AAUP: We speak your language!

This post is part of the University Press Week blog tour, which is a part of the celebrations for University Press Week. UPWeek marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Association of American University Presses. Our post (written by myself, the GUP publicist & exhibits coordinator) was inspired by several publicity calls I had with Nina Ayoub of the Chronicle of Higher Education, where she remarked on just how many University Presses have materials in Less Commonly Taught Languages. The tour continues tomorrow at New York University Press. A complete blog tour schedule is also available here.

One of the major components of Georgetown University Press’s scholarly publishing program is producing materials for learning Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs). We have books for learning Chinese, Urdu, Uzbek, Pashto, Tajiki, Kazakh, Portuguese, Turkish, Japanese, and Arabic. Our Arabic program includes our very popular Al-Kitaab Arabic Language Program; textbooks and other materials for Moroccan, Iraqi, Levantine and Formal Spoken Arabic; and reference books on media Arabic, grammars, and dictionaries. Our Al-Kitaab series accounts for a large share of the US market for Near Eastern Languages, and is used in more than 400 schools and by approximately 100,000 students in the US alone; however, we are certainly not unique in the University Press (UP) world for publishing in LCTLs. In fact, many other UPs also create materials for learning less commonly taught languages from textbooks to dictionaries to guides to grammars. We’ve created as complete a list as possible of UPs publishing in this area and posted it below—it’s an impressive group; especially when you consider that the list is only for language acquisition materials. UPs also extensively publish literature in LCTLs and translations of important works originally published in a LCTL. As we celebrate UP Week with the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), I think it is worth discussing why UPs excel in this enclave of academia.

To start, you might wonder “what is an LCTL?” The National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL) defines these languages as any language other than English, German, French, and Spanish. The Less Commonly Taught Languages Project sponsored by The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition out of the University of Minnesota uses this definition as well. For the purposes of the list we’ve created, we use the same definition. So why do UPs and LCTLs go together like two peas in a pod?

First, for large commercial publishers, LCTLs present the undeniable disadvantage of being less commonly taught. This means that the potential market and print runs for such languages are relatively small compared to those for languages like French or Spanish. UPs, who are entrepreneurial as well as academic, are used to working with these smaller print runs and excel at creating a highly valuable project despite the smaller income prospects. Further, UPs are committed to publishing scholarship that is important even when it might not be a high revenue-generating product. Due to our commitment to fill the gaps of needed academic works, UPs are experienced at thinking creatively about how to produce books in cost-effective manners.

Second, because these languages are so specialized, many of these projects require the expertise of academics and partnerships with academic institutions and programs. Georgetown University Press, for example, has partnered with many groups to publish its language materials. For our Tajiki, Uzbek, Pashto, and forthcoming Uyghur volumes, we worked with Indiana University’s Center for Languages of the Central Asian Regions (CeLCAR). Our revised Arabic dialect dictionaries have been possible only due to our collaboration with the Linguistic Data Consortium (LDC) at Penn. And our Working Mandarin and Working Portuguese textbooks came out of our relationship with University of North Carolina’s Keenan-Flagler School of Business and their Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER). UPs are well suited to these partnerships as they already are part of the academic community and are used to collaborative projects.

Finally, many LCTLs do not yet have an infrastructure of academic or linguistic discourse or pedagogy as robust as that of more commonly taught languages. Therefore, the comfort and competence that UPs have with the pedagogical world is essential to shepherding these language products. We are able to connect scholars with each other, along with practitioners outside of academia, and with techies who can bring language learning to life digitally. While some might be fooled into thinking that UPs are stuck in a dusty and traditional world of scholarly book publishing, they would be quite wrong. UPs are forging ahead to create some materials that really are cutting-edge—digitally and pedagogically. Our Al-Kitaab Arabic Language Program has complementary websites, fully-interactive with self-correcting exercises for students, audio and video, and classroom management tools for teachers—and let us tell you, getting Arabic to work flawlessly wasn’t easy!

As the world becomes an ever more connected and interactive place across languages and cultures, UPs are helping us all understand each other a little bit better. And for us, that’s a very big reason why UPs matter.


List of UPs with LCTL acquisition materials (textbooks, guides, dictionaries, grammars:

University of Alabama Press

  • Sanskrit

University of Alaska Press

  • Alutiiq
  • Dena’ina
  • Gwitch’in
  • Inupiaq
  • Yupik

University of Alberta Press 

  • Cree (“Y,” “N,” and “L” dialects, syllabics)
  • Ukrainian

American University in Cairo Press

  • Arabic (MSA, Egyptian)

Amsterdam University Press

  • Creole
  • Dutch 

University of Arizona Press

  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Cantonese
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Kazakh
  • Korean
  • Kurmanji Kurdish
  • Tohono O’odham/Pima
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian

Baylor University Press

  • Greek
  • Hebrew

Brandeis University Press

  • Hebrew

University of British Columbia Press

  • Etruscan
  • Japanese
  • Lillooet
  • Middle Chinese
  • Musqueam
  • Navajo
  • Sarcee
  • Wawa
  • Witsuwit’en 

Cambridge University Press

  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Australian Sign Language
  • Bengalee
  • British Sign Language
  • Burman
  • Chinese
  • Hausa
  • Hebrew
  • Japanese 
  • Kham
  • Korean
  • Mahratta
  • Malay
  • Persian
  • Sanskrit
  • Somali
  • Sungskrit
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Yidin
  • Zulu

Catholic University of America Press

  • Greek
  • Latin

University of Chicago Press

  • Boumaa Fijian
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Sign Language

Chinese University Press

  • Chinese
  • Mandarin

Columbia University Press

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Mandarin

Dartmouth College Press

  • Greek

Fordham University Press

  • Greek
  • Italian

Gallaudet University Press

  • Sign Language

Georgetown University Press

  • Arabic (MSA, Egyptian, Levantine, Moroccan, Iraqi)
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Kazakh
  • Mandarin
  • Pashto
  • Tajiki
  • Turkish
  • Urdu
  • Uyghur
  • Uzbek

Harvard University Press

  • Chinese
  • Manchu
  • Sansrikt

University of Hawai’i Press

  • Ainu
  • Bellona
  • Bislama
  • Cham
  • Chamorro
  • Chinese
  • Chrau
  • Erromangan
  • Fijian
  • Hawaiian
  • Ilokano
  • Indonesian
  • Isneg
  • Ivatan
  • Jabêm
  • Japanese
  • Kapampangan
  • Kokota
  • Korean
  • Kove
  • Mah Mera
  • Malagasy
  • Manam
  • Marshallese
  • Mavea
  • Nguna
  • Nhanda
  • Palauan
  • Ponapean 
  • Rennell
  • Samoan
  • South Efate
  • Sre
  • Tagalog/Filipino
  • Tahitian
  • Tai
  • Thai
  • Tinrin
  • Titan
  • Tok Pisin
  • Vietnamese

Hong Kong University Press

  • Cantonese

Indiana University Press

  • Chinese
  • Yiddish
  • Icelandic
  • Middle English

McGill – Queen’s University Press

  • Creole
  • Inuit Languages
  • Urdu

University of Michigan Press

  • Arabic
  • Classical Greek
  • Latin
  • Modern Greek
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Sanskrit

Michigan State University Press

  • Anishinaubae (Chippewa/Ojibwe)

Minnesota Historical Society Press

  • Dakota
  • Ojibwe

University of Minnesota Press 

  • Ojibwe
  • Swedish

MIT Press

  • ASL
  • Basque
  • Turkish
  • Yawelmani

Modern Language Association

  • Gothic
  • Old French
  • Old Irish
  • Old Occitan

University of Nebraska Press

  • Caddo
  • Cherokee
  • Choctaw
  • Comanche
  • Creek/Muskogee
  • Crow
  • Dakota
  • Haida
  • Hidatsa
  • Kiowa
  • Koasati
  • Kotiria (Wanano)
  • Koyukon Athabaskan
  • Lakota
  • Miami-Illinois
  • Molalla
  • Natick
  • Omaha
  • Osage
  • Passamaquoddy-Maliseet
  • Ponca
  • Skiri Pawnee
  • West Greenlandic

University of Nevada Press

  • Basque

University of New Mexico Press

  • Jicarilla Apache
  • Navajo

New York University Press

  • Arabic
  • Sanskrit

University of North Carolina Press

  • Cherokee

Northern Illinois University Press

  • Burmese
  • Tagalog
  • Vietnamese

Ohio University Press

  • Indonesian
  • Javanese
  • Malaysian
  • Tagalog

University of Oklahoma Press

  • Cherokee
  • Chickasaw
  • Choctaw
  • Creek
  • Homeric Greek
  • Nahuatl

Princeton University Press

  • Chinese

Purdue University Press

  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Catalan

Society for Biblical Literature 

  • Aramaic
  • Coptic
  • Greek
  • Hebrew

University of South Carolina Press

  • Gullah dialect

Stanford University Press

  • Albanian
  • Nahuatl
  • Thai

Syracuse University Press

  • Old Irish

University of Texas Press

  • Arabic
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Comanche
  • Hebrew
  • Kaqchikel Maya
  • Mam Maya
  • Portuguese
  • Quechua
  • Yucatec Maya

University of Toronto Press

  • Anglo-Saxon
  • Blackfoot
  • Cayuga
  • Delaware
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Nishnaabemwin
  • Old Icelandic
  • Oneida
  • Onondaga
  • Tuscarora
  • Ukrainian

University of Utah Press

  • Bannock
  • Itzaj Maya
  • Lakota
  • Maya
  • Mopan Maya
  • Northern Paiute
  • Shoshoni
  • Sindarin

University of Washington Press

  • Chinese
  • Chinookan (and Chinuk)
  • Haida
  • Klallam
  • Sahaptin
  • Squamish
  • Tlingit
  • Umatilla
  • Uyghur
  • Vietnamese
  • Yup’ik

Wayne State University Press

  • Hebrew
  • Latin
  • Yiddish

University of Wisconsin Press

  • Albanian
  • Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian
  • Bulgarian
  • Japanese
  • Macedonian
  • Mennonite Low German
  • Norwegian
  • Tagalog/Filipino

Yale University Press

  • Arabic
  • Biblical Hebrew
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Chinese
  • Greek
  • Hausa
  • Hebrew
  • Igbo
  • Irish
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Kurdish
  • Latin
  • Persian
  • Polish
  • Russian
  • Yiddish
  • Yoruba