06 December 2015

Joint Syntax Phonology Workshop on Friday

Joe Pater will present joint work with Jennifer Culbertson, Coral Hughto and Robert Staubs at a joint meeting of the syntax and phonology workshop this Friday at 2:30 in ILC N458. A title and abstract of his talk follow.

Title: Typological Prediction with Learning: Grammatical Agent-Based Modeling of Typology

Abstract: What effect does learning have on the typological predictions of a theory of grammar? One way to answer this question is to examine the output of agent-based models (ABMs), in which learning can shape the distribution over languages that result from agent interaction. Prior research on ABMs and language has tended to assume relatively simple agent-internal representations of language, with the goal of showing how linguistic structure can emerge without being postulated a priori (e.g. Kirby and Hurford 2002, Wedel 2007). In this paper we show that when agents operate with more articulated grammatical representations, typological skews emerge in the output of the models that are not directly encoded in the grammatical system itself. This of course has deep consequences for grammatical theory construction, which often makes fairly direct inferences from typology to properties of the grammatical system. We argue that abstracting from learning may lead to missed opportunities in typological explanation, as well as to faulty inferences about the nature of grammar. By adding learning to typological explanation, grammatical ABMs allow for accounts of typological tendencies, such as the tendency toward uniform syntactic headedness (Greenberg 1963, Dryer 1992). In addition, incorporating learning can lead to predicted near-zeros in typology. We show this with the case of unrealistically large stress windows, which can be generated by a weighted constraint system, but which have near-zero frequency in the output of our ABM incorporating the same constraints. The too-large-window prediction is one of the few in the extant literature arguing for Optimality Theory’s ranked constraints over weighted ones.

McCarthy named AAAS Fellow

John McCarthy has been made a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For more information, go here.

Congratulations John!

Call for papers: Semantic Contribution of Det and Num

Workshop title: Semantic Contribution of Det and Num. (In)definiteness, genericity and referentiality 

May 27 and 28, 2016. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona  

Workshop description: 

The structure and interpretation of nominal phrases of different syntactic and semantic complexity have been among the most extensively studied topics in linguistics in the past decades. The literature has established various syntax-semantic mappings of noun phrases to express (in)definiteness and genericity across languages, stemming from the classical studies on the topics (Carlson 1977, Kamp 1981, Heim 1982). Much of the syntactic literature, adopting the DP Hypothesis of Abney (1987), has been devoted to the internal architecture of the DP (cf. Longobardi 1994, Zamparelli 2000, Borer 2005, Alexiadou 2014). Yet another much discussed issue is the derivation of referential properties of nominal phrases and the syntactic and semantic ingredients involved (e.g., articles, type-shifting, number specification, mass and count distinction, etc.) in building different types of referentiality (Chierchia 1998, Bouchard 2002, Dayal 2004, Cheng 2012, Aguilar-Guevara et al. 2014, Dobrovie-Sorin and Beyssade 2014, among many others). Recently, a number of experimental studies have been carried out which complement the theoretical investigation (cf. Ionin 2015). 

In this workshop we aim at bringing together researchers involved in the study of nominals, nominalization, genericity, specificity and indefiniteness in theoretical and experimental linguistics. We welcome work on formal syntax and semantics of nominal phrases in natural languages, focusing specifically on the role of Determiner(s) and Number in establishing referential properties of the nominal phrase. We also encourage submissions on experimental studies on production/processing and L1 and L2 acquisition of referentiality, article systems and genericity. 

Particular topics to be addressed in the workshop include, but are not limited to, questions like the following:

1.     What is the structure of nominal expressions in languages with and without articles?

2.      To what extent the count / mass distinction is related to the presence / absence of Number?

3       What is the semantic contribution of Det and Num? How is this contribution achieved in languages with no overt determiners and no Number specification?

4.      Why do languages that allow bare nominals and / or null articles also allow weak and expletive definites? How are these distinctions expressed in a language with no articles? What is the contribution to meaning of weak and expletive articles?

5.     Where is Number to be interpreted within the nominal domain? Is there a parametric distinction between languages that interpret Num on N and languages that interpret Num on D?

6.      How do different languages refer to kind entities? Should a distinction be made between kind entities and pluralities of individual objects? How do these differences relate to Number specification?

7.      What is the semantic contribution of indefinite determiners? What are the elements that make possible for an indefinite expression to contribute to indefiniteness, I-genericity or D-genericity?

8.      Is the taxonomic distinction between kinds and subkinds linguistically relevant? Which are the elements that may constrain linguistically either a kind or a subkind reading?

9.      How are nominal expressions interpreted at different stages in the acquisition of L1 and L2?10.    How does the interpretation of quantifiers interact with the funcional structure within the nominal domain, and more specifically with the presence / absence of a definite article? 

Invited speakers: 

Artemis Alexiadou (Humboldt University)

Tania Ionin (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Lisa Cheng (Leiden University)

Ora Matushansky (CNRS / Université de Paris 8)

Claire Beyssade (Université de Paris 8)

Florian Schwarz (University of Pennsylvania) 

Call for Papers

We invite abstracts for 45 minutes presentations (35-minute talk plus 10 minutes discussion) that address any of the topics above or related questions. Abstracts should be anonymous and not exceed 2 pages (A4 format), including examples and references, using a 12pt font with 2.5 cm (1 inch) margins on all for sides. Please send your abstracts electronically in pdf-format by December 15, 2015 to the following email address: cr.clt@uab.cat and include your name, affiliation and the title of the abstract in the body of the e-mail. 

Important dates

Deadline for abstract submission: December 15, 2015

Notification of acceptance: February 1, 2016

Final programme: February 29, 2016

Workshop: May 27-28, 2016 

Scientific committee: Artemis Alexiadou, Claire Beyssade, Olga Borik, Lisa Cheng, Sonia Cyrino, M.Teresa Espinal, Tania Ionin, Urtzi Etxeberria, Ora Matushansky, Florian Schwartz, Xavier Villalba. 

Organizers: Olga Borik and M.Teresa Espinal. Centre de Lingüística Teòrica. UAB. 

Call for papers: NISM 2016

We are very pleased to announce the first edition of the new series New Ideas in Semantics and Modeling 2016 (NISM2016), which will take place in Paris,  September 7 and 8, 2016.

The conferences New Ideas in Semantics and Modeling resume the Journées de Sémantique et Modélisation (JSM 2003-2010), targeting the renewed community in Formal Semantics and Pragmatics. Papers from any theoretical framework are welcome, granted that new empirical data are clearly complemented with a formal analysis. 

This year, the conference will feature a thematic session on definites, indefinites, demonstratives and referential terms, in honor of Francis Corblin, founder of the JSM.

Invited Speakers

Elizabeth Coppock (Gothenburg University & Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study)

Henriette de Swart (Utrecht University)

Paul Portner (Georgetown University)

François Recanati (Institut Jean-Nicod, ENS-EHESS-CNRS)


Claire Beyssade (Structures Formelles du Langage, Paris 8 University)

Alda Mari (Institut Jean-Nicod, ENS-EHESS-CNRS)

David Nicolas (Institut Jean-Nicod, ENS-EHESS-CNRS)

Talks and posters

Talks will be 35 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for discussion.In addition to the general session, submissions are also invited for the special session on definites, indefinites, demonstratives and referential terms.The conference will also feature a poster session.

Abstract submission

Papers in formal semantics and pragmatics are welcome. Experimental papers are welcome, granted that they provide a formal analysis of the data. Abstracts (neither submitted nor published elsewhere) are limited to two per author, with at most one paper being single-authored. Abstracts, including references and data, should be limited to two single spaced pages (A4 or US Letter) with one inch margins, minimum font size 12pt (Times New Roman). They must be in PDF format. Examples should be interspersed throughout the text.Abstracts can be submitted in English or French, but the language of the conference will be English. Anonymous abstracts must be submitted online at http://nism2016.sciencesconf.org, by March 31, 2016.Abstracts will be triply blind-reviewed.


We plan to publish the proceedings of the conference.


Deadline for abstract submission: March 31, 2016

Notification of acceptance: May 31, 2016

Conference : 7-8 September 2016

Call for papers: WSCLA 21

Richard Compton writes:

We are organizing the 21st Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americas (WSLCA) which will be held at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) this spring. Please see this flyer for more information.

Postdoc position in Computational Linguistics at Tübingen

The Department of  Linguistics at the University  of Tübingen, Germanyinvites applications for  a PhD (or Postdoc) position in  the group ofProf. Dr. Detmar Meurers: http://sfs.uni-tuebingen.de/en/tcl

This is a  university position, with an initial  period of appointmentof  three years,  with the  possibility of  renewal for  another three years. The  position  involves  independent  research  and  teaching (2hrs/week during the semester)  and related departmental duties. The degree programs in computational linguistics are taught in English, so knowledge of German is not a prerequisite. The position is at the rank of Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter  (German scale TV-L E13  50% = 19.75hrs/week), for  which salary starts  at € 22.000 per  year, increasingwith experience and marital status.

Ideal candidates  have an  excellent Master's degree  in Computational Linguistics or a related field and  link to the strengths of the group and the excellent research  context in Tübingen. Candidates  with an interdisciplinary interest in Second  Language Learning, Education, or Psychology are particularly encouraged to  apply and may be associated with  the  Excellence Initiative  LEAD  graduate  school in  Empirical Educational Science: http://purl.org/lead/4

Applications should include:-

Cover letter spelling out research experience & interest in position

- Academic CV

- Copy of MA degree and transcript

- Names and emails of two referees

Send applications by email as a single pdf attachment to:

Lisa Becker <sekretariat-meurers@sfs.uni-tuebingen.de>

For questions, please email Detmar Meurers <detmar.meurers@uni-tuebingen.de>

Applications  received   by  December  22,  2015   will  receive  fullconsideration,  although interviews  may start  at any  time and  will continue until the position has been filled.

The University of Tübingen is  an equal opportunity employer regarding professional  opportunities  for  women and  men.   Equally  qualified candidates with physical challenges will be given  preference. Employment will be conducted by the central university administration. The NLP CALL list is housed at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and administrated by Mat Schulze (mschulze &#228; uwaterloo.ca). See http://artsservices.uwaterloo.ca/mailman/listinfo/nlp call for more information.