Former MA student: Stuart McGill
I spent six very enjoyable years as part of the Endangered Languages Academic Programme at SOAS - four years as a doctoral student and then two years as a post-doctoral researcher. During this time I worked mainly on the Cicipu language in northwest Nigeria. My PhD focused on gender, agreement, and discourse and I also investigated various other interesting linguistic topics in Cicipu, including gemination, deixis, and genetic classification. During my post-doc I had the opportunity (together with my colleague Roger Blench) to capture the first recordings in a number of Kainji languages, and also to work with three Cicipu native speakers (Mohammed Musa, Markus Mallam, and Mohammed Mallam) to set up the Cicipu Language Project, using funding from the Endangered Languages Documentation Project. This involved passing on the training I received at ELAP, allowing the team to become more-or-less independent language documenters. Some of the material we collected is available online (www.cicipu.org) , and the Cicipu team is still working on recording, transcribing, and translating new material.
After finishing my post-doc I rejoined my former employer in Henley-on-Thames, Pitney Bowes, and I'm now working as a software analyst. It has not been too hard going back to the IT world. In part this is because as a documentary linguist I've learned quite a bit about technology as well as language, for example the recording and editing of audio and video, DVD making, web development, regular expressions, Perl and XML/XSLT. Other useful skills I've picked up include language-learning (I didn't speak any foreign language before Cicipu) and how to ride a motorbike!
I still get time to spend an hour or so a day on linguistics and other aspects of language documentation - since starting at Pitney Bowes in September I've marked some MA theses, finished editing a book on Nigerian languages, begun preparations for a one-month field trip to Nigeria in February, produced a series of DVDs edited from the Cicipu corpus, and attempted to explain the concept of a Windows scroll bar over the phone in Cicipu! I'm currently revising an article on Cicipu phonetics. My long term plans are to publish a grammar of Cicipu, work on the reconstruction of the Kainji language group, and to carry on working with the Cicipu Language Project.
I don't know whether I'll return to linguistics in a more structured way at some point in the future - I hope so, and I've managed to dovetail these two 'careers' over the last sixteen years. But in the meantime there's plenty of exciting stuff to do in my spare time!