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.”
Fifth-year student Claire Halpert has accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of Minnesota (where the list of her distinguished colleagues will include Hooi Ling Soh, PhD 1998).
Congratulations, Claire!! Great news!!!
- Ayaka Sugawara, Mitcho Erlewine and Hadas Kotek all gave talks at the Semantics Reading Group in Tokyo. Ayaka spoke on “Semantics of English suffix -ish as a degree head”, Hadas talked about “Intervention effects as diagnosing interrogative LFs”, and Mitcho presented a paper entitled “Japanese Head Internal Relative Clauses and Maximal Informativeness”. The same trio then proceeded to Tohoku University in Sendai, where Hadas spoke about “Experimental Investigations of most”, Mitcho discussed ”Kaqchikel Agent Focus: new evidence from multiple extraction constructions.”, and Ayaka presented “Nature of QR: Evidence from first language acquisition of ACD (joint work with Hadask Kotek, Martin Hackl, and Ken Wexler)” — followed by a discussion of the joint project with members of Masatoshi Koizumi’s (PhD 1995) lab.
- In an earlier Whamit!, we reported the acceptance of the paper “Comparing Pluralities” by Gregory Scontras, 5th-year student Peter Graff and Noah Goodman by the journal Cognition. That paper has now appeared, and is the topic of a nice article by the MIT News Office. Have a look!
The Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL8) was held at the University of Stuttgart, May 18-20.
Sabine Iatridou and Masa Koizumi (‘95) were keynote speakers.
The following MIT-associated linguists gave presentations: İsa Kerem Bayırlı (incoming graduate student), Shin Ishihara (‘03), Shigeru Miyagawa & Hedde Zeijlstra (former visiting instructor), Junya Nomura, Alexander Podobryaev and Sergei Tatevosov (former visiting instructor).
Several MIT-affiliated linguists will be presenting posters at the upcoming 22nd Semantics and Linguistic Theory conference (SALT 22) in Chicago, May 18-20:
- Hadas Kotek, Yasutada Sudo and Martin Hackl: `Many’ Readings of `Most’
- Giorgio Magri (PhD 2009; CNRS, Paris 7, LABEX EFL-PLU): No need for a theory of the distribution of readings of english bare plurals
- Paul Marty, Emmanuel Chemla and Benjamin Spector: `Between 3 and 5′ sometimes means `at least 3′ : new ways to detect a new ambiguity
Hadas Kotek, Shigeru Miyagawa, Ayaka Sugawara and collaborators gave a poster presentation, “Perception of Japanese vowel duration contrasts by L1 and L2 learners of Japanese: An EEG/MEG study” at the McGovern Symposium on MEG (MIT) and 2012 Mismatch Negativity Conference (CUNY). This is a collaboration with the McGovern Institute for Brain Science and FL&L, MIT, and the EEG laboratory at the CUNY Graduate Center, on how MIT’s Very Fast Track-Japanese students’ perception of mismatches change as measured by EEG/MEG over the course of the one-semester study. Here is the link to the presentation poster.
5th-year student Jeremy Hartman has accepted a tenure track position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics and the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst. His duties at UMass will include teaching and research in both syntax and language acquisition. Congratulations, Jeremy!!
Remember those WCCFL practice talks we announced last week by Coppe van Urk and Hadas Kotek. Last weekend was the real thing, and by all accounts both WCCFL 30 at Santa Cruz and the talks by Coppe (joint with UCLA’s Laura Kalin) and Hadas were great successes.
At the Modality workshop at University of Ottawa this coming weekend, MIT will be represented by invited speaker Sabine Iatridou (an invited speaker); Bronwyn Bjorkman (PhD 2011) and Claire Halpert (In an imperfect world: deriving the typology of counterfactual marking), and Igor Yanovich (Modal hopes and fears: a diachronic case study). Alumna Bridget Copley(PhD 2002, CNRS & Paris 8) will also be presenting a paper at the conference (Wanting good cheese and acting to get it: Anankastic conditionals and intent).
The 22nd Colloquium on Generative Grammar was held in Barcelona on March 21-23. Donca Steriade was an invited speaker (The cycle without containment), and talks were given by graduate student Yusuke Imanishi (A Non-Uniform Merge of Argument WH: A Case Study in Kaqchikel) and recent alum Maria Giavazzi (PhD 2010; “Assibilation in Standard Finnish: a case of stress-conditioned contrast neutralization”). The conference also included a poster by Giorgio Magri (PhD 2009; “No need for a theory of the distribution of readings of English bare plurals”).
Next month, a sizable group of current and recent members of our department will be at the 20th anniversary of the Manchester Phonology Meeting (mfm20, May 24-26). As part of the anniversary, invited speakers will discuss unsolved problems in phonology. Among the speakers are faculty member Donca Steriade, on segment sequencing, and recent visitor Nina Topintzi (Universitaet Leipzig), on compensatory lengthening. Additionally, the following abstracts were accepted:
Adam Albright: “Shared neutralizations without shared representations”
Sam Alxatib: “The stress-epenthesis opacity in Palestinian Arabic”
Tara McAllister Byun (PhD 2009, Montclair State University), Sharon Inkelas, and Yvan Rose: “Transient phonology, CON and child phonological processes”
Laura McPherson (Visiting student 2011, UCLA) and Bruce Hayes: “Relating application frequency to morphological structure: the case of Tommo So vowel harmony”
Kevin Tang and Andrew Nevins (PhD 2005, UCL): “Learning from mistakes: computational modelling of slips of the ear”
Gretchen Kern: “Perceptual similarity in sonority contours: evidence from Early Irish rhyming patterns”
Giorgio Magri (PhD 2009, University of Paris 7): “The stochastic error-driven ranking model of child variation”
Sam Steddy: “How palatalisation in Italian verbs is a regular process”
Suyeon Yun: “A typology of epenthesis positioning in loanword adaptation: A perceptual account”
Congratulations to all!
The program for CLS 48 is out, and it looks as though much of MIT will be transplanted to Chicago for the meeting. Adam Albright and Kai von Fintel are invited speakers at the conference, and a total of eight other talks will be presented by a total of nine current graduate students in various solo and ensemble combinations that would stretch a semanticist’s imagination to represent succinctly: Marie-Christine Meyer, Yusuke Imanishi, Ayaka Sugawara, [Hadas Kotek, Yasutada Sudo and Martin Hackl], [Laura Kalin (UCLA) and Coppe van Urk], first-year student Paul Marty (félicitations!), Sasha Podobryaev and Mitcho Erlewine (in order of listing in the program). Recent alums Giorgio Magri and Maria Giavazzi will also be giving talks.
The program for Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics 21 (FASL) is also out, and features MIT-related talks by post-doc Erik Schoorlemmer and grad students Igor Yanovich and Liuda Nikolaeva - as well as an invited talk by Tania Ionin (2003 PhD from BCS, but a linguist at heart!). Поздравляем вас всех!
mitcho (Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine) received an East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute grant from the National Science Foundation, which will permit him spend two months this summer in Taiwan to conduct fieldwork on the Austronesian langage Atayal.
5th-year student Claire Halpert is off to New Orleans this week for the 43rd Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL), where she will give a talk on “Optional agreement: new facts about Zulu subjects”.
A new paper (a “technical comment”) has just appeared in Science, co-authored by Florian Jaeger (Rochester), Dan Pontillo (Rochester) and our own Peter Graff (5th-year grad student), entitled Comment on “Phonemic Diversity Supports a Serial Founder Effect Model of Language Expansion from Africa”. Congratulations, Peter (and all)!!
mitcho (Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine) will be presenting a paper on “The Constituency of Hyperlinks in a Hypertext Corpus” at Linguistic Evidence 2012 in Tübingen this week.
Graduate students Rafael Nonato, Guillaume Thomas and Sam al-Khatib spent January 12-19 teaching at EVELIN (Escola de VErão de LINguística Formal / Summer School in Formal Linguistics) at UNICAMP (the University of Campinas) in Brazil. Rafael taught Syntax 1 and Field Methods 1 and 2; Guillaume Semantics 1 and Sam Semantics 2.
Both Hadas Kotek and Omer Preminger gave talks over the break at the Jerusalem/Tel Aviv Syntax-Semantics Reading Group. Hadas’s talk was entitled “What Hebrew multiple questions can teach us about interrogative probing, and how”, and Omer’s talk a few weeks earlier was entitled “Against ‘crashes’: Evidence from Kichean and Zulu” (with an encore presentation at Ben Gurion University on on Dec. 27).
At the Ninth Old World Conference on Phonology (OCP9), 4th-year grad student Sasha Podobryaev presented a paper on “Rhyming in echo-reduplication”, and Edward Flemming gave a plenary talk entitled “Violations are ranked, not constraints: A revised model of constraint interaction in phonetics and phonology”.
Our recent alum Maria Giavazzi (PhD 2010), now at the Ecole Normale Superieure (DEC-NPI), also spoke on “Assibilation in Standard Finnish: a case of stress-conditioned contrast neutralization”, and presented a poster on how “Vowel quality affects the identification of TSM codas” jointly authored with her classmate Hyesun Cho (PhD 2010, now at Seoul National University).
Another classmate, Jonah Katz (PhD 2010), also at the Ecole Normale Superieure and the Institute Jean Nicod, presented a paper on ‘Spanish consonant clusters and the phonology of timing’ at hte Berlin Conference.
Grad students Iain Giblin, Coppe van Urk, Claire Halpert, Hadas Kotek, mitcho Erlewine, recently-a-grad-student Bronwyn Bjorkman (PhD 2011), and a trio consisting of Kai von Fintel/Danny Fox/Sabine Iatridou, have all had abstracts accepted for the upcoming GLOW (Generative Linguistics in the Old World) conference in Potsdam this March (along with many alums etc.),
Congratulations all! More as the date approaches.
A paper by 5th year dissertating student Peter Graff with Harvard grad student Gregory Scontras and Noah Goodman of Stanford has just been accepted for publication in Cognition. Meanwhile, you can read the paper, entitled Comparing Pluralities, here.
A healthy contingent of our graduate students (and recently minted PhDs) will be presenting papers at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Portland, Oregon:
- Alya Asarina (PhD 2011): “Against the activity condition: An argument from Uyghur”
- Bronwyn Bjorkman (PhD 2011): “Auxiliary verb constructions and the morphosyntax of verbal inflection”
- Peter Graff: “Languages favor perceptible contrasts in distinguishing words: Evidence from minimal pairs”
- Peter Graff, with a large group from Masha Polinsky’s lab at Harvard (including Jessica Coon, PhD 2010): “Processing ergative languages: Methodology and preliminary results”
- Peter Graff, with a million people from the University of Chicago: “Coronal stop deletion on reality TV”
- Claire Halpert: “Nominals are case-licensed, even in Bantu: Evidence from Zulu”
- Jeremy Hartman: “Experiencer intervention in English”
- Patrick Jones: “Intermediate contour tones derive non-iterative tone shift in Kinande”
- Marie-Christine Meyer, with Evelina Fedorenko and Edward Gibson: “Contrastive topic intonation: An empirical evaluation”
- Jennifer Michaels: “Caught in-between: Neutralizing indistinct surface contrasts”
- Kirill Shklovsky: “A binding account of possessor raising”
- Kirill Shklovsky: “Split infinitives in Tseltal”
Other MIT events at the LSA: ACLS New Faculty Fellow Maziar Toosarvandani will also give a talk on ”Temporal interpretation and discourse structure in Northern Paiute”, Ted Gibson and various collaborators will present several papers at the conference, and … Irene Heim will be inducted into the 2012 class of LSA Fellows, as previously announced here!
Last Friday through Sunday, a goodly group of MIT linguists traveled to Toronto for NELS 42, hosted by the University of Toronto. All told, six talks were presented by our graduate students, in addition to David Pesetsky’s invited talk (one of four reflecting the conference theme “Diversity and universals: The role of typology and linguistic universals in linguistic theory”). The other invited speakers were Mark Baker, Lisa Matthewson, and Martina Wiltschko.
On Friday. Bronwyn Bjorkman and Claire Halpert presented their paper “In search of (im)perfection: the illusion of counterfactual aspect”, Rafael Nonato argued that “Clause-chaining is coordination” (on the basis of striking similarities between Kisêdjê and English), and David Pesetsky presented an invited talk on why we should view “Dependent Case as Binding Theory”. On Saturday, Suyeon Yun gave her talk on “Opacity and serial phonology-morphology interaction in Kyungsang Korean”. On Sunday, Yusuke Imanishi told the audience “How to merge possessor WH in Kaqchikel (Mayan): A non-uniform merge of argument WH”, Claire Halpert spoke on “Structural case and the nature of vP in Zulu”, and Jeremy Hartman presented his paper “Parallel movement and (non-)intervention by experiencers”. We’re biased, but we think their talks were fantastic. There were interesting, tough questions after the talks, and lively discussion.
As always at NELS, other great talks were presented by recent graduates, distinguished alums and fondly-remembered vistors. We’re sure we’re going to end up forgetting some (sorry!), but in the recent and slightly less recent alum category, we want to note the excellent talks by Gillian Gallagher, Heejeong Ko and her student Chorong Kang, Susi Wurmbrand, Julie Legate and Course 6 alum (but who’s counting) Charles Yang. The fondly remembered visitor category includes the talks by Sarah Ouwayda (whose talk was partly developed during her stay here last Spring), Gary Thoms, Ileana Paul and Lisa Matthewson. And there were plenty of really interesting talks by linguists from everywhere else too!
At NELS, we also got to say hello to Jessica Coon, who came over from McGill for the event, Tim Stowell and Carson Schutze from UCLA, who came to support their department’s own healthy contingent of NELS presenters, and several ex-MITers at the University of Toronto, including Diane Massam, Cristina Cuervo, Michela Ippolito and Yoonjung Kang. It was a great conference, and a nice reunion as well.
Continuing a tradition of knife-wielding artistry and even defying a storm that brought disaster in its wake, the second annual Massachusetts Institute of Technology Linguistically Informed Pumpkin Carving took place last Monday. Some of the results:
Graduate student Kirill Shklovsky writes:
I just wanted to make MIT linguists aware that I have a free syntax tree-drawing program available on my webpage. According to Guillaume Thomas it is the best program available for Windows :) It doesn’t reach the sophistication possible with various LaTeX packages, but it is reasonably good with your basic trees and movement arrows. There are various options for formatting the text in your trees and labels the arrows.
And from the program description:
EMFTree is a program for drawing syntactic trees on the Windows OS. The way it works is as follows: you type in the code that will generate your tree, hit Enter, and your tree is drawn. You can then copy the image and paste it into Microsoft Word, Open Office, or any other program.
Since the pictures produced by EMFTree are vector graphics, they should look good both on the screen and on the printed page when scaled to your liking.
Last week mitcho (Michael Erlewine) presented “Mandarin háishi and the analysis of alternative question disjunction” at the 7th meeting of the European Association of Chinese Linguistics.
mitcho (Michael Erlewine) stayed mostly in Boston this summer, presenting “The Constituency of Hyperlinks in a Hypertext Corpus” at the International Society for the Linguistics of English at BU and “Focus Interpretation and Covert Movement: the Dake Blocking Effect” at the GLOW in Asia Workshop for Young Scholars in Japan.
Claire Halpert was awarded an NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant for her project on Zulu syntax, Agreement and Argument Structure, which supported seven weeks of fieldwork in South Africa this summer. Claire has been living in Umlazi, a Zulu-speaking township in Durban, and commuting several days a week to the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where she is a visiting scholar. She has been working closely with students and faculty in the department, and has given two talks on her research during her stay. In July, Claire taught Syntactic Field Methods at the African Linguistics School (ALS 2011) in Porto Novo, Benin. This second meeting of the ALS brought together students from all over Africa to study linguistic theory, with a focus on African languages. Her class focused on the syntax of Tofingbe, an undescribed and threatened member of the Gbe cluster spoken in the Porto Novo region. Efforts are currently underway by Claire and members of the class to continue research on the language!
One of our undergraduate majors, John Berman, reports:
I spent most of June near Palenque, Mexico, where I stayed with a Ch’ol family and did research on the Ch’ol language. Ch’ol is a native American language of the Mayan family spoken by about 150,000 in the Mexican states of Chiapas and Tabasco. I will present some of my findings this October at UT Austin’s Center for the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (CILLA) conference.
And last but certainly not the least, there are six incoming graduate students this year.
Tingchun Chen, who goes by T.C., grew up in Taiwan and received a B.A. in linguistics from McGill University. “My main areas of interest are syntax and syntax/semantics interface. I work on Atayal, an indigenous (Austronesian) language of Taiwan and spent the past two summers doing fieldwork in a small Atayal tribe. Besides linguistics, I also enjoy tennis, hiking and the company of cats.”
Snejana Iovtcheva reports: “I am originally from Bulgaria, but I grew up in Germany and I have my first MA degree in Political Science and German Philology from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. I then discovered my affinity for linguistics and received my second MA degree from Syracuse University. In my MA thesis I investigate the syntactic structure of the Bulgarian wh-questions, especially the interaction between [topic]-, [focus]-, and [wh]-fronting. I am further interested in grammatical gender, clitics, pro-drop constructions, and left-dislocated subjects. If I am not in the library, then you will most probably meet me at the playground with my toddler.”
Miriam Nussbaum, who likes to go by ‘Mia’, is from Ithaca, New York. In May 2011, she graduated from Cornell, where she majored in music in addition to linguistics. Her current list of favorite topics to study in linguistics mostly consists of things that have to do with syntax and/or semantics (passive/impersonal constructions, information structure, and de se semantics, to name a few); outside of linguistics, she enjoys playing the flute, composing music, and reading novels in various languages.
Despina Oikonomou writes: “I grew up in Greece, in a small seaside village. I received my BA in Balkan, Slavic & Oriental Studies from the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki. I recently completed my MA in Linguistics at the University of Crete. I am particularly interested in syntax/semantics interface, pragmatics and language acquisition. Outside of linguistics, I enjoy classic literature and comics.”
Amanda Swenson grew up in a small town in Wisconsin near St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN. She writes: “I received my B.A. in Language and Linguistics from Baylor University in Waco, TX. My main interest in linguistics is syntax. I am also interested in the syntax-semantics interface, 1st language acquisition and language evolution. My research to date has focused on long-distance binding across a large cross section of languages. As far as languages go, I am particularly interested in working on Greek and Dravidian languages. Outside of linguistics, I enjoy sports and cooking.”
Over the summer, six students defended their dissertations! In order of defense date, they are…
Patrick Grosz - On the Grammar of Optative Constructions
Omer Preminger - Agreement as a Fallible Operation
Tue Trinh - Edges and Linearization
Luka Crnic - Getting Even
Alya Asarina - Case in Uyghur and Beyond
Bronwyn Bjorkman - BE-ing Default: The Morphosyntax of Auxiliaries
Congratulations to all six for their splendid achievements!!
…contains two papers authored and coauthored by current graduate students. Congratulations!
“On the Ungrammaticality of Remnant Movement in the Derivation of Greenberg’s Universal 20” by Sam Steddy and Vieri Samek-Lodovici
- Graduate student Patrick Jones gave a talk entitled “Tonal Opacity and Paradigm Structure in the Kinande Verb System” at the 19th Manchester Phonology Meeting, held May 19-21 at the University of Manchester.
- Faculty member Martin Hackl was at the University of Vienna as an invited speaker for the Identity in Grammar workshop at GLOW 34, the annual meeting of the organization Generative Linguistics in the Old World.
- At the end of last week, Jonah Katz (PhD 2010) and David Pesetsky presented some of their joint work on the syntax of music at a two-day conference on Music and Language in the Brain at the University of Aarhus, Denmark.
- This summer, 4th-year student Claire Halpert will be teaching a course on syntactic field methods at the second African Linguistics School, to be held in Porto Novo, Benin, July 17-31, before heading to South Africa to continue her research on Zulu. In addition, Claire and 5th year student Patrick Jones will both be presenting talks at the 42nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL 42) at the University of Maryland. Patrick will be speaking about “Tonal Opacity and Paradigm Structure in the Kinande Verb System”, and Claire’s talk will concern Low Subjects in Zulu and the Prosody-Syntax Interface.
Linguistics majors and double-majors Alyssa Kersting, Anna Goldie and Rafael Raya will all be receiving their S.B next week. Congratulations to all!!
MIT undergraduate linguistics (and math) major John Berman (class of 2013) will be heading to Chiapas, Mexico this summer with members of the Harvard Language Processing Lab (including recent graduate Jessica Coon), where he will help run an experiment on processing of relative clauses in the Tumbalá dialect of Chol. The experiment will investigate processing speeds of ergative and absolutive argument extraction in the language. After the rest of the lab group heads back to Cambridge, John will stay on for a month in a Chol-speaking village to continue his own work on the language.
Peter Graff’s research on speech in the reality TV show Big Brother (with University of Chicago students Max Bane and Morgan Sonderegger) is covered in an article in Tableau, the magazine of the Division of the Humanities at UChicago.
The program for the 21st annual meeting of the conference “Semantics and Linguistic Theory” (SALT 21) — to be held at Rutgers May 20 - May 22, 2011 — was announced last week. Here are the speakers with MIT connections:
- Guillaume Thomas: Another and the Meaning of Measure Phrases
- Igor Yanovich: The Problem of Counterfactual de re Attitudes
- Micha Y. Breakstone, Alexandre Cremers, Danny Fox and Martin Hackl: Processing Degree Operator Movement: Implications for Semantics of Differentials
- Jacopo Romoli, Yasutada Sudo and Jesse Snedeker: An Experimental Investigation of Presupposition Projection in Conditional Sentences
- Peter Graff & Jeremy Hartman: Constraints on Predication [alternate; poster session]
- Patrick Grosz: A Uniform Analysis for Concessive “at least” and Optative “at least” [alternate]
- Luka Crni?: Evaluativity and Polarity [poster session]
- Hadas Kotek, Yasutada Sudo, Edwin Howard & Martin Hackl: Is Most More Than Half? [poster session]
- Ezra Keshet (PhD 2008): Contrastive Focus and Paycheck Pronouns [poster session]
- Pranav Anand (Phd 2006), Caroline Andrews, Donka Farkas, Kevin Reschke & Matthew Wagers: Quantification-triggered Inclusivization in Plural Interpretation [poster session]
- Luis Alonso-Ovalle & Paula Menendez-Benito (former visiting professors): Two Types of Epistemic Indefinites: Private Ignorance vs. Public Indifference [poster session]
This is a great showing at the most selective conference in the field.
First-year students Michelle Fullwood and Isaac Gould have been awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships. Congratulations, Michelle and Isaac!
April is a busy month for MIT Linguistics: In addition to CLS, mentioned last week, a number of students, faculty, and alumni of the department will also be at the 29th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics at the University of Arizona, April 22-24. Faculty member Norvin Richards and alumnus Tom Bever (PhD 1967) will be giving plenary talks, and the program includes talks and posters by:
- Alya Asarina: “Constraints on Quantifier Lowering” (poster)
- Bronwyn M. Bjorkman: “The Crosslinguistic Defaultness of BE” (poster)
- Micha Breakstone (current visitor), Alexandre Cremers (former visitor), Danny Fox, and Martin Hackl: “Processing Degree Operator Movement: Implications for the Analysis of Differentials”
- Jessica Coon (PhD 2010) and Omer Preminger: “Towards a Unification of Person Splits”
- Luka Crni?: “How to get ‘even’ with imperatives”
- Young Ah Do: “Learning alternations without bias”
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine: “Share to Compare: the Mandarin b? Comparative”
- Claire Halpert: “Case, agreement, EPP and information structure: a quadruple-dissociation in Zulu”
- Claire Halpert and Hadil Karawani (former visitor): “Aspect in counterfactuals from A(rabic) to Z(ulu)”
- Natalia Ivlieva: “Agreement with Disjunction” (poster)
- Hadas Kotek, Yasutada Sudo, Edwin Howard, and Martin Hackl: “A superlative reading for mostprop”
- Mikko Kupula (current visitor): “The role of Spec,vP in clitic doubling” (poster)
- Giorgi Magri (PhD 2009): “HG has no computational advantages over OT: towards a new approach to computational OT”
- Ana Arregui, Maria Luisa Rivero, and Andres Pablo Salanova (PhD 2007): “The construction of imperfectivity in Mebengokre” (poster)
- Erik Schoorlemmer (current visitor) and Tanja Temmerman: “Head Movement as a PF?phenomenon: evidence from identity under ellipsis”
- Shoichi Takahashi (PhD 2006): “Anatomy of tough movement”
- Coppe van Urk: “Visser’s Generalization: A Window Into the Syntax of Control” (poster)
- Susanne Wurmbrand (PhD 1998): “The syntax of valuation in auxiliary-participle constructions” (poster)
Thank you to David Pesetsky for compiling this information.
Fourth-year student Claire Halpert is off to the Berlin Bantu Conference where she will present a paper this Saturday on “The Syntactic Licensing of Zulu NPIs”.
- Gillian Gallagher (PhD 2010) has officially accepted a tenure track phonology position at NYU, starting Fall 2011; Gillian has already been teaching at NYU this year
- Jessica Coon (PhD 2010) has officially accepted a tenure-track syntax position at McGill; Jessica is currently a post-doc in the Polinsky lab at Harvard
- Luka Crni? has accepted a one-year post-doc position at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
- Patrick Grosz has accepted a post-doctoral position (Akademischer Mitarbeiter), at the University of Tübingen.
Congratulations, Gillian, Jessica, Luka and Patrick - and congratulations also to NYU, McGill, Tübingen and Hebrew University!
MIT will be well represented at the 47th meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, to be held next week (April 7-9). In addition to plenary talks by Colin Philips (PhD 1996) and faculty member Norvin Richards, the program includes talks by:
- Ezra Keshet (PhD 2008): “Contrastive focus and paycheck pronouns”
- Giorgio Magri (PhD 2009): “Correctness of OT online algorithms on Prince and Tesar’s (2004) test cases”
- Hadas Kotek, Yasutada Sudo, Edwin Howard, and Martin Hackl: “A superlative reading for mostprop”
- Ora Matushansky (PhD 2002) and Tania Ionin (BCS PhD 2003): “More than one solution”
- Young Ah Do and Seunghun J. Lee: “Acoustic bases of emotion related sound symbolism”
- Peter Graff and Jeremy Hartman: “Constraints on predication”
- Gillian Gallagher (PhD 2010): “Auditory features: the case from laryngeal cooccurrence restrictions”
- Jessica Coon (PhD 2010) and Omer Preminger: “Towards a unification of person splits”
Thank you to David Pesetsky for compiling this information.
Pritty Patel-Grosz recently presented her work on Agreement at Rajesh Bhatt’s South Asian syntax-semantics workshop which took place at UMass on March 19th-20th. The program can be found here.
Wataru Uegaki presented a paper titled “Controller shift in centered-world semantics” at the Workshop on Grammar of Attitudes at the 33rd Meeting of German Linguistic Society (Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft; DGfS), held at the University of Göttingen, February 23, 2011. The handout from the talk can be found here.
Omer Preminger will be a guest at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics from the 28th of March until the 1st of April. From 3/28-3/30, he will teach an intensive course on “Agreement and case: Patterns, interactions, and implications”, and then on 3/31, he will give a talk at the Syntax Lab.
This weekend, several grad students in the department (Alya Asarina, Mitcho Erlewine, Michelle Fullwood, Peter Graff, Coppe van Urk) ran a linguistics “mini-event” as part of the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament. Thirty-seven high school students competed in teams to solve Olympiad-style linguistics problems. This was one of the more popular mini-events, and the first to have a room full of participants. The problems, several of which were written specifically for this competition, can be found here, and some solutions are here.
P.S. A special thanks to everyone who test-solved problems for us!
This is news from last December, but fresh news to us. Mitcho Erlewine, wearing one of his many hats (we know him as a crackerjack syntactician and semanticist) was awarded the 2010 Microsoft Research iCampus Technology Innovation Student Prize by the MIT Council for Educational Technology — for his work on “Sustainable Web Development for the MIT Community Using WordPress”. You can read all about his achievements and the ways in which they facilitated three separate educational efforts at MIT here. Congratulations, Mitcho!!
Luka Crnic gave a talk titled “Rhetorical imperatives and other challenges” at Beyond ever and any - challenging theories of NPI licensing, a workshop on NPIs held at the University of Göttingen on January 14-15.
Peter Graff reports that his CLS paper with Max Bane and Morgan Sonderegger, `Longitudinal Phonetic Variation in a Closed System,’ on the Big Brother corpus is now available on his website.
Bronwyn Bjorkman presented a paper entitled “Towards a unified asymmetric semantics for and” at On Linguistic Interfaces 2 (OnLI), held at the university of Ulster, Belfast, December 2-4.
In honor of the season, we bring you pictures from Halloween pumpkin carving in the department. Have a great Thanksgiving vacation!
mitcho (Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine) recently presented “On the scope and position of Mandarin sentence-final éry?” at the first Rencontres d’Automne de Linguistique Formelle at the University of Paris 8. The talk is similar to his previous talks on the Mandarin “only” word, but with a slightly different scope and position.
MIT linguists will be out in force at the Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL VII), held at USC this weekend, October 29th-31st. The following students are on the program:
Alya Asarina and Jeremy Hartman: ‘Null nouns and the locus of agreement in Uyghur subordinate clauses’
Yusuke Imanishi: ‘Another Missing Link – A View from Right Dislocation in Japanese’
Junya Nomura: ‘Adpositional comparatives in Japanese’
Alya Asarina: ‘Case and meaning in Uyghur nominalized clauses’ (alternate)
Omer Preminger recently gave an invited talk at the Yale Syntax Colloquium, titled “The Origins of Obligatoriness: Evidence from Agreement Failures”.
Youngah Do recently presented a talk at JK20 (20th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference) at Oxford University, with the title “When focal cues are conflicting: Focus perception in Korean”
In addition, Igor Yanovich presented a talk entitled “Making Smarter Contenders?” last weekend at NECPhon 4 (the Northeast Computational Phonology Circle) at UMass Amherst.
Please remember to send announcements about upcoming and recent presentations to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in future editions!
MIT is well represented at NELS 41, held this weekend (10/23-24) at the University of Pennsylvania. Noam Chomsky will deliver the keynote address, entitled “Should we study Language? If so, how?” The following students and recent alumni will be giving talks:
- Alya Asarina: Neutrality vs. Ambiguity in Resolution by Syncretism: Experimental Evidence and Consequences
- Bronwyn Bjorkman: A Syntactic Correlate of Semantic Asymmetries in Clausal Coordination
- Seth Cable (UMass): The Optionality of EPP in Dholuo
- Jessica Coon (Harvard) and Omer Preminger: Transitivity in Chol: A New Argument for the Split-VP Hypothesis
- Luka Crnic: Pragmatic Enrichment and Concessive Scalarity
- Maria Giavazzi (ENS): Getting Rid of Positional Faithfulness in Stressed Positions: The Phonetic Underpinnings of Prosodic Conditioning
This week Pritty Patel will give an invited talk at the semantics colloquium at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität in Frankfurt am Main. She will present her recent work (on 9/23), on the presence and absence of Condition A in Greek and Kutchi Gujarati.
There will be two MIT talks at the “peculiar binding configurations” workshop taking place in Stuttgart this week:
Natasha Ivlieva: Exceptional binding in Russian
Pritty Patel: Pronouns, reflexives, and why Kutchi Gujarati binds like Modern Greek
Some more news items concerning activities that members of the department participated in over the summer:
This summer mitcho presented “Two onlys in Mandarin Chinese” at the International Association of Chinese Linguistics conference at Harvard and worked with Linguistics concentrator Anton Nguyen on determining whether inline hyperlinks on the internet are constituents in their host sentences or not. He also helped code a new feature called “Panorama” at Mozilla which will be part of the Firefox 4 browser later this year.
Igor Yanovich presented a piece of work in modal logic at Logic Colloquium in Paris, and gave a talk about “non-standard theory” for vagueness at the linguistics departments of NYU and Utrecht University.
This week Patrick Grosz is off to give an invited talk at the semantics colloquium at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main. His talk, which will be on Tuesday 9/14, is entitled: “On German ‘doch’, an Element that Triggers a Contrast Presupposition”.
At the end of the spring semester, we received news that Omer Preminger had received the James A. ‘45 and Ruth Levitan Award for Excellence in Teaching.
This is a prestigious award within SHASS and very hard to get because all faculty, lecturers and TAs who teach SHASS courses are eligible.
As the letter of award says, “this prize recognizes those 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”
(submitted by Sabine)
MIT is sending 5 talks to Sinn und Bedeutung, held 9/9-9/11 at Universität des Saarlandes, Germany:
Tue Trinh & Luka Crnic: On the Rise and Fall of Declaratives
Patrick Grosz: Facts and ideals: on the relationship between conditionals and optatives
Tue Trinh: Bare nouns and classifier phrases ? A comparative analysis
Patrick Grosz & Viola Schmitt: An Ordering Semantics for German “zwar, aber”
Sabine Iatridou & Hedde Zeijlstra: Negation and negative indefinites in modal constructions