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