06 January 2014

Post Doc at ZAS in Berlin

The Center for General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin, Germany has an opening starting flexibly between April 1st, 2014 and September 1st, 2014 pending final approval of funding for one postdoctoral researcher.  The position is in the SSI project within the XPrag.de program (www.zas.gwz-berlin.de/xpragde.html).  The advertised position is limited to one year initially with a possibility of extension. The appointment would be made at the German government pay-scale for a postdoc (about 45.000 EUR/year before tax). 

The SSI project:

Scalar inferences have been shown to differ in strength. As an example, consider the contrast between the cardinal numerals "three" and the quantifier "some":  the scalar inference from "three" to "not four" is felt to be stronger than  that from "some" to "not all" in some cases.  Four diagnostics of strength corroborating this contrast are the following: 1) The stronger inference of the cardinal is more difficult to cancel, 2) easier to embed,  3) acquired earlier by children, and 4) accessed faster and more easily in online language processing. Several researchers have therefore claimed that cardinals like "three" must receive a fundamentally different analysis from other scalars.  However, disjunction also exhibits a  strength difference: "either A or B" is intuitively  felt to more strongly exclude the truth of both A and B than a bare disjunction "A or B" does.  Most proposals for cardinals cannot be extended to "either-or"  As far as we know, there has been no general discussion of strength of scalar inferences within pragmatic theory despite numerous individual observations.

The goal of this project is to develop a theory of the strength of scalar inferences that extends beyond cardinals.  Our empirical basis is a detailed investigation of the four diagnostic mentioned above for the pair of "or" and "either-or".  In addition to offline judgment tasks, we gather data from language acquisition and online language processing using self-paced reading, eye-tracking and mouse-tracking.  Furthermore we engage language comparisons between German and Japanese since in several respects our experimental tests are easier to apply in Japanese.  Within pragmatic theory, our goal is to develop a uniform theory of strength.  In particular, we test the hypotheses that obligatory activation of alternatives within the grammatical analysis of implicatures underlies at least the two core cases of scalar inference strength.

The XPrag.de program is a national priority program (SPP 1727) funded by the German Research Council DFG. The overall goal of XPrag.de is to develop a precise pragmatic theory that is informed by evidence using experimental methods.  Within the XPrag.de program additional possibilities for Postdoc career development such as training schools, funding for workshops and scientific exchanges are available.

Desirable skills include the following:

- broad general background in linguistics including syntax, Japanese and German linguistics
- advanced knowledge / own research in formal pragmatics and semantics
- familiarity with current research on implicatures
- experimental skills in language acquisition and processing
- experience with self-directed project work in experimental linguistics
- interest to contribute to broader research agendas of ZAS and XPrag.de

For further information regarding this position please contact
Uli Sauerland <uli@alum.mit.edu>.

Review of applications will start February 1st, 2014 and continue until the position is filled.

Applications should include the following information:
- cover letter indicated the desired starting date
- curriculum vitae 
- samples of prior published research
- names and email addresses of three people that can be contacted for recommendation letters
 (but please do not send letters at this point)

Please send your applications electronically to uli@alum.mit.edu

Applications can also be send by mail to the address below.

Uli Sauerland
Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
Schützenstr. 18
10117 Berlin

Pater in Southern California

Joe Pater will be giving a colloquium talk at UCLA Friday January 10th entitled "Structural bias in phonology". It presents joint work with Claire Moore-Cantwell, Elliott Moreton, Katya Pertsova, Lisa Sanders, Robert Staubs, and Ben Zobel – an abstract is available here:


Second Call: Conference on Formal Grammar

The 19th Conference on Formal Grammar

Tuebingen, Germany, August 16-17 2014


Collocated with the European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information


FG-2014 is the 19th conference on Formal Grammar, to be held in conjunction with the European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information, which takes place in 2014 in Tuebingen, Germany.

Previous Formal Grammar meetings were held in Barcelona (1995), Prague (1996), Aix-en-Provence (1997), Saarbruecken (1998), Utrecht (1999), Helsinki (2001), Trento (2002), Vienna (2003), Nancy (2004), Edinburgh (2005), Malaga (2006), Dublin (2007), Hamburg (2008), Bordeaux (2009), Copenhagen (2010), Ljubljana (2011), Opole (2012) and Duesseldorf (2013).

Aims and Scope

FG provides a forum for the presentation of new and original research on formal grammar, mathematical linguistics and the application of formal and mathematical methods to the study of natural language. Themes of interest include, but are not limited to,

* formal and computational phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics;

* model-theoretic and proof-theoretic methods in linguistics;

* logical aspects of linguistic structure;

* constraint-based and resource-sensitive approaches to grammar;

* learnability of formal grammar;

* integration of stochastic and symbolic models of grammar;

* foundational, methodological and architectural issues in grammar and linguistics;

* mathematical foundations of statistical approaches to linguistic analysis.
Previous conferences in this series have welcomed papers from a wide variety of frameworks.

Submission Details

We invite **electronic** submissions of original, 16-page papers (including references and possible technical appendices).  Authors are encouraged to use the Springer-Verlag LNCS style.

The submission deadline is **February 23 2014**. Papers must be submitted electronically at https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=fg2014

Papers should report original work which was not presented in other conferences. However, simultaneous submission is allowed, provided that the authors indicate other conferences to which the work was submitted in a footnote. Note that accepted papers can only be presented in one of the venues.

Submissions will be reviewed anonymously by at least three reviewers. Accepted papers will be published as a volume in the Springer LNCS series, under the FoLLI subline, either separately or jointly with the papers from FG-2015, depending on the number of accepted papers.

Important Dates

* February 23, 2014: Deadline for paper submission

* April 20, 2014: Notification of acceptance

* June 1, 2014: Camera ready copies due

* August 16-17, 2014: Conference dates