20 September 2015

UMass at TbiLLC 2015

The Eleventh Tbilisi Symposium on Language, Logic and Computation is meeting this weekend at Tbilisi State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. UMass is represented by:

Jeremy Pasquereau who is presenting “Overt movement of comparative quantifiers in European French"


Vincent Homer and Rajesh Bhatt who are conducting a workshop on Obligatoriness, as well as presenting a paper “PPIs and Movement."

Ashwini Deo gives department colloquium on Friday

Ashwini Deo (Yale) will give the department’s first colloquium of the semester this Friday, September 25, at 3:30 in ILC N400. The title and abstract of her talk follow.

Title: The Semantic and Pragmatic underpinnings of Grammaticalization Paths

It is a well-established fact that meanings associated with functional linguistic expressions evolve in systematic ways across time. But we have little precise understanding of why and how this happens. We know even less about how formal approaches to the meanings of functional categories like tense, aspect, negation can be reconciled with the typologically robust findings of grammaticalization research. In this talk, I will take a first step towards such an understanding by analyzing a robustly attested semantic change in natural languages — the progressive-to-imperfective shift.

The facts can be described as follows: At Stage 0, a linguistic system L possesses a single imperfective or neutral aspectual marker X that is used to express two contextually disambiguable meanings α and β. At Stage 1, a progressive marker Y arises spontaneously in L in order to express α in some contexts. At Stage 2, Y becomes entrenched as an obligatory grammatical element for expressing α while X is restricted in use to expressing β. At Stage 3, Y generalizes and is used to express both α and β. X is gradually driven out of L. Stage 3 (structurally identical to Stage 0) is often followed by another instantiation of Stage 1, with the innovation of a new progressive marker Z. The trajectory to be explained is thus cyclic. The analysis I provide has a semantic component that characterizes the logical relation between the progressive and imperfective operators in terms of asymmetric entailment. Its dynamic component rests on the proposal that imperfective and progressive sentences crucially distinguish between two kinds of inquiries: phenomenal and structural inquiries (Goldsmith and Woisetschleger 1982). The innovation and entrenchment of progressive marking in languages is shown to be underpinned by optimal ways of resolving both kinds of inquiries in discourse given considerations of successful and economic communication. Generalization is analyzed as the result of imperfect learning. The trajectory — consisting of the recruitment of a progressive form, its categorical use in phenomenal inquiries, and its generalization to imperfective meaning — is modeled within the framework of Evolutionary Game Theory. 

PRG this Wednesday

Coral Hughto and Ivy Hauser write

This semester's first meeting of PRG will be on Wednesday 23 September at 7:30pm. PRG is an informal gathering to talk about half-baked ideas, interesting papers, works-in-progress, or anything else. PLEASE EMAIL US IF YOU WILL BE COMING! The current plan is to meet downstairs in Haymarket (in Northampton), but if enough people RSVP we will host the meeting somewhere else.

Jarosz speaks at LARC on Friday

Jon Nelson writes:

LARC will meet this Friday 9/25 at 12PM in N451. All are welcome! Gaja Jarosz will present:

Acquisition of Onset Clusters in Polish: Sonority Sequencing and Input Sensitivity 

SpectroLunch this Friday

The second meeting of the weekly SpectroLunch meets this Friday at 11am in N400. SpectroLunch is a venue in which participants practice spectrogram reading and WHISC has learned that this week’s meeting will feature “Peggy’s Animals pt. 2.” 

Job at University of Potsdam

The University of Potsdam, Human Sciences Faculty invites applications for:

W 1- Junior Professorship for “Variation and Variability in Grammatical Systems”  

The specialization for the junior professorship includes the investigation and modeling of variation and variability in grammatical systems, with an emphasis on non-European languages. Particular attention should be given to structural similarities and differences between different languages, and to how these inform grammar-theoretical or typological modeling. 

 The prospective junior professor will have demonstrated expertise (in research and teaching) in the comparative evaluation of variation and variability of non-European languages. A specialization in morphology and morphosyntax, complemented by expertise in phonology or syntax and/or a specialization in the Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, or Afro-Asiatic language families, is desired. 

 A successful applicant has a solid foundation of the underlying theories and models, works with empirical methods in data acquisition and analysis (e.g., systematic field research, corpus research, experimental methods, etc.), and can demonstrate how grammar-theoretical or typological modeling can be advanced through the inclusion of cross-linguistic variation and within-language variability. 

 The junior professor will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in linguistics at the University of Potsdam. Furthermore, it is expected that the applicant will partake in the research activities of the Research Area in Cognitive Sciences at the University of Potsdam, and will actively contribute to the acquisition of larger joint research projects. Very good command of the English language is a prerequisite for the position, experience with international cooperation and the acquisition of third-party funding are desired. 

 According to State law (§ 45 Brandenburgisches Hochschulgesetz - BbgHG), preconditions for the appointment as a Junior Professor include a completed university education, teaching skills, and a special qualification for academic work, which is usually demonstrated though an outstanding PhD thesis. International experience, an outstanding publication record and a teaching record are advantageous. The total time for completion of the PhD and subsequent post-doc employment should not have exceeded six years. 

 Appointments are made according to §§ 40 and 46 BbgHG. The appointment as a civil servant or a public employee will be made for up to four years in the first instance and can be extended to up to 6 years in total, conditional upon a positive evaluation. 

The University of Potsdam strives to increase the proportion of women in research and teaching and specifically encourages female applicants to apply for this position. Handicapped applicants will be given preference in case of equal suitability. People with an immigration background are specifically encouraged to apply. 

 The University of Potsdam offers dual career support and coaching for newly-appointed professors: http://www.uni-potsdam.de/en/neue-beschaeftigte/information-for-newly-appointed-professors.html

 Applications (with a presentation of your research interests, curriculum vitae, copies of academic certificates and documents, a list of publications, a list of conducted courses, a list of externally funded projects) should be sent to the University of Potsdam ausschreibungen@uni-potsdam.de no later than 1st of October 2015.

Job at University of Delaware

Position Title Assistant Professor in Neurolinguistics or Psycholinguistics

Location Newark, DE

Job Title: Neurolinguist/psycholinguist

Job Rank: Assistant Professor

Specialty Areas: Neurolinguistics, Psycholinguistics

Description: College of Arts & Sciences,Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Tenure-track Faculty Position in Neurolinguistics or Psycholinguistics

The University of Delaware Department of Linguistics and CognitiveScience invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track position in Neurolinguistics or Psycholinguistics at the rank of Assistant Professor.  The position is expected to begin September 1, 2016.  The successful candidate will have a Ph.D. in linguistics or a related field, with a specialization in neurolinguistic or psycholinguistic research on language disorders and/or first language acquisition.  The Ph.D. must be in hand prior to the start of the appointment.

We seek individuals who demonstrate the drive and vision to develop an innovative, cutting-edge, and internationally recognized researchprogram in neurolinguistics or psycholinguistics with a focus onlanguage disorders and/or first language acquisition. Preference will be given to scholars who can contribute to our undergraduatepre-professional program in speech/language pathology.  Applicants who can conduct fundable research at the new UD Multi-Modal Imaging Center (http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2015/apr/functional-mri-042415.html) ,scheduled to open in the spring of 2016, are also particularly encouraged to apply. This 11,600 square foot research facility will house a Siemens 3T Magnetom Prisma scanner, and the suite will beequipped with state-of-the-art MR-compatible visual and auditory stimulation equipment, eye-tracking, response devices, and physiological measurement hardware.

The successful applicant will be expected to teach a subset of thefollowing undergraduate courses: First Language Development,Introduction to Communication Disorders, Psycholinguistics, Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism, and general courses inlinguistics and cognitive science.  They will also be expected tooffer graduate courses in areas of their specialization. The teaching load is 2+2.  Other duties include supervision of graduate students, undergraduate student advising, involvement in curricular development,and performance of University and Department service.

The Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science is housed in the University of Delaware’s College of Arts andSciences. The department runs an internationally-renowned PhD programin Linguistics, a Master’s degree in Linguistics and CognitiveScience, a Bachelor of Science degree in Cognitive Science, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics. The Department also offers,via a university-wide Cognitive Science committee, an interdisciplinary Certificate in Cognitive Science as part of graduate degrees across schools and departments. The department has state-of-the-art laboratories in phonetics, phonology, and psycholinguistics, including a 128-channel ERP lab. The department is part of a university-wide cognitive science community, including adiverse set of researchers from various departments and colleges.  The Department also has ties to a new Clinical Master’s Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders, anticipated to begin admitting students in academic year 2016-2017. This program includes a new Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic (http://sites.udel.edu/cscd/clinic/), to open fall 2015.

The University of Delaware combines a rich historic legacy with acommitment to education and the latest in advanced technology. With external funding exceeding $200 million per year, the University ranks among the top 100 universities in federal R&D support for science and engineering. Enhanced by state-of-the-art facilities, research is conducted across all seven colleges and numerous interdisciplinary institutes and centers. Other relevant facilities on campus include the new 103,000 square foot Health Sciences Complex, a state-of-the-art facility that includes labs for human-based studies and an active outpatient clinic; a 194,000 square foot Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory; and the DelawareTechnology Park, where entrepreneurial and academic research labs are co-located. The Delaware Health Sciences Alliance (DHSA), a partnership among the University of Delaware, Christiana Care HealthSystem, Nemours / Al duPont Hospital for Children, and Thomas Jefferson University, provides infrastructure and opportunity for innovative clinical and translational collaborations.
Applicants should apply online at www.interfolio.com and submita cover letter, a statement of current and long-term research plans, a statement of teaching experience and philosophy, a CV, three representative research publications, and three letters of recommendation. 

Inquiries, but not application materials, should be emailed to Arild Hestvik, Chair of the Search Committee, hestvik@udel.edu. Review of applications will begin on October 18, 2015, and will continue until the position is filled.

Application Deadline:  18-Oct-2015  (Open until filled)

Call for papers: SNEWS 2015

Jon Ander Media writes:

The call for SNEWS 2015 is out. As always, the workshop is meant to be   a friendly venue for graduate students in Linguistics to present their  work in semantics. Presentations about ongoing research are most  welcome. On average, the goal is to have  2-3 presenters from each  school.

Those interested in presenting should let me know by September 30th, although titles are not due until October 31st. There is no need to send an  abstract and no need to provide a title (for the moment). This year SNEWS will be organized and hosted by Harvard.

Below you can find the relevant information:

- What: The talks should be 20 min + 10 min for questions.

- When: November 21, 2015

- Where: Department of Linguistics, Harvard University

- Who can present: Graduate students at the participating schools: Brown, Harvard, MIT, UConn, UMass, Yale.

- Who can attend: Graduate students, post-docs, visitors at the participating schools; faculty are encouraged to attend!

- What to expect: A day in which you get to hear about what other fellow graduate students are doing and chat with them over breakfast, lunch, and during coffee breaks (food and beverages provided). An evening which you are warmly invited to spend at a party hosted by one of our graduate

- Short description of SNEWS:

The Southern New England Workshop in Semantics (SNEWS) is an annual workshop for graduate students in Linguistics to present their research and receive feedback in an informal setting. Topics of  
presentation generally fall into any of the following categories (broadly defined): semantics, pragmatics, semantics/pragmatics interface, experimental and psycholinguistic investigations into semantic/pragmatic phenomena, 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. Universities that have participated in the past include UConn, UMass, Harvard, MIT, Brown, and Yale.

Cog Sci Mixer

Deniz Ozyildiz writes:

In order for us, the grad students involved in the UMass Cognitive Science initiative, to get acquainted with each other, both personally and professionally, it's a good idea to get together and chat! So I'm trying to set up a date for the first CogSci mixer of the fall semester. We had a few similar events last year and they were successful and fun!
If you're interested in attending the mixer, please fill out the doodle poll below. http://doodle.com/poll/88w4u3ee9f4ecd83

We'll meet at a local cafe or restaurant. Everybody will have the opportunity to present themselves and give a quick, informal overview of their work and their interests. 

If you can't make it on any of these dates, but you're interested in meeting everybody, please let me know so that we can arrange for another date.

Please also circulate the information to your department and to everybody who you think might be interested. People can also sign up to be on our website and mailing lists:

Call for papers: ECOM

The Expression, Communication, and Origins of Meaning (ECOM) Research Group is pleased to announce that it will be hosting its second annual interdisciplinary workshop this November on "Expressive Language: Semantics, Pragmatics, and Origins", to be held November 19-20, 2015 at the University of Connecticut. 

The workshop will explore theoretical analyses — offered from a variety of perspectives (such as metaethics, philosophy of language, psycho- and socio- linguistics, and cognitive psychology) — of systematic ways in which language is used to express emotions and other attitudes, through, e.g. slurs, pejoratives, laudatives, exclamatives, and evaluative terms.

Our invited speakers are:

Timothy Jay (Psychology, Massachusetts College)

Anna Papafragou (Psychology, Delaware)

Dean Pettit (Philosophy, UNC-Chapel Hill)

Ljiljana Progovac (Linguistics, Wayne State)

Mark Richard (Philosophy, Harvard) 

We also invite abstracts of short papers by junior researchers (25-30mins) on the topics of the conference. Please submit abstracts in PDF format to Nathan Kellen by October 20th.  (Authors of accepted papers will be notified during the following week.) 

Elan Dresher last Friday

Elan Dresher of the University of Toronto (PhD UMass 1978) gave a talk last Friday Sept. 18th. The title and abstract follow.

Contrastive Hierarchy Theory: An Overview.

In this talk I will present an overview of contrastive hierarchy theory, aka Modified Contrastive Specification (MCS) or ‘Toronto School’ phonology. I will set out the main tenets of this theory, and briefly review their antecedents in the history of phonology. I will then illustrate various applications of the theory to topics in synchronic and diachronic phonology, as well as its implications for typology.

LSA's Program is published

The Ninetieth meeting of the Linguistic Society of America takes place Jan. 7-10 in Washington D.C. and their conference schedule has recently been posted. You can find information about the conference, as well as information about accommodations and registration, here. UMass is well represented:

Alumna Gillian Gallagher presents “Rapid phonotactic generalization: Behavioral evidence and a Bayesian model” with Tal LInzen and Timothy O’Donnell.

Meghan Armstrong presents  "Epistemic stress shift in American English" with Scott Schwenter.

Barbara Pearson and Tom Roeper presents “Linguistic and Pragmatic Ambiguity of Quantified Expressions in Mathematics Word Problems"

Robert Staubs, Coral Hughto and Joe Pater present “Grammar and learning in syntactic and phonological typology” with Jennifer Culbertson.

Alumnus Jonah Katz presents “Cue integration and fricative perception in Seoul Korean” with Sarah Lee.

Alumna Cherlon Ussery presents “The Typology of Mandarin Infinitives” with Lydia Ding and Rebecca Liu

Nick LaCara presents “Verb phrase movement as a window into head movement"

Alumnus Jeff Runner presents “Locality effects in long-distance reflexive retrieval: the case of Mandarin Chinese ziji” with Yuhang Xu.

Stefan Keine presents “Positions versus items in the syntax of superraising” 

Joe Pater, Lisa Sanders, Robert Staubs, Benjamin Zobel and alumna Claire Moore-Cantwell present “Phonological learning in the laboratory: ERP evidence"

Aleksei Nazarov presents “Ambiguity of analysis: Learning Dutch stress with input inference"

Robert Staubs presents “Learning morpheme segmentation with distributions over underlying representations"

Thuy Bui presents “Menominee Agreement: Two probes for Two Hierarchies"

Alumnus Florian Schwarz presents “Local Accommodation and Presupposition Trigger Class: Results from the Covered Box Task” with Hezekiah Akiva Bacovcin and “Entailed Presupposiitons: Experimental Evidence for a Distinction Between Triggers” with Jeremy Zehr and “Two Types of Definites in American Sign Language” with Ava Irani.

Ivy Hauser presents “VOT variation and perceptual distinction"

Tom Ernst presents “The Semantics of Domain Adverbs” with Timothy Grinsell

Alumna Maria Gouskova presents “Sublexical phonotactics of English -er suffixes” with Suzy Ahn

Alumna Jennifer Smith presents “Segmental noun/verb phonotactic differences are productive too"


The LSA Program

Last weekend, our own Rajesh Bhatt assisted Marlyse Baptista, David Robinson and  alumnus Andries Coetzee in putting together the LSA program. He has sent WHISC the following photo of the process.

IMG 7723