The LSA invites nominations for the Excellence in Community Linguistics Award. This award recognizes the outstanding contributions that members of language communities (typically outside the academic sphere of professional linguists) make for the benefit of their community’s language. The contributions made by awardees may be varied, including, among other things, documentation work with a linguist as a consultant and efforts towards language revitalization.


Examples of types of language leaders who could be good nominees include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A member of an endangered language community who develops language teaching materials, teaches language classes, or trains other speakers to be teachers, in order to increase the number of speakers of the language. A non-speaker member of an endangered language community who organizes a community language revitalization program (e.g. by beginning an immersion summer day-camp program and training elders who are speakers to serve as teachers).
  • A member of a dormant language community who learns their heritage language from archival materials and develops a language revitalization program to share the language with the community.
  • A speaker of an underdescribed language who works with a linguist as a consultant for an extended time, with great dedication, thereby making it possible for the language to be documented. (This item holds even if there is no surviving community that might later learn the language.)
  • A consultant as in the previous point whose outstanding metalinguistic insight into linguistic patterns makes a significant contribution to a linguistic analysis.
  • A community member who does several of the activities above.

It should be noted that both speakers and non-speakers of languages can be nominated. The required criterion is that there be a contribution that could benefit the language in some way, whether by improving its documentation, increasing the number of speakers, or some other means.

The language in question will normally be an underdescribed one, possibly endangered, or where well-justified a stigmatized variety of a more widely spoken language.  The language may be one spoken anywhere in the world; nominees are not limited to people working in North America. 

Nominees typically should NOT be:

(i) those working towards or holding doctorates in linguistics or related fields; or

(ii) those employed in regular academic positions in a department of linguistics or related fields although there may be exceptions in the case of a community member who pursues a degree in linguistics after long work within the community.

Submitting a nomination:

To nominate a community linguist, please complete this nomination form . You will be asked to address the following issues:

  • Of what community is the nominee a member?
  • What is the general situation of the language in question?
  • What work has the nominee done on behalf of their language?
  • Why is this work outstanding?  It is useful to discuss outcomes and effects on other members of the community rather than just motivation and effort.
  • An overview of the nominee's relationships within their community, particularly as relevant to how the nominee accomplishes language work effectively.
  • The nominee's position in the language community.
  • The language products involved (dictionaries, grammars, texts, pedagogical tools, language promotion/revitalization tools, methodologies, websites, etc.)
  • The contributions to language teaching programs, (under)graduate education.
  • Evidence of long-term commitment to language/linguistic issues.
  • The nominee's "natural" linguistic abilities.
  • Evidence of self-motivation, independence, and organizational skills.
  • Collaborations with linguistic scholars.
  • Personal characteristics that make the nominee particularly effective.


In addition, you will be asked to submit the following:

  • 2-5 additional letters of support, of up to 2 pages each, from any leader or authority who knows the language-related work of the nominee (e.g. another professional linguist besides the nominator, the tribal or local government chair, members of the tribal or local government council or equivalent body, local school teachers--whether community members or not, local religious leaders, volunteer teachers in a language revitalization program, respected elders of the community, or any other appropriate authority, but generally not relatives who know the nominee primarily at a personal level). These letters should explain why the nominee's work on behalf of the language is outstanding. In exceptional cases, fewer additional letters may be allowable if the local community situation does not allow for more, as explained in the main nomination letter.
  • A list of references to materials that have been developed with a large contribution from the nominee's work. This could include: academic publications by a professional linguist, language textbooks, other language teaching materials, audiovisual presentations (e.g. a video shown at the tribal office), audiovisual teaching materials, newspaper and other mainstream press articles about the nominee's work or about the language program, websites about the language or language program, etc. For materials that are available online, URLs should be provided with the reference. Each reference should be followed by a brief annotation (1-2 sentences) explaining what it is and what the role of the nominee in its development was. Hard copies of materials are not required.
  • A brief citation to be read at the presentation of the award

Fisher et al.