LaTeX for linguistics... and science

06 Sep 2016

I ran across this Reddit post. Disregarding the main post content, I thought it was interesting how much of the discussion relates the use of LaTeX with hard science and math. And in particular, the “latex font” – which is actually “Computer Modern”.

Linguists are so keen on having linguistics recognized as a field of science, so I thought this public reaction was interesting since I’m positive these people don’t have linguistics in mind when they see LaTeX handouts or exams.

But at the same time, I’m always a little indignant – I’m an avid LaTeX user, but you’ll never see Computer Modern in any of my papers or handouts. I prefer to replace the font with something more pleasing, usually Charis SIL. For example, see Kyle Johnson’s papers, like this one on Amalgams. They are made using LaTeX, yet don’t have that distinctive font. They contain some startlingly complex diagrams, like the multidominant structure on page 15, which are rendered natively in the document.

Replacing the font makes it less likely that the paper will scream “made in LaTeX”, therefore, trivially undermining the incorporation of linguistics into science via typography??