The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Ling-Lunch 9/25: Marlies Kluck

Come join us for this week’s Ling-lunch talk:

Speaker: Marlies Kluck
“Syntactic amalgams in the paratactic domain”
When: Thursday, Sept. 25, 12:30-1:45
Where: 32-D461

Writing & Language in JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth

Thursday, Sept. 25, 5pm

“Writing & Language in JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth”
Dr. Marc Zender, Lecturer on Anthropology, Harvard University

Although readers of many different backgrounds have enjoyed The Lord of the Rings, few are aware of just how fundamentally linguistic JRR Tolkien’s great novel is. As a philologist specializing in the history of the Germanic languages (particularly Old English), Tolkien did more than just indulge an interest in strange sounds and symbols. He invented a detailed proto-language, followed its divergence into distinct speech communities, and thereby produced the different but nonetheless related Elvish languages Quenya and Sindarin; he even invented several different alphabets with which to write these languages. Posing as the translator of the Lord of the Rings gave him free reign to employ archaisms, dialectal forms and even Old English itself to reflect the varying speech styles of his characters and their often complex relationships with one another. Understanding the linguistic foundations of Middle Earth greatly increases one’s enjoyment of the novel, and also provides insight into Tolkien’s view of the relationship between language and literature.

Posters: http://web.mit.edu/mitlings/daro.jpg, http://web.mit.edu/mitlings/Zender_MITtalk.jpg

Sponsored by the MIT Linguistics Society

Phonology circle 9/24: Mahasen Abu-Mansour

This week’s phonology circle presentation is by Mahasen Abu-Mansour (Umm Al-Qura Univerty, Makkah, Saudi Ararabia and M.I.T)

Wednesday 9/24 at 5PM

Title: Phrasal Syncope in Makkan Arabic: An Optimality Theoretic Account

In this talk I investigate the proper domain of the application of phrasal syncope in Makkan Arabic using Selkirk’s Edge-Based theory of the syntax-phonology interface as well as McCarthy and Prince’s theories of Correspondence and Generalized Alignment. I show that both word-level and phrasal syncope result from the interaction of the same syllable structure constraints. The alignment of the right edge of the prosodic constituent (the phonological phrase) with the right edge of a maximal projection in syntactic structure accounts for the under-application of phrasal syncope. The present analysis captures significant generalizations about syncope. It demonstrates that the domain of phrasal syncope is internal to the phonological phrase with the plausible consequence of substituting the traditional reference to right-hand and left-hand syncope with the application versus under-application of the process. In addition, it provides evidence that Makkan Arabic is among the languages that exhibit right-edge effects.

Schedule for the remainder of the term:

  • October 1st: Seokhan Kang
  • October 8th: Anthi Revithiadou
  • October 15: Olga Vaisman
  • October 22: Stefano Versace
  • November 19: Jonah Katz
  • December 3rd: Jen Michaels

Albright to speak at UMass

Adam Albright is off to UMass this Friday, to give a colloquium talk on the topic of “An obligatorily gradient grammatical effect?”

Music Language Reading Group - this Friday

The first meeting of the Music Language Reading group will be this Friday, Sept. 26, from 3:30-5:00, location TBA. If you’re interested in participating, and you haven’t been receiving emails, please contact David Pesetsky or Jonah Katz to be added to the list.

MIT at Sinn und Bedeutung

MIT Semantics is well represented at Sinn und Bedeutung this year. The conference is taking place September 30 to October 2 in Stuttgart, Germany. The MIT contributions are:

  • Martin Hackl (who will join the MIT faculty next year), Jorie Koster-Moeller and Andrea Gottstein (Pomona College): “Processing Opacity”
  • Jacopo Romoli (Harvard University) and Yasutada Sudo (MIT): “De re/de dicto Ambiguity and Presupposition Projection”
  • Marta Abrusan (Institut Jean Nicod, ENS — MIT alumn): “On wh-Islands”
  • Luka Crnic and Tue Trinh (MIT): “Remarks on Embedded Imperatives”
  • Raj Singh (MIT): “‘Maximise Presupposition!’ as Blind, Local Blocking”