22 January 2012

Anne Pycha gives McGill colloquium

Anne Pycha was the colloquium speaker at McGill on Friday, January 20th. She delivered "Phonological signatures in words: Evidence from production and perception of diphthongs."  The abstract of her talk follows.


This talk wrestles with two big problems that face phonology. First, non‐local dependencies in phonology are not widely attested, despite the fact that they are common at other levels of linguistic analysis, such as syntax. Second, many phonological processes bear close resemblance to phonetic processes, suggesting that no real difference exists between abstract phonological structures and the physical events of articulation. In this talk, I pursue the hypothesis that phonologically contrastive processes exhibit acoustic “signatures” that are a) non‐local and b) absent from otherwise similar phonetic processes. Experiment 1 demonstrates that English speakers produce non‐local dependencies in order to maintain contrast between words such as bite vs. bide, but not in order to accomplish other tasks, such as changing speech rates or signaling phrasal positions. Experiments 2 & 3 demonstrate that English listeners can use these dependencies to perceptually distinguish between words like bite vs. bide, even in the absence of other cues. The upshot of these findings, which build on previous work that I have done in Hungarian, is that phonology does use non‐local dependencies, and these dependencies crucially distinguish it from phonetics. I analyze non‐locality in both languages as motivated by a need to target maximal segments, and I examine the implications of this analysis for cross‐linguistic typology.

The Psycho/Syntax Lab starts up on February 3

Brian Dillon and Rajesh Bhatt write:

The Psycho/Syntax lab meeting rides again for the Spring Semester! Like last semester, we'll be meeting biweekly throughout the semester to discuss the wide variety of syntactic projects going on around the department (theoretical, experimental, both). The tentative first date for the first meeting is Friday, February 3rd at 10AM, in the Partee room. We'll use this meeting to do some planning for the upcoming semester, including finding a regular time when everyone can meet; if you cannot make this first planning meeting, let us know what times you can meet during the semester. 

In this first meeting we'll also get to hear about some interesting new work from Stefan, who will talk to us about some neat data on Hindi coreference restrictions that he's been working on. Anyone who has a project of any sort that they're interested in presenting at the lab meetings should get in touch with us (before we come looking for you...). The format is *strictly informal*, and so incomplete analyses, messy data, and ideas that aren't yet fully baked are very much welcome! In particular, projects that are just in their infancy, and which would benefit from group discussion, would make for very good discussion.

Becker and Lima teach at Evelin 2012

Michael Becker and Suzi Lima taught a couple of courses over Winter break at the Summer School in Formal Linguistics at UNICAMP in Brazil. Michael Becker taught "Morfofonologia computacional e experimental (Computational and Experimental Morphophonology," and Suzi Lima taught Tópicos em Semântica II (Topics in Semantics II): A distinção contável/massivo através das línguas: aspectos semânticos e experimentais (The count/mass distinction cross-linguistically: semantic and experimental aspects).

You can learn more about Evelin at http://evelin2012.wordpress.com/

Call for Papers: Formal Approaches to Heritage Language

Conference on Formal Approaches to Heritage Language
April 20-21, 2012

Sponsored by the Language Acquisition Research Center (LARC) of the University of Massachusetts Amherst

“Heritage speakers” have been described by Polinsky and Kagan (2007) as people raised in a home where one language is spoken, but who subsequently switch to another dominant language.  This conference aims to explore the formal properties of Heritage Speaker grammars and where they diverge from both native “baseline” and L2 speaker grammars. The program will also include a workshop on research techniques for heritage languages.

Invited speakers:

Ana Perez-Leroux, University of Toronto

Acrisio Pires, University of Michigan

Maria Polinsky, Harvard University

Abstracts for presentations or posters are solicited on both theoretical and acquisition issues that connect Heritage to L1 or L2 research.

Priority will be given to work that addresses specific theoretical domains, such as, but not limited to:  aspect, binding, quantification, and movement and more specifically, agreement, case, tense, and mood.

Talks will be 20 minutes long, with 10 minutes for discussion. Abstracts should be one page, font size 12 pt., with one-inch margins. A second page may (optionally) be used for examples, tables or graphs, and references. In order to maintain anonymity during the review process, please do not include your name or otherwise identify yourself anywhere in your abstract.

Abstracts should be sent by email in pdf format to bpearson@research.umass.edu. Please use ‘abstract submission’ as subject heading.  The body of the message should include the author’s name(s), title, and contact information.

For more information about the call or the conference, contact the organizers: Tom Roeper, Luiz Amaral, or Barbara Zurer Pearson ( roeper@linguist.umass.eduamaral@spanport.umass.edu orbpearson@research.umass.edu )

Abstract deadline: February 29, 2012 (midnight EST)

Notification of acceptance: March 10, 2012

Workshop dates: April 20-21, 2012

Martin Walkow's paper accepted at Arabic Linguistics Symposium

Martin Walkow's paper: "Restrictions on Pronoun Combinations and a Parallelism between Subject Agreement and Cliticization in Classical Arabic" has been accepted for inclusion at the 26th Arabic Linguistics Symposium, March 1–3 in New York.

Congratulations Martin!

McCarthy a finalist for the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School

The search committee for the position of Vice Provost of Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School has announced that there are two finalists for the position, one of which is our own John McCarthy. See the announcement here.

Congratulations John!

The UMass contingent at ICPP in Kyoto

John Kingston writes:

Attached are pictures of UMass folks participating in the International Conference on Phonetics and Phonology organized by the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics and held at the University of Kyoto, 10-14 December 2011. It was very long, but also very stimulating, with many papers focusing on Rendaku, sokuon (geminates), and prosody, and as you can see with participation by a number of people from UMass.

Jk 3

Shigeto points

Mariko explaining

Shigeto amused

Shigeto with otake

Junko armin jk with shigeki kaji 2nd degree black belt karate

Mariko sugahara and jk