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Published: 24 June 2013

Prestigious award for Surrey Morphology Group academic

Dr Sebastian Fedden wins Association for Linguistic Typology's Gabelentz Award for his reference grammar of a Papua New Guinea language.

The Association for Linguistic Typology has awarded its prestigious Georg von der Gabelentz Award to Dr Sebastian Fedden of the Surrey Morphology Group for his reference work A Grammar of Mian (De Gruyter Mouton).

Dr Fedden's grammar is the first comprehensive description of the language spoken by the Mianmin people, who live in a mountainous area of the Papua New Guinea rainforest.

"This is a wonderful achievement, resulting from fieldwork in challenging conditions and careful linguistic analysis," said Greville Corbett, Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at the University of Surrey. "The Gabelentz Award is the most significant honour in the field of linguistic typology for the author of a grammar."

The award committee was impressed with not only the excellence of the descriptive grammar and its typological sophistication, but also with the way it engages with areal and historical issues, and with the rich text and vocabulary sections and substantial index. Dr Fedden is now engaged on a new Surrey Morphology Group project (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) involving multiple systems of categorization, in which Mian will have central place.

"This fantastic news is a real credit, both to Sebastian and to Surrey Morphology Group," commented Nicholas Evans, Head and Professor at the Australian National University's School of Culture, History & Language. "Knowing the grammar, and treasuring it as one of the best grammars of a Papuan language, I think it is a totally justified choice by the Gabelentz Award Committee."