11 March 2012

Leonardo Llanos and Marcus Maia speak at LARC/Language Lab meeting

The following talks will be presented at the LARC / Language Lab meeting tomorrow, Monday March 12, at 5:20 in the Partee Room (South College 301).

"A Spanish oral learner corpus  for L2 language research"
Leonardo Campillos Llanos
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid

"Processing of causative alternation structures by Karaja/Portuguese bilinguals"
Marcus Maia
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Everyone welcome!

Jim Cathey speaks at Linguistics Club

Jim Cathey will deliver a talk entitled "Object Marking in Finnish" at the Linguistics Club meeting on Friday, March 16 in the Partee Room (301 South College) at 3:30PM. If you plan on going, please let Ling Club President Jeremy Cahill know at jccahill@student.umass.edu

John Kingston and Shigeto Kawahara at NEST

Today, March 10, John Kingston and Shigeto Kawahara present "You got to be discriminating to get contrast" at the New England Sequencing and Timing (NEST) meeting, held at UMass. An abstract of their talk follows.

At NEST in 2007, we presented a study of Italian, Norwegian, Japanese and English speakers' categorization and discrimination of a silent interval that varied in duration (see also Kingston, Kawahara, Chambless, Mash, & Brenner-­‐Alsop, 2009). This interval has flanked by vowels in the speech condition and by filtered square waves in the non-­‐speech condition – in the speech condition, the silent interval was perceived as a voiceless stop consonant. The preceding vowel's or filtered square wave's duration was varied orthogonally from the silence's duration. Except when a consonant's and a preceding vowel's durations vary inversely in their native language (Italian and Norwegian listeners) and the stimuli were speech, listeners judged the silence to be longer when the preceding sound was longer. We described the general finding as a product of listeners' adding the durations of the two intervals together in all other conditions. These findings accord with those reported by Fowler (1992) but not those reported by Kluender, Diehl, & Wright (1988), whose listeners categorized the silent interval as longer when the preceding vowel or square wave was shorter. Fraisse (1963, 1984) and more recently Nakajima, Hoopen, Hilkhuysen, & Sasaki (1992) showed that so long as the duration ratio between successive intervals is close to 1 and doesn’t exceed 2, listeners judge the second interval as long after a long first interval, but once the ratio greatly exceeds 2, they judge the second as long after a short first interval. This observation may explain our earlier results because most of the duration ratios in our stimuli were in the 1-­‐2 range.

At this NEST, we will report new results using more extreme ratios, up to 3, which show that listeners discriminate silences better when their durations vary inversely with the durations of the preceding vowels or non-­‐speech sounds. Contrast still did not arise in categorization, even with the largest duration ratios. Kato, Tsuzaki, & Sagisaka (2003) report that listeners treat variation in the onset times of successive vowels but not their offset times as evidence of rate variation. Because manipulating the duration of the silence varied the onset time between successive vowels or square waves in our earlier stimuli, our listeners may have been covertly judging rate rather than the silence's duration relative to the preceding vowel's or square wave's. We may also report the results of an experiment examining this explanation of our earlier results.

Call for papers: Workshop on Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue

PARIS, SEPTEMBER 19-21, 2012

Invited Speakers:
Eve V. Clark (Stanford University)
Geert-Jan M. Kruijff (DFKI-Saarbrücken)
François Recanati (Institut Jean Nicod, École Normale Supérieure)

The SEMDIAL series of workshops brings together researchers working on the semantics and pragmatics of dialogue in fields such as artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, formal semantics/pragmatics, philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience (see past SemDials).
In 2012 the workshop will be hosted by Université Paris-Diderot (Paris 7). The Semdial workshops are always stimulating and fun, and Paris is of course one of the greatest cities to visit, especially in September. SeineDial will be immediately preceded by a workshop on "Dialogue and Contextualism" (a separate announcement on this will appear shortly) and will feature a special session on The Acquisition of Dialogue.

We invite papers on all topics related to the semantics and pragmatics of dialogues, including, but not limited to:

-- models of common ground/mutual belief in communication
-- modelling agents' information states and how they get updated
-- multi-agent models and turn-taking
-- goals, intentions and commitments in communication
-- semantic interpretation in dialogues
-- reference in dialogues
-- ellipsis resolution in dialogues
-- dialogue and discourse structure
-- interpretation of questions and answers
-- gesture in communication
-- intonational meaning in dialogue
-- humour in dialogue
-- natural language understanding and reasoning in spoken dialogue systems
-- multimodal dialogue systems
-- dialogue management in practical implementations
-- categorisation of dialogue moves or speech acts in corpora
-- designing and evaluating dialogue systems
-- contextual factors underlying child utterances in dialogue
-- repair in child/adult interaction

Important Dates:
-- May 1, 2012: Paper submissions due at 23:59 UTC-11

-- June 15, 2012: Author notification for full papers

-- June 30, 2012: Poster and demo submissions

-- July 10, 2012: Author notification for posters and demos

-- August 20, 2012: Camera-ready copies

--September 19-21, 2012: Workshop in Paris

Submission is via EasyChair at the following address:


It will be open for submissions no later than May 1, 2012.
Submitted papers should be in the following format.
- Anonymous PDF file
- 8 pages total (including data, tables, figures, and references)
- A4 paper size
- 11pt Times font
- 1 inch (2.5 cm) margins
- 2-column format
Include a one-paragraph abstract of the entire work (about 200 words).

We strongly recommend using the style files provided by ACL-HLT 2011:

Peggy Speas speaks at WSCLSA 17

Peggy Speas was an invited speaker at this year's annual Workshop on Structure and Constituency of Languages of the Americas, which is being held at the University of Chicago this weekend, March 9-11. The title of her talk is "Topics in Navajo."

For more information, see: https://sites.google.com/site/wscla17/

Katz and Selkirk appears in Language

In the latest issue of Language (87.4), appears a paper by Lisa Selkirk and former student Jonah Katz, entitled "Contrastive focus vs. discourse-new: Evidence from phonetic prominence in English"

Congratulations Lisa and Jonah!

UMass Library fellowships in Digital Humanities

James Kelly, UMass library, sends the following notice:

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives
in the Libraries is accepting applications for fellowships in digital
humanities.  Experiential Training in Historical Information Resources
(ETHIR) is an initiative designed to provide students with structured,
hands-on experience using and interpreting historical documentary resources.
Graduate students from any department enrolled at UMass Amherst are eligible
to apply.  The deadline for applications is April 20, 2012.  For more
information visit http://bit.ly/ethir_fellowship

As part of an effort to integrate Special Collections more fully into the
learning and research mission of the university, the Libraries offer an
opportunity for select undergraduate and graduate students to work in the
Department and develop research ideas, while gaining first-hand experience
in historical and archival praxis.  ETHIR fellows will take part in a range
of activities in the digital humanities tied to their research interests,
including preparing new and under-described collections for use by
researchers, creating finding aids that will be made available on the
Department's website, and curating exhibits, digital corpora, or other
interpretive materials. 

Two fellows will be selected from the pool of applicants based upon a
three-page statement of purpose, curriculum vitae, letter of support, and
the ability to contribute to the work of Special Collections and University
Archives.  Fellows will receive an honorarium of $500, plus hourly
compensation for 150 hours of work, and they may use their awards during
either the summer or the fall terms.

For more information, contact Rob Cox, head of Special Collections and
University Archives, at  <mailto:rscox@library.umass.edu>
rscox@library.umass.edu, or (413) 545-6842.

Linguist List Fund Drive!

Barbara Partee writes:

It's Linguist List fund drive time! (See the nice succinct appeal
letter below.) I've had an interesting time introducing Russians to the
concept of user-funded non-profit Good Things, and by now Russia is making
a decent showing in the 'horse race' (aka Graduate School Challenge) to see
who gives the most to Linguist List. (It's the fourth-highest country in
Europe right now; last year I think it ended up second.) In the US we have
a well-established tradition of grass-roots philanthropy -- so I like to
see UMass do well in the "Grad School Challenge" too! (In a turnabout,
Volodja's contribution has credited UMass, and mine RGGU in Moscow.) And
don't forget that you can enter the competition among subfields at the same
time. The Linguist List folks do their best to make the fund drive
entertaining, but it's also really serious! Do donate -- every $5 helps!
If you want to see my letter urging all international Linguist List
readers to donate, it's here: http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-1048.html.

Rooting for UMass and for Linguist List.

The appeals letter:

Dear LINGUIST List Subscribers,

It's that time of year again! We'd like to let all of our subscribers know
that the LINGUIST List Fund Drive has begun!

What if 650 people each gave $100? Or 1300 people each gave $50--and gave
it TODAY? Could we possibly begin and end Fund Drive in a single day?
Sounds like a pipe dream, doesn't it? But logically it's possible. The
LINGUIST List website receives 150,000 page views per week. That's over 6
million views per year. If only 1/30 of our weekly visitors donated $50
today, we would reach our goal. That's one-THIRTIETH, note--not
one-third--of our weekly site visitors.

And that doesn't count the 27,000 people who subscribe to the email list
and perhaps never visit the site. If only 1/415 of the people reading this
message would donate $100 each, we could end Fund Drive today:


So what would we at LINGUIST do with our extra time--besides smile a lot?
Well, instead of spending two solid months begging for money, we would
finish some exciting new services 2 months sooner:

-       We're almost ready to go live with a Summer School Register that we
hope will be very useful both to prospective students and to the institutions
running summer schools.
-       We're about to unveil a conference registration system, called
EasyReg to pair with our highly successful abstracts review service EasyAbs.
-       Thanks to Damir Cavar, we're almost ready to present a text-mining
tool that will allow you to search all LINGUIST issues, and perhaps all 150 of
the language-related email lists archived on our site.
-       We're planning a Project's Registry where PIs can publicize new
projects and services

Donate now to ensure the ongoing quality and continuation of our services!