Investigating Factors Influencing Metathesis

Hi everyone,
My name is Kelsey Renoll and I’m a sophomore at the College. I’m a linguistics and psychology double major and my work this summer will be, as the title of this posts suggest, an investigation of factors influencing metathesis.
Metathesis is a linguistic phenomenon by which two sounds in a word switch places. It’s a rare phenomenon, so little is known about it but instances of it taking place can be seen historically, in daily speech, and as a phonological process. A famous historical example is the metathesis of s and k in the English word ask, which used to be said aks or h and r in the English word horse, which used to be hrose. Metathesis is also found in a number of the world’s languages as a phonological process and  even happens in daily speech (e.g. saying nuculer instead of nuclear).
As little is known about the subject, my aim this summer is to investigate metathesis in a more experimental setting in order to discover any factors that might contribute to its occurrence. My work will be based in uncovering what is currently known about metathesis and why it happens and comparing that to any findings from my experimentation. Without giving too much away about my methodology, my work will essentially consist of identifying what settings make metathesis more or less likely based on data collected from speech production experiments.Ideally, my experimentation will yield results in line with the current understanding of metathesis, but I have yet to find another experimental investigation of metathesis so I’m not entirely sure what to expect!

Holders Battery Archaeology


This summer I will go back to Barbados to perform an archaeological survey of a Barbadian fort known as Holders Battery.  One of two batteries located on Paynes Bay, It was part of a line of over 40 forts that protected the Island from raids and invasion .  I hope to understand the battery’s place as part of a larger series of fortifications, to identify different models of fortification employed by the British in the 18th century, and to understand how these models were implemented by the British in the Caribbean.  My intent is to use the archaeological and architectural data gathered through survey to lay the foundations for formulating a senior honors thesis.  I am very excited about this project, as this will be my second time in Barbados.

[Read more…]

W&M Child Development Lab – Psychology Study

My name is Sarah Volz, and I am a rising sophomore here at W&M. This past year, Professors Forestell and Dickter were kind enough to allow me to work in their lab in the Psychology Department. We used questionnaires, an EEG study, and a variety of computer tasks to assess children and parents’ reactions to smoking and alcohol related cues. As a Neuroscience major, this lab appealed to me because it has more aspects of what I consider to be more substantial science (EEG recordings) instead of just questionnaires, which may be unreliable because of the self-reports and the presence of the interviewer. I also found this lab really interesting because we collect data from children and adults. While the adults are usually easier and faster to run, the kids are much more fun and frequently entertain the interviewer by regaling them with (mostly unrelated) stories. This summer, I will continue to run participants to collect and analyze data. Eventually, after collecting all of the data for this three-year study, we will write and publish a scientific peer-reviewed manuscript discussing our findings.