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This annual Essay Competition 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 competition is for students who have not yet started the final year of secondary education (this would be students up to Year-12 (Lower 6th) for students in England and Wales; the competition is open to any international student who wishes to take part).

The topic of the 2022 competition is:

‘People who speak two or more languages or dialects sometimes switch between them within the same conversation, and even within the same sentence. What reasons make people switch languages (or dialects)? Why is this interesting for linguists? Should linguists prescribe if switching is good or bad?’

You might wish to consult some of the following freely accessible resources and/or to further research this topic on your own.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1A1GOUWqTMM4zgu0Xwk046wEmwSqzT8lV/view (WeSpeakMulti seminar, especially slides 1-17:)

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-brains-seamlessly-switch-between-languages/

http://www.bilingualism-matters.ppls.ed.ac.uk/people-agree-switch-languages/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120802184015.htm

https://www.unitedlanguagegroup.com/blog/linguistic-code-switching

https://www.futurity.org/languages-bilingualism-1861262/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/tiny-happy-people/naturally-switching-languages/zghp2v4

More academically oriented resources include:

https://repository.ubn.ru.nl/bitstream/handle/2066/14512/RR14512.pdf?sequence=1

and

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1segKOdTAffP1EoZEmrauPtxbwUyKdmCo/view?usp=sharing

Candidates are invited to submit an essay of between 2,000 and 2,500 words (references do not count towards the word limit; any widely used referencing style is acceptable). Essays should be submitted using the form below by the deadline of  the end (23:59 UK time) on Monday 1 August 2022.  Late submissions cannot be accepted.  All candidates will be notified with the results of the competition by mid September.

Any queries should be directed to Dr Napoleon Katsos at [email protected].

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 £400, 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.

How information about you will be used

Your email address will only be used for the purposes of contacting you in regards to your submission . It will not be used for any other reason or given or sold to any other company or organization.  You will receive a copy of the information you have provided to the email address you specify.

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Your Entry

Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf, Max. file size: 2 MB.
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 UK Data Protection regulations http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/information/dpa/. 3. This agreement shall be governed in all respects by English law.
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Past Prize Winners

2021

2020

2019

  • 1st Prize: Eliza Logan (Lady Margaret School)
  • 2nd Prize: James Morley (Harlington Upper School)

2018

  • 1st Prize: Oliver Pearey (Colchester Royal Grammar School)
  • 2nd Prize: Eloise Hunt (King Edward VI College, Stourbridge)

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)
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