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Linguistics Blog

Senior Spotlight: Shannon Foley, Class of 2019

Posted: May 13th, 2019 by rstorer

Why did you choose to study Linguistics?

I’ve always really loved anything related to language. I remember learning about verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs in elementary school, and thinking it was so cool! In high school I really liked language courses, but I never felt passionate about any particular language, at least not enough to pursue it as a major in college. 

I came to UVM undecided, but chose to take LING courses right away, even though I had no idea what that really meant (like most people, I just knew that it had something to do with language). After two semesters, I finally declared it as my major! 

Through studying Linguistics, you become more aware of the intricacies/patterns in language that you hear and use on a regular basis. I’m really fascinated by how systematic it is! Recognizing how language varies within and between individuals or communities, and also how it can reflect/reveal our societal views, changes the way you see the world. I think having more linguistic awareness and knowledge is something that everyone could benefit from, and that’s one of the reasons why I love it so much.

What was your favorite LING course at UVM?

There are so many! African American English, Language and Gender, and American English Dialects were my favorite courses related to my concentration (sociolinguistics). 

For formal/core courses, I really enjoyed Introduction to Phonetics, and Introduction to Syntax. 

Special topics courses are always worth taking – I took Discourse Analysis & Law, Language in Media, and Corpus Linguistics, and they’re all at the top of my list of favorite courses!

Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?

Don’t be afraid to ask! Be proactive in identifying and asking for opportunities that will contribute to your personal or professional growth. Related to this, professors are such a great resource, and the amount of support they give to students is what makes the program at UVM so great. 

What are you hopes/plans for the future?

After graduation I’ll be moving to the White Mountain region of NH, where I’ll be working on dialect/sociophonetic research on northern New Hampshire/northwestern Maine. I’ll also be finishing up the research I’ve been doing on northern New York with Julie. 

At the same time I’ll be working on applications to graduate programs for the Fall 2020 term! 

Senior Spotlight: Meghan McClure, Class of 2019

Posted: May 10th, 2019 by rstorer

Why did you choose to study Linguistics?

I came to UVM completely undecided and had absolutely no idea what to major in. I was jumping around classes until I took Linguistic Diversity in the US as a D1 and was introduced to Linguistics. I thought it was super cool and at that point it was like, the last week to declare a major so I just chose Linguistics. A random choice but it was definitely one of the best choices of my college career.

What was your favorite LING course at UVM?

I really loved phonetics. I appreciated how it was more on the sciency side of things. I really liked being able to pick out differences in speech – now my party trick is to test people for the cot/caught merger and then talk about dialectal differences. I also really like semantics. It absolutely kicked my butt but once I put in all my effort (I had to stop doing my readings for my french lit class for semantics) it made a lot of sense and it was really interesting to learn to compute sentences and such. Also now I can scare people with lambda notation so that’s always fun.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?

Learn the full IPA. It’s cool.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

I never really had any plans on using my college major in my direct future after college. I’m moving home to teach and train at a circus company and then applying to contemporary circus schools with hopes to get (more) into (higher level) performing. But once my body breaks/gives out I think I’ll probably start doing something linguistics-related. No idea what though.

Alum Spotlight: Melissa Gelinas, Class of 2014

Posted: April 23rd, 2019 by spfoley

What is your current job, and what do you do on a daily basis?

I am currently a Program Officer at Liberty’s Promise. Liberty’s Promise is a small non-profit that supports immigrant youth through after-school programs and professional internship opportunities. As a Program Officer I primarily conduct our after-school programs which help students access higher education and employment opportunities, while becoming more involved in their community. I conduct these programs entirely in Spanish, as the group of youth I work with are recently arrived from Central America (mostly El Salvador and Honduras). In addition to conducting and planning curriculum for programs I work on grant writing, marketing, and anything else that may come up since we are a small non-profit!

Why did you choose to go into the industry/industries that you have since graduating from UVM?

I have always wanted to use my Spanish in whatever career I have, and after graduating from UVM I took a year off where I lived in Quito, Ecuador and taught English to business professionals while working on my Spanish. Afterwards, I attended Wake Forest University where I got my Master’s in Spanish Interpreting and Translation. I worked briefly as an interpreter at Social Services after graduation, but became frustrated by a lack of awareness about available resources within the community for which I was interpreting. This lead me to the non-profit field, as I realized if I worked in a non-profit I could help bridge that gap before it is created and try to ensure that the Spanish-speaking population has equal access to and knowledge of the resources available to them as they would if their first language was English.

How has your degree in linguistics been useful in the work you’ve done since graduating? Are there any particular skills you’ve developed from linguistic coursework that have been especially helpful?

Having a degree in linguistics has been an excellent background for this career path. One of the things that has been helpful is classwork I did focused on Spanish linguistics and second language acquisition as that is extremely relevant to the population I work with daily. Additionally, having an awareness of linguistic differences even within the broader Spanish-speaking community and the differences in language acquisition that can occur based on different factors has been helpful while working with our youth.

Do you have any advice for students interested in your line of work and/or work you’ve done in the past?

I think my main advice for students who are interested in Interpreting/Translation would be to figure out whether they are more interested in interpreting or translating before beginning to study. I was lucky in that I was always interested more in interpreting and was able to find a graduate program at Wake Forest that focused heavily on interpreting (both simultaneous and consecutive), however there are many graduate programs that are translation heavy so it is important to know what you want to get out of the program before applying. As far as the non-profit sector goes, I would say be willing to be a jack of all trades, especially if you wind up at a small non-profit, and expect to have to do duties other than the main ones ascribed to your job title.

If you are a UVM alum and would like to share your experience, please contact us at uvmlinguistics@gmail.com.

Alum Spotlight: Aundrea Fudge, Class of 2013

Posted: April 2nd, 2019 by spfoley

What is your current job, and what do you do on a daily basis?

I am currently a voice teacher and an accent/dialect coach for actors. I mainly work in drama schools or with individual actors preparing them for auditions or any upcoming or current projects they have in theater, television, and film. My days vary greatly. Most days I’m in a classroom at a drama school teaching any number of different accents or I’m working from a set or a rehearsal room. I also do ESL work within the context of a drama school. This mainly requires me to help students with a certain level of specificity in their articulation of English geared towards performance. I also do work in corporate with presentation skills and public speaking. 

Why did you choose to go into the industry/industries that you have since graduating from UVM?

I was always really into theater and performing but I knew that I didn’t want to be a performer for the rest of my life. After UVM I did some internships at some theater companies in New York and I met a lot of people and just asked them about what they did and how they had gone about doing that. I had told someone that I studied Linguistics and I was interested in doing something with language and theater and they’d recommended that I speak to a voice coach. I had a lunch with a voice and accent coach and then decided that it was something that I could definitely do. 

How has your degree in linguistics been useful in the work you’ve done since graduating? Are there any particular skills you’ve developed from linguistic coursework that have been especially helpful?

My linguistics degree has been immensely helpful for my work. On a practical level phonetics is something that I am very grateful for. It wasn’t my favorite course during my undergrad or my graduate degree but it’s really helped me in this profession. The process of knowing how sound is made and how speech sounds are made are integral to my line of work. Being a voice coach, however, is also about language not just sounds. Linguistics gives me a different insight into how to break down a piece of text and a very specific vocabulary for it as well. Knowing how to breakdown information, distill it, and then give it to an actor is a crucial part of my job and my linguistic degree is really helpful in that. 

Do you have any advice for students interested in your line of work and/or work you’ve done in the past?

I’ve got such a niche job! I have no idea how I could’ve possibly prepared for it if I had any idea that’s what I was going to do back at UVM. I think it’s about following your passion and your interests. There’s a common misconception that you need to study acting and drama in order to teach accents and I think there’s a perspective that those who have studied outside of that realm can bring in that’s really beneficial to the industry. If you’re interested in accent and dialect work I say go for it but also start practicing with friends or volunteer at the theater. Communicating is one of the biggest components of being a successful coach and teacher so the more you practice you get with that the better. Also keep in mind that being able to do an accent doesn’t mean that you can teach it. It’s the specificity of your work that students/actors need. 

If you would like to speak with Aundrea about her work, she can be reached at aundreafudge@gmail.com.

If you are a UVM alum and would like to share your experience, please contact us at uvmlinguistics@gmail.com.

Senior Spotlight: Yovita Poerwanto, Class of 2019

Posted: January 30th, 2019 by spfoley

Why did you choose to study Linguistics?

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember why I chose Linguistics. I remembered majoring in Engineering and getting very very bored. I love technical sciences like that, but it just didn’t spark any interest in me for some reason. So, I hopped between majors for awhile, kind of  testing each out, and seeing which one I lasted in. I tried teaching, math, computer science, and physics before going for Linguistics. And, well, hello, here I am, already graduated in psycholinguistics and math. I didn’t regret anything, though. I’ve always loved languages, and linguistics is a perfect blend between the “hard” and “technical” science-y stuff, and the more “abstract” nature of languages and art.

What was your favorite LING course at UVM?

Second Language Acquisition! I relate so much to that subject because I came to the U.S. with limited working English . So, the class kind of gave me all the information on how people like me acquire another language, and how to “improve” in a sense.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?

While linguistics is so damn interesting, it isn’t the most practical degree in the current. But, it does have a lot of application and intersection with other fields! My suggestion is having another major/minor that would help you expand and apply your linguistics expertise to something else. It’s like that saying: “Jack of all trades is a master of none, but better than a master of one.”

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

I’m hoping to continue my studies and plan on applying for grad school in computational linguistics sometime next year! Still need to study for the GRE, and I’ll see where to go from there. Fingers crossed!

While these questions are tailored toward graduating seniors, they also apply to very recent graduates who are still in the process of making the post-graduation transition to the next chapter of their lives. 

If you are senior or recent graduate of the Linguistics Program at UVM, and would like to share information about your undergraduate experience, send your answers to these questions to uvmlinguistics@gmail.com.

Brennan’s Chair Painting Event, January 2019

Posted: January 28th, 2019 by spfoley

On January 25th, 2019, members of the Linguistics Club painted a chair that will be forever immortalized for the UVM community (or until SGA decides to repaint the student organization chairs again). In just a few short hours, we went from THIS:

   to THIS:

The first layer!

Painting such tiny wugs requires great levels of concentration.

Emma paints the finishing touches!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voted the “wugiest wug” is the light blue “mama” wug, painted by Shannon Foley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss the very tiny “side-wugs” that recent Linguistics graduate, Michelle Beaupre (Class of 2018), carefully painted onto the edge of the seat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some questions to ponder:

Are baby wugs called wuglets or wugglings?

A group of kittens is called a litter. A group of wuglets/wuglings is called a _________.

Members (left to right) Shaina Lee, Emma Roach, Shannon Foley, Addie Beach, and Rain Storer, posing with the final product. Contributors not pictured: Michelle Beaupre, Nathan Davis, Stephanie Brooks, Isabel Kaplan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We may not have created the most beautiful chair, but we certainly had the most fun during the process (which is what really counts). Check it out in Brennan’s when you can!

Senior Spotlight: Michelle Beaupre, Class of 2019

Posted: January 25th, 2019 by spfoley

Why did you choose to study Linguistics?

Choosing my major was kind of like adopting a cat. I didn’t really choose it, but rather it chose me, haha. I actually changed my major 3 times before I even went to orientation. I never had a solid idea of what I wanted to do, I never liked the mainstream subjects like math or history or science, in fact, the only thing I really liked in high school was my Chinese class. With this in mind, I only applied to three colleges with ‘undecided’ as a major. Once I got accepted, I quickly changed my major to Global Business before actually reading about the program. Once I did, I changed it to Global Studies, which I was content with until about a week before orientation. I didn’t really want to get into politics, or business, or any of that type of stuff. I took a whole day scrolling through UVM majors and reading about them, until I just went with linguistics because I knew I liked foreign languages (but I wasn’t sure what exactly it was that I liked about them). At orientation, I watched as students went off into groups with a few professors to help them pick their schedule, while I went one-on-one with Maeve, who told me that not many freshmen start off as linguistics majors, they usually come in undecided or switch their major later. This, of course, made me even more interested in the subject, and I just went with it ever since, and I don’t regret it one bit. Linguistics helped me realize that I enjoyed my Chinese class because we went in depth about what made up the language, how it evolved into what it is today, among other things. So I didn’t really choose to study linguistics… It just kinda happened.

What was your favorite LING course at UVM?

My favorite LING course (content wise) was definitely Forensic Linguistics (LING 295). It was very different than any other LING course, in fact, it even intrigued me so much that I started looking into master’s programs in forensic linguistics (but, I don’t really want to get into law enforcement, so that was quickly brushed aside). It was interesting to see the different fields you can go into with this major, as it expands way beyond what one would normally think when they hear the word ‘linguistics’ (i.e. learning foreign languages, translating, etc), because I didn’t even know that linguistics bled into many of the other mainstream programs. In terms of introductory classes, Intro to Phonology and Morphology was my favorite. Most of my interests towards linguistics, I found, are the components and what makes up the structures of different languages, and how they differ from each other. So this class was interesting in terms of seeing the patterns of where certain allophones fall in different languages, and actually being able to identify and recreate the pattern on your own.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?

Linguistics is a very broad major. There are a dizzying number of things you can do with a linguistics degree that may be really hard to discover at first. If you are thinking of going into the LING program, I would definitely consider trying to get a double major, as this will help to narrow down job options and job opportunities as well so you can keep on track with what you want to do and aren’t simultaneously overwhelmed with the job market (because it is super overwhelming as someone who has experienced that first hand). There may also be some LING courses that you don’t like as much as others, but don’t let that change your outlook on the program. Power through it, and I promise the classes get super interesting as you find what you enjoy and figure out your concentration (and what you actually want to do after graduation). Please, please, please keep in touch with your LING advisor as well, especially towards graduation time. They are super helpful and have more experience in where to look – they are an incredible resource to have, so take advantage of the relationship you have with them while it lasts. Every professor in the LING program is incredibly helpful, and will be glad to help you with a smile while doing so.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

I actually graduated in December of 2018, so right now I am working at the Cyber Café in the Howe library. However, I do have a job lined up in China that I will be starting around late March or April. I will be teaching English with a company in Harbin for a year, and then after the contract is up, I plan to go to grad school for Language Documentation and Revitalization. Where? I’m not sure yet. I have a few schools in England, Arizona, and Hawaii that I’m looking at, but I guess we will see where life takes me. I suppose my ultimate goal would be to work for National Geographic and their Enduring Voices program, however that’s a long time coming (and also a wicked long shot, haha).

While these questions are tailored toward graduating seniors, they also apply to very recent graduates who are still in the process of making the post-graduation transition to the next chapter of their lives. 

If you are senior or recent graduate of the Linguistics Program at UVM, and would like to share information about your undergraduate experience, send your answers to these questions to uvmlinguistics@gmail.com.

Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting 2019

Posted: January 6th, 2019 by spfoley

Friday (January 4th) – Saturday (January 5th), members of the UVM Linguistics Club traveled to New York City to attend the 2019 Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting. The conference was held at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel. The group stayed in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Members of the UVM Linguistics Club visit the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting 2019, located in New York City.

Members of the UVM Linguistics Club visit the Linguistic Society of America 2019 Annual Meeting, located in New York City. Front (left to right): Polina Chetnikova, Emma Roach, Emily Delgadillo. Back (left to right): Shannon Foley, Rain Storer, Thea Leavens, Nathan Davis. Not pictured: Addie Beach, Chris Nagorniak.

Highlights:

  • UVM Linguistics Director, Julie Roberts, presented research on the Vermont dialect: Isabelle Strong (Dartmouth College), Julie Roberts (University of Vermont): Is there anything left of the traditional Vermont dialect? A study of Vermont’s last frontier.
  • American Dialect Society 2018 Word of the Year: tender-age shelter, a term used in a euphemistic fashion referring to the government-run detention centers that have housed the children of asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border.
  • Friday evening the group went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Manhattan, where they spotted actor/comedian Jason Sudeikis.
  • The group attended John McWhorter (Columbia University): Minstrel or grammar?: Invariant am as a living feature of AAVE.
  • Members Emily Delgadillo and Emma Roach got lucky when spinning the conference prize wheel. Emily won free registration for the 2020 meeting in New Orleans, and Emma won a free 1-year Linguistic Society of America membership.

Other Favorites:

  • Suttera Samonte (University of California, Irvine), Gregory Scontras (University of California, Irvine): Adjective ordering in Tagolog: a cross-linguistic comparison of subjectivity based-preferences
  • Sali A. Tagliamonte (University of Toronto), Bridget Jankowski (University of Toronto): Grammatical convergence or microvariation? Subject doubling in English in a French dominant town
  • Catherine Davies (University of Alabama): Epithetic nicknames as insults directed at Trump by online citizen-satirists
  • Olena Fomenko (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv): Ukraine or the Ukraine? The power of naming and national identity
  • Emily Clem (University of California, Berkeley): The cyclic nature of Agree: maximal projections as probes
  • Chantal Gratton (Stanford University): Negotiating gender and power through the situated control of vocal pitch
  • Jenelle Thomas (University of Oxford): Interpretation and linguistic malpractice in the 18th century Louisiana courtroom
  • Itxaso Rodriguez-Ordóñez (Southern Illinois University Carbondale): ‘New speakers’ of Basque, language contact and social meaning

One Member’s Reflections on the Trip:

LSA 93rd Annual Conference, NYC

5 January 2019

Drove out Friday morning. Saratoga Springs pit stop.

Brooklyn airbnb, traffic.

Subway rides on the way back to the airbnb on the first night. Chris and I spoke in French (and a bit of Spanish) all night and especially on the ride home. Mind you, I have never met this person before yet we were able to click instantly because of only one commonality – our desire to speak French. The bad grammar, the mistakes when trying to speak another tongue, it’s all part of what it means to be human, we all just want to interact and understand people whom are unlike ourselves. But this is only a small part of the linguistic algorithm.

If you could imagine just the concept of Linguistics as a 3-dimensional object with many facets on it, such as a polyhedron or diamond, it would be easier to understand that learning languages, and exploring cultures and people, is just a small part of the entity of what Linguistics actually is.

The Linguistics Society of America’s 93rd conference was inconceivable in many ways. For those that did attend, this place was a gathering of scientists, of writers, poets, and métiers of all kinds who link the fundamentals of basic human connection by their artwork, excerpts, and research.

While listening to John McWhorter speak about the use of ‘am’ in African American English, who knew that writers such as Zora Neale Hurston was a so-called “primal linguist” herself, because she was one of the few people who were consciously aware of the AAE dialects from the South spreading into places such as Harlem, NYC? The fact that people as early as the 20th century were starting to talk about linguistics is fascinating; those who ended up attending this talk found out that the use of the conjugated verb ‘am’ with 3rd person pronouns such as “he,” “she” and “they” was possibly used in small pockets of the rural deep South among native speakers of the AAE dialect, who could have used these verb forms as late as the 1980’s. This was hypothesized by McWhorter due to physical written evidence he found from 1940.

The interdisciplinary facets are one of the most important aspects of linguistics because there are so many types of different areas that linguistics can be studied in addition to, with examples pertaining to historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and computational linguistics just to name a few.

– Polina Chetnikova

Senior Spotlight: Claudia Garber, Class of 2018

Posted: April 30th, 2018 by spfoley

Why did you choose to study Linguistics?

I initially came to UVM as a Chemistry major and remained in the Chem department for the first year. However, when I took LING 80 as a ‘fun’ class, because I was interested in phonetics and enjoyed my French language courses, I fell in love. The same minute details and structures that I was learning about in Chemistry applied to Linguistics, except instead of the periodic table, atoms, molecules, and compounds, I was looking at sounds, sentence constituents and morphemes. I switched majors the next semester and never looked back!

What was your favorite LING course at UVM?

My favorite course was either Phonetics or Syntax. As I said, my brain tends to like looking at very structured and mathematical problems.

Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?

Take all the core classes–syntax, morphology, phonetics, phonology, pragmatics and semantics–these help you dive deeper in all the other classes!

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

I will be working in Boston next year at Amazon as a Data Associate within the Alexa Skills team. This work involves processing language data from Alexa. I also hope to return to school later in my career for either a Masters or PhD!

While these questions are tailored toward graduating seniors, they also apply to very recent graduates who are still in the process of making the post-graduation transition to the next chapter of their lives. 

If you are senior or recent graduate of the Linguistics Program at UVM, and would like to share information about your undergraduate experience, send your answers to these questions to uvmlinguistics@gmail.com.

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