The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 28th, 2009

Phonology Circle - 9/28 - Andrew Nevins on whistled phonology

Join us on Monday for Phonology Circle! Please note the new location: 32-D461.

Speaker: Andrew Nevins
Date: Monday, Sept 28
Location: 32-D461
Title: Encoding and decoding in the whistled phonology of Antia, Greece

This is intended to be a discussion about the phonetics and phonology of whistled languages, and participants are invited to read the attached paper by Annie Rialland on the topic as a starting point. I will also present some production data from words and non-words collected in Antia, the results of perception tasks with both whistlers and non-whistling Greek speakers, and offer some ideas about the encoding mechanism used in this surrogate speech system.

Recommended reading: Rialland (2005) Phonological and phonetic aspects of whistled languages

Ling-lunch 10/1: Ivy Sichel

Join us for this week’s Ling-lunch talk:

Speaker: Ivy Sichel
Time: Thurs 10/1, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

Title: Economy and the Interpretation of Pronominals

Natural languages use pronominal material for a variety of purposes which extend beyond the ordinary use of pronouns to denote independent theta-roles. In some of these other uses, pronominal material appears to double another DP, including, for example, resumptive pronouns and agreement. The talk addresses how these forms are interpreted, and in particular whether the pronominal form allows reconstruction of its associated DP. The central claim is that form alone does not determine interpretation, and that the existence of alternatives does to a significant extent. The first part of the talk demonstrates this for resumptive pronouns and focuses on a correlation between interpretation and extraction. In non-island contexts, Hebrew has optional and obligatory resumptive pronouns. Optional resumptives block reconstruction of the RC head and also block extraction from the RC; obligatory resumptives allow reconstruction and also allow extraction, exactly like traces. I argue that (1) The possibility for reconstruction depends on the structure of the RC, and in particular the division into Matching and Raising RCs (Bhatt 2002; Sauerland 2004; Hulsey & Sauerland 2006), and (2) that the structure associated with reconstruction is best realized with a trace and is realized with a pronoun only if no trace alternative is available. The second part of the talk extends the alternatives-based analysis to agreement in Palestinian Arabic (PA). PA exhibits an alternation between full-Agr and no-Agr, and clauses with full-Agr lack inverse scope readings, analyzed as absence of reconstruction. This is related to the availability of an alternative structure in which agreement is absent, the surface position of the subject is low and its scope is fixed at that position.

Jay Keyser: Aardvark performs this Wednesday at Scullers Jazz Club

Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: All Blues
With vocalists Jerry Edwards and Grace Hughes
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 8:00 pm, one show only
Scullers Jazz Club
Doubletree Guest Suites, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston, MA
Admission: $18 Reservations and information: 617-562-4111 or

The celebrated Aardvark Jazz Orchestra will open its 37th season at Scullers with a show of All Blues, from Miles and Duke to Mingus and Basie to boogie and funk originals by Aardvark founder/music director Mark Harvey. The band will salute the 50th anniversaries of two seminal albums: Kind of Blue (playing a new arrangement of the iconic Miles Davis piece All Blues) and Mingus Ah Um(performing Pork Pie Hat, the Mingus tribute to Lester Young), with other tunes including Ellington’s Tell Me It’s the Truth, the Count Basie classic Everyday I Have the Blues, and originals by Mark Harvey (Flat Earth Boogie, Blues for D.C., Scamology, and 110 Blues — celebrating Ellington’s 110th birthday).

[Thanks to Jay Keyser, who plays the trombone in Aardvark!]