Meredith Marra

Professor of Linguistics

I came to Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington as an undergraduate student never having even heard of linguistics! Word of mouth encouraged me to dip my toe in by taking the introductory course in my second year.

I changed from a path towards being an accountant who spoke languages to being a fully-fledged sociolinguist in my own right. I didn’t abandon that life completely—one of the joys of sociolinguistics is that it is interdisciplinary and focuses on real life applications. I’m now Director of the Language in the Workplace project and specialise in how people interact in workplace settings, from business meetings to building sites.

I’m motivated by the way in which my linguistic skills can help identify barriers and bridges and especially the role this plays in empowering minority groups and newcomers to New Zealand. Working with government departments like the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and with employees as well as employers means our research can contribute to a more inclusive society.

The programme and the School have an amazing international reputation and I feel really lucky to have stumbled into that class and now be a researcher and teacher in the School that set me up to make a difference.