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Gabriel Holder

Visiting the Oceanogràfic exhibit in Valencia, Spain
Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Master's Student, Hispanic Linguistics, Teaching Assistant of Spanish

I am from the rural north Georgia town of Toccoa, where I attended middle and high school. During this time, I developed a passion for the Spanish language. I have since spent many years studying the language through classes, as well as travel to Spain, and growing as a future instructor of Spanish thanks to a bounty of wonderful opportunities to develop as an academic and a teacher. When I am not studying Spanish phonetics and phonology or historical linguistics, I spend my free time playing and watching soccer, cooking, hiking, and camping.

Research Interests:

My academic passion is found in the linguistic subfield of phonetics and phonology, specifically where theories on sound change may be applied in contexts of historical linguistics and language contact. A long term goal of mine is to develop fluency in Catalan, which will allow for specific investigations over scenarios of bilingualism and language contact between Spanish and Catalan in eastern Spain. However, my primary research interest is associated with proposing motivations of historical (natural) sound change, mostly through the application of the Optimality Theory and related theories and hypotheses, topics which will appear in my master's thesis. Beyond descriptions of sound change, my thesis will seek to detail the history of and attitudes towards Arabic loanwords in Spanish from a 'pan-chronic' perspective, focusing on the shift in attitudes towards Arabisms and the relationships that native speakers of Spanish have historically associated with Arab-Hispanics. I am also interested in Spanish syntax, with hopes of recording data on native speaker clitic pronoun placement preferences, and second language acquisition, specifically the acquisition of prepositions in Spanish by native speakers of English.


I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of North Georgia, spending time at both the Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses and creating many lasting bonds with classmates and professors alike. During my time at UNG, I completed a double major in Spanish Language and Literature and Arabic Language and Culture. These major areas of study were supplemented by study abroad experiences in Madrid, Spain in the summer of 2018 and in Amman, Jordan in the summer of 2019. Coming from a small town of 8,000 people, these experiences were incredibly formative, allowing me to live life through another perspective for a while. On the other hand, I developed fluency in Spanish and Arabic and today I integrate these studies as I work towards the completion of my master's thesis over Spanish-Arabic language contact here at UGA.

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