Linguistics Essay Prize

This is an annual Linguistics competition for Year 12 (Lower 6th) students. The Essay Prize aims to raise awareness of the systematic study of language as an interesting and multifaceted subject in and of itself. It is hoped that the Prize will encourage students with an interest in linguistics to explore this further and to apply for a University course in this subject. In addition, the Prize aims to recognise the achievements of high-calibre students from whatever background they may come, as well as the achievements of those who teach them.

The competition is open to all students with an interest in how language works regardless of the specific subjects they are currently studying at A-Level (or similar qualification). For example, it may be of interest to students taking A-Levels in Modern Languages, English Language or Classics, but also to students taking Psychology or Mathematics.

The topic for the 2018 competition is as follows:

‘Many of us feel that we can communicate with some animals, for example, our pets.  But do animals have language?’  Address this question by defining the important features of human languages and then consider instances where animals do or don’t exhibit them.

You could use some of these free online resources as introductory background reading:

https://ed.ted.com/lessons/do-animals-have-language-michele-bishop

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121016-is-language-unique-to-humans

https://owlcation.com/stem/The-difference-between-animal-and-human-communication

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_language

Candidates are invited to submit an essay of between 2,000 and 2,500 words. Essays should be submitted using the form below by the deadline of 1 August. All candidates will be notified with the results of the competition by early September.

Any queries should be directed to Dr Napoleon Katsos at linguisticsprize@trin.cam.ac.uk.

The competition carries a First Prize of £600, to be split equally between the candidate and his or her school or college, and a Second Prize of £300, which again is to be shared equally between the candidate and his or her school or college. The school or college’s portion of each prize will be issued in the form of book tokens with which to buy linguistics books. In addition, up to three further essays of a high quality will be commended.

Submit

  • About you

  • About your school

  • Your Entry

  • Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf.
  • 1. I hereby agree that for educational/non-commercial purposes the College may use the Recordings (transcribed or otherwise) and may use the essay I submit (‘Essay’) (with due acknowledgement of my authorship) throughout the world for the full period of copyright, including all renewals, reversions, extensions and revivals of such period, in the following ways: a) storing, publishing or transmitting the Recordings and/or the Essay in College internal archives and databases; and b) exhibiting, publishing or transmitting the Recordings and/or the Essay in print, on DVD or other digital media and on the Internet at College websites and College-affiliated websites; and c) distributing the Recordings and/or the Essay to the press, media organisations and other interested parties for publication, transmission or broadcast.] 2. The information provided in this form is used for the administration of the Linguistics Essay Prize and is managed and stored in accordance with the UK Data Protection Act 1998 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/information/dpa/. For data storage purposes, the College may store electronically the information and Recordings outside the European Economic Area. 3. This agreement shall be governed in all respects by English law.
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Past Prize Winners

2017

  • 1st Prize: Julia Southern-Wilkins (Bedford Girls’ School)
  • 2nd Prize: Martha Birtles (Holy Cross College, Bury)

2016

  • 1st Prize: Shefali Chander (Westminster School)
  • 2nd Prize: David Fenton-Smith (High Storrs School)

2015

  • Joint 1st Prize: Olivia Bonsall (Holy Cross College, Bury)
  • Joint 1st Prize: Georgina Connors (The British School of Paris)
  • 2nd Prize: Kirsty Bailey (Croydon High School)