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Folia Linguistica

Acta Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae

Editor-in-Chief: Fischer, Olga / Norde, Muriel

4 Issues per year

Folia Linguistica
IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 0.312
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.578

CiteScore 2017: 0.55

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.349
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 1.093

Folia Linguistica Historica
IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 0.294
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.263

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Folia Linguistica, fifty years old and going strong

Hubert Cuyckens
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  • Department of Linguistics, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Blijde-Inkomststraat 21, PO Box 3308 B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
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Published Online: 2017-07-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flin-2017-1000

This Jubilee Issue of Folia Linguistica celebrates the journal’s fiftieth anniversary. 1 On this occasion, De Gruyter Mouton is reprinting five of the journal’s most important articles, one per decade. Section 1 will sketch a short history of the journal and Section 2 will provide some more background about the articles and how they were selected.

1 Folia Linguistica throughout the years

The Constitution adopted at the 1966 inaugural meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (henceforth, the Society) at Kiel University stated the purpose of the society: “Its purpose shall be the advancement, in European countries and elsewhere, of the scientific study of language in all its aspects.” Article 5 of that Constitution dealt with “Publications”. Following the good example of the Linguistic Society of America, SLE produced a journal, Folia Linguistica: Acta Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae, which saw the publication of its first issue in 1967. 2 The journal was not published by the Society itself, but came under the wing of Mouton of The Hague. With its energetic publisher Peter de Ridder at the helm, Mouton was, at the time, an expanding publishing house in linguistics, which was already publishing the journal Linguistics as well as the book series Janua Linguarum.

The “Geleitwort” to the first issue stated the following:

Eine eigene Zeitschrift der europäischen Linguistik ist etwas sehr natürliches, solange diese Sprachwissenschaft (was sie sehr gern sollte) die zentrale bleibt, und falls die Zeitschrift zugleich allgemein bleiben und ihr eigenes Gepräge bilden und wahren kann. Hauptsache ist dabei, daß sie nicht einseitig sein sollte, daß sie sowohl dem Sprachbau als der Sprachgeschichte, vielleicht besonders der Ausnutzung strukturalistischer Ergebnisse durch das Studium der Entwicklung, dient. Kein Problem einer Einzelsprache, ja, auch nicht der kleinsten Mundart, sollte der Zeitschrift fernbleiben – vorausgesetzt, daß es von hoher Warte, im Lichte allgemeiner und historischer Prinzipien gesehen wird.

[It seems more than natural to publish a journal dedicated to European linguistics, provided that it is indeed linguistics that takes center stage, and as long as the journal can simultaneously serve a general linguistics audience and maintain its own profile. It is crucial that the journal should not be one-sided: it should be concerned with both synchrony and diachrony, and should probably take a special interest in structuralistically informed diachronic linguistics. Neither language-specific scholarship nor the study of vernacular dialects – however small they may be – ought to fall outside the remit of the journal, provided that the perspective is sufficiently theoretical, informed by general and historical principles.]

While the scope of the journal has now become largely synchronic (in 1980, Folia Linguistica Historica was founded as the Society’s journal for papers on diachronic linguistics; see below), its focus on theoretically informative papers serving a general linguistic audience has not changed; this includes an interest in language-specific scholarship as long as it has general linguistic relevance.

While the journal in its early years met with enthusiastic interest, as did the Society, the journal suffered several hiccups in its first period up to 1980. Ronald A. Crossland, the first editor of Folia Linguistica, resigned from his position already during the editorship of the first volume. The second volume appeared after a serious delay. There were no issues in 1972, and 1975 and 1977 saw the publication of two volumes in one year. In a report to the membership five years after the foundation of the Society, Werner Winter, the Secretary-Treasurer, expressed his concern about the delays, at the same time commending the many attractive sides of the journal: its world-wide distribution and the fact that the space available permitted “printing articles of far more than average length”. At the time, Mouton allowed the journal an extra sixty-four pages with every one hundred new members, a sure sign of the special relationship between the publisher and the Society and a way to reinforce the link between a healthy membership and a healthy journal. During this first period from volume 2 until volume 14, the journal remained under the editorship of Peter Hartmann, who had to delegate his tasks during the later volumes more and more to his university assistants.

Elected as Hartmann’s successor, Wolfgang U. Dressler edited volumes 15 (1981) up to 39 (2005) with his Viennese team. 3 Together, they guaranteed from volume 18 onwards a steady publication of issues 1–2 in spring, 3–4 in autumn of the respective year, occasionally replaced by a single double-sized volume for the whole year.

Innovations starting with volume 15 were frequent guest-edited special issues, with a wide and changing variety of topics and guest editors, review-articles, the section LIBRI consisting of publications received with ultrashort content descriptions, and many, but not all of the presidential addresses at the SLE meetings. During the whole period, articles were not only in English, but to a much lesser and varying degree also in French or German. All the manuscripts were peer-reviewed, at least by two experts, starting with volume 29 (1995), also helped by an advisory board.

Right from the beginning the secretary-treasurer of SLE, Werner Winter, and the Viennese team managed to negotiate a very favorable contract for the production of Folia Linguistica in Budapest. This allowed a low-cost publication and a method for colleagues living in the former Eastern Block to become members of the SLE by paying their fees in local currencies. The production of Folia Linguistica was moved with volume 28 (1994) from Budapest to Vienna up to issue 40, 1–2 (2006).

In 2005, at the SLE-meeting in Valencia, Teresa Fanego was appointed editor. The change of editorship from volume 40 onwards (2006) also signaled a new period for the journal. The journal not only got a facelift, with a new cover and layout, it also switched to English as its sole language of publication, with the approval of the SLE community (in spite of criticism from a number of scholars). 4 In the course of Teresa Fanego’s tenure, production was first handled at Santiago de Compostela, but was then contracted out to Peter Kahrel of Lancaster, a professional typesetter. The journal underwent a second facelift as the cover and typesetting were replaced by De Gruyter Mouton’s new house style.

The period under Teresa Fanego’s editorship has proven to be crucial for Folia Linguistica’s international recognition. Not only did the journal become more visible with its new layout, it also became much more attractive for a wider range of international scholars as a result of its English-only publication policy. The journal was included in the European Reference Index for the Humanities (the ERIH-List). It also received an impact factor in the Thomson Reuters’ Journal Citation Reports. While it was positioned in quartile 4 (Q4) in 2008, with an impact factor of 0.391, Folia Linguisitca soon moved up to Q2 in 2010, with an impact factor of 0.682. It then moved back to Q3, where it has been to date (with a one-year relapse into Q4 in 2015). Its 5-year impact factor towards the end of Teresa Fanego’s tenure stood at 0.597.

In 2013, Hubert Cuyckens took over the editorship of Folia Linguistica (the first issue as co-editor, “learning the ropes”, so to speak). Over the past few years, the journal has enjoyed a steady number of submissions of between forty-five and fifty-five. 5 It now publishes an average of 16 articles per year in two regular issues. In order to accommodate the many requests for special issues, it was decided that Folia Linguistica (Historica) would publish one additional special issue per year, in addition to its regular issues. Each year, a call for submissions for special issue proposals is launched in the fall, and the selection of the special issue is made on a competitive basis. 2017 will see the publication of the first “regular” Special Issue on “The Morphosyntax of Proper Names”, guest-edited by Barbara Schlücker, Tanja Ackermann and Barbara Schlücker. It is felt that special issues will increase the visibility of the journal, and it will also free up much needed space in the regular issues.

On its website https://www.degruyter.com/follin, the current scope of the journal is characterized as follows:

Folia Linguistica covers all non-historical areas in the traditional disciplines of general linguistics, and also sociological, discoursal, computational and psychological aspects of language and linguistic theory. Other areas of central concern are grammaticalization, language typology, language variation and language varieties.

As can be seen, Folia Linguistica invites papers from a wide range of linguistic domains (except diachronic linguistics, as this domain is served by Folia Linguistica Historica, and foreign language acquisition and language pedagogy). And while the journal publishes a good number of “broadly functional” papers, it should be emphasized that it is open to any theoretical framework.

2 The selected Jubilee articles

While looking through the Table of Contents of the fifty volumes, it is exciting to see how much interesting work has been produced over the years; at the same time, it saddens one to see that much good work has been forgotten. While theoretical frameworks may have changed over the years, several questions that were felt worthy of study a few decades ago are still very topical today. I can certainly recommend revisiting some of the older articles. Interestingly, the article that has been downloaded most often from De Gruyter Mouton’s Folia Linguistica website, Semantik der Metapher by Harald Weinrich, appeared in the very first volume. It also made it into this issue.

The selection of the articles for this Jubilee issue followed a two-step process. I first asked several colleagues to send me a shortlist of three articles that, for them, had made an impact in a particular 10-year period. Selected articles per ten-year period were then entered into Harzing’s Publish or Perish software (http://harzing.com/resources/publish-or-perish) to find out which article had registered the most citations. In principle, the article with the highest number of citations in a particular decade would be the one selected for that decade. However, If a particular article was selected by more than one colleague and received a high number of citations (not necessarily the highest number), that article would be the one selected.

The five articles for the Jubilee issue are the following:

  • Weinrich, Harald. 1967. Semantik der Metapher. Folia Linguistica 1(1/2). 3–17.

  • Romaine, Suzanne. 1984. On the problem of syntactic variation and pragmatic meaning in sociolinguistic theory. Folia Linguistica 18(1/2). 409–437.

  • Kiefer, Ferenc. On defining modality. Folia Linguistica 21(1). 67–94.

  • Pustejovsky, James. 1998. The semantics of lexical underspecification. Folia Linguistica 32 (3/4). 323–347.

  • Haspelmath, Martin. 2011. The indeterminacy of word segmentation and the nature of morphology and syntax. Folia Linguistica 45(1). 31–80.

While this selection will, to some degree, always remain arbitrary, it does present a wide range of topics, and in that sense reflects Folia Linguistica’s aims and scope.

Following Johan van der Auwera’s (2013) good example in the Introduction to the Jubilee issue of Linguistics, I have also added a list of colleagues’ favorites.

  • Daneš, František. 1970. Zur linguistischen Analyse der Textstruktur. Folia Linguistica 4(1/2). 72–78.

  • Sasse, H. H. 1978. Subject und Ergativ: Zur pragmatischen Grundlage primärer grammatischer Relationen. Folia Linguistica 12(3/4). 219–252.

  • Berman, Ruth A. 1987. Productivity in the lexicon: New-word formation in Modern Hebrew. Folia Linguistica 21(2/4). 425–461.

  • Booij, Geert. 1997. Allomorphy and the autonomy of morphology. Folia Linguistica 31(1/2). 25–56.

  • Haegeman, Liliane. 2007. Operator movement and topicalisation in adverbial clauses. Folia Linguistica 41(3/4). 279–325.

Volume 51 is already well under way. I am happy to see that there is an attractive line-up of upcoming articles and that the journal has copy well into 2018. As in the past, Folia Linguistica will be happy to consider for publication well-researched and well-written articles on linguistic issues great and small, from any theoretical framework, provided that they can make a theoretical contribution.


I would like to sincerely thank Wolfgang U. Dressler, Teresa Fanego, Camiel Hamans, and Johan van der Auwera for their invaluable help in providing the necessary information to write up this short historical sketch. A special note of thanks also goes to Benedikt Szmrecsanyi. The following colleagues helped with the selection of the articles: Werner Abraham, John Ole Askedal, Michaela Cennamo, Katarzyna Dziubalska-Kolaczyk, Teresa Fanego, Eva Hajičová, Martin Haspelmath, Ferenc Kiefer, Nikolaos Lavidas, Belén Méndez-Naya, Marianne Mithun, Paolo Ramat, Matti Rissanen, Johan van der Auwera, and Arie Verhagen.


  • Van Der Auwera, Johan. 2013. Linguistics, the first fifty years … and a little more. Linguistics 51(Jubilee). 1–4. CrossrefGoogle Scholar


  • 1

    Actually, the journal is already in its fifty-first year, but it was felt to be more fitting to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the journal together with the fiftieth anniversary, in 2017, of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. 

  • 2

    In addition to the journal, SLE also initiated a book series Commentationes Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae, published in German by Hueber Verlag, Munich. Between 1969 and 1973/74, six titles were published; the series was then discontinued. 

  • 3

    His team consisted of Hubert Haider, John R. Rennison, then for parts of this period also Martin Prinzhorn, Helmut Gruber. But the most important team member was for the whole period Oskar E. Pfeiffer; in Dressler’s words: “incomparable in his vigilance over all the details of the editing process”. 

  • 4

    Among the enthusiastic supporters of these drastic changes were the SLE presidents Johan van der Auwera and Christian Lehmann (the latter was uncertain about the switch to English only, however), Martin Haspelmath, as well as Anke Beck from De Gruyter Mouton. 

  • 5

    About 40 to 45 % have to be rejected right away because they do not fit the scope of the journal or because they do not meet the standards of an international peer-reviewed publication. The remainder enter the peer review process. 

About the article

Published Online: 2017-07-27

Citation Information: Folia Linguistica, Volume 51, Issue s1000, Pages 1–6, ISSN (Online) 1614-7308, ISSN (Print) 0165-4004, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flin-2017-1000.

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