UA Blog

Category Spotlight: Linguistics

This category is for students of Languages and Linguistics, including Phonetics, Phonology, Sociolinguistics, Syntax and Pedagogy.

All papers must be written in English or translated to English.

Papers which discuss literature should be submitted to the Literature category.

Entrants must submit an abstract of between 100-300 words long.

Read Alexandra Brito’s paper, Global Winner of Language & Linguistics 2017, here.

Word Count: 2,500 – 5,000

The 2015 Award Winner, Ronan O'Brien from Princeton University, penned a paper called "Opportunity Be Knockin': Race and Invariant Be in Hip-Hop Language" which looks at the linguistic construction known as "invariant be" one of the prominent features of African American English (AAVE) as well as Hip-Hop Language (HHL). Through the analysis of lyrics from a selection of rappers, the paper explores this feature.

Undergraduate Awards - Gold Medal Winners (32 of 64) - Alexandra Brito, Chris Lubbe2017's winning paper "Effects of Language Immersion versus Classroom Exposure on Advanced French Learners: An ERP Study" by Alexandra Brito of University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was a very illuminating study of L2. University students often report making significant advances in their second language (L2) ability after spending time abroad, immersed in a particular language. The degree to which late L2 learners can seem native like in terms of L2 performance and brain processing is unclear in second language acquisition research. Alexandra's study contrasts learners with advanced French proficiency who have attained this level with no, little, or more immersion experience through study abroad. By using empirical neurolinguistic techniques, she investigates the impact of immersion versus classroom experience on second language processing.

According to the judges this was an extremely interesting study which shed new light on the brain processing of L2. They went on to say:

"The author uses an intriguing and relatively novel neurolinguistic technique to investigate a question that not only is interesting in its own right but also has important implications for L2 pedagogy. Very interesting indeed."


 A Highly Commended paper from 2017, was Emma O'Neill from University of Edinburgh's submission " Breaking the Stigma: A corpus-based analysis of the changes in both the usage and semantics of the term mental health in modern day media". The paper investigates changes in the social perception toward mental health, through analysing the negative portrayal of mental health shown to exist in the media. The author examined whether the media's portrayal of mental health had shifted tone in recent years, possibly due to the increased  publicity of mental health awareness campaigns and organisations. The method of collating the data was to use word embeddings and compare the distances between vectors in multidimensional space.


If you would like to find out how to submit to The Undergraduate Awards 2018 click here.

If you would like to read any of the Global Winners or Highly Commended papers go to The Undergraduate Awards Library.