01 April 2013

Alex at PRG on Thursday

Claire Moore-Cantwell writes:

The PRG will meet again this Thursday, the 4th, 6:30 at Packards, when Alex will present his work on Dutch schwa alternations.

The Guru dines

IMG 2004

Phonetics Lab meeting on Tuesday

This Tuesday, April 2, from 4 to 5:30, there will be a Phonetics Lab meeting in the usual place.

RUMMIT on Saturday

The Rutger-UMass-MIT phonology workshop is this Saturday, April 6, from noon to 5 in Machmer E-37. You can find a schedule here.http://blogs.umass.edu/linguist/conferences-and-workshops/rummit-april-6th-2013/

31 March 2013

Julien Musolino gives department colloq on Friday

Julien Musolino will give the department colloquium on Friday, April 5, at 3:30 in Machmer E-37. The title and abstract of his talk follow.

Genes, language, and the nature of scientific explanations: the case of Williams Syndrome

Over the past 20 years or so, Williams Syndrome (WS) has received considerable attention from scholars interested in the structure and development of the human mind. The main reason is that this rare genetic disorder represents a natural experiment which suggests a potential dissociation between language and other aspects of cognition. WS has thus been cited as evidence supporting the kind of modular view of mental architecture advocated most famously by Jerry Fodor (1983) and Noam Chomsky (1965, 1986, 1995) (Anders, 1998; Bickerton, 1997; Piatelli-Palmarini, 2001; Pinker 1994). Recently, however, the status of linguistic knowledge in individuals with WS --- as well as its broader implications --- has become a hotly debated topic and has led to the emergence of strongly conflicting empirical claims and theoretical accounts (e.g., Karmiloff-Smith, 1997, 1998; Karmiloff and Karmiloff-Smith, 2001; Clahsen and Almazan, 1998; Pinker, 1999; Tager-Flusberg, pleas-Skerer, Faja, and Joseph, 2003; Mervis and Becerra, 2007; Brok 2007). In order to shed some light on these important issues, I will present the results of a set of interrelated experiments designed to assess knowledge of core syntactic and semantic principles in individuals with WS. Overall, these results support the conclusion that grammatical knowledge in WS is governed by the same abstract principles that characterize typically developing and mature systems, and thus that knowledge of grammar is not impaired in WS (Tager-Flusberg, pleas-Skerer, Faja, and Joseph, 2003; Brock, 2007; Thomas, in press). Broader implications of this conclusion for competing accounts of language development in WS, as well as for the relevance of WS to the study of cognitive architecture and development will be discussed.

UUSLAW on Saturday, April 6

The UConn, UMass, Smith Language Acquisition Workshop (UUSLAW)  is this Saturday, April 6, and Smith College. There are papers by Jon Nelson, Luiz Amaral, Mike Clauss, Rama Novogrodsky, Tom Roeper and Seth Cable. Julien Musolino is the invited speaker. You can get the full schedule, as well as the location, here.

Christianson at Cognitive Psychology brown bag on Wednesday

Cognitive psych brown bag, Wednesday, 4/3, 12-1:15, Tobin 521B

Kiel Christianson
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College of Education

Title: Said fast, read fast: Perceptual simulation during silent reading


Skilled readers often experience "hearing" a voice inside their heads when they read. This "inner speech" is characteristic of skilled reading, and appears to be derived from the phonological representations generated during the grapheme-to-phoneme conversion process. Readers also seem to create an implicit metrical structure during silent reading. Recent research demonstrates that higher-level features are also generated under certain circumstances, perhaps approximating a more veridical representation of oral speech. This phenomenon has been termed "perceptual simulation." For example, direct quotations described as being said quickly are read faster than those described as being said slowly (Stites, Luke, & Christianson, 2013; Yao & Scheepers, 2011). In this talk, I will describe this perceptual simulation effect, demonstrate its occurrence with a wider variety of texts and "speaker" characteristics, and consider the connection between perceptual simulation and reading comprehension.

Tom Griffiths speaks on April 5th

Joe Pater writes:

Tom Griffiths of UC Berkeley will be visiting on Friday, April 5th, an event jointly sponsored by ICESL and the Institute for Computational Social Science. He will be giving a talk from 12:30 - 2 on "Identifying human inductive biases", details below.

From 2:30 - 3:15 on that same day, we will hold a meeting with Griffiths in Dickinson 206 in which we discuss a paper of his:

Hsu, A., & Griffiths, T. L. (2009). Differential use of implicit negative evidence in generative and discriminative language learning. Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22. http://cocosci.berkeley.edu/tom/papers/gendisclang.pdf

Identifying human inductive biases
Friday, April 5, 2013 • 12:30PM–2PM • Lunch provided
Campus Center, Room 917
Abstract: People are remarkably good at acquiring complex knowledge from limited data, as is required in learning causal relationships, categories, or aspects of language. Successfully solving inductive problems of this kind requires having good "inductive biases" - constraints that guide inductive inference. Viewed abstractly, understanding human learning requires identifying these inductive biases and exploring their origins. I will argue that probabilistic models of cognition provide a framework that can facilitate this project, giving a transparent characterization of the inductive biases of ideal learners. I will outline how probabilistic models are traditionally used to solve this problem, and then present a new approach that uses Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms as the basis for an experimental method that magnifies the effects of inductive biases. This approach provides some surprising insights into how information changes through cultural transmission (relevant to understanding processes like language evolution) and shows how ideas from computer science and statistics can lead to new empirical paradigms for cognitive science research.

Partee and Borschev in Amherst in early April

Barbara Partee writes:

On April 6 I will be in New York at the first annual planning meeting of the new publication Annual Reviews of Linguistics, of which Mark Liberman and I are the founding co-editors. Volodja and I will be in Amherst from then through April 14, and after that not back in Amherst until late August. Appointments welcome.

About the Annual Reviews: see http://www.annualreviews.org/ ; Linguistics doesn’t have its own page yet, but there’s a description on Language Log here: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4374.

UMass at GLOW

The 36th annual meeting of the Generative Linguists of the Old World (GLOW) meets this week in Lund. Stefan Keine and Rajesh Bhatt are presenting their paper "Verb Clusters and the Semantics of Head Movement," and Stefan Keine is also presenting is paper "Long-distance Agreement, Improper Movement and the Locality of Agree." Moreover, Jason Overfelt has a paper "Unbounded Successive-Cyclic Rightward Movement," and UMass alumna Cherlon Ussery presents her paper "Agreement vs Concord in Icelandic." This year's  syntax guru also presents a paper with Maria Polinsky: "Anaphoric dependencies in real time: The processing of Russian numerical constructions."

Second Call for paper: ESSLLI

Discourse Coherence, Information Structure, and Implicatures

Workshop at ESSLLI 2013
Heinrich Heine University
Düsseldorf, Germany
5-9 August 2013

Organisers: Anton Benz & Katja Jasinskaja (ZAS, Berlin)

This workshop provides a platform for discussion of new research on the interaction of of discourse coherence, information structure, and implicatures. It thereby focusses the interface of three areas of linguistics and philosophy: (a) the structure and the semantics of discourse, the way meanings of sentences contribute to a coherent text or dialogue; (b) information structure, the way the informational status (topic vs. focus, given vs. new, etc.) of sentence constituents is reflected by the structure of the sentence; and (c) implicatures, pragmatic inferences driven by the assumption of the speaker’s rationality and cooperativity that enrich the literal meaning of a sentence. Each of these areas has a long history of research and it is widely agreed that the areas are closely interdependent. However, the exact ways in which they interact are the subject of a lot of on-going research and vivid debate.

The last decade has seen a growing interest in pragmatic phenomena, and the development of new logical and game theoretic frameworks. A trend that is particularly pronounced in recent years is the development of unified approaches, i.e. the attempt to explain pragmatic phenomena which had hitherto been treated as separate problems in a uniform framework with uniform principles. There have to be mentioned the attempts at integrating conversational implicatures in semantics (Chierchia, 2004), the explanation of information structure, presuppositions, and conventional implicatures from questions under discussion (Simons et al., 2011), the continued refinement and further application of discourse theories like segmented discourse representation theory (Asher and Lascarides, 2003), the rise of game theoretic pragmatics (Benz et al., 2006), and recent developments in bidirectional Optimality Theory (Benz and Mattausch, 2011). In addition to these theoretical approaches, there developed a substantial literature on experimental studies. It is getting increasingly clear that rhetorical structure, information structure and implicatures are closely interdependent.

Original papers are solicited in subjects including, but not limited to the following:

- Bidirectional optimality theory
- Experimental pragmatics
- Game theoretic pragmatics
- Question under discussion theories
- (Segmented) discourse representation theory
- Semantic approaches to information structure and implicatures

Invited Speakers:
Jacques Jayez (ENS de Lyon)
Craige Roberts (Ohio State University)


Abstracts should be strictly anonymous and should not exceed 2 single-column pages including literature.

Abstracts must be submitted electronically in PDF format via Easychair at

The number of submissions is limited to 1 individual and 1 joint abstract or 2 joint abstracts per author. Abstracts will be evaluated through peer reviewing. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is June 15, 2011. Authors will be notified by 22 May 2013.

We plan to publish a selection of papers as a special issue of a journal.

Important Dates:

Deadline for submissions: 15 April 2013
Notification of acceptance: 22 May 2013
Conference: 5-9 August 2013

Oiry in Paris

Magda Oiry writes:

I was in Paris 7 Diderot last week (March 21) during Spring Break to present my work on French acquisition. I had very good interactions with people from different backgrounds.

Meg Grant, a very recent graduate, was there too, as that's the place where she is doing her Post-doc. She seems to be enjoying her time in Paris very much. She's bilingual so we spoke mostly in French!

Workshop on prosody in sentence processing in May

Lyn Frazier writes:

In May, there will be a workshop on explicit and implicit prosody in sentence processing.  It will take place on campus on May 30-31. The list of confirmed speakers includes:  Janet Fodor, Fernanda Ferreira, Ted Gibson, Mike Tanenhaus, Mara Breen, Barbara Hemforth, Sun-Ah Jun, Caroline Fery, Lisa Selkirk, Kristine Yu, Ev Fedorenko, and Duane Watson. A few others potential speakers have been contacted but I do not as yet have definite commitments from them.

Everyone interested is welcome to attend the workshop. So feel free to circulate this notice to interested individuals.

Call for papers: ICL

International Conference on Linguistics (ICL): Petra I
19-21 November, 2013, Petra – Ma’an – Jordan
Organized by: Al- Hussein Bin Talal University (Ma’an – Jordan)

Call for papers
Call Deadline: 21-July-2013

Keynote Speakers:
Hamida Demirdache (University of Nantes – France)
Abbas Benmamoun (University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne, USA)
Basil Hatim (AUS - United Arab Emirates)

We invite abstract submissions for oral presentations or posters devoted to English, French and Arabic languages. We aim to bring together researchers working on these or related languages from various theoretical approaches and to provide an open forum in order to explore current linguistic issues and linguistic methodologies. The major research areas that the conference seeks to cover include the following:

- Phonology
- Morphology
- Syntax
- Semantics
- Pragmatics
- Language variation
- Language acquisition
- Text Linguistics
- Psycholinguistics

We encourage contributions explicitly addressing interdisciplinary issues— e.g. syntax-semantics, semantics-pragmatics, morpho-syntax, phonology-syntax/semantics and theoretical-psycholinguistics.

Scientific Committee: Ur Shlonsky, Hagit Borer, Alain Rouveret, Usama Soltan, Orin Percus, Nicolas Guilliot, Ali Tifriti, Basil Hatim, Hamida Demirdache, Edit Doron, Ali Idrissi, Martin Salzmann, Sabrina Bendjaballah, Lina Choueiri, Alain Kihm, Jean Lowenstamm, Elabbas Benmamoun, Jean Pierre Angoujard. Chris Reintges, Hamid Ouali, Laurie Tuller, Bilal Al-Adaileh, Olivier Crouzet, Anwar Abu-Swalem.

Organizing Committee: Mohammed Nawafleh (vice president), Ghalib Al-Shawish, Naser Athamneh, Anwar Abu-Swalem, Nouman Malkawi, Renad Abaddi, Mamdouh Ayed Alenazy, Ahmad Al-Saidat, Bilal Al- adaileh, Shehada Suleiman, Bilal Abu Rakhyah, Hmoud Al-Rahawi, Mansour Al-kfaween and Khaled Masa’feh.

Venue: Archeology Faculty of Al-Hussein Bin Talal University, Petra.

Abstract Submission Guidelines:
·      Only electronic submissions are considered.
·      All abstracts must be in (MS Word) and (Pdf) format and be no more than one page in length. Examples and references can be given on a second page.
·      The main body of the text of the abstract should be followed by three to five keywords.
·      The subject line of the email message to which the two copies of the abstract are attached should contain: Surname. ICL abstract. The body of the message should contain the following information: title of the abstract, full name, affiliation, contact telephone number, and the email address (if different from the address in the email header).
·      Selected papers will be published in a special issue of AHU Journal.

Languages of the conference for both Oral Presentations (30 (20+10) minute) and Posters are: English, Arabic and French.

Important Dates:

·      Deadline for abstract submission:  21- July-2013.
·      Notification of acceptance: 20- August- 2013.
·      Conference dates: 19-21 November, 2013.

Abstracts for oral presentation must be sent to: ical.petra1@gmail.com

Abstracts for posters submission must be sent to: iclposters@gmail.com

For any enquiries, please email:     

 - malkawi1@gmail.com

Conference Registration fees:
-       Early registration: 100$ (covering transportation from airport to Petra hotels (230km)).
-       Late registration: 130$.
-       Participants from Jordan: 50 $

Partee involved in review of Linguistics in Israel March 8-25

Barbara Partee writes:

Volodja and I were in Israel March 8-25, where I was a member of a committee appointed to do evaluation reviews of the four Linguistics Programs or Departments in Israel: at the University of Tel Aviv, Bar Ilan University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Ben Gurion University of the Negev; plus a summary review of the state of linguistics in Israel. Our work involved reading big self-evaluation reports in advance, two-day visits to each university, and several days for planning our questions for the visits and working on drafts of our reports. We were based in Tel Aviv the whole time; Obama’s visit disrupted plans to be based in Jerusalem the second week. It was strenuous but worthwhile; and we did manage to visit with Volodja’s stepdaughter’s family in Givat Shmuel; and Volodja visited old friends in Haifa and outside of Jerusalem. All of our reports should be in final form by July.

Study Linguistics in St Petersburg this summer

John Bailyn writes:

I hope everyone there is doing well.  Please let your advanced Linguistics UG students and graduate students know about the exciting opportunity to study at the *NY-St. Petersburg Institute of Linguistics, Cognition and Culture* (NYI-XI), which will be held this summer for the 11th year* in St. Petersburg, Russia.* The dates are *July 15-August 2, 2013. * (With participation from your faculty again, as usual - Rajesh will be back for the 2nd year).

NYI's lineup of Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology faculty for summer 2013 include:

*John F. Bailyn* (Stony Brook)
*Rajesh Bhatt *(UMass, Amherst)
*Janet Dean Fodor* (CUNY Graduate Center)
*Jerry Fodor* (Rutgers University)
*Caroline Heycock* (University of Edinburgh)
*Sabine Iatridou* (MIT)
*Jaye Padgett* (UC Santa Cruz)
*Roumyana Pancheva* (USC)
*Sergei Tatevosov* (Moscow State University)

All seminars are in English and no Russian language knowledge is required.

(There are also 8 faculty in Cultural and Media studies, see website for details)

There are two ways US-based students can participate:

i)  Through *Stony Brook's 4-week Study Abroad Program, students can earn 3-9 transferable credits. * Russian language and culture courses are offered in addition to Linguistics, Cognitive and Cultural Studies Courses at NYI, a cultural program, optional trip to Moscow and other program highlights.  4-week Study Abroad Program dates are *July 6-August 4, 2013.*

For more information, visit:

The current application deadline is March 29, 2013, though we anticipate it will be extended to April 15, 2013.

ii)  Through NYI's "*Direct Linguistics Participation Program*", US
Linguistics students may attend the 3-week NY Institute program without paying US tuition, taking 4 Linguistics/Cognitive Studies seminars of their choice.   Russian language courses, cultural program and excursions are not available.  This option does not provide any transferable credits, but students receive a Certificate of Completion form NYI.  *Direct Participation Program dates are July 12-August 4, 2013. *

*Students interested in NYI's Direct Participation Program should contact me, Prof John Bailyn directly* at john.bailyn@stonybrook.edu for details.

ESSLLI is open for registration

Registration for ESSLLI 2013 is open!

The registration system is located at esslli2013.de/register. In order to register, please create an account and log in. Using your account, you will be able to register and to access your registration data at any time after your registration is complete.