03 April 2016

Kathryn Davidson gives department colloq

Kathryn Davidson (Harvard) will give the department colloquium on Friday, April 8 at 3:30 in ILC N400. A title and abstract of her talk follow.

Combining imagistic and discrete components in a single proposition: The case of sign language classifier predicates

Classifier predicates in sign languages (also known as "depicting verbs") have both discrete and imagistic components: they participate fully in the grammar as verbs and involve categorical handshapes that agree with the subject, but also have an obligatory "gestural" component that psycholinguistic experiments have shown are interpreted in an analog and iconic way. Understanding how to treat these verbs in a formal semantic system is therefore a challenge. In this talk I will draw parallels with work on quotation and attitude reports to introduce an analysis of classifier predicates involving the notion of an iconic "demonstration of events". I will also present corpus data from bimodal (sign/speech) bilingual blended utterances that sheds light on the syntax/semantics of classifier predicates. Finally, I will discuss extensions of this analysis of classifier predicates to formal semantic analyses of gesture.

Saskia Ottschofski speaks at LARC

Saskia Ottschofski (University of Tübingen) will give a talk presenting work she is carrying out while visiting the University of Maryland at LARC this week. Her talk is entitled “Can acquisitional data give insights into the semantics of pronouns and definites?” LARC meets in ILC N451 at 12:20 Wednesday, April 6.

UMass at GLOW

The 39th annual meeting of the Generative Linguistics in the Old World is being hosted by the University of Göttingen April 5-8. UMass is represented by:

Sakshi Bhatia, Leland Kusmer and Ekaterina Vostrikova who are presenting the paper “Indirect interaction of person and number"

Ethan Poole who is presenting the paper “The locality of dependent case."

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

alumnus Keir Moulton, with Nino Grillo, who is presenting the paper “Clausal determiners and long distance AGREE in Italian."

Jon Ander Mendia who is presenting the paper “Conventionalizing at least some determiners."

Stefan Keine, Jon Ander Mendia and Ethan Poole who are presenting the paper “It’s tough to reconstruct"

You can learn more about GLOW here.

UMass at phoNE

NYU is hosting phoNE this Saturday, April 9. UMass is represented by Deniz Ozyildiz and Alexei Nazarov who are giving talks. A complete schedule follows.

Saturday, April 9

11:30-12      Luca Iacaponi (Rutgers): Non-stringent markednessrelations: evidence from Consonant Harmony

12-12:30      Chris Geissler (Yale): Explaining Vowel Harmony in Lhasa Tibetan

12:30-1:30   lunch

1:30-2           Deniz Ozyildiz (UMass)

2-2:30           James Whang (NYU)

2:30-2:50      break

2:50-3:20       Juliet Stanton (MIT): Trigger deletion in Gurindji

3:20-3:50       Gašper Beguš (Harvard) Unnatural phenomena and gradient phonotactics

3:50-4:10       break

4:10-4:40       Shu-hao Shih (Rutgers)

4:40-5:10       Alexei Nazarov (UMass)

5:10-5:30       break

5:30-6            Erin Olsen (MIT)

6                business meeting

The conference takes place on the first floor of the Linguistics Department, which is at 10 Washington Place in Manhattan.

LinguistList Fund Drive!

Barbara Partee writes:

The Linguist List fund drive for 2016 has begun.


Linguist List has great value for everyone, but it's easy to take it for granted, like Wikipedia (which also needs support.) The second "Linguist of the Day" this year is Gary Holton (http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/linguists/) of the University of Alaska, one of whose main specializations is language documentation. He tells on his post there how crucial Linguist List has been in getting the linguistic community together to develop best practices for fieldwork, documentation, archiving, etc, often in cooperation with NSF and other entities. There's one good reason right there.     

Linguist List also revolutionized the whole business of job postings and job searches. We used to have to submit a job description to a print journal and/or the LSA Bulletin and/or some MLA publication, I forget what, with a tight deadlines followed by a long wait before the announcement appeared, and it was all very cumbersome and awkward.     

And of course the calls for papers for conferences etc -- now they reach linguists everywhere, getting rid of the unintentional but inevitable discrimination that resulted from the fact that conference organizers were dependent on the mailing lists they had, and those often didn't reach many independent scholars or scholars at small schools or scholars abroad. Now if you have access to internet you have access to all that information, thanks to the fact that Linguist List is the recognized clearing house that everyone will send their conference information to.   

And on an on -- Linguist List is probably of value to you in more ways than you've ever realized, especially if you're of a young enough generation that it has always been there, as far as you've been aware.     

They've been through a labor-intensive transition period the last couple of years, changing leadership as Helen Aristar-Dry and Anthony Aristar retired and Damir and Malgorzata Cavar took the helm, and the whole operation moved from Eastern Michigan University to the University of Indiana. They had to skip the fund drive the first year of the transition because they had no time or staff to mount one. They did have one last year and were moderately successful. But they really really need our help this year. All the funds that are raised go to supporting graduate students who help keep Linguist List running. The goal this year is $79,000, and they really need to reach it.     

As usual, there are various challenges. Right now, with things just starting up, UMass Amherst happens to be tied for third in the university challenge -- but that could change fast, since we're third at a total of $300 with just 2 donors. (http://funddrive.linguistlist.org/university/) But if lots of us would jump in quick with whatever gift we can afford, I hope we can at least stay in a good respectable top 10% or so.     


Call for papers: DSALT

DSALT: Distributional Semantics and Linguistic Theory

ESSLLI 2016 Workshop

15-19 August 2016, Bolzano, Italy

* Two-page abstract submission deadline: April 7 2016 *

URL: http://esslli2016.unibz.it/?page_id=256


The DSALT workshop seeks to foster discussion at the intersection of distributional semantics and various subfields of theoretical linguistics, with the goal of boosting the impact of distributional semantics on linguistic research beyond lexical semantic phenomena, as well as broadening the empirical basis and theoretical tools used in linguistics. We welcome contributions regarding the theoretical interpretation  of distributional vector spaces and/or their application to theoretical morphology, syntax, semantics, discourse, dialogue, and any other subfield of linguistics. Potential topics of interest include, among others:

* distributional semantics and morphology: How do results in the distributional semantics-morphology interface impact theoretical accounts of morphology? Can distributional models account for inflectional morphology? Can they shed light on phenomena like productivity and regularity?

* distributional semantics and syntax: How can compositionality at the semantic level interact with syntactic structure? Can we go beyond the state of the art in accounting for the syntax-semantics interface when it interacts with lexical semantics? How can distributional accounts for gradable syntactic phenomena, e.g. selectional preferences or argument alternations, be integrated into theoretical linguistic accounts?

* distributional semantics and formal semantics: How can distributional representations be related to the traditional components of a semantics for natural languages, especially reference and truth? Can distributional models be integrated with discourse- or dialogue-oriented semantic theories like file change semantics or inquisitive semantics?

* distributional semantics and discourse: Distributional semantics has shown to be able to model some aspects of discourse coherence at a global level (Landauer and Dumais 1997, a.o.); can it also help with other discourse-related phenomena, such as the choice of discourse particles, nominal and verbal anaphora, or the form of referring expressions as discourse unfolds?

* distributional semantics and dialogue: Distributional semantics has traditionally been mostly static, in the sense that it creates a semantic representation for a word once and for all. Can it be made dynamic so it can help model, for example, phenomena related to Questions Under Discussion (QUDs) in dialogue? Can distributional representations help predict the relations between utterance units in dialogue?

* distributional semantics and pragmatics: Distributional semantics is based on the statistics of language use, and therefore should include information related to pragmatics of language. How do distributional models relate to such aspects of pragmatics as focus, pragmatic presupposition, or conversational implicature?


We solicit two-page (plus references) abstracts in at most 11pt font. No proceedings will be published, so workshop submissions may discuss published work (as well as unpublished work). The abstract submission deadline is April 7, 2016. Submissions are accepted by email at dsalt2016@gmail.com.


Deadline for abstract submission: April 7 2016
Author notification: May 15 2016
Workshop dates: August 15-19 2016

Alice Harris on the road

Alice Harris is giving a talk entitled “Origins of Metathesis in Batsbi, Part II: Intransitive Verbs” at the Sixteenth Spring Workshop on Theory and Method in Linguistic Reconstruction, which meets in Ann Arbor April 1-3. And on April 4th, she’ll be giving a colloquium talk at the University of California Berkeley entitled “Affix Order, Multiple Exponence, and Morphological Reconstruction."

Vernon Valiquette at Luthier's Coop

“Vernon Valiquette” will be playing a short set of Iggy and the Stooges songs with the Electric Eyes from 4:30 - 5 at the Luthier’s Co-op, Easthampton on Saturday April 9th. They are closing a panel discussion that starts at 3 in which music scholars Chris O'Leary and Steve Waksman are speaking on Iggy Pop's music and his influences. This event is part of the  Easthampton Book Fair http://www.easthamptoncityarts.com/bookfest