Life of a Linguist: Interview with Olga Panić Kavgić

How did you first become interested in linguistics?

Let’s say that in grammar school there were two main fields that I was interested in: linguistics and mathematics. It was strange and rare because this combination was not a common one. Then I realized that linguistics includes a lot of mathematical thinking and that it is quite a logical system that makes it similar to mathematics. When it comes to linguistics itself, I opted for foreign languages because I was always interested in the comparative aspect. Studying a foreign language opens different doors and makes it possible to study different things in linguistics.

Olga
How long have you been working at the faculty?

I have been working here for eleven years now. I started working on February 16th, 2002. I am really happy and glad to be part of the academic staff here at the Department of English.

What are your ups and downs with working with students?

So far, I’ve mostly had ups. There were very few downs. I hope that students like my work. The grades that students give me when they evaluate my work are very high and that means more to me than any award. I am really happy when I get some positive feedback, when I see that my students are happy during the class and when they eagerly take part in the discussions.

What are your fields of expertise and which is the most prominent?

I am interested in pragmatics, contact linguistics, translation studies and grammar. At the moment, since my PhD thesis is in field of pragmatics, I would say that this is my primary field of interest, especiallythe phenomenon of linguistic politeness. For this purpose, I am analyzing dialogues extracted from American and Serbian films. In this way, Iwas able to include one more thing that I like a lot and that is films.

What can you tell me about the award you received? How did you feel about it?

First, I felt very surprised, because I was not expecting it. Of course, first I was hoping to get it, but later I even forgot that I had applied and somehow thought that there were better candidates. When I found out that I was awarded the Best Young Researcher Award, it meant a lot because it came from the Faculty of Philosophy, where I graduated and where I have been working for 11 years.

What are your plans for your future?

My primary and most important goal, at the moment, is to complete and defend my PhD thesis, which I hope to get finished by the end of the year. I hope to continue to do what I like and to conduct research in the field of linguistics. But who knows where I may end up with my research, since linguistics is so closely related to many fields.

Knowing how progressively Facebook takes over university life and work, have you considered making a Facebook account?

Am I the only one without a Facebook account? *laughter*

I don’t have anything against Facebook. I just think I don’t have enough time for it. I am afraid that if I open an account, I would spend too much time there. I have a lot of friends and students with whom I would like to maintain contact. Someone might get offended if I am not able to reply because I don’t have enough free time.

Is there anything you would like say to young linguists?

One very important thing is that you can travel. I did travel when I was young, but those travels were on a private basis. However, today there are many fine opportunities for young students to apply for scholarships, to travel abroad. Our students should not miss these opportunities to spend some time at foreign universities. It is a unique opportunity to visit good libraries, to make friends and to establish a network of similar-minded people around the world. They can send you resources and help you out with your research.

Also, get involved in what you are interested in. It does not have to be strictly one thing, but limit yourself in a way, so that you do not drift away from your main interests.

Bojan Azap and Svetlana Kovačević for Anglozine

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Bojana

Editor at Anglozine
Anglozine editor and founder, literature student, translator and copywriter.