It took me a long time to realise I wanted to become a linguist. I had a resolutely monoglot childhood in 1960s Canberra, Australiaâ€™s â€˜bush capitalâ€™, and canâ€™t even remember hearing any language spoken but English. Nor was school any better when it came to languages: the teachers were dogmatic types who obviously couldnâ€™t speak the languages well and were irritated by why-questions. So like my fellow nerds at Campbell High School I took science subjects and when it came to uni studied biology and psychology. During my third year at the Australian National University (ANU) I had a spare slot in my degree and decided to take first year Russian â€“ mainly so I could read Russian literature in the original. For the first time I experienced what it could be like to learn a foreign language from a teacher (Prof. de Bray) who could lay out its individual logic. He placed great stock on students getting a good pronunciation, and in week two we had to hand in an account of all the phonetic realisations of Russian vowel letters under different stress conditions. This wasnâ€™t the last time I benefited from a teacher with what many would think were unrealistic expectations â€“ I donâ€™t think any of us had studied phonology before, but somehow that planted a seed in me.
|Place of Publication||Online|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|