08 March 2015

Gaja Jarosz visits the department

Gaja Jarosz will be visiting the department this Thursday and Friday. She’ll give the department colloquium (title and abstract below) on Friday at 3:30 in ILC N400.

Sonority Sequencing Effects in Polish: Defying the Stimulus?

The Sonority Sequencing Principle (SSP: Steriade 1982; Selkirk 1984; Clements 1988, 1992) states that syllables with a sonority rise in the transition from the onset to the nucleus are preferred cross-linguistically. Experimental evidence indicates that English speakers exhibit gradient sensitivity to the SSP for onset clusters that are not attested in English (Davidson 2006, 2007; Berent et al. 2007, 2009; Daland et al. 2011). Berent et al. (2007, 2009) show that several lexical statistics of English fail to predict these preferences and suggest that the principle may therefore be innate. However, Daland et al. (2011) show that computational models with the ability to form abstract generalizations on the basis of phonological features and phonological context can detect SSP preferences on the basis of English lexical statistics. In this talk, I explore this controversy using computational and developmental approaches in a language (Polish) with very different sonority sequencing patterns from English. Using computational modeling, I show that a) the lexical statistics of Polish contradict the SSP, b) computational models applied to input estimated from Polish child-directed speech predict reverse-SSP preferences, and c) computational models that encode the SSP straightforwardly predict earlier acquisition of clusters with higher sonority rises. Thus, Polish provides a rare example where predictions of input-based models, even phonologically sophisticated ones, diverge dramatically from predictions expected on the basis of universal principles. I test these predictions by examining the acquisition of onset clusters in Polish. The data come from the spontaneous speech of four typically-developing, monolingual, Polish children aged 1;7-2;6 in the Weist-Jarosz Corpus (Weist and Witkowska-Stadnik 1986; Weist et al. 1984; Jarosz 2010; Jarosz et al. submitted). In conflict with the input-based predictions, the acquisition analyses indicate that development is significantly and gradiently sensitive to the SSP. I discuss the implications for phonological theory.

Dilip Ninan speaks in semantics/philosophy seminar

Seth Cable writes:

I’m writing to let you all know that on Tuesday (March 10th), Dilip Ninan of Tufts University will be providing a special guest lecture to the semantics / philosophy of language seminar. The lecture will be on recent work by Dilip that engages with recent work by others arguing against the existence of special ‘de se’ attitudes and special ‘de se’ readings of propositional attitude sentences. 

This talk will be more on the ‘philosophy of language’ side of things, but will definitely be of interest to all those with an interest in the semantics of propositional attitude sentences, and especially to those interested in the puzzle of ‘de se’ readings. 

The talk is in N400 from 1-3:30.

Call for Papers: Going Heim!

The UConn Logic group is proud to announce its annual logic workshop. The workshop is organized around that work of a researcher that has had a significant and lasting influence on the field. The talks, invited and selected, will be given by critics or contributors to the field who were influenced by the keynote speakers’s work.

2015 Workshop: Going Heim. Linguistic Meaning Between Structure and Use.

Irene Heim is among the most influential scholars in the study of natural-language semantics and pragmatics. Several of her lasting contributions to the field were contained or foreshadowed in her dissertation “The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases” (UMass Amherst, 1982). There, Heim demonstrated that Montagovian semantics and Chomskyan syntax, two schools of thought which had developed independently and were deemed at cross-purposes by many, could in fact be unified to mutual benefit. Heim’s dissertation is also one of the first fully developed accounts in what would come to be known as dynamic semantics. With this workshop, we will celebrate Heim’s recent 60th birthday and use the occasion to reflect on the transformative nature of her early work, its continued influence over the years since, and the present state and trajectory of the field of formal semantics and pragmatics.


Location: University of Connecticut, Storrs

Date: May 2-3, 2015

Keynote: Irene Heim (MIT)

Confirmed Speakers:

Call for papers

In addition to keynote and invited presentations, there will be a limited number of contributed talks (45 minutes + 30 minutes of discussion), with at least one slot reserved for a graduate student presentation. The winner of the graduate student competition will receive free accommodation and a travel subsidy.

We invite contributions that address any topic related to Irene Heim’s dissertation, including but not limited to (in)definiteness, static vs. dynamic approaches, QVE, anaphora, pronouns, donkeys, bishops, and sage plants.


If you would like to contribute a talk, please send a 2-3 page abstract to magdalena.kaufmann@uconn.edu

Please note in your email if you would like to be considered for the graduate student competition.

Deadline for submissions:  March 23th, 2015

Meghan Armstrong in Leipzig

Meghan Armstrong gave a talk at a session on the prosody and meaning of (non-)canonical questions across languages at the DGfS conference last week in Leipzig. The title of her talk was “The rise-flat-fall contour as an epistemic operator in American English.” You can learn more here.

Barbara and Volodja in California

Barbara writes:

Volodja and I are in California February 20-March 8. I had a meeting February 21 of the Editorial Board of Annual Review of Linguistics in Palo Alto to plan the contents of Volume 3. Reminder to linguists -- Volume 1 has been published, and all of the contents of the inaugural volume are open-access for this first year:


After that, you should be able to get access to both online version and hardcopy through your library; definitely true at UMass.

     Then on February 24, I gave a guest lecture in Sol Feferman & Ivano Caponigro’s Stanford Logic Seminar (Math 391, Phil 391), Formal Semantics of Natural Language: “Naturalizing Montague Grammar with Type-Shifting Principles”. On February 26, Volodja and I were guests of Nuance in Sunnyvale. I gave a talk there for Kathleen Dahlgren’s natural language understanding group (which now includes Ron Kaplan and Ed Stabler and a number of other linguists), “Boolean structure and cross-categorial conjunction in natural language”, and later Volodja and I commented on presentations by group members about their work.

     The halfway point of the trip was a great ride on the Coast Starlight train from San Jose to Los Angeles. In the first week of March, I'll spend some time in the Montague Archives at the UCLA library. On March 6, I’ll give an invited talk for the Syntax and Semantics Colloquium, UCLA: “Montague’s “Linguistic” Work: Motivations, Trajectory, Attitudes”. And on March 7, I’ll give the keynote address for the UCLA/USC Graduate Students Philosophy Conference: “Logic and Language: A History of Ideas and Controversies”. 

Sang-Im at Yale

Sang-Im Lee-Kim gave a talk at the Yale Phonology group last Friday, March 6. The title of her talk was “Neutralization vs. enhancement in sibilant place contrasts: Evidence from phonetic cues and formal bias.” 

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

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 on “Automata and Coalgebra”, organised by Helle Hansen and Alexandra Silva and a workshop on "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: 31 March 2015
Notification: 31 May 2015
Final abstracts due: 1 July 2015
Registration deadline: 1 August 2015
Symposium: September 21-26, 2015
Programme and submission details can be found at:

Call for papers: The Distinction between Implicatures and Presuppositions

Experimental and crosslinguistic evidence for the distinction between implicatures and presuppositions
Berlin, Germany, July 1-3 2015

** Extended Submission Deadline: March 15th 2015 **


Traditionally, research in formal semantics has established a theoretical distinction between presuppositions and implicatures. This traditional view is based on the different behaviour of presuppositions and implicatures in embedding environments, their (non)ability of being cancelled, and the triggering mechanism behind them. Presuppositions, on the one hand, are said to be lexically triggered inferences, which project under negation and other types of embeddings, and are non-cancellable. Implicatures, on the other hand, are claimed to be triggered by certain linguistic structures only in specific contexts, to not project and to be cancellable. This has led to a formal semantic modeling of presuppositions as prerequisites that have to be fulfilled in the context in order for utterances to be felicitously uttered. Implicatures are modeled as inferences which, in certain contexts, enrich the assertive meaning of an utterance.

This traditional view has been challenged by recent research on presuppositions and implicatures. This recent research primarily takes into consideration experimental as well as cross-linguistic data. It paints a more complicated picture and makes a distinction between both types of inferences less clear cut.

The workshop will provide a forum for researchers working on these two phenomena to discuss their latest insights on the basis of empirical data, such as experimental and/or crosslinguistic data.

Invited Talks:

Emmanuel Chemla (ENS Paris)
Danny Fox (MIT)
Jacopo Romoli (University of Ulster)
Judith Tonhauser (Ohio State University)

Organizing Committee:

Nadine Bade (University of Tübingen)
Edgar Onea (University of Göttingen)
Uli Sauerland (ZAS Berlin)
Sonja Tiemann (University of Tübingen)
Malte Zimmermann (University of Potsdam)

Call for Papers

We invite submissions for 30-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 than 12pt. Please submit abstracts via EasyChair (see link below) no later than March 15th.

EsayChair Linkhttps://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=impres1

Relevant topics include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Presuppositions and Implicatures in online processing
  • Presuppositions and Implicatures crosslinguistically
  • Factors triggering exhaustivity effects
  • Differences between different kinds of Presuppositions and Implicatures