17 February 2013

Floris Roelofsen gives presentation on Thursday

Floris Roelofsen will present "An inquisitive perspective on meaning: the case of disjunction" on Thursday, February 21 at 4:00 in Machmer W-27. An abstract follows.

A primary function of language is to allow for the exchange of information through a process of raising and resolving issues. To model this process, it is useful to have a notion of meaning that captures both informative and inquisitive content. This talk presents such a notion of meaning, and illustrates its advantages with respect to the classical, purely informational notion, focusing on the case of disjunction. The first part of the talk shows how the two main existing views on disjunction can be reconciled adopting an inquisitive perspective on meaning. The second part of the talk presents a uniform analysis of disjunctive questions and assertions in English, paying special attention to differences in form (e.g. declarative vs interrogative) and intonation (e.g. final rise vs final fall).

Floris Roelofsen gives colloquium on Friday, Feb. 22

Foris Roelofsen will present "Polarity Particles," in the department colloquium on Friday, February 22, at 3:30 in Machmer E-37. An abstract follows.

Polarity particles—words like yes and no—play a basic role in communication, and yet, their interpretation and distribution gives rise to a number of intriguing puzzles. This talk seeks to deepen our understanding of polarity particle systems cross-linguistically, revealing both their common core and the ways in which they vary from language to language. This investigation also has wider implications for linguistic theory, since polarity particles offer a valuable window onto the semantics of polar questions and assertions, which both license polarity particle responses. The common semantic core of polar questions and assertions is captured within the framework of inquisitive semantics. Subsequently, the account is extended to capture more involved patterns in the distribution of polarity particles, in particular in response to negative questions and assertions. The main predictions of the account concerning English are corroborated experimentally, and the cross-linguistic predictions are substantiated by data from German, French, Romanian, and Hungarian.

P Reading Group meets on Tuesday

Claire Moore-Cantwell writes:

We will meet Tuesday night to have a discussion about constraint  induction.  Everyone who works on constraint induction, come prepared to  talk a little bit about what you do; all others come with  questions/discussion points if you've got them.

Location: Kristine's place. 
Time:  8pm on Tuesday 19 February

Suzi Lima at Harvard

This Tuesday, February 19th, Suzi Lima will present a talk in the Language and Cognition Group entitled "Individuation and Counting in Yudja Tupi."

Lisa Sanders talks on Friday

Lisa Sanders will be presenting a talk on ERP measures of phonological learning in an artificial language on Friday, Feb. 22, at 9:30 in Tobin 423.

All are welcome!

Newton International Fellowships Announced

New Round of Newton International Fellowships Announced

A new round of Newton International Fellowships - an initiative to fund research collaborations and improve links between UK and overseas researchers - has now opened. The Newton International Fellowships are funded by the British Academy and the Royal Society and aim to attract the most promising early-career post-doctoral researchers from overseas in the fields of the humanities, the natural, physical and social sciences.

The Fellowships enable researchers to work for two years at a UK research institution with the aim of fostering long-term international collaborations. Newton Fellows will receive an allowance of £24,000 to cover subsistence and up to £8,000 to cover research expenses in each year of the Fellowship. A one-off relocation allowance of up to £2,000 is also available. In addition, Newton Fellows may be eligible for follow-up funding of up to £6,000 per annum for up to 10 years following completion of the Fellowship to support activities which will help build long-term links with the UK. The scheme is open to post-doctoral (and equivalent) early-career researchers working outside the UK who do not hold UK citizenship.

Applications are to be made via the Royal Society’s online application system which is available at https://e-gap.royalsociety.org/

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 10 April 2013. Further details are available from the Newton International Fellowships website: www.newtonfellowships.org

The British Academy
10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
020 7969 5200 britac.ac.uk

Mike Terry and Mako Hirotani in the news


Cable's papers virtually appear

Seth Cable's paper "Reflexives, Reciprocals and Contrast," has appeared in the electronic version of Journal of Semantics. And his paper "Beyond the Past, Present and Future: Towards the semantics of 'graded tense' in Gikuyu" has appeared in the electronic version of Natural Language Semantics.


The West Coast Conference in Formal Linguistics met  in Tempe Arizona last weekend. UMass was well-represented. The following present and past students gave papers:

Chris Davis
Martin Walkow
Robert Staubs
Anisa Schardl
Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten
Min-Joo Kim
Shigeto Kawahara
Satoshi Tomioka
Kyle Rawlins
Bern Samko
Junko Shimoyama and Luis Alonso-Ovalle were also scheduled to give a talk, but the Winter storm trapped them in Montreal.
You can see more at:
Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten has sent partial proof:
(NB: This was the same weekend that 20 inches of snow fell upon the Happy Valley.)