Good news from the halls of academe

I am putting aside for the moment today’s intended posting, on Tucson sunrises and well-endowed cactuses, to pass on this excellent news, which came to me from my department chair Chris Potts > the department this afternoon:

Please join me in congratulating Professor Vera Gribanova on winning the LSA’s 2022 C.L. Baker Award, which “recognizes excellence in research in the area of syntactic theory on the part of a scholar who is at the mid-point of a distinguished career.”

A wonderful honor for someone who is surely actually only barely even approaching the *mid-point* of their career!

First, some exchanges about the award; and then some about Vera.

Academic generations. My congratulations about Vera, and part of her response to me, and on from there.

me > the department:


Lee Baker was my first Ph.D. advisee and also a good friend. As Tom Wasow [said in his congratulations], an outstanding syntactician — and one of the world’s most decent, admirable people. Also quietly funny and a fine fiddle player. Vera is greatly honored, but justly.

And this is great news for Stanford.

Vera > me:

This is a full circle situation, not only because Baker is my academic grandfather — he was Jim McCloskey’s [Vera’s dissertation adviser] dissertation advisor — but also because he wrote the textbook that was used in my first-ever syntax class (taught by Joan Maling).

me > Vera:

Well, that makes me feel very old, but also very lucky to have lived long enough to get news like this.

You can tell your students that their academic great-great-grandparent is still alive, and even still writing (in his own idiosyncratic fashion). And that before him came Morris Halle, and before Morris, Roman Jakobson (who was also a teacher of mine). They should be pleased to see the six generations before them.

Just to recap:

Jakobson – Halle – Zwicky – Baker – McCloskey – Gribanova

Associate Professor of Linguistics at Stanford. From her department site, on her research:

I am a syntactician and a morphologist, with occasional forays into phonology. My work focuses on phenomena whose analysis requires reference to all of these modules, and often involves detailed investigation of their interaction. I got my start as a linguist focusing primarily on Russian and Slavic languages; since 2009, I have also been working on the under-described Turkic languages of Central Asia (primarily Uzbek).

And on her personal history:

I was born in Moscow, and immigrated with my family from the Soviet Union (via Ladispoli) to the US in 1987.

… We settled in Boston, MA, where I attended Boston University Academy, not long after its inception. There I was first exposed to Latin, which I loved for its rich case system (a feature it shares with my native language, Russian). Later, I attended Brandeis University, where I first learned about generative linguistics and received training from Ray Jackendoff and Joan Maling.

My legal last name is Gribanov but my publication name is Gribanova, because linguists like gender inflection.




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