The following statements on the origins of the CRLN are taken from the twenty-fifth anniversary issue of 1975.  They are followed by the introduction to volume 1.1 (1951)

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Issue


In early 1951 Yakov Malkiel suggested that our Comparative Romance Linguistics Section prepare a CRL Newsletter similar to the Arthurian Newsletter prepared by Professor Helaine Newstead of Hunter College for the Comparative Literature III (Arthurian Romance) Section. I obtained a copy of that publication in late March and set to work on our publication. The first issue appeared in June and the second issue came out in December before our 1951 meeting in Detroit. The fledgeling publication was certainly very modest with a scant four to six pages per number. It owed its fragile life to the collaboration of my fellow members of the CRL Section: Juan Corominas, Henry Kahane, Robert A. Hall, Jr., Tatiana Fotitch, Urban T. Holmes, et al. Under successive editors the CRL Newsletter has grown in size and stature, so that today in its twenty-fifth year, it has become an indispensable bibliographical tool and an important part of the life and work of our section. May in continue to prosper!


The initiators of the MLA's "Comparative Romance Linguistics" Discussion Group were, in 1946, Giuliano Bonfante -- at that time an Associate Professor at Princeton's Romance Department, now the Professor of Linguistics at Turin -- and myself, who was in charge of all preliminary correspondence, shortly before the launching of the journal Romance Philology (planned as a parallel venture). When I became chairman of the Group two years later, I presented at the December meeting a blueprint for the Annual Newsletter, which contained its basic design, as preserved to this day. The motion for the group to accept this idea was seconded and accepted; so were, I believe, my nominations for the Editor and for the Advisors who were to support him on the bibliographic side. This is how the Newsletter came into existence.


On April 16, 1951, Lawrence B. Kiddle, the first Editor of our Comparative Romance Linguistics Newsletter, issued the initial call to the membership of the CRL Discussion Group of the MLA for material to be published in Volume I, Number 1, of the CRLN, June 1951. Some 50 scholars constituted the mailinglist for the auspicious, 6-page inauguration of an economical, informative, personalized research service which was destined to prove so useful to our field that within the 30-year history of the CRL Group we have now reached the Silver Anniversary of a continuous, thriving, mostly mimeographed publication with a much enlarged circulation and variable scope. Interesting enough, the format and content design, as suggested to Kiddle by Malkiel, have remained essentially consistent over the years with the original concept and purposes of two issues per year: (June) Promulzation of research projects, in progress or completed, undertaken by members or by their doctoral students, queries, desiderata, suggestions, announcements, news, and personalia; (December) advance outline of the CRL Group program, officer nominees, and committees for the annual MLA Meeting, plus titular, description, and/or critical bibliographies under the individual or comparative language categories involved in Romance Linguistics.

Sponsoring this 1951 venture there had been previous, parallel endeavors which gave birth first, in December 1946, to the Comparative Romance Linguistics Group, chaired by Giuliano Bonfante, authorized by the MLA and second, in August 1947, to Volume I, Number 1, of Romance Philology, edited by Yakov Malkiel (now beginning Volume XXIX of continuous publication). An amalgam of the individual recollections of scholars then on the scene indicates that from 1946 to 1951 there were oral discussions and considerable correspondence among Yakov Malkiel (prime initiator), Joseph Allen, Dwight Bolinger, Giuliano Bonfante, Juan Corominas, Tatiana Fotitch, Joseph Fucilla, Joseph Gillet, Robert Hall, Helmut Hatzfeld, Urban Holmes, Henry Kahane, Lloyd Kasten, Lawrence Kiddle, Charles Knudson, Raphael Levy, André Martinet, Victor Oelschläger, Alexander Schultz, Edwin Williams, and Marion Zeitlin -- all of whom made early contributions to our CRL Group and, hence, directly or indirectly to our Newsletter. Many of these colleagues served on the CRL Research and Bibliography Committees from 1949 onward and in early 1951 began assisting the Editor, an invaluable collaboration which changing personnel have continued to the present day.

Now until the published record of the December 1951 (Detroit) Meeting of the CRL Group of the MLA (officially reported in PMLA, LXVII, 1, February 1952, pp. 120-121) do we have the first mention of our Newsletter (even though the first two issues were already history). Reference is made to unspecified "Plans for the Newsletter", to the inclusion of the Editor as "an officer of the Group", and to the election of Robert A. Hall, Jr., as 1952 "Editor of Newsletter". Conjecturally, among the "Plans" alluded to were decisions relative to a cycle promotion of the Group's officers: Editor to Secretary to Chairman, etc. At any rate, such has been the evolutionary cycle of our officials ever since.

In view of the foregoing information it is obvious that sometime prior to April 16, 1951 (see first paragraph, above) Larry Kiddle must have been somehow designated or induced to serve as the first Editor of our CRLN. Available evidence seems to indicate that it was in New York at the 1950 CRL Group Meeting, within the MLA, when the CRL Group Chairman, Yakov Malkiel (Helmut Hatzfeld, Secretary), after considerable advance negotiation, formally proposed and activated the idea of a CRL Newsletter to be initiated under the Kiddle Editorship. Kiddle recalls that he modeled his first issue (June 1951) on Helaine Newstead's Arthurian Newsletter, a publication serving MLA Comparative Literature III Group.

From the very outset financial problems have plagued our Newsletter. Annual voluntary donations have regularly been solicited from the loyal membership (variably, 50 cents to $2.00). Nevertheless, in large measure, the defrayal of costs has customarily devolved upon the academic department or institution where the incumbent Editor is affiliated.

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Introduction to CRLN, Volume 1.1 (1951)

The NEWSLETTER of the Comparative Romance Linguistics Section of the Modern Language Association has the purpose of stimulating and fostering research in linguistics in the Romance languages. We seek to accomplish this purpose by a semi-annual publication in which the section's Queries and Desiderata are direct inspirations for research and in which Bibliographical Notes, Research Projects, and News may well give indirect stimulation to our readers.

Our present plans call for two issues each year to appear in June and in December. These issues will be similar in most respects, except that the December issue will devote a section to the annual meeting of our group. This section will contain short summaries of the papers to be read in the meeting so that members may be better prepared to take an active part in the discussions of these papers. We have always tried in our group to maintain active and stimulating discussions of papers presented at our annual meetings. The CRL NEWSLETTER intends to play its part in this tradition.

Also, the December issue will have a special section devoted to short descriptions or critical notes concerning the four or five outstanding studies (books, articles, or reviews) that have appeared during the preceding year in each of the fields covered by our Bibliographical Committee. These are: Balkan Romance Henry R. Kahane; Catalan John Corominas; French Charles A. Knudson; Italian Joseph G. Fucilla; Portuguese Marion A. Zeitlin; Provençal  Alexander H. Schutz; Spanish Dwight D. Bolinger; and Vulgar Latin Julian H. Bonfante.

The NEWSLETTER should be gratis to all interested individuals as long as [??] lasts. For this reason we suggest that most of the costs of a year's issues should be borne by the language department of the institution where the editor teaches. The editorship, therefore, must change each year in order that the work and expense may be equitably distributed.

The response of our members to the idea of a NEWSLETTER has been encouraging. Our requests for information had a prompt response from forty-two percent of the addressees. The amount of information volunteered is more than enough for the present issue of our publication. As a result, some information received will appear in the December number together with details from group members whose answers to the questionnaire arrived too late for this issue.

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