OTTAWA, November 1, 2012 — Linguist and professor at the University of Ottawa Shana Poplack has been awarded the Gold Medal for Achievement in Research by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Council’s highest research honour.
The award was presented to Professor Poplack for the significant impact her research has had on understanding language in Canada. Her extensive body of work covers the study of speech in its social context, with a focus on the ways by which language change comes about in different contact situations in Canada and elsewhere.
“There is no comparable research being done in the field of sociolinguistics says Vice-President, Research Mona Nemer. “Professor Poplack’s expertise and innovative methods in decoding the evolution of language in a multilingual context is unmatched. The university community congratulates her”.
The SSHRC Gold Medal is awarded to an individual whose leadership, dedication and originality of thought have significantly advanced understanding in his or her field of research, enriched Canadian society and contributed to the country's cultural and intellectual life. Poplack is the tenth winner of the Medal since its inception in 2003.
A world-renowned sociolinguist, Shana Poplack studies language as it is actually spoken, especially in bilingual and minority-language contexts. The first to study scientifically the universal linguistic strategies of bilinguals, Professor Poplack and her research team discovered that switching between languages is a skill rather than a defect, and that borrowed words do not alter the grammatical structure of the borrowing language.
The University of Ottawa has acknowledged Professor Poplack’s contributions to research by naming her Distinguished University Professor. She is also the Canada Research Chair in Linguistics and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Linguistic Society of America. Her research efforts were recognized by numerous awards and honours including the Killam Prize and a Trudeau Fellowship Award.
The University of Ottawa is committed to research excellence and encourages an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge creation, which attracts the best academic talent from across Canada and around the world. It is an important stakeholder in the National Capital Region’s economic development.
Watch a short video on Professor Poplack's research (external site).