Multilingual Data & Knowledge

The Adam Kilgarriff Prize: Fourth iteration 

Once again, we are seeking applications for the Adam Kilgarriff Prize. If you’re interested in submitting an application, you will find all the information you need at

The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2022, and a winner will be announced on or before 31 December 2022. As always, the Prize itself will be awarded at the forthcoming eLex conference. The 2023 edition of eLex will be held next June in Brno, Czech Republic. 

The Adam Kilgarriff Prize was established to honour our friend and colleague Adam, who died far too young in 2015. Adam was a rare talent, who was equally at home in the very different (but complementary) worlds of computational linguistics and lexicography. While contributing hugely to developments in natural language processing (NLP), Adam worked closely with dictionary developers, applying his NLP expertise to finding smart solutions to practical lexicographic problems. In the process, numerous innovative technologies came into being which are now routinely used across the lexicographic world in particular and computational linguistics in general. 

In the mid-1980s, Adam embarked on a PhD at the University of Sussex, with the simple title ‘Polysemy’. This was a tremendously ambitious investigation, but, as his co-upervisor Roger Evans (2015) said: “Pulling off the one-word title is a tall order, requiring a unique combination of focus and coverage, breadth and depth, and, most of all, authority. Adam completely nailed it”. 

Adam continued his research at Brighton University where, along with David Tugwell, he ran the WASPS project investigating the links between collocation and word senses. This in turn fed into the development of word sketches, a primitive version of which was used in the late 1990s, during the compilation of the Macmillan English Dictionary (Rundell and Kilgarriff 2011, 267-269). 

Together with Sue Atkins and myself, Adam set up Lexicom in 2001 — an intensive 5-day workshop in lexicography and computational linguistics — and the Lexicom workshops have continued to run annually ever since. One of the participants at the first Lexicom, Pavel Rychlý, demonstrated an impressively fast concordancing program he had developed. Adam immediately teamed up with Pavel to create Sketch Engine, which brought together a corpus (initially the British National Corpus), a concordancer, and Adam’s word sketch technology. Sketch Engine has been in continuous development since then, and is now an industry-standard package used in language projects worldwide. 

Adam became ill in late 2014, and died from colon cancer the following spring. His unique talents, remarkable achievements, and enormous impact on NLP, corpus linguistics and lexicography inspired some of his friends to set up a prize in his honour. The biennial Adam Kilgarriff Prize has already had three exceptional winners from very diverse areas of the field, and we are now looking for a fourth. Please get your applications in by 30th September!  

Michael Rundell
Chair of Trustees, Adam Kilgarriff Prize

Evans, R. 2015. Obituary for Adam Kilgarriff. Computational Linguistics, 41.4, 719-721.

Rundell, M. and Kilgarriff, A. 2011. Automating the creation of dictionaries: where will it all end? In Meunier F., De Cock S., Gilquin G. and Paquot M. (eds.), A Taste for Corpora. A tribute to Professor Sylviane Granger. Benjamins: 257-281. 

Adam Kilgarriff Prize

AKP-1, 2016: Paweł Rutkowski 
AKP-2, 2018: Matt Kohl 
AKP-3, 2020: Pilar León Araúz

Michael Rundell (chair) 
Miloš Jakubíček 
Ilan Kernerman 
Iztok Kosem 
Pavel Rychlý 
Carole Tiberius 

eLex conferences
K Dictionaries
Lexical Computing
Michael Rundell
Oxford University Press

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