Professor Neil Smith FBA


Elected 1999

Fellow type
UK Emeritus Fellow
Year of birth
Year of death
Year elected

Neil Smith was educated at Trinity College Cambridge and UCL (University College London), where (in 1964) he received his PhD in Linguistics for research which included a year's fieldwork among the Nupe in Nigeria. He did further research at MIT and UCLA while holding a Harkness Fellowship, and from 1972 until his retirement in 2006 was Professor of Linguistics, now Emeritus, at UCL. He was President of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain from 1980 to 1986, and President of the Association of Heads and Professors of Linguistics from 1993 to 1994. His main books are: An Outline Grammar of Nupe (1967, Luzac); The Acquisition of Phonology (1973, CUP); The Mind of a Savant [with Ianthi Tsimpli, 1995, Blackwell], Chomsky: Ideas and Ideals (1999, CUP; second edition 2004; third edition [with Nicholas Allott 2016]); Acquiring Phonology (CUP, 2010); The Signs of a Savant [with Ianthi Tsimpli, Gary Morgan and Bencie Woll, 2011]). He was elected FBA in 1999, and an honorary member of the Linguistic Society of America in 2000. He is married to Saras (née Keskar), who is a medical doctor, and has two sons and two grandsons.

Last post

Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, University College London

Past appointments

University College London Emeritus Professor of Linguistics

2006 -

University College London Emeritus Professor of Linguistics

2006 -

University College London Reader in and from1981 Professor of Linguistics

1972 -

Soas, University Of London Lecturer in West African Languages

1964 - 1972


Acquiring Phonology: A Cross-generational Case-study 2010

The Signs of a Savant: Language against the Odds 2011

The acquisition of phonology 1973

The mind of a savant 1995

Chomsky: ideas and ideals 1999

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