02 September 2013

Michelle McBride joins the Linguistics Department

With great pleasure, WHISC announces that  Michelle McBride assumed the duties of department secretary on July 29th. Step into the main office this week and join us in welcoming her to the department.

Town Meeting on Friday

John Kingston writes:

As we do at the beginning of each year, we will kick off the year with a town meeting in the department lounge on the third floor of South College on the first Friday of the Fall semester at 3:30. This year that's 6 September. We'll also take a group picture and individual pictures for the board outside the first floor entrance, so come dressed as you would want to be photographed.

Department Picnic Sunday, Sept. 8

Please come to the annual beginning-of-the-year potluck picnic / party to greet the new school year and welcome new faculty, new students, new visitors. Bring friends and family!

When: SUNDAY, September 8, starting at 3:30, continuing on into the evening

Where: 50 Hobart Lane, Amherst, 01002. (413) 549-4501 -- Barbara and Volodja's.

Hobart Lane is a small street that goes east off North Pleasant just a short distance north of the university, opposite Puffton Village, near the Crestview /Presidential Apartments bus stop. 50 Hobart Lane is a big white house on the left, near the end. The street sign may be missing; but in that case it’s the only street around there with a pole but no sign. 

The party will be outdoor/indoor; dress casual. The picnic will be held rain or shine!

We don’t set up a volleyball net anymore, but do bring other outdoor stuff. We have a croquet set, and badminton raquets and birdies, and there’s ping-pong in the basement.

Food and drink: Potluck

We'll have a charcoal grill, and some beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages (more needed). Bring things to eat in any category. International foods most welcome! (If you aren't up for cooking, you can bring beer or wine, or cheese, or fruit, etc.) We'll likely start eating around 4:30 or 5:00.

Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten invited speaker at SULA

Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten has been invited to speak at the next meeting of the Semantics of Under-represented languages in the Americas, which will be held in May at the University of British Columbia.

Congratulations Elizabeth!

P Reading Group meets this Friday

Claire Moore-Cantwell writes

The first official PRG MEETING will be a joint breakfast meeting with the Sound Seminar, FRIDAY SEPT. 6th AT 9AM, in the PARTEE ROOM.

Undergraduate Research Assistants in Psychology

Alexandra Jesse writes:

We are currently looking for undergraduate research assistants to work in the Language, Intersensory Perception, and Speech (short: LIPS) lab in the Psychology Department. Positions are open starting Fall 2013. Ideal applicants are those who can commit to a longer time period.

The work within the LIPS lab falls within the area of Psycholinguistics. We examine how listeners recognize speech from hearing and seeing a speaker talk. In particular, we are interested in the time-course of recognizing words - both from listening and from lip-reading, how listeners adjust to a speaker's idiosyncratic pronunciations, and what happens to these processes when people get older. We use eye-tracking and other behavioral methods to address these questions, as well as EEG.

You can visit our website for more information:

Typical tasks of our research assistants are:
- help with finding stimuli for an experiments (e.g., selecting words, making nonwords)
- help with recording, annotating, and editing of speech materials for the experiments
- assist with recruitment, scheduling, and testing of participants
- attend & prepare for weekly lab meetings
- do administrative research-related tasks

The typical commitment of our research assistants during the school year is 9hrs/week, for 3 credits. You would be enrolled in Psych 398B, but this course can count as an elective towards your linguistics degree. Please contact me if you have any questions about how these credits can be applied to your degree in Linguistics. Other majors are of course also eligible to apply.

So if you are interested in the position, please contact me as soon as possible for more information and for an application form. Once you return the completed application form, we will then contact you to schedule for an interview. We will then also require a letter of recommendation. Therefore, if you are interested, please respond to this email as soon as possible.

Please send any inquiries to participate@lips.psych.umass.edu

Bogal-Allbritten and Cable fill NLS

The recent issue of Natural Language Semantics (vol. 21.3) is an all UMass issue. It contains Seth Cable's article "Beyond the past, present, and future: towards the semantics of graded tense in Gikuyu" and Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten's article "Decomposing notions of adjectival transitivity in Navajo."

Congratulations Seth and Elizabeth!

Department Colloq schedule announced

Mike Clauss and Claire Moore-Cantwell announce:

The Fall 2013 Colloquium Series has been scheduled! Lots of exciting talks to look forward to this coming semester.
9/27 - Akira Omaki (Johns Hopkins) 
10/25 - Adam Albright (MIT)
11/1 - Tim Hunter (Minnesota)
11/22 - Jon Gajewski (UConn)
Jason Merchant and Naomi Feldman were also both invited, but cannot make it this semester; they will thus be coming some time in the Spring semester to give colloqs.
In addition to these four talks, there will be a talk on 11/15 by Phonology Guru Elliot Moreton from UNC; more details on Professor Moreton's stay as Guru to come separately.

SNEWS at MIT in November

Aron Hirsch and Wataru Uegaki at MIT write:

We are pleased to announce that MIT will be hosting this year's SNEWS (Southern New England Workshop in Semantics) on November 16th (Sat). SNEWS is an annual student-run workshop where graduate students in the Southern New England area can present their work in semantics/pragmatics and receive feedback in an informal setting. Students are invited to present their ongoing work on any topic in semantics and pragmatics - theoretical and/or experimental methodology. Universities that have participated in the past include Brown, UConn, Harvard, UMass, MIT and Yale.

The workshop website can be found here: http://web.mit.edu/wuegaki/www/snews/

Call for papers: International Conference on Linguistics at Petra

The first meeting of the International Conference on Linguistics will take place November 19-21 at Al-Hussein Bit Talal University in Petra Jordan. Papers in syntax, semantics, morphology, phonology and psycholinguistics in English, French and Arabic are sought. The deadline for abstracts is October 6. Invited speakers are Hamida Demirdache, Abbas Benmamoun and Basil Hatim. For more information, go here.

Sinn und Bedeutung at the University of the Basque Country

Sinn und Bedeutung 18 takes place this month in Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque Country of Spain. UMass alumnus Florian Schwarz is giving a talk "An experimental comparison between presuppositions and indirect scalar implicatures" with Jacopo Romoli. The invited speakers include UMass alumni Maribel Romero and Gennaro Chierchia. For a full schedule, go here.

Tim Austin named Provost at Duquesne University

UMass alumnus Tim Austin (1977)  has been named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Duquesne University in PIttsburgh, effective July 15. For the full scoop, go here.

A report from the Rio Institute on "Recursion in Brazilian languages and Beyond"

Tom Roeper writes:

The Rio Institute on "Recursion in Brazilian languages and Beyond" was a great success---in both English and Portuguese. It involved 16 different indigenous languages with representative native speakers of
Piraha, Wapachana, Kuikuro and many others. [A great set of pictures and brief descriptions of each talk are available on Facebook under "Recursion in Brazilian Languages".] And there was a great mix of faculty, visitors, and graduate students from Brazil and abroad. It was very well organized by Professor Marcus Maia, a UMass visitor last year.

The first section involved fieldwork with two Piraha speakers. It was a wonderful circus with loads of current and former UMass folks getting into the act: Luiz Amaral, Bart Hollebrandse, Uli Sauerland, and Ana Perez (I was good at keeping an eye on the experimental setups--but was hopeless in parsing the tonal sentences---Luiz somehow, magnificently, figured out how to do it.) Recursion in PP's, adjectives, relative clauses, and sentences were explored with pictures, and
most successfully acting out. The monolingual Piraha speaker resisted for an hour acting out PP-DP recursion (roughly: ``put the penny in the box on the chair on board on the floor'') but then spontaneously produced PP-PP cases "put the penny on the floor on the board on the chair in the box") and then comparable cases were easy. While the sessions were a bit chaotic (will be available on Youtube soon), they are really pilots for two talented graduate students who will go to the Piraha for a year in Sept.

The conference involved a variety of papers with presentation of PP and possessives-recursion experiments on a common model from half a dozen Indian languages, Portuguese, and Japanese. There was obvious pride among the Indians and researchers in having accomplished co-ordinated research on complex constructions.

Also from UMass: Suzi Lima made two terrific presentations (and she will be co-ordinating further research soon), Bart Hollebrandse, Ana Perez, Jon Nelson, and Luiz Amaral made presentations (and I gave a keynote). Terue Nakato's providing parallel experiments in child Japanese to the work in Wapachana and elsewhere made the common character of human languages stunningly clear.

Then courses: Ana Perez gave a very nice course on her recent results with recursion among bilinguals and across constructions, Luiz Amaral and I gave a bilingual course on Multiple Grammars, and Uli Sauerland did a Fieldwork course exploring a variety of structures with native speakers. Andrew Nevins gave a course exploring intonation and recursion.

Personal View: it was extremely gratifying to me to see acquisition methods extended to fieldwork in a coordinated fashion---very promising.In a letter to some participants I wrote:

"    Altogether it was an amazing, inspiring, and historic Institute.  It begins to fulfill the promise of linguistics I think.  We are building--through a common event-- a community which reaches from sophisticated questions in mathematical linguistics, to linguistic theory, fieldwork, acquisition techniques, and pedagogical grammars.  Questions remain alive in all these areas---but each domain benefits from the intermingling of ideas long before "established results" are available.     Each area, and each person, should feel empowered to make the (provisional and reversible) decisions of how to borrow knowledge.  Those in linguistic theory must be able to choose the version of mathematical recursion needed, the acquisition student chooses the version of linguistic theory he/she wants, the fieldworker sees what can be adapted to fieldwork, and the teacher envisions how it will work as pedagogy.    Equal partners in each step of this process is what does and will make it work.  This institute contributes to a responsible intellectual culture with a real ladder between theory and practice.  It can be a worldwide model of how cooperation can proceed."