03 May 2015

Miniconference on Monday

The Mini-conference, in which generals papers writers present their work, will be Monday, May 4, in ILC N400 starting at 9:15. A schedule of talks follows.

9:15 Coffee
9:30  Ivy Hauser                   
          Dispersion (and lack thereof) in consonant inventories
10:00 Coral Hughto             
          Typological implications of an Interactive Learning Model
10:30-11:00 Break with refreshments
11:00  Caroline Andrews     
          Predictive parsing in long distance dependencies
11:30  Ekaterina Vostrikova         
          "Then" in conditionals
12:00  Sakshi Bhatia            
          Causation in Hindi-Urdu: Instruments and Subjects
12:30-1:15 Lunch break
1:15-1:45  Leland Kusmer
          Constituency paradoxes: Evidence from Akan
1:45-2:15 Jyoti Iyer
          Additive and exhaustive readings of Tamil particle -um

Call for papers: BUCLD


NOVEMBER 13-15, 2015

Join us for a special 40th anniversary meeting of the Boston University Conference on Language Development!  

Lila Gleitman (University of Pennsylvania), the keynote speaker of the very first BUCLD meeting, will reprise her role this year. We will also have a celebratory session looking back to where we've come from and where we're going as a field.

Any past presenters or attendees with photos from previous BUCLD events are encouraged to share them with the organizing committee at langconf@bu.edu.


Submissions of abstracts for 20-minute talks and posters will be accepted beginning April 1 at: http://www.bu.edu/bucld/abstracts/abstract-submission/

DEADLINE.  All abstract submissions must be received by 8:00 PM EST, May 15, 2015.

Abstracts must be limited to 500 words, with one extra page for examples, figures, tables, and references. Submissions that present research on any topic in the fields of first and second language acquisition from any theoretical perspectives will be fully considered, including but not limited to: Artificial Languages, Bilingualism, Cognition & Language, Creoles & Pidgins, Dialects, Discourse and Narrative, Gesture, Hearing Impairment and Deafness, Input & Interaction, Language Disorders, Linguistic Theory, Neurolinguistics, Pragmatics, Pre-linguistic Development, Reading and Literacy, Signed Languages, Sociolinguistics, and Speech Perception & Production.

A suggested format and style for abstracts is available at:


General conference information is available at:

Questions about abstracts should be sent to langconf@bu.edu.

Call for Papers: PSUxLing2

The Penn State Undergraduate Exhibition in Hispanic and General Linguistics is hosting their second annual undergraduate conference. Undergraduates are invited to submit an abstract for a poster to be presented in a two-hour poster session at Penn State University. The deadline for abstracts is May 15. You can learn more here.

Call for papers: TbiLLC 2015

On Septemer 22, the Eleventh International Tbilisi Symposium on Language, Logic and Computation will be hosting a workshop entitled: “How to make things happen in the Grammar — the implementation of Obligatoriness.”  The workshop is organized by our own Vincent Homer and Rajesh Bhatt. Talks are 45 minutes in length, and the two-page abstracts are due May 21, 2015. For more information, go here.

Grasping Ellipsis

May 4 and 5, Unicamp in Campinas, Sao Paulo, is hosting a “Grasping Ellipsis: its syntax, semantics, acquisition and processing. UMass is well represented:

UMass alumni Katy Carlson and Jesse Harris are giving the talk “Favoring a broad QUD in focus-sensitive coordination."

UMass alumnus and marathoner Satoshi Tomioka is giving the talk “Semantic definedness and a focus-semantic constraint on Ellipsis."

UMass faculty Kyle Johnson is giving the talk “Where’s Ellipsis?"

UMass student Nicholas LaCara is giving the talk “Ellipsis is not Spell-out: What Scandinavian tells us about ellipsis and phases."

Workshop on Copulas Across Languages

The program for the Workshop on Copulas Across Languages, which will be hosted by the University of Greenwich on June 18-19, has just been released and it includes several UMass linguists:

Alumnus Johannes Jonsson will be giving a talk with Ilja Hlin Gudhbjornsdottir, Rannveig Sverrisdottir and Kristin Lena Thorvaldsdottir, entitled “A sign language copula."

UMass student Tracy Conner will be giving the talk “Ellipsis Licensing and Constraints on Copula Optionality in African American English."

UMass faculty Lisa Green will be giving a plenary talk entitled “The Copula, Aspect, and Variation in African American English."

Trivia Answer

On March 1, WHISC posted the following trivia question, sent in by Angelika Kratzer:

Who wrote the following passage and when was it written?

Language, as I remarked earlier, is like seeing and hearing in that it can’t be taught or learned. Who has ever seen anybody teach language to a child? Some of you may have experienced how hopeless it is to teach language to children, as has been tried occasionally. I am sure that anybody who has ever had the opportunity to observe a child between the age of two and four was surprised about the sudden use of a word or a word form. We rarely know where the child got it from. The child grabbed it on some occasion or other; and grabbing means creating.  – We thus shouldn’t talk about learning of language by children. If there isn’t any teaching, there isn’t any learning either. What we do with children to lead them towards language is exactly what a gardener does with a seed from which he wants to produce a plant: we provide them with the necessary conditions for growth, namely human society. The gardener doesn’t truly make plants grow. Likewise, we do not teach children how to speak. A flower grows following the laws of nature. In the same way, language is generated in the consciousness of a child following the laws of the mind.

The answer is:

Heymann Steinthal: Abriss der Sprachwissenschaft (‘Fundamentals of Linguistics’), 1871.  

Here is the German:

Von der Sprache ist schon bemerkt, dass sie so wenig gelehrt und gelernt werden kann, wie Sehen und Hören. Wer hat wohl je bemerkt, dass man Kinder sprechen gelehrt hätte? Vielleicht aber hat Mancher schon beachtet, wie vergeblich das Bemühen ist, das man wohl zuweilen anstellt, das Kind zu lehren. Mit Gewissheit aber setze ich voraus, dass Jeder, wer Gelegenheit gehabt hat, ein Kind vom zweiten bis zum vierten Lebensjahre zu beobachten, oft genug darüber erstaunt war, wie urplötzlich das Kind ein Wort oder eine Wortform gebraucht hat. Selten weiss man, woher das Kind das hat. Es hat es ergriffen bei irgend einer Gelegenheit; und ergreifen heisst erzeugen. — Man sollte also gar nicht vom Lernen der Sprache bei Kindern reden. Denn wo keine Lehre, da ist kein Lernen. Nur was der Gärtner mit Samen tut, aus dem er Pflanzen ziehen will, nur das tun wir mit unsern Kindern, um sie zur Sprache zu bringen: wir bringen sie in die nötigen Bedingungen geistigen Wachstums, nämlich in die menschliche Gesellschaft. Aber so wenig der Gärtner wachsen macht, so wenig machen, lehren wir das Kind sprechen; nach dem Gesetze, dort der Natur, hier des Geistes, entsteht dort die Blume, hier die Sprache im Bewusstsein des Kindes.