Words and Their Origins

To the Selection Committee:

For as long as I can remember, the origins of words have fascinated me.  Dictionaries have their own special bookshelf in our house.  When running across an unknown word, it was never enough to simply look it up.  First, anyone else in the room would be polled, a hypothesis would be put forward, and then every available dictionary would be checked and the definitions compared.  I was always fascinated by the small, seemingly negligible discrepancies.

In school my interests began gravitating towards Language Arts at a young age.  It only seemed natural that I would enroll in Advanced Placement English courses in high school, where I excelled all four years and won several awards (see CV).  Once I entered college I began to experiment and took classes in a variety of fields, but being unable to find anything that piqued my interest nearly as much as language I double majored in English and Spanish.  Unable to resist the temptation I also took several German classes and sat in on a Latin class, although it did not fit into my class schedule.

In order to complete my degree I chose to write my Spanish thesis on Hemingway’s misuse of the Spanish language in his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.  The research for such a project was extensive and challenging, but also captivating.  I was so engaged by the subject that by the end of the semester I had read much more than I needed to about Spanish colloquial language and the cultural fears and taboos that the current, often vulgar, slang stems from.

In the realm of linguistics I have developed a particular interest in the origin and histories of languages.  I was first introduced to Indo-European linguistics in the Senior Seminar for Modern Languages at [redacted] University.  These ancient roots that have managed to hold their meaning despite almost vanishing into modern words immediately enthralled me.  I once spent an entire day sitting on the floor of the school’s library poring over etymological dictionaries that I was not allowed to check out.

I have always felt that study at the graduate level was an end in and of itself, and that learning, simply for the sake of learning, is a worthwhile pursuit.  Having said that, I firmly believe that the study of historical and comparative linguistics has never been more important.  Everyday languages disappear and die out, taking with them a unique way of viewing the world.  With this degree I hope to be well equipped to do research and fieldwork with endangered languages, and eventually go on to do doctoral work, whether at [redacted] or back in the United States.

I am highly aware of the superb reputation of [redacted] University, and my research into your Comparative Indo-European Linguistics course of study has only served to deepen my interest in attending.  I know that in addition to your excellent faculty, your program offers one of the widest ranges of languages anywhere.  I hope you will give me the privilege of continuing my studies with you.





This university required a “letter of intent,” hence the slightly varied format.

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