19 April 2015

Kaufmann gives first department colloq on Tuesday

Magdalena Kaufmann (UConn) will give a department colloquium on Tuesday, April 21, at 4:00 in N400. The title and abstract of her talk follows.

Embedded imperatives: venturing into the cross-linguistic picture

Many languages are taken to have grammatical marking of imperative clauses (verbal morphology, clause type particles). For a long time, the standard assumption had been that such markers cannot occur in embedded sentences  ("Imperatives cannot be embedded"). More recent research has discovered a series of counter-examples to this generalization. At the same time, it remains to be acknowledged that embedding is severely restricted cross-linguistically. Building on, and extending, what I discussed in Kaufmann (2012, ch. 6.1), I investigate patterns in the exceptions to the putative ban on embedded imperatives. I focus on data from English, German, Japanese, Korean, and Slovenian (specifically, the interpretation of the imperative subject), and I suggest an account in terms of clashes between shiftable (in the sense of Schlenker 2003) and unshiftable indexicality. While the talk will focus mostly on imperatives in reported speech, I will discuss some connections to imperative marking in relative clauses and in matrix wh-sentences.

Schwarzschild gives second department colloq

Roger Schwarzschild (MIT) will give the second department colloquium this week on Friday, April 24, at 3:30 in N400. The title of his talk is “The Paradox of Mass Plurals,” and an abstract follows.

The nouns used in (1) below are 'lexical plurals'.

(1) He keeps the *books*
     He gave me bad *directions*.

They contrast with the plurals in (2) below:

(2)  He bought two books.
       They went in two different directions.

Other examples of lexical plurals are *coffee-grounds, proceeds, measles,canned-goods, remains, special effects, dregs, fumes*

I adopt the split analysis of plurality (Acquaviva 2008, Lowenstamm 2008, Alexiadou 2011, Kramer 2012) according to which the plural [*s*] in (1) is the realization of n[+PL], a morpheme that nominalizes category-neutral roots.  The [*s*] in (2) is the realization of Num[+PL].  The plurals in (1) and (2) do not block one another, since they are formed from different pieces (compare:  irregular *men* which blocks **mans*).   The meanings of lexical plurals are idiosyncratic -- a common feature of words formed from roots, noted by the above cited references. But problems remain.

Lexical plurals are always mass nouns.  Assuming there is some semantic basis to the mass/count distinction, the meanings of lexical plurals are predictable *to some extent* and that needs to be explained.  Moreover, this feature of lexical plurals is not a peculiarity of English. Ojeda (2005), from whom the title of this talk was borrowed unchanged, provides examples of 'mass plurals' in Zuni and in Lingala (Bantu).  He further records that "according to Welmers (1973, 159), there is a semantic correlation in the large Bantu family between being a noun that denotes masses or liquids and being a noun that belongs to the plural Class 6.” (see also Taraldsen 2010:fn8 on Nguni). These then are the questions I'll address:

Q1 Why does the combination of a root and n[+PL] produce a mass noun?

Q2 What, if anything, is plural about the meanings of these nouns?

Q3 Assuming that the idiosyncratic meanings of lexical plurals are encoded in the root, how do we guarantee that this meaning *only*surfaces in the presence of n[+PL] (rather than in any syntactic context that requires a mass meaning)?

  - Following Schwarzschild (2011), I'll argue that simple nouns are  predicates of states. This will allow for two kinds of pluralization,  within a state and among states, corresponding to inner, n[+PL] and outer  Num[+PL] plurals. 

- Next, I'll argue that a state is in the extension of a count noun only  if it is a state with a single participant. It follows, that n[+PL] are non-count.  And, given certain mereotopological assumptions about liquids (Grimm 2012), it will follow that liquid nouns must denote multi-participant states -- hence are candidates for n[+PL] marking.

- Finally Q3 has to do with a correlation between word meaning and  morpho-syntactic context. I'll propose a way to tie these two together  using ideas from Artstein (2004) about focus below the word level.

Ming Xiang speaks on Wednesday

Ming Xiang (University of Chicago)  will talk on  "The memory structure of covert dependencies” on Wednesday, April 22, at 5:30 in N400. An abstract of her talk follows.

While modeling the cross-linguistic structural variation, linguistic analysis often postulates abstract “covert” representations that do not have any morpho-phonological reflexes in the surface word string. Little is known as to whether such representations are actually constructed in language comprehension and production. In this talk, I will examine the processing of Mandarin wh-in-situ questions, which share the same word order with regular declarative sentences but  have a semantics identical to their English counterpart wh-questions. Drawing on data from production, eyetracking-reading, and speed-accuracy tradeoff paradigms, I will address two questions: (i) Does the parser construct a covert non-local syntactic dependency in processing? (ii) What are the parsing mechanisms that support such non-local dependencies? How similar/different are they from the processing of overt non-local dependencies?

Caroline Andrews in Psycholing Workshop

Shayne Sloggett writes:

This week we'll be hearing from Caroline Andrews in the Psycholing workshop. She will be presenting on her first GP in preparation for the second year mini conference in a few weeks. The title of her talk is "Predictive Parsing in Licensor-Licensee Dependencies".

As usual for afternoon meetings, we'll be convening at 2:30 on Thursday in N400. 

Bogal-Allbritten at Maryland

Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten will be presenting a portion of her dissertation research at the University of Maryland this coming Tuesday as a guest speaker at a meeting of their S-Lab group. The talk is titled ‘Building attitudes of belief and desire in Navajo.’

The 2015 entering graduate class

WHISC is pleased to announce next year’s entering graduate class. They are:

Carolyn Anderson graduated from Swarthmore in 2014 with interests in formal semantics and fieldwork, having worked on Moroccan Arabic and Zapotec. She is currently a Fulbright Fellow in Canada, working on the use of technology in fieldwork and the ethics of fieldwork.

Alex Goebel comes to us from Tübingen University. He has worked in the syntax-semantics interface but has broad interests, especially in cognitive linguistics. Alex has also studied philosophy and through that developed an interest in modals.

Chris Hammerly has recently learned that he won an NSF Fellowship. He majored in linguistics and psychology at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, graduating in 2014. He is currently a Baggett Fellow at the University of Maryland doing research in psycholinguistics. Chris is also part Ojibwe and is interested in learning the language.

Jaieun Kim majored in economics at Sogang University in South Korea, and completed an M.A. in linguistics there in 2014. She was also a visitor at the University of Hawaii for a year. She plans to work on syntax, the acquisition of syntax, and psycholinguistics, and her interests include comparing acquisition across languages.

Brandon Prickett is interested in experimental phonology and in computational models of phonological learning. He has graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and will soon complete his M.A. there.

Michael Wilson studied linguistics and Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin. At UMass he will work on experimental methods in lexical semantics and syntactic alternations, as well as in theoretical syntax and semanics.

Rong Yin did her undergraduate work in English at Nankai University in China, then came to the U.S., where she completed an M.A. in linguistics at Syracuse University. She wants to work on syntax and semantics and is interested in fieldwork and in statistical tools.

Barbara Partee at Bard College

Barbara will visit her old friend Robert Martin, philosopher and cellist, at Bard College this Thursday and Friday. On Thursday the 23rd she’ll give a public talk, “Logic and Linguistics: A History of Ideas and Controversies”. On Friday the 24th she’ll give a guest presentation in Bob’s philosophy of language class, a longer version of her talk “The Starring Role of Quantifiers in the History of Formal Semantics”. On Thursday evening she (and Volodja and Barbara’s granddaughter Rachael) will attend a rehearsal of the Bard College Conservatory Orchestra, which is preparing for their final concert of the year on May 2. Read more about Bob Martin’s successful dual career in music and philosophy here. Barbara and Bob got acquainted at the historic 1971 summer institute in linguistics and philosophy at UC Irvine. Barbara reports that she hasn’t seen him since the Sequoia Quartet played in Old Deerfield sometime in the early 1980’s.

Overfelt in print!

Jason Overfelt has had two papers recently accepted for publication. One is “Unbounded Successive-Cyclic Rightward DP-Movement,” which will appear in Lingua, and the other is “Rightward DP-Movement Licenses Parasitic Gaps: A reply to Postal 1994,” which will appear in Linguistic Inquiry.

Extended deadline for the Amazonian Linguistics Summer School

Piero Fioralisso writes:

I would like to inform you that we have decided to extend the application deadline to the Amazonian Lingusitics Summer School until May 1st. We hope this extra time helps your students in the case they are considering the option of taking part of the program.

For information about the curricula, go here. And for general information, see this.

Barbara is a Winner!

Barbara Partee has won the Linguist List Fund Drive Drawing! Her prize is a subscription to the Journal of Portuguese Linguistics. Linguist List permits prize recipients to transfer their prizes; the subscription will actually go to Luiz Amaral, who can make good use of it.

Congratulations Barbara!

XPrag.de fellowships

XPrag.de offers four fellowships to support outstanding recent Ph.D. graduates for a time period of 12 months each starting between October 2015 and April 2016.

Application deadline: June 20th, 2015.
In the  priority program SPP 1727 "New Pragmatic Theories based on Experimental evidence (XPrag.de)" funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) researchers from the fields of linguistics, psychology and neuroscience are collaborating in 16 individual scientific projects at eight different German institutions.
Experimental Pragmatics is a new interdisciplinary field of research which has emerged within the last decade. It combines research in Gricean pragmatics with the formal models of modern grammar and the powerful experimental methods of psychology and neuroscience. As a result, Experimental Pragmatics can theoretically state and then empirically test much more precise hypotheses than research in pragmatics previously could. Experimental Pragmatics is thereby expected to lead to a new theory of mechanisms involved in language understanding. Four starting points make substantial progress in pragmatics possible, namely Pragmatic Theory, Formal Models, Embodied Cognition and Experimental Methods.
Experimental Pragmatics fruitfully connects the four starting points, and it already has shown its potential to go beyond these starting points to establish new insights in all four areas. 
XPrag.de offers a Start-up Funding program to support outstanding recent Ph.D. graduates for a time period of 12 months each. Each funded fellow will join an individual XPrag.de project to prepare her/his own research proposal for the second funding period of XPrag.de (May 2017 - April 2020), which usually is an application for the fellow's own funding. The research proposal is supposed to be submitted to the DFG by end of October 2016.
The applicant must choose a suitable post doctoral supervisor for the time of the fellowship in advance.  Any PI of a current XPrag.de project in Germany is eligible to act as supervisor. Beyond the support by the supervisor on a regular basis successful candidates will be offered additional support in the form of research training opportunities, funds for pilot experiments, workspace, etc.  Fellows can also participate in the bottom-up programs of XPrag.de such as the workshop program as well as the mentoring program and the emergency daycare program. Fellows will receive a grant of 1400 € per month. 
For more information about XPrag.de, an overview of participating projects and contact data of principal investigators visit our website: www.xprag.de.
Applicants must hold a Ph.D. degree by the start of the fellowship. 
Please submit a 2-page (maximum) outline of your project idea and lay out your career planning. Additionally, please provide your CV, sample writings, contact details of two references, and two letters: one letter of commitment of the potential hosting institution in which the host commits to provide adequate workspace.
In a second letter the potential supervisor needs to affirm that s/he will act as supervisor and hold at least monthly meetings with the fellow and that s/he will provide access to equipment and funding for necessary pilot experiments. 
All application documents must be submitted as a single pdf to xprag.de@gmail.com. The application deadline is June 20th, 2015 and applicants will be notified by July 15th, 2015.
Proposals are evaluated and ranked by the steering committee of XPrag.de with respect to their potential to be accepted by the DFG as XPrag.de project for the 2017-2020 funding period. 

Homer and Bhatt at EGG

The Eastern Generative Grammar Summer School will be taking place this summer (July 27 to August 7) in Brno, Czech Republic. UMass is represented by Vincent Homer, who will be teaching an introductory course in semantics and a topics in semantics course with Rajesh Bhatt. For more information, go here.

ESSLLI 2015 Registration

27th European Summer School in Logic, Language, and Information (ESSLLI 2015) / Barcelona, Spain

August 3rd 2015 - August 14th 2015
Universitat Pompeu Fabra


* Deadline for early registration with accommodations: April 30 2015 *
* Deadline for early registration without accommodations: June 14 2015 *

The European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information (ESSLLI) is an annual event organized under the auspices of the Association for Logic, Language and Information (FoLLI). It brings together logicians, linguists, computer scientists, and philosophers to study language, logic, information, and their interconnections. ESSLLI attracts several hundred participants from all over the world, both senior and junior and is a great place to learn and network -- and have a lot of fun in the process.

There will be 42 courses at introductory and advanced levels, as well as 6 workshops, 4 evening lectures (by Albert Atserias, Chris Barker, Raquel Fernández, and Hans Kamp), and a week-long student session to foster interdisciplinary discussion of current research. Most courses and workshops are one week long. Courses are offered in the areas of Language and Logic, Language and Computation, and Logic and Computation. Check our website for details on the program and registration procedure: http://www.esslli2015.org.

IMPORTANT! The deadline for registration with accommodations is around the corner: April 30 2015. After that we can't guarantee accommodations except for those students who are accepted at the Student Session or who get a grant.

Grant information is available on the registration page. We thank our sponsors (ASL, EACL, SIGLEX) for making these grants possible. We also thank the Department of Translation and Language Sciences, the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and the EACSL.

Questions? E-mail esslli2015@gmail.com