Bachelor of Arts

Graduate Profile - Lana Takau

"I think life is too short to spend on things I don't like, if I can avoid them,'' says Linguistics PhD student Lana Takau, who is needless to say very much in her element.

"After high school, I didn't even know there was a field called Linguistics and more specifically Oceanic Linguistics, and I never imagined I would be doing it in the future.

"But after doing my MA [Master of Arts] at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, it became kind of clear to me that I would love to spend the rest of my life working on anything related to Vanuatu Linguistics!''

And so to Newcastle, and her PhD that involves the documentation and description of the Nese language spoken in Malekula, central Vanuatu.

After some training at the University of London on fieldwork techniques, Lana's PhD research work took her to a "field site" in Vanuatu where she "lived on the island in which the language was spoken for around nine months, recording and talking to the language speakers about their language''.

Lana TakauLana, who grew up in Vanuatu, is now analysing her recordings and writing drafts of chapters for her thesis.

"I would like to be eventually involved in any kind of work relating to Vanuatu linguistics, whether it be documenting and/or describing Vanuatu languages,'' she says.

"I hope to maybe get a linguistically related job somewhere in Melanesia or anywhere which is geographically close to Vanuatu, with tropical weather!"

Lana, who loves singing, spending time with her five-year-old daughter, socialising with friends and taking photos of sunsets, believes that linguistics is for those who are "open-minded, prepared to live outside their comfort zone at times and to work hard.''

Of Newcastle, Lana says: "I've enjoyed studying here so far. The library is very resourceful and my two supervisors, Dr Catriona Malau and Dr Aashild Naess, are great.

"The students in the Endangered Languages Documentation, Theory and Application Group are really helpful too.''

Lana had done some translation work in Vanuatu but says linguistics is where the action is.

"In linguistics I get to go to the field for fieldwork and that's where I have lots of adventures and live a different kind of life for a while. So there's never a dull moment."