Evangeline Narayan celebrates MA success (24 August 2021)
Labasa-based student, Evangeline Narayan, is celebrating the successful completion of her MA by supervised research project in Applied Linguistics. Her study – “In search of principles of second language acquisition in the design and unpacking of Fiji’s English syllabus” – used a systematic framework of syllabus and curriculum design to look for the principles underlying the Year 5 syllabus. She concluded that there appears to be no principled approach to teaching English as a second language, and that there is no integration of the strands of listening and speaking, writing and shaping, reading and reviewing. Evangeline’s study left one of her examiner’s commenting that “an evaluation of English and all other languages being taught in our primary schools is a matter of priority if we are to rise above the issues around the literacy and numeracy skills of school leavers and university entrants”.
New BA programme in Communication and Media (5 August 2021)
The School of Pacific Arts, Communication and Education has launched a brand-new BA in Communication and Media in Semester 2 2021. This programme brings together the disciplines of Linguistics, Journalism and Marketing into a combined programme that will prepare students for jobs in the fields of Communications, Marketing, Media and Public Relations. The programme includes a work placement in the final year, as well as a specialist subject through which students can gain foundational knowledge in a particular sector in which they wish to work. Students will gain both practical training and theoretical insights into the way communication works, through courses that are designed with the Pacific context at the forefront, and therefore grounded in principles of multilingualism, inclusion and ethical practice.
New Postgraduate Diploma in Fijian Studies
Two PSERI scholarships awarded to students in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics (20 July 2021)
Two MA students will be joining SPACE in Semester 2 this year, supported by USP’s Pacific Scholarships for Excellence in Research & Innovation. Sandhya Kumari will begin her MA in Linguistics, examining lexical variation in the Banaban and i-Kiribati dialects. Tupou Singh will take up her scholarship in Applied Linguistics, developing a corpus of learner writing to examine the way present and past tense forms are (or are not) acquired in English by learners in Years 2 to 8 in Fiji.
International research project receives funding from the Hong Kong Research Council (14 July 2021)
Dr Candide Simard joins an international team of researchers working on a new three-year project ‘Comparative prosody modelling across languages’, which has received over HKD650,000 in funding from the Hong Kong Research Council. The project is led by Dr Kwing Lok Albert Lee of The Education University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with Professor Yi Xu (University College London, UK), Dr Santitham Prom-on (King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand), and Dr Candide Simard (University of the South Pacific, Fiji). This project will develop PENTAtrainer, a computational modelling tool for the study of prosody. To do so, it will use data from two languages, Cantonese and Fijian. Fijian prosody has not been systematically studied so far, so this project will contribute to enhance its description. The major objectives of the project are to promote computational modelling as a tool for theory testing and comparison; further improve the accuracy of the leading intonation synthesiser PENTAtrainer; provide first-hand acoustic data on Fijian prosody; and promote analysis-by-synthesis as a handy tool for field linguists. The final objective will be to create training materials (tutorial manual, website, and videos) for linguists who are describing lesser-studied languages. It is hoped this will pave the way for analysis-by-synthesis to become the next standard tool for the study of prosody in language documentation.
Wilfred Fimone presents international conference paper based on MA research (18 June 2021)
Recent MA graduate and gold medalist, Wilfred Fimone, attended the 13th International Austronesian and Papuan Languages and Linguistics Conference from 10-12 June, where he presented a paper based on his MA research. The conference was held virtually, due to travel restrictions, giving Wilfred the opportunity to join the conference from afar. His paper was titled ‘Revisiting religious variation in Rotuman: A phonetic variable’.
Bhagirati Bhan successfully completes SRP research (4 June 2021)
Bhagirati Bhan has successfully passed the examination stage of his MA by supervised research project on codeswitching between Standard Hindi and Fiji Hindi (in formal religious settings in Navua), with both examiners commending Bhan for filling a gap in the research, particularly at a time when Fiji Hindi remains under fire from many purist commentators on media and social media platforms.
Emeritus Professor John Lynch (8 July 1946 – 25 May 2021)
The USP family at Emalus Campus and more widely is deeply saddened to share the news of the passing away of Emeritus Professor John Lynch on 25 May 2021. John held the post of Director of USP’s Pacific Languages Unit from 1991 until his retirement in 2007. He was made Emeritus Professor of the University, an honour held by just a handful of people.
John’s first visit to Vanuatu was in 1968, when, as a young postgraduate student, he began fieldwork on the Lenakel language of Tanna. He went on to complete major studies of all the languages of Tanna, Erromango and Aneityum, before more recently doing a great deal of research and writing about the structure, history and relationship of many languages on Malakula. His studies also covered areas such as Bislama, the history of Pacific languages, and language planning and education.
Many hundreds of students acknowledge the impact made on their lives through being taught by Professor Lynch, and learning from the textbooks that he wrote. As well, as one of the forerunners of the modern study of the languages of the Pacific region, John was a trailblazer and mentor for all the other linguists who have come behind. He was held in the highest regard by them all, not only for his internationally recognised academic work, but especially for his quiet humility, his engaging wit, his generous support, and his genuine friendship. He will be sadly missed.
Gold medal successes for both undergraduate and postgraduate linguists (23 April 2021)
Wilfred Fimone has been awarded the gold medal for the best Master of Arts thesis across the University submitted during 2020. His thesis investigated variation and change of glottal stop deletion in Rotuman. Shagufta Bano also picked up two gold medals as the BAGCED student with the highest GPA in both Literature/Language and Geography.
The Laucala graduation ceremony scheduled for 23 April was sadly unable to go ahead due to the recent COVID-19 restrictions. However, we congratulate all the linguists who are celebrating their successes today, including 10 graduates from the postgraduate diploma in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching, 5 graduates from the postgraduate diploma in Linguistics, 12 graduates from the BA in either Linguistics or Literature and Language, and 11 graduates from either the BAGCED or BEd programmes in Literature and Language.