21 February 2016

Cable at MIT

Seth Cable gave a colloquium talk at MIT last Friday, February 19. The title of his talk was: “The Curious Implicatures of Optional Past Tense in Tlingit (and other languages).” An abstract follows.

Some languages appear to have a morpheme that combines the meaning of past tense with a variety of additional implications, the nature of which depend upon the aspectual marking of the verb. For non-perfective verbs (imperfective, habitual, future,etc.), the additional implication is that the event/state in question fails to extend into the present. For perfective verbs, however, the additional implication is either that (i) the result state of the event fails to extend into the present, or (ii) some natural, expected consequence of the event failed to occur. Importantly, unlike the superficially similar ‘cessation implicatures’ of past tense in languages like English, these aforementioned implications cannot be directly cancelled. Consequently, prior authors have viewed these additional inferences as semantic in nature, as being encoded directly in the lexical semantics of the morpheme (Leer 1991; Copley 2005; Plungian & van der Auwera 2006). Under this view, the morphemes in question express a special category of tense, one that has been labeled ‘discontinuous past’ by Plungian & van der Auwera (2006).

Through in-depth investigation of one such ‘discontinuous past’ marker in the Tlingit language, I argue that – to the contrary – the special inferences of these morphemes are not semantic, and are instead defeasible pragmatic inferences. Consequently, putative instances of ‘discontinuous past’ are in their semantics simply past tenses. I provide a formalized analysis of the pragmatic inferences associated with these past tenses, whereby they ultimately follow from (i) the optionality of the tense markers in question, and (ii) a special principle relating to the inherent topicality of the utterance time. The empirical and analytic results align well with a restrictive theory of cross-linguistic variation in tense semantics, one where the only tense categories across language are Past, Non-Future, and (maybe) Present (Cable 2013).

Tony Woodbury visits this week

John Kingston writes:

Tony Woodbury, from the University of Texas Austin, will be visiting from 22 Feb-5 Mar to work with our colleague in Anthropology, Emiliana Cruz, and me. Let me know if you'd like to get together with him.

Hammerly at Syntax Workshop

Syntax Workshop on Monday (4:30 in ILC N451) will feature a talk by Chris Hammerly entitled: (Un)interpretability and the representation of morphosyntactic features. Here’s an abstract:

In the talk, I argue that the distinction between uninterpretable and interpretable features is unnecessary. All of the functions that have been attributed to this distinction can either be derived directly from mechanisms of the grammar, or subsumed under other independently motivated representational properties of features. I focus particularly on deriving facts regarding the interpretation of features at LF, with a keen eye towards the use of interpretability in agreement systems. This is very much work in progress, so I ask people to bring their favorite instance of where the interpretability distinction has been used to see if my claim holds up.

LSA February Spotlight: Ivy Hauser

Our own Ivy Hauser is the LSA’s member spotlight this month! Check it out here.

Tony Woodbury gives talk on Friday

Tony Woodbury will give a talk in the colloquium slot at 3:30 PM next Friday 26 February 2016 in ILC N400. The title of his talk is: The ‘genius' of the language: discovering the pervasive plan and unique design in linguistic description.


Mike Clauss writes:

Next week at the meeting of LARC we're going to try something new: having a reading group discussion.

LARC meetings have traditionally been focused on new and in-development acquisition research being done by UMass community members. This provides us all a lot of opportunity to workshop our ideas and fine tune experimental designs. But, there is a wide world of acquisition work out there, some of which makes assumptions that we often don't think too much about here, or uses methodologies which might not be widely used here. So, reading recent journal articles on acquisition work will be a way to learn about the variety that exists, and make sense of the sort of talks we are likely to see at places like BUCLD and other acquisition conferences where people of various theoretical backgrounds (and, in particular, psychologists working on acquisition) tend to be.

To that end, we will be reading and discussing next week articles from a recent issue of Language Acquisition (Vol 22 Issue 3; 2015 -- available online through the library). There are four articles; feel free to come having read any number of them. The titles are below.
The effect of input on children's cross-categorical use of polysemous noun-verb pairs (Lippeveld and Oshima-Takane)Object clitic omission in Child Spanish: evaluating representational and processing accounts (Mateu)Bootstrapping the syntactic bootstrapper: probabilistic labeling of prosodic phrases (Gutman, Dautriche, Crabbe, and Cristophe)Isomorphism for all (but not both): floating as a means to investigate scope (Tieu)

The hope is to have a largely student-run discussion, but anyone who is interested in acquisition in general or any of these particular topics should feel free to come, listen, and share thoughts.

LARC meets Wednesdays at 12:15 in ILC N458.

DGfS in Konstanz February 24-26

The 38th annual meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Sprachwissenschaft will be held at Konstanz University this weekend. UMass is out in force:

Alumnus Kenneth Drozd is giving an invited talk “Cumulative universal quantification."

Tom Roeper, with Rebecca Woods, will be presenting the paper “Separating Tense and Assertion: Evidence from Embedded V2 and Child Language” and, with Jill de Villiers will be presenting the paper “How representations determine stages of acquisition.” and with Jennifer Rau, will present the paper “Children fail to repair presuppositions.

Magda Oiry will present the paper “How children deal with a contextually canceled presupposition."

Alumna Elena Benedicto will also be presenting the paper “Classifiers as agreement…or not?" 

Alumnus Florian Schwarz, with Cory Bill, Jeremy Zehr, Lyn Tieu and Jacopo Romoli, will present the paper “On the acquisition of presupposition projection."

You can learn more here.

Staubs goes to MITRE

Robert Staubs has recently started a position at MITRE as a senior data scientist. MITRE is a not-for-profit organization that exclusively does work in the public interest for government clients. Congratulations Robert!

Woodbury at Sound Workshop

John Kingston writes:

Tony Woodbury will present his joint work with Stephanie Villard on tone in Zacatepec Chatino in Sound Workshop on Friday 26 February 1-2 in ILC N451.

UMass at AAAS

Tom Roeper writes:

Last weekend Barbara Pearson and I (and Megan Armstrong was there too) participated in the Family Science section of AAAS in Washington where all kinds of booths on science, geo-science, lego-robots, astronauts were present--and a booth with about 30 language folks, from profs to grad students to undergrads, interacted with children (usually using ipads, as we did) on language issues from phonetics to recursion (our domain). It was supported by NSF and the Language outreach program of the University of Maryland. We had a great time---particularly with the many autistic children who came--illustrating, playing with, and explaining recursion in terms of possessives.PP's, compounds, and relative clauses. Next year it will be in Boston and it might be nice to have a larger UMass contingent.

Call for papers: Sinn und Bedeutung

Sinn und Bedeutung 21 will take place in Edinburgh, from Sun 4th-Tues 6th September 2016.

We invite abstract submissions for oral presentations or posters, devoted to natural language semantics, pragmatics, philosophy of language, and psycholinguistic investigations related to meaning. Oral presentations will be scheduled for 40 minute slots (30 minutes talk + 10 minutes discussion).

Abstracts should contain original research that, at the time of submission, has neither been published nor accepted for publication. One person can submit at most one abstract as sole author and one abstract as co-author (or two co-authored abstracts).

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 EasyChair (see link below) no later than March 31, 2016. When you submit your abstract, you will be asked to indicate whether you would like it to be considered for a talk, a poster or both.

Abstracts should be submitted via EasyChair, using the following link:

For further information, please contact Rob Truswell (rob.truswell@ed.ac.uk).

UQAM Cognitive Science Summer School

Host Institution: Université du Québec à MontréalCoordinating Institution: Université du Québec à Montréal

Website: http://www.summer16.isc.uqam.ca/page/renseignement.php?lang_id=2

Dates: 20-Jun-2016 - 01-Jul-2016

Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada

Focus: Reasoning is an important component of human cognitive ability, and, as such, it is investigated by an extremely broad range of disciplines and interdisciplinary endeavors, including many branches of linguistics. The University of Quebec at Montreal thus welcomes linguists and language scholars interested in reasoning to attend its two-week summer school that focuses on this theme.Minimum Education Level: BA

Description:Registration is now open for UQAM's Cognitive Science Summer School, taking place from June 20 to July 1 2016 on our campus in downtown Montreal, just steps from Jazz Fest and other cultural activites. This year's theme is 'Reasoning' and the two-week program covers topics related to a wide range of linguistic subdisciplines including language acquisition, pragmatics, modality, computational linguistics, and Bayesian psycholinguistics in addition to other areas of cognitive science. An ensemble of more than 50 internationally-renowned researchers will team teach these topics via lectures and discussions, held entirely in English. We welcome the participation of graduate students as well as post-graduate scholars, faculty and other professionals. Continuing education or course credit may be possible.

For further details, including the full program and list of instructors, see the summer school website. 

Linguistic Field(s):

Cognitive Science

Computational Linguistics

Language Acquisition

Linguistic Theories

Philosophy of Language




Tuition: 150 CAD

Registration: 01-Feb-2016 to 17-Jun-2016

Contact Person: Elizabeth Allyn Smith

Email: eallynsmithaddress-marker.gifgmail.com