Victoria A. Fromkin Lifetime Service Award


First presented in 2001 as the "Victoria A. Fromkin Prize for Distinguished Service," this award recognizes individuals who have performed extraordinary service to the discipline and to the Society throughout their careers. Nominees and nominators must be current LSA members. It is awarded annually as nominations warrant. 


Nominees and nominators must be current LSA members. The letter of nomination should include the following, as appropriate:

  • Discussion of service to the LSA
  • Discussion of unusual contributions to LSA’s success
  • Evidence of extraordinary commitment to LSA, its staff, and its members
  • Evidence of sustained contributions
*Nomination links will only be active during the nomination window.  In 2024, nominations are open April 8th - end of day on June 30th. Nominations will not be accepted after this date.


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

Previous Awardees


Dr. Donna Jo Napoli has been a longstanding member of the LSA, serving the Society in numerous capacities, including extensive committee contributions on the Executive Committee, the Language in the School Curriculum Committee, COGEL under its previous title as the Committee on the Status of Women in Linguistics, and the Linguistics, Language, and Public Interest Award committee (which she chaired). She is the 2021 recipient of the LSA Mentoring Award, and her vast linguistic research represents a compelling representation of public-facing studies of American Sign Language along with sustained efforts to promote the central mission of the Society to advance the scientific study of language, which she has accomplished through many books and articles pertaining to syntax, predication theory, and prosodic properties, among others. She was an invited plenary speaker at the 2023 LSA Annual Meeting, where her innovative scholarship demonstrated further evidence of her lifetime service to elevate linguistic research and teaching devoted to improving the human condition globally.


Joan Maling has served linguistics and the LSA well, including as a Fellow and Past President of the LSA. Her service includes editing Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, mentoring early career linguists, supporting endangered languages and expanding the kinds of public engagement that linguists do. Her work as a Program Officer at the National Science Foundation on behalf of the Linguistics and Documenting Endangered Languages Programs advanced the discipline by funding linguists at every career stage. She is an inspiring mentor who helps people do their best, a most worthy recipient of the Victoria A. Fromkin Lifetime Service Award.


Larry M. Hyman's career is a testament to the idea that scholarly accomplishment goes hand in hand with devotion to service to the field. On LSA committees and as part of its leadership, as an organizer of scholarly meetings and a member of editorial boards around the world, as a passionate advocate for the LSA, and as a host and sommelier at innumerable linguistic events, Hyman makes us all want to belong to the community of linguists.


Sally Thomason. Over her career Sally Thomason has contributed more to the field of linguistics in both research and service than what most scholars will achieve in a lifetime in only one of these areas. Her research has propelled the field forward; her mentoring activities have placed many junior scholars on trajectories toward success; and her service to the Society has benefited all linguists in significant ways. Sally’s contributions to the field of linguistics and the LSA in particular is richly deserving of recognition through the  Victoria A. Fromkin Lifetime Service Award.


Roger Shuy. For his outstanding service to the Society over his career of fifty-plus years. Alongside his pioneering contributions in dialectology, sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, literacy, and forensic linguistics, Dr. Shuy has served the LSA as a member of the Program Committee, the Technical Committee on Language and Cognitive Development, the Committee on Linguistics and the Public Interest, the Committee on Linguistic Institutes and Fellowships, and the Membership Committee, as Chair of the Ethics Committee and the Committee on Social and Political Concerns, and as an LSA Delegate to the Consortium of Social Science Associations. He has also served as a visiting faculty member at LSA Summer Linguistic Institutes at SUNY Buffalo, the University of Michigan, and SUNY Oswego, and he has been a tireless advocate of building bridge to other organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of English, the International Reading Association, and the American Association for Applied Linguistics. Through his work, he has helped to establish recognition for linguistics and the LSA in the public and legal sectors. Among his other recognitions are the Public Service Award, US Social Security Administration, the American Association for Applied Linguistics, Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Service, a New Ways of Analyzing Variation distinguished service award, and an FBI Award Recognizing Service in the Unabomber Case.


Barbara Hall Partee. For her visionary contributions to the field of linguistics and the Linguistic Society of America as mentor, advisor, role model, scholar, leader, advocate, fundraiser, bridge-builder, path-breaker, sage, historian, and champion of linguistic colleagues everywhere.


Stephen R. Anderson. The Linguistic Society of America is pleased to present the Victoria A. Fromkin Lifetime Service Award to Stephen Anderson, for his outstanding service to the LSA since he became a member in 1965. He has served on numerous committees of the LSA, including the Program Committee, the Resolutions Committee, the Local Arrangements Committee, the Bloomfield Book Award Committee, and the Committee on Computing. He served as Parliamentarian, as a member-at-large of the Executive Committee, and as Vice President-Elect, President, and Past President, as well as Acting President. In his tenure as Vice President/President/Past President/Acting President, Steve led the society through difficult times, and he took on extraordinary administrative responsibilities to ensure that the Society returned to a healthy administrative state. One of Steve’s goals was to bring the LSA publications into the digital age. He, together with Dieter Stein, proposed the establishment of eLanguage, an open access electronic ‘agora.’ As the Society moves to gather its publications under one roof, it is appropriate to recognize Steve’s leadership and contributions to the LSA’s publishing program and his administrative acumen at a key point in the Society’s history.


Donna Christian. The Linguistic Society of America is pleased to present the Victoria A. Fromkin Lifetime Service Award for 2011 to Dr. Donna Christian, for her outstanding service to the LSA since she became a member in 1971. Dr. Christian has served the LSA as a committee leader, as a presenter at Annual Meetings, as a faculty member at Linguistic Institutes, and as a valued colleague as President of the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) for the past 15 years. She served as Chair of the LSA's Audit Committee during a period of financial stress for the LSA, and she has also served as Chair of the Language in the School Curriculum Committee. She has worked at CAL since 1972 (with a two-year interim as a Fulbright scholar in Poland) and has guided the Center through difficult times to a period of unprecedented growth. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics calls her one of the 'foremost authorities in the United States on language education and language in education'. As CAL President, she faithfully attended LSA Executive Committee meetings for many years, ensuring a close and mutually beneficial working relationship between the LSA and CAL. She has also served as a mentor and resource for the staff of the LSA Secretariat, providing guidance on issues of non-profit governance, fostering external relationships and networking, and making her staff available to assist with administrative problem-solving. As Dr. Christian prepares to retire from her position at CAL, it is fitting that the LSA recognize her long-standing service and contributions both to the linguistics profession and to the LSA as an organization.


D. Terence Langendoen. Over the course of a 45-year career, Dr. Langendoen has served the LSA in every elective office (Member of the Executive Committee, Secretary-Treasurer, and President), on numerous committees, including the Program Committee and the Editorial Board of Language, and as Director of the 1986 Linguistic Institute. Beyond his work for the LSA, Dr. Langendoen has made important contributions to the linguistics profession in general. His wisdom, diligence, and good nature have made him a person much sought after for important tasks, and he has always responded with a will. He is an exemplary recipient of the Victoria A. Fromkin Lifetime Service Award.


N.Louanna Furbee is an outstanding recipient of the Victoria A. Fromkin award for service to the Linguistic Society of America and to the profession. Since her graduate days at the University of Chicago, her service to the field of linguistics has been exemplary.

Her service to the LSA alone is exemplary. She has served as the Archivist for the LSA since 1998 and, prior to that, was co-archivist for two years. In addition, she served on the Committee on the Status of Women (1977-1979) and the Language Review Committee (1984-85).

Professor Furbee's service to the profession is widespread and longstanding, and is too extensive to do it justice in these brief remarks. In addition to her deep commitment to the LSA, she has given no less generously to a host of other professional organizations. These include the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA), where she served as President from 1987-1988; Vice-President (1986-87); Executive Committee (1987-89); Chair, The SSILA Book Award Committee (1988-89) and as a Member of the Selection Committee for the Mary R. Haas Book Award (1999-2001). She has also held positions in the Society for Linguistic Anthropology, the American Anthropological Association, and served as the liaison to the American Association for the Advancement of Science for AAA, as well as the Foundation for Endangered Languages, to name just a few.

It would, however, be misleading to consider Professor Furbee's contributions to the field of linguistics just from the standpoint of her professional service. First and foremost she has contributed to the field through her research. A dedicated fieldworker, she has consistently demonstrated a deep commitment to the study of indigenous languages, working closely with and for the communities themselves.


Margaret W. Reynolds, Executive Director of the Linguistic Society of America, is this year's recipient of the Victoria A. Fromkin Award for service to the field of linguistics. It is especially fitting that this award to Maggie bears Vicki Fromkin's name. In her own service to the Society as President and as Secretary-Treasurer, Vicki worked closely with Maggie to expand the Society's horizons, a move that also greatly expanded Maggie's responsibilities. For over thirty years now, Maggie has been the public face of the LSA, committing her energies and passions to the Society's well-being. She has communicated with hundreds of members about Society business on a regular basis, inquiring about possible hosts for biennial linguistic institutes, passing along suggestions to various committees for useful projects, organizing program committee deliberations, working with local linguists to ensure the smooth running of our annual meetings. During these annual meetings Maggie seems to be everywhere doing everything at once.  She personally welcomes attendees, making us feel like honored guests at an enormous social event she is hosting, but at the same time she participates in many committee meetings, consults with various members about Society projects, and also rides herd on hotel personnel to get chairs set up, projectors readied, coffee delivered, and the like. Indeed, Maggie is highly skilled in crisis management of many different kinds at many different levels of complexity and challenge. In the fall of 2004, for example, she managed to relocate  the meeting site from San Francisco to Oakland at the eleventh hour so that members would not be faced with picketing hotel employees. Several other societies ended up having to shift their meeting locations hundreds of miles away from San Francisco or their dates by several weeks. Maggie's efforts on our behalf spared LSA members the considerable inconvenience and expense of such disruptive changes. Most LSA members probably think of Maggie as tending exclusively to the internal affairs of the Society, but she also represents the Society to a wider public. She is busy helping organize outreach  activities aimed at legislators and funding agencies as well as working with our sister scholarly societies on a variety of projects of concern to the profession. And she even graciously replies to inquiries from a wide range of laypeople, ranging from 8th-graders curious about the origins of language to advertising folks who want assistance in creating effective brand names for the global marketplace, putting questioners in touch with relevant experts. Margaret W. Reynolds has served the field of linguistics with distinction: this award is but a small token of our gratitude and affection. 


Ivan A. Sag, the 2005 recipient of the Victoria A. Fromkin Prize for service to the field of linguistics, is a force of nature. Luckily for his colleagues in linguistics, that amazing force has been directed towards many projects for the general good of the discipline. The LSA is especially grateful for the extraordinary talents and energy he has invested in summertime linguistic institutes. To many, Ivan is "Mr. Institute": Not only did he direct early in his career the enormously successful 1987 Stanford institute, but he has served as associate director for three other institutes, including the MIT-Harvard institute, and, while still a graduate student, as "special consultant" for the 1974 U MA-Amherst institute. A student at three institutes during his graduate career, he has been on the faculty of at least eight more, organizing conferences or workshops at several including one where he did not teach. Through his own direct organizing skills as well as serving on committees and helping draft various documents, he has helped the LSA keep institutes successful. Ivan upped both the intellectual and the economic payoff, not only introducing corporate sponsorship for institute courses but even turning them into ongoing revenue streams by marketing tapes. Beyond these administrative achievements, Ivan has been central to creating the special atmosphere that makes institutes so attractive to linguists at all stages of their careers: Playing with the "Dead Tongues", organizing accommodations in empty sorority houses replete with French chefs, engaging colleagues and students in lively linguistic discussions, and more. Institute concerns by no means exhaust Ivan's involvement in the LSA: Not only is he one of the most faithful attendees and regular presenters at the Annual Meetings, but he has served with distinction on the Executive Committee, the Program Committee (as chair one year), and in several other capacities including as liaison to the Association for Computational Linguistics. Ivan has also been very active in forging international connections among linguists, not only through lecturing and teaching abroad but also through organizing conferences and undertaking research with colleagues around the globe. Ivan Sag is not only a very distinguished and influential linguistic scholar, he is also an exceptionally committed and effective citizen of the larger linguistics community, not just here in America but throughout the world.


Eugene Nida. The Linguistic Society of America presents the Victoria A. Fromkin Prize for Distinguished Service to Dr. Eugene A. Nida, whose service to the Society and to the field of linguistics spans more than 60 years. Dr. Nida joined the LSA in 1939, was elected Vice President in 1960, and President in 1968. Since that time, he has served as a financial advisor to the LSA, both informally and formally as a member of the Finance Committee. Upon his recommendation early on, the LSA invested its endowment fund in a broad and diversified range of securities holdings, with the result that our endowment benefited tremendously from the run-up in market values over the past 25 years. Throughout this time, Dr. Nida has shared his expertise without hesitation whenever it has been requested, on questions ranging from what stocks to buy or sell on a particular occasion to overall investment strategy.

Dr. Nida was involved in an important decision in 1984 when the LSA was faced with the question of whether to continue to rent office space in Washington or to terminate its sublease and purchase its own space. Without hesitation, he recommended that we purchase our own headquarters in Washington and finance it ourselves by allowing the endowment to hold the mortgage. As a result, the Society was able to purchase the condominium office it still occupies at Dupont Circle for a very reasonable price with no loss to its endowment funds, as the mortgage has now been paid off, and the value of the condo has appreciated handsomely.

However, Dr. Nida's service as a financial advisor to the LSA is only the tiniest bit of his contribution to the field as a whole. Throughout his years working first for the Summer Institute of Linguistics, then for the American Bible Society, and for the past 25 years in what can only technically be called retirement, he has been one of the most effective spokespersons for the field of linguistics that the world has ever known.


Anthony Aristar and Helen Aristar-Dry. The Victoria A. Fromkin Distinguished Service Prize is going this year to Anthony Aristar and Helen Aristar-Dry for their extraordinary contributions to the field of linguistics through LINGUIST LIST. They and their efficient and effective crew at Eastern Michigan University have led linguists into the new electronic world. The LSA and its members offer them this small token of our great appreciation.


Kathleen Fenton. Ms. Fenton began working for Language a little over 30 years ago, after a career at the predecessor of the National Security Administration, where she learned both Vietnamese and Indonesian in the early 1950s, and while she was working as Thomas Sebeok's administrative assistant. As she puts it, Bill Bright was looking for a proofreader, gave her a test, and she passed. It is difficult to believe how valuable Ms. Fenton has been to Language without seeing her work, which has been invisible to all but the editorial staff. She checks everything from the percentages in tables (they often don't add up) to the consistency in citing a given work across issues. She knows every quirk of the prescribed style of every section of Language, some of which has never been written down and exists only as oral tradition, presumably since the time of Sapir. She is always pleasant and completely unflappable. Truly, Kate Fenton has been the soul of Language. It has been a great honor to work with her. The Fromkin award is a small way to recognize formally her immeasurable contribution through more than 30 years of service to the Society.


Paul Chapin. The Linguistic Society of America is proud to award the Victoria A. Fromkin Prize for Public Service to Dr. Paul Chapin for over 25 years of distinguished public service for the field of linguistics. Paul received his PhD in linguistics in 1967 and was a member of the faculty at the University of California-San Diego until 1975. From 1975 until October 1999, Paul served as Program Director for Linguistics at the National Science Foundation and is currently Senior Program Officer for Scientific Initiatives at NSF. Paul is the very paragon of public service in our field, having sacrificed what would have undoubtedly been an outstanding career in university teaching and research to work at NSF. He has dedicated most of his professional life to the support of his colleagues in their linguistics research and has encouraged the field to grow and develop along the lines that its practitioners have wanted, not in accordance with his own ideas of what counts as 'good' linguistic research. As a result, the field has developed in ways that could not have been anticipated when he took the Linguistics Program Director position at NSF in 1975.