At the recent Business Meeting held at the LSA's 2017 Annual Meeting in Austin, TX, the members present voted unanimously to elect the following individuals as Honorary Members of the Society.

  • Willem F. H. Adelaar (University of Leiden)
  • Stephen C. Levinson (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics)
  • Roberto Zavala Maldonado (Centro de Investigación y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS))

By LSA tradition, any foreign scholar of distinction in linguistic studies, not resident in the United States, may be elected an honorary member by the Society on recommendation of the Executive Committee. The citations that were provided in support of the nominations are published below.



Willem F. H. Adelaar (University of Leiden)

Professor Willem F. H. Adelaar is a leading expert in the languages and cultures of the Andes and South America in general. His major research interests include typology, historical linguistics, and language endangerment, together with semantics and syntax, with particular reference to Quechuan and Aymaran. His 1977 monograph Tarma Quechua is highly acclaimed and his The Languages of the Andes (with Pieter C. Muysken, 2004) is a monumental contribution to the field. According to a review in Language, “undoubtedly we have before us a masterpiece that … will henceforth be a true classic work on Amerindian languages.”

Professor Adelaar has made significant advances to the investigation of genetic relationships among several Amazonian languages. He has published extensively on language contact and endangerment in South America. His high standing is evidenced by numerous teaching invitations, such as Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Lima), and keynote addresses, including the International Congress of Historical Linguistics and conferences on South American Indian languages and on endangered languages. He has served on several editorial advisory boards, including the International Journal of American Linguistics. He has been regional editor for South America for the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger and for Endangered Languages Catalogue (ElCat), and a panel member of the Documentation of Endangered Languages (DoBeS).

Professor Adelaar has held the prestigious professorship of Native American Languages and Cultures at the University of Leiden since 1994. He has been a fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study of the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) and twice a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at La Trobe University, Australia (2002 and 2008). He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Lima) in 2007 and was appointed Honorary Professor in Andean linguistics at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in 2011.


Stephen C. Levinson (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics)

Professor Stephen C. Levinson has made enormous contributions to the interface of language and cognition, to the cross‐cultural study of semantic systems (especially spatial orientation systems), to pragmatics (especially regarding politeness and deference, and “face” theory), to the relationship between conversation analysis and language design, to language universals and language diversity (typological variation), and to the evolution of language from a cultural perspective. He has conducted field work on indigenous peoples in various parts of the world, including India, Australia, the Pacific islands, and Mexico. He has published and co-edited over a dozen books. Early in his career, he played a critical role in the development of pragmatics from an anthropological linguistic perspective.

In 2011 he was awarded a grant by the European Research Council to “fast-start an interdisciplinary science of human communicative interaction.” According to his website, he “holds that human interactive abilities are distinct from, and phylogenetically older than, our language capacity. Inverting current views, the hypothesis suggests that the interaction system is fundamentally ethological and universal, while the language system lacks many universals and is largely diversified by cultural evolution. The interaction system and language system therefore do not mesh neatly, and this can be detected in the domain of contingent action sequences – the crucial characteristic of human communicative interaction.”

Professor Levinson’s several honors include the following: fellow of the British Academy (1988), the Stirling Prize, American Anthropological Association (1992), Professor at the LSA Linguistics Institute (Stanford University, 1987; UC Santa Barbara, 2001; UC Berkeley, 2009), fellow at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (2001), member of the Academia Europaea (2003-present), Hale Professor at the LSA Linguistics Institute (2009), fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (2011), ERC Advanced Grant (2011-2016), and fellow of the Cognitive Science Society (2013).


Roberto Zavala Maldonado, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS)

Dr. Roberto Zavala Maldonado is a researcher and professor at the Centro de Investigación y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS), Chiapas, México. Currently the most active Mexican linguist in Mexico, he is a typologist working principally on the morphosyntax and syntax of contemporary Meso-American languages, on which he is now considered the leading expert. He has worked personally on a Uto‐Aztecan language (Cora), and more extensively on several Mayan languages and Mixe‐Zoquean languages. His research ranges from a grammar of Akatek to a number of very important articles on grammatical topics. These include his contributions “Functional analysis of Akatek voice constructions” (in IJAL, 1997) and “Inversion and Obviation in Meso-America” (Linguistische Berichte, 2007). He has also co‐edited several important collections of articles published in Mexico and has co-authored two bibliographies, in the Oxford University Press Bibliographies Online series.

Professor Zavala joined the faculty of CIESAS in 2001. Since that time he has been instrumental in completely revitalizing their MA program and, more recently, in establishing the PhD program, both in Indo-American Linguistics. CIESAS is now producing students who are experts in the grammars especially of the indigenous languages of Mexico. The great majority of the students working with him are also native speakers of the languages they work on. Their MA theses have been ground‐breaking in either basic or specialized knowledge of the languages in question.

In addition to his work at CIESAS, Professor Zavala was for many years the co‐director (with Terrence Kaufman and John Justeson) of the Project for the Description of Languages of Meso‐America (PDLMA). In this project he was able to help select and guide many linguists who have since contributed substantially to the study of Meso-American languages. He also served on the panel of the Endangered Languages Documentation Program (EDLP).