07 December 2014


This will be the last WHISC of the year, and it’s dominated by sad news. The UMass linguistics community lost two of its members last week: Emmon Bach and Pius Tamanji. WHISC will return with the Spring semester at the end of January.

Emmon Bach

With a heavy heart, WHISC announces that Emmon Bach died of pneumonia on November 28 at his home in Oxford. Emmon retired in 1992 from UMass, where he was Sapir Professor of Linguistics, and subsequently held a position as Professorial Research Associate at SOAS until 2007, when he became affiliated with Oxford University. He joined the UMass Linguistics department in 1973, two years after its inception, as a half-time Visiting Professor and became a full-time member in 1975. He served as department head from 1977 to 1985.

Emmon worked mostly in syntax, semantics and morphology, and he was instrumental in giving UMass’s linguistics department the porous boundary between syntax and semantics that it continues to enjoy. He wrote the first textbook on transformational grammar in 1964. His second text, Syntactic Theory, in 1974, set a kind of benchmark for the many on syntactic theory that have followed. In 1989, he wrote a gentle introduction to formal semantics, Informal Lectures on Formal Semantics, aimed at bringing formal semantics to a wider audience. 

A great deal of present work in syntax and semantics has the shape it does because of Emmon. His work on transitive verb phrases in English in the 1970s, for example, led him to an operation he dubbed “right-wrap” which combines a verb and its object in a non-concatenative way. This idea, and the effects it captures, became built into HPSG frameworks and later, by way of Richard Larson’s work, into transformational grammars. His important 1986 paper “The algebra of events” provides a framework for thinking about eventualities that continues to shape research in this area, as does his 1981 paper “On time, tense, and aspect: an essay in English metaphysics.” Much of his work in the last couple decades has been on word grammar, where he has been bringing the toolkits used for analyzing the syntax and semantics of sentence grammar into the word domain. His most recent work includes two papers co-authored with his wife, Wynn Chao: “The metaphysics of natural language(s)” and “Semantic types across languages,” both published in 2012.

Emmon also had a career-long active engagement in linguistic fieldwork. He began working on the Wakashan language Haisla in the 1970s, visiting Kitimat British Columbia, where the Haisla speaking community is, off and on for the rest of his life. For several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he became associated with the University of Northern British Columbia, where he taught linguistics and cotaught Haisla. It's his work on Haisla, a polysynthetic language, that informs much of his research on word grammar.

You can learn more about Emmon’s life at his UMass website, and at the obituary on Language Log, here, at which a growing number of testimonials are accumulating. Oxford University’s notice is here, and Jim Blevins has put together a preliminary website for Emmon here. His funeral will be Saturday, December 13th, at St. John’s Chapel in Oxford. Go here for more information. It is likely that there will be other events in memory of Emmon, and WHISC will report them as they form.

Emmon was a dear friend to generations of students and colleagues at UMass. He will be greatly missed.

Pius Tamanji

It is with great sadness that WHISC reports the death of UMass alumnus Pius Tamanji, who died a week ago, November 30, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Pius was Professor of linguistics at the University of Yaoundé I, and had written numerous papers on the syntax, typology and sociolinguistics of the Grassfields Bantu languages spoken in Cameroon. His latest major work, published in 2009, was a comprehensive descriptive grammar of Bafut, an understudied language spoken in Cameroon, and his native language. He earned his PhD in 1999 from UMass with a dissertation on the structure of determiner phrases in Grassfields Bantu languages, including Bafut. This work led to a string of papers on agreement, nominal adjectives and other issues relevant to the internal life of determiner phrases in these languages. In 2003, he coauthored, with Ngessimo Mutaka, an Introduction to African Linguistics. His 2009 grammar of Bafut was preceded by papers on its clausal structure and verbal morphology, which interacts in interesting ways with negation. Pius was active in language preservation work in Cameroon, and also worked with deaf communities there. He was a popular teacher, and supervised a large number of theses and dissertations. 

He also had close connections with linguistic communities in Germany. He spent the 2003 academic year at the University of Cologne with an Alexander von Humboldt Research fellowship, and visited the University of Hamburg in 2008, where he negotiated a program of cooperation between the University of Yaoundé and Hamburg. He returned to the University of Hamburg as a DAAD visiting professor in 2010.

Pius was an important promoter of linguistic science in Cameroon. He was a member of the steering committee of the World Congress of African Linguistics, and was responsible for organizing several large, successful linguistic conferences in Africa.

During his time in the department, Pius was not just valued for his linguistics. He was a steady source of good cheer and support, responsible for organizing many social events, including regular football matches (he was an excellent player). He is missed.

Robert Staubs speaks at PRG tomorrow

Ivy Hauser and Coral Hughto write:

PRG will be meeting Monday at 7:30pm.  Robert will be preparing for a talk in some form (maybe a practice talk, maybe a discussion of the material in the talk).  We will have dinner and meet at Ivy's house in Northampton. 

Please RSVP if you plan to come so we will know how much food to get.

Heather Burnett speaks on Friday

Heather Burnett will give a talk entitled “Vagueness and Scale Structure in Delineation Semantics” on Friday, December 12 at 3:30 in the seminar hub (ILC N400). An abstract of her talk follows.

In this presentation, I present a new theory of the relationship between context-sensitivity, vagueness, and adjectival scale structure set within the Delineation semantics framework (Kamp, 1975; Klein, 1980, among others). From an empirical point of view, I argue that the four principle subclasses of adjectival predicates (relative adjectives (ex. tall), total absolute adjectives (ex. dry), partial absolute adjectives (ex. wet), and non-scalar adjectives (ex. atomic)) can be distinguished along three dimensions: 1) how their criteria of application can vary depending on context; 2) how they display the characteristic properties of vague language; and 3) what the properties of their associated orders (a.k.a. scales) are. It has been known for a long time in the literature (cf. Unger (1975), Pinkal (1995), Kennedy (2007), McNally (2011) a.o.) that there exist connections between context-sensitivity, vagueness, and scale structure; however, a formal system that expresses these connections has yet to be developed. By combining insights into the relationship between context-sensitivity and scalarity from the lineation semantics framework with insights into the relationship between tolerance relations and the Sorites paradox from Cobreros, Égré;, Ripley & van Rooij (2012)’s Tolerant, Classical, Strict (TCS) framework, I propose such a logical system. Using this framework, I show that the association of particular classes of adjectives with their particular kinds of scales can be derived from their context-sensitivity and vagueness properties. In other words, I argue that from independently necessary theories of context-sensitivity and vagueness, we arrive at a full theory of gradability and scale structure in the adjectival domain.

Sang-Im Lee-Kim appears in the Journal of the International Phonetic Association

Sang-Im Lee-Kim’s article "Revisiting Mandarin “apical vowels”: An articulatory and acoustic study" has appeared in the latest volume of the Journal of the International Phonetic Association. Go here for more information.

Summer School on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students

The summer school is open to women with a keen interest in mathematical philosophy. Applicants should be female students of philosophy, or philosophically minded logicians, mathematicians, or scientists at an advanced undergraduate level, in a master program, or at an early PhD level. To apply for participation, please fill out our application form, and send it together with a cover letter (including a statement of motivation) and your CV (ideally everything in one pdf file) to mathsummer2015@lrz.uni-muenchen.de. A separate letter of recommendation should be sent to the same address. If you want to present your own project, please send an abstract (up to 500 words) together with your application documents. The deadline for applications is March 1, 2015. Decisions will be made by March 15, 2015. The participation fee is 200€ (Note that the participation fee does not cover accommodation expenses). The language of all events will be English.

Some familiarity with the material presented in David Papineau's book Philosophical Devices: Proofs, Probabilities, and Sets is advisable.


Call for papers: Language at the Interface

"Language at the Interface" will meet at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, on April 24-26, 2015. The call for papers has gone out. A description of the workshop, as well as instructions for sending abstracts, follows.


Peter Carruthers (Maryland)

Wolfram Hinzen (Barcelona/Durham)

Friederike Moltmann (CNRS/NYU)

Anna Papafragou (Delaware)

Conference Overview

Serious and detailed proposals concerning the relationship between language and thought—or, as it might be put today, the language-cognition interface—have recently emerged within the cognitive sciences. Within linguistics, for example, a program of research broadly known as the “Minimalist Program” is underway whose guiding assumption is that the computational system of language is only as complex as it needs to be to meet the demands of the cognitive systems it interacts with, making it crucially important for the study of language to have some understanding of what these cognitive systems are like. Within psychology, a complementary research program concerns the relationship between language and our core cognitive systems. This program investigates how language is implicated in the emergence of distinctively human representations that cut across these core systems (i.e., domain-general representations), making it crucially important for these investigators to have some understanding of what language is like such that it can be recruited to this task. These programs illustrate the way that serious thinking about the language-cognition interface is rapidly changing the sorts of questions we can ask about the nature of distinctively human thought.

The aim of our three-day conference is to explore a wide range of questions at the intersection of linguistics, psychology, and philosophy that might be raised in connection with these and other lines of research into the place of language in the architecture of the mind. So, for example, a key claim made within the core-cognition framework is that language exhibits none of the modular limitations of the core systems that make use of it. How is this to be reconciled with the common assumption that language is a modular system? Moreover, it is standard for Minimalists to assume the existence of substantive constraints that emerge from the systems of thought with which language is assumed to interact. But to what extent is it explanatory to appeal to an antecedent system of thought to explain linguistic phenomena? Could a more radical view of the connection between language and thought be sustained? More generally, we might ask how these and other programs of research should shape our inquiry into language and the mind. Should the philosophy of mind be accorded a larger role in the study of language than it typically is? Should the philosophy of language play a more significant role in the study of the mind?

Important Dates

We invite 1–2 page abstracts on any topic related to the language-mind interface, broadly construed. Send anonymized abstracts to latkins@sfu.ca by January 15, 2015, and include personal information (name, institution, contact information) in your email.

For more information about the conference please visit the conference website or contact the conference organizers: Ashley Atkins (SFU) and James Martin (Princeton/SFU).

Fellowships for the LSA Linguistic Institute

The LSA Institute is being hosted by the University of Chicago this summer, from July 6 to July 31. The LSA provides fellowships to help defray the costs for students who wish to attend the Institute. Here is a description of these fellowships:

Ordinary fellowships provide full tuition for the Institute, and a small number of "named fellowships" provide additional funds. All student members of the LSA (apart from previous fellowship recipients) are eligible to apply.  Non-members may join here.  

To begin the application process, student members may click here (login required) or, if already logged in to the LSA website, click here to access their user profile and then click the large green "Submit Fellowship Application" button.  More information about the Institute and the fellowships is available here. While Institute fellowships are restricted to students, anyone may attend the Institute.

For more information about this year’s LSA Institute, go here.

Workshop on the Morphological, Syntactic and Semantic Aspects of Dispositions

The goal of this workshop is to explore questions about the morpho-syntax, semantics and underlying ontology of words and constructions used to describe dispositions. The central aim of the workshop is to develop a better understanding of how existing and novel insights from different approaches to dispositions can be integrated into a single theory of dispositions and their linguistic descriptions. 

Invited Speakers
Artemis Alexiadou (Stuttgart)

Elena Castroviejo (Madrid)

Ariel Cohen (Ben Gurion)

Bridget Copley (Paris)

Nora Boneh (Jerusalem)

Hans Kamp (Stuttgart)

Marika Lekakou (Ioannina)

John Maier (Cambridge, TBC)

Christopher Piñón (Lille)

Stephan Schmid (Berlin)

Barbara Vetter (Berlin)

We welcome submissions for a 20 minute talk (followed by 10 minutes of discussion) or a poster on any topic relevant to the goals of the workshop (see below). We particularly welcome contributions addressing the linguistic relevance of philosophical insights on dispositions or the philosophical relevance of linguistic insights on dispositions.

All submitted abstracts should be written in English and be limited to two single-spaced pages, complete with examples and bibliography. All texts should fit within two A4 pages, with 2,54 cm/1-inch margins all around. Each abstract should start with the title (centered) at top, above the main text. Use font size 12 throughout (except for examples), preferably in Times or Times New Roman. The abstract should be camera-ready. Authors may submit at most one individual and one co-authored abstract.

Save your abstract as a PDF. Name your abstract with your last name followed by the suffix pdf (e.g., huang.pdf). Submit your abstract via the EasyChair Conference, online submission system:


Please leave your name and affiliation out of the abstract. Please indicate whether your abstract is for a talk, a poster or both.

Deadline for submissions: March 1st, 2015 

Notification of acceptance: March 31st, 2015

Questions to be addressed 
1. What are the truth conditions of dispositional statements?
2. How are these truth conditions determined compositionally?
3. In what ways can dispositions be linguistically expressed?
4. What are linguistic tests for dispositionality?
5. Are there distinct notions of ‘disposition’ between which a linguistic theory of disposition description should distinguish?
6. Among the words that can be used to express dispositionality are nouns, adjectives and verbs. What systematic connections are there between the ways in which different parts of speech do this, in particular between deverbal nouns and adjectives and the underlying verbs?
7. What role do temporal and aspectual sentence constituents play in the verbal expression of dispositions?
8. How do dispositional statements differ from habitual and frequency statements?
9. What relations are there between dispositions and causality?
10. One of the constructions that can be used to describe dispositions are middles. (An example: the German sentence `Dieser Satz liest sich leicht’ (‘This sentence is easy to read’)). Is ‘middle’ a morpho-syntactic or a notional concept? Where do the argument positions of disposition-expressing middles come from? What is the syntax-semantics interface for these constructions?

A more detailed description of the questions the workshop aims to address can be found on the general information page of the workshop:


Satellite meeting of ICPhS 2015

Megan Armstrong writes:

There will be a satellite meeting of ICPhS 2015 on developing an  international prosodic alphabet (IPrA) within the Autosegmental-Metrical framework. The workshop is organized by Sun-Ah Jun, José Ignacio Hualde and Pilar Prieto. More information can be found on the workshop's website:


30 November 2014

Plan for a Fulbright

Planning for Fulbright - presentation by the Office of Professional Development

Tuesday, December 2, 4:30 pm, Goodell Hall - Graduate school lobby

UMass graduate students have done very well in Fulbright applications.  Last year all eight who applied won the award.  This panel will assist graduate students contemplating a Fulbright year abroad for research or further study.  Participants include Professor David Mednicoff, a Fulbright scholar and Director of Middle Eastern Studies; Kathryn Julian, a PhD candidate in History and Fulbright student in Germany last year; and John Dickson, advisor in the Office of National Scholarship Advisement.  While applications are due in September of each year, understanding the criteria and timetable for Fulbright will assist those interested in applying.  Light refreshments will be served.

Register here: Fulbright for Grads

Hideharu Tanaka speaks at the Syntax Workshop

In the Syntax Workshop on Thursday, Dec 4, Hideharu Tanaka will give a talk entitled: "Pseudo-gapping: A Case against Defective Intervention.” The talk starts at 4:10 in ILC 451.

Everyone is welcome!

Yutaka Ohno speaks on Thursday

Visiting Scholar Yutaka Ohno (Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto) has been invited to give a talk for the UMass Asian Languages Program next on Thursday, December 4, at 4PM in Herter 301. Prof. Ohno will discuss the secrets of writing a successful textbook, such as the one he co-authored, Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese. For more details, go here.

UUSLAW on Saturday, December 6

The UConn, UMass, Smith Language Acquisition Workshop (UUSLAW) is Saturday, December 6, at UMass. The workshop begins at 9:30 in ILC N400. A schedule of talks follows.

9:30-10:00 Greetings and Refreshments

10:00-10:30: Mike Clauss and Jeremy Hartman (UMass). “Syntactic Cues to Adjective Type"

10:30-11:00: Ryosuke Hattori (UConn). “Acquisition of Floating Quantifiers in Japanese: Evidence against the Transformation"

11:00-11:30: Vanessa Petroj (UConn). TBA

11:30-11:45 Coffee

11:45-12:00: Barbara Pearson (UMass): TBA

12:00-12:30: Covadonga Sanchez-Alvarado (UMass). “Information Structure in L2 in Spanish"

12:30-1:00: Megan Armstrong (UMass). “Elicitation tasks for mental state intonation in non-standard varieties of English and Spanish"

1:00-2:00: Lunch

2:00-2:30: Kadir Gökgöz (UConn). “Aspects of Bimodal Bilingual Language Development"

2:30-3:00: Rebecca Woods (UMass visitor). “Embedded Inverted Interrogatives: Investigating Strong Islands in Acquisition of Questions"

3:00-3:30: Coffee

3:30-4:00: Andie Faber (UMass). “Assigning Grammatical Gender to Novel Nouns in L1 and L2 Spanish"

4:00-4:30: Tom Roeper (UMass). “Update Common Ground, Presupposition Failure, Question-under-Discussion, and but-implicatures: How does a child get it all co-ordinated?"

Call for papers: Sinn und Bedeutung

Sinn und Bedeutung 20 Workshop:"Experimental Methodology in Semantics and Pragmatics"

Location:           University of Tübingen, Germany

Date:                  Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Call deadline:     February 15th 2015

The number of researchers in semantics and pragmatics using experiments as a tool to evaluate hypotheses derived from linguistic theories is increasing. This workshop offers a forum for methodological reflection on what can and cannot be achieved with experimental work in our field and which paradigms are best suited to yield reliable and valid results for answering current questions in semantics and pragmatics.  

We invite contributions addressing one or more of the following topics:

1.  Method Evaluation

1.1  Comparing experimental methods: What are the advantages and limitations of existing psycholinguistic methods?  How can these methods be combined and extended for the purpose of investigating questions in semantics and pragmatics? How can the current methodological repertoire be extended by adapting and developing new techniques?

1.2  Experimentation vs. other methods:What are the advantages of corpus studies, field work, and computational modelling compared to experimental methods?  How can these other methods complement experimental evidence?

1.3  Basis and Limits of Speaker Judgments

2.  Implications of Experimental Results for Semantic and Pragmatic Theorizing

2.1  Does the predicted effect reflect the structure under investigation or some processing constraint?

2.2  (How) can we supplement formal theories with (independent) processing components?

2.3  What linking hypotheses are necessary to relate experimental data to semantic/pragmatic theory?

2.4  How can experimental results contribute to a reassessment of central theoretical concepts?

3.  Problematic Data

3.1  How can we deal with conflicting evidence?

3.2  What do null effects tell us? 

Call for Papers:

We invite submissions for 20-minute talks plus 10 minutes for discussion. Abstracts must be anonymous, in PDF format, 2 pages (A4 or letter), in a font size no less then 12pt, and with margins of 1 inch/2.5cm. Please submit abstracts via EasyChair (see link below) no later than February 15th 2015. 

Abstracts should be submitted via EasyChair, using the following link: 


For questions or enquiries please write to: sub20xmeth@gmail.com

Unravel Magazine

Unravel Magazine: An international student-run accessible linguistics magazine

Love languages and linguistics? We’re looking for fellow young protolinguists passionately in love with the wonderful world of words to be part of our writing and design team.

Much of linguistic writing remains academic or scholarly and as such difficult for an average reader to access. Unravel seeks to enable a wider general audience to clearly understand what linguistics is about, as well as allow the average reader to express more informed opinions regarding linguistic issues and gain more knowledge and awareness about languages and the study of language.

We are looking for writers, language editors and web designers from all over the world to be part of our team of journalinguists. You don't need a linguistics degree, as our resident second language acquisition editor will tell you (he's in Economics) - all you need is a love of the world's many words, and the ability to put them to good use. And we're not looking for just writers in English - we are willing and able to publish articles in español, deutsch, français, português, italiano, 华文 and русский as well.

If you're interested in working with us, contact the current chief editor Kevin Martens Wong at submit@unravellingmag.com with your name, your CV and a sample of your writing.

We can presently be found online at http://unravellingmag.com. You can also follow us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/unravellingmag and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/unravellingmag.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Call for papers: Tbilisi Symposium on Language, Logic and Computation

21-26 September 2015

Tbilisi, Georgia

The Eleventh International Tbilisi Symposium on Language, Logic and Computation will be held on 21-26 September 2015 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Programme Committee invites submissions for contributions on all aspects of language, logic and computation. Work of an interdisciplinary nature is particularly welcome. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

* Algorithmic game theory        

* Computational social choice

* Constructive, modal and algebraic logic

* Formal models of multiagent systems

* Historical linguistics, history of logic

* Information retrieval, query answer systems

* Language evolution and learnability        

* Linguistic typology and semantic universals

* Logic, games, and formal pragmatics

* Logics for artificial intelligence

* Natural language syntax, semantics, and pragmatics

* Natural logic, inference and entailment in natural language

* Distributional and probabilistic models of information and meaning

Authors can submit an abstract of three pages (including references) at the EasyChair conference system here:

The programme will include the following invited lectures and tutorials.

Logic: Brunella Gerla (University of Insubria)

Language: Lisa Matthewson (University of British Columbia)

Computation: Joel Ouaknine (Oxford University)

Invited Lectures:

Rajesh Bhatt (University of Massachusetts )

Melvin Fitting (Graduate School and University Center of New York) 

Helle Hansen (Delft University of Technology)

George Metcalfe (Bern University)

Sarah Murray (Cornell University)

Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh (Queen Mary, University of London)


There will also be a workshop entitled: “Automata and Coalgebra”, organised by Helle Hansen and Alexandra Silva, as well as a workshop entitled: "How to make things happen in grammar: Encoding Obligatoriness”, organised by Rajesh Bhatt and Vincent Homer. More information will be available on the TbiLLC website: http://www.illc.uva.nl/Tbilisi/Tbilisi2015

Post-proceedings of the symposium will be published in the LNCS series of Springer.


Submission deadline: 1 March 2015

Notification: 1 May 2015

Final abstracts due: 1 June 2015

Registration deadline: 1 August 2015

Symposium: September 21-26, 2015

Programme and submission details can be found at:

23 November 2014

CUNY abstract fest on Tuesday

The postponed CUNY abstract fest will happen on Tuesday, November 25, a Brian Dillon’s house. Proceedings will start at 7:30. If you’ve not already given Shayne Sloggett the abstract you would like to go over, bring hard copies.

Harris named President-Elect of the LSA

Alice Harris has been elected Vice President of the Linguistic Society of America. Her tenure as Vice President will begin in 2015 and end in 2016, when she will be elevated to President of the LSA. For more on this story, go here.

Congratulations Alice!

Pearson and Roeper at ASHA

Barbara Zurer Pearson and Tom Roeper had a seminar at the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) annual meeting November 22 in Orlando. The seminar was entitled "Evidence-based Therapy Materials to Foster School Language in 4- to 9-year-old Children from DIverse Backgrounds,”  and it was in cooperation with  co-authors  Frenette Southwood, and Ondene van Dulm. Frenette and Ondene translated the DELV (DIagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation, Seymour, Roeper & de Villiers, 2005) into Afrikaans and also published a series of therapy materials in English and Afrikaans to accompany the tests, adding materials on Binding, Ellipsis, and Conjunctions to a selection of DELV topics including complex WH-questions, Quantifiers, Articles, Passives, Narrative, and Role-taking.      One purpose is to continue to bring the DELV and its linguistics focus to an audience of speech-language practitioners and researchers. 

Chateaubriand Fellowship - Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)

HSS Chateaubriand is a fellowship program offered by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US.

It targets outstanding Ph.D. students from American universities who seek to engage in research in France, in any discipline of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

HSS Chateaubriand fellows are selected through a merit-based competition, through a binational collaborative process involving expert evaluators from both countries.

HSS Chateaubriand grantees are applicants who answer the program’s criteria of excellence and whose sojourn in France will support the program’s philosophy. The HSS Chateaubriand fellowship program’s purpose is to foster bilateral cooperation at Ph.D. and research level, and to build and strengthen bridges between our two nations.

All application materials are due on January 20th 2015 for the following academic year - 2015/2016.

For more information, go here: http://humanities.chateaubriand-fellowship.org/

Fodor's book

Lyn Frazier writes:

Janet Fodor gave a colloquium on November 14, 2014: What parsers want from grammars?

At the post-colloquium party, she was presented with a mock-up of a forthcoming book "Explicit and implicit prosody in sentence processing" dedicated to her, and created in her honor.


Call for papers: BU Grad Student Conference in African Studies

Boston University’s Graduate Student Conference in African Studies will be celebrating its 23rd consecutive event.  This year’s conference will feature the work of emerging graduate scholars engaging Africa from a variety of disciplines and focusing on global perspectives.  The 2015 conference will be held at Boston University, March 27-28th.  The application deadline will be February 1, 2015.

We invite rigorous graduate student papers that examine Africa’s past, present and future, exhibit methodological innovation, and/or yield fresh interpretative insights.  Participation is commonly drawn from across the academic spectrum: Anthropology, Art History, Cultural Studies, Economics, Ecology and Environment, Geography, Global Health, History, International Relations, Law, Literature, Media Studies, Musicology, Policy, Political Science, Religion, and Sociology.

For twenty-three years, masters and doctoral students from around the world have made this conference a valuable opportunity to expand peer-to-peer academic networks and present ongoing research.  We strongly encourage graduate students who present a paper to plan on attending the entire conference, as presenters rely on student feedback to make the most of their experience.

A $25 conference fee is payable upon on-site registration.  The fee includes dinner on March 27th and breakfast/lunch on March 28th. 

To Apply

Submit a 400-word abstract to ASCGradConference2015@gmail.com by February 1, 2015.  Please also include your name, address, telephone number, email address, and institutional affiliation in the email. For more information, please email the address listed above or go to:


16 November 2014

PRG tomorrow

Coral and Ivy write:

The next meeting of PRG will be tomorrow, 11/17, at 7:30pm in the downstairs section of Haymarket Cafe in Northampton. There will be a debriefing and discussion of the happenings at NECPhon this past Saturday. We hope to see you there!

Christodoulou speaks in LARC on Friday

Christiana Christodoulou, Department of English Studies, University of Cyprus and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will give a talk at LARC on Friday at 11:30AM in N451. Title and abstract follow. All are welcome!

Title: Subject-Verb Agreement in Down Syndrome: Is you walks in Greek the same as he walk in English?

Previous work on the production of subject-verb (S/V) agreement by individuals diagnosed with Down Syndrome (DS) reveal inconsistencies across languages. While studies on English individuals with DS report severe impairment with S/V agreement, Schaner-Wolles (2004) shows high accuracy rates for German individuals with DS. Despite the evidently low IQ and comparatively lower MLU scores, the morphosyntactic analysis on Cypriot Greek adults diagnosed with Down Syndrome (DS) shows close to ceiling performance: 98.5% accuracy for person and 99% accuracy for number. Preliminary analysis shows that younger children with DS present parallel performance. I suggest that differences determined to be morphosyntactic in nature, typically follow a pattern of selecting the default form for each inflectional feature – the 3rd value for person and the singular value for number – instead of the targeted one. I will also present a preliminary analysis on why these discrepancies across languages occur.

Martin Hackl gives department colloq on Friday

Martin Hackl (MIT) will give the department colloquium on Friday, 3:30, in the seminar hub. The title of his talk is: On the Acquisition and processing of “only”: Question Answer Congruence, Scalar Presupposition, and the Structure of ALT(S). An abstract follows.

In this talk, which is based on ongoing joint work with Ayaka Sugawara, Erin Olson, and Ken Wexler, I will suggest an approach to understand a curious phenomenon concerning the acquisition of only. As Crain et al. (1992, 1994) showed, children up to at least age six display a surprisingly robust rate of assigning non-adult interpretations to sentences with subject only. For instance, children may judge Kermit’s answer in (1a) to the question Kermit, can you tell me what happened? as true relative to a scene where a cat is holding a flag, a goose is holding a flag and a balloon, and a frog is holding a balloon. Moreover, when asked why they think Kermit was correct, they offer justifications indicating that they assigned (1a) an interpretation as in (1b).

(1) What happened?

a. Only the cat is holding a flag.

b. The cat is only holding a flag.

Crain et al.’s results have been replicated since for a number of languages including German, Japanese, and Mandarin suggesting that at least some the factors at play operate on properties of sentences with only that are invariant across languages. I will argue, based on results from a series of experiments with children and adults, for three such factors – A. Question-Answer Congruence, B. the scalar presupposition of only, and C. the nature of the set of alternatives, ALT(S), relevant for the interpretation of only – and propose a simple comprehension model for sentences with only that offers a principled characterization of when sentences with only are relatively easy or relatively difficult to comprehend.

Roger Higgins speaks

Tom Roeper and Alice Harris write:

We are pleased that Roger HIggins has agreed to teach a class on Historical Aspects of English morphology on Tuesday  Nov 18th, 1:00-3:30 in our class on English Morphology in the linguistics department. We welcome any visitors who might like to attend.

CUNY abstract fest on Thursday

Shayne Sloggett writes:

On Thursday, Nov. 20,  the psycholing workshop will be having a CUNY abstract extravaganza. Abstract drafts will be read and discussed in the hopes of providing the people submitting to CUNY with some early feedback before the December 1 deadline. 
So, if you're thinking of submitting to CUNY and would like some extra eyes before you deadline, send me your abstracts by November 18. I'll put them together and distribute them so that people have chance to read them beforehand.

Alternatively, if you just can't do without those last two days, come to the workshop with your abstract and enough copies to distribute, and we'll give it a go.

Those of you who aren't submitting to CUNY are still encouraged to attend! The more eyes and input, the better!

Call for Applications: SIAS Summer Institute

The Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin and the National  Humanities Center in North Carolina are soliciting applications for the 2015/16 SIAS Summer Institute: The Investigation of Linguistic Meaning: In the Armchair, in the Field, and in the Lab. The Summer Institute wants to attract junior postdoctoral researchers (PhD 2009 or later) from one of three fields: (a) Theoretical Linguistics, especially Semantics and its interfaces with Pragmatics, Syntax, and Phonology, (b) Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, and (c) Linguistic and Anthropological Fieldwork. SIAS Summer Institutes are designed to support the development of scholarly networks and collaborative projects among young scholars from the United States and Europe. The institutes are open to scholars who have received a Ph.D. within the past five years and Ph.D. candidates who are now studying or teaching at a European or American institution of higher education. Each institute accommodates twenty participants and is built around two summer workshops, one held in the United States and another in Europe in consecutive years. One goal of the 2015/16 Summer Institute will be interdisciplinary team building, resulting in joint publications at the end of the project. A second goal will be capacity building, especially the acquisition of methods in the neighboring fields.

July 20 to 31, 2015, Berlin, Germany, organized by the Wissenschaftskolleg and ZAS
July 18 to 29, 2016, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

Application deadline: January 6, 2015. Full call for applications with application details:
Angelika KRATZER, Professor of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Manfred KRIFKA, Professor of General Linguistics at Humboldt Universität Berlin and Director of the Zentrum für Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin (ZAS).
Guest lecturers
Emmanuel CHEMLA, Research Scientist (CNRS), Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Lisa MATTHEWSON, Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of British Columbia
Jesse SNEDEKER, Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
Malte ZIMMERMANN, Professor of Semantics and Theory of Grammar, Universität Potsdam
Stipends and expenses
The program will cover the cost of travel, meals, lodging, and texts for both the United States and European meetings. Fellows will also receive a small stipend.

For more information, go here.

Call for Abstracts: Gradability, Scale Structure and Vagueness

Abstracts are invited for submission to the workshop “Gradability, Scale Structure, and Vagueness: Experimental Perspectives”, which will take place in Madrid, at the Center for Social Sciences and Humanities of the Spanish National Research Council, on May 28th and 29th, 2015.

As its title states, the workshop is concerned with the semantics of gradability, scale structure and vagueness from an experimental perspective. We invite papers that challenge or confirm current formal analyses of these phenomena in view of experimentally collected data; that discuss how semantic and pragmatic theory can benefit from experimental methodologies; and that aim for an explicit and detailed account of the use, mental representation, online processing, neural correlates or acquisition of expressions of gradability, scalarity, and vagueness. Papers may address — but are not limited to — the following questions: 

The ontological status of degrees and their role in the analysis of vagueness, gradability and scalarity phenomena, if any (Kennedy 1999, 2007; Heim 2000; Nouwen 2005; van Rooij 2011a,b; Solt & Gotzner 2012).

Comparison constructions across categories and languages (Pancheva 2006; Geurts & Nouwen 2007; Nouwen 2008; Beck et al. 2010; Ravid et al. 2010; Wellwood et al. 2012; Bobalijk 2012).

Scale-based classifications of gradable predicates such as the absolute vs. relative distinction, the nature of the standards for the applicability of gradable expressions, and the ways in which standards are determined (Rotstein & Winter 2004; Kennedy & McNally 2005; Syrett 2007, Syrett et al. 2010; Sassoon 2012; McNally 2011; Burnett 2014a,b).

Evidence for specifications of implicit parameters, such as comparison class, judge, scalar dimension(s), or standards, in the derivation of vague and gradable expressions, and their role in processing (Solt & Gotzner 2012; Schumacher 2012).

The usage of vague language in the context of borderline cases (e.g., things which are ‘neither tall nor not tall’), apparent contradictions (such as ‘tall and short’), and the Sorites paradox (Serchuk et al. 2011; Ripley 2011; Kriz & Chemla 2014; Alxatib & Pelletier 2011).

The connections between vagueness and other types of context dependence such as ambiguity and polysemy (Schumacher 2012, 2014), imprecision or approximation (Lewis 1979; Lasersohn 1999; Krifka 2007; Hackl 2009; Syrett et al. 2010; Bambini et al. 2013; Solt 2014; Solt et al. 2014), anaphora and presupposition (Kamp 1981; Burkhardt 2008), and multidimensionality and gradability (Kamp 1975; Kennedy 1999; van Rooij 2011a,b; Sassoon 2013; Burnett 2014a,b).

The consequences of vagueness for the architecture of grammar, given the diverse aspects of grammar into which vagueness infiltrates (Chierchia 2010)

8 talks will be selected among the submissions. They will be allotted 35 minutes plus 10 minutes for discussion. One person can submit at most one single-authored abstract and an additional co-authored one. Abstracts must be anonymous, at most 2 pages long including references and examples, 12 pt Times New Roman font, and in .pdf format. They will be submitted electronically via Easychair. Please add 5 keywords.

Invited speakers:
Rick Nouwen (Universiteit Utrecht)
Roumyana Pancheva (University of Southern California)
Petra Schumacher (University of Cologne)
Stephanie Solt (Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin)
 Important dates:
Abstract submission: January 15th, 2015
Notification of acceptance: March 1st, 2015
Workshop dates: May 28th-29th, 2015
 In conjunction with this workshop, the organizers are preparing a volume with the same title for the new Springer series ‘Language, Cognition and Mind’. Papers based on the accepted talks will be considered for this publication.

Registration is free, but please let us know if you will be attending by filling in the form you will find in the workshop’s web page:

Organizers: Elena Castroviejo (ILLA-CSIC), Louise McNally (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Galit W. Sassoon (Bar-Ilan University)

 Contact: expgrad2015@gmail.com

09 November 2014

Anisa Schardl at Swarthmore tomorrow

Anisa will be giving a talk at Swarthmore tomorrow, November 10. The title of her talk is “Wh question word orders in funny languages.” To learn more, go here.

Janet Fodor gives Department Colloq

Janet Fodor will present “What parsers want from grammars” in the seminar hub at 3:30 on Friday, November 14. An abstract follows. Professor Fodor will be at UMass all of Friday. If you’d like to schedule an appointment to see her, get in touch with Stefan Keine.


From the earliest days of transformational generative grammar, there has been an uncomfortable truce between the formal study of syntactic structure and the development of models of human sentence processing. Processing models are unable to make practical use of formal derivational operations in assigning structure to incoming word strings. With the advent of Chomsky’s Minimalist Program (MP) the situation has worsened. Syntactic derivations have been revised, on theoretical grounds, so that both structure building and movement are now misaligned with parsing. MP derivations inherently operate bottom-up, which for right-branching constructions means from right to left. Taken literally, this would imply that parsing begins at the end of a sentence. After noting a flurry of reactions to this impractical conclusion (rejection of the problem by Neeleman & van de Koot; proposed solutions to the problem by Fong, Chesi, and den Dikken), I will take the viewpoint of a working psycholinguist and propose instead that an efficient parser builds MP trees left-to-right and top-to-bottom, from interlocking chunks of tree structure. Where do the chunks come from? The MP grammar generates complete sentential trees (bottom-up, right-to-left – no problem!) which are then chopped into the parser-friendly building blocks.

Cog-Sci Workshop this Thursday

Join us on Thursday, November 13th from 2:00 until 5:30 in Computer Science 150/151 to learn about and contribute to Cognitive Science efforts on the UMass Amherst campus. The Computer Science building is at the far north end of campus, and there are metered parking spots available directly across the street. A schedule of events follows.

2:00  Social 15 minutes to meet others interested in Cognitive Science and to see a short video introducing the new website

2:15  Lisa Sanders (Co-Director Cognitive Science Initiative) will outline our current plans to become an Institute of Cognitive Science and introduce John McCarthy

2:20  John McCarthy (Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School) will talk about interdisciplinary research and graduate education

2:30  Andy Barto (Computer Science) Computational Clues to the Brain’s Reward System

2:50  Louise Antony (Philosophy) Epistemology and Psychology: Can Justification be “Naturalized”?

3:10  Caren Rotello (Cognitive Psychology) Why Cognitive Psychology is Important for Neuroscience: An Example from Research on Reasoning

3:30  Poster session and social hour

4:30  Rajesh Bhatt (Linguistics) The Importance of Treebanks in Cognitive Science

4:50  Erik Cheries (Developmental Psychology) Foundations of Mind: Infants’ Knowledge of Objects, Agents, & Identity

5:10  Dave Huber (Cognitive Neuroscience) Testing a Perceptual Habituation Model with Electrophysiology

SNEWS on Saturday

UMass is hosting the annual Southern New England Workshop in Semantics this Saturday, November 15. The conference starts with morning refreshments at 9:00, and the talks begin at 9:30. UMass is represented by Ethan Poole, Jon Ander Mendia, Megan Somerday and Deniz Ozyildiz. You can find the full program here.

PsychoLing workshop

Shayne Sloggett writes:

We'll have an evening meeting next week to prepare for Janet Fodor's colloquium. Lyn will be leading us in a discussion of a paper by Neeleman and van der Koot. This meeting will take place on Wednesday (11/12) rather than the usual Tuesday, due to the holiday. More details about location and time will be forthcoming.

Lastly, we're scheduled to hear from Amanda and John Kingston next week about about a response signal experiment for lexical decision. As the Cognitive Science workshop is also scheduled for next Thursday, we'll be canceling our meeting. However, all are encouraged to go to the Cog Sci workshop! Fortuitously, Amanda and John will also be presenting their work in that venue.

SSR on Thursday evening

Leland Kusmer writes:

SSRG will be having its last meeting of the semester this week on Thursday, November 13th. We'll be meeting in Northampton at the home of Katya, Rodica, and Alex to finish our discussion of recent issues of Syntax. As always, please RSVP.

Call for papers: Tri-college Undergraduate Linguistics Conference

Dela Scharff and Robin Banerji from Haverford College writh:

Greetings to our fellow linguists at Amherst!

We are accepting submissions for the first Tri-college Undergraduate Linguistics Conference until the deadline of Friday, November 14th (to be extended if necessary). This conference will be taking place at Haverford College on Friday, February 13th, 2015. Please pass on this invitation to all undergraduate students doing research in linguistics. See the attached flyer for more information. If you or any of your students have any questions, I hope you will not hesitate to contact us at hc-linguistics@haverford.edu

Thank you so much!

Spring courses by Caren Rotello

John Kingston writes:

Caren Rotello told me that she'll be offering an 891 (grad seminar) on signal detection theory in the spring semester.  It'll meet M and W 2:30-3:45.  (Her Bayesian class meets M and  W 4-5:15.)

She will likely  teach from Macmillan & Creelman Detection Theory: A User's Guide (2005, 2nd edition), supplemented with readings from the literature to  show applications, etc. This is a relatively rare opportunity that you shouldn't miss if detection theory is a tool/way of thinking you're likely to use/need  in your work (nor for that matter is her Bayesian statistics class!).

NELS 44 proceedings available!

The proceedings of NELS 44 (held October 2013 at Uconn) are now published and available for purchase on CreateSpace!

They can be found here:

NELS 44 Volume 1

NELS 44 Volume 2

Call for papers: ETAP 3

Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody (ETAP) 3: Prosody and Variability

Where: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

When:  May 28-30, 2015

Organizers:  Duane Watson (University of Illinois), Michael Wagner (McGill University), andChigusa Kurumada (University of Rochester

The third conference on Experimental and Theoretical Advances inProsody is taking place this coming May 28-30, 2015, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A special focus of this year’s ETAP is prosodic variability. Prosodic processing presents a challenge to researchers because of the many sources of variability in how prosodic phenomena area realized. Prosodic information consists of bundles of features (e.g., pitch, duration, loudness, intensity), but patterns of these features vary systematically across different speakers,populations, dialects, and contexts. They also vary randomly due to speech errors or noise in the environment. A long-standing, critical issue in the field is understanding the nature of such variability in prosodic information as well as understanding how listeners maintain their prosodic representations despite the variable input. This conference aims at bringing together researchers from different disciplines who work on these issues, as well as researchers working on general questions in prosody research.

Invited speakers:

Naomi Feldman - University of Maryland College Park

Tyler Kendall - University of Oregon

Chigusa Kurumada - University of Rochester

Mark Liberman - University of Pennsylvania

Morgan Sonderegger - McGill University

Alice Turk - University of Edinburgh

Jennifer Cole - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Timothy Mahrt - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Contact: The Organizers (etapthree@gmail.com)
Conference Website: http://dgwatson.wix.com/etap3
Call: Please visit our website

Deadline for submissions: 12/15

Notification of acceptance: 1/20

Abstract Guidelines:

Abstract for both posters and presentations must be submitted in a pdf format and must not exceed 500 words. Fifteen lines, which are not included in the word count, may be used to present examples and references. The uploaded abstract should be anonymous.

NECPhon Schedule now available

The Eighth Northeast Computational Phonology Meeting is this Saturday, Nov. 15, in the linguistics department of NYU. UMass is represented by Coral Houghto, Robert Staubs and Joe Pater who will be giving the talk “Typological consequences of agent interaction.” UMass alumna Gillian Gallagher, and NYU faculty, will also be giving a talk with Tal Linzen entitled “The time course of generalization in phonotactic learning.” The conference is free and all are welcome, but if you plan to attend it is asked that you get in touch with Frans Adriaans (frans.adriaans at nyu.edu) so that they can order enough food.

You can find the full program here.

02 November 2014

Abstract Writing Workshop

Seth Cable and Jeremy Hartman will be conducting an abstract writing workshop as part of the Fall Professional Development series Monday, November 3, in N400 (the seminar hub). The workshop starts at 10AM.

PRG tomorrow

Ivy and Coral write:

PRG will be meeting this Monday 11/3 at 7:30pm.  Presley will be discussing her work with experimental software development.  Presley also volunteered to host us but she has already hosted the meeting before last.  If anyone else would like to host let us know!  

Please RSVP so we will know how much food to get. 

Workshop on Recursion on Wednesday

Workshop on Recursion


Wednesday November 5, 2014

N400 ILC

Everyone is invited to a small workshop on Recursion and Experimentation (with work from Dutch, Japanese, Wapachana, Spanish, English)


a) to contrast experiments in different languages and different methods

b) see if Abstract Triggers can be made experimentally clear.

1:00-1:15 Introduction and Question Agenda (bring your questions) on experimentation, bilingualism, pedagogy 100-115 

1:15-1:45 Bart Hollebrandse (University of Groningen): Recursion in NEMO! (Amsterdam Library Results)

1:45-2:15 Jon Nelson (UMass) 'L1 and L2 PP recursion--experimental ideas and observations'

2:15-2:45 Terue Nakato (Kitasato University): Multiple No's in Japanese: Is Recursion Difficult for Children?


3:15-3:45 Ana Perez   (Uniersity of Toronto) The acquisition of the varieties of recursion: Preliminary remarks  

3:45-4:15 Luiz Amaral  (UMass) Recursion in Wapachana   3:15-3:45 

4:15-4:30 Tom Roeper (UMass) Comments on talks: Connecting Theory and  Experiment. Are there Abstract Triggers for Recurison?         

4:30-5:15   General discussion: 4:15-5:15 (including Piraha Researchers on skype)  

What challenges exist for extending experimentsacross languages?Is bilingualism a special challenge for recursion?Does pedagogy follow from good experiments?

Pizza dinner at Tom’s house at 6:30. All are welcome!

Kratzer at Pronouns Workshop

Angelika Kratzer is an invited speaker at workshop at Tübingen University November 7-9. The Workshop is the second in a series of meetings that Tübingen has hosted on pronouns. This one focuses on “pronouns in embedded contexts at the syntax-semantics interface."

SSRG on Thursday

At 7:30, Thursday, November 6, SSRG will be meeting in Northampton to present papers from Syntax. If you haven’t claimed an article to present, you can still do so here.

Kansas University's Linguistics Department

The Linguistics Department at KU has undergone significant changes in the past decade to position itself as a unique program that unites linguistic theory and experimental research. We have particular strengths in experimental phonetics and phonology, first and second language acquisition, developmental psycholinguistics, second language psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics, the cognitive neuroscience of language, linguistic fieldwork, and theoretical syntax and semantics. Our faculty members and graduate students study a broad range of languages including understudied language varieties in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The department has six active research labs, which have all successfully competed for external funding and provide support for graduate studies. The department has both head-mounted and remote eye trackers, an EEG laboratory, and on the KU medical center campus, cortical MEG, fetal MEG and MRI systems. We offer both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. We invite you to explore our graduate degree program further at our website: http://linguistics.ku.edu/


The Linguistics Department is able to offer financial support in the form of fellowships and graduate teaching or research assistantships. In the 2015-2016 academic year we will be able to award one Chancellor’s Fellowship, a prestigious award administered by KU for which there are only six each year, which offers a generous funding package for 5 years of doctoral study. Multi-year funding packages will also be available for students who can serve as Graduate Research Assistants on two funded grant projects: a project on prosody and second language speech segmentation (directed by Dr. Annie Tremblay, atrembla@ku.edu) and a project on tone sandhi in Chinese dialects  (directed by Dr. Jie Zhang, zhang@ku.edu).

Students who are interested in these research positions should contact these faculty members directly. In addition, funding will be available on a competitive basis for other fellowships and Graduate Teaching Assistantships in the department. All applicants will be automatically considered for these awards.


Recent Ph.D. graduates of our program have enjoyed successful job placement as postdoctoral researchers and tenure-track professors at a variety of institutions around the world. Recent graduates have attained postdoctoral positions at universities such the University of Chicago, New York University, University of Reading, the Basque Center on Brain, Cognition, and Language, and tenure-track appointments at colleges and universities such as Indiana University, Mississippi State University, Harding College, Hankyung National University in Korea, and the University of Costa Rica. 

Lawrence, KS 

Lawrence is a dynamic college town located 45 minutes from downtown Kansas City. We have an art theatre, a local brewery, multiple museums, great coffee shops, several natural foods grocers, many farmers markets, and the most amazing sunflower fields you will ever see. 


Information on admission requirements is available at: https://linguistics.ku.edu/admission

The deadline to apply for the Fall 2015 semester is January 1, 2015.  

If you have questions, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Alison Gabriele at gabriele@ku.edu. 

UMass at BUCLD

This weekend Boston University hosts the Thirty Ninth annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. UMass is represented by:

A. Aravind and Jill de Villiers (poster) "Implicit alternatives insufficient for children's SIs with some"

Suzi Lima, P. Li and J. Snedeker ``Acquiring the denotation of object-denoting nouns in a language without partitives.''

A. Pace, P. Yust, J. de Villiers, A. Iglesias, M. Wilson, K. Hirsh-Pasek, R. Golinkoff, A. Takahesu Tabori, K. Strother-Garcia, K. Ridge: Examining the Validity of a Computer-Based Language Assessment for Preschool Children

Mike Clauss ``The Syntax and Semantics of Free Relative Clauses in Child English.''

Valentina Brunetto and Tom Roeper: "Are rare constructions late in acquisition? The case of near-reflexivity"

C. Lindenbergh, A. van Hout, B. Hollebrandse: "The acquisition of sentence ellipsis in Dutch preschoolers"

S. Shittu and Ann-Michelle Tessier: "Perceptual attrition of lexical tone among L1 Yoruba-speaking children in Canada"

A. Perez-Leroux, A. Castilla-Earls, T. Peterson, D. Massam, S. Bejar: "Children’s acquisition of complex modification"

B. Zurer Pearson: "Linguistic and pragmatic ambiguity in quantified expressions: Implications for mathematics teaching and testing of monolingual and bilingual students"

26 October 2014

Emmanuel Chemla speaks tomorrow

Emmanuel Chemla (Institut Jean Nicod and École Normale Supérieure) will give the last of his three lectures tomorrow, October 27, at 4:00 in the seminar hub (ILC N400). He will present joint work with Lewis Bott, Mora Maldonado and Benjamin Spector which uses priming studies to investigate linguistic representations and operations. His talk is presented in conjunction with Lyn Frazier and Brian Dillon’s joint seminar.

UMass at NELS 45

The Forty Fifth annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society is being hosted by MIT Friday, Oct. 31 to Sunday, November 2. UMass is well represented by past and present students. 


alumna Amy Rose Deal is giving "Properties of probes: Evidence from Nez Perce complementizer agreement"

alumnus Andrew Weir is giving "Fragment answers in English: A PF-movement account"

Alumnus Florian Schwarz, along with Lynda Kennedy, Jacopo Romoli, Cory Bill, Stephen Crain and Rafaella Folli is giving "Scalar implicatures vs. presuppositions: The view from Broca’s aphasia"

alumna Karen Jesney is giving "Counterbled-Counterfeeding in Harmonic Grammar"


Megan Somerday is giving "(Some) partial reduplication is full reduplication"


alumnus Keir Moulton along with Nino Grillo is giving "Pseudo-relatives: Big but transparent"

alumna Ana Pérez-Leroux along with Tyler Peterson, Anny Castilla-Earls, Susan Béjar and Diane Massam is giving "Structural complexity and the acquisition of recursive locative PPs"

Jason Overfelt is giving "Cyclic Linearization and constraints on remnant movement"

Ethan Poole is giving "Deconstructing quirky subjects"

Aleksei Nazarov is giving "Non-maximal feet as reduction domains in Dutch"

Seth Cable is giving "Semantics of graded tense in complement clauses: Evidence that future is not a tense"

For more information, go here.

Call for papers: 39th Penn Linguistics Conference

Papers on any topic in linguistics and associated fields are welcome, including, but not limited to, phonology, syntax, semantics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, and sign languages.

Abstracts are due by November 14, 2014. Notification of acceptance/rejection will be given by January 23, 2015.

PLC39 will be held on March 20-22, 2015 on the Univ. of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia. For more information please visit the PLC website: http://www.ling.upenn.edu/Events/PLC/

Writing Effective Grant Proposals: Part 1

On Friday, October 31, the Office of Professional Development is giving the first of a two-part workshop on writing effect grant proposals. This two-hour workshop starts at 10AM in 917 Campus Center. The second session takes place on November 7, and participants are expected to attend both sessions. Pre-registration is required.

For more information, and for the other events that the Office of Professional Development has this week, go here.

Call for papers: 6th annual QUEUC

Undergraduate students are invited to submit essays for the sixth annual QUEUC. The Quebec Universities English Undergraduate Conference is the largest of its kind in Canada, with previous delegates from coast to coast, and has now reached an international level with delegates from the United States.

Bishop’s University will host the conference, in Sherbrooke, on March 13-14, 2015.  

The deadline for students to submit essays is Jan. 16, 2015.
Successful submissions will be top-quality research essays of 7-8 pages. Papers from all fields of literary and critical theory will be considered. Students from all areas of study within the Humanities and Social Sciences, not just English, are encouraged to submit.
In addition to two days of engaging panels, QUEUC 2015 includes a range of exciting events such as an English-themed Cranium night, a wine and cheese, a plenary speaker, and themed events. The deadline to register as a presenter or a delegate is March 1, 2015.


Since its inception in 2009, QUEUC has blossomed into the most successful English Undergraduate conference in Canada. QUEUC’s mission is to enable students from across Canada to connect and share their research in a comfortable, collaborative environment that fosters the pursuit of knowledge and the love of learning. This is a chance to network, build connections, and encounter different worldviews and perspectives all while highlighting undergraduate academia and scholarship.


If you have any questions, please contact us at queuc@ubishops.ca. Check out our website for information about how to submit papers, how to register, and to answer all your burning questions: http://www.ubishops.ca/queuc/  

Area Workshops

Here’s a rundown of this week’s activities in the area workshops.

Semantics Workshop: Wednesday, 12:20-1:20, ILC N451

This meeting is the second, and final, session concentrating on abstract writing.

Psycholing Workshop(s)

Psycholinguistics workshop has two meetings this week. On Tuesday evening (10/28) we will meet at Brian's house (17 Union Street, Northampton) at 7pm. Alex Drummond will talk to us about Ibex Farm 2.0, an update to the web-based experimental software Ibex. On Thursday afternoon (3pm in ILC N400), John Kingston will talk about Detection Theory.

Syntax Workshop: Thursday 4:00-5:00, ILC N451

David Erschler will be discussing Benjamin Bruening's recent paper  "Precede and Command Revisited" (Language 90(2)). It can be downloaded here.

Sound Workshop: Thursday, 1:00-2:15, ILC N451

In this week's Sound Workshop, Ivy Hauser and Coral Hughto will present their ideas for the GPs. Those interested in preparing for Ivy's presentation may wish to read:
Schwartz, J.-L., Boe, L.-J., Badin, P., & Sawallis, T. R. (2012). Grounding stop place systems in the perceptuo-motor substance of speech: On the universality of the labial-coronal-velar stop series. Journal of Phonetics, 40.1, 20-36.

Visiting position in Japanese and Linguistics

The Department of Asian Studies at Williams College invites applications for athree-year open-rank full-time visiting position in Japanese and linguistics beginning September 2015. The successful candidate will teach five courses over two semesters, including at least three language courses. We welcome candidates who can teach all levels of Japanese language and also contribute courses on Japanese linguistics or related topics (taught in English) to the broader curriculum. Minimum requirements include native or near-native proficiency in Japanese; Ph.D. or ABD; strong teaching experience at the college level; and ability to teach all levels of language courses in close coordination with departmental colleagues. All offers of employment are contingent upon completion of a background check. Further information is available here: http://dean- faculty.williams.edu/prospective-faculty/background-check-policy/.

To apply, please submit letter of application, curriculum vitae and 3 recommendations. Candidates are recommended to submit a link to a sample video clip of language teaching in Japanese. The deadline to submit application materials is January 1, 2015. More information at http://apply.interfolio.com/26736

Williams College is a coeducational liberal arts institution located in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. The college has built its reputation on outstanding teaching and scholarship and on the academic excellence of its approximately 2,000 students. Please visit the Williams College website (http://www.williams.edu). Beyond meeting fully its legal obligations for non- discrimination, Williams College is committed to building a diverse and inclusive community where members from all backgrounds can live, learn, and thrive.

Halloween prices

The Candy Monster writes:

We are swift approaching Halloween and the cheap candy that follows in its wake, so I felt this would be a good time to remind everyone that the continued presence of candy in the department depends on the satiation of a certain ceramic pig. If you have spare change lying around, now would be an excellent time to free yourself from the hassle of counting it; we will also happily take cash donations as well. The pig has been unhappily hungry of late, and the goal is make a sizable purchase right after Halloween.

jobs for linguists

IXL Learning is an educational technology company located in the San Francisco Bay Area.  We’re dedicated to shaping the future of education and solving the real-world challenges faced by students and teachers around the planet. We are reaching out to your school because we have a number of open positions available for the following majors: 



-Social Sciences


We are actively hiring graduates to join our Content Development team as we expand our new language arts component.  To learn more about this position please click here: Product Analyst - Language Arts

A full listing of our openings can be found on our Careers Page (www.ixl.com/jobs).

19 October 2014

PRG on Monday

Coral and Ivy write:

The next meeting of PRG will be on Monday, October 20 at 7:30 pm. Ivy will be hosting us, and Coral will be talking about her possible GP ideas. As always, there will be food!

Please let us know if you are interested in hosting or presenting in the future.

Dave Kush in Psycholinguistics Proseminar

On Monday 10/20, Dave Kush (Haskins Laboratories) will be visiting the psycholinguistics Proseminar (LINGUIST712), where he will talk about some of his recent work on the processing of bound-variable anaphora. He will give his talk at 2:30pm, in ILC458. The talk is entitled "Relational Constraints and Antecedent Retrieval: Evidence from Bound-Variable Pronouns.” Abstract follows.

All are welcome!

Interpreting a pronoun during incremental sentence processing typically requires identifying and accessing potential antecedents from memory. According to the grammar, there are two kinds of constraints that determine whether a previously-seen NP can serve as an antecedent for a pronoun: (i) morphological constraints, which enforce feature-match relations between the NP and the pronoun, and (ii) syntactic constraints, which determine the NP's eligibility based on its relative structural position to the pronoun. 

In this talk I first discuss reasons to think that cue-based models of antecedent retrieval should be able to implement morphological, but not relational, constraints. I then present results from 2-3 eye tracking experiments that indicate that antecedent retrieval displays unexpected sensitivity to the c-command/scope constraint on bound-variable anaphora. In light of these findings I explore methods for achieving this apparent relational sensitivity within the confines of a cue-based architecture. 

Phonology Grant meeting on Monday

Joe Pater writes:

The next phonology grant meeting will be Monday October 20th at 9 am. We’ll continue talking about accounts of opacity in Harmonic Serialism and about targeted constraints in HS - the discussion will be led by Robert and me.

All are welcome!

Omer Preminger gives department colloquium

Omer Preminger (University of Maryland) will give the department colloquium at 3:30 on Friday, October 24, in the seminar hub (ILC N400). The title of his talk is “The syntax (and morphology) of non-valuation.” An abstract follows.

First, I review recent work showing that for several classes of features, what was traditionally thought of as one member in a set of possible feature values actually corresponds to the absence of valued features altogether. Examples include: “nominative”; “singular”; and “3rd person” (cf. Nevins 2007). While this has been argued before regarding, e.g., the morphology of pronouns (Harley & Ritter 2002), I will argue that this holds at the level of syntactic computation.

Next, I show that this move amounts to more than a mere relabeling of the feature space (e.g. designating one value in each feature set as the “non‑value”). Instead, this view makes available new analytical possibilities with respect to the way different syntactic operations interact, and revives types of interactions (in particular, bleeding) that are impossible in Chomsky’s (2000, 2001) generate-and-filter architecture (esp. when coupled with a phase-level, all-at-once application of operations, as in Chomsky 2008).

I will argue that this view of (non‑)valuation leads to empirical advancements in the domains of case assignment and agreement intervention, advances that are unavailable on the standard view that takes categories like “3rd person”, “singular”, and “nominative” to be the result of successful valuation.

Ibaños gives Hispanic Linguistics Talk on Friday

Luiz Amaral writes:

Prof. Ana Ibaños from the Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, and currently a visiting scholar in the Linguistics Department, will talk about current changes in Brazilian Portuguese at the Hispanic Linguistics Talk Series this Friday (10/24) at 1:30 (Room TBA).

Here is the abstract:

"Traditionally, Brazilian Portuguese (BP) has been considered a pro-drop language, which allows the absence of subject pronouns in the sentence. But studies have shown that it is losing some of the properties that typically characterize a pro-drop language (Duarte 1995; Xavier 2006; Kato 2000). Some even state that BP is evolving from a pro-drop to a non-pro-drop language (Duarte 1995). This talk is about some changes in the pronominal system in Brazilian Portuguese that would prevent the Null Subject Parameter hence changing its status."

Emmanuel Chemla's second lecture on Wednesday

Emmanuel Chemla from the Institut Jean Nicod and the Laboratory of Cognitive Science and Psycholinguistics at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris will deliver the second of three lectures on October 22 from 4:00 to 5:30 in N400. His talk is entitled "Concepts in a lexicon: Learning homophony. Innateness and Bayesianism.” it presents joint work with Isabelle Dautriche. The lecture is in conjunction with Alejandro Pérez-Carballo’s and Vincent Homer’s seminars.

Nascimento and Amaral at LARC on Friday

Luiz Amaral writes:

This Friday (10/24) at LARC, Marcia Nascimento and Luiz Amaral are presenting experimental ideas for testing the acquisition of evidentials in Kaingang - a Jê language spoken in southern Brazil. The meeting will start at 10:30 with Tom Roeper and Jill de Villiers talking about previous experiments with evidentials, and at 11:30 we will hear the ideas for Kaingang. As always, all are welcome to attend.

Cognitive Science Workshop in November

Lisa Sanders and Joe Pater write:

Our Cognitive Science workshop will be held on Thursday, November 13th 2-5:30 in Integrative Learning Center (ILC) N400 and surrounds. Please join us for as much of this workshop as you can and feel free to invite others who are interested in Cognitive Science but are not already listed on our blog site. We're really excited to have a great group of speakers who generously agreed to present (without too much begging). We're also looking forward to many great poster presentations.


2:00 - Introductory remarks about the role of Institutes at UMass (speaker: TBA)

2:10 - Lisa Sanders will give an overview of our current plans as an Institute of Cognitive Science while we enjoy great food and beverages!

2:30 - Andrew Barto, Computer Science

2:50 - Louise Antony, Philosophy

3:10 Caren Rotello, Cognitive Psychology

3:30 Poster session, more enjoying of great food and beverages

4:30 Rajesh Bhatt, Linguistics

4:50 Erik Cheries, Developmental Psychology

5:10 David Huber, Cognitive Psychology

This is a great opportunity for you to share your research with the local CogSci community who may not know what you've been up to - present a poster! If you have a poster from a recent or upcoming conference, please give it a second venue by presenting at our workshop. If you have work that is ready to turn into a poster, but don't otherwise have plans to present, we can print a poster for you - contact Lisa Sanders for details.

So that we can know how many people and posters to expect, please take a few seconds to click this link and then make one choice to indicate that you are coming. It will take a couple more minutes if you want to present a poster. Please let us know if you plan on coming soon, so that if the number of participants exceeds the space available in ILC N400, we can find another venue.

CogSci Elevator Pitch Mixer

On behalf of the students involved in the Cognitive Science Institute, Deniz Ozyildiz writes:

We are having a Cognitive Science Elevator Pitch Mixer this Thursday, October 23 at 7PM at Packard's in Northampton. 

This is an opportunity for everybody to give a brief and informal presentation of their research, to hear about what other people are up to and to meet grad students from other departments. It will be accompanied and followed by food and drinks. 

If you're interested, but feel that your research might be too domain specific (for instance, case assignment in Hungarian), this event is still for you!

Also, don't forget to sign up for the Cognitive Science workshop, to be held on Thursday, November 13 at 2PM, here.

EAPSI Fellowship Program

The National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) Fellowship Program provides U.S. graduate students in science and engineering with an opportunity to spend 8 weeks (10 weeks for Japan) during the summer conducting research at one of the seven host locations in East Asia and Pacific: Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan. The program is a collaboration between NSF and counterpart agencies in each host location.

EAPSI is open to graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and are enrolled in a research-oriented Masters or Ph.D. program in science or engineering. Applicants must propose a research project in a field of science, engineering or STEM education supported by NSF, including Engineering; Computer and Information Science and Engineering; Mathematical and Physical Sciences (Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Materials Science); Biological Sciences; Geosciences; Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences; Education (STEM); and Multidisciplinary Research in these fields. Applicants identify and contact host researchers on their own, prior to submitting their EAPSI proposal; lists of prospective host institutions are available at the end of each Handbook. 

NSF provides EAPSI Fellows with a $5,000 stipend and roundtrip airplane ticket to the host location. Our foreign counterparts provide in-country living expenses and accommodations (arrangements vary by host location). Please see www.nsf.gov/eapsi for additional information for the Program Solicitation (NSF 13-593); host location-specific Handbooks; How to Apply Guide; and Helpful Tips Applicants.

In 2015, approximately 215 EAPSI Fellows travel to seven locations in the East Asia and Pacific:

Australia – 30

China – 40

Japan – 65

Korea – 25

New Zealand – 15

Singapore – 15

Taiwan - 25

The application submission deadline for the Summer 2015 is November 13, 2014.  

Area Workshops

Here’s a rundown of this week’s activities in the area workshops.

Semantics Workshop: Wednesday, 12:20-1:10, ILC N451

This meeting will be the first of two sessions concentrating on abstract writing. Seth will review a short (non-exhaustive) list of some general ‘pointers’ on abstract writing, which participants are invited to expand on or respond to. Following this, some faculty (definitely Seth) will share abstracts of theirs which were accepted and rejected, allowing participants to see the range of issues that can sometimes make a difference.

Finally, if there’s time remaining, we’ll begin to together constructively workshop students’ abstracts. Students are asked to bring recent abstracts of theirs, particularly abstracts that they will be submitting in the near future, so that we can together suggest improvements. This ‘workshop’ portion of the workshop will continue into the next session, if need be.

Psycholing Workshop: Thursday, 3:00-4:00, ILC N400

Amanda will talk about linking hypotheses between experimental data and theory, starting with a look at assumptions underlying eyetracking as a methodology, rounding out with a discussion of ERP in p-side research.

Syntax Workshop: Thursday, 4:00-5:00, ILC N451

Ethan Poole will be leading a discussion in preparation for Preminger's colloquium talk on Friday.

Phonology Workshop: Tuesday, 1:00-2:15, ILC N451.

This week Alex Nazarov will present his talk "Vowel reduction in Dutch” (in preparation for NELS) and Sang-Im Lee-Kim will present a talk on "Vowel transitions."

12 October 2014

Emmanuel Chemla visits

Angelika Kratzer writes:

Emmanuel Chemla from the Institut Jean Nicod and the Laboratory of Cognitive Science and Psycholinguistics at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris will visit us from October 13 to October 31. He will give a series of three lectures and will also be available for individual appointments. Emmanuel is a philosopher, logician, semanticist, and psycholinguist all in one person. His lecture series will inaugurate what I hope to be a string of events in the next couple of years dedicated to:

The Investigation of Linguistic Meaning: From the Armchair to the Lab and Back 

Here is a summary of Emmanuel’s lectures:

"Our language ability relies on complex rules. Combinatorial semantic rules, syntactic rules, phonological rules are all complex in the following sense: if you translate these rules in a non-linguistic domain and ask a competent speaker to apply them, these speakers would suffer (and show signs of it: slow reaction times, high error rates if that's defined, etc.). Yet, we all apply these rules, hundreds of times every day, effortlessly. That's the tension I'm interested in: the complexity of language (measured from the perspective of speakers) and the easiness with which these same speakers deploy it in language. Models coming from modern linguistics offer the means to investigate these issues, by providing the right test cases and careful descriptions of the underlying rules. I will discuss specific case studies and propose different methods to investigate this tension and see what it says about the organization of our language system.”

Lecture 1: October 15, 2:30 to 4:00. Integrative Learning Center, N400. Logic in Grammar: Parallel Investigations. Joint work with Vincent Homer and Daniel Rothschild.Joint session with Vincent Homer’s seminar.

Lecture 2: October 22: 4:00 to 5:30. Integrative Learning Center, N400. Concepts in a lexicon: Learning homophony. Innateness and Bayesianism. Joint work with Isabelle Dautriche.Joint session with Alejandro Pérez-Carballo’s and Vincent Homer’s seminars. 

Lecture 3: October 27: 4:00 to 5:30. Integrative Learning Center, N400.  Priming studies to study linguistic representations and operations. Joint work with Lewis Bott, Mora Maldonado, and Benjamin Spector. Joint session with Brian Dillon & Lyn Frazier’s seminar. 

You are cordially invited to attend one, two, or all three of the lectures. There will be receptions after lectures 2 and 3, followed by special discussion sessions. We hope to inspire a lot of discussion and deep thinking about the arduous road from the armchair to the lab and back.  

Pilar Prieto gives talk in Hispanic Linguistics on Thursday

Meghan Armstrong writes:

We invite you to join us for the first of our series of talks in Hispanic Linguistics:

Pilar Prieto (ICREA/Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Intonational and gestural meaning reflect information about spaces of commitment

October 16 - 11:30am

301 Herter Hall


It is well-known that prosody and gesture patterns across languages, among other functions, convey information about the epistemic stance of the speaker, not only in relation to the speaker’s own propositions but also in relation to the addressee’s propositions. In the first part of this talk I will present evidence from two recent experiments on the role of prosody and gesture in the expression and assessment of the epistemic stance of the speaker (Roseano et al 2014, Borràs-Comes and Prieto 2014; see also Armstrong to appear). In one of our experiments on biased questions and intonation, results showed that different tune patterns in Catalan were used to encode (a) different degrees of speaker knowledge on the content of the speakers' own proposition; and (b) different degrees of speaker acceptance of the content of the proposition of the addressee(Borràs-Comes and Prieto 2014).

The second part of the talk will be devoted to show the results from a joint project with M.T. Espinal and S. Tubau (UAB) and two members of our team (J. Borràs-Comes and S. González, UPF) on the role of prosody and gesture in the interpretation of denial in Catalan. Two specific cases will be analyzed, namely double negation and yes-answers to negative yes-no questions (Espinal & Prieto 2011, Tubau et al. in press). These two cases constitute a challenge for semantics and pragmatics because double negative and yes- responses to negative questions are ambiguous in that they can constitute either a negative answer to the proposition expressed or a denial to a presupposition (e.g., What isn’t working? Nothing ‘Everything is working’; Isn't John coming (either)? Yes). Our research supports the conclusion that specific intonation contours (in particular, the so- called contradiction contour, L+H*L!H%) and gestures associated with n-words do constrain meaning in ways that allow listeners to obtain the double negation and/or the contradiction interpretation in the two types of structures. It is our claim that in both cases prosody and gesture act as linguistic and conventionalized encoders of presupposition denial (see also Espinal et al. to appear, Prieto et al. 2013). Support for the linguistic view comes from languages classified as truth-based languages (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, or Russian [Jones 1999: 8ff.]), which contradict negative questions by answering no yes (Don’t you drink coffee? No yes (meaning you are not right, I drink coffee)), while some languages with a polarity-based system contradict the truth of the negative proposition by answering Yes and a specific prosody (i.e. the answer ‘disagrees’ with the whole contentof the negative sentence).

Following Krifka's proposal on the interpretation of speech acts as "spaces of commitments", we propose that intonation and gesture patterns associated both to biased questions and to n-words and particles can be interpreted as epistemic operators encoding REJECT, ASSERT and REQUEST operations (see also Portes et al. 2014 for a related proposal). For example, the contradicting answer to a negative question yes is composed of REJECT (encoded by prosody and gesture) plus ASSERT(φ) (encoded through the positive word, where φ is the propositional discourse referent). All in all, these results are challenging for the design that has been traditionally assumed in the theory of grammar, since they suggest that prosody and gesture constrain meaning representations. Inparticular, the inferencing of denial.

Lisa Davidson gives department colloq on Friday

Lisa Davidson (NYU) will give the linguistics department colloquium on Friday, October 20,  at 3:30 in the seminar hub. A title and abstract of the talk follows.

Stabilizing the production of non-native sequences with acoustic variability

In the processing of non-native consonant clusters, speakers’ systematic errors have often been attributed to the influence of universal factors or native-language phonotactics (e.g., Dupoux et al. 1999; Moreton 2002; Berent et al. 2007). There has been less focus, however, on whether speakers are also sensitive to fine acoustic details in non-native sequences. In this talk, I focus on two questions: (1) Do speakers use fine phonetic detail to determine what phonotactic structures are present in a non-native speech signal, and (2) Is sensitivity to non-contrastive phonetic detail attenuated when sufficient acoustic variability is contained in the input? 

These questions were examined by presenting English speakers with ill-formed clusters (e.g. /bdafa/, /zgade/) containing systematically manipulated sub-phonemic acoustic properties, including duration and amplitude of stop bursts, and the onset and amplitude of voicing before voiced obstruents. These stimuli were presented to participants in two conditions. In the low-variability condition, participants heard the stimuli with the acoustic modifications produced by only one talker. In the high-variability condition, the stimuli were produced by three different talkers within one trial. Results show that in the low variability condition, the acoustic manipulations had strong effects both on the rate of modifications that English speakers produced, and on the type of modifications (e.g. prothesis, epenthesis, C1 change, C1 deletion). For the high-variability condition, the effects of the acoustic manipulations were either eliminated or considerably attenuated.

The results for the low-variability condition demonstrate that under such circumstances, speakers may ‘over-interpret’ non-contrastive acoustic details in determining what structure to produce. These findings are discussed in terms of both the language-specific phonetics and general acoustic characteristics that contribute to the production findings. The attenuation of the sensitivity to phonetic detail in the high-variability condition suggests that listeners generalize over highly variable acoustic information, and that more stable production targets in the high-variability condition result in blending of the information in the multiple talker stimuli.

Rebecca Woods at LARC on Friday

Jeremy Hartman writes:

Rebecca Woods will present at this week's LARC meeting at 11:15AM on Friday in N451 -- note the slightly earlier time.

The title of her talk is:
"Extraction from Embedded Inverted Questions in Adult and Child English."

All are welcome!

Psycholing Workshop

Shayne Sloggett writes:

Next week is a busy one for the psycholing workshop. On Tuesday we'll be meeting at 7:00(pm) in Northampton (hosting TBD) to prepare for Lisa Davidson's colloquium on Friday. John Kingston will be leading a discussion of the JPhon paper, and interested parties are encouraged to follow up by reading the supplemental paper in Lingua. Both papers can be found in this google drive.

In addition, next Thursday we'll be hearing from Jon Sprouse about acceptability judgments. He'll be coming prepared with a menu of topics for us to select from in a choose-your-own-adventure-style talk.  (see posting below.)

Jon Sprouse at Psycholing

Brian Dillon writes:

Jon Sprouse (UConn Linguistics) will be speaking at the Psycholinguistics Workshop on Thursday 10/16, at 3pm, in the N400. Jon is a syntactician and psycholinguist with significant expertise in experimental syntax. He has worked on island effects and anaphoric dependencies from a variety of different angles, and has done ground-breaking work on the collection and interpretation of intuitive judgments in an experimental setting. He will be leading an informal discussion on acceptability judgment methodology, and will share with us some of what he's learned over the years. All are welcome. See you there!

SS Reading Group

Leland Kusmer writes:

At the end of this month, we will be trying something new: Rather than presenting and discussing our own work, we're going to live up to our name and do some reading!
The idea is this: Each of us will claim one issue of the journal Syntax from the past three years. At the upcoming meeting, each of us who have claimed an issue will give (brief, high-level, handout-free) summaries of the material therein. The idea is to get a better idea of what the current issues of interest are in the field at large.

I have set up a spreadsheet whereby you can claim an issue. We will discuss these at the meeting on Thursday, October 30th. Please only claim an issue if you are reasonably sure you'll be able to attend. Relatedly, if you think you would like to attend, please claim an issue! We would like to have as much of the last three years covered as possible. (I've provided a column to allow two people to share an issue if they so desire, but in the interest of better coverage please try to claim your own if any are available.)

The spreadsheet is here:


Thank you in advance for making this experiment a success! ;)