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 this award are open from 1 December to 31 January and may only be made by Fellows of the British Academy. Entries should be submitted electronically to [email protected].

In the body of the email, clearly state:

  • Name of the prize or medal
  • 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 each year. Nominations will be reviewed, and the winner selected, by the relevant panel.

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

2023 winner

Eva Hajicova_Headshot

Professor Eva Hajicova has been awarded the 2023 Neil and Saras Smith Medal for her work in theoretical, computational and corpus linguistics, with a focus on semantics and discourse structure.

Eva Hajičová, born August 23, 1935, is a professor of linguistics at the Institute of Formal and Applied Linguistics of the School of Computer Science, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic). She graduated in English and Czech at the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University in 1958 and afterwards got her PhD degree and later also the highest academic degree of DrSc in general and computational linguistics at the same University. Her interests cover theoretical linguistics as well as computational applications; she has concentrated on the syntactic and semantic sentence structure, on discourse phenomena and on different topics in computational and corpus linguistics, including corpus annotation.

She is a member of a number of editorial boards of international journals (Journal of Pragmatics, Computers and Artificial Intelligence, Linguistica Pragensia, Kybernetika) and she was the editor-in-chief of the Prague Bulletin of Mathematical Linguistics. She was the first president of the European Chapter of the Association of Computational Linguistics (1982-1987) and the president of the international Association for Computational Linguistics in 1998; she was the President of the Societas Linguistica Europaea from 2006-2007, and since 1978 she has been a member of the International Committee of Computational Linguistics.

She was the chairperson of the Prague Linguistic Circle (1997-2006), she is a Fellow of the Association of Computational Linguistics and a honorary member of Societas Linguistica Europaea and a member of several Czech scientific societies.

She was awarded the international Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize in 1995, the Medal of the Minister of Education of Czech Republic in recognition of the pedagogical and scientific work in computational linguistics in 2003 and the ACL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2017, she received the Josef Hlávka Medal awarded to Czech scientists in recognition of their life-time achievements in science and arts, and in 2018 she received the international Antonio Zampolli Prize for outstanding contributions to the advancement of language resources and language technology evaluation within human language technologies. She is an elected member of the Learned Society of Czech Republic (since 2004).

"It is a great honour and privilege for me to be awarded the 2023 Neil and Saras Smith Medal for a lifetime achievement in the study of linguistics. The more so that the list of names of the awardees from the previous years includes such great personalities whom I owe a lot for introducing me into the field of my study or with whom I share my interests in some particular domains like semantics and discourse. I started my academic career as a student of several prominent Prague School linguists, and I have always felt strong biases to the School of English Studies at Charles University where I graduated under their guidance exactly 65 years ago. It is my professors I thought of when I received the news about the Medal, of my both senior and younger colleagues and my gifted students, whom I owe my deep gratitude."

- Professor Eva Hajicova, August 2023

Previous winners

2022 Professor Sheila Blumstein, Brown University

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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