Congratulations to Isaac Gould on his unambiguously successful defense of his dissertation entitled Syntactic Learning from Ambiguous Evidence: Errors and End-States — well done!!
photo credits: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine
Fourth-year students Snejana Iovtcheva and Despina Oikonomou presented this weekend a paper entitled Island Obviation in Fragment Answers: Evidence from Bulgarian li-questions at FASL (Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics) 24 at NYU. Congratulations!
Congratulations to 2nd-year student Ezer Rasin, whose paper “On evaluation metrics in Optimality Theory” (co-authored by Roni Katzir) has been accepted for publication by Linguistic Inquiry! You can read a draft of the paper by clicking here.
We are proud to announce that Ted Levin has accepted a postdoctoral position in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland, where he will be working with Maria Polinsky and Omer Preminger (PhD 2011) (and the rest of the great Maryland linguistics department as well). Fantastic news, great opportunity — congratulations Ted!!
Undergraduate linguistics & physics major Elise Newman (‘16) has been linguistically busy these last two weekends. She presented her paper “Extended EPP: A New Approach to English Auxiliaries and Sentential Negation” as a poster at the 9th Annual Cornell Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium on the weekend on April 18, and as a talk last weekend at the 2015 Annual Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium
The 51th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society was held this week end at the University of Chicago this weekend (April 23-25). The program included talks by:
- Third year students Juliet Stanton and Sam Zukoff: Prosodic effects of segmental correspondence
- Second year student Michelle Yuan: Case competition and case domains: Evidence from Yimas
- Hadas Kotek (PhD 2014) and Mitcho Erlewine (PhD 2014), currently postdocs at McGill, gave a joint talk: Relative pronoun pied-piping, the structure of which informs the analysis of relative clauses
A picture of Juliet Stanton and Sam Zukoff’s presentation:
A picture of Michelle Yuan’s presentation:
credit: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (mitcho)
MIT Linguistics is delighted to welcome the new students who will join our PhD program in the Fall, from A to П:
- Rafael Abramovitz (University of Chicago)
- Itai Bassi (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
- Justin Colley (University of New South Wales)
- Colin Davis (University of Minnesota)
- Suzana Fong (University of São Paulo)
- Verena Hehl (University of Tübingen)
- Maša Močnik (University of Ljubljana; University of Amsterdam)
- Dmitry Privoznov (Moscow State University)
GLOW 38 was held last week in Paris. Several third year students from MIT had poster presentations or talks:
- Lilla Magyar: The role of universal markedness in Hungarian gemination processes
- Chris O’Brien: How to get off an island
- Juliet Stanton: The learnability filter and its role in the comparison of metrical theories
- Benjamin Storme: Aspectual distinctions in the present tense in Romance and cross-linguistically
Three recent alumni gave talks:
- Claire Halpert (PhD 2012; University of Minnesota): Raising Parameters
- Hadas Kotek (PhD 2014; McGill University): Intervention everywhere!
- Guillaume Thomas (PhD 2012; Pontifical Universidade Católica): Rising scale segments: additivity, comparison and continuation
20th century MIT Linguistics was represented by two alumni, co-authors of the following papers:
- Sarah Ouwayda and Ur Shlonsky (PhD 1987; Université de Genève): Order in the DP
- Dorothy Ahn and Uli Sauerland (PhD 1998; ZAS Berlin): Relative Measures: Implications for the Semantics and Syntax of Pseudo-Partitives
ECO-5 was held at Harvard on Saturday. Two graduate students from MIT gave talks:
- Fourth year student Snejana Iovtcheva: The External Possessors of Bulgarian: Raising, Control, and Focus
- Second year student Michelle Yuan: Case assignment as feature dissimulation
Four of our students traveled to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver to present talks at the 33rd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (a.k.a. WCCFL 33):
— where they were joined by two of our very recent PhDs, also presenting papers:
Not to mention keynote speaker and distinguished alum Kyle Johnson (PhD 1985) from UMass Amherst, and former visitor Hedde Zeijlstra (Göttingen) (who presented a poster arguing, against all odds, that some of Jonah Katz (Phd 2010) and David Pesetsky’s ideas about language and music are wrong). Plus current visitor Lena Karvovskaya (Leiden) and fondly remembered former postdoc Eric Schoorlemer (Leiden), who presented a poster about ““The possessor that should have stayed close to home, but ran away”.
The 39th Annual Penn Linguistics Conference took place March 20-22, 2015 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
This weekend, several of our graduate students taught linguistics classes to middle school students at Spark, a weekend-long program run by the MIT Educational Studies Program. Snejana Iovtcheva taught a class on Saturday about the writing systems of the world, and Chris O’Brien and Juliet Stanton taught two sections of introductory linguistics (focusing on syntax) on Sunday. They had a lot of fun, and the students did too!
Ayaka will be missed not only in the department and its Language Acquisition Lab but also in the New Philharmonia Orchestra of Massachusetts, where she has participated as a violinist for the last three years. Congratulations, yes, but we’ll miss you!
Third year student Sam Zukoff will give a talk about Repetition Avoidance and the Exceptional Reduplication Patterns of Indo-European in the GSAS Workshop on Indo-European and Historical Linguistics at Harvard on Wednesday, March 4 at 5:00 pm, in Boylston Hall 303. Congratulations, Sam!
- Third year student Lilla Magyar: The role of universal markedness in Hungarian gemination processes
- Third year student Chris O’Brien: How to get off an island
- Third year student Juliet Stanton: The learnability filter and its role in the comparison of metrical theories (accepted for the phonology workshop, titled ”The implications of Computation and Learnability for Phonological Theory”)
- Third year student Benjamin Storme: Aspectual distinctions in the present tense in Romance and cross-linguistically
- Third year students Juliet Stanton and Sam Zukoff: Prosodic effects of segmental correspondence
- Second year student Michelle Yuan: Case competition and case domains: Evidence from Yimas
Two recent alumni, now at McGill, will also give talks at these conferences:
Hot off the press, the latest issue of Linguistic Inquiry includes a syntax paper jointly authored by fifth-year student Coppe van Urk and by Norvin Richards: “Two Components of Long-distance Extraction: Successive Cyclicity in Dinka”. Congratulations, Coppe and Norvin!
Here’s the abstract: “This article presents novel data from the Nilotic language Dinka, in which the syntax of successive-cyclic movement is remarkably transparent. We show that Dinka provides strong support for the view that long-distance extraction proceeds through the edge of every verb phrase and every clause on the path of movement (Chomsky 1986, 2000, 2001, 2008). In addition, long-distance dependencies in Dinka offer evidence that extraction from a CP requires agreement between v and the CP that is extracted from (Rackowski and Richards 2005, Den Dikken 2009b, 2012a,b). The claim that both of these components constrain long-distance movement is important, as much contemporary work on extraction incorporates only one of them. To accommodate this conclusion, we propose a modification of Rackowski and Richards 2005, in which both intermediate movement and Agree relations between phase heads are necessary steps in establishing a long-distance dependency.”
Vast numbers of current MIT linguists and alumni prowled the corridors of the Portland Hilton presenting papers and posters at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America on January 8-11, 2015. The following talks and posters featured MIT presenters:
- Athulya Aravind: The structure and interpretation of Malayalam clefts
- Ruth Brillman and Aron Hirsch : An anti-locality approach to English subject/non-subject asymmetries
- Kai von Fintel presented on Open Access at the Special Session on the Publishing Process
- Martin Hackl, Erin Olson and Ayaka Sugawara: Processing only: Scalar presupposition and the structure of ALT(S)
- Martin Hackl, Ayaka Sugawara and Ken Wexler: Question-answer (in)congruence in the acquisition of ‘only’
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (‘14; McGill University), Theodore Levin, and Coppe van Urk:Voice morphology as extraction marking
- Aron Hirsch: Exhaustive answers and polarity-mismatch
- Theodore Levin : Toward a unified analysis of antipassive and pseudo noun incorporation constructions
- Ryo Masuda : Pitch as a stop voicing cue is affected by minimal pairs and prosody: Hypo- and hyperarticulation in Japanese
- Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel and Elizabeth Choi :Distribution of glottalized onsets in task-directed American English speech
- Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel and Jennifer Cole (University of Illinois) : Imitation as a tool for investigating cues to prosodic structure
- Donca Steriade : Reduplication and reconstructed syllable structure in Indo-European
- Ayaka Sugawara and Ken Wexler : Acquisition of inverse-scope readings: Evidence from Japanese scrambling and contrastive topic prosody
- Wataru Uegaki : Predicting the variation in the exhaustivity of embedded interrogatives
- Coppe van Urk : The A/A’-distinction in Dinka
- Suyeon Yun : Auditory properties explain cluster-dependent epenthesis asymmetries
- Sam Zukoff : Syllable-level OCP effects in Indo-European reduplication
Several recent alumni were also present:
- Jessica Coon (‘10; McGill) organized and presented at a Tutorial on “LingSync and ProsodyLab-Aligner: Tools for Linguistic Fieldwork and OS2 Experimentation”; her copresenters were recent visiting faculty member Alan Bale (Concordia) and Michal Wagner (‘05; Mcgill)
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (‘14 McGill University): On the position of focus adverbs
- Jonah Katz (‘10; West Virginia University): Continuity lenition
- Jonah Katz (‘10; West Virginia University) and Melinda Fricke (Pennsylvania State University): Lenition/fortition patterns aid prosodic segmentation
- Hadas Kotek (‘14; McGill University) : A new compositional semantics for wh-questions
A picture of Aron Hirsch poster presentation:
A picture of Theodore Levin poster presentation:
The 12nd meeting of the Old World Conference in Phonology (OCP) was held last week in Barcelona, Spain. The following MIT faculty and students gave talks there:
- Adam Albright: Faithfulness to non-contrastive phonetic properties in Lakhota
- Fifth-year student Gretchen Kern: Syntactically unjustified morphs and other strategies for hiatus resolution in Irish prepositions
- Third-year student Benjamin Storme: Closed Syllable Vowel Laxing: A strategy to enhance coda consonant place contrasts
Two MIT alumni were present as well:
Congratulations to 5th-year student Wataru Uegaki, whose paper “Content nouns and the semantics of question-embedding” has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Semantics! You can read a draft of the paper by clicking here.
Congratulations to third-year student Juliet Stanton, whose paper “Wholesale Late Merger in Ā-movement: Evidence from Preposition Stranding” has been accepted for publication in Linguistic Inquiry! You can read the most recent version of the paper at http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/002131.
MIT-based linguistics teaching for high-school students is mentioned in this excellent new article in Language about an important Milwaukee effort:
In the United States, linguists Maya Honda of Wheelock College and Wayne O’Neil of MIT partnered with primary school teacher David Pippin after Pippin asked Steven Pinker at a book signing for advice on how to present linguistics to younger students. Pinker connected Pippin to O’Neil, his colleague at MIT. O’Neil was eager to connect with a schoolteacher, feeling that ‘[p]eople should not have to come to linguistics, this remarkable window on the workings of the human mind, in graduate school, as I did, or not at all’ (2010:25–26). The partnership among O’Neil, Honda, and Pippin has continued for over a decade. O’Neil and Honda spend a week every spring with Pippin’s students working through problem sets. In their essay ‘On promoting linguistics literacy’ (Honda et al. 2010:187), the three conclude that ‘[i]n English classes, we think of students as writers and readers. Why not as linguists?’, and they have demonstrated much success in presenting students with data sets and working with them to construct and test hypotheses.
The most recent development in the movement to offer linguistics to younger students is that, in the spring semester of 2013, six MIT graduate students taught two different linguistics courses in Boston, one a general course on linguistics and one on syntax. Iain Giblin (p.c., 8/9/2013) reported that they are hoping to make the connection with local high school students a program that becomes an MIT legacy, with new graduate students taking over the helm each semester. Hadas Kotek (p.c., 8/14/2013) added that in the summer of 2013 they started a program for middle school students as well and regularly have twenty to twenty-five students in attendance each week.
A picture from the last colloquium party held at Sabine’s house (from left to right in the background: Sabine Iatridou, her dog, Coppe van Urk, Sam Steddy; from left to right in the foreground: Ted Levin).
“Wh-Fronting in a two-probe system”, a paper by newly minted PhD Hadas Kotek, has just appeared in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. Hadas is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill. Great paper — congratulations!
The eighth meeting of the Northeast Computational Phonology Circle (NECPhon 2014) was held at NYU over the week end. Third year student Juliet Stanton gave a talk entitled “Rare forms and rare errors: deriving a learning bias in error-driven learning”.
The 2014 edition of the Southern New England Workshop in Semantics (SNEWS 2014) was held at UMass Amherst on Saturday. Three MIT students gave talks:
The 39th BU Conference on Language Development (BUCLD 39) took place this past weekend at Boston University. The following MIT students and faculty gave talks or presented posters:
- Second year student Athulia Aravind, and Jill de Villiers (Smith College): Implicit alternatives insufficient for children’s SIs with some.
- Fifth year student Ayaka Sugawara, and Martin Hackl: Question-Answer (In)Congruence in the Acquisition of Only
- Ayaka Sugawara and K. Wexler: Japanese children accept inverse-scope readings induced by scrambling, but they do not accept unambiguous inverse-scope readings induced by prosody
Nor snow nor rain nor heat nor NELS can stay these pumpkins from the swift completion of their appointed carvings [e].
Some of the results:
NELS 45 was held at MIT over the week end and it was a success! The following MIT students and faculty gave talks or presented posters:
- Roger Schwarzschild, one of the three invited speakers: Markers of mass and count
- Third year student Aron Hirsch and Michael Wagner (McGill): Prosodic evidence that parentheticals are placed by rightward movement
- First year student Erin Olson, fifth year student Ayaka Sugawara, and Martin Hackl: Processing only: Scalar presupposition and the structure of ALT(S)
- Second year student Ezer Rasin and Roni Katzir (Tel Aviv): A learnability argument for constraints on underlying representations
- Third year student Juliet Stanton: Wholesale Late Merger in A’-movement: Evidence from preposition stranding
- Ryan Sandell (UCLA) and third year student Sam Zukoff: A new approach to the origin of Germanic strong preterites
- Visiting student Brian Buccola (McGill): Global semantic constraints: The case of Van Benthem’s Problem
A lot of MIT alumni were present:
- Heidi Harley (PhD 1995), one of the three invited speakers, now Professor at the University of Arizona: Aggressive Passives in Haiki
- Pritty Patel-Grosz (PhD 2012), now at the University of Tübingen: Different again
- Dorothy Ahn (Harvard) and Uli Sauerland (PhD 1998), now at ZAS: Reverse quantification with proportional quantifiers
- Michael Y. Erlewine (PhD 2014), now at McGill: On the position of focus adverbs
- Alexander Podobryaev (PhD 2013), now at HSE Moscow: Syntax and semantics of person in coordinations
- Ora Matushansky (PhD 2002), now at the CNRS and Utrecht: On being [feminine] and [proper]
- Mark Baker (PhD 1984), now at Rutgers: Applicative markers as agreement with PP in Amharic (co-authored with Ruth Kramer (Georgetown))
- Seth Cable (PhD 2007), now at UMass: Graded Tenses in Complement Clauses: Evidence that Future is not a Tense
- Giorgio Magri (PhD 2009), now at the CNRS and Utrecht: The error-driven ranking algorithm learns inventories of obstruents (co-authored with Rene Kager (Utrecht))
- Tara McAllister Byun (PhD 2009), now at NYU: Parallels in speech acquisition and loss as evidence for a grammar of articulatory reliability (co-authored with Sharon Inkelas (Berkeley) and Yvan Rose (MUN))
- Lisa Bylinina (Meertens), Natalia Ivlieva (PhD 2013), now at the CNRS, Alexander Podobryaev (PhD 2013), now at the HSE Moscow, Yasutada Sudo (PhD 2012), now at UCL: A non-superlative semantics for ordinals and the syntax of comparison classes
- Joanna Zaleska (Leipzig) and Andrew Nevins (PhD 2004), now at UCL: Transformational language games and the representation of Polish nasal vowels
- Natalia Ivlieva (PhD 2013), now at the Institut Jean-Nicod/CNRS: Deriving multiplicity
- Patrick Grosz (PhD 2011) and Pritty Patel-Grosz (PhD 2012), now at Tuebingen: Re-evaluating the distinction between personal and demonstrative pronouns
- Susi Wurmbrand, now at UConn: Restructuring cross-linguistically
- Dennis Ott, visiting student at MIT in 2013, now at Humboldt: On the form and meaning of appositives (co-authored with Edgar Onea (Goettingen))
- MIT alumni Roni Katzir (PhD 2008), now at Tel-Aviv, and Michael Wagner (PhD 2005), now at McGill, co-authored papers with current MIT students (see above)
A picture of Mitcho’s poster presentation:
The 19th annual meeting of Sinn und Bedeutung was held at the Georg August University at Göttingen from September 15 to 17, 2014. Sabine Iatridou was one of the invited speakers. She gave a talk entitled Our even (joint work with Sergei Tatevosov). The following MIT students and faculty gave talks:
- Martin Hackl, Erin Olson and Ayaka Sugawara: “Processing Only: Scalar Presupposition and the Structure of ALT(S)”
- Miriam Nussbaum: “Subset Comparatives as Comparative Quantifiers”
- Wataru Uegaki: “Predicting the variations in the exhaustivity of embedded interrogatives”
Some MIT alumni were also there:
The 9th International Workshop on Theoretical East Asian Linguistics (TEAL-9) was held last week at the University of Nantes in France. Second year student Sophie Moracchini talked about the syntax and semantics of Vietnamese comparatives. Mitcho Erlewine ‘14 (McGill University) presented his work On the position of focus adverbs. Tue Trinh ‘11 (University of Wisconsin) gave a talk entitled Interpreting expletive negation in Vietnamese. Yasutada Sudo ‘12 (University College of London) talked about An anti-exhaustive, polarity sensitive connective in Japanese & higher-order scalar implicatures.
The full program and abstracts can be found here.
Phonology 2014 was held at MIT over the week end. First-year student Erin Olson gave a tutorial on Automatic Forced Alignment with Prosodylab-Aligner. Third-year student Juliet Stanton gave a talk about Learnability shapes typology: the case of the midpoint pathology. Fifth-year student Suyeon Yun talked about English -uh- insertion and consonant cluster splittability. Third-year students Sam Zukoff and Benjamin Storme presented posters entitled Stress Restricts Reduplication: Stress-Reduplication Interactions in Australian and Austronesian and Closed Syllable Vowel Laxing in Continental French: a Dispersion-Theoretic Account.
Among the presenters were also some MIT alumni. Gillian Gallagher ‘10 (NYU) was one of the three invited speakers. She gave a talk entitled Asymmetries in the representation of categorical phonotactics. Yoonjung Kang ‘00 (University of Toronto Scarborough) talked about French loanwords in Vietnamese: the role of input language phonotactics and contrast in loanword adaptation (paper co-authored by Andrea Hòa Phạm from the University of Florida and Benjamin Storme). Jonah Katz ‘10 (West Virginia University) presented a poster about Continuity lenition.
We forgot to tell you last week, but several of our linguists - faculty and students both - spent the previous week in Oxford giving talks at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of Great Britain (LAGB).
Faculty speakers included invited speaker Adam Albright, who gave both a Masterclass on “Gradient Phonotactics” and the 2014 Association Lecture on “Generalizing phonological patterns with phonetic and featural biases”, and Edward Flemming, who spoke about “Deriving long-distance coarticulation from local constraints”.
In addition, two talks by three students were delivered by two students (for homework, figure out the possible scope relations among these quantifiers, and which reading we intended): 3rd-year student Juliet Stanton spoke on “Varieties of A’ extractions: evidence from preposition stranding”, and Sam Steddy gave a talk presenting joint work with Iain Giblin entitled “Where’s wh-? Prosodic disambiguation of in-situ whphrases” (slides with audio here and handout here. (True tidbit: Juliet was interrogated about her talk by the border control officer at Heathrow airport. After pondering for a moment or two, he expressed agreement with the crucial judgments in her paper, and let her into the UK.)
Alumni of our program presenting at LAGB included Pilar Barbosa (PhD 1995), who gave a joint talk with Cecile Decat on “Subject object asymmetries in Clitic Left Dislocation” and Yasutada Sudo (PhD 2012), whose joint talk with Patrick Elliott discussed “E-type readings of quantifiers under ellipsis” — plus undergrad alum Christina Kim (S.B. 2003), who talked about “Predictability and implicit communicative content”. Recent visitors Caroline Heycock and Gary Thoms also gave a joint talk on “Reconstruction and modification in relative clauses”
I’m from Turkey. I was born and grew up in Tekirdağ, the land of “rakı”. I received my B.A. degree in Foreign Language Education and M.A. degree in Linguistics, both from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. Ethnically, I am half Georgian. For this reason, I became interested in Georgian (especially its dialects spoken in Turkey) and shortly after in its endangered sister, Laz. I did fieldwork on Laz in Turkey and wrote my M.A. thesis on the agreement and case systems of Laz. Coming from a country notorious for killing its indigenous languages with great care, I got involved in endangered language preservation efforts. My main interests are syntax and syntax-morphology interface. But I have also done some work in phonology. I certainly look forward to getting my hands dirty (also) with semantics at MIT.
I grew up in Tsawwassen, a small town just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. I completed a BA with a double major in linguistics and classics at the University of British Columbia and an MA in linguistics at the University of Toronto. My main interest is in semantics; my recent work has focused on predicates of personal taste, and I hope to continue working on context-dependent expressions at MIT. In the past I’ve also done some fieldwork on modality in Kwak’wala (Wakashan) and Nata (Bantu), and I still have a soft spot for underdocumented and endangered languages. When not doing linguistics, I enjoy knitting, baking, and watching Doctor Who.
I’m from Connecticut, I got my B.A. in Linguistics and Philosophy from the University of Connecticut, I am interested in semantics and pragmatics. In my free time, I like to play drums and read.
I grew up in the high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico and completed his BA in Computer Science and Linguistics at Harvard. My linguistic interests comprise complexity in language, particularly the origins and distribution of crossed dependencies; the syntax of verb initial languages; and a less specific fascination with formal semantics. Outside of linguistics, I like riding my bicycles.
I was born in Latvia and grew up in Israel. I received my B.A. in linguistics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I was also working on my M.A. in linguistics. I am interested in semantics, syntax, pragmatics and their interfaces, having special curiosity about negation, polarity sensitivity, tense, modality, aspect, scalar implicatures, focus sensitivity, case and movement. At MIT, I hope to continue dealing with puzzles concerning these topics, along with many new ones.
I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and graduated from McGill University with a BA in Linguistics in 2012. I’m often mistaken for being Canadian (which I don’t mind). In the last two years, I’ve worked as a lab manager at both McGill and MIT doing experimental linguistic work, primarily in syntax and semantics, although my main research interests lie in the field of phonology. I’m especially interested in learning more about the prosody of Algonquian languages, having done some fieldwork on Mi’gmaq (Mi’kmaq, formerly Micmac) while at McGill. When I’m not doing linguistics, I enjoy biking, drawing, computer programming, and reading.
I’m orignially from New Jersey, but for most of my life I’ve lived in Minneapolis, where I did my BA in Linguistics at the University of Minnesota (with a minor in Cultural Studies). When I’m doing linguistics, I like syntax and semantics, especially in Austronesian languages, and when I’m not, I like rock climbing, cooking, and playing guitar.
My name is Abdul-Razak Sulemana, I am from Sandema a small town in the Upper East Region of Ghana. I received my BA in Linguistics and Political Science from the University of Ghana where I also had my MA in Linguistics. I am interested in Syntactic theory, the Syntax of Buli, and the Syntax of Gur languages but I sometimes venture into morphology and phonology. I am open-minded as I embark on the MIT journey. When I am not doing anything related to linguistics, then I am either reading a John Grisham or Sydney Sheldon novel. I go running or play soccer to exercise. I listen a lot but I say little.
I was born in Shandong Province on the coast of China, but grew up mostly in Worcester and Shrewsbury, in central Massachusetts. I double majored in Linguistics and Computer Science at Stanford University. At Stanford, I’ve worked on raising constructions in Kazakh, but I’m also interested in a variety of other topics in formal syntax and semantics, and I’m excited to explore other areas as well. For fun, I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, as well as music, cooking, and calligraphy.
Congratulations to this summer’s doctoral dissertators!
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine: Movement out of Focus
- Yusuke Imanishi: Default Ergative
- Patrick Jones: Tonal Interaction in Kinande: Cyclicity, Opacity, and Morphosyntactic Structure
- Hadas Kotek: Composing Questions
In the coming year, Mitcho will be a post-doc at McGill, Yusuke is an Assistant Professor at Kwansei Gakuin University, Patrick will be teaching at Harvard, and Hadas will be a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill.
And our warmest congratulations to Anthony Brohan on the successful defense of his MA thesis entitled Analytic Bias in Coocurrence Restrictions! Now he’s off to take up a great position at a small firm that a few of us have heard of called “Google”.
As the summer conference season starts up, here are some events where MIT linguists can be spotted. More updates will follow in the next Whamit! issue.
- Donca Steriade and Gillian Gallagher (NYU, PhD 2010) were invited discussants at the conference on Agreement By Correspondence (ABC), held this past weekend at UC Berkeley.
- The 21st Annual Meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association (AFLA 21) will be held May 23-25 at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Mitcho Erlewine, Ted Levin, and Coppe van Urk will present a paper entitled What makes a voice system? On the relationship between voice marking and case. Among the invited speakers is Diane Massam (UToronto, PhD 1982) whose talk is entitled Applicatives and the split argument hypothesis in Niuean.
- This year’s meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association will take place at Brock University in Ontario on May 24-26.Current lab manager and incoming PhD student Erin Olson and alum Michael Wagner (McGill, PhD 2005) are among the presenters of the talk Allophonic variation in English /l/: production, perception, and segmentation. Michelle Yuan is among the presenters of Perception of English corrective focus by native Inuktitut speakers. Anthony Brohan will present Licensing Catalan laryngeal neutralization by cue.Two alumni are also presenting: Bronwyn Bjorkman (UToronto, PhD 2011) will speak on Possession and necessity: from individuals to worlds (with Elizabeth Cowper), and Igor Yanovich (Tubingen, 2013) will present No weak necessity.
- The last of the conferences being held next weekend is GLOW in Asia X at the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. Yusuke Imanishi’s work on Default ergative: A view from Mayan will be presented in the poster session. Moreover, all three keynote speakers have ties to MIT Linguistics: current faculty Michael Kenstowicz will present The emergence of default accent in Kyungsang Korean; Richard Kayne (NYU, PhD 1969) will speak on The silence of projecting heads; and C.-T. James Huang (Harvard, PhD 1982) will present Passives forever: control, raising and implicit arguments.
- David Pesetsky will give a summer mini-course this week at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and another mini-course in July at the Nova-Lisbon Summer School and Graduate Conference in Linguistics in Lisbon.
“Prior work on wh-movement has distinguished among several types of wh-fronting languages that permit distinct patterns of overt and covert movement, instantiated for example by the Slavic languages, English, and German. This paper extends the cross-linguistic typology of multiple questions by arguing that Hebrew instantiates a new kind of wh-fronting language, unlike any that are discussed in the current literature. It will show that Hebrew distinguishes between two kinds of interrogative phrases: those that are headed by a wh-word (wh-headed phrases: what, who, [DP which X], where, how…) and those that contain a wh-word but are headed by some other element (wh-containing phrases: [NP N of wh], [PP P wh]). We observe the special status of wh-headed phrases when one occurs structurally lower in a question than a wh-containing phrase. In that case, the wh-headed phrase can be targeted by an Agree/Attract operation that ignores the presence of the c-commanding wh-containing phrase. The paper develops an account of the sensitivity of interrogative probing operations to the head of the interrogative phrase within Cable’s (2010) Q-particle theory. It proposes that the Hebrew Q has an EPP feature which can trigger head-movement of wh to Q and that a wh-probe exists alongside the more familiar Q-probe, and shows how these two modifications to the theory can account for the intricate dataset that emerges from the paper. The emerging picture is one in which interrogative probing does not occur wholesale but rather can be sensitive to particular interrogative features on potential goals.”
Third-year graduate student Snejana Iovtcheva was in UC Berkeley for the 23rd Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics (FASL23) conference held May 2-4. She gave a talk entitled An Output-to-Output Correspondence Analysis of the Bulgarian Vowel-Zero Alternation.
David Pesetsky visited Yale’s linguistics department last Monday, where he gave a colloquium talk entitled Islands in the modern world.
Finally, Norvin Richards will be in McGill University this weekend, May 8-10, for a workshop entitled “Exploring the Interfaces 3: Prosody and Constituent Structure” (ETI3). Norvin will give an invited talk, Another look at Tagalog prosody. Among the workshop’s organizers is Jessica Coon (PhD ‘10).
WSCLA (Workshop on Structure and Constituency in the Languages of the Americas) 19 was held this weekend on the St John’s campus of Memorial University. First-year student Michelle Yuan gave a talk on Person restrictions in Inuktitut portmanteau morphology. Jessica Coon ‘10 (McGill) gave a talk entitled Little-v agreement: Evidence from Mayan. Heidi Harley ‘95 (University of Arizona) gave a talk about A revised picture of external argument introduction: Conflicting evidence from Hiaki.
This weekend two students from MIT visited the University of Maryland to participate in the 2014 edition of ECO5, an annual student-run Workshop in Formal Linguistics that brings together students from MIT, Harvard, UMass, UConn and the University of Marlyand. Second-year student Juliet Stanton presented a paper on “Varieties of A’-extractions: evidence from preposition stranding ” (draft here), which explains a variety of constraints on A-bar constructions as a consequence of Wholesale Late Merge. First-year student Michelle Yuan presented “Person-case restrictions in Inuktitut as an anti-agreement effect ” (based on her fieldwork) arguing for feature movement as a species of agremeent in Inuktitut.
The 4th edition of Formal Approaches to South Asian Languages was held in Rutgers, March 29-30. Second-year grad student Ishani Guha presented a poster on “The Other je Clause in Bangla”. Alumnus Mark Baker ‘85 (Rutgers University) gave a talk entitled “On Case Assignment in Dative Subject Constructions in Dravidian: Tamil and Kannada”.
The 50th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society was held this week end at the University of Chicago. Second-year grad students Ruth Brillman and Aron Hirsch gave a talk about asymmetries between subject and object extraction (“Don’t move too close”). Fourth-year grad students Theodore Levin and Ryo Masuda gave a talk on “Case and Agreement in Cupeño: Morphology Obscures a Simple Syntax”. Alumni Jonathan David Bobaljik ‘95 (University of Connecticut) and Jessica Coon ‘10 (McGill University) were among the invited speakers. Jonathan Bobaljik gave a talk entitled “Morpholocality: Structural Locality in Words” and Jessica Coon talked about “Little-v Agreement: Evidence from Mayan”.
Fourth-year student Coppe van Urk is back from this year’s GLOW Colloquium in Brussels, where he gave a talk “On the relation between C and T, A-bar movement and ‘marked nominative’ in Dinka”. Alums with GLOW talks were Elena Guerzoni ’03, Tue Trinh ’11, Betsy Ritter ’89, and Bronwyn Bjorkman ’11. This week, Norvin Richards will teach a course on Islands at the GLOW Spring School (a new and exciting addition to the GLOW scene), alongside an array of MIT alums (as we noted a while ago) also teaching at the school: Hagit Borer ’81, Philippe Schlenker ’99 and Charles Yang (Computer Science PhD 2000)).
Fifth-year student Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (mitcho) will speak this Tuesday in New York at a CUNY Syntax Supper on the topic of “Anti-locality and anti-agreement”. Mitcho’s talk will present a theory of the cross-linguistic specialness of local A-bar extraction of subjects in the Mayan language Kaqchikel and other languages.
MIT linguists had three poster presentations at this week’s 27th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing: Exhaustivity and polarity-mismatch by Aron Hirsch (at the Special Session on Experimental Pragmatics), Processing asymmetries between Subject-Only and VP-Only by Martin Hackl, Erin Olson and Ayaka Sugawara, and Computing the structure of questions: Evidence from online sentence processing by Hadas Kotek and Martin Hackl.
Congratulations to Ruth Brillman! Her paper about “Second person agreement allomorphy in Masarak” was published in Studies in African Linguistics.
Several of our folks unaccountably left the subzero weather of Boston to travel to Los Angeles for the 32nd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL) last weekend at USC.
Coppe van Urk presented a talk entitled Intermediate positions in Dinka: Evidence for feature-driven movement, and Juliet Stanton spoke on “Factorial typology and accentual faithfulness”. Yusuke Imanishi presented a poster entitled “Default ergative: a view from Mayan”, and Ted Levin presented a poster on “Balinese Pseudo-Noun Incorporation: Licensing under Morphological Merger”.
Invited keynote speaker Sabine Iatridou wins the prize for the longest talk title: “About determiners on event descriptions, about time being like space (when we talk), and about one particularly strange construction”.
As usual, there were plenty of familiar alumni faces giving talks, including Gillian Gallagher PhD’10 (NYU), Marlies Kluck (‘08-9 visitor, Groningen), Heejong Ko PhD ‘05 (Seoul National University), Tania Ionin BCS PhD ‘03 (Illinois), Susanne Wurmbrand PhD ‘98 (Connecticut), and former faculty visitor Rajesh Bhatt (UMass).
Two of our undergraduate Linguistics majors have been selected as two of 32 students selected for MIT’s Burchard Scholars program: Alyssa Napier (‘16) (who is double-majoring in Linguistics and Chemistry) and Oliva Murton (‘15). Quoting the Burchard Scholars website: “The Burchard Scholars Program brings together distinguished members of the faculty and promising MIT sophomores and juniors who have demonstrated excellence in some aspect of the humanities, arts, or social sciences. The format is a series of dinner-seminars with discussions on current research topics. A Burchard Scholar can be a major in any department of the Institute.”
Second-year student Aron Hirsch is back from the conference Linguistic Evidence 2014 in Tübingen, where he presented a paper coauthored with Martin Hackl, entitled “Presupposition projection and incremental processing in disjunction”.
Congratulations to 4th-year students Coppe van Urk and Ted Levin, who have each had a paper accepted to the next GLOW Colloquium, to be held this April in Brussels. The GLOW Colloquium will be immediately followed by the first Glow Spring School, at which our very own Norvin Richards will teach a course on Islands (alongside an array of MIT alums also teaching at the Spring school: Hagit Borer (PhD 1981), Philippe Schlenker (PhD 1999) and Charles Yang (Computer Science PhD 2000)).
Fourth-year grad student Wataru Uegaki was at the University of Maryland, College Park over the weekend for their 2nd Philosophy and Linguistics Conference (PHLINC2: Language and Other Minds). Wataru presented on “Emotive Factives and the Semantics of Question-Embedding.”
Michelle Fullwood, Ryo Masuda, and Ted Levin were at the Berkeley Linguistics Society meeting this weekend. Michelle talked about English verb transitivity and stress (Asymmetric Correlations Between English Verb Transitivity and Stress) and Ryo about Chechen and Ingush verb doubling (Revisiting the phonology and morphosyntax of Chechen and Ingush verb doubling). Ryo and Ted gave a joint presentation about case and agreement in Cupeño (Case and Agreement in Cupeño: Morphology Obscures a Simple Syntax).
The presenters report a particularly wet conference with continuous rainfall throughout the three days. With two inches of rainfall in Berkeley and up to 11 inches in the area, the linguists might take credit for bringing relief to the California drought.
Grad students Iain Giblin and Sam Steddy and recent visiting student Jeffrey Watumull (Cambridge) responded to a recent article on linguistics by Harry Ritchie in the UK newspaper The Guardian. Their letter wasn’t posted online, but here is a scan of the print edition.
Congratulations to fifth-year students Hadas Kotek and Michael Erlewine! Their paper “Covert pied-piping in English multiple wh-questions” has been accepted for publication in Linguistic Inquiry.
MIT had a strong presence at this year’s LSA Annual Meeting, held Jan 2-5 in Minneapolis. The following talks and posters featured MIT presenters:
- Michael Erlewine: Association with traces and the copy theory of movement
- Michael Erlewine and Hadas Kotek: Morphological blocking in English causatives
- Iain Giblin and Sam Steddy: Disambiguating the Scope of In-Situ Wh-Phrases with Telugu Prosody
- Aron Hirsch and Martin Hackl: Presupposition projection and incremental processing in disjunction
- Yusuke Imanishi: When ergative is default: Ergativity in Mayan
- Patrick Jones: Cyclic evaluation of post-lexical prosodic domains: evidence from Kinande boundary tones
- Hadas Kotek: Intervention effects follow from Relativized Minimality
- Hadas Kotek and Martin Hackl: Wh-words must QR locally: evidence from real-time processing
- Theodore Levin: Pseudo-Noun Incorporation is M-Merger: Evidence from Balinese
- Miriam Nussbaum: The Interpretation of Indifference Free Relatives
- Juliet Stanton: A cyclic factorial typology of Pama-Nyungan stress
- Suyeon Yun : Two Types of Focus Movement
In addition Patrick Jones won a Student Abstract Award, for having one of the three highest-ranked abstracts authored by a student. Congratulations, Patrick!
Several recent alumni were also present:
- Bronwyn Bjorkman (University of Toronto): Multiple Agrees: Towards a non-unified theory of feature valuation.
- Claire Halpert (University of Minnesota) and Maria Stolen (University of Minnesota): Fixed aspect in Amharic Conditionals
- Ora Matushansky (Utrecht University) and E.G. Ruys (Utrecht University): Some indefinites are degrees
- Brian Buccola (McGill University) and Morgan Sonderegger (McGill University): On the expressivity of Optimality Theory vs. rules: An application to opacity
- Ivona Kucerova (McMaster University) and Rachael Hardy (McMaster University): Two scrambling strategies in German: Evidence from PPs
- Young Ah Do (Georgetown University): The asymmetrical base-inflected relation constrains child production and comprehension
Several students, faculty, visitors and alumni were at UMass Amherst for Phonology 2013 over the weekend. Presenting were:
Aron Hirsch: Is the domain for weight computation the syllable or the interval?
Gillian Gallagher (PhD 2010, NYU): Identity preference without the identity effect in Cochabamba Quechua
Eduard Artés Cuenca (visitor from CLT – Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona): Valencian hypocoristics: when morphology meets phonology
Jonah Katz (PhD 2010, UC Berkeley): Against a unified sonority scale
Juliet Stanton: A cyclic factorial typology of Pama-Nyungan stress
Michelle Fullwood: The perceptual dimensions of sonority-driven epenthesis
Giorgio Magri (PhD 2009, CNRS, Paris): Error-driven versus Batch models of the early stage of the acquisition of phonotactics: David defeats Goliath.
Tara McAllister Byun (PhD 2009, New York University), Sharon Inkelas (UC Berkeley) and Yvan Rose (Memorial University of Newfoundland): Explaining child-specific phonology with a grammar of articulatory reliability: The A-map model.
The 2nd American International Morphology Meeting (AIMM 2) was also held this weekend, at UC San Diego. Faculty member Adam Albright headed a tutorial session on modeling analogical inference and change, and 2nd year grad student Isa Kerem Bayirli gave a talk entitled On An Impossible Affix.
Second-year grad student Sam Zukoff attended the 25th Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference (WeCIEC 25), held Oct 25-26. He presented a paper entitled “On the Origins of Attic Reduplication.”
A sizeable MIT contingent were at UConn for NELS 44 this weekend. Among the presenters were:
Colin Phillips (PhD 1996, Maryland): Encoding and navigating structured representation (invited speaker)
Sam Steddy & Coppe van Urk: A Distributed Morphology View of Auxiliary Splits in Upper-Southern Italian
Tingchun Chen: Restructuring in Squliq Atayal
Moreno Mitrović (University of Cambridge) & Uli Sauerland (PhD 1998, ZAS Berlin): Decomposing Coordination
Hadas Kotek: A new syntax for multiple wh-questions
Alexander Podobryaev: Impostrous domains
Amanda Swenson & Paul Marty: Malayalam taan: A local account for an anti-local form
Wataru Uegaki: Predicting the distribution of exhaustive inference in a QUD model
Aaron Hirsch & Martin Hackl: Incremental presupposition evaluation in disjunction
Sam Alxatib (PhD 2013): Free Choice Disjunctions under only
Members of our department were at UMass Amherst over the weekend for the Workshop on the Acquisition of Quantification. Among the participants were:
- Recent PhD Jeremy Hartman was part of the organizing committee, and gave a talk (with Amanda Rizun, UMass Amherst) entitled “Quantifier spreading and domain restrictions on event quantification.”
- Faculty member Martin Hackl was an invited speaker whose talk was entitled “Scalar Presupposition and the Structure of Alternatives in the Acquisition of Only.”
- First-year graduate student Athulya Aravind presented (with Jill De Villers, Smith College) “Quantification with Every: Children’s Error Types over Time.”
- Seth Cable (PhD 2007) spoke on “Each and every,” a joint work with Rama Novogrodsky, Magda Oiry and Tom Roeper (UMass Amherst).
- Michelle Fullwood and Timothy O’Donnell (MIT BCS) presented their paper Learning Nonconcatenative Morphology at the Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics (CMCL) workshop, collocated with the Association of Computational Linguistics meeting in Bulgaria in August 2013.
- Suyeon Yun presented Two types of right dislocation in Korean at the 15th Harvard Symposium on Korean Linguistics, held August 3-4.
- Sam Steddy reports: “I spent the summer traveling around the linguistic community in the UK. I gave two talks:
A Distributed Morphology View of Auxiliary Splits in Upper-Southern Italian at the Cambridge Italian Dialect Syntax-Morphology Meeting in June, and
The Syntax of Distributive and Collective Pluralities and the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Association of Great Britain, at SOAS, London, in August.
I also attended a workshop on Phonological Typology at Oxford, in August, where Donca was presenting, and the ACTL Summerschool on Morphology at UCL, where a week’s lectures were given by [recent MIT grads] Omer Preminger and Yasutada Sudo.”
- Anthony Brohan presented a paper (with Jeff Mielke, NCSU) entitled A typology of cross-linguistically frequent segmental alternations at the Oxford Phonological Typology workshop in August, and on Father’s Day, he climbed Mt. Baker (10,781ft) in Washington.
Luka Crnic (PhD 2011) has just accepted a tenure-track position as Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and the Language, Logic and Cognition Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (the Israeli counterpart of an Assistant Professorship). Congratulations, Luka!
…and his classmate Tue Trinh (PhD 2011) has taken a tenure track position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Congratulations, Tue!
MIT was well represented at the Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL9) held at Cornell, August 23-25. Omer Preminger (now at Syracuse, jointly with Jaklin Kornfilt) and Yusuke Imanishi gave papers, and Ted Levin gave a poster, which was selected as the best poster presentation at WAFL9.
WAFL10 will be held at MIT, May 2-4, 2014. The deadline for abstracts is January 15, and invited speakers are:
Katja Lyutikova, Moscow State University
Masha Polinsky, Harvard University
Koji Sugisaki, Mie University
Sergei Tatevosov, Moscow State University
The members of ling-13, the incoming graduate class, have provided brief biographical notes for us. Be sure to say hello to the newest cohort, perhaps by dropping by the newly renovated first years’ office on the 9th floor.
Athulya Aravind reports: “I’m originally from Kerala, a region in the southwest nook of India, but grew up mostly in Maryland and New York. In 2011, I received my BA in Linguistics from Northeastern University, after which I spent two years managing a Language Development Lab at Smith College. My main interests lie in language acquisition, syntax/semantics, and experimental linguistics. In my spare time, I’m an avid consumer of pop culture and an aspiring yogi.”
Kenyon Branan moved around a lot as a kid, but he’s “mostly from Newton, New Hampshire.” He continues: “I did my BA in linguistics at Brandeis. My main interests at the moment are syntax and Tibeto-Burman languages. I like to spend my free time watching films and reading.”
Paul Crowley is a local, having grown up just south of Boston. He writes: “I went to the University of York, UK where I did a BA in Linguistics with a minor in Philosophy. I’m interested in the interfaces and the philosophy of language. Music is a big part of my life with Spanish flamenco guitar and North Indian classical sitar being my main focuses. I also like hiking, cycling, woodworking, reading, beering.”
Sophie Moracchini writes: “I’m from Nantes, in the West of France. My name is Corsican this is why is does not sound typically French. I did a M.A in Linguistics at the University of Nantes, I was interested in the semantic primitives of comparison and I mostly looked at the Vietnamese language. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, reading, cooking and hiking.”
Takashi Morita is from Chiba, Japan, with a degree from International Christian University (linguistics major and mathematics minor). As an undergrad he spent a year as an exchange student at UC Santa Cruz. He considers himself “open-minded” with respect to his academic interests, but mentioned in particular biolinguistics, formal semantics, and theoretical phonology.
Ezer Rasin grew up in Israel, in a small town near Tel Aviv. His last name is a Hebraized version of an Arabic phrase roughly translating into “one who has two heads”, and carries dual morphology. He received a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Linguistics from Tel Aviv University, where he was also working on his M.A. in Linguistics. His previous research focused on induction of morphophonological grammars, drawing on insight from theoretical computer science. While still not committed to a particular linguistic subfield, he hopes to have the opportunity to work in all theoretical subfields at MIT and to continue investigating the relationship between linguistic representations and language learnability.
Milena Sisovics writes: “I come from Austria, which could lead people to stereotypically believe that I love classical music, hiking and the mountains in winter and that I have lived and studied in Vienna. All of that is true. In addition, I like reading, can have a lot of fun trying out new food, and love spending time with my friends and family. Apart from my MA in Linguistics, I received a BA in Russian Language/Slavic Studies from the University of Vienna and also spent one semester studying at RGGU (Russian State University for the Humanities) in Moscow. While I was mainly concerned with syntax during my study in Vienna, I look forward to going deeper into the semantic side of things at MIT.”
Michelle Yuan reports: “I was born in Beijing, China, but grew up in Toronto, ON, where I received my BA and MA in linguistics at the University of Toronto. I’m primarily interested in syntax, particularly that of Inuktitut, an Eskimo-Aleut language spoken across northern Canada. I’m also interested in Dinka (Nilo-Saharan), and hope to continue working on both languages (as well as others!) while at MIT. Outside of linguistics, I like cats, biking, and listening to music.”
In late July, the MIT News office published a very nice article about 5th-year student Rafael Nonato. You can read it here:
A week later, Rafael presented some of his research on coordination in Kĩsêdjê at the conference Recursion in Brazilian Languages & Beyond.
MIT is well-represented at this year’s Linguistic Institute, currently ongoing at the University of Michigan. Adam Albright is teaching the course “Introduction to Morphophonology”. Representing the rising second-years are Juliet Stanton, Ruth Brillman, Sam Zukoff, Anthony Brohan, Chris O’Brien and Aron Hirsch, joined by incoming first-year student Kenyon Branan.
We are very pleased to announce that a paper by Ted Levin ( third-year, soon to be fourth-year, student) and Omer Preminger (PhD 2011), entitled “Case in Sakha: Are Two Modalities Really Necessary?” has been accepted for publication by Natural Language & Linguistic Theory. You can download an earlier draft here. Congratulations to both authors!
MIT will be well represented at the 21st Manchester Phonology Meeting this week (May 23-25), with a number of current students and faculty, as well as recent alums, presenting talks and posters.
- Michelle Fullwood: The perceptual dimensions of sonority-driven epenthesis
- Juliet Stanton: Positional restrictions on prenasalized consonants: a perceptual account
- Adam Albright and Young Ah Do: Biased learning of phonological alternations
- Maria Giavazzi (PhD, 2010): A rule selection deficit in Huntington’s disease patients: evidence from a morphophonological task
- Donca Steriade: The cycle without containment: Romanian perfects
- Andrew Nevins (PhD, 2004): Restrictive theories of harmony (invited talk)
- Giorgio Magri (PhD, 2009): The stochastic error-driven ranking model of child variation (poster)
During the spring semester, a group of MIT grad students in linguistics created and taught an “Introduction to Linguistics” class for high school students.
The class was offered through HSSP, a program that allows students in grades 7-12 from all over the Boston area to take classes at MIT at low costs. Classes can be taught by any MIT student and can be about any topic. Our linguistics class had two sections, each co-taught by three teachers (Section 1: Ruth Brillman, Aron Hirsch, Coppe van Urk; Section 2: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, Iain Giblin, Hadas Kotek). It offered an interactive introduction to Linguistics as a science and covered such topics as phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, experimental approaches, and dialects.
Hadas and Aron (together with new teachers Mia Nussbaum and Juliet Stanton) will be teaching this class again in the summer, and a second course dealing more specifically with syntax will also be offered by Coppe and Iain. They hope (and we do too!) that teaching such classes through HSSP and making linguistics more accessible to wider audiences will become an MIT Linguistics tradition that will continue in future years.
Next weekend, three talks from MIT will be presented at the 20th meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association at the Arlington campus of the University of Texas.
At this year’s AFLA, Norvin Richards, one of three invited speakers at the conference, will be asking and answering the question “Why are so many Austronesian languages verb-initial”. Fourth-year student Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine will be speaking on ”Topic, Specificity, and Subjecthood in Squiliq Atayal” (research arising from his fieldwork in last summer as a member of the NSF-hosted East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute in Taiwan). Third-year student Ted Levin will be speaking on the topic of ”Dissolving the Balinese Bind: Balinese Binding and The A/A-Bar status of Spec TP”. But that’s not all! Joey Sabbagh (PhD 2005) is one of the conference organizers, so we know it will be a great meeting.
Third-year grad student Isaac Gould has been chosen to receive the 2013 James A.and Ruth Levitan Award for Excellence in Teaching, given by MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Isaac’s award letter describes the prize as follows: “This prize recognizes those instructors in our School who have demonstrated outstanding success in teaching undergraduate and graduate students, and who have been nominated by students themselves for work above and beyond the ordinary classroom responsibilities. This prize indicates that you have really made a difference in the lives of our remarkable students, an achievement that is as elusive and difficult as it is rewarding. It is a great honor to be so named.”
Isaac has been a teaching assistant for two classes, our undergraduate introductory class 24.900 Introduction to Linguistics in Fall 2011 and the first-year graduate class 24.951 Introduction to Syntax in Fall 2012, and was an outstanding teacher in both classes. This is a great honor for Isaac. We are very proud of him!
The 23rd Semantics and Linguistic Theory conference was held at UC Santa Cruz on May 3-5, 2013. Current students and alumni friends at the conference included:
Igor Yanovich, Variable-force modals on the British Isles: semantic evolution of *motan
Edwin Howard, Superlative Degree Clauses: evidence from NPI licensing
Uli Sauerland (PhD 1998), Presuppositions and the alternative tier
Philippe Schlenker (PhD 1999), Monkey Semantics: Towards a Formal Analysis of Primate Alarm Calls (invited talk)
Wataru Uegaki and Paul Marty, Investigating the alternative-sensitivity of ‘know’
Alexander Podobryaev, Two kinds of indexicals, one kind of monster
Ezra Keshet (PhD 2008), Sloppy identity unbound
Guillaume Thomas (PhD 2012), Is the present tense vacuous?
We are very pleased to announce that fifth-year student Young Ah Do has accepted a position at Georgetown University as Visiting Assistant Professor in Phonology for the coming academic year. Congratulations, Young Ah!!
Over the spring break, first-year graduate student Isa Kerem Bayirli was in Germany for two events: he gave a talk entitled “On Suffixhood” at the University of Potsdam, and he later gave the talk at the Workshop on Verbal Morphosyntax held at the University of Stuttgart. Isa reports both sessions were exciting and thought-provoking.
This week are several MIT Linguists in Sweden, for the 36th annual meeting of Generative Linguistics in the Old World. Presentations and posters by current MIT linguists and recent alums at the GLOW Colloquium and associated Workshops include:
Undergraduate linguistics major Rebecca Reed (‘14) has been selected as one of 32 students to MIT’s Burchard Scholars program for 2013. Quoting the official announcement: “the award recognizes sophomores and juniors who have demonstrated outstanding abilities and academic excellence in some aspect of the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering.” Congratulations, Rebecca — we are all very proud!!
First-year students Ruth Brillman and Juliet Stanton have been awarded Linguistic Society of America Fellowships to attend the 2013 LSA Summer Institute, hosted by the University of Michigan. Congratulations Ruth and Juliet!!
Norvin Richards and 3rd-year student Coppe van Urk were in our nation’s sequestered capital this weekend to present a joint paper on “Dinka and the Syntax of Successive-Cyclic Movement” at the Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL 44), hosted by Georgetown University. Also presenting at ACAL was our very recent alum Claire Halpert (PhD 2012), now an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. Her talk was entitled “Revisiting the Zulu Conjoint/Disjoint Alternation: Mismatches in Prosody/Syntax Mapping”.
Fourth-year graduate student Hadas Kotek has been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant by the National Science Foundation that will allow her to conduct linguistic experimental work on the real-time processing of multiple wh-questions in English. Her project, entitled “Experimental Investigations of Multiple Wh-Questions” will test the differing predictions of two prominent approaches to the syntax and semantics of these questions — focusing on so-called intervention effects, which have been central to current debates about the syntax and semantics of multiple wh-questions. The research will be carried out at our Experimental Syntax and Semantics Lab. (Martin Hackl and David Pesetsky are the faculty co-investigators on the grant.)
To celebrate Presidents Day and the joy of being a linguist, a group from Martin Hackl’s Experimental Syntax and Semantics Lab went on a snow-shoeing hike in the White Mountains. As of press time, they had not returned … But Mitcho’s photos make it clear that they did reach their destination!
A new paper, “Visser’s Generalization: The Syntax of Control and the Passive” by 3rd-year student Coppe van Urk has just appeared in Linguistic Inquiry. Congratulations, Coppe!!
MIT was particularly well represented at the Annual Meeting of the LSA from Jan 3-6 in Boston, with 26 presentations (plenary, invited talks, regular talks, and posters) by current MIT affiliates, and many many more by past affiliates.
On Friday David Pesetsky delivered an invited plenary address, with the title: “Что дѣлать? ‘What is to be done?’”
In addition, the following talks and posters featured MIT presenters:
- Adam Albright and Youngah Do: Featural overlap facilitates learning of phonological alternations
- Jonathan Barnes, Alejna Brugos, Elizabeth Rosenstein, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, Nanette Veilleux: Segmental sources of variation in the timing of American English pitch accents
- Robert C. Berwick: Languages do not show lineage-specific trends in word-order universals
- Robert C. Berwick, Marco Idiart, Igor Malioutov, Beracah Yankama, Aline Villavicencio: Keep it simple: language acquisition without complex Bayesian models
- Young Ah Do: Children employ a conspiracy of repairs to achieve uniform paradigms
- Young Ah Do and Michael Kenstowicz: The Base in Korean noun paradigms: evidence from tone
- Ellen Duranceau: Open access at Massachusetts Institute of Technology: implementation and impact (In symposium: Open Access and the Future of Academic Publishing)
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine: Locality restrictions on syntactic extraction: the case (but not Case) of Kaqchikel Agent Focus
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine and Isaac Gould: Domain readings of Japanese head internal relative clauses
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine and Hadas Kotek: Intervention effects and covert pied-piping in English multiple questions
- Kai von Fintel: Taking an Open Access Start-up Journal to the Next Level (In symposium: Open Access and the Future of Academic Publishing)
- Suzanne Flynn, Janet Cohen Sherman, Jordan Whitlock, Claire Cordella, Charles Henderson, Zhong Chen, Aileen Costigan, James Gair, and Barbara Lust: The Regression Hypothesis revisited: new experimental results comparing child and dementia populations refute its predictions
- Peter Graff, Paul Marty, and Donca Steriade: French glides after C-Liquid: the effect of contrast distinctiveness
- Aron Hirsch and Michael Wagner: Topicality and its effect on prosodic prominence: the context creation paradigm
- Samuel Jay Keyser: Generative grammar at MIT
- Hadas Kotek: Intervention, covert movement, and focus computation in multiple wh-questions
- Paul Marty and Peter Graff: Cue availability and similarity drive perceptual distinctiveness: a cross-linguistic study of stop place perception
- Paul Marty, Peter Graff, Jeremy Hartman, and Steven Keyes: Biases in word learning: the case of non-myopic predicates
- Shigeru Miyagawa: A typology of the root phenomena (In symposium: The Privilege of the Root, co-organized by Shigeru Miyagawa and Liliane Haegeman)
- Sruthi Narayanan, Elizabeth Stowell, and Igor Yanovich: Ought to be strong
- Gregory Scontras, Peter Graff, Tami Forrester, Noah D. Goodman: Context sensitivity in collective predication
- Daeyoung Sohn: Absence of reconstruction effects and successive-cyclic scrambling
- Maziar Toosarvandani: Coordination and subordination in Northern Paiute clause chaining
- Rory Turnbull, Paul Marty, and Peter Graff: Complementary covariation in acoustic cues to place of articulation
- Suyeon Yun: Phonetic grammar of compensatory lengthening: a case study from Farsi
In addition, a large contingent of MIT linguists is off to Arizona this weekend to present at WCCFL 31:
- Tingchun Chen: Restructuring in Squliq Atayal
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine and Isaac Gould: Domain Readings of Japanese Head Internal Relative Clauses
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine: The (anti-)locality of movement: the case (but not Case) of Kaqchikel Agent Focus
- Hrayr Khanjian: Complementizer Concord in Western Armenian
- Theodore Levin: Untangling the Balinese Bind: Binding and Voice in Austronesian
- Suyeon Yun: A Unified Account of Nonnative Cluster Repairs
A paper by fourth-year student Hadas Kotek called “Wh-Fronting in a Two-Probe System” (earlier version available here) has been accepted for publication by Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. Congratulations Hadas!
The 37th BU Conference on Language Development (BUCLD 37) took place this past weekend at Boston University. Among the presentations were:
- Ayaka Sugawara, Hadas Kotek, Martin Hackl and Ken Wexler: “Long vs. short QR: Evidence from the acquisition of ACD”
- Jeremy Hartman, Yasutada Sudo and Ken Wexler: “Principle B and phonologically reduced pronouns in child English”
Our students, alums and faculty were represented in force at the 43rd meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, NELS 43, last weekend at the CUNY Graduate Center. Five current and two faculty members presented talks and posters:
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine & Hadas Kotek talked about “Diagnosing covert pied-piping”.
- Sam Steddy presented a poster offering “A regular rule of palatalization in Italian verbs”.
- Coppe van Urk and Maziar Toosarvandani presented a poster on “Directionality and Intervention in nominal concord: Evidence from Zazaki ezafe”.
- Coppe also presented his joint work with Norvin Richards in a talk entitled “On the architecture of long-distance extraction: evidence from Dinka”.
Two of last summer’s PhDs also presented talks at NELS.
- Yasutada Sudo (now at CNRS/ENS/Institut Jean Nicod, Paris) presented a poster about “Person and number features on bound pronouns and the structure of indices”.
- Guillaume Thomas (also at CNRS/ENS/Institut Jean Nicod, Paris) spoke on “Embedded Imperatives in Mbyá.
— as did several recent grads:
- Seth Cable (University of Massachusetts at Amherst) talked about Distance distributivity and pluractionality in Tlingit (and beyond)
- Jessica Coon (McGill) spoke on Predication, predicate fronting, and what it takes to be a verb”
- Recent visitor Barbara Citko (University of Washington) teamed up with alum Martina Gračanin Yuksek (Middle East Technical University) to speak about “Wh-coordination in free relatives”
The group of MIT alums presenting talks and posters also included Philippe Schlenker, Julliette Blevins, Hyon Sook Choe and Susi Wurmbrand — and many other former visitors, visiting faculty and other friends! As always, a great conference, and a bit of a reunion at the same time.
The 22nd Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference (JK22) was held at the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics in Tokyo over the weekend.
- Michael Kenstowicz was an invited speaker and gave a talk entitled “The adaptation of Contemporary Japanese Loanwords into Korean.”
- Ted Levin gave a talk on “Korean Nominative Case-Stacking: A Conﬁgurational Account.”
- Wataru Uegaki presented a poster entitled “Japanese/Korean alternative questions are disjunctions of polar questions.”
Back here in the States, the University of Kansas hosted 5th Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition-North America (GALANA 5). In addition to a plenary talk by Colin Phillips (PhD 1996), the program featured:
- A poster by Ayaka Sugawara, Hadas Kotek, Martin Hackl, and Ken Wexler: “Long vs. short QR: Evidence from the acquisition of ACD”
- Tania Ionin (PhD BCS 2003), Tatiana Luchkina, Anastasia Stoops: “Quantifier scope and scrambling in the second language acquisition of Russian”
- Jeremy Hartman (PhD 2012), Yasutada Sudo (PhD 2012), Ken Wexler: “Principle B and phonologically reduced pronouns in Child English”
Over the weekend, Michelle Fullwood was at the University of Maryland for this year’s Northeast Computational Phonology Workshop (NECPhon) and presented “Learning nonconcatenative morphological units via Bayesian inference.” Meanwhile, Gretchen Kern gave a talk entitled “Aspects of Old and Middle Irish rhyme” at the 32nd Harvard Celtic Colloquium.
This upcoming weekend, the Workshop on Locality and Directionality at the Morphosyntax-Phonology Interface is being held at Stanford. Norvin Richards will give a talk entitled “Generalizing a metrical EPP,” and Sam Steddy will present a poster called “How palatalisation in Italian verbal morphology is a regular process & how base-derivative faithfulness creates a lexical gap.”
Four MIT linguists were at the Formal Approaches to Japanese Linguistics 6 (FAJL 6) held in Berlin, Germany last week.
Isaac Gould gave a talk on Japanese ‘Rokuna’ as a Local Focus Associate. Ayaka Sugawara presented a poster on Apparent inverse scope with universal modals in Japanese. Recent alum Yasutada Sudo (PhD ‘12) (Institut Jean Nicod, Paris) had a poster on Weak ‘Evens’ in Japanese, and slightly less recent alum Shinichiro Ishihara (PhD ‘03) (Goethe University, Frankfurt) gave an invited talk on The Clause-Mate Condition: A Prosodic Account.
Fourth-year grad student Mitcho Erlewine travelled all the way to UMass Amherst, last weekend, to AIMM, the first American International Morphology Meeting, where he presented a paper entitled Dissociating the syntax and morphological realization of Mayan Agent Focus. Mitcho’s paper builds on fieldwork on Kaqchikel that began in the Spring 2011 version of 24.942: Grammar of a Less Familiar Language.
Ayaka Sugawara, Hadas Kotek, Martin Hackl & Kenneth Wexler “Long vs. Short QR: Evidence from the Acquisition of ACD”
Martin Hackl, Ayaka Sugawara, Su Lin Blodgett, & Kenneth Wexler “Scalar Presupposition and the Generation of Alternatives in the Acquisition of Only” (poster presentation)
Earlier this month, graduate student Ted Levin participated in the Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, held at the University of Salford in Manchester. He presented the paper (co-authored with Omer Preminger) entitled “Case in Sakha: are two modalities really necessary?” as part of a workshop on case.
This summer saw seven great dissertations written, defended, and filed (generally in that order). Congratulations to our (very-soon-to-be) PhDs!!
Peter Graff: Communicative Efficiency in the Lexicon
Jeremy Hartman: Varieties of Clausal Complementation
Pritty Patel-Grosz: (Anti-)Locality at the Interfaces
Kirill Shklovsky: Tseltal Clause Structure
Guillaume Thomas: Temporal Implications
We have a few summer news tidbits from faculty and students to add to those that we reported during our summer issue:
Wayne O’Neil, together with Maya Honda, worked again at the Navajo Language Academy workshop, teaching a three-week introduction to linguistics course to twenty or so Navajo teachers and educators. NLA’s linguistics workshop, housed this summer at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff AZ, has met each summer since 1997, moving from site to site on or near the Navajo Reservation. Paul Platero (PhD 1978) and Peggy Speas (PhD 1986) also taught at this summer’s workshop. The Navajo Language Academy (formerly the Navajo Linguistic Society) was founded by Ken Hale in 1974.
Norvin Richards gave invited talks at National Tsing Hua University (“Generalized Contiguity”) and at ISCLL 13 at National Taiwan Normal University (“Affix support and the EPP”).
Grad student Sam Steddy delivered a talk titled “Palatalisation Across the Italian Lexicon” to a UCL audience comprised of linguists and Italian teachers. The talk was organised by the London Phonology Seminar.
Grad students mitcho (Michael Erlewine) and TC Chen spent two months in Taiwan doing fieldwork on Atayal, an indigenous Formosan language. Both worked on Squliq Atayal as spoken by speakers in Fuhsing township and additionally TC went back to the Mayrinax Atayal-speaking tribe she has worked with in the past. It was a fruitful summer full of restructuring, modals, mysterious case markers, questions, wonderful informants, delicious food, and typhoons. (mitcho was supported by an NSF EAPSI award.)
While in Taiwan, TC gave a talk at the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association (AFLA 19) on “Restructuring in Mayrinax Atayal” and mitcho spoke at National Tsinghua University on “Kaqchikel Agent Focus: evidence from multiple extraction constructions.”
 Mountains of Fuhsing township
 Watching our informant chat online in Atayal
The eleven members of the incoming graduate class — one of the largest ever — have provided us with brief introductions.
Isa Bayirili writes: “I grew up in a small, nice and historical city of Turkey, namely Antakya, also famous for its extremely delicious desserts. I got my BA in English Language Teaching from METU, Ankara and my MA in Linguistics from Bogazici University, Istanbul. In my MA Thesis, I was surprised by certain regularities in morphology that have been left to the territories of the lexicon and I tried to develop a syntactic account of what it is to be a suffix within the framework of Brody’s Mirror Theory. This led me to a restrictive theory of syntax and to certain hypotheses about what it is to be a verbal element. Currently, I am working on the question of what other morphological elements can be given accounts by making reference to other components of grammar (i.e. syntax and pragmatics). I am also interested in methodological issues confronting restrictive theory construction for syntax and I share concerns about giving content to the term biolinguistics.”
Ruth Brillman reports: “I grew up in Albuquerque, NM and got my BA in Linguistics at NYU (where I also dabbled in Anthropology). I’m interested in syntax and its interfaces. When not doing Linguistics, I enjoy riding my bike, drinking tea, and playing Scrabble.”
Anthony Brohan is originally from Montreal, Quebec. He earned bachelors degrees in Computer Science and Linguistics at Queen’s University in Ontario. His interests lie primarily in phonology, with an emphasis on experimental work. At MIT he hopes to develop more interests, including putting his CS background to work. Outside of linguistics, he enjoys being outside (hiking, camping, canoeing, climbing and more).
Ishani Guha reports: “I am from Kolkata in India, though my education in linguistics was entirely done at the University of Delhi. So far, I have enjoyed studying the syntax of relative clause constructions in Bangla [Bengali] and I am keen on taking that forward while discovering new areas of interest at MIT.”
Aron Hirsch is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, a small (and very cold) city in central Canada. He writes: “I graduated with a B.A. in linguistics from McGill University a year ago, and have since been working at the McGill Prosody Lab. I am interested in theoretical and experimental semantics, pragmatics, and syntax, with much of my work to date relating to their respective interfaces with prosody.”
Sudheer Kolachina was born in the state of Andhra Pradesh in South India, but he likes to think of himself as a pan-Indian as he grew up in different parts of the country. In search of something interesting to do after a Bachelor’s in Engineering (from DAIICT) and an MA in lingustics (from the University of Delhi), he decided to go to Language Technologies Research Center (LTRC), IIIT-Hyderabad to combine his engineering skills with his training in linguistics. During his three years at LTRC, in addition to building parsers and Machine translation systems, he spent a lot of time working towards building linguistic resources for Indian languages (Hindi and Telugu). He also worked on two less documented languages - Hamirpuri and Khasi, spoken in the Indian mountains. He recently submitted a thesis on non-local information in syntactic parsing for a Masters in Computer Science and Engineering. His main areas of interest include formal language theory, syntactic grammar formalisms and parsing, theories of discourse and quantitative methods in the study of linguistic phylogeny. He is keen on exploring new areas in linguistics in the future. Apart from languages, he is passionate about yoga and traveling.
Lilla Magyar grew up in a medium-large town in the central-western part of Hungary and moved to a small village nearby when she was 14. She writes: “I graduated from the University of Pannonia with an MA / MEd in English language and literature and German language and literature, spent six months at the TU Chemnitz in Germany doing research and have also studied at ELTE TLP in Budapest (which might be known to some of you by the song “We are the world, we are the linguists”). My main area of interest is the phonology-morphology interface, especially variation and gradient / non-categorical phenomena, but I’m very much interested in sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics as well. In my free time, I enjoy reading books, listening to music, watching films, doing sports (such as swimming and aikido) and having fun with friends and family.”
Chris O’Brien grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He received a B.A. and M.A. in linguistics from Michigan State University. While at MIT, he’s interested in working on formal and experimental semantics. In his spare time, Chris enjoys watching old movies, particularly 1930s-40s screwball comedies.
Juliet Stanton is from Austin, Texas and she recently completed a BA in linguistics at Indiana University. She writes: “I’m mainly interested in phonology—some slightly more specific interests include inventories and phonotactics, as well as the interfaces among phonology, phonetics, and morphology. I am not committed to any one language or language family, but I did spend some time over the past year working on Saafi, an Atlantic language of western Senegal. Outside of linguistics, I enjoy reading, writing, listening to music, and spending lots of time outdoors.”
Benjamin Storme writes: “I was born and raised in Auvergne, France and moved to Paris to study Classics (Latin, Ancient Greek, Old French, etc.). I then studied Hittite at UCLA and finally Linguistics back in Paris. Besides Linguistics, I like among other things playing drums, watching movies, reading… My last name is akin to “storm”, but don’t ask me why there is an -e at the end: I have no clue (maybe it sounded more French!…).”
Samuel Zukoff hails from Summit, New Jersey, a suburb of New York City. He received a BA in Linguistics and Classics from Georgetown University, and has just completed an MA in Linguistics at University of Georgia with a concentration in Historical/Indo-European Linguistics. Sam’s Master’s Thesis was on reduplication in Ancient Greek. He reports: “I’m interested in phonology, historical linguistics, and language change, and particularly in applying contemporary linguistic theory to historical reconstruction. I work primarily on ancient Indo-European languages, including Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Latin, and Classical Armenian. I’m a huge sports fan (a New York sports fan, but don’t tell any of the locals), I like board games, card games, trivia, and good beer.”