2016 William H. Baxter and Laurent Sagart

Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Although Old Chinese is a textually attested language (c. 1250-221 BCE), orthographic problems dictate that its phonology has to be reconstructed. In this remarkable volume, the culmination of many years of research, William H. Baxter and Laurent Sagart begin by discussing the issues involved in this ambitious work and how it differs from previous reconstructions. They then present their reconstruction of Old Chinese syllable onsets and rhymes, along with an appendix of reconstructed forms.

2015 Laurie Bauer, Rochelle Lieber, and Ingo Plag

The Oxford Reference Guide to English Morphology (Oxford University Press, 2013)

The depth and the amount of research that has gone into this work are impressive. The care and thoroughness with which the authors present the corpus-based data are exemplary, and their decision to downplay theory while including copious helpful references to a wide number of synchronic approaches is commendable. This work will of value to scholars of all sorts who study English, providing analytical bases for later work, data for classroom problems, and rich material for browsing. It is also a fine example of international collaboration between leading morphologists from three continents.

2014 Johnathan Bobaljik, Universals in Comparative Morphology: Suppletion, Superlatives and the Structure of Words, (MIT Press)

2013  Victor Golla

California Indian Languages, (University of California Press) Click here to see the remarks from a special presentation of the Bloomfield award given to Victor Golla.

2011 Hans Boas

The Life and Death of Texas German (Duke University Press, 2009)

The Linguistic Society of America is pleased to present the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award to The Life and Death of Texas German, by Hans Boas (Duke University Press, 2009). This masterful work combines a sociolinguistic analysis of the phonological, morphological, and syntactic developments in the German spoken in New Braunfels, Texas, with a study of the larger socio-historical context that framed these developments. Written lucidly and accessibly, the book contributes significantly to the understanding of the dynamics underlying new-dialect formation, language contact, language change, and language death.

2010 Pamela Munro and Catherine Willmond

Let's Speak Chickasaw, Chikashshanompa' Kilanompoli' 

A collaboration between a linguist and a native speaker, Let's Speak Chickasaw, Chikashshanompa' Kilanompoli' is both the first complete grammar of Chickasaw and its first textbook. It tells us much about Chickasaw grammar that was previously unknown or inaccessible. Its extraordinary depth, analytic sophistication, and lucid explanations of complex topics are a significant contribution to linguistics. It is also a timely model of a new type of pedagogical grammar for endangered languages aimed at community members, language teachers, linguists, and the public.

 

2009 Virginia Yip and Stephen Matthews

The Bilingual Child: Early Development and Language Contact (Cambridge, 2007)

The Bilingual Child: Early Development and Language Contact presents interesting new data and insightful analyses of bilingual development. Based on the most extensive bilingual corpus yet assembled and drawing on both generative and typological theoretical perspectives, the authors provide an extensive, informed and data-rich treatment of a difficult problem. The book sets a new standard for the study of childhood bilingualism, and shows how this study bears on many different areas of linguistics, including monolingual acquisition, language contact, syntactic theory, typology, and historical linguistics.

 

2008 William Labov, Sharon Ash, and Charles Boberg

The Atlas of North American English (Mouton de Gruyter, 2006)

The Atlas of North American English pictures the phonological divisions of North American English and includes a CD-ROM and website database. The result of a decade of interviews in metropolitan areas, ANAE combines boundary-making with careful considerations of sound change.

2006 R. M. W. Dixon

The Jarawara Language of Southern Amazonia (Oxford University Press)

R. M. W. Dixon's The Jarawara Language of Southern Amazonia, written with the assistance of Alan R. Vogel, is an invaluable record of a language in serious danger of extinction. The complexities of the language are unraveled with a clarity and insight that allow the reader to share in what the author describes as 'the intellectual pleasure of working out such a magnificent system'.

 

2004 Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum et al.

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Cambridge University Press)

The Cambridge grammar of the English language is an extensive and readable account of current English usage makes accessible to professional and nonprofessional alike a vast body of linguistic knowledge about the English language drawn from many sources. It also makes available to this general readership many results of modern grammatical research. The authors offer a systematic and perspicuous account of English usage, underlining the importance of attending to the actual language of contemporary speakers. This grammar will help open the door to new approaches to the study and analysis of English as a language.

 

2002 Marianne Mithun

The Languages of Native North America (Cambridge University Press)

 Marianne Mithun's The languages of Native North America is a reference work of permanent value, documenting the results of a century of work on the indigenous languages of North America (a topic which, we note, was an important concern for the scholar after whom this award is named). The permanent presence of Native North American languages in the records of human culture has been assured by the work that Mithun surveys and contributes to. Her synthetic work is done expertly, but in addition she contributes new and original observations on the basis of direct personal study and fieldwork on the complex structures of an array of little-studied languages. Her lucidly written book covers the history of the subfield, a survey of structural properties (including a wealth of examples), a catalogue of the language families including in each a sketch of a representative language, carefully prepared maps, and a massive bibliography. The book sets new standards for scholarship in our field and on every page demonstrates to the reader not only Mithun's deep scholarly concern but also her love and respect for the languages of this continent.

 

2000 Lyle Campbell

American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America (Oxford University Press)

Campbell’s book will stand as a landmark in American Indian linguistics and in historical linguistics more generally. It combines encyclopedic coverage of comparative and historical scholarship on languages of the Americas with a critical assessment of methods and criteria of establishing language relatedness. These strands are successfully brought together in a rigorous presentation and evaluation of relationships among American Indian languages.

 

1998 Alice C. Harris and Lyle Campbell

Historical Syntax in Cross-Linguistic Perspective (Cambridge University Press)

Engaging a large body of earlier literature and drawing extensively upon their own research, Professors Harris and Campbell present a set of important, attractive, and testable hypotheses on the universals and the limits of syntactic change. Despite the complexity of the topic, the writing is clear and accessible, and the proposals are superbly documented with material from a wide variety of languages. Historical syntax in cross-linguistic perspective is a benchmark work in syntax and historical linguistics.

 

1996 William Labov

Principles of Linguistic Change: Internal Factors (Blackwell Publishers)

The committee felt this book is a landmark in the study of language change. It not only presents a coherent and compelling account of the internal mechanics of phonological change, but it successfully integrates this account with theoretical advances in grammatical theory, sociolinguistics, and dialectology, as well as historical linguistics. Labov’s scholarship in this work is unsurpassed and ranges from a proposed solution to the Neogrammarian controversy, to an account of the changing dialect situation in the United States, to proposals for applying the theory of lexical phonology to the explanation of a set of historical paradoxes, and to exploring the limits of functional explanation.

 

1994 Johanna Nichols

Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time (University of Chicago Press)

Professor Nichols’ book, Linguistic diversity in space and time is a major contribution to linguistics, providing a novel framework for studying language history at great time-depth and over vast distances. The book pioneers an empiricist framework for the study of linguistic prehistory which searches for correlations over a large sampling of language and which examines structural, genetic, geographic, and population-related factors.

Nichols identifies phenomena that are stable in various senses—universally, genetically, and areally--and demonstrates how long range historical inferences of various types can be drawn from such material. The book is richly original, defining such new concepts as spread zones vs residual zones, homeland vs colonized areas, hotbed and outlier distributions, and global clines, and formulating a variety of important new morphosyntactic dimensions.

Linguistic diversity in space and time is significant within linguistics in that it places an old field, comparative linguistics, in a comprehensive context, offering a multidimensional, rather than solely genetic, approach to language prehistory. It is also significant well beyond linguistics in that it makes it possible to consider the independent contribution of language to cross-disciplinary scientific attempts to reconstruct the peopling of the globe.

By example, the book reminds us of the interrelatedness of aspects of linguistic work we often take to be highly separate, including the pursuit of universal grammar, historical linguistics, and the sociolinguistics of language change and of language contact. It demonstrates that the work in each of these areas has implications for others, while offering a framework in which this interrelatedness can fruitfully be pursued.

 

1992 Keren Rice

A Grammar of Slave (Mouton de Gruyter)

In bestowing the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award for 1989-91 on Keren Rice’s A grammar of Slave, published by Mouton de Gruyter, the Linguistic Society of America recognizes a work of exemplary scholarship that presents in its depth and analytic detail not only an exhausting account of the complex structure of Slave but one of the most complete descriptions of an Athabascan language ever written. In its encyclopedic scope and its organizational precision, A grammar of Slave is a work of enduring value to the community of linguists.