Faculty Spotlight: Visiting Linguistics Professor Amanda Payne

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By WANYI YANG, Photo editor

This semester, Haverford College welcomes Professor Amanda Payne, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Linguistics, to the Tri-College community. She is teaching Intro to Linguistics and Intro to Syntax.

Payne is currently getting her PhD from the University of Delaware, where she taught for five years. Her research is centered around the ordering of adverbs cross-linguistically.

Payne originally hails from Hershey, Pennsylvania, and she describes her accents as “central PA, mixed with a little bit of Appalachian.” She characterizes herself as “reliable, quirky, and optimistic.”

“Usually tired,” she added, “but happy to be alive!”

Payne said that she enjoys the small class sizes and the sense of community in the Bi-Co. She was also impressed by the students.

“Not to trash other students, but I feel like the students here are very good, very engaged,” she said. “They’re paying attention and they seem to care about the material, which is nice to see.”

The best thing about linguistics, Payne says, is how accessible it is. “You can talk about it with anybody, because everybody speaks language.” Linguistics can also be applied to just about every field of study.

“If you care about social justice or something there’s a lot of linguistics issues that deal with race, gender, and religion.” Payne added, “Or if you care about computer science, there’s a lot of Siri, Google voice stuff like that. If you care about art—poetry, meter and stress.”

If she had to chose one language? “I don’t want to say English because it’s really boring. I don’t want to say Esperanto because it’s really nerdy. Maybe Korean because it’s got a good number of speakers, so it’s common. Korean has a really great alphabet.”

Outside of syntax, phonology and semantics, Payne’s greatest passion is the show Survivor. She’s watched it since childhood, and now podcasts about it.

Payne will only be staying for one semester, and she is unsure of where she will end up next. What she does know, however, is what one food she would choose to eat for the rest of her life: pasta. Pasta with spinach; a healthy compromise.

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