History of The International Linguistic Association

In 1943, a group of linguists at colleges and universities in the New York area, including many members of the École Libre des Hautes Études in exile, came together to form the Linguistic Circle of New York.

The model for the new organization was the Société de Linguistique de Paris. Among the first members were Henri F. Muller, Giuliano Bonfante, Roman Jakobson, Morris Swadesh, Robert Fowkes, Henry Lee Smith, Wolf Leslau, and Louis H. Gray.

In the following fifteen years the Linguistic Circle of New York became one of the main sources of new ideas in American linguistics. The fruits of its scholarship were disseminated to a great extent through its journal WORD, which had been established in 1945. Its first editor was Pauline Taylor.

In 1969, in recognition of the expanded character of its membership, the society's name was changed to the International Linguistic Association. The new organization was not unaffected by the academic restructuring of the 1960's and 1970's, but has emerged from this period with a solid membership of about 1400, divided almost evenly among the United States, Europe, and various countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

For a longer history of the ILA in Spanish, read the chapter "La Asociación Internacional de Lingüística" in Entre dos Fuegos: Reminiscencias de Europa y Asia written by our ILA executive board member and former president, Eugenio Chang-Rodríguez.

Since 1955 the Association has sponsored an Annual Linguistics Conference in order to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and research in progress among members of the international linguistic community. During the academic year, the Association arranges meetings at which guest speakers present papers on their ongoing research. The meetings take place at 11:00 a.m., usually on the second Saturday of the months of October, November and December, February, March and May in New York City. They are open to the public and free of charge.

See ILA's constitution

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