The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Formal Approaches to Mayan Linguistics last weekend

FAMLi sign
Meanwhile, our department hosted the first-ever conference on “Formal Approaches to Mayan Linguistics (FAMLi)” this weekend. We won’t repeat all the details of the conference. which we already described in last week’s WHAMIT — except to say that it was a tremendous success. The papers were excellent — many breaking new ground in grammatical description, others offering competing explanations for particularly puzzling phenomea in Mayan (especially Agent Focus, central to at least three of the talks). The discussion was lively and productive after each and every talk, the room was full, and the spirit of the conference was magnificent. The two official languages of the conference were English and Spanish, as about half the participants were native-speaker linguists. Combinations of English handout with Spanish presentation (and vice-versa) were common and worked very well for those of us with less than perfect bilingualism skills. From our own department, talks were given by Kirill Shklovsky (“Person-Case effects in Tseltal”); by Jessica Coon with Pedro Mateo (University of Kansas) (“Extraction and embedding in two Mayan languages” — Chol and Q’anjob’al); and by Norvin Richards, who was one of the five invited speakers. A particular highlight of the conference (and a chance to get out of Cambridge) was a Friday dinner reception at the Mexican Consulate in Boston, hosted by Consul Fernando Estrada. Thank you, Jessica, Robert, Kirill and Katie for this unforgettable workshop, and thanks also to everyone who helped!
FAMLi conversation
(photo credits: Mitcho Erlewine. More photos here.)