The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, October 5th, 2009

Phonology Circle 10/5 - Peter Graff

This week, Peter Graff will present the background/design of an experiment that he is proposing to run (abstract below).

The format is intended to be like a lab meeting for discussing experimental work in progress, and is the kick-off of what we hope will be more regular meetings of this sort. Since we already have a full docket of regular talks throughout the semester, we will discuss on Monday the scheduling of future lab meeting sessions.

Speaker: Peter Graff
Title: Evolutionary vs. Phonetically Driven Phonology: An Iterative Learning Experiment
Time: 10/5 5pm, 32-D461

In this talk, I will propose an iterative learning experiment trying to test the predictions of Evolutionary Phonology (Blevins, 2006) and Phonetically Driven Phonology (Hayes and Steriade, 2004). Both hypotheses about phonological learnability and knowledge predict phonological systems to be optimized for transmission. The crucial difference is that Phonetically Driven Phonology hypothesizes phonetic optimization of phonology to be speaker driven, while Evolutionary Phonology attributes phonetic optimality to unbiased or “innocent” misperception and production independent of the grammar of the speaker. I will suggest simulating diachronic transmission in iterative learning and propose ways in which to manipulate speaker driven optimization to see whether such manipulation affects the course of simulated linguistic history as might be predicted by certain conceptions of Phonetically Driven Phonology.

Ling-Lunch 10/8: Norvin Richards

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

Speaker: Norvin Richards
Time: Thurs 10/8, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

Title: TBA

MIT Linguistics Colloquium 10/9 - Jim McCloskey

Speaker: Jim McCloskey (UC Santa Cruz)
Title: Further Reflections on Movement and Resumption
Time: Friday, October 9, 2009, 3:30pm
Place: 32-141

The syntax of apparently unbounded dependencies in Irish has for long been viewed as providing evidence for the (successive) cyclic view of long WH-movement, and also as making available a rich set of puzzles by which the nature of such movement operations could be probed. In Irish, this set of puzzles is further enriched by the relatively free availability of resumption as an additional option for forming A-bar binding relations. This paper (a progress report in a long-running struggle) is concerned with a couple of inter-related questions in this area: (i) how we should understand the choice between resumption and movement and what the availability of that choice implies (ii) how the choice, once made, is reflected in the morphosyntax of the language. At stake ultimately is the fundamental question of how we should understand locality requirements in syntax.