Archive for April, 2008

John Goldsmith at Konstanz

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

John Goldsmith gave an invited presentation at a workshop entitled “Discovering and representing phonological patterns” at the University of Konstanz (10-12 April). The title of his talk was: “Optimization is the answer. Now, what is the question?”

Alan Yu at ACTL

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Alan Yu is giving a series of lectures on phonological typology and sound change at the ACTL (Advanced Core Training in Linguistics) in London during the week of April 21-25.

Luis Vicente LingLunch on April 23

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Please mark your calendars for a syntax LingLunch talk by Luis Vicente (PhD Leiden, currently postdoc at UCSC) on Wed April 23 from 11am-12pm in the Lounge.

“Deriving word order variation in Basque through prosody”

Basque scholars agree that the word order of the language is constrained by discourse (topic/focus) factors. Traditionally, this intuition has been implemented in terms of movement to designated topic/focus projections (Ortiz de Urbina 1989 et seq.). However, such analyses are based on the assumption that the verbal complex is a syntactic head that can undergo head movement to the relevant projections. There exists evidence, though, that the subparts of verbal complexes do not actually form a constituent at all, which poses a rather serious problem for this kind of analyses.

The alternative I pursue here is based on the assumption that the verbal complex is immobile, and word order variation is a consequence of what moves or doesn’t move around it. This approach results in a unified analysis of all word order types while keeping intact the insights gained by previous treatments of the problem. However, it raises the problem of how to motivate the different types of movements that are necessary. I propose that the trigger is prosodic: modifying Richards’ (2006) theory, I hypothesize that the C node defines the domain of stress assignment. More specifically, I propose that Basque specifies that pitch accent must be separated from C by as few XP boundaries as possible. With this much in place, word order variation can be derived as the need for certain constituents to appear or not appear in the focus position, depending on their discourse status.

Osamu Sawada in Paris!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Osamu Sawada, who was an alternate at the Vagueness and Language Use conference (where Chris Kennedy was an invited speaker), was able to present his paper “Vagueness and Adverbial Polarity Items”. Based on reports from our spies in Paris, Osamu gave an excellent presentation, which stimulated a lot of questions that he handled thoughtfully and comprehensively. Way to go, Osamu!

A busy Winter quarter for Sali!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Salikoko Mufwene has been busy this past winter! He gave keynote addresses at the following recent conferences:

  • 2008a. “From genetic creolistics to genetic linguistics: Lessons we should not miss!” 34th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society, February 7-10.
  • 2008b. “Emergence or creation? Rethinking the formation of Afro-American vernaculars and musics.” Conference on Black Music Research, Columbia College, Chicago, February 14-17.
  • 2008c. “The English(-speaking) Diaspora: Globalization and diversity.” at Purdue University’s 9th Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Symposium on “Globalization: Questioning nations, borders, identities & communities,” March 28-29.

He also gave the following public lectures:

  • 2008d. “The actuation question and the invisible hand in language evolution.” York University, Glendon College, Toronto, CA, 28 February.
  • 2008e. “Colonization, globalization, and the linguistic consequences of the (Indo-)European expansion,” Kalamazoo College, March 10.

LaTex packages for Cascadilla proceedings

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Max Bane recently went through the odyssey of typesetting a paper for WCCFL 26 in LaTeX. WCCFL, along with a number of other conferences, publishes its proceedings through the Cascadilla Proceedings Project, which unfortunately provides no LaTeX package for authors to implement its style sheet. Some of the requirements were sufficiently tricky to implement (particularly the copyright notice), so he decided to release his solution as a reusable LaTeX document class.

The package lives here: