Neil and Saras Smith Medal for Linguistics

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

History of the prize

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.


a) Eligible nominations can be for a linguist of any nationality whose career has demonstrated the highest standards of achievement and scholarship.

b) Preference will be given to theoretical linguists, though all linguists will be eligible.

How to nominate

Nominations for the Neil and Saras Smith Medal are currently open and may only be made by Fellows of the British Academy. Entries should be submitted electronically to [email protected] and should state in the email subject line "Nomination 2023 Neil and Saras Smith Medal".

In the body of the email, clearly state:

  • Name of nominee
  • Nominee’s position/institution and email address
  • Nominee’s principal area of academic distinction
  • Supporting statement (250 words)
  • Nominator’s name and your British Academy Section
  • Declaration of any institutional or personal interest

The deadline for submissions is 31 January 2023. Submissions received after this date will not be considered.

Nominations will be reviewed, and the winner selected, by the Neil and Saras Smith Medal’s panel:
Professor David Adger FBA
Professor Robyn Carston FBA (Chair)
Professor Caroline Heycock FBA
Professor Elena Lieven FBA
Professor Bencie Woll FBA

If you have any queries submitting a nomination please email [email protected]

2022 winner

Professor Sheila Blumstein has been awarded the 2022 Neil and Saras Smith Medal for her outstanding contributions to linguistics. The prize panel described Professor Blumstein as “a remarkable and exceptional researcher” who is undertaking pivotal work that spans the humanities and social sciences, and an excellent role model for women in the field.

Professor Sheila Blumstein is Professor Emerita of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences at Brown University.

Previous winners

2021 Professor Marianne Mithun, UC Santa Barbara

2020 Professor Paul Kiparsky FBA, Stanford University

2019 Professor Deirdre Wilson FBA, University College London

2018 Professor Barbara H. Partee FBAUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst

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

2016  Sir John Lyons FBAUniversity of Cambridge

2015  Professor William Labov, University of Pennsylvania

2014 Professor Noam Chomsky FBAMassachusetts Institute of Technology 

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