Deadline:  September 15, 2022

Fisher et al.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.

Nominations of women and underrepresented ethnic minorities are particularly encouraged. Nominees are not limited to individuals or people working in North America; the language may be one spoken/signed anywhere in the world, and a team of community collaborators may be nominated. Current and prior award holders are linked to here.

The language in question will normally be an under-resourced one, possibly endangered, or where well-justified, a stigmatized variety of a more widely-used language.


Examples of types of language leaders who would typically be considered eligible include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Members of a minority language community who develop language teaching materials, teach language classes, and/or train other language users to be teachers, in order to increase the number of users of the language.
  • Members of an endangered language community who organize a community language revitalization program (e.g. by beginning an immersion summer day-camp program and training elders who are speakers/signers to serve as teachers).
  • Members of a dormant language community who learn their heritage language from archival materials and develop a language revitalization program to share the language with the community.
  • Speakers/signers of an under-described language who work with a linguist as consultants for an extended time, with great dedication, thereby making it possible for the language to be documented.
  • Consultants as in the previous point whose outstanding metalinguistic insight into linguistic patterns make a significant contribution to a linguistic analysis.
  • Academic linguists who are themselves members of the language community with whom they work and who make a significant contribution to advancement of the language.
  • Community members who do several of the activities above.

Nominees typically should NOT be:

  • those working towards or holding doctorates in linguistics or related fields; or
  • those employed in regular academic positions in a department of linguistics or related fields, although there may be exceptions (e.g. in the case of a community member who pursues a degree in linguistics after long work within the community).

Notes on criteria:

  • It should be noted that language users, learners, and supporters who do not speak/sign the language being documented/revitalized can all 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 users of the language, or some other means.
  • If a nominator has questions about whether a potential nominee would be likely to be considered eligible or not, they are encouraged to contact the LSA staff.

Submitting a nomination:

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

  • The community the nominee is a member of and their position within the community.
  • The general situation of the language in question and the nominee's (linguistic) abilities in the language.
  • The work that the nominee has done on behalf of their language and the significance of said work. (It is useful to discuss outcomes and effects on other members of the community rather than just motivation and effort.)
  • The nominee's long-term commitment to language/linguistic issues.
  • The language products involved (dictionaries, grammars, texts, pedagogical tools, language promotion/revitalization tools, methodologies, websites, etc.).
  • If applicable, the contributions to language teaching programs and/or education.
  • If applicable, the nominee's collaborations with linguistic scholars.
  • If applicable, any personal qualities of the nominee that you feel are relevant to the application

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

  • At least two, but no more than 5, letters of support from anyone besides the nominator who knows the language-related work of the nominee well (e.g. a(nother) professional linguist, 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 who knows the nominee’s language work well). These letters should explain why the nominee's work on behalf of the language is outstanding. In exceptional cases, fewer than two letters may be permissible if the local community situation does not allow for more; this should be explained in the main nomination letter. These letters should be uploaded as a single .pdf.
  • Relevant work products (e.g. dictionaries, grammars, texts, pedagogical materials, methodologies, or links to websites and/or audiovisual materials). These materials should be uploaded as a single .pdf.; hard copies are not required.
  • A citation of no more than 100 words that will be read at the presentation of the award if the nomination is successful.