07 October 2013

Lap-Ching Keung on Wednesday

Lap-Ching Keung is giving a talk this week in our Brown Bag (Wednesday, Tobin 521B, 12-1:15). The title of his talk is "Effects of Discourse Status and Planning Difficulty on Acoustic Variation".

His abstract is:

Repeated words within a discourse tend to be acoustically reduced. This variation can be explained by a pragmatic selection rule (discourse status) or by speaker facilitation (planning difficulty). For this experiment, we ask whether these effects are part of the same cognitive system or different systems. Participants saw an array of four objects and described a sequence of two movements like, "The chiddle moved above the hamel. The *cammer moved above the neeken." The *target?s discourse status and planning difficulty were manipulated. Durations were longer for new vs. given and novel vs. familiar, which replicated findings from previous research. More importantly, at the target noun, there was a trend towards an interaction. Givenness had a greater effect on novel targets. Although not significant, onset latency patterned in the same way as target duration, showing a correlation between the two factors. These results together suggest that discourse status is partially mediated by planning difficulty, which further suggests that the two effects are operating from the same cognitive system.

Valentina Brunetto at LARC on Wednesday

Magda Oiry writes:

Valentina Brunetto a post-doc fellow from England and Italy will present 

"Acquisition of near-reflexivity" 

at the LARC meeting on Wednesday, October 9 at 12:15 in the Partee Room.

Everyone welcome!

Workshop on Quantification a roaring success

Barbara Pearson writes:

We want to report the success of the LARC Workshop on the Acquisition of Quantification, which took place October 4 and 5 in the Math Lounge 1634 at UMass Amherst and was attended by roughly 70 students and more senior experts from Canada, the UK, Hungary, The Netherlands, France, Italy, and Germany, plus New England, New York, New Jersey, and Michigan.  Tom Roeper set the tone with his opening comments: "Why are there no methods, only theories: Experimental style and the historical path from syntax to discourse in the acquisition of quantification."  Invited talks by Julien Musolino (Rutgers), Bill Philip (Utrecht), and Martin Hackl (MIT) stimulated lots of discussion that spilled over into the breaks and shared meals. Congratulations to organizers Jeremy Hartman and Magda Oiry, with help from Mike Clauss, Tom Roeper, Tom Maxfield and Barbara Pearson.

They are now turning their attention to publishing a Proceedings.

World Phonotactics Database

From the Department of Linguistics at Australian National University:

We wish to announce the public release of the World Phonotactics  
Database, an online searchable relational database containing  
information about phonotactic restrictions from around the world.  
Using the database, you can compare and contrast phonotactic patterns  
in different languages, group languages by features, investigate the  
frequencies of different settings for different features, view the  
areal distribution of such patterns through the use of the interactive  
map, and check correlations with other phonological features.

The World Phonotactics Database includes phonotactic information on  
over 2300 languages, with segmental data for an additional 1400. At  
their most basic level, each language entry includes information on  
phonemic inventories, restrictions on consonant and vowel placement,  
and phonotactic restrictions concerning specific sounds in coda and  
onset position. The database, which was implemented by James  
McElvenny, contains extensive coverage, and is continuously updated as  
more data becomes available.

As in any project of this size, the database will contain errors,  
whether these be errors in the coding of information or errors in the  
sources consulted. We welcome any feedback correcting these errors as  
well as any other suggestions or comments you may have. We can be  
contacted at phonotactics@anu.edu.au.

For more information and access to the database itself, please visit