The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 1st, 2008

MIT Linguists at Munich Cluster Workshop

There was a sizable contingent from the department at the Workshop on Consonant Clusters and Structural Complexity, hosted by the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing during the first week in August. The presenters were:

Claire Halpert: Overlap-Driven Consequences of Nasal Place Assimilation in Zulu.

Jonah Katz (poster): English Compensatory Shortening and Phonetic Representations.

Franz Katzir-Cozier: Encoding of perceived contrast between CC-clusters and their simplified counterparts in coda cluster simplification.

Donca Steriade: Syllabic quantity in Ancient Greek: effects of cluster compressibility.

Welcome to the Fall Semester!

The purpose of Whamit! is to keep the MIT linguistics community informed about events of interest, news, and accomplishments. This year, we welcome David Pesetsky as a new editor, joining Adam Albright, Kai von Fintel, and Jonah Katz.

Please let us know about goings-on, so we can share them. In this and the next few issues, we will also have some news about what members of the department did over the summer. So, please send us info about that.

You can email us at whamit AT mit DOT edu. We also welcome any and all feedback on the newsletter.

Reg Day Party!

On Tuesday, September 2, Registration Day, 3pm to 5pm, there will be a welcome party to celebrate the beginning of the fall semester in the main lounge of the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy. Everybody is welcome!

MIT represented at CIL18

The 18th International Congress of Linguists (CIL18) took place July 21-26 in Seoul. The program included several talks by MIT students and faculty:

Adam Albright: Predicting innovative alternations in Korean verb paradigms (with Yoonjung Kang, University of Toronto)

Hyesun Cho & Maria Giavazzi: Perception of voicing in fricatives

Sachiko Kato: On information packaging of topicalized scrambled sentences in Japanese (with Hiroshi Aoyagi, of Nanzan Univ)

Ling-08 Arrives

There are 8 students in the incoming class:

Samer Al Khatib, who goes by ‘Sam’, grew up in Palestine, Jordan, and Vancouver. He did his undergrad in computer science at UBC, and has just finished an MA in linguistics at Simon Fraser University. He’s interested in semantics and pragmatics (and the relationship between the two), as well as theoretical syntax, syntactic typology, historical linguistics, and Semitic languages.

Young Ah Do is from Korea, and has a B.A. and M.A. from Seoul National University. Young Ah is interested in phonology.

Natasha Ivlieva is from Moscow, where she studied in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Moscow State University. She is mostly interested in syntax and the syntax-semantics interface.

Marie-Christine Meyer is from Germany. She studied philosophy and linguistics at the University of Tuebingen, the University of Potsdam, and Humboldt University Berlin, where she recently completed an M.A. Although she’s interested in every area of linguistics, her main has been and most likely will be semantics, pragmatics, and philosophy of language.

Liudmila Nikolaeva, who goes by ‘Liuda’, graduated from the Linguistics Department of the Russian State University for the Humanities a year ago, and has been a grad student there for the last year. Her main interests are syntax, semantics, and fieldwork.

Rafael Nonato reports that tendonitis makes him succinct.

Sasha Podobryaev is from Moscow, where he studied linguistics at Moscow State University. His primary area of interest is syntax.

Igor Yanovich

Welcome, visitors!

The start of the fall semester brings with it a bumper crop of new visitors. We offer a hearty welcome to those who have already arrived:

Visiting Scholars

  • Hyunsook Kang (Professor, Hanyang University Division of English Language & Culture)
    Research interests: interface of phonology and phonetics
  • Anthi Revithiadou (Assistant Professor of Comparative Linguistics, University of Aegean)
    Primary research interests: metrical theory, prosodic phonology and areas of the morphosyntax-phonology interface. She works on Standard Greek and its dialects with emphasis on those that were in contact with Turkish (e.g. Pontic, Cappadocian, Rhodian Muslim Greek, etc.). She currently explores the accentual differences among various Ancient Greek dialects.
  • Hiroyuki Tanaka (Associate Professor, Kwansei Gakuin University)
    Research interests: the syntax of complementizers and its interaction with semantics and morphology.
  • Chi-lin Wang (Associate Professor, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology)
    Research interests: interlanguage phonology with a focus on phonotactics

Visiting Students

  • Gaetano Fiorin (University of Verona)
    Research interests: the degree of semantic competence of dyslexic children
  • Marina (Marlies) Kluck (University of Groningen)
    My research concerns the syntax and semantics of sentence amalgamation. I analyse these as paratactic construals involving multidominance (‘sharing’).
  • Gary Thoms (Strathclyde University)
    I’m in second year of a PhD on literary language, specifically the unusual language of 20th century avant garde literature. The broader questions of my project are largely metatheoretical, and the specific topics which substantiate this inquiry include the semantic-pragmatic distinction, optional movement and derivational morphology.
  • Stefano Versace (Universita degli Studi di Milano)
    Currently working on a dissertation project investigating the generativist approach to meter and its possible application in Italian contemporary poetry.

More visitors will be arriving in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for further announcements!

Two New Members of MIT Linguistics

MIT Linguistics PhD alum Michela Ippolito and her husband had their first child: Martina was born in Toronto on July 4th:


Kazuko Yatsushiro and MIT Linguistics PhD alum Uli Sauerland had their third child: Mika Sauerland was born on August 1st:


Phonology Circle resumes next Monday 9/8

The fall installment of Phonology Circle begins next Monday, Sept 8, at 5pm in 32-D831. We will start with a brief organizational meeting, after which Adam Albright will present on “Flapometry and palatography: An argument for surface identity between derived forms?”

24.956 Topics in Syntax (Johnson)

Topics in Syntax
Kyle Johnson
T 2-5

In the 1980’s, Elisabet Engdahl responded to the problems posed by reconstruction effects with an interesting proposal concerning the representations that the “movement” relation invokes. She suggested that movement produced multidominant phrase markers, and adopted the “Phrase Linking Grammars” that Stanley Peters was developing at the time. This seminar will examine how this thesis might play out with today’s syntactic tools. While her focus was almost exclusively on producing a working semantics for movement, ours will be to, first, better match that semantics with a working syntax and, second, relate those multidominant representations with the strings that movement creates. Our journey might include dalliances in: resumptive pronoun strategies, the structure of relative clauses, the internal organization of DPs, events and the semantics of quantification, linearization schemes, island effects, remnant movement, pied-piping, and the roots of the “Empty Category Principle.” We’ll review, and build upon, work by Sauerland, Fox, Elbourne, Nunes, Kayne and, of course, Engdahl.

Course requirements: a paper on a topic related to movement, linearization, quantification, ellipsis, binding theory, DPs, pronouns or syntax, and a short presentation of that paper in class.