The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, November 29th, 2021

Linguistics and Social Justice Seminar 11/30 – Marlyse Neves Baptista (University of Michigan) and Abel Djassi Amado (Simmons University)

You are invited to participate in our discussion this week, Tuesday, November 23, 2-5pm EST, on “Linguistics and Social Justice: Language, Education & Human Rights”  (MIT Linguistics, Graduate Seminar, 24.S96).  Please contact Michel <degraff@mit.edu> for information about Zoom link and readings.  NB: We are committed to creating an inclusive and accessible environment in our seminar. If you need assistance for accommodations or accessibility in order to fully participate, please email degraff@MIT.EDU so that we can work out adequate arrangements.

This Tuesday, November 30, 2021, we discuss Kriolu both in Cabo Verde and in Boston in the context of efforts toward equity in education, with guidance from Marlyse Baptista and Abel Djassi Amado:

Cabo Verdean Creole (Kriolu) in Education:

Variation, equity and representation

Marlyse Neves Baptista
(Linguistics, University of Michigan)

Abel Djassi Amado
(Political Science & International Relations, Simmons University)

November 30, 2021, 2–5pm EST

Seminar: “Linguistics & social justice” (24.S96 @ MIT Linguistics)

This presentation will introduce some of the complex cognitive processes involved in Creole formation and development. This first section will be used as a backdrop for challenging the hegemonic perspectives from which Creole languages have been portrayed in the past (see DeGraff, 2003). The second section will discuss some of the strides that have been made in Cabo Verde in using Kriolu in primary and secondary schools and in higher education. The third section will illustrate the full extent of language variation in Cabo Verdean Creole (based on field work data), as such variation bears on how to represent the language in education. The fourth section will discuss the rise of Kriolu’s visibility and legitimacy on social media. The fifth section will discuss how the Cabo Center for Applied Research is contributing to the inclusion of Kriolu in the Boston Public Schools, adding to the efforts that community members have invested in the past.  We will conclude with a discussion of current challenges and next steps.

LingLunch 12/2 - Kyle Hammet Blumberg & Simon Goldstein (Dianoia Institute of Philosophy)

Speaker: Kyle Hammet Blumberg & Simon Goldstein (Dianoia Institute of Philosophy)
Title: A Semantic Theory of Redundancy
Time: Thursday, December 2nd, 12:30pm - 13:50pm

Abstract: Theorists trying to model natural language have recently sought to explain a range of data by positing covert operators at logical form. For instance, many contemporary semanticists argue that the best way to capture scalar implicatures is through the use of such operators. We take inspiration from this literature by developing a novel operator that can account for a wide range of linguistic effects that until now have not received a uniform treatment. We focus on what we call redundancy effects which occur when attitude verbs and modals imply that certain bodies of information are unsettled about various claims. We explain three pieces of data, among others: diversity inferences, ignorance inferences, and free choice inferences. Our account yields an elegant model of redundancy effects, and has the potential to explain a wide range of puzzles and problems in philosophical semantics.

Colloquium 12/3 - Gaja Jarosz (UMass Amherst)

Speaker: Gaja Jarosz (UMass Amherst)
Title: Learning Hidden Phonological Generalizations
Time: Friday, December 3rd, 3:30pm - 5pm

Abstract: Language acquisition proceeds on the basis of incomplete, ambiguous linguistic input, and one source of this ambiguity is hidden phonological structure. Due to recent developments in computational modeling of phonological learning, there now exist numerous approaches for learning of various kinds of hidden phonological structure from incomplete, unlabeled, and noisy data. These computational models make it possible to connect the full representational richness of phonological theory with noisy, ambiguous corpus data representative of language learners’ linguistic experience to make detailed and experimentally testable predictions about language learning and generalization. In this talk, I briefly review these computational developments and then discuss two ongoing projects that utilize these mutually-informing connections between computation, phonological theory, and experimental data to test hypotheses about the abstract representations that underlie phonological knowledge.