07 April 2013

Eric Bakovic, phonology guru, occupies South College this week

Eric Bakovic, from UC, San Diego, will embody the phonology guru position this week. He is giving a series of colloquiums described in the message from Joe Pater below.

Joe Pater writes:

Below is an abstract for Eric Bakovic's mini-course "Defining phonological interactions with string set intersection". The first class will be during John McCarthy's seminar time, and the first two classes will be in the seminar room down the hall from his office. The third class will be in the colloq room and time.

3:30 - 5:00 Monday April 8th, 528 Goodell

3:30 - 5:00 Wednesday April 10th, 528 Goodell

3:30 - 5:00 Friday April 12th, Machmer E-37

The manner in which rules/constraints potentially interact is predictable from their form. We'll start by defining a formal typology of the set of pairwise rule interactions that the rule-based serialism framework of SPE predicts. The full typology consists of 16 pairwise rule interaction types described by the intersections between the sets of strings described by the structural descriptions and structural changes of two rules. We will distinguish the familiar feeding and counterfeeding (= feeding-type) and bleeding and counterbleeding (= bleeding-type) interactions. A formal distinction between ‘on-focus’ and ‘on-environment’ feeding-type interactions arises from this exercise, but not between bleeding-type interactions, providing insight into the difference between on-focus and on-environment counterfeeding interactions from the perspective of ‘classic’ OT. We will then explore the rest of the typology, noting crucial differences between deletion/insertion rules and feature-changing rules; we will also discuss ways in which the formalism can be used to describe more than just pairwise rule interactions. Then we will extend the formalism to constraints and the ways in which they interact in OT and related frameworks.

PsychoSyntax tomorrow at 2:30!

Brian Dillon writes:

We will meet at *2:30 pm* on Monday 4/8 instead of the usual 3pm for Psychosyntax. Amanda Rysling will walk us through a very interesting (and provocative!) paper by Lisa Pearl and Jon Sprouse, as well as talk about how this work might relate tot he presence of syntactic satiation effects that arise in certain island violations. The paper she'll present is entitled "Syntactic Islands and Learning Biases: Combining Experimental Syntax and Computational Modeling to Investigate the Language Acquisition Problem." (KBJ: the article has some things in it that aren't in the title.) The paper can be found here.

Potsdam at SRG on Thursday

Jason Overfelt writes:

Please join us this Thursday, April 11th, for a meeting of the Syntax/Semantics Reading Group.  The current syntax guru, Eric Potsdam, has agreed to talk to us about "The processing of Russian numerical constructions".  An abstract for the talk can be found below.  We will be meeting at 6:30p at Rajesh's house at 11 Myrtle in Northampton.  Please bring $5 for pizza  or your dinner. 


Natural language has numerous ways to encode anaphoric dependencies, including filler-gap (movement) constructions, antecedent-anaphor relations, control, variable binding, and coreference. Such relations can be created in the syntax (e.g. movement constructions), in the semantics (e.g. variable binding), or in the discourse (e.g. coreference). Reuland 2011, building on Reinhart 1983 and others, proposes the following hierarchy in the economy of the encoding of anaphoric dependencies.

(1) syntax  <  semantics  <  discourse

The hierarchy translates into processing preferences; the processing of dependencies farther to the left should be easier than the processing of those to the right. A specific prediction is that syntactic dependencies require less processing effort than discourse-derived dependencies (Koornneef 2008). In other words, movement is, perhaps surprisingly, less burdensome for processing than pronominalization. To test this prediction, this paper investigates two constructions from Russian which have not been previously fully analyzed. They minimally differ on the surface but we show that they involve distinct kinds of anaphoric dependencies. An experimental study confirms that the syntactic dependency requires less effort than the discourse dependency.

In the Russian examples in (2), a nominal can be fronted out of a numerical expression, stranding a modifying numeral. When the stranded numeral is a so-called paucal number (1.5, 2, 3, 4, and the expression ‘both’), the fronted nominal can appear in a form that matches in number with the numeral, (2a), or in a non-matching plural form, (2b).

(2) a. A’ movement dependency: matching morphology
         Sobor-a                   v gorodke bylo tri        sobor-a
          cathedral-paucal in town       was three.paucal

        b. pronominal coreference dependency: non-matching morphology
           Sobor-ov        v gorodke bylo tri        pro
            cathedral-pl in town       was three.paucal
‘As for cathedrals, there were three in that town.’

We argue that the construction with matching between the fronted element and the numeral (2a) involves A'-movement of the fronted element but (2b) without matching involves co-indexation between the fronted element and a null pronoun, as shown. Evidence comes from island sensitivity, number connectivity, binding reconstruction, parasitic gaps, word order, and resumption with a pronoun or epithet.

The hierarchy in (1) predicts that (2a) should be processed more easily than (2b). We test this prediction in a reading time experiment. The results show a strong effect of the number difference (p=0.0085), with a statistically significant slowdown in reading time in the region after the numeral in the non-matching case (discourse dependency) compared to the matching case (syntactic dependency). The result supports Reuland’s hierarchy in (1).

We reject an alternative explanation of the data in which the reading time slow down is due to a simple morphological mismatch, which has been noted by several studies (e.g Fanselow & Frisch 2006, Molinaro et al. 2011). We also reject an alternative in which the slow down is due to the agreeing paucal form providing  fewer structural or lexical expectations, which are also known to facilitate processing (Vasishth 2003, Yoshida 2006, Lau et al. 2006, and others).

In conclusion, our analysis of a syntactic minimal pair in Russian forms the basis of a processing study comparing a syntactic dependency to a discourse dependency. Our experimental investigation of the two constructions shows that syntactic dependencies are processed more quickly than discourse dependencies, providing novel support for the hierarchy in (1). From a processing perspective, movement is less burdensome than pronominalization.


Ernst at Rutgers

Tom Ernst will give a talk on April 12 at the Rutgers SURGE (Semantics Research Group) entitled "Modification of Stative Predicates."

Final Call for papers: CSSIP 2013

CSSP (Colloque de Syntaxe et Sêmantique à Paris) 2013 invites submissions for 30-minute presentations (plus 10-minute discussions). Abstracts should be at most 2 pages in length (including examples and references) written in French or English. The same person may submit at most one abstract as a sole author and one as a co-author. Preference will be given to presentations that are not duplicated at other major conferences.

Abstracts will be refereed anonymously by an international selection committee. This page outlines the selection process.

Abstracts should be submitted through the Easychair system, at the following address:


Important dates

Submission deadline: April 15, 2013

Notification of acceptance: June 10, 2013

Program: July 05, 2013

Conference: September 26-28, 2013


Call for Papers: MoL 13

The 13th Meeting on the Mathematics of Language (MoL 13)
August 9, 2013
Sofia, Bulgaria

Third Call for Papers

MoL 13 is the 13th Meeting on the Mathematics of Language. MoL meetings are organized biennially by SIGMOL, the ACL Special Interest Group on Mathematics of Language. This year, MoL will be collocated with the 51st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL).

Important Dates

* Paper submission deadline: April 26, 2013
* Notification of acceptance: May 24, 2013
* Camera-ready copy deadline: June 7, 2013
* Conference: August 9, 2013 (after ACL 2013)


MoL is devoted to the study of mathematical structures and methods that are of importance to the description of language. Contributions to all areas of this field are welcome. Specific topics within the scope of the conference include, but are not limited to the following:

* generative capacity, computational complexity, and learnability of grammar formalisms
* formal analysis of linguistic theories and frameworks
* model-theoretic and proof-theoretic methods in linguistics
* mathematical foundations of statistical and stochastic approaches to language analysis
* formal models of language use and language change

This year we are actively seeking contributions addressing the theoretical underpinnings of the main tasks and methods of natural language processing, such as speech analysis, parsing, POS tagging, named entity recognition, natural language understanding, and machine translation.


We invite the submission of papers on substantial, original, completed, and unpublished research. Each submission will be reviewed by at least three members of the program committee.

The paper submission deadline is April 26, 2013. Submission is electronic:


Submitted papers should follow the two-column format of the ACL 2013 proceedings without exceeding eight (8) pages of content plus two (2) extra pages for references. We require conformance with the official ACL 2013 style guidelines including the policy on anonymous submissions, and the use of the ACL 2013 LaTeX or Microsoft Word style files. The only accepted submission format is PDF. Detailed information on all of these aspects can be found in the ACL 2013 Call for Papers at the following URL:


Authors of accepted submissions are to produce a final version of the paper; this version will be published in the proceedings of the conference and distributed by the ACL. Final versions should take into account reviewers' comments.

Accepted papers must be presented at the conference in order to appear in the proceedings. At least one author must register for the conference and present the paper. Please do not submit a paper if you do not plan to attend the conference.

Papers that have been or will be submitted to other meetings or publications must indicate this at submission time. We will not accept papers that have been or will be published elsewhere. The contact author of an accepted paper that has also been submitted elsewhere will need to promptly inform the program co-chairs whether he or she intends the accepted paper to appear in MoL 13. An accepted paper that is submitted to be included in MoL 13 must be withdrawn from other conferences.

Call for papers: 19th Amsterdam Colloquium

                          19th Amsterdam Colloquium
                                18-20 December 2013


Regular Program

• Paul Egre (CNRS, Paris)
• Kit Fine (New York University)
• Anna Szabolcsi (New York University)
• Yoad Winter (Utrecht University)

Workshop: Scaling up - Quantitative data in formal semantics and pragmatics

• Adrian Brasoveanu (UC Santa Cruz)
• Noah Goodman (Stanford University) (TBC)

Workshop: More on modals - New empirical and theoretical prospectives

• Valentine Hacquard (University of Maryland)
• Angelika Kratzer (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)

Session on semantics and pragmatics of dialogue (jointly organised with DialDam, http://www.illc.uva.nl/semdial/dialdam/)

• Matthew Stone (Rutgers University)

E.W. Beth Foundation Lecture

• John Horty (University of Maryland)

Abstracts are due September 1, 2013.  For submission details:


Organizing Committee 19th Amsterdam Colloquium
ILLC / Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam
Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands
tel: +31 20 5254537, fax: +31 20 5255206, mailto: m.d.aloni@uva.nl

Note that our own Angelika Kratzer is an invited speaker for the workshop on modals