The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 6th, 2021

Welcome (back) to Fall 2021!

Welcome to the first edition of Whamit! for Fall 2021! After our summer hiatus, Whamit! is back to regular weekly editions during the semester.

Whamit! is the MIT Linguistics newsletter, published every Monday (Tuesday if Monday is a holiday). The editorial staff consists of Adam Albright, Kai von Fintel, David Pesetsky, Ruoan Wang, and Peter Grishin. 

To submit items for inclusion in Whamit! please send an email to whamit@mit.edu by Sunday 6pm.

Welcome to ling-21!

Please welcome our beautiful new students who are joining our graduate program this fall!

Keely Zuo Qi New: I grew up on the sunny island of Singapore, so I classify anything below 20C/68F as “freezing”. In 2018 I completed my BA in linguistics at the National University of Singapore. Since then, I have been working at the syntax/semantics lab in the same department where I have done research based primarily on fieldwork in Burmese. Outside of linguistics, I like dogs, board games, and baking bread.

Lorenzo PintonI’m Lorenzo Pinton and I come from a country town near Venice, Italy. In Venice I did my undergrad in philosophy, before moving to Amsterdam for a master in logic. There I discovered semantics and pragmatics, and they have been my gateway to linguistics. The topic of my thesis was the interplay between sluicing and free choice (focusing in particular on the contrast between ‘You may have coffee or tea, I don’t know which’ and ‘You may have coffee or tea, I don’t care which’). Related to these, other topics I’m interested in consist of question embedding verbs and the interaction between tense, aspect and modality. Outside academia, my passions are music, chess, and, lately, architecture. 

Negative side: I make bad puns that apparently people don’t find funny.
Positive side: If you make one, I’ll laugh.
During the PhD I’d like to understand better the intersection between syntax and semantics. But it won’t be easy… let’s (inter)face it!

Shrayana Halder: I’m Shrayana Haldar. I’m from Kolkata, India and my first language in Bengali. Before MIT, I went to UMass Amherst from 2017 to 2021 for my undergrad and I majored in Linguistics and French and Francophone Studies. My principal interest in linguistics is theoretical syntax and I worked on Bengali Verb-stranding VP Ellipsis when I was at UMass. A relatively little studied — maybe not so much so — recess in syntax that has fascinated me for some time now with an intensity that was somewhat notorious among the UMass professors who taught me syntax happens to be Multidominance. As for my hobbies, I have a certain interest in music and film studies. I enjoy playing my keyboard and watching movies. I especially like singing Rabindrasangeets (songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore) on YouTube. I sometimes also write French poems. To mark it with the force of finality, I find inevitable, irresistible and — no less importantly — therapeutic joy and belonging in all things Satyajit Ray.

Anastasia Tsilia: My name is Anastasia (she/her) and I come from Greece. I did my studies in France, where I received a B.A. in Philosophy and Logic and a M.Sc. in Cognitive Science. It was during the latter that I delved deeper into semantics and tense. My research interests include semantics, the interface with syntax, pragmatics, philosophy of language, typology and cross-linguistic work. I am also looking forward to exploring syntax as well as other research topics more in depth during my PhD. In my master thesis, I worked on the typology and the cross-linguistic aspect of sequence of tense and shiftable present, focusing mostly on data from Modern Greek. Outside of linguistics, I like watching movies, visiting exhibitions, dancing salsa, and travelling.

Christopher Legerme: Christopher Gaston Romero Legerme, here! (he/him/his; /kristofɛ leʒɛm/ or /krIstəfɚ ləʒɚm/; you can also call me Chris or Christopher). I’m 28 yrs. and was born at noon on Thursday October 15, 1992 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haiti is where I acquired my native language, Haitian Creole, however, I have spent most of my life outside of Haiti and growing up in USA or Canada. I could also say that English is my L1 with Haitian Creole being my heritage language. In USA, I spent time living in the states of Maryland, Virginia, and New York before moving to Canada where I’ve lived in the provinces of Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario. My research interests broadly include phonological theory and variationist sociolinguistics. Initially, I completed BA and MA degrees in Religious Studies at the Concordia University of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. My MA thesis at the time focused on Biblical and Christian Studies where I drew inspiration from philosophy and literary theory in developing a dialogical critique of Biblical Hebrew poetry, particularly the Book of Lamentations, under the supervision of Prof. William H. U. Anderson. I did a second MA, this time in Linguistics, at the University of Toronto. There, I developed my interests in Sociolinguistics and Phonology, and under the supervision of Prof. Sali A. Tagliamonte, I received extensive training in Labovian Variationist methods involving the application of various quantitative and computational methods for modeling language variation and change. My most recent MA project was on a linguistic variable in Haitian Creole, that is, the surfacing of nasal forms of the LA postposed definite determiner in non-nasalizing phonological contexts, taking me back to my Haitian heritage. My academic trajectory has brought me across many awesome fields of research in the humanities and social sciences from which I constantly draw inspiration. Today, I focus my efforts on studying both the psychological and sociological dimensions of linguistic systems as they stem from the mind and are performed in daily life. Language always patterns in cool ways with social constructs, and I do work on how these patterns differ across languages and across cultures. Notwithstanding, I am also deeply invested in learning about the ways in which all people are connected as a species through language. What properties, then, are universal to the knowledge and use of human languages? The pursuit of this question is not only exciting to me but has brought linguistics a long way as a field over the past century, and I’m working to be a part of what’s next! For hobbies, I love learning languages in general. I started learning French in school later into my youth and continued with it up through university. I’ve also done courses on Spanish, Latin, Ancient Hebrew, and Classical Greek. I’m a big fan of (horror) movies and I began undergrad doing music (classical guitar) and drama. My favorite director is Quentin Tarantino, my favorite “boardgame” is DnD, and my favorite sports (to watch mostly) are Table Tennis, Chess, and Football (the real one haha!) - Cheers!

John Dennis