By Catherine Kane ’26

Professor Christina Esposito is chair of the Linguistics Department. She studies and teaches phonetics.

Any standout books you’ve read recently?

I have a nine-year-old son, so a lot of my reading right now is guided by books that we pick together and that interest us both. Right now, we are reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. It’s a book about an evil witch, and as the story progresses, it turns the traditional fairy tale story on its head. The book deals with themes of good versus evil, censorship, and control.

Has reading with your son been enlightening for your literary taste?

I don’t think I’ve gone to the library and checked out a picture book since I was a child myself. I had spent all these years only reading novels. When I had my son, I was reintroduced to the world of children’s literature and there are some really beautiful, interesting, and amazing children’s books. If anything, the thing that I learned the most is that regardless of our age, we should go and check out any and all books, whether written for kids or adults.

What’s one of your all-time favorite reads?

I revisit J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings frequently. Tolkien was a philologist, which is very similar to being a linguist, and he studied the historical aspects of language. As a linguist, I find his books interesting and fun to read because they’re full of linguistic concepts.

What book is crucial to understanding your academic niche?

The book that’s most easily accessible to people outside of the field of phonetics is Sounds Interesting by John Wells. He talks about how people pronounce words differently, like “caramel” and “pajamas.” In one of my classes, I give an assignment based on Sounds Interesting in which students read some of Wells’ thoughts and then think about a word they have puzzled over.

What is something you love to read that we might not expect?

When I go home, I like reading cookbooks and craft books.

April 28 2023

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