Archive for May, 2009

Greg Kobele joins the U of C Linguistics Department

Monday, May 25th, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Greg Kobele will join the department as a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor. Greg is a syntactician and a computational linguist trained at UCLA. He has been Assistant Professor at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin since 2007. Greg will hold a joint-appointment in Linguistics and the Computation Institute. Welcome to Chicago, Greg!

Chicago undergrads going places!

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Several of our current and former linguistics undergrads will be heading to graduate schools this Fall.

Eric Prendergast, who’s currently on a Fulbright fellowship researching in Macedonia, will be heading to Berkeley, joining fellow Chicago grads Clara Cohen and John Sylak in the Department of Linguistics.

Eric Morley, who has been serving in the Peace Corp in Benin the past couple years, will begin his graduate studies in emotion and speech synthesis at the Oregon Health and Science University. 

Patrick Rich, our current BA/MA student, will begin PhD studies in Linguistics at Harvard. 

Mitcho Erlewine, who was on a Fulbright fellowship teaching in Taiwan, but is now working for Ubiquity in Japan, will be heading to MIT. 

Justin Murphy will be starting his master’s degree in Journalism at Syracuse University in the Fall. 

Congratulations to all!

Final two weeks . . .

Monday, May 25th, 2009

. . . of the Workshop on Language, Cognition and Computation in the Karen Landahl Center (basement of Social Science). May 29 will be the final meeting for the academic year, so don’t miss your chance:

May 22: Michael C. Frank (Brain Cog Sci, MIT) (Abstract below)

What is the relationship between language and thought? Traditional approaches to this question have staked out extreme positions: either that language determines the shape of the thoughts you can entertain, or else that language is only an overlay on top of a more basic “language of thought.” Our work in the domain of numerical cognition supports a middle view: that language is a tool which can help with complex cognitive tasks, supplementing but not altering other basic cognitive capacities. We show that the Pirahã, an Amazonian group with no words for numbers, use the same mechanism for numerical estimation as MIT undergrads who are temporarily prevented from counting via verbal interference. In addition, language may be only one among a range of possible “cognitive technologies” for representing exact number, as suggested by our recent studies of schoolchildren in Gujarat, India who have learned to use a mental representation of an abacus–an exact representation of number that relies on visual rather than linguistic resources–to perform arithmetic calculations.

May 29: Morgan Sonderegger (Computer Science, U. Chicago)

We hope that all those interested have been taking advantage of this prolific weekly workshop featuring both local and non-local invited speakers, and welcome even more to attend this month!

CLS 43 proceedings now available!

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Thanks to lots of hard work, back issues of CLS proceedings are catching up to date. We are very pleased to announce that the Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society have arrived!

Congratulations to the editors, Malcolm Elliott, James Kirby, Osamu Sawada, Eleni Staraki, and Suwon Yoon on an excellent job!

CLS 45 says, Thanks!

Monday, May 25th, 2009

To commemorate this one-month mark after the closing of our fabulous CLS 45 conference, we’ve put up a summary page on the website so you can relive it. Be sure to check out the photo album, chock full of pictures from the conference and banquet, taken and compiled by our own Christina Weaver. Thanks again for helping us make CLS 45 great!

-Ryan Bochnak, Peter Klecha, Alice Lemieux, Nassira Nicola, Jasmin Urban, and Christina Weaver

CLS 45

Success! Even more QP defenses

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Congratulations to Juan Bueno-Holle, Alice Lemieux and Ryan Bochnak for each successfully defending a qualifying paper this spring!

Juan defended his second QP, entitled “Lexical Tone in Isthmus Zapotec.” Meanwhile, Alice successfully defended her first QP, “A Reanalysis of Washo Bipartite Stems,” and Ryan defended his, “Half as a promiscuous modifier.”  Great job to all of you—may there be more to come!

Nick Fleisher colloquium on May 14

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Attributive Adjectives and the Semantics of Inappropriateness

May 14, 3:30-5pm, Cobb 201

Nick Fleisher, Wayne State University

In this talk I discuss the syntax and semantics of a previously unexamined English attributive adjective construction and its implications for the study of gradable adjectives in the positive degree. The construction, which I call the nominal attributive-with-infinitive construction (nominal AIC), is exemplified by sentences likeMiddlemarch is a long book to assign. I argue that the major semantic characteristic of the nominal AIC—the interpretation of inappropriateness associated with it—arises compositionally from the interaction between the positive degree comparison operator and the modality of the infinitival relative clause, which contributes to the computation of the standard of comparison. Nominal AICs are compared and contrasted with a surface-identical construction I call the clausal AIC (Middlemarch is a bad book to assign), with attributive too (Middlemarch is too long (of) a book to assign), and with attributive comparatives (Middlemarch is a longer book than that); they are shown to exhibit major syntactic and semantic differences from all of these. Finally, I consider what light nominal AICs can shed on recent approaches to the determination of standards of comparison for positives. The standard provided by the infinitival relative can override the default for minimum standard absolute adjectives, but typically not for maximum standard absolutes, suggesting that there may be a difference in the linguistic status of these two types of default standard.

Public conversation with Lila Gleitman on May 11

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

The second in a series of public conversations entitled Lives in Linguistics

Lila Gleitman
Rutgers University
Monday, 11 May 2009
4 pm
Franke Institute for the Humanities
Regenstein Library
The University of Chicago