Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Solveig Bosse




Dr. Solveig Bosse is an assistant professor of Linguistics and TESOL in the Department of English at East Carolina University.

MA English/Economics (Carl-von-Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Germany)

MA Linguistics (University of Delaware, USA)

Ph.D. Linguistics (University of Delaware, USA)



Where are you from?

I grew up in Verden (Aller), Germany.

What brought you to ECU?

There are very few jobs for graduates with doctorate degrees in Linguistics available, especially on the more permanent tenure-track. ECU offering me a tenure-track position was a great opportunity, so I accepted and came here.

What is your field and how did you first become interested in it?

Officially, I am a theoretical linguist. Most of my research is in theoretical syntax with an added interest in formal semantics. In simpler terms, I analyze the sentence structures of sentences in different languages and try to explain why the sentences have the structure they do and why the sentences mean what they mean.

Unofficially, I am also a psycholinguist – and that is how I first became interested in linguistics. Back in Germany, I took a graduate seminar on first language acquisition. The professor, Prof. Dr. Hamann, decided to offer me a position as a graduate research assistant. I learned a lot about research and academia from her, and when the time came, she encouraged me to apply to Ph.D. programs in linguistics in the USA. I was accepted to the University of Delaware, and there my emphasis slowly shifted from psycholinguistics to theoretical linguistics. While I volunteered in a psycholinguistic lab throughout graduate school, I began to work on my syntactic and semantic research. Eventually, I enjoyed the theoretical work a tad bit more and decided to write my dissertation on a theoretical topic. To this day, I enjoy both theoretical linguistics and psycholinguistics, resulting in me discussing collaborative psycholinguistic work with Dr. Curtindale, the Director of ECU’s Infant and Child Cognition Lab, this semester. (Hopefully, the actual collaboration will start next semester.)

What degrees do you hold and where did you earn them?

MA English/Economics (Carl-von-Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Germany)MA Linguistics (University of Delaware, USA)Ph.D. Linguistics (University of Delaware, USA)

What other life experience prepared you for your role here at ECU?

I have lived in four different US states, in Germany, and briefly in China. In these places, I met a variety of people with diverse life stories and saw how different people handle big and small issues differently. These experiences have probably had the biggest impact on my role here as they allow me to connect with the diverse people in Pirate Nation – the students, my colleagues and others in and around Greenville.

What recognitions/achievements are you most proud of and why?

I consider my Ph.D. degree my biggest achievement. My Ph.D. program at UD was very tough and demanding at times, and despite considering giving up many times, I never did.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy learning from and discussing linguistics (and some other topics) with others. So my most enjoyable moments are when I am challenged in class by questions from students about concepts and ideas of linguistics, or when I discuss my research or that of my colleagues. These moments allow me to rethink my assumptions, to strengthen my arguments and to think about a problem from a different point of view.

Describe one of the most rewarding courses you’ve taught in your time at ECU?

One of the most rewarding courses I taught has been LING3730/ENGL6526. This course was, and usually is, taught as a mixed graduate-undergraduate course. We investigate the sounds and word formation processes present in English. I have had terrific discussions with students about the different sounds that English employs, how the sounds are made, and how dialects of English differ in their sound inventories. I have seen students grow from being completely unaware of the sounds of their language to taking a huge interest in how they themselves speak, what features in their speech mark their background, region and identity, and how they can use the information I taught them to their own benefit.

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