Marianne Mithun of the University of California, Santa Barbara Wins Major Award in Linguistics

Marianne Mithun, a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, received the Neil and Saras Smith Medal from the British Academy for her groundbreaking research into Native American and Austronesian languages. The academy called her work a significant contribution to theoretical linguistics.

Professor Mithun, the immediate past president of the Linguistic Society of America, is one of the country’s foremost scholars in indigenous languages. Her work has helped indigenous communities in North America and Austronesia preserve their languages and pass them on to younger generations.

Mary Hancock, acting dean of humanities and fine arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara, called Dr. Mithun’s award a fitting tribute to decades of important work. “Professor Mithun’s extensive comparative study of the structure of indigenous languages has advanced the field while also helping preserve and revitalize these languages, many of which are endangered,” she said.

“I am delighted and deeply honored by this award,” Professor Mithun said. “It is especially meaningful coming from my British colleagues, for whom I have long had great respect and appreciation. Individually and collectively they have created a vibrant discipline, based on deep knowledge and high standards of scholarship, as well as fruitful interaction.”

Professor Mithun has taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, since 1986. She is a graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, California, where she majored in French. Dr. Mithun holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in linguistics from Yale University.

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