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If there’s one person who’s guaranteed to put a smile on undergraduate linguistics students’ faces, it’s our faithful friend the Postdoc Syntax Tutor. Fresh from their PhD, what they lack in teaching experience they more than make up for in energy and enthusiasm and the fact that it’ll be at least halfway into Semester 1 before they start turning up 10 minutes late for tutorials. And, nothing if not flexible, they’ll have almost certainly reworked all the slides from last year such that every single one will be packed with so many examples that nearly every student will spend hours and hours going back over them long after the tutorial has ended to understand what was said. Occasionally the Postdoc Syntax Tutor is able to talk about languages that freshmen are familiar with—English, French and Spanish—but if you’re really lucky you’ll get someone who’s spent three years of their life looking at ergativity in Dyirbal or the polysynthesis parameter in Mohawk, so there’ll be tons of indecipherable data to get to grips with (which might not show up on the exam—but it’ll be dead useful later on when you apply for a job in management consultancy). Of course, the best thing about postdoc tutors is that, even in the unlikely event that you can’t understand what they’re talking about, they don’t answer questions clearly and they’re not really familiar with essay submission processes, the vast majority end up getting a lectureship at the end of the year. which means there’ll be even fresher, newer faces next year for Syntax 2.
Thank You, Postdoc Syntax Tutor.