31 January 2016

For Sophomores and Juniors: Linguistics Field School

The Linguistics Department of Swarthmore College and Haverford College will host a 5-week Linguistics Field School consisting of two weeks at Haverford College and three weeks of community-based work in Mexico (with Prof. Brook Danielle Lillehaugen) or in the Navajo Nation (with Prof. Ted Fernald).

Host Institutions:  Swarthmore College and Haverford College. In Oaxaca: Biblioteca de Investigación Juan de Córdova and Centro de Estudios Tecnológicos, industrial y de servicios (CETis) #124.  In the Navajo Nation: Navajo Technical University (NTU)

Dates: May 23 through June 25, 2016

Locations: Haverford, PA; Oaxaca, Mexico; Crownpoint, New Mexico

Description: The program will recruit a cohort of 12 undergraduates who have shown a strong interest in and commitment to linguistics, digital tools, and/or related fields. Students will being the program at Haverford College, where they will receive ten days of intensive training in linguistic field methods, digital recording, data analysis, field ethics, and allied disciplines. Students will then join local community language revitalization projects in Oaxaca, Mexico and the Navajo Nation for three weeks (6 students at each site), where they will work closely with language activists and scholars on a variety of projects. For the Navajo project, students will work on programming and testing a web-based application for generating Navajo verbs. The last 5 days will take place at Haverford College where students will receive follow-up training and process their field data.  

Interested students may find the NSF REU Linguistics Field School Facebook group useful in getting a sense of the experience. The Twitter hashtag is #LingFieldSchool.

Funding: All travel and living expenses will be covered, and students will also receive a generous weekly stipend.

Qualifications: Applicants should be currently enrolled undergraduates who have completed at least one year of college level studies. Students who will complete their B.A. by June 2016 are not eligible.  We especially welcome applications from students of community colleges, tribal-affiliated colleges in the US, and institutions where no linguistics major is available. Fluent or heritage speakers of Zapotec or Navajo are especially encouraged to apply.  This project is funded by the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program (grant #1461056), which limits applicants to US citizens or permanent residents.  Students should have experience (such as course work) in at least two of the following areas and demonstrated interest in others: linguistics, languages indigenous to the Americas (including Zapotec and Navajo), programming, web design, and digital humanities. For Oaxaca: applicants must have a valid passport at the time of application; competency in Spanish is necessary and programming experience with Android apps or iPhone apps is an asset.  For the Navajo Nation: an introductory computer science course or data structures course is desirable, or programming experience with Python or a web framework like Django.

Application Instructions: The application is available here.  Applications will require one letter of recommendation which must be emailed directly from the recommender to linguistics@swarthmore.edu by the application deadline.  The selection process is highly competitive and detailed letters that address the student’s potential for success in this type of program will be most helpful in determining the final cohort.

Application deadline: February 15, 2016.  

Syntax Workshop meets tomorrow

Thuy and Rodica will give a report on ConSOLE in Syntax Workshop tomorrow, February 1. Syntax Workshop meets on Mondays from 4:30-5:30 in ILC N458.

Tom and Rebecca at LARC

LARC will meet this Wednesday (Feb. 3) at 12:15 in ILC N451. Tom Roeper and Rebecca Woods will be give their forthcoming DGfS talk (Separating Tense and Assertion: Evidence from Embedded V2 and Child Language). All are welcome!

UMass at BLS

The 42nd meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society meets February 5-7 at UC, Berkeley. Joe Pater is one of the invited speakers — he is giving the talk “Learning in Typological Prediction: Grammatical Agent-Based modeling.” UMass is also represented by:

Alumnus Michael Becker, who is giving (with Honaida Ahyad) the talk “The predictability of vowel alternations in Urban Hijazi Arabic imperfective nonce forms” and (with Paola Cepeda) the talk “Sonority restricts laryngealized plosives in Southern Aymara"

Kristine Yu and Deniz Ozyildiz who are giving the talk “Emergence of tonal absolutive Case marking in Samoan.” (The abstract is at the end of this post.)

For more information, go here.

Emergence of tonal absolutive Case marking in Samoan

In Samoan, it appears that absolutive arguments are marked by a tonal case morpheme: A high tone (H-), aligned with the final mora of the phonological material preceding the argument. We propose that H- emerges from the segmental elision of the absolutive preposition `ia,' and the reassociation of ia's pitch accent with the left adjacent tone bearing unit. Indeed, absolutive H- and ia have similar distributions. Moreover, ia is sometimes so reduced that only a pitch accent remains of its exponence. Ergative and oblique case marking is not tonal. These segmental morphemes are monomoraic and unstressed, hence unable to provide a source tone, even when reduced.

Call for papers: New Ideas in Semantics and Modeling

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


Leland Kusmer writes:

We're going to start SpectroLunch for the semester, and you should come!

For those who don't know: Once a week, a bunch of us get together and eat snacks while practicing our spectrogram reading. It's a lot of fun, and a good way to practice this important skill and to learn weird things about English phonetics. (Did I mention there are snacks?) It's totally informal and you don't need any prior knowledge of spectrogram reading — just come and join in! We meet at 10AM on Fridays.

Call for papers: IATL

We are pleased to announce the 32nd annual conference of the Israel
Association for Theoretical Linguistics (IATL), which will take place
at the Language, Logic and Cognition Center at the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem, October 25-27, 2016. The conference will consist of a
general session as well as a special session on experimental and
historical approaches to semantics.

General Session:

We invite submissions of abstracts for 30 minute presentations of
previously unpublished research in all areas of theoretical

Special Session – Experimental and historical approaches to semantics:

Research into issues in natural language semantics from experimental,
on the one hand, and historical perspective, on the other hand, has
been gaining in prominence in recent years, not least because it
provides new ways of evaluating extant linguistic hypotheses as well
as impetus for the development of new ones. We invite submissions of
abstracts on experimental and historical studies that will expand the
empirical domain of, and be informed by, formal semantic theory.

Invited Speakers:

Cleo Condoravdi (Stanford)
Uli Sauerland (ZAS)

Abstract Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts should be no longer than two pages, including examples and
references. Page format: A4, 2,54cm (one inch) margins on all sides,
12-point font, single line spacing. Submissions are restricted to at
most one single-authored and one co-authored abstract.

Please submit abstracts to the IATL EasyChair site:


Please register at the site as an author, and when you receive a
password, you can enter the site and submit your abstract. The
abstract should be submitted in PDF format through the 'Upload Paper'
section near the bottom of the page. (Note: Higher up on the page, in
the 'Title and Abstract' section, there is a box for a plain-text
abstract. Since we do not require a shorter abstract, you may simply
retype the title of the paper in the abstract box and the intended
session.) When submitting your abstract, please indicate on the top of
the abstract whether you intend your paper to be considered for the
general session or the special session (or both) (say, in parentheses
following the title).

Deadline: March 31, 2016

Important Dates:

March 31, 2016: Abstract submission deadline
Late May, 2016: Notification of acceptance to authors
October 25-27, 2016: IATL 32 Conference
IATL 32 web site: http://www.iatl.org.il/?page_id=970

If you have questions or encounter any problems, please contact
Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal ebas@mail.huji.ac.il or Luka Crnic

Call for papers: AAA

The Semantics of African, Asian and Austronesian Languages (TripleA) 32nd Call for Papers

Date: July 6-8, 2016

Call deadline: February 8, 2016

Location: Tübingen, Germany

Website: http://semanticsofaaa.wordpress.com/

::: Meeting Description :::

The TripleA workshop series aims at providing a forum for semanticists doing fieldwork on understudied languages. Its focus is on languages from Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania.

::: Invited Speakers :::

Sigrid Beck (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

(UMass alumnus) Chris Davis (University of the Ryukyus)

Veneeta Dayal (Rutgers University)

Letuimanu’asina Emma Kruse Va’ai (National University of Samoa)

Jenneke van der Wal (University of Cambridge)

::: Call for Papers :::

We invite submissions for 30-minute talks plus 10 minutes for discussion. Submissions should present original formal work on any interpretive aspect of the languages under discussion which should have originated from own fieldwork or experimentation.

We particularly encourage Ph.D. students to apply. Abstracts must be anonymous, in PDF format, 2 pages (A4 or letter), in a font size no less than 12pt, and with margins of 1 inch/2.5cm. Please submit abstracts via Easy Chair no later than February 8, 2016.

::: Abstract Submission Link ::: 


Elements of Hittite

Seth Cable writes:

I wanted to let you all know that Dean Rex Wallace of the Classics Department is organizing a reading group this semester focused on the Hittite language. The plan is to work through Theo van den Hout’s “The Elements of Hittite”, covering as much of the text and the exercises as possible. Anyone who might be interested is very welcome to come. The meetings will be on Thursdays from 9 to 10AM in Herter 546.

Events in Language and Cognition

Registration is now open for the Events in Language & Cognition workshop taking place March 2nd, right before (and a few blocks away from) the CUNY Sentence Processing meeting (March 3-5).
The workshop will take place from 8:30am-6pm, and is located at the Hilton Garden Inn in Gainseville, FL, a *different* but close by Hilton from the one that CUNY is taking place in.
A description of the workshop and a list of speakers is given below, and details about the workshop can be found at our website.
We hope you will be able to join us!
- Melissa Kline, Eva Wittenberg, & Josh Hartshorne
Workshop Description:
Understanding how speakers wrap event conceptualizations into linguistic descriptions is crucial for both linguistic theory and psychology. A number of rich linguistic theories have been proposed to account for the observed ways  in how meaning maps to syntax within and across languages, but their psychological status remains unclear. These theories often propose specific representational architecture, ranging from prototype theories to predicate decomposition. How are these conceptual models and mappings grounded in non-linguistic cognition? On the side of cognitive science, our understanding of event representation, especially in infancy, has advanced dramatically in the past several decades, potentially opening up new possibilities for evaluating the plausibility of proposed argument structure theories. What can the understanding of event perception and cognition teach us about the nature of semantic representations for language, and how can psycholinguistic evidence contribute to research on event structure? 
In this workshop, we want to both foster an exchange of recent work, and set a possible agenda for psycholinguistic research on event structure as conveyed by language.
Invited speakers/discussants

Elsi Kaiser (USC)
Jesse Snedeker (Harvard)
Elliot Saltzmann (Haskins Laboratories)
Jeremy Skipper (UCL)

Second Annual UMass Cog Sci Workshop

The linguistics department hosted the Second Annual Cognitive Science Workshop last Friday (January 29) from 2:30-5:00. Recent UMass faculty Gaja Jarosz (Linguistics), Brendan O’Connor (Computer Science) and Christopher White (Music) gave presentations.