Michael David Hamilton’s experiences in Japan unexpectedly threw him into the field of linguistics.
Now, as he graduates with an honours bachelor of arts degree, with a major in linguistics, he is walking away with the Chancellor’s Medal.
“It’s pretty amazing to win this award,” says Hamilton, 31. “It’s nice to be recognized for studying hard. But I could not have accomplished anything without the motivation from my wife and my son, and the inspiration from the faculty at the School of Linguistics and Language Studies.”
This September, he will enter a fast-track doctorate program at McGill University to continue research in linguistics. He eventually plans to become a teacher.
“I came to Carleton in May 2008 to take up studying again after earning a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Queen’s University and then teaching English in Japan for six years.
“I’ve always been interested in language,” he explains. “In Japan, I was teaching English and learning Japanese. I married a Japanese woman and we had a son. On a day-to-day basis, I was confronted with issues regarding language, such as acquisition and bilingualism. There are so many interesting questions about the language faculty itself, so much is unknown and it’s such a difficult topic, that I’ve become motivated to learn a lot more about it.”
When Hamilton first came to Carleton, he intended to study applied linguistics, but became interested in theoretical linguistics after the first-year introductory course with Prof. Ann Laubstein, who advised him to continue in that field.
“I think it’s really important to study language with knowledge of both applied and theoretical perspectives.”
He also completed, concurrently with his degree, a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).
Hamilton credits the passionate linguistics teachers at Carleton for his interest in the field. For the last two summers, he has also been helping Prof. Marie-Odile Junker with research into East Cree.