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English major receives best undergraduate paper award

Published: 02 April 2013

Kellam Barta, a senior majoring in English, has been awarded best undergraduate paper by the Western Social Science Association. For his paper, “The Mascot Effect 2: Social Factors Influencing Pronunciation of Coyote,” Barta will receive $500 and membership to the organization. He will be honored at the association’s annual conference in Denver in April. 

Barta completed the paper as an extension to his English capstone project. Bruce Maylath, professor of English, was his capstone mentor. 

Barta’s project built on previous findings that suggest a university mascot with varying pronunciations – for example, Bi/z/on versus Bi/s/on – contribute to establishing and maintaining a sense of local identity through specific sound features. 

The project is a field study in sociolinguistics. It investigates a similar phenomenon at the University of South Dakota, whose “Coyotes” may encode group identity based on whether or not the final syllable of the word representing the school mascot is pronounced. In addition to demonstrating “the mascot effect” at USD, the project explores the story of the word “coyote” and how social factors may have shaped its use. 

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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Last Updated: Sunday, August 25, 2013