perspectives on Child Language Disorders, appeared on an American Speech-Language and Hearing Association discussion board in the same week the book was published. The first was from a speech-language pathologist (SLP) seeking research to share with parents who have been told NOT to speak Spanish (the home language) to their children and “stick to English” in order reduce the language processing demands on their children. The SLP was concerned that this misguided advice was being given to families of children with Down syndrome by personnel in more than one school district. Four days later another SLP asked for research and advice on counseling the parents of a 2-year-old girl who may have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The parents had planned to raise their daughter bilingually (Dutch and English), but they wondered if they should speak only English to their daughter in view of her significant communication delays. These questions are specifically addressed in chapters on bilingualism and Down syndrome (by Mandy Kay Raining-Bird) and bilingualism and ASD (Stefka Marinova-Todd and Pat Mirenda).

We hope our book will prove to be a useful resource for SLPs and for researchers interested in cross-linguistic work in child language disorders. The chapter authors conduct research and provide services across the globe. The book includes chapters on language disorders among bilingual and multilingual children with specific language impairment, as well as a variety of developmental disabilities, and monolingual children who speak languages other than English.

Collaborating with the contributing authors has been a great experience. We have enjoyed learning about diverse topics including cross-linguistic research on Williams syndrome (Vesna Stojanovik), the challenges multilingual children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) face and evidence-based intervention approaches (John Thorne and Truman Coggins), manifestations of specific language impairment, dyslexia and ASD in Cantonese-speaking children (Carol To), and a framework for providing early intervention services to multilingual families with a focus on North Indian-speaking families in London (Jane Stokes and Nita Madhani), as well as chapters on assessment considerations and tools developed for use with children who speak French (Elin Thordardottir), Turkish (Seyhun Topbaş and Ïlknur Maviş), and Spanish (Barbara Rodríguez).

We were struck by the common themes and patterns that emerged among authors who work with such different populations and typologically diverse languages. Many authors highlighted the need for assessment tools that focus on key structures for the language being tested and the need for assessment tools that are diagnostically accurate.  Although the specific structures vary across languages, several authors are conducting research to address the global need for language-appropriate assessments. In addition, assessments for some children need to include complex discourse demands (FASD) and detailed examination of specific skills, such as certain areas of pragmatics, morphology, and use of intonation patterns (Williams syndrome). In the area of treatment, several authors highlighted the importance of adapting intervention to include culturally congruent practices. The value of cross-linguistic research for understanding the nature of language disorders associated with specific syndromes also was highlighted in several chapters. Although the chapters in Multilingual Perspectives on Child Language Disorders do not cover every language and every situation, we are confident the book provides researchers and clinicians with a broad-based perspective on child language disorders that supports evidence-based practice and stimulates further research.

CDAL covers 2For further information on the book please see our website. You might also be interested in other titles in our Communication Disorders Across Languages series such as Assessing Multilingual Children and Multilingual Aspects of Speech Sound Disorders in Children.


Communication Disorders Across Languages

22 May 2013

As we’re just about to publish the 10th book in the Communication Disorders Across Languages series, Deirdre Martin’s Researching Dyslexia in Multilingual Settings, we asked the series editors Martin Ball and Nicole Müller to tell us a bit about how the series started and how it’s developed.

Our series was founded due to a coincidence. The coincidence was that we were at the same conference as Mike and Marjukka Grover ten years ago: the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism, at Arizona State University, Tempe, in 2003. We had both been involved with work in multilingualism but were earning our livings as clinical linguists and, in discussions with Mike and Marjukka, we came to realize that the intersection between these two fields really needed more attention; indeed, it needed a book series! As it’s now ten years since those initial discussions, and we are about to publish the tenth book in the series, now would seem to be a good time for a retrospective.

Communication Disorders in Spanish SpeakersFrom the outset we envisioned two main themes for the series that would result in books with two different approaches. One theme would involve studies of particular geographical areas and/or languages and explore what speech and language pathology resources and research were available for the multilingual population of that area or speakers of that language. As an example, our very first volume was devoted to Spanish speakers (both in Europe and the New World): Communication Disorders in Spanish Speakers: Theoretical, Research and Clinical Aspects edited by José G. Centeno, Raquel T. Anderson and Loraine K. Obler in 2007. This book was timely, as the increasing number of Spanish speakers, or bilingual Spanish-English speakers in the US has highlighted the paucity of speech language therapy services through the medium of Spanish. The book aims to contribute to evidence-based clinical procedures for monolingual Spanish and bilingual Spanish-English children and adults with communication disorders, and was one of the first to appear in this area.

Multilingual Aspects of Fluency DisordersOther books in the series that followed this path are Research in Logopedics: Speech and Language Therapy in Finland, edited by Anu Klippi and Kaisa Launonen in 2008; Language Disorders in Speakers of Chinese, edited by Sam-Po Law, Brendan Weekes and Anita M.-Y. Wong also in 2008; and Communication Disorders in Turkish, edited by Seyhun Topbaş and Mehmet Yavaş, published in 2010. There are still potentially fascinating areas to explore in this part of the series, and we hope one day to commission volumes dealing with, for example, South Africa, India, and Russia.

Multilingual Aspects of Speech Sound Disorders in ChildrenThe second theme takes a specific area within the field of communication disorders and examines multilingual and crosslinguistic aspects of that area. In the beginning we envisioned a dozen or so such areas from developmental speech and language disorders through to acquired neurogenic impairments. So far, six books have appeared following this theme. The first was Multilingual Aspects of Fluency Disorders, edited by Peter Howell & John Van Borsel, 2011: the first volume to examine stuttering and related fluency impairments from a multilingual viewpoint. This collection has been followed by books on children’s speech disorders, aphasia, voice disorders, and – most recently – literacy. Sharynne McLeod and Brian Goldstein edited Multilingual Aspects of Speech Sound Disorders in Children which appeared in 2012; later in 2012 was published Aspects of Multilingual Aphasia, edited by Martin Gitterman, Mira Goral and Loraine Obler. This was followed in early 2013 by International Perspectives on Voice Disorders, with Edwin Yiu as editor. Our most recent volume is Researching Dyslexia in Multilingual Settings, edited by Deirdre Martin. Volumes on Sign Language, child language disorders, and motor speech disorders are also in preparation, with still other areas at the planning stage (e.g. traumatic brain injury, and specific language impairment).

Interestingly, as the series has developed, a third theme has emerged: assessment and multilingualism. This theme covers both the provision of assessment materials in a range of languages (many of which have had little in the way of communicative disorders assessment provision in the past), and the assessment of multilingual clients. The first book in this theme was Assessing Grammar: The Languages of LARSP, edited by Martin Ball, David Crystal and Paul Fletcher, which extended the LARSP grammatical analysis profile to 12 languages other than English. Future volumes are planned that will cover up to another 40 languages. Another collection within this theme is in an advanced state of preparation; its working title is Methods for Assessing Multilingual Children: Disentangling Bilingualism from Language Impairment, and is being edited by Sharon Armon-Lotem, Jan de Jong and Natalia Meir. We hope to encourage further submissions within this theme.

What of the future? As noted, we have already commissioned further books for the series, and several of these are near completion so we hope that the series will continue to grow and provide essential resources for researchers and practitioners.

Martin J. Ball and Nicole Müller
Series editors, Communication Disorders Across Languages


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