25 December 2011

Kingston at the International Conference on Phonetics and Phonology

John Kingston presented a talk, along with UMass alumnus Shigeto Kawahara, on "The Phonological Consequences of Geminate Phonetics," at the International Conference on Phonetics and Phonology on December 11 at NINJAL in Kyoto.

Other talks at the conference by UMass alumni are:

Shigeto Kawahara (Rutgers University)?
"Lyman's Law is active in loan and nonce words: Evidence from judgement studies"

Mariko Sugahara (Doshisha University)
"Variations in the shiki domain formation of Kinki Japanese compound words: A pilot study"

Junko Ito and Armin Mester (UC Santa Cruz, ICU/UC Santa Cruz, NINJAL)
"Non-prominent positions"

The full program link is:


Tanja Heizmann defends her dissertation!

Tanja Heizmann will defend her dissertation,

Acquisition of Exhaustivity in Clefts & Questions; and the Quantifier Connection - A Cross-linguistic Study of English and German on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 3:00 in Bartlett 206

Last Call for abstracts to: Optionality in Syntax and Semantics

Workshop: Properties and Optionality in Syntax and Semantics
13-14 February 2012
Utrecht University, The Netherlands


Submission deadline: 10 January 2012

Invited speakers:
Philippe de Groote (INRIA)
Thomas Ede Zimmermann (Frankfurt)

Much research in linguistics over the last decades has involved various procedures of syntactic optionality, which work in parallel to intensional phenomena in semantics. Certain phenomena of optionality, e.g. of unspecified objects or by-phrases in passives, have been treated by assuming empty syntactic positions (Bach 1980, Landau 2010).
Other optionality phenomena, e.g. of verbal adjuncts, were traditionally treated in Montague Grammar using intensional properties, but are more standardly treated as involving modification in event semantics (Parsons 1990, Landman 2000). Even some cases of adjectival modification (e.g. skillful doctor, beautiful dancer) that were traditionally analyzed as involving properties have been argued to involve event modification (Larson 2002). Both theories of intensionality and event semantics take the modification process to be purely semantic and avoid any empty syntactic positions. 

The variety of optionality and modification phenomena, and their intricate relations with intensional properties, lead to some hard puzzles about syntax and semantics:
1. Should there be a unified grammatical framework for analyzing phenomena of optionality?
2. Is there still a role for intensional properties in accounting for optionality effects?
3. How precise and elegant are current hypotheses about optionality in natural language grammar?

The workshop will examine these questions from the perspectives of formal syntax and semantics, and the formal philosophy of intensional properties. 

Invited speakers:
Philippe de Groote (INRIA): TBA
Thomas Ede Zimmermann (Frankfurt): TBA
Contributed Talks:
- Chris Blom (Utrecht): ACG fragment for verbs with optional arguments
- Hanna de Vries (Utrecht): Group distributivity and property-denoting indefinites
- Marijana Marelj (Utrecht): Optionality and argument structure
- Reinhard Muskens (Tilburg) and Noor van Leusen (Nijmegen): Events, Time, Worlds, Roles, Linking, and Variable Management
- Yoad Winter (Utrecht): Property descriptions in locative PPs
- Joost Zwarts (Utrecht): The role of events in adjective modification

In addition, there will be a number of slots reserved for solicited papers.

Reimbursement: Depending of funding restrictions, presenters of selected talks may expect partial reimbursement of their trip and staying expenses. 

We invite authors to submit an abstract (1 or 2 pages including references) for a 30-minute presentation (+10 minute discussion). Abstracts should be submitted via EasyChair: https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=poss2012

Submission deadline: 10 January 2012

Notification:17 January 2012.

Call For Abstracts: ESSLLI in Opole 6-17 August 2012

First Call for Papers


Held duringThe 24th European Summer Schoolin Logic, Language and Information
Opole, Poland, August 6-17, 2012

Deadline for submissions: March 20, 2012http://loriweb.org/ESSLLI2012StuS/

The Student Session of the 24th European Summer School in Logic, Language, and Information (ESSLLI) will take place in Opole, Poland on August 6-17, 2012. We invite submissions of original, unpublished work from students in any area at the intersection of Logic & Language, Language & Computation, or Logic & Computation. Submissions will be reviewed by several experts in the field, and accepted papers will be presented orally or as posters and will appear in the student session proceedings. This is an excellent opportunity to receive valuable feedback from expert readers and to present your work to a diverse audience.
ESSLLI 2012 will feature a wide range of foundational and advanced courses and workshops in all areas of Logic, Language, and Computation. Consult the main ESSLLI website (link below) for further information.

Authors must be students, i.e., may not have received the Ph.D. degree before August 2012. All submissions must be in PDF format and be submitted to the conference EasyChair website. Submissions may be singly or jointly authored. No one may submit more than one singly and one jointly authored paper.
There are two types of papers. Long papers of up to 8 pages will be considered for both oral presentation and the poster session. Short papers of up to 4 pages will be considered as submissions for the poster session.

Submissions must be anonymous, without any identifying information, and must be must be received by March 20, 2012.

More detailed guidelines regarding submission can be found on the Student Session website: http://loriweb.org/ESSLLI2012StuS/

Links to previous years' proceedings are also available there.

Please direct inquiries about submission procedures or other matters relating to the Student Session to esslli2012stus@loriweb.org

For general inquiries about ESSLLI 2012, please consult the main ESSLLI 2012 page, http://esslli2012.pl/


Call for abstracts: LabPhon 13 in Stuttgart 27-29 July 2012

Deadline for abstract submission: 15 January 2012

Notification of acceptance: 31 March 2012

Abstracts are solicited for contributed papers for presentation as 20-minute oral contributions or as posters. Contributions relating to the conference themes are especially encouraged; there will also be sessions for non-thematic papers.The overall theme for the conference is “Phonological and phonetic computations: between grammar and neural activity.” Our goal is to bring together researchers from phonology, phonetics, and adjacent psycho- and neurosciences and to seek to advance these disciplines by encouraging the joint pursuit of interdisciplinary research questions.

Specific topics that address this theme are the following:Simulation as a research method in Laboratory Phonology.Temporal mechanisms in neural processing of sounds and prosodies.Rhythm and Temporal Structure.Rich memory for rich phonology.Non-thematic sessions (both oral and poster) will include contributions to other topics of interest to the LabPhon community.

For more information:


Roeper in the United Kingdom

Tom Roeper gave one of the two public lectures at "The Image of the Child's Mind in Grammar," at "The Past and Future of Universal Grammar," at Durham University in Durham, UK on December 17th. Jill de Villiers was also  a speaker at this conference. For more information, go to http://www.dur.ac.uk/whatson/event/?eventno=11318

While overseas, Tom also gave a talk at University College London entitled "Internal Merge and Avoid Phase in Acquisition," and a talk at St Mary's College, "Building Nodes: Recursives and Possessives in AAE and acquisition."

North American Summer School in June in Austin

The fifth North American Summer School in Logic, Language, and Information,
NASSLLI  2012, will be hosted at the University of Texas at Austin, on June
18-22, 2012.


NASSLLI is a one-week summer school aimed at graduate students and advanced
undergraduates in Philosophy, Computer Science, Linguistics, Psychology and
related fields, especially students with interdisciplinary interests or whose
research crosses traditional boundaries between these subject areas. The summer
school is loosely modeled on the long-running ESSLLI series in Europe and will
consist of 5 sessions of 90 minute courses each day during the week of June
18-22, followed by a Turing Symposium on June 23 celebrating the first
centenary of Alan Turing's birth, and the 13th Texas Linguistics Society
conference on June 23, 24.


* Johan van Benthem (University of Amsterdam / Stanford University): Logical
Dynamics of Information and Interaction
* Craige Roberts (The Ohio State University): Questions in Discourse
* Noah Goodman (Stanford University): Stochastic Lambda Calculus and its
Applications in Semantics and Cognitive Science
* Mark Steedman (University of Edinburgh): Combinatory Categorial Grammar:
Theory and Practice
* Chris Potts (Stanford University): Extracting Social Meaning and Sentiment
* Catherine Legg (University of Waikato): Possible Worlds: A Course in
Metaphysics (for Computer Scientists and Linguists)
* Adam Lopez (Johns Hopkins University): Statistical Machine Translation
* Eric Pacuit (Stanford University): Social Choice Theory for Logicians
* Valeria de Paiva (Rearden Commerce) & Ulrik Buchholtz (Stanford University):
Introduction to Category Theory
* Adam Pease (Rearden Commerce): Ontology Development and Application with
Suggested Upper Merged Ontology (SUMO)
* Ede Zimmermann (University of Frankfurt): Intensionality
* Thomas Icard (Stanford University): Surface Reasoning
* Nina Gierasimczuk (University of Groningen): Belief Revision Meets Formal
Learning Theory
* Robin Cooper (Göteborg University) & Jonathan Ginzburg (University of Paris):
Type Theory with Records for Natural Language Semantics
* Jeroen Groenendijk (University of Amsterdam) & Floris Roelofsen (University
of Amsterdam): Inquisitive Semantics
* Shalom Lappin (King's College London): Alternative Paradigms for
Computational Semantics
* Tandy Warnow (University of Texas at Austin): Estimating Phylogenetic Trees
in Linguistics and Biology
* Hans Kamp (University of Stuttgart / University of Texas at Austin) & Mark
Sainsbury (University of Texas at Austin): Vagueness and Context
* Steve Wechsler (University of Texas at Austin) & Eric McCready (Osaka
University): Meaning as Use: Indexicality and Expressives

Special Presentations

* Pranav Anand (University of California at Santa Cruz)
* Nicholas Asher (IRIT, CNRS/Université Paul Sabatier)
* Martin Davis (Emeritus NYU)
* Robert King (University of Texas at Austin)
* Oleg Kiselyov (FNMOC)
* Kevin Knight (USC/Information Sciences Institute)
* Sarah Murray (Cornell University)
* Chung-chieh Shan (Cornell University)
* Bonnie Webber (University of Edinburgh)
* More to be announced...


* Turing Symposium: June 23
* Texas Linguistics Society Conference: June 23, 24
* More to be announced...

Registration fees: academic discount rate $175; professional rate $400. Student
scholarships will be available for 50 students
(http://nasslli2012.com/scholarships; application deadline: February 29).
Scholarships include registration and may include a further subsidy for travel
and accommodation.

More information is available at:


12 December 2011

UMass at the International Conference on Phonetics and Phonology in Kyoto

The International Conference on Phonetics and Phonology is being held this week at NINJAL in Kyoto. John Kingston, with alumnus Shigeto Kawahara (Rutgers University), is giving an invited talk entitled "The phonological consequences of geminate phonetics."

Other talks at the conference by UMass alumni are:

Shigeto Kawahara (Rutgers University)?
"Lyman's Law is active in loan and nonce words: Evidence from judgement studies"

Mariko Sugahara (Doshisha University)
"Variations in the shiki domain formation of Kinki Japanese compound words: A pilot study"

Junko Ito and Armin Mester (UC Santa Cruz, ICU/UC Santa Cruz, NINJAL)
"Non-prominent positions"

The full program link is:


Call for abstracts: Properties and Optionality in Syntax and Semantics

Workshop: Properties and Optionality in Syntax and Semantics
13-14 February 2012
Utrecht University, The Netherlands 

Submission deadline: 10 January 2012

Invited speakers:
Philippe de Groote (INRIA)                            
Thomas Ede Zimmermann (Frankfurt)  

Much research in linguistics over the last decades has involved various procedures of syntactic optionality, which work in parallel to intensional phenomena in semantics. Certain phenomena of optionality, e.g. of unspecified objects or by phrases in passives, have been treated by assuming empty syntactic positions (Bach 1980, Landau 2010). Other optionality phenomena, e.g. of verbal adjuncts, were traditionally treated in Montague Grammar using intensional properties, but are more standardly treated as involving modification in event semantics (Parsons 1990, Landman 2000). Even some cases of adjectival modification (e.g. skillful doctor, beautiful dancer) that were traditionally analyzed as involving properties have been argued to involve event modification (Larson 2002). Both theories of intensionality and event semantics take the modification process to be purely semantic and avoid any empty syntactic positions.

The variety of optionality and modification phenomena, and their intricate relations with intensional properties, lead to some hard puzzles about syntax and semantics:

1.      Should there be a unified grammatical framework for analyzing phenomena of optionality?
2.      Is there still a role for intensional properties in accounting for optionality effects?
3.      How precise and elegant are current hypotheses about optionality in natural language grammar?

The workshop will examine these questions from the perspectives of formal syntax and semantics, and the formal philosophy of intensional properties.

Invited speakers:
Philippe de Groote (INRIA): TBA
Thomas Ede Zimmermann (Frankfurt): TBA
Contributed Talks:
-         Chris Blom (Utrecht): ACG fragment for verbs with optional arguments
-         Hanna de Vries(Utrecht): Group distributivity and property-denoting indefinites
-         Marijana Marelj(Utrecht): Optionality and argument structure
-         Reinhard Muskens (Tilburg) and Noor van Leusen (Nijmegen): Events, Time, Worlds, Roles, Linking, and Variable Management
-         Yoad Winter (Utrecht): Property descriptions in locative PPs
-         Joost Zwarts (Utrecht): The role of events in adjective modification

In addition, there will be a number of slots reserved for solicited papers.

Reimbursement: Depending of funding restrictions, presenters of selected talks may expect partial reimbursement of their trip and staying expenses.

We invite authors to submit an abstract (1 or 2 pages including references) for a 30-minute presentation (+10 minute discussion).
Abstracts should be submitted via EasyChair:https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=poss2012

Submission deadline:10 January 2012 
Notification:17 January 2012.

Pater and Smith in Paris

On the 8th of December in Paris, Joe Pater and Brian Smith presented a paper to the "Phonologie du Français Contemporain" meeting , entitled "Le ‘e’ en français: élision, épenthèse, les deux, ni l’un ni l’autre?". If you are curious about the answer, you can find it here: 


Selkirk and Cable at the 50th anniversary of MIT Linguistics

The MIT Linguistics department celebrated their 50th anniversary over the weekend with a series of talks and posters, including invited talks by Seth Cable on Endangered languages and Lisa Selkirk on Representations in Phonology. The poster session included a presentation by UMass alumna Gillian Gallagher "Learning the identity effect via reduplication," (co-authored with Peter Graff).

04 December 2011

Tom Roeper at Ling Club meeting on December 7

Jeremy Cahill writes:

Tom Roeper will be speaking on acquisition for Ling Club 5 PM on Dec. 7 in the Partee room. Everyone is invited  and there'll be pizza as always.

You can RSVP now or when I send out the reminder email. RSVP email: jccahill@student.umass.edu


Barbara Partee on the road

Barbara has had two recent trips. She gave a colloquium talk for the Linguistics Program at Princeton November 16, “The History of Formal Semantics: Influences from and to Linguistics and Philosophy”.  While there, she spent the next two days interviewing linguists and philosophers for her history project, and consulting with Stephanie Lewis about her archive of David Lewis’s correspondence.

Now she is in Wrocław for the conference Generative Linguistics in Poland (GLIP) 7, Dec 2-4, hosted by the Institute of English Studies of the University of Wrocław. She is giving the keynote talk: ''The History of Formal Semantics.'' She’s visiting with our former student Bożena Rozwadowska while she’s there.

Barbara and Volodja will be in Amherst until February 14, when they return to Moscow.


Call for papers: Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop

The 27th Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop will take place at Yale University from 31 May to 1 June, 2012. Angelika Kratzer is one of the invited speakers!

Here is the official notice:

Call for Papers:

CGSW has established a long tradition of bringing together researchers in Germanic syntax for fruitful and constructive interaction. As the name of the workshop suggests, the focus has been on the comparative syntax of the Germanic languages. In recent years, the range of work presented has been productively extended to include diachronic change and the interface between narrow syntax and other components of the grammar. CSGW27, which is being organized jointly by the Yale and UConn Linguistics Departments and held at Yale, will continue in this tradition, and we invite abstracts on these topics. In addition, this year’s workshop aims to expand both outward and inward: looking outward, we invite submissions that profitably compare the syntax of Germanic and non-Germanic languages. Looking inward, we encourage submissions on micro-syntactic variation in the dialects of American English, and we anticipate holding a special session on this topic.

Talks will be 30 minutes in length with 10 additional minutes for discussion.  For details on abstract submission via EasyChair, see the CGSW27 website at http://whitney.ling.yale.edu/cgsw27.

Invited Speakers

Marcel den Dikken (CUNY Graduate Center)
Caroline Heycock (University of Edinburgh)
Angelika Kratzer (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Submission deadline: 15 January 2012
Notification of acceptance: 15 March 2012


Jonathan Bobaljik, Gísli Rúnar Harðarson, Susi Wurmbrand (UConn)
Bob Frank, Mike Freedman, Tim Hunter, Sabina Matyiku, Dennis Storoshenko, Raffaella Zanuttini (Yale)

Masters program at the University of Amsterdam

The MSc Logic, offered by the the Institute for Logic, Language and
Computation (ILLC) at the University of Amsterdam, is a two-year
Master's programme providing intensive interdisciplinary research
training for excellent students with a first degree in Mathematics,
Computer Science, Philosophy, Linguistics, or a related discipline.

*Courses*: We offer a unique combination of over 40 courses in
Mathematical Logic, Theoretical Computer Science, Artificial
Intelligence, Philosophical Logic, Formal Semantics and Pragmatics,
Philosophy of Language, Computational Linguistics, Cognitive Science,
and Mathematical Economics. You will be guided by an academic mentor
to design your own personal programme of study out of this pool of
courses, supplemented with a number of small individual research
projects. The final semester is devoted to the writing of a Master's
thesis, which in the past has often lead to scholarly publications.

*Language*: All courses are taught in English. At any given time, the
programme hosts students from at least 25 different countries.

*Career opportunities*: Most of our graduates embark on an academic
career and continue with a PhD, often at top universities all over the
world. Other career opportunities include the software industry and
management consulting.

*Application*: The application deadlines for September 2012 entry are
1 April 2012 for students from European countries and 1 February 2012
for all others.

Please visit http://www.illc.uva.nl/MScLogic/ to find out more.

Summer Research at Harvard for Undergraduates

Margarita Zeitlin from Harvard Univeristy writes:

Each summer, the Laboratory for Developmental Studies at Harvard University
offers a limited number of internships for college undergraduates, under
the supervision of Dr. Susan Carey and Dr. Jesse Snedeker. Interns will
gain experience with current techniques for investigating conceptual and
language development in infants and children.

The internship will start on June 4, 2012 and go through August 10, 2012.
This is a full-time research position and interns are expected to be
available from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. A stipend of $1500 may be
awarded for a full time commitment, but applicants are encouraged to apply
for funding from external sources.

Because of the nature of the internship, it is essential that interns be
mature, articulate, and comfortable with parents and children. They should
also be highly organized and reliable. Desirable background experience
would include the following: coursework in developmental or experimental
psychology or linguistics, basic computer skills and previous research
and/or experience with children.

For more information about this opportunity or to find out how to apply,
please visit our website:

The application deadline is March 9, 2012. We do have an early
deadline on February
10, 2012 for those who are applying for external funding.


The UUSLAW acquisition workshop, was held at UConn this Saturday, December 3rd. There were several talks by members of the UMass community, including:

"The Collective-Distributive reading of 'each' and 'every' in Language Acquisition, by Rama Novogrodsky

"Language and the concept of like events," by Jill de Villiers

"Investigating events and propositions in child language," by Gustavo Freire

"Quantity judgments in Yudja (Tupi)" by Suzi Lima

"Syntax of possession: Accounting for optional and obligatory possessive marking in African American English acquisition," by Tracy Conner

You can see more about the workshop at their website:


Postdoc on Prosody

Proposition de post-doctorat à Aix-en-Provence (France), 
à partir de février 2012, pour une durée de 1 an renouvelable 1 fois.
ANR MINPROGEST Rôle de la théorie de l’esprit dans la construction du sens

L'objectif général du projet ANR MINDPROGEST est de déterminer, en français, quel rôle joue l'attribution des états mentaux (intention, croyance, connaissance) aux autres - encore appelée théorie de l'esprit (ToM) ou mindreading – dans la construction du sens.

Une approche multidisciplinaire (linguistique, psychologie, neurosciences et santé mentale) sera adoptée pour étudier la contribution des mécanismes linguistiques et cognitifs à la construction du sens.

La conversation étant le site fondamental de l'utilisation du langage, un défi majeur consistera à déterminer ce rôle de la ToM dans le contexte de l'interaction sociale chez des individus atteints de schizophrénie et des personnes sans pathologie. On connaît le rôle majeur que joue la prosodie dans la construction du sens et notamment dans l’expression et la reconnaissance des intentions (via sa fonction attitudinale). L’intérêt pour le sens, de plus en plus manifeste aujourd’hui dans les études en prosodie, se traduira par l’exploration plus spécifique de la dimension intonative de la prosodie. Dans ce projet, il s’agira donc d’étudier les contours intonatifs en tant qu’ils véhiculent des informations relatives à l’attribution et la reconnaissance d’états mentaux à l’autre en vue de construire le sens.

Mots-clés: prosodie, sens de l’intonation, contours intonatifs, pragmatique, théorie de l’esprit, schizophrénie.

Profil du/de la canditat(e) : Pour ce projet multidisciplinaire, le/la candidat(e) sera titulaire d’un doctorat en prosodie (de préférence sur la prosodie du français). La maîtrise (quasi) native du français est requise. Une bonne connaissance des approches phonologiques de l’intonation et de la problématique du sens de l’intonation ainsi que la maîtrise des méthodes expérimentales d’investigation de ces questions seront déterminantes.

Le dossier de candidature comprendra :
a) Un CV 
b) Une lettre de motivation décrivant les intérêts de recherche du/de la canditat(e) 
c) 2 lettres de recommandation et/ou le nom et les coordonnées de 2 personnes référentes

Financement : subvention ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche)
Salaire : selon les normes du CNRS

Contact : 
Maud Champagne-Lavau 
email: maud.champagne-lavau@lpl-aix.fr
Laboratoire Parole et Langage 
UMR 6057, CNRS 5 Av. Pasteur B.P. 80975 
13604 Aix-en-Provence, France Téléphone : (33) 04 88 78 57 07
Laboratoire Parole et Langage

Call for Papers: Roots of Pragmasemantics

Linguists, logicians, and philosophers are invited to join the 13th conference on the Roots of Pragmasemantics. The focus of this year's convention is on discourse particles. Discourse particles are situated at the semantics-pragmatics interface, they relate utterances to other utterances in the discourse but also to different kinds of background knowledge (shared or individual). Experimental as well as theoretical approaches to the problem are welcome. We especially invite submissions related to this topic, but welcome also contributions relevant to any of the more classical subjects of this workshop series. We particularly encourage the presentation of innovative ideas, even if they are still in need of later refinement.
We invite anonymous submission of abstracts of no longer than 500 words in PDF, to be sent tomarkus.egg@anglistik.hu-berlin.de
Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:
* Expressive and other non-truth-conditional aspects of discourse particles
* Discourse particles and management of the common ground and interlocutors’ backgrounds (Theory of Mind)
* Discourse particles in interaction with sentence types and speech acts
* Information structure of discourse particles
* Crosslinguistic studies of discourse particles

*Invited Speakers:
Peter Bosch (confirmed)
Peter Gärdenfors (confirmed)
further invited speakers to be confirmed

Deadline for submissions: January 15th 2012
Notification of acceptance: January 31st 2012
Workshop: February 23d-27th 2012.
Location: Szklarska Poręba, Poland

Markus Egg (chair, program)
Reinhard Blutner (accommodation, finances)
Peter beim Graben (program, finances)
Henk Zeevat (program)
Ewa Rudnicka (local organization)
Maria Spychalska (local organization)

For further details check the webpage:
http://szklarska2012.hlotze.com/ (coming soon)

27 November 2011

Jesse Harris defends dissertation

Jesse Harris will defend his dissertation, "Processing Commitments" at 1PM in Dickinson 212 on Monday, November 28. All are welcome.

Congratulations Jesse!

Michael Clauss talks at the LARC/Acquisition Lab meeting

Michael Clauss will give "Modal morphology in Child Tamil," at the LARC/Acquisition Lab meeting on Monday, November 28, at 5:15 in the Partee Room (South College 301).

All are welcome!

Discussion of Wilson and Obdeyn (2009)

Joe Pater writes:

Brian Dillon and I have organized a group discussion of Wilson and Obdeyn's (2009) "Simplifying subsidiary theory: statistical evidence from Arabic, Muna, Shona, and Wargamay." 

The meeting will take place in the Partee room (South College 301) at 2:30 pm November 30th. I've put a copy of the difficult-to-find paper here:


All are welcome!

Colin Wilson gives department colloquium

Colin Wilson, of Johns Hopkins, will give the following talk at the department colloquium on Friday, December 2 at 3:30 in Machmer E-37.

Bayesian inference for constraint-based phonology

Bayesian mathematics and associated algorithms provide a general solution to the problem of inferring structure from incomplete, ambiguous, and noisy data. In this talk, I apply these methods to the specific problem of learning constraint-based grammars of phonology, focusing in particular on the relative roles of the likelihood -- which depends on the language-specific sound pattern -- and the prior -- which embodies assumptions made by the learner independently of the data. Previous research has proposed a rich set of prior assumptions (e.g., that inputs are identical to outputs in early phonological learning, and that certain classes of constraints are biased to be higher-ranked), which are (approximately) enforced by an increasingly complex battery of learning mechanisms. I argue that the prior can be greatly simplified, perhaps even made completely unbiased, by embracing the learner's uncertainty about the inputs and weightings/rankings that underly the observable data. Formal analysis of an unbiased learner, together with simulations from an implementation that uses Gibbs sampling, suggest that a rich prior is not needed to ensure 'restrictiveness' or other empirically-motivated properties of phonological learning.

20 November 2011

Call for Papers: Conference on Language, Discourse and Cognition

*The 6th Conference on Language, Discourse, and Cognition (CLDC 2012)*

Date:     May 4th to 6th , 2012
Venue:   Tsai Lecture Hall on the main campus of National Taiwan University
Taipei, Taiwan

Website: http://homepage.ntu.edu.tw/~cldcntu/

The 6th Conference on Languages, Discourse, and Cognition (CLDC 2012) will be held from May 4th to 6th in 2012, hosted by Graduate Institute of Linguistics, Department of Psychology, Neurobiology and Cognitive Science Center at National Taiwan University, and Linguistic Society of Taiwan.

The CLDC, as an annual international conference, aims to provide a forum for researchers interested in language, discourse, and cognition to report new research findings, exchange innovative ideas and share their frameworks in these areas. Although CLDC was launched only five years ago, the topics relevant to language, discourse, and cognition themes as well as the interdisciplinary exchange stimulated over the last few years have given rise to a growing body of critical findings, making CLDC an important annual event in the fields of Cognitive Linguistics/Functional Linguistics in East Asia. We hope that the CLDC 2012 meeting will continue to attract a greater number of international researchers to participate in the dialog.

The CLDC 2012 will focus on research associated with Cognitive Linguistics /Functional Linguistics and interdisciplinary research. The meeting will be comprised of a general session with the theme of “COGNITIVE LINGUISTICS/ FUNCTIONAL LINGUISTICS AND INTERDISCIPLNARY STUDIES” and a special session with the theme of “EMOTION, LANGUAGE, and COGNITION.”

Summer Research Experience for Linguistics Undergraduates

Sheila Kennison from Oklahoma State University writes:

We are pleased to announce that we will be holding our summer research
experience for undergraduates again in summer 2012.  The goal of this
program is to provide 12 undergraduate students with an in-depth, hands-on
research experience focused on the biological basis of animal  and human
behavior. Students will be trained in the application of the scientific
method to develop hypotheses, design and conduct research studies involving
either animal or human subjects.  Students will also be trained in the
responsible conduct of research. Students will be mentored by full-time,
Ph.D.-level faculty members who are tenured/tenure-track faculty with strong
programs of research. Students selected for the program will be expected to
devote at least 40 hours a week for research; thus, it is not possible to be
enrolled in courses or other activities during the program.

Program dates: June 2, 2012-July 29, 2012

Application deadline: February 1, 2012

To be eligible, students must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is
currently enrolled in an undergraduate program.  Each student will reside in
a campus dormitory (at no cost to the student) and receive $500 per week to
cover food and other living expenses.  Students will receive a $500 travel
stipend to pay for their travel to and from campus and a $500 additional
stipend, if students present research at an academic conference.

Information about how to submit an application is available at

We especially welcome applications from students from underrepresented
groups, including first generation college students and students from rural

PLC deadline delayed to Monday

The organizers of the Penn Linguistics Circle write:

It has been pointed out that the Call for Papers for this year's PLCcontained an error, in that it specified the deadline as Thursday, November 15 (a day/date combination that is not realized this year). To avoid penalizing anyone who might have been confused by this, as well as to allow extra time for the preparation of submissions, we have decided to extend the deadline until Monday, Nov. 21.

As a reminder, instructions for abstract submission can be found at
the PLC website: http://www.ling.upenn.edu/Events/PLC/plc36/

We are looking forward to your submissions.

Seth Cable invited to teach at 2013 LSA Summer Institute

Congratulations to Seth Cable, who has just received an invitation to teach an introductory semantics course at the 2013 LSA Summer Institute in Ann Arbor.

Congratulations Seth!

13 November 2011

Luiz Amaral and Andie Faber at Acquisition Lab/LARC today

Acquisition Lab / LARC meeting is today, Monday November 14 at 5:15 in the Partee Room

Luiz Amaral and Andie Faber will give the talk:

"A Unification-based Approach to Nominal Agreement in Adult Second
Language Grammars"

Everyone is Welcome!

Lisa Green elected to LSA Executive Committee

Lisa Green has been elected to the Executive Committee of the Linguistic Society of America. Her three-year term will begin this January.

Congratulations Lisa!

The UMass invasion of NLLT continues

UMass is taking "Natural Language and Linguistic Theory" by storm. Last week, WHISC reported two articles that have been accepted by that august journal authored by members of the linguistics department (faculty and students alike), and this week WHISC learns that two other UMass papers have been accepted. They are:

"Synchronic explanation," by Paul de Lacy and John Kingston (A critique of Blevins's Evolutionary Phonology and an argument for a synchronic phonological grammar).


"Passivization, Reconstruction and Edge Phenomena: Connecting English and Japanese nominalizations," by Angeliek van Hout, Masaaki Kamiya and Thomas Roeper.


Cable talks in the undergrad linguistics club meeting

Jeremy Cahill writes:

Seth Cable will be giving an informal presentation on the Tlingit language for the Ling Club on Tuesday, November 15th at 5:15 in the Partee Room (South College 301).

All interested undergrads are invited.

Ling Club contact email: jccahill@student.umass.edu.

UMass at the BU Language Acquisition Conference

Tom Roeper writes:

From BU, Bart Hollebrandse Angeliek van HOut,  and Kazuko Yatsushiro
were co-authors with 17 and 25 others, respectively, of two reports
from the COST project, run by Uli Sauerland, which was a European outgrowth
of the DELV project.  The papers dealt with co-ordinated experiments
on Tense and Quantification across all of those languages.  The DELV
figured prominently in a new COST project on Bililngualism and SLI presented
by Cornelia Hamann in the plenary lecture at BU as well.

Ana Perez presented a paper on Recursion developing a Canadian wing to
the UMass work on the project,  And Jill deVilliers and Tom Roeper
presented their recent work on Tense and Truth in the (fortunately) endless
saga of wh-movement in acquisition.

A video on East Sutherland Gaelic

Barbara Partee writes:

There is a wonderful video -- not new, but I just learned about it last
week, about Nancy Dorian's work on the dying language East Sutherland
Gaelic. The video itself is in Gaelic (including Nancy's), with English
subtitles. It's really interesting on many levels, can be fascinating for
students as well as for linguists. (It may make you cry, though.)

If you lose this message, you can easily find the video just by googling on
Nancy Dorian. (She was already famous for her first-of-its-kind book
Language Death.)

06 November 2011

Emily Elfner defends Dissertation on Tuesday

Emily Elfner will defend her dissertation: "Syntax-Prosody Interactions in Irish" on Tuesday, November 8th at 4PM in Bartlett 206.

All are welcome!

Peter Klecha speaks in SRG on Thursday.

Anisa Schardl writes:

This Thursday, Peter will be talking at SRG about imprecision and
modality.  It'll be at Barbara's, 50 Hobart Lane in Amherst, starting
at 6pm.  I'll bring dinner, you bring money or your own dinner.  If
you need me to pick up something special (e.g. vegan, lactose-free)
for you, email me and let me know.  This will be one of your last
chances to talk to Peter about his work before he leaves, so be there!

Paper by Peggy Speas and Jill deVilliers accepted to NLLT

WHISC has learned that Natural Language and Linguistic Theory has accepted "Direct Evidentials, Case, Tense and Aspect in Tibetan: Evidence for a General Theory of the Semantics of Evidentials," a paper co-authored by  Kalsang, Jay Garfield, Margaret Speas and Jill deVilliers.


The Guru: before and after

Angelika Kratzer writes:

Here are two pictures of our Fall Semantics Guru, taken a few years apart in the same environment.


Roger now


Roger then

UMOP 38 is out

UMOP 38: Processing Linguistic Structure, edited by Jesse A. Harris and Margaret Grant is now available!

Here is how its advert blurb describes the volume:

This volume consists of a collection of working papers on sentence processing covering a wide range of topics, including pied-piping, ellipsis in adult sentence processing and acquisition, and processing effects associated with anticipating upcoming linguistic structure. Addressing numerous theoretical and experimental issues, papers in the volume may appeal to a wide audience interested in sentence processing.

Table of contents: http://www.people.umass.edu/harris/umop/UMOP38_toc.pdf

It can be purchased from the Graduate Linguistic Students' Association

Bhatt and Walkow in NLLT

"Locating Agreement in Grammar: An Argument from Agreement in Conjunctions" by Rajesh Bhatt and Martin Walkow has been accepted for publication by Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.


30 October 2011

Henry Davis speaks in Semantics Seminar on Tuesday

Angelika writes:

You are cordially invited to a special lecture:

Quantification in Salish (and maybe Tsimshianic)
Henry Davis, University of British Columbia.

Time: Tuesday, November 1st at 2:30 PM.
Place: Bartlett 206.

EEG/ERP in the Phonetics Lab

John Kingston writes:

It's with great pleasure that I announce that we now have the capacity  
in the Phonetics Lab to collect EEG/ERP data. We have a 64-channel  
system from Electrical Geodesics Inc. (EGI), the same company that  
manufactured the 128-channel system in Lisa Sanders's lab. The  
engineer from EGI is here this week and is training a number of us in  
the basics of how the system works.

So that any interested member of the department can get trained and  
become at least self-sufficient in running experiments using this  
system, if not yet expert, Brian Dillon and I are organizing a  
training regime that will consist of two experiments, one looking at a  
P-side question, the other at an S-side question. Our idea is to  
design maximally simple experiments in each of these two areas, which  
nonetheless either replicate a well-established effect or look to see  
whether a novel manipulation has an effect. The experiments will be  
very simple, so that we can focus on training people in the use of the  
equipment and software.

If you are interested in taking part in the training, let me or Brian  
know soon. Once we have heard from all interested people, we'll  
schedule a brief meeting to set up a training schedule.

While experiments using this technology are not easy to do, you should  
not be deterred from getting trained by that fact, if you think that  
ms-resolution, real-time data on brain activity might provide answers  
to the questions you're working on. With 64 channels, we can also do  
rough localization of the activity.

Here's what the fun you can have with EEG/ERP looks like!




Call for papers: Conference on Areal Linguistics

Graduate Conference on Areal Linguistics, Grammar and Contacts

Tartu, Estonia

4-6 May 2012

Call for papers: Deadline: 10.01.2012

We invite MA and PhD students, postdocs and young researchers in linguistics to submit abstracts related to the following themes:

- Contact-induced phonological, morphological, syntactic and lexical change

- Lexical and grammatical replication, shared grammaticalization

- Typological investigations and wider perspectives on linguistic areas

- Circum-Baltic languages in general

- Language contact and sociolinguistics

- Language contact and dialectal variation

- Globalization and its effect on minor(ity) languages

- Synchronic, diachronic and panchronic approaches to language contact and linguistic areas

Invited plenary speakers:

- Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Stockholm University

- Axel Holvoet, University of Warsaw, Vilnius University

- Florian Siegl, University of Tartu

The working language of the conference is English. For further information, abstract submission and more, see http://arealling.ut.ee

23 October 2011

Acquisition Lab/LARC Meeting Tomorrow!

There will be an Acquisition Lab/LARC meeting on Monday October 24 at 5:15
in the Partee Room. There will be two presentations:

Rama Novogrodsky
"Acquisition of each one/one each"

Barbara Pearson
"Distributive and Collective Readings in the Elementary School
Mathematics Classroom"

Everyone welcome!

Maziar Toosarvandani speaks in syntax seminar on Wednesday

Maziar Toosarvandani (http://toosarva.scripts.mit.edu/) from MIT will give a presentation in Rajesh Bhatt's syntax seminar on Wednesday, October 26, in Herter 208 at 2:30. The talk will be on the role of nominalization in relative clause formation, with a focus on his work on Paiute. (see:[http://toosarva.scripts.mit.edu/manuscripts.html and http://toosarva.scripts.mit.edu/papers/wscla16-paper.pdf)

For more information about the course: https://sites.google.com/site/umasslx750f11/

Maria Polinsky gives department colloquium this Friday

Maria Polinsky from Harvard University will this week's colloquium on Friday October 28 at 3:30 PM in Machmer E-37.

Title: Explaining syntactic ergativity

This paper shows that ergative languages fall into two separate classes, PP-ergative and DP-ergative languages. In PP-ergative languages, the ergative is contained inside a PP which prevents it from undergoing A-bar movement. This accounts for the widespread phenomenon of syntactic ergativity. DP-ergative languages allow the extraction of the ergative. The paper  then presents and analyzes a cluster of properties associated with the two types. Under the principled division of ergative languages into the proposed two classes, the syntactic ramifications of ergativity are predictable and lead to a more uniform syntax.

Everyone is welcome to a post-colloquium dinner to be held at Alice Harris's house.

Call for Papers: Harvard East Asia Society Grad Student Conference


15th Annual Harvard East Asia Society Graduate Student Conference
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
February 24 - February 26, 2012

The Harvard East Asia Society (HEAS) Graduate Student Conference invites graduate students from around the world, conducting research in all disciplines, to submit abstracts for our 2012 conference.

Over the past decade, East Asia has experienced unprecedented change, which has had an immense impact on every aspect of the region. As a result, scholars worldwide are exploring and engaging in meaningful discussion on every subject to do with East Asia, past and present.

The HEAS Graduate Student Conference is an annual event which provides an interdisciplinary forum for graduate students to exchange ideas and discuss current research on East Asia. The conference allows young scholars to present their research to both their peers and to eminent scholars in East Asian Studies. All panels will be moderated by Harvard University faculty. The conference will also allow participants to meet others in their field conducting similar research and to forge new professional relationships.

We welcome submissions from graduate students in all disciplines. Papers should be related to East or Inner Asia, including East Asian interactions with the wider world.

Eligibility and Application Guidelines:
1.  Applicants must be currently enrolled in a program of graduate study ("postgraduate" in British degree classification systems).
2.  Papers must be related to East or Inner Asia.
3.  Abstracts must be no longer than 250 words, submitted exactly as directed on the HEAS Individual Paper Application Form.
4.  Deadline for abstract submission:  NOVEMBER 18, 2011

For general conference inquiries, please contact: heasconference@gmail.com<mailto:heasconference@gmail.com>
For abstract submission inquiries, please contact: heas.abstracts@gmail.com<mailto:heas.abstracts@gmail.com>

Undergraduate Linguistics Club forms! Meeting this Wednesday

Benjamin Herman writes:

The next Linguistics club meeting will be at 5pm, Wednesday November 2nd.

There is also an officers' meeting at 5pm, Wednesday October 26th, but  all club members are welcome to join.


If you need any assistance regarding club matters, or are looking for a hook-up to any kind of Linguistics study group for your next exam, feel free to contact us:

President:          Jeremy Cahill            jccahill@student.umass.edu
Vice President:     Pratiksha Yalakkishettar pyalakki@student.umass.edu
Secretary:          Benjamin Herman          bsherman@student.umass.edu
Treasurer:          Nathan Banker            nbanker@student.umass.edu
Librarian:          Emily Westland           enicat@verizon.net
Webmaster:          Samuel Baldwin           sbaldwin@student.umass.edu

Call For Papers: Penn Linguistics Colloquium

The 36th Penn Linguistics Colloquium


Call for Papers

The 36th Annual Penn Linguistics Colloquium will take place March 23-25, 2012 at the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia.

Invited Speaker: Paul Kiparsky (topic and title TBA)
There will also be a special panel on Friday, March 23, which is about game theory and linguistics. More information will be posted closer to the conference.

Papers on any topic in linguistics and associated fields are welcome. Speakers will have 20 minutes for their presentations and 5 minutes for discussion and questions.

Posters: We are happy to announce that this year's PLC will feature a poster session with catered lunch.  Abstracts should indicate whether they are being submitted for consideration as a talk, poster, or both. (See instructions.)

Deadline: Abstracts are due Thursday, November 15, 2011. Notification of acceptance/rejection will be given by Wednesday, January 25, 2012.

Length: Please limit abstracts to one page, single-spaced. An additional page may be used for references and tables. Do not include your name or affiliation within the abstract.

Format: To facilitate the review process, please submit your abstract as a .pdf file.

Abstract Submission: To submit an abstract, you must follow these steps:

  1. To begin, click here to go to our abstract submission system and login.
  2. If you do not have an existing EasyChair account, click on "sign up for an account." You will be asked to fill out a simple form to create an account.
  3. Click "NewSubmission" at the top of the page.
  4. Enter author information in the provided fields. Tick the "Corresponding Author" box for all authors who wish to receive e-mail correspondences or notifications.
  5. Enter your title in the "Title" field.
  6. In the "Abstract" field, please enter a one sentence summary, or any comments you have, in order to assist the committee in assigning reviewers. Please also indicate here whether you would like your submission to be considered for a talk, poster, or both. By default, submissions will be considered for both modes of presentation. Do not paste your full abstract into this field.
  7. Please select the primary category of your abstract. Additional categories may be included in the keywords.
  8. Enter at least three keywords.
  9. Upload your abstract .pdf file in the "Paper" field. Only .pdf files will be accepted. Do not include your name or affiliation in the abstract/file name!
  10. Do not tick the "Abstract only" box, or your .pdf will not be uploaded.
  11. Click "Submit." You will be taken to a summary page of your submission - this is your confirmation that it has been saved. Abstracts will be reviewed anonymously.
  12. You may make any necessary updates by logging in and clicking on "My Submissions."

Proceedings: Conference proceedings will be published as a volume of the Penn Working Papers in Linguistics. Speakers will be invited to provide camera-ready copies of their papers after the Colloquium.

Email plc36@ling.upenn.edu
Visit http://www.ling.upenn.edu/Events/PLC/plc36


16 October 2011

Semantics guru speaks in semantics seminar on Tuesday

Roger Schwarzschild, our resident guru, will give a talk entitled "Nouns as eventuality predicates and the mass/count distinction" in Angelika Kratzer's seminar this Tuesday, October 18th, at 2:30pm in Bartlett 206.

All are welcome!

Seth Cable awarded LSA's "Early Career Award"

The Linguistic Society of America gives, every year, its Early Career Award to "a new scholar who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of Linguistics." This year, our own Seth Cable has won this coveted award. WHISC has not determined whether Dr. Cable plans on being present at the gala awards ceremony at this year's LSA meeting in Portland, Oregon this January to receive the award.

We at WHISC join Sally Thomason, Chair of the Awards Committee, who offers "congratulations on the super-impressive record of scholarship and teaching that earned you this award!"

Roger Schwarzschild gives department colloq on Friday

Roger Schwarzschild of Rutgers University will present the department colloquium this Friday at 3:30 in Machmer E-37.  A title and abstract follow.

Quantifier Domain Adverbials, Semantic Change and the Comparative

The sentence “Jack is more anxious than Jill” is a comparative.  We know that because of the presence of “more” as well as the presence of “than”.   Across the world’s languages, there are expressions of the comparative that lack a morpheme comparable to “more”  (comparative marker) and there are some that lack a morpheme comparable to “than” (standard marker).   From this perspective, the comparative seems to be redundantly marked in the English example. 

Where is the meaning of the comparative localized, in the more-word?  in the than-word?  in both? Is there a dependency between the grammar of the than-word in a given language and its use of a more-word (Stassen 1985)?

What is the process by which languages acquire a more-word over time?

In this talk, I will be looking at expressions of the comparative in Modern Hebrew.  I’ll propose an analysis that makes use of Quantifier Domain Adverbialization.  In this analysis, both the more-word and the than-word are meaningful. The phrase headed by the than-word can function as a Quantifier-Domain Adverbial whereby it comments on the domain of the degree quantifier more. I’ll address the questions raised above through the lens of the proposed analysis.

NELS 42 schedule published; registration deadline soon!

NELS 42 is being hosted by the University of Toronto this year on the weekend of November 11-13. The theme of the conference is: "The role of Typology and Linguistic Universals in Linguistic Theory." In addition to plenary talks by former UMass faculty David Pesetsky and Lisa Matthewson, other UMass notables presenting include:

Claire Moore-Cantwell "Over- and under-generalization in Learning derivational morphology."

Michael Becker (with Clemens and Nevins) "A richer model is not always more accurate: The case of French and Portuguese plurals."

Maria Gouskova and Michael Becker "Russian 'yer' alternations are governed by the grammar."

Gillian Gallagher "Speaker knowledge of laryngeal phonotactics in Cochabamba Quechua."

Stefan Keine "Long-distance agreement and movement: Evidence from Hindi"

Keir Moulton "What covaries in backward variable binding."

The deadline for early bird registration is this Tuesday: October 18. It looks like a smashing conference (NB: the party is to be held in the Bata Shoe Museum). More information at: NELS 42

LSA Fellows include yet more of UMass

In the October 9th issue of WHISC, it was reported that two UMass faculty (Lisa Selkirk and Angelika Kratzer) and one UMass alumnus (Irene Heim) were inducted into the list of Linguistic Society of America Fellows. Word has since reached WHISC that two other UMass faculty members -- John McCarthy and Alice Harris -- have joined those august ranks this year. Emmon Bach and Barbara Partee were among the inaugural Fellows in 2006 and, with the addition of Professors McCarthy, Harris, Selkirk and Kratzer UMass now has more LSA Fellows than any other University east (or west) of California.

Bhatt at Berkeley

Rajesh Bhatt presented an invited talk at UC, Berkeley on October 10. A title, and abstract, follow.

Amounts versus Cardinalities

Semantic treatments of differentials in comparatives treat measure
phrases (`one pound' in `Jules is one pound heavier than Jim') and
numerals (`one' in `Jules has one more book than Jim') alike. This
seems justified based on the syntax of English but an examination of a
wider variety of languages reveals a peculiar restriction. In Hebrew,
Hindi-Urdu, or German, one cannot say `one more book'; instead the
form `one book more' must be used. I'll explore the consequences of
this peculiar restriction for the semantics of comparatives and the
distinctions between cardinalities and amounts.

RESEARCH and TEACHING POSITIONS for 2011-2012 in Paris

The LabEx EFL is a 10 year project funded by the French Ministry of Higher
Education and Research and relies on a cluster of 13 research teams from 5 Parisian Universities (Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Paris Diderot University, Paris Descartes University, Paris 13 University and INALCO ), in partnership with CNRS, INRIA, EPHE,  and IRD.

The project’s aim is to promote interdisciplinary innovative research between different fields of theoretical and applied linguistics, with a special focus on empirical
foundations and experimental methods.

For the academic year 2011-2012, we are offering the following positions :

-    International chair of quantitative and experimental linguistics (invited professorship)
-    9 Postdoctoral positions in the following fields: prosody, experimental syntax, experimental semantics, text data mining, language typology, history of  computational linguistics
-    2 Engineers in the following fields: language resources, psycholinguistics
-    1 three year PhD stipend  in experimental semantics (laboratory linguistique formelle, University Paris Diderot)
-    2 Research assistants in psycholinguistics (laboratory psychologie de la perception, University Paris Descartes)

Application deadline November 10th 2011

http:// www.labex-efl.org

Another call will be issued for positions to be filled in 2012.

Jacqueline Vaissière
Professeur, coordinateur EFL, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris3 (Sorbonne Paris Cité), Institut Universitaire de France

Laboratoire Phonétique et Phonologie, LPP (CNRS/Paris3)

19 rue des Bernardins
75005 Paris

tel: 06 15 93 94 71 (01 43 26 57 17: gestionnaire du laboratoire)

Pages du laboratoire: http://lpp.univ-paris3.fr
Pages personnelles: 

WCCFL 30 call for papers

The Thirtieth meeting of the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics will be held on April 13-15 at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Abstract submissions are now being taken, the deadline is October 31. For more information, go to: WCCFL 30 @ UC Santa Cruz - Call for Papers

The InterContinental for NELS

The NELS  42 organizers write:

For those of you who are attending NELS42, we would like to announce a
special hotel offer: if you book with the InterContinental hotel for Friday
11 November and Saturday 12 November, you will receive a $40 rebate on your
conference registration fee.

Together with our special reduced hotel rate ($175/night; for comparison,
regular rates start at $229), this is a great opportunity to spend a weekend
in a luxury hotel without breaking the bank! The InterContinental is located
close to campus in Toronto's Yorkville neighbourhood, the city's premier
district for fine shopping and dining.

Act fast -- this offer is available in a limited quantity for a limited time
(expires October 21).

Hotel details:
- 220 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1T8
- Phone: (416) 960-5200, Fax: (416) 960-8269
- Refer to "NELS - University of Toronto" when booking

As the number of registration rebates is limited, please email Will Oxford
(will.oxford@utoronto.ca) before you book to confirm that a rebate is still
available for you.

Frazier at UCLA

Lyn Frazier gave an invited colloquium talk at UCLA on October 7th, entitled "Processing ellipsis: Explorations at the edge of grammar."

SALT 22: Call for Papers

Semantics and Linguistics Theory 22 will be held at the University of Chicago, May 18-20, 2012. We invite submission of abstracts for 30 minute oral presentations (with 10 minute discussion periods) or posters on any topic in natural language semantics.

The abstract submission deadline is January 3, 2012, 11:59pm CST.  We expect to make notifications of acceptance in late February. 

Abstracts must not exceed two pages in letter-size or A4 paper, including examples and references, with 1 inch margins on all sides and 12 point font size. The abstract should have a clear title but should not identify the author(s). The abstract must be submitted electronically in PDF format. Submissions are limited to 1 individual and 1 joint abstract per author, or 2 joint abstracts per author.

We are using EasyChair for the submission and the review process; the url for abstract submission is: 


For detailed instructions about EasyChair and the submission process, please visit the conference website:


When you submit your abstract, you will be asked to indicate whether you would like it to be considered for a talk, a poster or both. 

Please direct inquiries to salt22chicago@gmail.com.

Roeper in Bucharest

Tom Roeper writes:

I gave an invited lecture last week on the topic "An Interface Question: does SLI
involve Pragmatic Excess" at the final meeting of the EU-sponsored CLAD
(Cross-linguistic Language Diagnosis) where a number of theoretical and
applied linguists have been developing evaluation materials for language
problems in LIthuanian, Romanian, Italian, German and other languages.
This project grew out of the European COST project which grew out of our own
DELV project.

Cable's paper accepted to the Amsterdam Colloquium

Seth Cable's paper, "Between Tense and Adverbs: Temporal Remoteness in Kikuyu," has been accepted to the 18th annual Amsterdam Colloquium, held on December 19-21 at the University of Amsterdam. For more information, go to Amsterdam Colloquium 2011: Homepage.

Congratulations Seth!

Jason Overfelt speaks at SRG

Jason Overfelt gave a presentation at the S Reading Group meeting last Thursday, October 13th. A title and abstract follow.

Title: Right Roof Economy

Description:  In this paper I offer new evidence from the licensing of
null-operator structures in various adjunct clauses as well as scope
shifting effects to support the existence of unbounded,
successive-cyclic rightward movement.  The current state of the
analysis provided suggests that the Right Roof Constraint (Ross 1967,
Soames and Perlmutter 1977, McCloskey 1999 i.a.), commonly thought to
limit rightward movement to strictly local applications, can be
reduced to syntactic and interface economy conditions.  This in turn
supports a model of grammar in which linearization is determined by
independent principles responsible for mapping syntactic structure to

Bhatt at Stanford

Rajesh Bhatt presented joint work with Trupti Nisar, of SNDT Women's University, Mumbai, at Stanford on October 7th. A title and abstract follow.

Shadows of Ergativity: Variable Agreement in Kutchi

Kutchi, a western Indo-Aryan language, presents a typologically unusual split ergative system which manifests ergativity at the wrong end of Silverstein's scale (1st Person is Ergative, everything else seems Nominative). Ergativity is manifested in the 1st Person in Kutchi via object agreement and hence this split is not a surface morphological split of the kind analyzed by Deo & Sharma (2006). Handling non-morphological person based splits is challenging: can the abstract case licensed by a head depend upon the person features of the DP receiving the case? We show that the Kutchi system makes sense once we extend our understanding of ergativity to cover the impoverished agreement found with 2/3 subjects in Perfective Transitive environments in Kutchi - object agreement can then be seen as a limiting case of impoverished subject agreement. We also discuss the typological oddness of Kutchi in the context of the proper location of Silverstein's Generalization (nominal versus verbal), and possible diachronic motivations.

UMass at NECPhon

The Fifth meeting of the Northeast Computational Phonology Workshop met on October 15 at Yale and included talks by Kristine Yu (The Learnability of Tones from the Speech Signal) and Robert Staubs (Learning-Based Biases in Quantity-Insensitive Stress). You can learn more at NECPHON 2011.

09 October 2011

Montrul speaks on Friday, gives workshop on Saturday

Silvina Montrul, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will present two programs October 14-15, a guest lecture on Friday and an informal workshop on Saturday. Her visit is co-sponsored by LARC (Language Acquisition Research Center) with The Center for Latin America, Latino, and Caribbean Studies (CLACLS).

All are invited to attend.

Here is the information

Date  Friday, October 14, 2011

Title   “Attrition or Incomplete Acquisition in Heritage Language Speakers?"

Time  3pm to 5 pm

Location  Herter Hall 301

Complete abstract (and poster) at http://www.umass.edu/spanport/


Date:  Saturday, October 15, 2011

Title: Workshop on trends and future directions in bilingual acquisition

Herter Hall 301

10 am to 3 pm

Description of visit:

Montrul's talk on Friday will address the question in the title with data from Spanish, Hindi, and Romanian.  Complete abstract at http://www.umass.edu/spanport/.

Montrul is Professor and Chair in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese and is also in the Department of Linguistics.  She is the author of four books on linguistic theory and the acquisition of Spanish, with an emphasis on bilingual and heritage language speakers. She also directs the University Language Academy for Children and the Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab (SLAB)

Short abstract:  What language-internal and language-external factors contribute to the vulnerability of particular grammatical areas in the weaker language of a bilingual?  What do different heritage languages have in common at the structural level? What are their differences?  Montrul investigates the linguistic competence of heritage speakers in an aspect of the syntax-semantics-pragmatics interface by focusing on knowledge of the morphology for differential object marking (DOM) in these three languages. Experimental evidence points to attrition in Spanish, but incomplete acquisition in Hindi and Romanian. She considers how language internal and language external factors contribute to the degree of intergenerational attrition of the DOM marker in these three languages..

The programs are open to the public.  All are invited to attend. For more information, contact Luiz Amaral (amaral@spanport.umass.edu), Tom Roeper (roeper@linguist.umass.edu) or Barbara Pearson (bpearson@research.umass.edu)

Roger Schwarzschild, semantics guru, arrives this week

Angelika Kratzer writes:

It gives me great pleasure to announce the arrival on October 11 of  our Fall Semantics Guru:



Roger will be delivering the colloquium on October 21. It will be about comparatives. He has also agreed to give a more explorative and specialized talk in my seminar on October 18: that talk will be on nouns as eventuality predicates and the mass/count distinction. I will announce the room for the seminar session in a later message: for now, mark your calendar - everyone is most welcome. 

The main function of a guru is to enlighten us individually. Roger will be using my office, and I am setting up a schedule for him. Please e-mail me for an appointment with him with your availabilities. Roger has worked on a wide range of topics, including plurals, givenness and focus, comparatives, and measure phrases.  He is easy to talk to and you can try out any topic on him.

Lisa Selkirk, Angelika Kratzer and Irene Heim elected Fellows of the LSA

Word has reached WHISC that Lisa Selkirk, Angelika Kratzer and UMass alumnus Irene Heim have been elected fellows of the Linguistic Society of America. A high-placed informant has leaked this portion of a message, reportedly from LSA's Executive Director, Alyson Reed:

On behalf of the LSA Executive Committee, it is my distinct pleasure to
inform you of your nomination and election as a Fellow of the Linguistic
Society of America. The induction ceremony for the 2012 class of Fellows
will take place on Friday, January 6, 2012 at the LSA Annual Meeting in

Congratulations Lisa, Angelika and Irene!

New prosody e-mail list

Kristine Yu writes:

I have started a new e-mail list for people interested in prosody for
announcements about meetings, conferences, etc.

You can subscribe at the link at the bottom of the webpage of the
departmental e-mail lists.


NELS 42 registration open

NELS 24 organizer Will Oxford writes:

We are pleased to announce that online registration for NELS 42 is now open and the preliminary program has been posted on our website:

Discounted early-bird registration rates are available until October 18. 
Special hotel rates are available until October 11; please visit our website
for details.

For those of you who are presenting, we ask that you check the posted
program to ensure that your information is correct.

We look forward to seeing you in Toronto!

02 October 2011

LARC/Acquisition Lab meeting on Monday

LARC/Acquisition Lab will meet on Monday, October 3, in the Partee Room (South College 301) at 5:15. Tracy Conner will present:

The Acquisition of Possessive Marking in African American English: Testing
for Obligatory Genitive 's with N' Ellipsis*

All are welcome!

Generative Linguists of the Old World: Call for papers

The 35th annual GLOW conference will take place March 28-30, 2012 in Potsdam, Germany. The topic of the colloquium is "Context in grammar: a frequent visitor or a regular inhabitant?". Abstracts are invited for 45 minute talks with an additional 15 minutes for discussion, as well as for two poster sessions. The submission deadline is Tuesday, November 15.

In addition to the colloquium, there will also be four thematic workshops happening on Tuesday, March 27 and Saturday, March 31 that are described in separate postings of WHISC.

The abstract deadline is November 15, 23:59 CET. All abstracts (including abstracts for the workshops) must be submitted through EasyChair. Notifications of acceptance/rejection will be sent out on January 20.

For more information, go to: GLOW 35 @ Potsdam

GLOW Workshop on Empty Categories

Empty categories in syntax: are there any?

Organizers: Gisbert Fanselow and Gereon Müller

Keynote speaker: to be announced. 

Abstract deadline: November 15. 

Description: Obviously, there are morphemes that are devoid of semantic content, so that the postulation of morphemes (or words and phrases) that lack a phonological interpretation can be considered a natural move. Indeed, most grammatical models employ elements that are unpronounced. They may already exist in the lexicon, or be created by grammatical processes such as deletion in syntactic movement chains or in contexts of ellipsis. Grammatical models must be explicit about the licensing condition for such unpronounced material.

There is a more restrictive concept of empty elements: he introduction of empty categories into syntactic representations in the Government-and-Binding framework was once considered a major milestone in the development of grammatical theory. Empty categories in this sense are not just syntactic elements that lack a phonological matrix, rather, they have special properties (as compared to pronounced material) that are subject to specific conditions such as the Empty Category Principle of Chomsky (1981). Their postulation promised, e.g., an elegant approach to the locality of movement or crossover phenomena, identifying connections between seemingly unrelated areas such as A-movement, the binding of reflexives, and scopal properties of quantifiers. Extrasyntactic motivation was argued to exist in the form of morphophonological evidence (recall the discussion of wanna contraction) or psycholinguistic results (e.g., the issue of the reactivation of an antecedent at the site of the trace, Nicol 1993). The postulation of empty categories and the modelling of their syntactic properties figured prominently in argumentations for the idea that UG constitutes an abstract formal competence unrelated to other cognitive capacities in a principled way. The discovery of such invisible (inaudible) elements seemed to put linguistics on par with disciplines such as the physics of elementary particles. The inventory of empty categories was quite differentiated: the traces of A- and A-bar movement, head movement traces, PRO, pro, empty expletives, empty operators. 

Thirty years later, empty categories in this narrow sense have lost most of their importance in syntactic theory. The shift from a representational to a derivational approach in syntax eliminated the need for a device for encoding transformational history such as traces, and attempts to formulate a satisfactory model for properties specific to empty categories have failed (cf., e.g., Hornstein 1995 for the ECP), which is not surprising on the background of a minimalist approach to grammar. 

The purpose of our workshop is an evaluation of empty categories, both in the narrow and the broad sense, as part of the syntactic toolbox, answering questions such as

  • What are the substantial differences between approaches working with and without empty categories? To what extent are these differences merely due to overall changes in the grammatical architecture (e.g., derivation vs. representation?)
  • how can the phenomena previously captured by models of empty categories (such as common locality aspects for different sorts of descriptive phenomena) explained without them?
  • can empty categories be eliminated completely from grammatical theories? What consequences does this have for the abstractness of linguistic representations?

We invite abstracts for 45 + 15 minutes talks. Abstracts are to be submitted via EasyChair. Please consult the abstract guidelines before submitting.

GLOW Workshop on Prosody

Production and perception of prosodically-encoded information structure

Organizers: Frank Kügler and Sabine Zerbian

Keynote speaker: to be announced. 

Deadline: November 15. 

Description: In many (though not in all) languages, information-structural context, e.g. focus, influences the prosodic form of an utterance. Information structure may be prosodically encoded by different acoustic parameters, such as the commonly found increase in intensity, duration and fundamental frequency for focus, but also by differences in pitch register scaling of tones or phrasing. The prosodic encoding of information structure may be based on universal aspects of pitch (Gussenhoven 2004) or driven by communication-oriented processes as a deviation from a neutral register/voice (Kügler 2011). Many studies have investigated the prosodic encoding of information structure in a variety of languages, as e.g. presented at last year's GLOW workshop on the phonological marking of focus and topic. 

The workshop wants to continue this research by turning to the perceptual relevance of the prosodic encoding of information structure. It is therefore interested in the combination of production and perception studies. It aims at dealing with the questions whether listeners perceive prosodic differences related to information structure and how they decode this information at the interface of phonetics, phonology and semantics/pragmatics. E.g. studies by Wu and Xu (2010) have shown that listeners can reliably point out the "prominent" element in a sentence in a language that marks focus prosodically. Swerts et al. (2002) have shown that Dutch listeners are able to reconstruct previous discourse on the basis of prosodic information. Common experimental tasks used to elicit perception and interpretation data include prominence ratings, context matching, and appropriate judgments. 

Particular emphasis will be on work that addresses these issues in lesser studied languages and varieties (including contact varieties and learner varieties) in order to gain insight into the existing variation concerning not only production but also perception of prosodically-encoded information structure and therefore reach at a better understanding of the phenomenon as such. 

Core issues are:

  • Which prosodic cues to information structure do we find in the languages of the world? Are certain cues more prevalent in one type of language than in another?
  • Are prosodic cues to information structure found in production studies perceived and parsed to such an extent that they influence the interpretation of the meaning of a sentence?
  • Are gradual changes in prosodic cues to information structure perceived categorically?
  • If information structure is encoded by means of different prosodic cues such as F0, duration, intensity or phrasing, do listeners make use of all the cues, or which cues are most important in the perception and interpretation of information structure?
  • If in speech production evidence for speaker-specific strategies to prosodically mark information structure is found, how do listeners deal with speaker variation?
  • Does information structure have a direct or indirect effect on the phonetic realization of the intonation contour and/or phrasing? Are there further case studies that provide evidence for a communication-oriented approach in the phonetic encoding of information structure?
  • What are important methodological issues in the study of perception and interpretation of prosodically-encoded information structure?

We invite abstracts for 30 + 15 minute talks. Abstracts are to be submitted via EasyChair. Please consult the abstract guidelines before submitting.