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Neil & Saras Smith Medal for Linguistics

The Neil & Saras Medal is awarded annually for lifetime achievement in the scholarly study of linguistics.

The award was established in 2013 by Professor Neil Smith, elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1999 and Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at University College London. This prize was first awarded in 2014.


Eligible nominations can be for a linguist of any nationality whose career has demonstrated the highest standards of achievement and scholarship. Preference will be given to theoretical linguists, though all linguists will be eligible. 

How to nominate

Nominations may only be made by Fellows of the British Academy. Nominations for 2019 have now closed.

Nominating body: Linguistics and Philology Section

2018 Winner

Barbara ParteeBarbara H. Partee earned her Ph.D. from M.I.T. under Noam Chomsky in 1965, starting out as a syntactician. At UCLA she encountered the logician Richard Montague, and began synthesizing Chomsky’s syntax with Montague's semantics. She moved to UMass Amherst in 1972, where her lifetime research has centered on developing the field of formal semantics through collaboration among linguists, philosophers, and logicians. She is writing a history of the field.

She has six honorary doctorates, was President of the Linguistic Society of America, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

"It’s an exciting honor and a lovely surprise to receive this medal from the British Academy. I’m most grateful to Neil and Saras Smith for generously establishing this award; linguistics has very few awards, and it’s wonderful to have such nice recognition of the value of work in formal semantics, a field that didn’t exist when I was starting out, but is now flourishing in the UK and around the world."

Previous Winners

2017  Professor Bernard Comrie FBA, University of California, Santa Barbara 

2016  Sir John Lyons FBA, University of Cambridge

2015  Professor William Labov, University of Pennsylvania

2014  Professor Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology