Matt Tian An Men Square

Matthew C. Lahrman

Assistant Project Manager

My love of language grew first from love of the written word--first wanting to become a writer, I poured myself into reading and writing in the English language. Slowly, however, I felt a new love awake inside of me. Although I had taken Latin since 7th grade, it wasn't until my sophomore year that I discovered the richness and beauty of the Latin language and began to systematically analyze it in a way 'quite different' than I noticed my other schoolmates doing.

Eventually I noticed that by finding the places where sounds were pronounced and how they were pronounced, one could move from English vocabulary to Latin vocabulary or even French vocabulary with relative ease. The manipulation of these sounds spoke to me in a very deep way and when I began college, along with my Chinese major I began to read books about these sound changes and other odds and ends that I found interesting. Suprisingly It wasn't until my sophomore year of college, that I learned there was something called 'Linguistics' and then there was this immense feeling of delight in finding a discipline that already encapsulates what I had felt--I had found a part of myself.

Since then, the discovery has become less magical but more daunting, immense, and profound. Language is like a cultural time capsule, dropped by different peoples, created from their very life-stuff, from raw cultural material, and passed down to their dear children. We humans have developed few things more beautiful than the ability to stitch a string of sounds so seamlessly into our hearts, taking something so abstract and attaching it so concretely to our existence.

When trying to explain why I love linguistics to people, I often seek metaphors from other disciplines and walks of life, and I always come back to the same conclusion: I love people, and I love investigating the relationships and interactions of things. Linguistics is describing how people use speech acts to describe and handle their relationships with other human beings and the world. How better to learn about humanity, empathy, and cultural difference than to walk down this scenic, significant, and seldom-trodden path?

Recently, I completed an eight-month study abroad in Beijing, China. It was a wonderful experience but it's also great to be back and to see an old, familiar place in a very new way. It also lead to me realize my research interests in Semantics, Psycholinguistics, and Historical Linguistics. I'm tremendously excited to be here at The Linguist List, enjoying and learning from wonderful people that share my fascination.