Language advocates on the Hill at the 2014 JNCL-NCLIS meeting

From promoting scientific research funding to supporting multilingual education, the LSA is active in a broad range of policy issues affecting language and linguistics. Our work is focused in four main areas:

Linguistics Research and Public Policy

LSA Advocacy and Legislation


External LSA Partners

LSA staff and leaders work with external organizations and internal groups to inform policymakers and opinion leaders about the important role of linguistics in benefiting the broader public. Members with an interest in policy issues are encouraged to stay informed and take part in the LSA's work.

Action Alerts:

Linguistics and NEH Funding

Native American Language Revitalization Legislation *URGENT UPDATE*

Trump Administration Budget Proposals: Implications for Linguistics and Language

The Trump Administration’s proposed budget for 2019 had called for cuts to the social sciences directorate of the NSF and the elimination of the NEH. These cuts did not end up being enacted, however, and the NSF received a modest increase in funding. The 2020 budget proposal also calls for the complete elimination of NEH. Read more about how you can take action to prevent this from happening, via the LSA's affiliation with the National Humanities Alliance.

The 2020 Census Citizenship Question

The Trump Administration has proposed adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, which has the potential to greatly reduce response rates among underrepresented minorities. The question was being challenged in court by various state attorneys general and referred to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final determination, which was issued in June 2019. 

The Supreme Court held on June 27 that asking the question required a better justification. July 2, the government announced that it began printing of the Census forms that did not include the question. Despite this seeming to be the end of the issue, federal officials stated that they were continuing to pursue the addition of the question. 

NEH for All initiative

This column offers an overview of the initiative. Begun in 2017 in the wake of the Trump administrations efforts to defund the NEH, this initiative has charted new approaches to documenting the impact of the NEH in ways that are compelling to policymakers and other stakeholders.

Archived Policy Alerts and Advocacy Initiatives:

Linguistic and Science Funding:

​The LSA is pleased to report that the recently concluded federal budget approval process for FY18 included a modest increase for both major funders of linguistics research: the NSF and the NEH. The latter agency had been targeted for complete elimination by the Trump Administration. In other positive news, the NIH’s efforts to reclassify most social science research involving human interventions as “clinical trials” was postponed as part of the budget process.

Native American Language Revitalization (Background on laws enacted and bills introduced in prior Congressional sessions)

March For Science 2017:

Issue Brief on Linguistics, Foreign Policy & National Security [pdf]

Linguistics Research and Public Policy:

Linguistics research has important implications for policies relating to K-12 education, national security, technology, health care, the judicial system, and many other critical aspects of everyday life. Linguists have worked closely with officials in state and federal agencies to help shape and inform their policies governing a wide range of issues. Read more about the intersection of these topics in our Policy Issue Brief (pdf).

The intersection between language and public policy is explored in a new section of the LSA's scholarly journal, Language. This section on Language and Public Policy welcomes submissions from LSA members whose research is focused on these intersecting issues.

Advocacy and Legislation:

In recent years, the LSA has assumed a leadership role in the efforts of allied organizations to promote language documentation and revitalization work among tribal communities in North America, while also encouraging policymakers to support this work through related initiatives. The LSA frequently joins with other members of the scientific, humanistic and higher education communities in efforts to support and maintain federal funding for linguistics research, particularly via the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the U.S. Department of Education. The LSA works to highlight the benefits of linguistics research and to share the need for policies that are informed by the latest studies in the field. More detailed information about the LSA's advocacy efforts on behalf of the humanities is available here. We are also active in opposition to efforts to establish English as the official, or only language, of the USA (see also Arizona Teachers' English Fluency Initiative). 

In January 2016, the LSA organized its first-ever Advocacy Day in conjunction with its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. Attendees conducted Congressional office visits on the day before or after the conference was held. We encourage linguists to meet with elected officials in their home districts as well to share information about the value of linguistics research to their community and the nation.

On Earth Day, April 22nd, 2017, the LSA engaged in a formal partnership with the organizers of the March for Science, in Washington D.C. See photos from the event on the LSA Facebook Page.

Over the years, the LSA has issued a series of statements, resolutions and endorsements on a range of policy issues relating to language and linguistics, as well as called attention to several human rights issues.

LSA Committees Active on Policy Issues:

The LSA invites interested members to join one of these committees and/or get more involved individually on linguistic policy issues.

LSA External Partners on Policy Issues:

The LSA partners with a diverse array of colleague organizations and coalitions to advance its policy agenda. For some organizations, the LSA has appointed official delegates and liaisons to enhance further collaboration. The organizations most active on policy issues affecting linguists include:

Many of these organizations offer free electronic resources, newsletters, and action alerts on issues of interest to linguists, which LSA members may subscribe to directly by contacting these organizations. 

Media Resources

Of particular interest may be CNSF's webinar (July 26th, 2018) entitled “Communicating the Value of NSF to Elected Officials”. The webinar focused on why continuing dialogue in the district is essential for communicating the value of science and offered advice about a range of ways for scientists and engineers to engage with elected officials while they are home in their districts. The accompanying presentation slides are available in PDF format.

CNSF Webinar: Communicating The Value of NSF to Elected Officials

Additionally, Executive Director Alyson Reed and Professor Emeritus of University of California, Santa Cruz, Bill Laudsaw, organized a workshop: "Linguistics in the Public Sphere: An Advocacy Workshop" at the 2017 Linguistics Summer Institute. They discussed the intersection between linguistics and public policy noting at least three corners of the intersection: 1) government funding for linguistics research; 2) public policies that are informed by (or should be) the findings of linguistics research; 3) public policies that affect the context in which linguistics operates as a discipline.

LSA 2017 - Alyson Reed and Bill Ladusaw - Symposium - July 26


Another potentially helpful LSA resource is "Linguistics in the Public Sphere: an Advocacy Webinar" which was held with the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). The webinar focused on strategies for linguistics advocacy to influence public policy.

Linguistics in the Public Sphere An Advocacy Webinar