Melissa Irvine

Melissa is studying for a PhD in Linguistics.

Melissa Irvine

"As a postgraduate student there is a lot more freedom and space to develop your own ideas and follow your own interests than there was as an undergraduate.

"I am looking at a language variety on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia that emerged through contact between the French-based creole spoken there and English, which is the official language.

"The sociolinguistic characteristics of that situation are fairly unique so it provides a great 'test case' of sorts for many theoretical issues in contact linguistics.

"I've been interested in language contact for a long time, partially because I speak a creole but also because there's just so much to talk about: as a sub-field it has the potential to intersect with many different areas within linguistics.

“I really enjoy doing research and I would like to continue doing so, so I think an academic position would be the best way to achieve that while also contributing to the field by helping to develop future researchers.

"I am also quite interested in education policy insofar as recognising creoles as viable and important languages. There is a misconception that these languages are 'broken' and inferior in some way and it is a huge barrier to education particularly in the Caribbean, but also elsewhere in the world for many minority or less prestigious languages.

"It would be exciting to act as some sort of consultant for ministries of education to increase recognition of these languages and therefore the benefits of providing resources and schooling in them.

"I chose to stay at the University of Auckland for postgraduate study because I felt supported by the staff in Linguistics and also by the University itself as I was able to gain a scholarship to support me through my studies.

"If you're thinking about postgraduate studies and you enjoy your subject then go for it! It's a big step up and it's hard work, but the skills and knowledge you get in return are worth it."


Find out more about studying Linguistics