MA Defence - Pocholo Umbal

December 08, 2016

Pocholo Umbal, or Poco for short, joined the Department of Linguistics MA program in Fall 2013. On December 6, 2016, Poco successfully defended his thesis, “The Canadian Shift Among Filipinos in Metro Vancouver." Throughout his program, Poco was an enthusiastic and involved member of the department, working as a TA and proctor for a variety of undergraduate courses and active in departmental events. As his program comes to an end, Poco reflects on his years working with the Department of Linguistics.

When you started your MA program, did you have a firm idea of what you wanted to study?

When I entered the program, I knew that I wanted to do something pertaining to the Filipino community. At first, I was mainly interested in the Tagalog-English code-switching, however, once I had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Pappas on his British Columbia English Project, I learned more about the quantitative aspect of sociolinguistics, which was new to me at the time. Also during that time I read Boberg’s “Phonetics of Canadian English” (2008) and learned how to conduct acoustic analyses with respect to on-going sound changes in Canadian English. This provided the foundation for my own experimental design. Dr. Pappas handed me a copy of Hoffman and Walker’s 2010 paper which explored the topic of ethnolects. This paper provided the theoretical foundation for formulating my own research topic/questions.

What was the process of writing your thesis like for you? Any surprises along the way?

It’s one thing to conduct the literature review and then proceed to the actual data collection; it’s another thing to actually digest all that information and present it in a clear, logical, and thorough way. Writing was a long process. I went through 10 bullet outlines and 9 different drafts before defending! The only “surprising” (intriguing would probably be a better expression) thing about my thesis is that ethnic identity may not end up being a crucial factor in determining Filipinos’ linguistic behaviour; it may well be another social factor that is more meaningful within the community.

How do you feel about your defence?

I feel really good! It’s great to finally be done. I realized that a defence is not so much an opportunity for the committee to grill their student’s work; it’s a chance for them to raise other important points that could potentially enhance the quality of the student's thesis. I learned so much more from our discussion during the defence than I could reading journal articles by myself.

Do you have a favourite memory to share?

The interaction I had with everyone (faculty, staff, grad/undergrad students) in the Department of Linguistics, hands down. I will sincerely miss everyone in the department. I made it a point to create a friendly relationship with each and every member of the department that it is difficult to say goodbye.

What is next for you?

I applied to a PhD program. If that doesn’t work out, it’s okay; I have plans B,C,D,E,F,G…. I am so excited to see what is ahead of me: Industry? Tech? School board? City job? I’m game!

Congratulations Poco!