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It's not what you say...Speakers Bureau Profile

January 17, 2007

Speak Out! That’s what the Speakers Bureau has successfully been encouraging UNH faculty and staff to do for decades. Through speaking engagements with our 140 experts, the Speakers Bureau is bringing the excellence of the university’s research and resources to the people and communities of NH.

This month’s featured speaker, Naomi Nagy, makes sure that when she Speaks Out!, her audiences know it’s not just about what is said, but how it’s said. An associate professor of linguistics for more than 10 years, Nagy has been an ardent supporter and member of the Speakers Bureau for just as long.

Her commitment to education extends far beyond her local engagements for the Speakers Bureau. She has traveled the world from York, ME to the University of Edinburgh to Italy to New Zealand researching, teaching and speaking about linguistics, dialects and endangered languages.

“I do think that community outreach is an important part of what UNH does, and I enjoy it,” Nagy said, adding, “I always learn interesting and novel things about local dialects from my audience. Giving these talks in the community is a great way to stay connected with how real people are using their language and knowing what interests them sometimes give me new ideas for research projects.”

Currently she has been working on a comparison of how people in Boston and different parts of New Hampshire speak – showing that their dialects are diverging. This is a project where students collect tape recordings of speakers and then Nagy and the students analyze them together.

“We’ve been looking at patterns of pronunciation of different vowels and the “r” sound in the past year. I even had a couple students analyze the Car Talk guys to see how much like other Bostonians they really sound” Nagy said.

Program coordinator Nora Molloy said, “We are both thrilled and privileged to have Dr. Nagy as a member of the Speakers Bureau. Her enthusiasm for her subjects and her commitment to the outreach and education is immense. She is a true steward of UNH’s Spirit of Discovery.”

The research she and her students have compiled is currently shared in four presentations available through the Speakers Bureau:  “A Linguistic Field Trip to Southern Italy”, “Ebonics - What is It?”, “Live Free or Die: NH Dialects Remain Distinct” and “Quebecois French…and the Anglophones Who Speak It”.

As one of the Bureau’s most frequently requested speakers, Nagy has already made four engagements for the upcoming semester. Three of these will be open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

Balsams Resort, Dixville Notch, NH – January 29th, 2007, 8:30pm

Mt. Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, NH – February 22nd, 2007, 9 pm

Deerfield Historical Society, Deerfield, NH – April 26th 2007, 7pm

For more information on Nagy or any of the above engagements, contact the UNH Speakers Bureau at speakers.bureau@unh.edu or call 603.862.4401.

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