SOAS University of London

British Academy and Academia Europea honours for SOAS linguistics scholar

19 July 2019
Irina Nikolaeva

Professor Irina Nikolaeva, Professor of Linguistics at SOAS University of London, has been elected to the prestigious Fellowship of the British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Professor Nikolaeva has also been elected a Member of Academia Europea.

Professor Nikolaeva was elected to the British Academy Fellowship in recognition of her expertise in linguistic typology, syntax, morphology, information structure and non-transformational theories of grammar.

Professor Nikolaeva said: “I feel extremely honoured and humbled by this election.”

Professor Sir David Cannadine, President of the British Academy, said: “The British Academy has always recognised pioneering research in the humanities and social sciences, and 2019 is no exception. This year we have elected a particularly multi-skilled and versatile cohort of Fellows whose research crosses conventional academic boundaries.

“Whether it is climate conservation or the ageing society, the rise of artificial intelligence or social cohesion, our new Fellows’ wealth of expertise means the Academy is exceptionally well-placed to provide new knowledge and insights on the challenges of today. Their work has opened rich new seams of understanding and discovery, offering new perspectives on long-standing and emerging challenges alike.”

Professor Nikolaeva was a postgraduate at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Leiden, where she received her PhD in Linguistics in 1999. After working at several universities in Germany and the UK, she joined SOAS in 2007 as Lecturer in Language Documentation and Description.

 Professor Nikolaeva’s research interests are linguistic typology, syntax, morphology, information structure and non-transformational theories of grammar. She has also worked on the documentation and description of endangered Uralic, Altaic and Palaeosiberian languages. Her Inaugural Lecture: ‘The Mystery of One of Russia's Smallest Ethnic Groups: the Language and Origin of the Yukaghirs’ can be heard in full on the SOAS website.

The British Academy is the UK’s national body which champions and supports the humanities and social sciences, and elects outstanding UK-based scholars each year. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement in the humanities and social sciences throughout the UK and internationally. 52 Fellows were elected from UK universities, with a further 20 – Corresponding Fellows – elected from universities in the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Finland, Germany, Italy and France.