11 November 2012

Noah Constant talks on Tuesday

Kristine Yu writes:

I'm delighted to announce that our very own Noah Constant will be giving a talk on Tuesday, 11/13 at 3:45pm in the Partee Room on part of his dissertation work.  His abstract follows below.  Please join us!
Refreshments will be served.

Title: The Prosody of English Contrastive Topic

In this talk, I give a phonological account of English contrastive topic (CT) constructions, as in (1), where the subject displays a CT intonation contour.

 (1)  Where do the grad students live?
        MOST of them... live in NORTHAMPTON.
         L+H*       L- H%                       H*      L- L%

I will review the means different languages use for marking CT, and situate my account of English within a framework that can make sense of the cross-linguistic facts.  In particular, the account seeks to explain (a) where CT meaning is encoded, (b) why CT's are often dislocated to an initial position, and (c) how the presence of a CT can affect prosodic structure.

Ariel Goldberg speaks at Hampshire College

Ariel Goldberg, Associate Professor Psychology at Tufts, will be speaking at noon on Wednesday, November 14, in the ASH lobby at Hampshire College. A title and abstract of his talk follow.

Title:  "Towards a theory of the phonological processing of multimorphemic words:  The Heterogeneity of Processing Hypothesis"

Abstract:  Although there has been extensive research investigating the lexical aspects of multimorphemic word processing (e.g., whether words are represented in a holistic or decomposed fashion), very little is known about how post-lexical phonological processes operate over multimorphemic words in production. I propose the Heterogeneity of Processing Hypothesis, which takes as its basis a simple observation: since post-lexical phonological processes in general are influenced by lexical properties, the post-lexical processing of morphologically complex words will have multiple lexical influences.  Two consequences of this organization are identified: 1) post-lexical representations must be assembled on the fly, binding together phonemes from different morphemes and 2) phonemes inherit different levels of activation depending on the properties of their parent morpheme. I argue that both of these consequences will cause post-lexical processing to vary across the word, that is, processing is predicted to be heterogeneous.  In the first case, weaker structural relationships between the phonemes in different morphemes will cause phonological processes to be weaker when acting across morphemes than within.  In the second case, different levels of activation will cause each morpheme to have different articulatory properties (e.g., hyperarticulation, vowel space, etc.). I report three studies supporting weaker heteromorphemic processing and morpheme-based levels of activation.

Jason Overfelt talks at SRG on Thursday

Jason Overfelt will be speaking at the final SRG  meeting this  semester at Barbara and Volodja's place on Thursday at 6:30p. People should bring $5 for pizza or their own dinner.

Jason will be talking about object marking and hidden argument structure alternations in Tigrinya ditransitive constructions.

Brian Dillon at Brown University on Wednesday

Brian Dillon will be giving a talk at the Ling Lang Lunch at Brown University's Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences department this Wednesday, November 14th. He will be presenting joint work with Lyn Frazier and Charles Clifton on "Syntactic complexity across the at-issue / not-at-issue divide."


Much work in psycholinguistics has been dedicated to uncovering the source of complexity effects in syntactic processing (Chomsky & Miller 1963; Gibson, 1998; Levy, 2007; Lewis, 1996; Lewis & Vasishth, 2005; Yngve, 1960; i.a.). There are many theoretical accounts of syntactic complexity effects, starting from Chomsky and Miller's (1963) observations on the difficulty of self-embedding, to the introduction of new discourse referents while simultaneously maintaining syntactic predictions (Gibson, 1998), among many others. One recent and influential model attempts to reduce syntactic complexity to interference effects related to memory retrieval (Lewis & Vasishth, 2005),  In the present talk I present joint work with Lyn Frazier and Chuck Clifton that investigates the source of syntactic complexity by looking how the at-issue / not-at-issue distinction relates to syntactic complexity effects. Not-at-issue content like appositives and parentheticals do not directly contribute to the truth conditions of a sentence, and so have been argued to form a separate 'dimension' of meaning (Potts, 2005). In a series of judgment experiments, it is seen that syntactic complexity in the not-at-issue dimension does not lead to complexity effects in offline judgments, while complexity in at-issue content does. I then present eye-tracking data that helps to locate the source of the complexity effects in online comprehension. The results provide initial evidence that i) the parser distinguishes at-issue and not-at-issue content, and ii) the complexity effects observed in the present data cannot be reduced to retrieval interference. I suggest that at-issue / not-at-issue distinction is used to structure parsing routines by maintaining distinct stacks for different types of linguistic content, thereby minimizing complexity for the sentence as a whole.

Suzi Lima in Tel Aviv

Suzi Lima is in Tel Aviv this week. On Tuesday, November 13, she will present her paper "Counting as a context dependent operation in Yudja (Tupi)" at Bar-Ilan University.

Congratulations Suzi!

Ellen Woolford at Johns Hopkins

Ellen Woolford gave the lead off talk at the OT Workshop Nov 9-10 at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Her talk was entitled: "Two Types of Portmanteau Agreement: Syntactic and Morphological."

For more information, see http://mind.cog.jhu.edu/JHUOT

Congratulations Ellen!

Nick LaCara in Vigo

Nick LaCara writes:

This weekend I attended the Ellipsis2012 workshop (http://webs.uvigo.es/ellipsis2012/index.php) at the Universidade de Vigo, Spain, where I presented work from my first GP. The paper was titled "Comparative deletion in /as/-parentheticals". I got to talk to Maribel Romero, who gave a plenary talk---I'm sure she'd be happy for me to say 'hi' to the department on her behalf. I also got to catch up with Luis Vicente, who visited the department back in 2005. It was a really fun conference with a lot of great talks. Well worth the trip!

Barbara Partee gives the Baggett Lectures at Maryland

Barbara gave the prestigious Baggett Lectures at the University of Maryland last week. Her talks were on the history of formal semantics.

On November 7 she gave the general audience talk: "Logic and Language: A History of Ideas and Controversies."

On November 8 and 9 she gave two talks for the linguists:

"The Starring Role of Quantifiers in the History of Formal Semantics"


"Pivotal Moments in the `Naturalization' of Formal Semantics"

Congratulations Barbara!

One year grant for PhD students at Potsdam

Former semantics guru Malte Zimmerman writes:

I would like to draw your attention to the following call for application for a short-term grant (up to 1 year)  within the collaborative research centre 632 on information structure at Potsdam University and Humboldt University Berlin.

The call has also been posted on the LinguistList

Call for papers: WSCLA 18

The 18th Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americas (WSCLA 18) will take place at the University of California, Berkeley on April 5-7, 2013.

The central objective of this workshop is to bring together linguists who are engaged in research on the analytic study of the Aboriginal languages of the Americas so that they may exchange ideas across theories, language families, generations of scholars, and, importantly, across the academic and non-academic communities that are involved in language maintenance and revitalization.

The following invited speakers have been confirmed:

- Judith Aissen (UC Santa Cruz)
- Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins (University of Victoria)
- Monica Macaulay (Wisconsin)
- B'alam Mateo Toledo (CIESAS)
- Joyce McDonough (Rochester)
- Andrés Salanova (Ottawa)
- Maziar Toosarvandani (MIT)
- Lorna Williams (University of Victoria)

Abstracts are invited for papers in any area of formal linguistics (including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and
pragmatics) within any theoretical framework. We welcome papers  that address diachronic, sociolinguistic, or applied topics from a formal perspective, and we are especially interested in papers seeking to relate the interests of formal linguists and the concerns of indigenous communities.

Abstract submission guidelines:

- Abstracts must be submitted in PDF format with the filename PaperTitle.pdf (where PaperTitle is the title or a clear abbreviated version of it. No punctuation or spaces.)

- Abstracts must be anonymous.  Author name(s) must not appear on the abstract or file name.  In addition, be sure to remove any author name in the document properties of the PDF file.

- Abstracts must not exceed 2 pages in length including references and examples

- Minimum 12pt font size, 1 inch margins

Abstracts should be sent as a PDF attachment to:
Abstract submission deadline:  January 14, 2013
Notification of acceptance:  January 19, 2013
Contact info: wscla18@socrates.berkeley.edu

Brian Dillon publishes in Cognitive Science

Brian Dillon's paper "A single-stage approach to learning phonological categories: Insights from Inuktitut" was published online in Cognitive Science this week. See:


Congratulations Brian!

John Kingston at the Linguistics Club

John Kingston gave an address at the Linguistics Club meeting last Wednesday (November 7). His talk had the gripping title "When the meat meets the mind."

UMass hosted UUSLAW on Saturday

The UConn, UMass and Smith Language Acquisition Workshop took place yesterday, November 10, at the Math Lounge. UMass was well represented. 

Andie Faber presented "L1 and L2 Processing of subject pronouns with Epicene and Bigender Antecedents."

Michael Clauss presented "Illicit LF Movement child English"

Maria Turrero presented "Measuring distances: long distance and medial interpretations of wh-islands in L2 speakers of Spanish: Methodological considerations."


Fernanda Mendes gave "Inalienable possession in English and Brazilian Portuguese: differences between body-part names and relationship names"