Whamit!

The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, December 19th, 2011

Final Whamit! for 2011  

This is the last regular Whamit! issue for this semester and for 2011. We may publish a special edition or two to let you know about events in the department during January. We will return to our weekly schedule on Registration Day, February 6, 2012. Have a wonderful winter break!

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Ling50@MIT: The briefest of reports  

As you know, last weekend our department hosted a remarkable event: 50 years of Linguistics at MIT: a scientific reunion, which Paul Kiparsky characterized in his talk as “an emotionally and intellectually charged couple of days.”

It sure was. Well more than 200 people were in attendance. Rather than talk at length about three days of wonderful talks by our alumni, current and former faculty, an excellent poster session or the hallway reunions of old friends (who in some cases had not met for years) — not to mention all the new acquaintainces made at Ling 50 — we just want to let you know that (as we’ve come to expect in the 21st century) the event was well-documented:

Photos: There are several great photo collections already available on the Facebook pages of various eminent linguists. (Some have been shared on our own Facebook page.) Very soon we will post to the Ling 50 website a large collection of our own photos (many of them by official Ling 50 paparazzi Mitcho Erlewine and Hrayr Khanjian).  [Update:  They are available at https://www.facebook.com/MITLinguistics?sk=photos.]

Handouts and posters:We will also be uploading handouts and posters to the Ling 50 website very soon. [Update (January 18): They have all been posted!]

Videos: The talks and lengthy discussion sections from Ling50@MIT are being posted on Youtube. At the moment, all but the welcoming remarks and first two sessions are available. We hope to have a complete collection in the next few days. [Update:  All the sessions plus the welcoming remarks are now available.]

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Morris and Noam in Technology Review  

In the latest issue of Technology Review/MIT News Magazine, Morris Halle and Noam Chomsky are featured in “The Office Next Door” by Peter Dizikes, about long working relationships among MIT faculty members.

Morris Halle and Noam Chomsky at Ling50. Photo by Kai von Fintel.
At Ling50@MIT, Morris Halle and Noam Chomsky holding a 1988 picture of them holding a picture of them in 1953. Photo credit: Kai von Fintel.

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MIT Linguists in Brussels  

Omer Preminger is off to Brussels, where he is one of three invited speakers at the 6th Brussels Conference on Generative Linguistics at the beginning of this week, devoted to the topic “Configurations of Agreement”.  Omer’s talk is entitled “Filters vs. Triggers: Deriving the obligatoriness of agreement “.  

Also presenting at the same conference will be postdoc Erik Schoorlemmer and former visiting faculty member Hedde Zeijlstra (who just flew home after joining us for Ling50 last week).

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MIT Linguists in Amsterdam  

The 18th Amsterdam Colloquium is being held this week at the University of Amsterdam.

  • Irene Heim is an invited speaker, giving a talk entitled “Interpreting reconstruction in interrogative clauses.”
  • Natasha Ivlieva will speak about “Obligatory implicatures and grammaticality”
  • Wataru Uegaki is presenting his paper “Inquisitive knowledge attribution and the Gettier problem” as part of the Workshop on Inquisitiveness.
  • Yasutada Sudo, Jacopo Romoli, Martin Hackl and Danny Fox are presenting “Variation of Presupposition Projection in Quantified Sentences” in the poster session.

Amsterdamming alums include:

  • Invited speaker Philippe Schlenker, discussing “The Semantics of Pronouns: Insights and Problems from Sign Language”
  • Friederike Moltmann: “Tropes, Intensional Relative Clauses and the Notion of a Variable Object”
  • Marta Abrusan: “Focus, Evidentiality and Soft triggers”
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MIT Linguists in Luxembourg  

As far as we know, there will be no MIT linguists in Luxembourg.

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MIT Linguists at the LSA  

A healthy contingent of our graduate students (and recently minted PhDs) will be presenting papers at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Portland, Oregon:

  • Alya Asarina (PhD 2011): “Against the activity condition: An argument from Uyghur
  • Bronwyn Bjorkman (PhD 2011): “Auxiliary verb constructions and the morphosyntax of verbal inflection
  • Peter Graff: “Languages favor perceptible contrasts in distinguishing words: Evidence from minimal pairs
  • Peter Graff, with a large group from Masha Polinsky’s lab at Harvard (including Jessica Coon, PhD 2010): “Processing ergative languages: Methodology and preliminary results
  • Peter Graff, with a million people from the University of Chicago: “Coronal stop deletion on reality TV”
  • Claire Halpert: “Nominals are case-licensed, even in Bantu: Evidence from Zulu
  • Jeremy Hartman: “Experiencer intervention in English
  • Patrick Jones: “Intermediate contour tones derive non-iterative tone shift in Kinande
  • Marie-Christine Meyer, with Evelina Fedorenko and Edward Gibson: “Contrastive topic intonation: An empirical evaluation
  • Jennifer Michaels: “Caught in-between: Neutralizing indistinct surface contrasts
  • Kirill Shklovsky: “A binding account of possessor raising
  • Kirill Shklovsky: “Split infinitives in Tseltal

Other MIT events at the LSA: ACLS New Faculty Fellow Maziar Toosarvandani will also give a talk on ”Temporal interpretation and discourse structure in Northern Paiute”, Ted Gibson and various collaborators will present several papers at the conference, and … Irene Heim will be inducted into the 2012 class of LSA Fellows, as previously announced here!

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