John H. and Margaret B. Fassitt Professor William Labov has been selected as a 2013 recipient of a Benjamin Franklin Medal by The Franklin Institute. The linguistics professor is one of eight laureates chosen from the fields of science, engineering, and technology. He was recognized for “establishing the cognitive basis of language variation and change through rigorous analysis of linguistic data, and for the study of non-standard dialects with significant social and cultural implications.”
“This top science award is a fitting honor for a scholar and teacher who exemplifies Benjamin Franklin’s legacy of putting knowledge to use for the greater social good,” says Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Rebecca Bushnell.
Labov’s research focuses on the social stratification of language and the forces governing linguistic change in progress. He co-edits Language Variation and Change and the Journal of Dialect Geography. A two-time Guggenheim Fellow, Labov has authored Language in the Inner City, Principles of Linguistic Change, and the Atlas of North American English. He developed The Reading Road, a tutorial program for struggling readers, and has been a senior author of Houghton Mifflin’s Portals, an intervention program for raising reading levels in low-income schools, since 1997.
In addition to his faculty appointment, Labov serves as the director of the Linguistics Laboratory. He has previously served as president of the Linguistic Society of America and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Labov joined Penn’s faculty in 1971.
Among science’s highest honors, The Franklin Institute Awards identify individuals whose great innovation has benefited humanity, advanced science, launched new fields of inquiry, and deepened understanding of the universe.