10 Minutes with… Dr Wendell Kimper.

Posted on March 17, 2018 by

The third episode of ‘LEL academic staff – what do they know? Do they know things? Let’s find out!’ better known as the ’10 minutes with…’-interviews features LEL lecturer and Star Trek enthusiast Dr Wendell Kimper. Wendell grew up in the US and completed his PhD in 2011 as UMass Amherst before coming to Manchester. Wendell is no stranger to the students of LEL, being their senior academic advisor and lecturer of the extremely popular first-year module ‘Language, Mind and Brain‘. He is also no stranger to the 10-minute interviews, as this is his second feature already (the first recorded and written up by Manchet Emeritus George Walkden in 2015). But what does he know now? Does he know things? Let’s find out.

Manchet: As what kind of linguist would you describe yourself?

Wendell Kimper: I work on a combination of phonology, phonetics, and psycholinguistics – so I never know which one to call myself! “Laboratory phonologist” probably comes closest.

M: Why does linguistics matter?

WK: Linguistics matters because language is a fundamental human behaviour; we need to understand its structure if we want to know how the human mind and brain work, and that kind of knowledge is intrinsically valuable. There are also plenty of practical applications – without research in phonology and phonetics, for example, there would be no voice recognition software. That might seem like just a modern convenience, but it’s also an important type of assistive technology for people with disabilities.

M: If you weren’t a linguist, what would you be doing?

WK: Before I became a linguist, I worked in early childhood education, and really enjoyed it. I also sometimes have daydreams about running away to Vermont and becoming an alpaca farmer.

M: Exactly how good are you at scrabble?

WK: Moderately good, but only under rules that allow swear words.

M: Have you ever had a conversation with anyone thinking they were someone else?

WK: All the time! I’m terrible at matching faces to names.

M: What’s the most fun thing to do in Manchester?

WK: It’s not exactly in Manchester, but the surrounding countryside is really beautiful, and excellent for walking and horse riding.

M: Describe the LEL Department using 3 words (of any language)

WK: Outstanding, collegial, heterogeneous


M: Would you rather be able to remember everything you read (assuming that you can’t already, har har) or be able to talk to animals?

WK: I seem to be getting along fine remembering about a third of what I read, but being able to talk to animals would be really useful!


(The featured image illustration is a pencil and watercolour drawing of Wendell on awfully coarse paper by current Manchet voice Lauren Fonteyn)
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