Archive for January, 2008

Welcome back and Happy 2008!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

BLING is finally back after a short winter hiatus. Not doubt many of you will have interesting new developments you would like to share. So please don’t forget to send us news you’d like to see appearing on the pages of BLING.

Just a reminder, BLING is updated weekly, so keep those news and other interesting bits of linguistics you’d like to share coming!

Ernestus Colloquium on Thursday

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Gradient phonological generalizations in speech processing

Mirjam Ernestus
Radboud University Nijmegen &
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Thursday Jan. 10, 2008
Cobb 201, 3.30-5 pm

Several studies have shown that speakers are sensitive to the absolute and statistically gradient phonological patterns in their mental lexicon. Participants prefer words conforming to these patterns, and they are slower in producing morphologically regular word forms violating the patterns. In this talk I will discuss two series of experiments that further investigate the role of gradient patterns in speech processing. The first series suggest that generalizations based on intraparadigmatic relations, between the forms of single word, have a stronger effect than those based on interparadigmatic relations, between the same types of forms of different words. The second series of experiments shows that phonologically gradient patterns affect also speech comprehension, even when listeners are focusing on content instead of form. This shows that gradient generalizations play a role in everyday language processing.

The Linguists Premiere at Sundance

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

THE LINGUISTS, the first documentary supported by the National Science Foundation, was selected to world premiere in the newly minted “Spectrum: Documentary Spotlight” category at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The trailer is at One of the linguists featured is our very own Gregory Anderson (UofC PhD 2000). Here’s a brief description provided by Ironbound Films:

“It is estimated that of 7,000 languages in the world, half will be gone by the end of this century.

THE LINGUISTS follows David Harrison and Gregory Anderson, scientists racing to document languages on the verge of extinction. In Siberia, India, and Bolivia, the linguists’ resolve is tested by the very forces silencing languages: institutionalized racism and violent economic unrest.

David and Greg’s journey takes them deep into the heart of the cultures, knowledge, and communities at risk when a language dies.”

Corpus Methods in Linguistics and Language Pedagogy at the UofC

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

The University of Chicago will host a conference and masterclass in CORPUS METHODS IN LINGUISTICS AND LANGUAGE PEDAGOGY (CMLLP-2008) Wednesday-Sunday, March 26-30, 2008. Application/Registration Deadline is January 21, 2008. For more information, please visit

Updates from Tom Wier

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Tom Wier, who’s visiting the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology at Leipzig this year, sent us the following updates:

“I have recently given two talks:

(1) “The Typology of Tav-constructions and the Person-Role Constraint in Georgian” at the Ditransitives Conference at the MPI-EVA in Leipzig, 23-25 Nov 2007.
(2) “Polysynthesis in Caucasian Languages; or, What is Polysynthesis?” at the Caucasological Conference at the MPI-EVA in Leipzig, 7-9 Dec 2007.

I have also been asked by Martin Haspelmath to teach a course at the Leipzig Spring School on Linguistic Diversity, which I’ve entitled “Feature Hierarchies in Natural Languages”: