14 September 2014


The department is hosting an open house to show off its new digs (and residents). It’ll start at 1:00 on Saturday, September 27, two weeks from yesterday. We’ll meet in the department, which is on the fourth floor of the Integrative Learning Center, 650 North Pleasant Street. (Maps can be found here.) The event kicks off with a light lunch and remarks by the Dean of HFA, Julie Hayes, as well as the department head, John Kingston. This is followed by a tour, a Poster session and finally canapés and liquid refreshment. The event ends at 4.

Come! Bring friends, family, linguists, and the curious! 

UMAFLAB meets tomorrow

Seth Cable writes:

I’m writing to announce the first, organizational meeting UMAFLAB (UMass Funny Languages Breakfast), which will take place next Monday 9/15 at 9:15 AM in ILC 451. At this meeting, we’ll simply set a schedule for the semester; please definitely attend if there’s anything you’d be interested in discussing!

To remind you all again of what UMAFLAB is all about, the purpose of UMAFLAB is to bring together individuals with a shared interest in puzzling linguistic data, optimally (but not necessarily) from understudied or minority languages.

*Presentations are always informal*. We are *not* looking for polished work or practice talks (though those are welcome). Rather, participants are free to present any puzzles they like. They needn't have any analysis in mind; indeed, part of the fun of the group is hearing other people's thoughts on some difficult problem.

Thus, if all you have is an interesting pattern worth 'boggling at', that's perfect for our group (particularly if it's from an otherwise not-very-much-talked-about language or variety). For example, a run down of all the crazy data obtained during some recent field work (or experimental work, or whatever) would be quite ideal.

If this sounds at all interesting to you, please come to the first meeting next Monday (9/15). If you would like to come, but have a conflict with the day or time, please also be sure to let me know!

PRG meeting tomorrow

Ivy Hauser writes:

The first PRG meeting of this semester will be this coming Monday 9/15 at 7:30pm.  Claire has volunteered to host us at her place (132 Middle St. Unit 1 in Hadley).  Be in touch with me or Coral if you are in need of a ride.  There will be dinner provided. On the agenda is planning for the semester at PRG and planning for some computational work with Presley.   She says the following:

"Some of you attended a meeting over the summer about developing tools for OT work in Python, and we have a GitHub account ready for code. I'm going to start working on this stuff, but first we need a clear plan, so I want to do some brainstorming and idea choosing at PRG. So I have a special request - if you did go to that meeting, please revive any notes you took and help me guide the discussion! If you can't make it, just send them to me."

Anca Sevcenco at LARC on Friday

Jeremy Hartman writes:

Anca Sevcenco will present "Remarks on the acquisition of Romanian subject and object relatives" in this week’s LARC meeting at 11:30 on Friday in N451. Before Anca's presentation, we'll gather at 10:30 for an informal discussion session on the syntax and acquisition of relative clauses.

All are welcome!


The department newsletter is named after the department’s former home: South College. Perhaps WHISC has become enough name-like to no longer hit our readers’ ears as “What’s Happening in South College,” but to the extent that it does, its suitability for our masthead has waned. 

We seek a new name. Our hardworking reporters are hired for their lack of imagination, and WHISC’s office drones are sadly lacking in this virtue as well. Months of in-house brainstorming have yielded only “This Week in Preview” and “This Week In Local Linguistics,” neither sufficiently inventive. We therefore turn to our readers for help.

Please send us your suggestions. We are especially desirous of short, euphonious names. It must be able to be rendered in the Roman alphabet. We will award a prize to the best entry.

Send your suggestions to Kyle Johnson (kbj@linguist.umass.edu) by October 10.


Jon Ander Mendia writes:

I'm pleased to announce that this year SNEWS, the South New England  Workshop on Semantics, will take place at UMass, on the 15th of  November (Saturday, room tba). SNEWS is an annual workshop for  graduate students in Linguistics to present their work and receive  feedback in an informal setting. Topics of presentations generally  fall into the categories of semantics, pragmatics,  semantics/pragmatics interface, experimental and psycholinguistic  investigations of semantic/pragmatic phenomena, acquisition, etc.

The workshop is meant to encourage the development and exchange of  ideas through friendly interaction between students and faculty from  different universities in the area. It is also a great opportunity to  know other young semanticists and linguists in general with similar  interests. Universities that have participated in the past include  UConn, UMass, Harvard, MIT, Brown, and Yale.

At SNEWS only graduate students are allowed to present, although  faculty members are welcome to attend. Moreover, in order to encourage  participation and capitalize on the friendly and informal environment  of the workshop, there is no call for papers: students only need to  submit the title for their talks before October 31st. Each talk will  be 20' plus 10' for questions. In principle, it is possible to  accommodate as much as 2-3 participants from each university, but this is subject to change until I have heard back from all the universities and have a more educated estimation of the number of  interested participants.

More announcements and information will be available soon at the  website (you can check the old one here). If you are currently working on a semantic/pragmatics project, I  strongly encourage you to participate! You only need to let me know  what the title of your talk will be. Please, feel free to ask me any  further questions.

Dillon is at the Frontiers in Psychology

A paper by Brian Dillon and colleagues has appeared in Frontiers in Psychology. It examines the memory retrieval operations employed in sentence comprehension by studying how sentences involving the Mandarin reflexive “ziji” are processed on-line. The paper is called “The structure-sensitivity of memory access: evidence from Mandarin Chinese,” and you can view an abstract here.

Call for Papers: Indigenous Languages and Experimental Linguistics

Suzi Lima writes:

Cilene Rodrigues (PUC-Rio) and I are organizing a symposium at Abralin in February 2015 (http://ixcongresso.abralin.com.br). Abralin is the Brazilian equivalent of the LSA, and this year it will take place in Belem, in the north of Brazil. Our symposium is called "Línguas Indígenas e Linguística Experimental" (Indigenous Languages and Experimental Linguistics). As this is an international conference, English will be one of the languages of our symposium.
Abstract can be submitted online at the following address: 
You will find our symposium under "Eixo Temático: Psicolinguística," then you can select our "simpósio". 
The deadline for submitting abstracts is November 16, 2014. The conference will take place from February 25 to 28, 2015. Please contact me should you have any questions.

PostDoc at University of Nantes

Applications are invited for a post-doc position in theoretical linguistics (syntax/semantics/pragmatics interfaces) and psycholinguistics (heritage language acquisition and knowledge), at the University of Nantes, France.
The position is funded by the FP7 (the European Union’s 7th Framework Program for Research and Technological Development) collaborative research project AThEME (Advancing the European Multilingual Experience) on multilingualism. The project involves 16 institutions located in 8 European countries and runs from March 2014 until March 2019. https://vre.leidenuniv.nl/vre/atheme/public/.
The research fellow will join the Nantes Linguistics Lab (LLING) to work on AThEME’s WP3 Heritage languages & language users in the EU, coordinated by Hamida Demirdache (LLING) & Janet Grijzenhout (Baby Speech Laboratory (BSL), University of Konstanz).
The goal of our project is to experimentally investigate Heritage Language (HL) knowledge and acquisition at the morpho-syntax/semantics interface.
The post-doctoral researcher will be in charge of conducting an experimental study targeting 2nd generation (adolescent) HL users of Arabic from the Nantes area, to test comprehension (vs. production) of negative sensitive items in Arabic.
The successful candidate will have an expertise in both theoretical and experimental syntax/semantics; in particular, of experimental methodologies to probe language comprehension and elicit production data in controlled discourse contexts. Primary duties include working with the coordinators and members of the lab to design, conduct, and write up the experiments associated with WP3. Knowledge of Arabic is an asset, but is not required. Individuals who are prepared to take a lead role in developing experimental research at the syntax/semantics interface are especially encouraged to apply. The position has a term of appointment of 2 years with a possible renewal.
QUALIFICATIONS:  A Ph.D in linguistics, psycholinguistics or a related field is required.
TO APPLY: A cover letter explaining qualifications for the position, a CV, a research statement, and one or more representative publications or other writings should be sent to the application email address below. Please also arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent to that address. Review of material will begin on September 1, 2014 and continue until the position is filled. The (flexible) start date of the postdoctoral position is January 31, 2015.
 Application Email: hlpostdoclling@gmail.com