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College of Liberal and Fine Arts


Linguistic Student Wins Competition

August 26, 2020

Christine Martinez, an undergraduate Modern Language Studies major and Linguistics minor at
UTSA was recently awarded third place in the 3M Ready, Set, Research Competition. Martinez,
who is currently a fellow in the Mellon Humanities Pathways Program, presented her research
project “Intergenerational Spanish language loss and language ideologies among UTSA
students” which builds on her experiences as a third generation Latina from the border city of El


Q&A with Christine Martinez

Why are you studying linguistics?
I find the complexities of language fascinating and learning about them and analyzing them is
very fun for me. I love how linguistics gives us a way to explain and explore all of those
complexities. Also, being a 3rd generation Latina from a largely bilingual city has prompted a lot
of my interest in language acquisition, attrition, and heritage languages.

What are you planning to do with your degree?
I plan to teach English abroad in Japan before pursuing a graduate degree in Teaching English
as a Second Language with the goal of becoming an ESL Teacher.

What do you wish more people knew about linguistics?
I wish people knew just what linguistics is – the scientific study of language. And if they already
know that, I hope they understand that it is not about learning languages or “useless
overanalyzing” of language, but a necessary study of concepts and details about language that
affect people’s everyday lives from pronunciation to prejudices.

What makes linguistics so unique and interesting?
Linguistics is a fascinating area of study because it goes, for the most part, unnoticed or
unnamed by society at large even though it’s always present, and it can explain the
innerworkings of language that we don’t usually learn in school. Many people notice linguistic
phenomena in their everyday lives, but don’t know that there is a name for what they are
noticing and a whole field dedicated to studying it.

For example, someone may notice that people of a different socio-economic class speak
differently than they do, but do not know exactly what is different. A Sociolinguist can analyze
both group’s speech and determine exactly what is different (pronunciation, vocabulary,
sentence structure, etc.) and discover what perceptions are tied to those differences. They can
inform people of the perceptions related to the different uses of the language and that these
differences do not make one group’s English lesser than the other group’s English, which can
help to break down prejudices. Linguistics is unique in that it provides a way to explain how
languages function, how languages are acquired, and the social effects of linguistic choices or

To find out more about Linguistics at UTSA, contact Dr. Whitney Chappell or Dr. Pablo

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