Concentrators in Linguistics

A concentration in linguistics requires approval of course plans from the Dean of the College.

Ryan Budnick '16Ryan Budnick
I'm Ryan Budnick, from Wayland, Massachusetts. I think any deep study of linguistics has to grow from as broad an understanding of language as possible, and so I've spent a good amount of time studying the many different subfields of linguistics, along with bits and pieces of French, German, Sanskrit, Mandarin Chinese, Innu, and Muskogee. That said, I've found myself orbiting three questions in particular over the past few years. First, how does language change?  Second, how do the models and theoretical frameworks used by linguistics function? Third, how can we use linguistic theory to better document and revitalize languages? I support my study of linguistics with a foundation of math, computer science, and philosophy of science, and am excited to see how interdisciplinary work can bring linguistics to new heights. When I'm not reading about linguistics online, I'm typically hanging out at Colonial Club, working at the Cotsen Children's Library, or in rehearsal playing orchestral clarinet, big band jazz, or Afrobeat.

Ronan O'BrienRonan O'Brien '16
Hi! I hail from the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Originally having fallen in love with the Spanish language, at Princeton I've continued foreign language study with French, Persian, and Polish. However, after coming here, I found myself also fascinated by the structure of language and how it functions in different contexts, leading me to an independent concentration in linguistics. I find sociolinguistics particularly interesting, as well as phonology, phonetics, and psycholinguistics. I am also pursuing certificates in Translation and Intercultural Communication and Persian Language and Culture. Outside of class, I'm a Spanish editor for the Princeton University Language Project, a campus group which provides volunteer translations for non-profit organizations. I also direct the associated Language Fellows Program, which pairs language learners with native speakers for informal practice.

Kelly RafeyKelly Rafey '16
I grew up in Santa Clara, California in a family with only one language but a wonderful supply of well-written books. I loved language for the beauty it could create on a page, and translated that love into a love of Linguistics after studying Wordplay in Professor Katz’ Freshmen Seminar. My interest in natural languages grew after studying constructed languages the following semester, in which I learned about the magnificence that is Tolkien’s Elvish Language Family and Marc Okrand’s creation of Klingon. A year of the Humanities Sequence and a summer reading Nabokov inspired me to add Latin and Russian to the French that I studied before Princeton, and I hope to add several more languages to my list before I graduate. I am particularly interested in Historical Linguistics, Phonetics and Phonology, Morphology, and the Prosody that makes studying Linguistics relevant to Literature. 

Nick TippenahuerNick Tippenhauer '16
I grew up in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, right along the Ohio River, a place where the Southern dialect meets the Midwest. Before coming to Princeton I'd never given much thought to the hodgepodge of accents and dialects that surround my hometown, but I've become incredibly interested in this and other aspects of linguistics during my time here. (Plus, the different dialects explain why so many people have told me I mispronounce so many different words!) I'm really interested in psycholinguistics, more specifically in the interplay between second and first language processing. I think the idea that the processing of a second language differing from but also being influenced by the processing of a first language. As a linguistics concentrator I hope to explore this nuanced connection between the two.

Previous Concentrators in Linguistics

Naomi Lee '15

David AbugaberDavid Abugaber '14
Hi, all! I'm David Abugaber, a '14er raised in Mexico but now living in San Marcos, Texas. I am among the few, the proud, the independent concentrators in linguistics here at Princeton. My main interests are in language acquisition and sociolinguistics; I'm currently teaching English in South Korea, and plan to write my senior thesis on the interaction between Ixil Maya and Spanish in a Guatemalan mountain town called Nebaj. I am also pursuing a certificate in Latin American Studies, and have done summer internships in Guatemala and Brazil through Princeton's International Internship Program. I love to learn languages, and have studied Portuguese, Italian, and French at Princeton (although I hope to add a few more to the list!). Outside of class, I teach ESL and translate for Hispanic immigrant patients at the hospital north of campus. I'm also into classical guitar, meditation, all sorts of music, and Frist Late Meal chicken salad sandwiches.

Sarah D'AntonioSarah D'Antonio '13
Hi! I’m Sarah D’Antonio, a senior independent concentrator in linguistics from Garden City, NY. My favorite subfield of linguistics is forensic linguistics, which deals with language in a legal context. I first learned about it while studying abroad at Cambridge University in England the summer after my sophomore year. I love how forensic linguistics applies linguistics, psychology, philosophy, and other disciplines to law in order to help make society more just. Among other issues, forensic linguists analyze language evidence in court, look at cross-linguistic issues and how they can affect bilingual legal situations, and examine the language of statutes to determine true meaning. My first junior paper explored language affects on cognition and their implications in court, and my second analyzed ambiguity and vagueness in the recantation clause of the United States Perjury Statute. At Princeton, my other interests include Latin and music. I sing with the Princeton University Chapel Choir and was a member of the Princeton Tigerlilies. I am a proud member of the Linguistics Club. I’m also in Colonial Club and love getting involved in the intramural sports there.

Clayton Greenberg '13

Anna Tchetchetkine '12

Ian Wong '12

Erik ZymanErik Zyman '12
My name is Erik Zyman '12, and I'm from New York City. I'm an alumnus of Stuyvesant High School; a veteran of the National Spelling Bee and the National Vocabulary Championship; and president of the Princeton Linguistics Club. I'm independently concentrating in linguistics because I find fascinating the project of discovering how the extremely intricate system of knowledge we call language—which we control unconsciously and with almost no effort—works. Or, in other words, by what rules and principles it's governed.

I'm interested in syntax, information structure, morphology, semantics, and their interrelationships, and I also maintain interests in prosodic and typological issues. My JPs investigated phenomena in P'urhépecha, a genetically isolated agglutinating indigenous language of the state of Michoacán in central-western Mexico. My first JP sought to determine whether the language has split intransitivity; tentatively, the answer seems to be yes. The second tested the hypothesis that the language's rather free constituent order (all orders of S, V, and O are attested) could be explained with reference to information structure; it seems that, to a very great extent, it can. For my thesis, I'm testing the predictions of the Cinque hierarchy, and exploring other aspects of adverbial syntax and semantics. My other research interests, which I hope to pursue or keep pursuing in the future, include the following, among others: 1) binding and reference, quantifier scope, and their interact ions with ellipsis; 2) long-distance dependencies; 3) enriching the empirical base of theoretical linguistics through fieldwork on endangered and understudied languages; and 4) integrating the insights of different research programs within linguistics (e.g., formal and functional, generative and typological, theoretical and experimental).
My interests outside linguistics range from molecular biology to logic to ethics. Among my nonacademic hobbies I count reading, listening to music, watching movies, working out, surfing the Internet, and hanging out with friends. I also have a weakness for Latin and Ancient Greek, and am the winner of the 2010 Stinnecke Prize.


Program in Linguistics
Contact: Yolanda Sullivan
206 Scheide Caldwell House
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544
fax: 609-258-6866