Irina Presnyakova

PhD Student
BA - Language Teaching - Northeastern State University
MA - Linguistics - Northeastern State University
(Magadan, Russia)
MA - English, Marshall University, West Virginia

Senior Supervisor: Dr. Panayiotis Pappas

Language variation and change, socioliguistics, World Englishes, TESL, Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL)

"I cherish my worn-out copy of Halliday's Introduction to Functional Grammar with an autograph of Halliday's co-author, Matthieiessen, whom I met at a conference. I hope to meet Halliday one day - though he turned 90 this year!"

Irina Presnyakova grew up in the Magadan region of Russia (the coldest part!) where she did an undergraduate degree in language teaching, an MA in linguistics, and worked as an ESL teacher for several years. A Fullbright grant brought Irina to North America; she taught Russian language and culture in west Virginia while taking classes at Marshall University. It was at Marshall University that Irina was introduced to Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) taught by Dr. Bob Hong - SFL fascinated Irina so much that she decided to continue studying SFL, along with sociolinguistics, and spent two years at Marshall obtaining her second MA.

Having caught the academic bug, Irina decided to pursue PhD studies and was attracted to SFU's reputation for being a progressive and modern institution. Irina joined the Department of Linguistics in 2011 and was working under the supervision of Dr. Hilgendorf while defining her dissertation topic. Irina's varied and vast interests took her research in an unexpected direction, necessitating a change in supervision. Irina now works under the supervision of Dr. Pappas and is focusing her attention on the exclusion of first and second generation Canadians in sociolinguistic research. Her research investigates to what extent speakers with different ethnic backgrounds (who also affiliate to a different degree with their heritage language and culture) participate in the ongoing change in Vancouver English. The necessity of this study is motivated by the fact that the previous research on language variation and change in BC mostly excluded non-Anglo speakers from the pool of the participants, which may have resulted in a skewed picture of language change. Showing that speakers with different ethnic backgrounds are actively participating in language change will demonstrate their important place in their community.

Though clearly a serious academic, Irina is also quite adventurous -  in 2013 Irina learned outrigger canoe paddling, and last summer participated in a number of races with the False Creek Racing Canoe Club Mixed Distance Team, most notably, the Race Around the Rock paddle around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge!


Systemic Functional Analysis of Elementary School Language Art Textbooks - MA Thesis, 2011, Marshall University, West Virginia.


2014 NWLC (Vancouver, BC). Presentation: Hidden anti-gay propaganda in a TV comedy show: Discourse analysis of the performance

2014 AAAL (Portland, OR). Presentation: ing/ Variable in the Speech of Immigrants: A Case Study of a Russian Family

2013 AAAL (Dallas, TX). Poster: Systemic Functional Analysis of Elementary School Language Arts Textbooks

2012 NWLC (Seattle, WA). Presentation: Deontic semi-modals in modern American English: A corpus-based study

2010 Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (INTESOL) Conference (Indianapolis, IN). Poster: Genre Approach to Teaching Summarization Skills (co-author: J.Platte)

2010 7th annual TESOL/Applied Linguistics Graduate Students (TESOL TALGS) (Greenville, NC) Presentation: Using SFL to Identify the Main Points of a Text for Summarization (co-author: J.Platte)