Accessibility statement

Catherine Laing, PhD in Linguistics from 2012

What are your research interests / what are you working on?

I am working on a PhD in Phonological Development, exploring the role that onomatopoeia (e.g. 'woof woof') might play in language development.

Why York rather than somewhere else?

I did my undergraduate degree in York and really liked the department so decided to come back. It feels like a small department but not too small – there is a lot going on yet everybody knows one another. And, of course, it's an excellent place to be if you want to do research in linguistics.

How has your experience at York broadened your horizons as a linguist?

Through attending guest lectures in the department I've come into contact with people and ideas that I wouldn't have come across in my own specific area. I've also got to work on projects and with research groups that are particular to York and the people working here. There is a lot of collaboration going on between other departments at York, too, so I have been able to get involved with people from Education and Psychology.

What's the level of support like from staff and the department as a whole, are they receptive to feedback?

The department is very receptive to new ideas and suggestions, and is willing to support and promote student-led initiatives where relevant. The PARLAY conference, for example, was started up last year with full support from the department – this wasn't only a great asset to the department as a whole but also a fantastic opportunity for its students.

What has been your favourite aspect of living and studying at York so far?

Working closely with other academics in the department has been the best part of my PhD so far, as I have learnt a lot about what it means to have an academic career. I have lived in York on-and-off for eight years and I enjoy it more as each year passes – it's a small city which for me is a great asset, and is so well-connected to the countryside (as well as the rest of the country) that it's very easy to get out at weekends and have a break from work.

What do you feel is the most important thing you will take away from your experience at York?

The ability to consider the 'bigger picture' of my research: not only my PhD project on its own but also all of the other things I have gained from my PhD experience. Collaboration, travel, engaging with different audiences, teaching, organization – all part and parcel of the PhD experience, which have made it a thoroughly enriching time for me.


Thesis topic

The role of sound symbolism in phonological development