Miss Melissa Irvine

BA, BA (Hons) University of Auckland

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Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy

Biography

Moving to New Zealand after high school, I did a BA double majoring in Spanish and Linguistics here at the University of Auckland. Exposure to a number of different dialects of English and languages like Jamaican Creole and French sparked a life-long interest in linguistics so after completing my Honours year, I began my PhD in linguistics. My research focuses on contact languages (mostly creoles), particularly around the Caribbean, which allows me to branch into many sub-fields and sub-topics of interest such as number expression, reduplication, typology, and language documentation.

Research | Current

I am currently working on documenting a contact language variety in St. Lucia, an island in the Lesser Antilles chain of the Caribbean. Formed as a result of the coexistence of Kwéyòl, a French-based creole, and English, it has special implications for our understanding of contact language typology. The output of this contact appears to be an English-based contact variety exhibiting restructuring of many of the features of the island's two other major languages. This second layer of contact combining an already restructured variety with another lexicon is only attested in two other languages - Dominican Creolised English (Dominica) and Unserdeutsch (Papua New Guinea, Australia).

Distinctions/Honours

  • National Geographic Young Explorer - 2018 grant recipient
  • University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship
  • First Class Honours (Linguistics)
  • Senior Arts Scholar

Committees/Professional groups/Services

I have been an active member of the Linguistics and Language Society on campus for a number of years, including two years as a committee executive. I am also frequently involved in outreach activities aimed at increasing engagement with linguistics, such as the high school Linguistics Olympiad.