The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, October 10th, 2016

New article in press

A new Brain Research article is in press with co-authors that include visiting scholar Miwako Hisagi, faculty Shigeru Miyagawa, and two alumni, Hadas Kotek and Ayaka Sugawara: “Second-Language Learning Effects on Automaticity of Speech Processing of Japanese Phonetic Contrasts: An MEG study”

Ling-Lunch 10/13 - Juliet Stanton (MIT)

Speaker: Juliet Stanton (MIT)
Title: Segmental blocking in dissimilation: an argument for co-occurrence constraints
Date: Thursday, October 13
Time: 12:30pm-1:50pm
Location: 32-D461

Most contemporary work assumes that dissimilation is motivated by featural co-occurrence (OCP) constraints (e.g. Alderete 1997, Suzuki 1998): a process that maps /X…X/ to [X…Y] (for example) would be explained by positing a ban on co-occurring [X]s.

I first show how this approach can be extended to analyze the typology of segmental blocking effects (name due to Bennett 2015), a term used to describe cases in which a dissimilatory process is blocked by some segments, but not others. For example, dissimilation might apply across some segment Z (/X…Z…X/ > [X…Z…Y]), but not some other segment Y (/X…Y…X/ > [X…Y…X]). This pattern can be explained in the following way (following Kenstowicz 1994, Steriade 1995): if a ban on co-occurring [Y]s (violated in the unattested /X…Y…X/ > *[X…Y…Y]) takes priority over the ban on co-occurring [X]s (violated in the attested /X…Y…X/ > [X…Y…X]), then dissimilation of /X…X/ to [X…Y] will fail if some [Y] is present elsewhere in the word.

I argue that all cases of attested segmental blocking should be analyzed as an interaction between two competing co-occurrence constraints (as above), and provide new evidence from lexical statistics in support of this conclusion. Time permitting, I will introduce an alternative correspondence-based analysis of blocking in dissimilation (Bennett 2015), and show that its predictions are less restrictive than those of the proposed analysis.

MIT @ NELS 2016 (UMass Amherst)

The 47th Annual Meeting of North East Linguistic Society (NELS 47) will be hosted at UMass Amherst, from 14–16 October.

Several current graduate students will present posters or give talks:

Several alumni and current visitors will also present their work:

MIT @ Workshop on Shrinking Trees

The Workshop on Shrinking Trees took place on October 10 at the University of Leipzig. The event was organized by Gereon Müller.

  • David Pesetsky gave the talk Exfoliation: Towards a Derivational Theory of Clause Size.
  • Howard Lasnik and Susi Wurmbrand also gave talks:

  • Howard B. Lasnik (UMD, PhD ‘72) — Shrinking Trees: Some Early History
  • Susi Wurmbrand (UConn, PhD ‘98) — Restructuring as the Regulator of Clause Size
  • Check the full list of talks here.