Andrew Carnie, University of Arizona
As a Canadian, the University of Toronto was not only a destination school, but had the unique combination of Linguistics and Celtic Studies that I wanted. Now it's obvious that I'm not a Scottish Gaelic sociolinguist. Two things combined to change my research focus. First, I was forced to abandon my studies of Scottish Gaelic at Toronto because the teacher was in a terrible car accident and the class was cancelled, so I took several classes in Irish instead and became significantly more proficient with the analysis of that language. (Although recently I've been lucky enough to start working on Scottish Gaelic again.) The second thing was my introductory class with Elizabeth Cowper, who showed me -- along with other great instructors at Toronto such as Keren Rice, Diane Massam and Elan Dresher -- that my real talents were in formal linguistic analysis. I was hooked when I discovered that "th" in English spelling was pronounced two different ways. I was utterly smitten when I learned about the interaction and ordering of transformations. The instructors at U of T encouraged me to pursue linguistics at MIT, where I had the luck to work under the incredible late Ken Hale, as well as having close mentoring relationships with Morris Halle, Alec Marantz and David Pesetsky. Ken taught me many things but most important, I think, is a deep respect for the ideal that a deep understanding of linguistics only comes with respect for the details of a language and respect for the humanity of its speakers.