Linguistic Service Award

First presented in 2007, this award honors members of the LSA who have performed distinguished service to the Society. This service might take various forms, for example:

  • Extended time devoted to tasks in the service of the Society
  • Extraordinary uncompensated service to the Society
  • Brief service resulting in substantial cost savings for the Society
  • Development of materials for publicizing the field or the activities of the Society

Frequency: As nominations warrant

Eligibility: All nominees and nominators must be current LSA members.

The letter of nomination should include the following, as appropriate:

  • discussion of career history, particularly as relevant to linguistic service
  • discussion of service to the LSA: (e.g. committee participation, promotion efforts, office service). Specific details of contributions and time commitments are helpful.
  • discussion of contributions to language and linguistics beyond the LSA

*Nomination links will only be active during the nomination window. In 2024, nominations are open April 8th - end of day on July 12th. Nominations will not be accepted after this date.


The Awards Committee reviews nominations and makes recommendations to the Executive Committee, which must formally approve the recommendations.

Previous Awardees

2022: Linguistics Beyond Academia Special Interest Group

Nancy Frishberg, Alexandra Johnston, Emily Pace, Susan Steele, and Laurel Sutton executed the first-ever career boot camp for linguists, providing extraordinary uncompensated service of over 1500 hours of labor to the LSA, its individual members, and the field of Linguistics. The 2021 Linguistics Career Launch was a 4-week, intensive, international conference with over 120 scheduled content hours that provided guidance, mentoring and professional development for linguists seeking careers in business, government, nonprofit and technical organizations. LCL21 addressed the employment gap for people with linguistics degrees and represented the largest gathering of “career linguists” to date. The LSA recognizes this accomplishment with gratitude and deep appreciation. 

2020: Pop-Up Mentoring Program (PUMP)

The organizers of PUMP, working in collaboration with COGEL (formerly COSWL) and conference sponsors in linguistics, have provided an invaluable service to linguists seeking short-term mentoring relationships. In just two years, PUMP has served 379 linguists at 15 conferences and Institutes. The volunteer organizers have donated many hours of time and effort to outreach and coordination, including matching mentors with mentees. Their contributions have provided invaluable support for those participating, and greatly helped to advance the LSA’s Mentoring Initiative. The PUMP team is pictured at right, clockwise from  top left: Melissa Baese-Berk, Paola Cepeda, Hadas Kotek, Kristen Syrett, Jessica Rett, Ivona Kucerova.

2016: D. Terence Langendoen  

For his creative work in drawing good research in computational linguistics to the attention of National Science Foundation programs with little history of funding research on language, significantly expanding the funding base for work in linguistics. 

2015: Jim Bauman (Center for Applied Linguistics, Retired)

For exemplary volunteer service to the LSA Secretariat in enhancing the Society’s collaborative partnerships, communications, technical infrastructure, and advocacy on behalf of the field of linguistics.

2013: David Lightfoot

For his invaluable assistance in charting a course for the LSA’s publishing program. 

2012: Paul Newman

For services to the Society as volunteer (pro bono) Special Counsel, in which capacity he has helped the Society to navigate through numerous copyright issues as its publications move from print to electronic format.

2010: Ethan Poole

Since February 2009, Ethan Poole has donated many hours of his time as the volunteer webmaster for the LSA's website, patiently working to improve both the content and navigability of the site. In addition to this important contribution, Ethan also donated the domain name,, for use by the LSA. Ethan Poole has saved the LSA a great deal of money during a time of financial hardship for the Society, while also considerably improving our member services and marketing efforts.

2009: Katha Kissman

The Linguistic Society of America is pleased to present this Linguistic Service Award to Katha Kissman.  At a time of great difficulty and disorganization in the Society’s administration, she came into the Secretariat office, went to work with a will, and moved promptly to remedy serious deficiencies in accounting, budgeting, auditing, retention of members, office staffing, and responsiveness to the Executive Committee and the membership at large.  Despite the considerable pressures on her, Katha interacted with those working with her with unfailing warmth and graciousness, and inspired us all with her dedication to the success of the LSA.  She capped off her contributions by leading the effort to find and hire our capable new Executive Director, Alyson Reed.  Katha Kissman’s extraordinary efforts on our behalf were a distinguished service to the Society, which we are happy to honor with this award

2008: Mary Catherine O'Connor, for exemplary service to the Society in her capacity as Co-Chair of the Program Committee.

In her four years on the Program Committee, Cathy oversaw the transition from a brick-and-mortar operation to an electronic one, and a comprehensive system of expert external reviewers, which has led to a much more informed - and fair - reviewing process.

Cathy has contributed literally hundreds of hours of her time - replete with her characteristic grace and wit - expecting (and until now receiving) nothing in return. Her service to the Society has been nothing short of extraordinary and the Society is forever in her debt.

2007: Kristen Syrett

In recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the Society as the Bloch Fellow and as a member of the Information Technology Advisory Group (ITAG), the Executive Committee unanimously voted to award Kristen Syrett the Linguistic Service Award along with a life membership in the Society.