The midpoint pathology (in the sense of Kager 2012) characterizes a type of unattested stress system in which the stressable window contracts to a single word-internal syllable in some words, but not others. Kager (2012) shows that the pathology is a prediction of analyses employing contextual lapse constraints (e.g. *ExtLapseR; no 000 strings at the right edge) and argues that the only way to avoid it is to eliminate these constraints from Con. This article explores an alternative: that systems exhibiting the midpoint pathology are unattested not because the constraints that would generate them are absent from Con, but because they are difficult to learn. This study belongs to a growing body of work exploring the idea that phonological typology is shaped by considerations of learnability.
On Wednesday October 26th, MIT Linguistics celebrated the Halloween season with an annual pumpkin carving party. Some of the results:
(photo credit: Snejana Iovtcheva)
Welcome to the new students who are joining the graduate program!
“I’m from Mississauga, Ontario. I was born in West Bengal in India, but I’ve lived in Canada since I was four and so have become very fond of the cold. In June I received a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Linguistics from the University of Toronto. My main linguistic interests are the syntax and semantics of the INFL domain. So far I’ve worked on the syntax of historical English and the semantics of epistemic modals cross-linguistically. My main non-linguistic interests are hiking, flags, maps, and Star Trek.”
“I’m originally from the suburbs of Chicago, which you’ll hear in my accent pretty quickly. I received a BA in linguistics and a BA in philosophy at UMass Amherst, where I wrote a thesis on attitude ascriptions. I spent this last year at the University of Maryland as a Baggett Fellow, where I did some language acquisition, psycholinguistics, and fieldwork. I’m primarily interested in semantics and its interfaces, especially in Kaqchikel and other Mayan languages. In my spare time, I love cooking, running, and drinking excessive amounts of coffee. I am also a classically trained clarinetist, and make a mean loaf of banana bread.”
“I was born and grew up in Tours (France), in the Loire valley, amid a bunch of Renaissance castles, but I studied in the Quartier Latin in Paris at ENS. I initially got a BA in maths there, before turning to linguistics, by doing a cognitive science master degree. Last year, I decided to take a year off to visit MIT, and MIT got me. My main interest lies in semantics, pragmatics. I have a special sympathy for pronouns, demonstratives, anything anaphoric, referential in general. I also have a dilettante interest in the Arabic language, literal and dialects, mainly Egyptian. Outside academia, I enjoy reading novels and poems, listening to cheesy French pop, I have a passive hobby of hiking, and a soft spot for French classical theater (attending, mind you).”
“I’m from Illinois, specifically the part that’s in the Upper Midwest, so my æshes are all over the place. I completed a BA in linguistics in 2014 at the University of Chicago, which stoked my interest in a few areas: morphology, argument structure, and the intersection of theoretical computer science and linguistics (especially syntax). Apart from linguistics, I enjoy cooking, watching videos of otters, and Scavving.”
“I grew up in Annapolis Maryland before attending McGill University in Montreal. I finished my B.A in linguistics last December and have since been working in the McGill Fieldwork Lab. There I have been researching Chuj (Mayan) morphophonology and aiding in the development of orthographic conventions. My main theoretical interests include prosody and morphophonology and I hope to continue working with Mayan. My non-academic interests are rather eclectic, but some highlights include garage rock, knitting, calligraphy, and the collected works of J.R.R Tolkien.”
“Currently enrolled in the MIT Linguistics Masters Program with a focus on Indigenous Language (Passamaquoddy).
Newell was the Community Planner for the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point. He helped coordinate research and develop lines of funding for the Tribe with the twin goals of community economic development and job creation. Newell also has a background in Information Technology and expertise with all aspects of computer hardware and software. Over the past 15 years, Lewey has trained many Tribal entities and individual clients in the use and functioning of various office products, personal computers and networks. Newell is also a part time Language Immersion apprentice for the Passamaquoddy Immersion School. Language learning and teaching has been a life long dream that is coming true. Newell has also been accepted into MIT’s Linguistics Master program; this will benefit him greatly in years to come when teaching the language.
Newell is serving his second elected term as Tribal Councilor for the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Tribe. The Council is the sole governmental structure for the Tribe and works to effect positive change for all who live in Sipayik. The Tribal Council is responsible for the development and implementation of policy and procedural issues. Lewey’s experience as a Councilor has taught him that good governance requires careful attention to the will of the people and a commitment to listen very carefully.
In describing himself, Lewey writes, ‘I am a father and grandfather who is concerned about my families’ future and that of all the generations of all our People who are yet to come. I have been in recovery and following the traditional ways of the Passamaquoddy for more than twenty nine years. In the past I have done work and volunteered with Native youth in many summer camp and fitness programs. I have also been a mentor and coach to Native youth in three Native American Olympic Games. I have also participated in and helped coordinate more than ten sacred runs which were done in an effort to unite the Wabanaki people of the Northeast. I have done some volunteering at a few of the Maine Correctional Institution in order to support the recovery of Native American prisoners.’”
“I was born and raised in the city of Chicago, otherwise known as ‘the Chi’, ‘Chi-town’, ‘the Windy City’, ‘Chi-beria’, ‘Is that even a city?’ (used by New Yorkers), etc. Between high school and college, I spent a year on exchange in Germany where I learned German and became interested in syntax. I recently graduated from MIT with a B.S. in both Physics and Linguistics, and decided to pursue a PhD in linguistics. My main interests are currently in syntax, and seem to be localized to verb-tense interactions in the vaguest sense. Outside of academia, I enjoy playing soccer, singing in vocal ensembles, pottery, and being outside in any capacity.”
“I’m originally from Wisconsin, and attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where I studied Spanish and Japanese, and also was lucky enough to see a few impromptu late night Prince performances at Paisley Park. After two years at the U of M, I decided to take a leave of absence and move to Los Angeles, where I worked as a musician and songwriter before returning to academics to finish my B.A. in linguistics at UCLA in 2015. My primary interests are in syntax and semantics, with a focus on questions relating to modality, negation, NPIs, and neg-raising. While at UCLA, I worked on negative and positive polarity items in Japanese, and neg-raising in English. I’m excited to continue working in these areas at MIT, and look forward to learning about new topics in areas that I have yet to explore. I am also a lover of music (writing, playing, and listening), reading, and stand up comedy.”
“I was born and raised in Shanghai, China, and did my undergraduate studies at Columbia University with a B.A. in economics and mathematics, during which I studied abroad in Paris and interned in Hong Kong. After that I worked in Mumbai, India for two years in the automobile industry. Despite the detour, I have always been interested in linguistics, and am grateful to have the opportunity to study it formally. I’m very curious in general and like to ask lots of questions. I’m particularly intrigued by syntax and phonology. Puzzled by problems such as the English expletive there and ellipsis, I look forward to exploring them further at MIT, and getting to know more new fields such as experimental and computational linguistics.”
Warm congratulations to this summer’s doctoral dissertators:
- Despina Oikonomou: Covert modals in root contexts
- Ayaka Sugawara: The role of Question-Answer Congruence (QAC) in child language and adult sentence processing
- Suyeon Yun: A theory of consonant cluster perception and vowel epenthesis
Despina and Suyeon will begin post-doctoral positions at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the University of Toronto respectively, while Ayaka is currently an associate professor (lecturer) at Mie University.
Three MIT students participated in the 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting (mfm 24) this year:
- Juliet Stanton & Sam Zukoff. Prosodic misapplication in copy epenthesis and reduplication.
- Sophie Moracchini. Backward languages: the case of French Verlan in OT
- Juliet Stanton. Trigger deletion in Gurindji.
Adam Albright was an invited discussant.
Congratulations to all our graduating senior majors and minors — Morris Alper, Jessica Kenney, Alyssa Napier, Raúl Rojas, and Elise Newman (as well as unofficial linguistics semi-majors/minors Yihui Quek and Emily Kellison-Linn)!
Fantastic news from our alum Maria Giavazzi (PhD 2010), who has accepted a permanent Maître de Conferences (≅ Associate Professor) position in linguistics and neuropsychology of language at the Department of Cognitive Studies of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris! Congratulations, Maria!!
The 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics was held from April, 29 to May, 1st in the Universiy of Utah. Three second year grad students gave talks or presented posters:
Date: Friday, April 22nd Time: 2-3:30pm Place: 32D, 7th floor seminar room
Lena Borise (Harvard) (with Mitya Privoznov (MIT)) and Tingchun Chen (MIT) will be giving two separate tutorials (45 minutes each) on the basics of ELAN and FLEx. ELAN is a tool for annotating video and audio recordings. FLEx is a fieldwork archiving program developed by the SIL that has many functions, including compiling a lexicon, storing and interlinearizing sentences and texts, etc.
The 46th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL 46) was held last week at Stony Brook University (SUNY).
Third year student Sophie Moracchini & Aurore Gonzalez (Harvard) gave a talk about A morpho-semantic decomposition of French `le moindre’ into even + superlative.
Three MIT alumni also presented talks: Dominique Sportiche ‘84 (UCLA) who gave a talk about Overt movement even with island resumptives and consequences; Richard Kayne ‘69 (NYU) about French HCI, Agree, and Clitic Doubling; and Viviane Déprez ‘89 (Rutgers), who gave a talk on Contextual and prosodic disambiguation of French concord and discord with Jeremy Yeaton.
The full program and abstracts can be found here.
Two of our graduate students and two recent alums presented their work at the 47th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL) last week in Berkeley.
- Second-year student Abdul-Razak Sulemana presented a papret on “Wh-in-situ and intervention in Bùlì”.
- Third-year student Kenyon Branan spoke about “Abstract dependent case: evidence from Kikuyu”
- Claire Halpert (PhD 2012) of the University of Minnesota was a plenary speaker. Her topic was “Surmountable Barriers”
- Newly minted alum Isaac Gould (PhD 2015) co-presented (with Tessa Scott) a talk on “Two derivations for amba relative clauses in Swahili”
Last weekend, many MIT and recently MIT linguists converged on Washington, D.C. for the annual meeting of the LSA.
- Alums Karlos Arregi (PhD ‘02) and Jonathan Bobaljik (PhD ‘95) were honored as LSA Fellows, along with alum and colleague Sabine Iatridou (PhD ‘91) and our colleague Kai von Fintel!
- Barbara Partee of UMass Amherst (PhD 1965), a member of our very first graduate class, received the Victoria A. Fromkin Lifetime Service Award!
(photos: mitcho Erlewine)
Several current students, faculty and recent grads gave talks and posters at the LSA, including:
- Richard Futrell (Brain & Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Adam Albright (Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Peter Graff ‘12 (Intel Corporation), Timothy J. O’Donnell (Brain & Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology): “Subsegmental structure facilitates learning of phonotactic distributions”
- Michelle Yuan (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Ruth Brillman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Zuzanna Fuchs (Harvard University): “Inuktitut mood-agreement interactions as contextual allomorphy”
- Ryo Masuda (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): “The learnability of tone-voicing associations and the absence of place-sensitive tonogenesis”
- Michelle Yuan (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): “Subordinate clause types and the left periphery in Gikuyu”
- Miriam Nussbaum (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): “Tense and scope in superlatives”
- Suyeon Yun (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): “Non-native cluster perception by phonetic confusion, not by universal grammar”
- Theodore Levin ‘15 (University of Maryland): “Unmarked case is unvalued case: Default Voice in Formosan restructuring”
- Hadas Kotek ‘14 (McGill University), Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine ‘14 (National University of Singapore): “Unifying definite and indefinite free relatives: evidence from Mayan”
- Patrick Jones ‘14 (Harvard University): “Tonal mobility and faithfulness in Kikuyu”
- Youngah Do ‘13 (Georgetown University), Elizabeth Zsiga (Georgetown University), Jonathan Havenhill (Georgetown University): “Naturalness and frequency in implicit phonological learning”
- Jonah Katz ‘10 (West Virginia University), Sarah Lee (University of California, Berkeley): “Cue integration and fricative perception in Seoul Korean”
- Nicholas Baier of UC Berkeley, who spent the Fall as a much-appreciated visiting student with us, presented a talk of “Deriving partial anti-agreement” (the First Place Student Abstract Award Winner — congratulations!).
- From McMaster University, Cassandra Chapman, a visiting student last Spring, and Ivona Kucerova ‘07 presented a talk on “Structural and semantic ambiguity of why-questions: an overlooked case of weak islands in English”
Very recent grad Coppe van Urk ‘15 (Queen Mary University), who did not give a talk, couldn’t stay away, nor could several of our current students who attended just for the fun. And as always, many many MIT alums from decades past attended and presented talks, too numerous to mention.
We have just received the great news that our alumni Patrick G. Grosz (PhD 2011) and Pritty Patel-Grosz (PhD 2012) have accepted tenured Associate Professor positions at the University of Oslo. Congratulations, Patrick and Pritty!
- We are thrilled to take note of the publication of a book by our very recent alum (and very recent colloquium speaker) Claire Halpert (PhD 2012), from Oxford University Press! The book is called Argument licensing and agreement. More information is available here.
- Congratulations also to 4th-year student Juliet Stanton on the acceptance for publication in Language of her paper “Learnability shapes typology: the case of the midpoint pathology”! A pre-publication version of her paper can be downloaded here. Another paper of Juliet’s has just appeared in Linguistic Inquiry: “Wholesale Late Merger in Ā-Movement: Evidence from Preposition Stranding”. A prepublication version can also be downloaded here.
- Congratulations to 4th-year student Sam Zukoff, whose paper “The Reduplicative System of Ancient Greek and a New Analysis of Attic Reduplication” has been accepted for publication by Linguistic Inquiry! Download a pre-publication version at either lingbuzz or Sam’s webpage.
We are delighted to announce that Wataru Uegaki (PhD 2015) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor (Universitair Docent) at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He will be affiliated with both the Leiden Institute of Area Studies (LIAS) and the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), and will teach Japanese linguistics and semantics. Wataru is currently a Postdoctoral fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science at Keio University (Tokyo) & the Institut Jean-Nicod (CNRS/ENS) (Paris). Wataru’s new position in Leiden is a fantastic opportunity, and we know that the University of Leiden will be as proud of him as we are! Congratulations!!
The MIT/Harvard fieldwork support group will be meeting again this Tuesday, 6-7:30pm, at 32-D831. We will discuss two readings on fieldwork methodology:
Matthewson, L. 2004. On the methodology of semantic fieldwork. IJAL 70: 369-415.
Davis, Gillon, and Matthewson. 2014. How to investigate linguistic diversity: Lessons from the Pacific Northwest. Manuscript.
We are delighted to announce that our distinguished alum Ivona Kučerová (PhD 2007) has been granted tenure at McMaster University! Srdečně gratulujeme k tomuto velkému úspěchu!!
Congratulations to our alum John J. McCarthy (PhD 1979), who has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science! John is Distinguished University Professor, Vice-Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School at UMass Amherst. He is one of the most eminent researchers in phonology, a pioneer in the development of Optimality Theory and renowned for many contributions to multiple areas of linguistics.
Of the now 40 AAAS Fellows in Linguistics and Language Science (Section Z), 13 are alumni of our PhD program. The roster of Fellows also includes three members of our faculty, David Pesetsky (PhD 1982), emeritus professor Wayne O’Neil — and Institute Professor emeritus Noam Chomsky (in the Anthropology Section, since Linguistics did not have a section of its own at the time of his election).
The next meeting of the MIT/Harvard fieldwork support group will take place on Monday, Nov. 23, 6-7pm. Note that this meeting will be at Harvard, in Boylston 303. Masha Polinsky (Harvard) will give a talk on fieldwork methodology and tools.
If you are interested in attending, please email either Michelle (firstname.lastname@example.org) or TC (email@example.com) to RSVP if you have not done so already!
The Southern New England Workshop in Semantics (SNEWS) is an annual graduate student conference that brings together presenters from six universities: Harvard, MIT, Brown, Yale, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and University of Connecticut. This year, SNEWS took place at Harvard. The following MIT grad students gave talks:
- Naomi Francis(second year): A curious pattern in future-oriented if only conditionals
- Aurore González & Sophie Moracchini (third year): Morphologically complex expressions: analyzing le moindre as superlative + even
- Daniel Margulis (second year): Expletive negation and temporal alternatives in until-clauses
- Paul Marty (fifth year): Syntactic Manner: the case of strong crossover effects
Whug Whiches in situ,
howλing wolves you can see through,
But good timing —
To see more pictures, visit the MIT Linguistics Facebook page.
Fourth-year student Sam Zukoff gave a talk last weekend at the UCLA Indo-European conference WeCIEC 2015, entitled “Repetition Avoidance and the Exceptional Reduplication Patterns of Indo-European”. You can read the handout here.
Congratulations to 4th-year student Juliet Stanton, whose paper “Predicting distributional restrictions on prenasalised stops” has just been published in Natural Language & Linguistic Theory!
Previous studies on prenasalized stops (NCs) focus mainly on issues of derivation and classification, but little is known about their distributional properties. The current study fills this gap. I present results of a survey documenting positional restrictions on NCs, and show that there are predictable and systematic constraints on their distribution. The major finding is that NCs are optimally licensed in contexts where they are perceptually distinct from plain oral and nasal stops. I provide an analysis referencing auditory factors, and show that a perceptual account explains all attested patterns.
The 46th annual meeting of the North East Linguistics Society was held at Concordia University (Montréal, Québec) on October 16-18, 2015. The following MIT students gave talks or poster presentations:
- Athulya Aravind: Minimality and WH licensing in Malayalam
- Kenyon Branan: Case sensitive A-bar movement
- Aron Hirsch: “DP conjunction” as vP conjunction: a case for conjunction reduction
- Nicholas Longenbaugh: The Two predicates Tough
- Ezer Rasin: Phonological architecture and blocking in nonderived environments
- Juliet Stanton: Effects of Allophonic Vowel Nasalization on NC Clusters
- Michelle Yuan: Case and morphosyntactic anti-identity in Yimas
Two of our most distinguished alums gave invited talks …
- Valentine Hacquard (PhD 2006; UMD): Theme and variations in the expression of modality (joint work with Ailis Cournan)
- Omer Preminger (PhD 2011; UMD): Head movement, phrasal movement, and clitic doubling: towards a principled typology
…and the following alumni (also distinguished!) gave presentations:
- Sam Alxatib (PhD 2014; CUNY): Actuality Entailments in Palestinian Arabic
- Seth Cable (PhD 2007; UMass): The Special Implicatures of Optional Past Tense: The Tlingit Decessive and ‘Discontinuous Past’
- Isaac Gould (PhD 2015; UKansas): Modeling Verb Placement Errors in Child Swiss German: The role of ambiguous evidence
- Hadas Kotek (PhD 2014; McGill), Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (PhD 2014; U. Singapore): Unifying Definite and indefinite free relatives: Evidence from Mayan
- Idan Landau (PhD 1999; Ben Gurion): Hybrid Nouns and Agreement Zones within DP
- Theodore Levin (PhD 2015; UMD): Unmarked case is unvalued Case: Default Voice in Formosan restructuring
- Yasutada Sudo (PhD 2012; UCL): List Readings of Conjoined Singular Which-Phrases (joint work with Andreea Nicolae (ZAS) and Patrick Elliott (UCL))
- Susi Wurmbrand (PhD 1998; UConn): Crossing clauses covertly — difficult but not impossible
The department website has been updated with links to the many alums of the graduate program in Linguistics — plus download links to their dissertations and theses. Please let us know of any errors (or, if you are an alum yourself, changes requested).
Four of this summer’s dissertations are now available to read!
- Isaac Gould, “Syntactic Learning from Ambiguous Evidence: Errors and End States”
- Theodore Levin, “Licensing without Case”
- Wataru Uegaki, “Interpreting Questions under Attitudes”
- Coppe van Urk, “A Uniform Syntax for Phrasal Movement: a Dinka Bor Case Study”
Renewed congratulations to all!! And here they are (again).
Four linguistics conferences were held in Europe over the last two weeks.
(1) The 20th Sinn und Bedeutung was held at the University of Tübingen, Germany (September 9-12 2015). Irene Heim gave an invited talk in the Stechow workshop. Two MIT students presented posters.
- Fourth year Aron Hirsch: A compositional semantics for wh-ever free relatives
- Edwin Howard: The Pragmatics of Verb-Initial Conditional Antecedents in English
Three recent alumni gave talks and presented posters:
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (National University of Singapore; PhD 2014) and Hadas Kotek (McGill; PhD 2014) Relative pronoun pied-piping, the structure of which informs the analysis of relative clauses
- Yasutada Sudo (UCL; PhD 2012) and Giorgos Spathas (University of Stuttgart): Nominal Ellipsis and the Interpretation of Gender in Greek
- Hadas Kotek (McGill; PhD 2014): On the semantics of Wh Questions
- Patrick Elliott and Yasutada Sudo (UCL): E-Type Readings of Quantifiers Under Ellipsis: Consequences for the Identity Condition
Two recent visiting students at MIT gave poster presentations:
- Maria Del Mar Bassa Vanrell (The University of Texas at Austin / MIT): The puzzle of Punctual Until revisited
- Yaron McNabb, Stavroula Alexandropoulou, Dominique Blok, Rick Nouwen and Sophia Bimpikou (Utrecht Institute for Linguistics): The likelihood of upper-bound construals among different modified numerals: a cross-linguistic and experimental investigation
(2) The 12th Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition conference (GALA 12) was held at the University of Nantes, Nantes (France) on September 10-12, 2015. An MIT student and a recent alumnus gave talks.
- Third year Athulya Aravind (with Martin Hackl & Ken Wexler): Subject-object asymmetries in the acquisition of clefts
- Ayaka Sugawara (Mie University; PhD 2015) (with Martin Hackl, Irina Onoprienko & Ken Wexler): Acquisition of quantifier scope: Evidence from English Rise-Fall-Rise
(3) The University of Göttingen hosted the Göttingen Spirit Summer School on Negation on September 14th-17th, 2015. An MIT student and an MIT alumnus gave poster presentations.
- Second year Daniel Margulis: When Negation Goes Mad: On the Puzzle of Expletive Negation
- Magda Oiry (UMass) and Jeremy Hartman (UMass; PhD 2012): The Interaction of Negation and Factivity in Acquisition
(4) The 2015 Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB 2015) was held at University College London, 15-18 September 2015. The abstract booklet can be found here. An MIT student and two alumni gave talks.
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)