03 April 2011

Syntax Guru Klaus Abels arrives

Klaus Abels, Lecturer in Linguistics at University College London, will be in residence as UMass Syntax Guru from Thursday, April 7 through Friday, April 29th. Professor Abels received his PhD in 2003 from the University of Connecticut at Storrs with a dissertation on movement and anti-locality constraints. He has done extensive work on clausal architecture, constraints on derivations, preposition stranding, linearization and word order typology. You can learn more from his webpage: Klaus Abels' Homepage

Klaus will be here just a few short weeks, so be sure to take advantage of his wisdom early. He can be reached at k.abels@ucl.ac.uk.

John McCarthy named Special Assistant to the Provost

On April 1, John McCarthy became Special Assistant to the Provost, and will spend the next year in that capacity working on the merger of Humanities and Fine Arts and Social and Behavioral Sciences. As a consequence, he has stepped down as department head, a post he has tirelessly labored at for the past two years. During his short tenure as head, the department has seen a dramatic improvement in its finances, has made two important hires, has gained, at least on paper, a new home, has seen the founding of ICESL,  has increased funds available to graduate students, and has acquired a renovated WHISC.

We are grateful for his leadership and wish him luck with his new endeavor.


UUSLAW meets April 9

The Umass, UConn, Smith Language Acquisition Workshop meets this Saturday, April 9, in Campus Center 903 from 10:30 to 5:45. There will be talks by UMass linguists Magda Oiry, Jill de Villiers, Terue Nakato-Miyashita and Luiz Amaral. A schedule follows.

The schedule is below.

For more information, and recent changes, go to the website: 

Peggy Speas assumes Headdom of Department

Peggy Speas has become Head of the linguistics department, assuming that august title from John McCarthy.

Congratulations Peggy!

Workshop on Multidominance meets Friday and Saturday

The Linguistics Department is hosting a workshop on multidominant phrase markers on Friday and Saturday, April 8th and 9th. The workshop will feature talks by Mark de Vries, Barbara Citko, Martina Gracanin-Yuksek, Hans-Martin Gaertner and Kyle Johnson, as well as discussions led by Rajesh Bhatt, Norbert Hornstein and Bob Frank. It will meet in Herter Hall 301, starting roughly at 9:30 and continuing till 5:30 each evening. There is a dinner party on Friday evening. There is no entrance fee, and all are welcome.
For more information, go the Workshop website: Workshop on Multidominance

Digital Humanities Initiative Spring Seminar Series

The second event in the Digital Humanities Initiative Spring Seminars is a  Presentation and Discussion with Luiz Amaral and Patricia Gubitosi,
Professors of Hispanic Linguistics at UMass entitled:

"The New England Corpus of Heritage and Second Language Speakers"

Monday, April 11, 3:30 - 4:30pm
in the UMass Digital Humanities Lab (at the back of the Translation
Center in the basement of Herter Hall).

Refreshments will be provided!

A description from the notice follows.

Corpora have become an intrinsic component of research in language. In the area of second and heritage language acquisition the development of new corpora has allowed researchers to document the language spoken by different multi-lingual communities throughout the world, and to study the linguistic development of individuals that speak more than one language. Although New England is the home of a large population of Spanish and Portuguese heritage and L2 speakers, there is currently very little data available about their linguistic diversity, and there is not a single corpus that documents the language varieties spoken in this region.

Amaral and Gubitosi's project will address this need by developing an online corpus of oral and written production of heritage and L2 speakers of Spanish and Portuguese in New England. The development of this corpus will help to document the linguistic pluralism of New England, and allow future generations to study language change by heritage populations in this region. It will also contribute to the growing number of projects worldwide that are gathering and classifying L2 language production.

Amaral and Gubitosi's talk will use their project as a springboard to a broader discussion about the practical and theoretical issues around using digital databases and corpora in humanities scholarship.

The Experimental Phonology Working Group meets on Tuesday

On Tuesday April 5th, the Experimental Phonology Working Group will meet at 10 am to discuss "Bayesian Analysis of Non-native Cluster Production" by Colin Wilson and Lisa Davidson. The paper can be found at:


Terue Miyashita and Frances Burns talk at Acquisition Lab meeting Monday

At the Acquisition Lab Meeting Monday April 4 at  5:15 in the Partee Room:

"The Economy of Encoding and Anaphoric Dependency with Relational Nouns:Evidence from Child Grammar"
Terue Miyashita----CLS Practice Talk


Preterite had production in typically-developing AAE speakers and AAE speakers with specific language impairment
Frances Burns

Everyone Welcome!

UMass Swarms GLOW

The Generative Linguistics in the Old World will meet April 28-30 in Vienna. It was chock-a-block full of papers delivered by present and former occupants of the UMass linguistics department. Lisa Selkirk is an invited speaker at its workshop on phonological marking of focus and topic, former UMass visiting professor, Sigrid Beck is an invited speaker at its workshop on Intervention effects and former UMass professor Edwin Williams is an invited speaker at its workshop on Identity in Grammar.

Here are papers by UMass alumni, faculty, students and past and present visitors that can be found at GLOW:

Martin Walkow and Rajesh Bhatt
"Locating Agreement in Grammar"

Rose-Marie Dechaine
"Functional Categories: FLN or FLB?"

Winnie Lechner
"Some Formal Conditions on Logical Syntax"

Kier Moulton
"A New Argument for Small Clauses"

Brian Leferman
"Agent-Oriented Adverbs = Individual-Level Predicates"

Shoichi Takahashi
"The Composition and Interpretation of 'tough' Movement"

Orin Percus
"Piecing Together Predicate Transfer"

Radek Simik
"Towards a Unified Analysis of Modal Existential wh-Constructions and Purpose Clauses"

Martin Walkow
poster: "Syntax Drives Morphological Impoverishment of Clitics"
More information can be found here.

LSRL program schedule posted

The Forty-First meeting of the Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages will meet May 5-7 at Ottawa University. The program includes papers by several members of the UMass linguistics community. Maria Biezma is presenting her paper "Conditional Inversion and Pragmatic Presupposition: Spanish and English." and Magda Oiry is presenting (with Nicolas Guilliot) "Some questions (and answers) about cleft sentences." UMass alumn Ana Perez-Leroux co-presents two papers "Pousse-le! Clitic production across tasks in young French-speaking Children" and "The role of semantic transfer in clitic drop among Chinese L1-Spanish L2 bilinguals. Recent visitors Maria Cabrera-Callís ("Morphologically conditioned intervocalic rhotacism in Algherese Ctalan: an account with lexically indexed constraints) and Francesc Torres-Tamarit ("The right path towards underapplication in Harmonic Serialism: Evidence from glide strengthening in Spanish") are also giving talks.

The full program can be found at: http://www.lsrl41.com/LSRL41Program.pdf

Franck Salameh talks on Tuesday, April 5

Franck Salameh from Boston College will give a lecture entitled "Language and Identity Formation in the Middle East: The Case of Arabic" on Tuesday at 7PM in Herter 301.

Elie Kedourie--a pillar of modern Middle East Studies--once described
his academic field as a "bore," a narrative that claimed there to be
no non-Arab "others" in the Middle East, and no cultures, languages,
or histories beyond those of Arabs.  This talk seeks to unpack these
prevalent assumptions, parse the language and ideologies behind them,
and demonstrate that despite its many religious, cultural, and
linguistic similarities, the modern Middle East--like its ancient Near
East precursor--lacks the requisite historical uniformity and
continuity to warrant the reductive--and ultimately
misleading--appellation "Arab world."

Franck Salameh is Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Arabic,
and Hebrew in the Department of Slavic and Eastern Languages and
Literatures at Boston College.  This talk is partly based on his new
book, Language, Memory and Identity in the Middle East: The Case of
Lebanon (Lexington Books, 2010).

Fulbright Israel Post-Doctoral Fellowship deadline: August 1, 2011

The United States-Israel Educational Foundation and the Fulbright commission for Israel offers eight fellowships to American post-doctoral researchers. More information can be found in the flyer below.