At UTSC’s first Undergraduate Linguistics Conference on November 15, the only student participant from UTM, Erin Duncan, was recognized as one of the top three finalists for the “Best Paper” prize.

Organized by UTSC’s Centre for French and Linguistics under the leadership of Prof. Juvénal Ndayiragije, the day-long conference offered undergraduate students the opportunity to share their research and answer questions.

The papers covered a range of different domains of research within the field of linguistics, including sociolinguistics, syntax, and applied linguistics.

Duncan’s paper, titled “Informality and Perceptions”, examined the ability of non-native French speakers to adjust the formality of their speaking style in accordance with different situations.

“I looked at their ability to speak informally when socially appropriate […] and also their perceived knowledge of formality ranges in French,” said Duncan in an email interview.

The fifth-year student said that the experience was well worth the long commute across the city.

“I was able to meet several UTSC faculty members and make connections I otherwise couldn’t have. […] There was also a really wide range of topics, so it was interesting to see where other students were taking their studies in linguistics,” she wrote.

The top papers were chosen based on the thoroughness of the research, data collection, and analysis, as well as on the quality of the presentation.

“Erin’s paper included comprehensive background research and a thorough analysis of an impressive amount of quantitative data. Her presentation was well-paced and her delivery was clear and confident,” said Karen McCrindle, the director of the CFL.

The proceedings of the conference are expected to be published online in the near future.

After the conference, in a department-wide email sent to language studies students at UTM, Prof. Emmanuel Nikiema recognized Duncan’s achievement.

“Our sincere congratulations to Erin for this great accomplishment, and our appreciation to all those who participated in this conference,” Nikiema wrote.

The award included a $200 cash prize. Ndayiragije confirmed that a second conference will be held next fall.