25 September 2013

Akira Omaki speaks at department colloq

Akira Omaki of Johns Hopkins will be giving a colloquium:
Friday, Sept. 27, 3:30 pm
in Machmer E-37.

Title and abstract are below.

Learning to parse syntactic dependencies

Much psycholinguistic research has investigated the relation between distributional information and expectations in language comprehension. One way to study this relation is to examine how expectations arise during sentence processing in adults as a function of relevant distributional information in corpora. An alternate approach is to explore how such predictive behaviors grow in children as a result of relevant distributional information that accumulates over a longer period of time. This presentation will discuss a series of studies that explore the second approach, with a focus on learning and processing of non-local dependencies. The first part of the talk explores the role of transitional probability information (and its breakdown) in learning a dependency between 'is' and 'ing' (e.g., John is kick-ing the ball). It is shown that 15 month old infants, who generally do not demonstrate sensitivity to the co-occurrence of is and ing, can use statistical (ir)regularities and learn to detect the co-occurrence relationship after a few minutes  of exposure to input in the lab. The fact that children rely on distributional information to discover non-local dependencies makes it feasible that the acquired representations with statistical information may guide parsing of such non-local dependencies. The second part of the talk presents developmental research on comprehension of various wh-questions. It is shown that children's syntactic expectations in filler-gap dependency processing may be slightly different from the type of expectations that have been observed in adults, despite the fact that the distributional information available for children should fully support adult-like expectations. I will discuss implications of such findings for psycholinguistic models of syntactic predictions, as well as relevant linguistic and cognitive factors that may need to grow before adult-like predictive behaviors emerge.

22 September 2013

Clauss at LARC/Language Acquisition Lab on Wednesday

Magda Oiry writes:

Michael Clauss will present 

"Exploring the distinction between Wh clauses and Question clauses in Child English"

at the LARC meeting on Wednesday, September 25 at 12:15 in the Partee Room.

Everyone welcome!

Andrew Weir in Leiden

Andrew Weir gave a paper, "Fragment Answers and congruence with Question under Discussion" at the Identity in Ellipsis Conference at Leiden University yesterday, September 21. For more information about the conference, click here.

Call for papers: GLOW 37

The annual meeting of the Generative Linguists of the Old World will take place in Brussels April 2-11, 2014. In addition to the main colloquium, there will be a workshop on "Phonological Specification and Interface Interpretation" and another workshop on "Understanding Possession."  Paula Fikkert, John Harris and Bert Vaux are invited speakers to the first workshop, and Chris Barker and Kilu von Prince are invited speakers to the second workshop. Two page abstracts should be submitted by December 1, 2013. More information can be found here.

Lisa Green in Ithaca

Lisa Green will give a talk at Cornell entitled  "Inversion in African American English: When Negation Isn't Enough" on September 26 (Thursday).

Call for Papers: Representing the Speech of Others

(Re)presenting the Speech of Others

Date: 13-Mar-2014 - 14-Mar-2014
Call Deadline: 01-Dec-2013
Location: Groningen, Netherlands
Organization: Franziska Köder & Emar Maier
Hosted by the ERC project BLENDS
Contact: f.koder@rug.nl

There are different ways of reporting what someone else has said. Common forms of speech reports are direct speech (Mary said 'I am sick') and indirect speech (Mary said that she is sick). Pretense and role play are closely related phenomena. Like in direct speech, someone engaging in role play adopts the perspective of another person and produces utterances from that shifted standpoint (I am sick) (Harris, 2000). Another interesting parallel is that children start to use speech reports and to engage in role play at around the same time, namely at two to three years of age. This is well before they pass standard false belief tests (at around four) which are often taken to be the hallmark of Theory of Mind and metarepresentation (e.g. Perner, 1991).

Since at least some forms of reported speech exhibit recursion, intensionality, and/or clausal embedding, this developmental gap may shed new light on the debate over the relationship between Theory of Mind and the syntax/semantics of recursive embedding (e.g. de Villiers & de Villiers, 2000). The aim of the conference is to discuss the cognitive and conceptual relationship of reported speech, pretense and cognitive abilities such as perspective-taking, metarepresentation and Theory of Mind.

Keynote Speakers:

- Paul L. Harris
- Josef Perner
- Jill de Villiers

Call for Papers:

We invite authors to submit an anonymous two-page abstract by 1 December 2013
, for a talk of 20 minutes plus 10 minutes discussion or a poster. Submissions should be made via Easychair. We welcome theoretically and empirically oriented contributions addressing some of the following topics of interest from the perspectives of (psycho)linguistics, philosophy, psychology or semantics.

Topics of Interest:

- Development of reported speech
- Development of pretense/ role play
- Direct and indirect speech
- Perspective shift, role shift, deictic/indexical shift
- Theory of Mind / mindreading
- Metacognition and metarepresentation

Barbara in London and Cambridge

Barbara is in England Sept 24-29 for a big conference and a little workshop. On September 25, she and Luigi Rizzi will be the two speakers at a small workshop organized by Ian Roberts at the University of Cambridge on “Formal Approaches to Linguistic Theory”, where her talk will be “The starring role of quantifiers in the history of formal semantics”. Then on Sept 26-27, she’ll be one of the speakers in a big conference in London sponsored by the British Academy, organized by Ian Roberts and Theresa Biberauer, on the theme “The Cognitive Revolution 60 Years On” . Her talk there will be “How syntax and semantics have provoked different views of linguistic competence.”

Call for abstracts: CHRONOS 11

The deadline for abstracts for Chronos 11 (11th International Conference on Actionality, Tense, Aspect, Modality/Evidentiality), which will take place in Pisa on 16--18 June 2014, is  31 October 2013. For more information go here.

In addition to the main session, of particular note is the variety of interesting workshops proposed.