Michael awarded the Victor Golla Prize

January 6, 2021

Congratulations to Lev Michael, who has been awarded the Victor Golla Prize from the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA)!

The Victor Golla Prize is presented in recognition of a significant history of both linguistic scholarship and service to the scholarly community, with service that expands the quality and/or dissemination of such scholarship.

An excerpt of the full announcement was circulated in the SSILA newsletter:

Lev exemplifies Victor’s virtues of scholarship grounded in an empirical practice that encompasses ongoing language documentation and text philology, pursuing answers to big-picture questions about areality and language change, and effectively integrated with service to a broad community. He excels in the area of South Americanist language documentation, linguistic analysis, and community language support.

Among his many accomplishments, Lev started the biennial Symposium on Amazonian Languages, which meets in Berkeley. In March of last year, SAL 3 had 21 talks by scholars from Brazil, Canada, and the US. Of course there are bigger events for Latin Americanists generally, but nothing comparable in North America for Amazonianists. He created SAPhon, the South American Phonological Inventory Database. This online resource contains information about phonological inventories for 363 South American languages, allowing users to view information about individual languages and sounds, with a map browsing function.

Lev and his research partner Chris Beier are committed to capacity building in the Amazonian communities where they work. This is a critical part of Lev’s pedagogy and mentoring of North American students, and shines through in his work. He does training and involves community members in the work he and Chris do, and makes sure there are results that benefit them.

The committee found that Lev exemplify the spirit of this award through the breadth, quality, and availability of his research, his success in engagement with communities, and by the inspiration he brings to new generations of linguists.