The Department of Linguistics is thrilled to announce that PhD candidate Ariana Bancu has been awarded a Mary Malcomson Raphael Fellowship from the U-M Center for the Education of Women (CEW) for the 2018-19 academic year.

This nomination-based fellowship is awarded to a PhD candidate in a humanities or social science field who shows evidence of academic excellence and potential to make an exceptional contribution to society.  Deborah Keller-Cohen, professor of Linguistics, Women’s Studies and Education, said Ariana exemplifies these strengths.

“The Mary Malcolmson Raphael Fellowship draws a unique and highly talented applicant pool,” said Keller-Cohen. “Having spent some years in the past on the review committee, I can attest to the challenges to selecting the recipients. Finding students who not only have an outstanding academic record but also conduct work that promises to contribute to society is a daunting task. Ariana exemplifies that combination of strengths.”

Ariana, who grew up speaking Romanian and German, later learned both English and Spanish. In her personal statement, Ariana said she is interested in multilingualism and advocates for the importance of linguistic diversity: “I believe that language is an intrinsic part of our identity and our heritage, and each new language and linguistic community we study will enhance our knowledge of language and how it reflects a community’s identity, culture and history.”

Ariana’s PhD work focuses on Transylvanian Saxon, an understudied and endangered language. Through her research, Ariana investigates how a minority language has developed while encapsulated within more dominant languages, and how mechanisms of language maintenance/loss are at play.

“My dissertation aims to promote a better understanding of how a trilingual speaker’s first language is influenced by subsequently acquired languages in a context where the first language is slowly being replaced by other languages that are dominant in the society,” said Ariana in her personal statement. “I focus on contact-induced variation and change in Transylvanian Saxon, an endangered minority language that coexists with German and Romanian in Romania and in immigrant communities in Germany.”

Ariana thanked the Linguistics faculty for their support throughout her years in the program, adding: “I am very honored to have been nominated and so happy that I have this fellowship in my last year while I write my dissertation.”

Congratulations, Ariana!