The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, May 11th, 2009

MITWPL #60: Presuppositions and Implicatures

MITWPL has just published its 60th volume. The title of the volume is “Presuppositions and Implicatures. Proceedings of the MIT-Paris Workshop’”, edited by Paul Égré and Giorgio Magri. The volume collects 13 papers by scholars from MIT, Harvard and the École Normale Supérieure that came out of a collaboration between MIT and Paris sponsored by the MIT France Program and the MIT France Seed Fund for Collaborative Research. The abstracts of the papers are already available on the MITWPL website.


Phonology Circle - 5/11 - Jelena Krivokapi?

Time: Monday 5/11, 5pm
Location: 32-D831
Speaker: Jelena Krivokapi? (Yale University)
Title: The production and perception of prosodic structure

Prosodic structure refers to the level of linguistic structure above the segmental level, namely phrasal organization and prominence. This talk examines the temporal and structural properties of phrasal organization as reflected in production and perception. Previous research has shown that prosodic phrase boundaries introduce systematic phonetic variation in the temporal properties of segments. Acoustic studies have found that at boundaries segments increase in duration. Articulatory studies have shown that gestures become longer in the vicinity of boundaries and that this articulatory lengthening increases with boundary strength. I will present a series of experimental studies examining a) the effect of prosodic structure on pause duration in utterances, b) the extent of boundary effects as shown in the articulation of gestures near phrase junctures, c) the categoricity and gradiency in the perception of prosodic boundaries, and d) recursion in prosodic structure. The results inform our understanding of the linguistic representation of prosodic structure and its relation to processes involved in producing spoken language. A model incorporating the results of these studies is proposed.


Tara McAllister to Montclair

Tara McAllister has accepted a tenure track position starting this fall in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Montclair State University, in Montclair, New Jersey. Congratulations, Tara!


BCS Special seminar - 5/14 - Carlo Semenza

Speaker: Carlo Semenza (Department of Neuroscience, University of Padova)
Title: Neuropsychology of nominal classes
Time: Thursday, May 14, 2009, 11:00 AM
Location: 46-3189


Ling Lunch - 5/14 - Kirill Shklovsky

Speaker: Kirill Shklovsky
Title: Syntactically-Conditioned Phonology: The Case of Tseltal Vowel Hiatus Resolution
Time: Thurs 5/14, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

Tseltal, a Mayan language of southern Mexico, has a strict prohibition against vowel hiatus: all vowel hiatus must be resolved either by deleting one of the vowels or epenthesizing a consonant. The choice of the strategy is not predictable from the nature or quality of the vowels involved. In this talk I will argue that the choice of the hiatus resolution strategy can be accounted for by making recourse to syntactic structure; specifically to the presence or absence of strong phase boundaries between the vowels in hiatus. Building on the work of Marvin 2003, Piggott and Newell 2006, and Michaels 2008 I will propose a set of constraints that favor greater faithfulness to material spelled out in an earlier phase to account for the choice of Tseltal vowel hiatus resolution strategy.


SULA5 at Harvard and MIT this week-end (May 15 to 17)

SULA5 (Semantics of Under-represented Languages of the Americas) will take place on Friday May 15 at Harvard and on Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17 at MIT. The schedule is available online at the following URL:


And here is what SULA is all about: “The goal of the conference is to bring together researchers working on languages or dialects which do not have an established tradition of work in formal semantics. We especially encourage abstract submissions from those whose work involves primary fieldwork or experimentation as well as analysis.”

There will be very nice talks on the semantics of very exciting languages from North, Central and South America.


Marta Abrusan to Oxford

Márta Abrusán, MIT PhD 2007, has accepted a 2-year Mellon career development postdoc at Oxford University, jointly affiliated with the Philosophy and Linguistics Departments. Congratulations, Márta!