This prize is awarded each year to the undergraduate student who achieves the highest overall score during their studies in the Department of Linguistics and English Language. It is a fantastic achievement of Stella’s to win this prize. We asked Stella what she enjoyed during her studies with us in the department and what she plans to do next. Here is what she said:
“I was particularly fascinated by modules on the cognitive side of linguistics, like the Cognitive Linguistics module, the Language, Culture and Thought module on linguistic relativity, and even the Language Origins and Evolution module, because it was brilliant to see in what ways language may relate to other cognitive abilities and processes. In fact, I was extremely happy to have the opportunity to take part in the department's SPRINT internship with Dr Aina Casaponsa and Prof. Panos Athanasopoulos in second year, investigating linguistic relativity and object categorisation in bilinguals through Electroencephalography, which gave me an amazing insight into the actual research practice in the area.
Beyond that, I also really enjoyed finding out about all the grammatical possibilities in the world's languages through the Structures of the World's Languages module, led by Dr Daniel Van Olmen, which, in combination with my interest in literature, film and television, inspired my dissertation topic, also supervised by Daniel: An investigation of the linguistic features of 'artlangs' constructed by J.R.R. Tolkien and David J. Peterson (i.e. languages created for fiction), and how these correspond to typological tendencies and the particular linguistic background of their creators, as well as how they correspond to the pseudo- genetic, geographical, and sociolinguistic relations between them, within the framework of the stories in which they appear. Despite the challenges, it actually turned out to be a really enjoyable endeavour!
As for next steps, I'm currently planning to take a short break from academia to gain some more work experience, so right now I'm actually working with Dr Vaclav Brezina from the department, as videographer and editor for the renovation of the Corpus Linguistics MOOC (massive open online course) provided by the Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) of the University. Then, after this year, I will hopefully continue to postgraduate study in an interdisciplinary area involving linguistics, like Cognitive Science.”