Archive for October, 2011

Nunberg Colloquium on November 3

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Geoffrey Nunberg (School of Information, UC Berkeley) will give a colloquium talk titled “On Having a Word for It” on Thursday, November 3, 3.30 pm at the Franke Institute for the Humanities.

Abstract: What does it signify that a language “has a word for” such-and-such a notion? For the general public, it sheds light on the way its speakers think, often with political or ideological consequences. For linguists and psychologists, lexicalization chiefly bears on individual perception or cognition. For historians and other students of culture, it means a society has come into the possession of a new concept. It turns out that these perspectives rest on very different understandings of “concept” and “language”—and for that matter “have.” I’ll spell some of these out and show how there are certain misconceptions inherent in each. I want to focus in particular on the way the individualism of modern linguistics can obscure the social consequences of lexicalization, some of which have played an important role in recent philosophy of language. In general, having a word is a bigger deal than linguists generally suppose, and for reasons that linguists don’t often pay much attention to.

This talk is sponsored by the Franke Institute for the Humanities and the Department of Linguistics.

Meet the visitors

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Several scholars are visiting the department this quarter. Please give them a warm Chicago welcome!

  • Elizaveta Bylinina (Lisa Bylinina) will spend this quarter in Chicago as a visiting student. She is  in a project on degree semantics in Utrecht Institute of Linguistics in Holland, but spend most of the time in Moscow with her family. She’s interested in semantics of vagueness, gradability and comparison, and all sorts of unrelated topics she sometimes find exciting, according to her, for no particular reason — distributivity, event semantics, reduplication (wh-reduplication!), sluicing etc. Right now she wants to know more about history and typology of comparative morphemes (especially in Turkic), low degree modifiers and negative evaluative adjectives, and interadjectival comparison. And things to do in Chicago with a 3yo, of course.
  • Anna Chernilovskaya, also from Utrecht, will also be working on semantics.
  • Cécile Evers is visiting for the Fall and Winter from the University of Pennsylvania’s program in Educational Linguistics. She works with North African dialects and Wolof, specifically in the context of her work in Marseille, France with second-generation youth who are of North and West African descent. She is interested in questions pertaining to heritage language speakers in this setting (i.e., mixed language use, slang registers, L1 phonological transfer) and also in the role of religious (Classical Arabic) activities and (Muslim) memberships in shaping language use. Please contact her at ceve@uchicago.edu.
  • Zoe Gavriilidou, Associate Professor at the Department of Greek of the Democritus University of Thrace, will be working with Anastasia Giannakidou.
  • Christina Kim is a doctoral student in Linguistics  Brain & Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester. She will be working with Chris Kennedy and Ming Xiang.
  • Masahiro Yamada and Sanae Tamura, both from Kyoto University, will be working with Chris Kennedy on evidentiality.

Chicagoans at NWAV 40

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Several Chicagoans presented at NWAV 40 at Georgetown University, Oct 27-31.

  • Kathryn Campbell-Kibler (BA/MA ’98) and Abby Walker: Vocalic accommodation in a cross dialectal shadowing task
  • Kathryn Campbell-Kibler (BA/MA ’98): Measuring implicit dialect awareness using the IAT
  • Salikoko Mufwene: The Emergence of Complexity in Language: An Evolutionary Perspective
  • Morgan Sonderegger, Andrea Beltrama, Tasos Chatzikonstantinou, Erin Franklin, Brett Kirken, Jackson Lee, Maria Nelson, Krista Nicoletto, Talia Penslar, Hannah Provenza, Natalie Rothfels, Maximilian Bane, Peter Graff and Jason Riggle: Coronal stop deletion on reality TV
  • Alan Yu, Carissa Abrego-Collier and Morgan Sonderegger: Attitudinal effects in phonetic convergence

 

Update from Victor Friedman

Monday, October 31st, 2011

“I just got back from giving a keynote address on Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia as linguistic areas at the meeting of the International Congress of Slavists’ Balkan Commission in Iasi.  While I was in the Balkans, I also stopped in Lerin (Greek Florina) to participate in the book launch of the first Modern Macedonian-Modern Greek dictionary to be published in Greece.  The neo-nazis from Hrisi Avgi (the ones that assaulted me in 2009) were there, along with riot police and plainclothesmen.  Greece is still a dangerous place for linguists who work on Macedonian, alas, but there were lots of local Macedonians from Lerin and the nearby villages at the launch anyway.  A collection of my articles on Lak was published in Russian under the title Ocherki lakskogo jazyka (Maxachkala, 2011) by the Daghestanian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.”  –Victor

Giannakidou in Korea

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Anastasia Giannakidou gave two talks at Seoul National University titled “Referential vagueness and negative polarity: evidence from Greek and Korean” and “Wh-interminates and free choice: the view from Korean.” She also jointly presented a talk with Suwon Yoon (PhD 2011) and Marcel den Dikken (CUNY) on “On the distribution of NPIs in clausal comparatives” at the 21st Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference (Oct 20-22, 2011).  Also at the conference was Osamu Sawada (PhD 2010, now at Mie Univ.), who presented “The meaning of modal affective demonstratives in Japanese” with Jun Sawada (Kansai Gaidai Univ.).

Straughn defended dissertation!

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Chris Straughn successfully defended his dissertation “Evidentiality in Uzbek and Kazakh”  on October 25. His committee consists of Victor Friedman (chair), Lenore Grenoble, and Kagan Arik. Way to go, Chris!

Portland here we come!

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

An unprecedentedly large contingent of Chicagoans will be heading to the annual meeting of the LSA and SSILA (*) in Portland next January:

  • Peter Alrenga, Chris Kennedy, and Jason Merchant: Standard of Comparison/Scope of Comparison
  • Andrea Beltrama and Ming Xiang: How beautiful is a pretty girl? Scalar implicatures and context effects with gradable adjectives
  • Ryan Bochnak: Cross-linguistic variation in degree semantics: the case of Washo
  • *Amy Dahlstrom: The place of Meskwaki in a typology of comparatives
  • Tommy Grano: Wanting (to have) null verbs: A view from Mandarin and beyond
  • Jonathan Keane, Diane Brentari, & Jason Riggle: Handshape and coarticulation in ASL fingerspelling
  • Peter Klecha: Modal Domain Shifting: An Imprecision-Based Account
  • Martina Martinovic: Pseudoclefts as a source of fragment answers in Wolof
  • Yaron McNabb: Hebrew mamaš ‘Really’ vs. Real Cases of Degree Modification
  • Chieu Nguyen: The independence of specificity types in Vietnamese
  • *Jerry Sadock: A report on NSF H10195: The lexicon of a polysynthetic language
  • Morgan Sonderegger, Andrea Beltrama, Tasos Chatzikonstantinou, Erin Franklin, Brett Kirken, Jackson Lee, Maria Nelson, Krista Nicoletto, Talia Penslar, Hannah Provenza, Natalie Rothfels, Max Bane, Peter Graff, & Jason Riggle: Coronal stop deletion on reality TV
  • Julia Thomas, Holly Craig and S. Hensel: The Need for Bi-dialectal Education with Child Speakers of AAE: A Look at Copula Acquisition
  • Ming Xiang, Jason Merchant and Julian Grove: Silent Structures in Ellipsis: Priming and Anti-priming Effects
  • Suwon Yoon: Embedded Root Phenomena in Korean versus V2 in German
  • Alan Yu, Carissa Abrego-Collier, Morgan Sonderegger: Individual differences in phonetic convergence
  • Alan Yu and Morgan Sonderegger: Frequency effects on perceptual compensation for coarticulation

Two students are also organizing their own special sessions.

  • Ryan Bochnak is co-organizing a special session with Lisa Matthewson (UBC) on “Methodologies in semantic fieldwork”
  • Rebekah Baglini (the current LSA Bloch fellow) is c0-organizing with Scott Grimm a special session titled “Funding Your Research: Grants for Graduate Students.”  Panelists include Lenore Grenoble and Gregory Anderson (PhD 2000), who will talk about “Funding for linguistic fieldwork and language documentation.”

Last but not least, Ryan Bochnak won the first runner-up in the Best Student Abstract competition. Being runner-up is not just a consolation prize: Ryan will receive a $300 prize, and his achievement will be announced in the  meeting handbook and at the Awards Ceremony prior to the Presidential Address. Well done, Ryan!

Hearty welcome to the incoming first years!

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

A very warm welcome to this year’s incoming first-year graduate students! Here’s a little bit about each of them:

  • Helena Aparicio Terrasa was born in Mallorca, Spain. She earned a B.A. in Humanities and a one year MA in Applied Linguistics at Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona). Before joining the linguistics department at the University of Chicago, she also completed an MA in theoretical linguistics at the City University of New York. Her research interests lie in formal semantics and its interfaces.
  • Gallagher Flinn is fresh out of a Master’s program at the University of Washington where his thesis explored the possibility of a pseudogap-like construction in Russian. His interests are primarily in Slavic language syntax relating to questions of ellipsis and scrambling, but he is hoping to branch out into more experimental syntax and semantics, as well as work with languages of the Caucasus.
  • Katie Franich joins the linguistics program after finishing her MA in applied linguistics at Boston University. Katie’s interests mainly center around phonology, and specifically in the areas of tone and language variation. She has spent the last two summers researching variation in the tone system of Medumba, a Grassfields Bantoid language spoken in Cameroon, assisting on an NSF-funded project headed by Professor Cathy O’Connor at BU. She looks forward to pursuing these issues further while at Chicago, as well as exploring whatever new topics may come her way. When she’s not doing linguistics, she enjoys seeing live music, kayaking, and watching the occasional episode of Project Runway.
  • Mike Pham is willing to call anywhere he lays his head home, having spent a good chunk of his life living in Saudi Arabia as the child of expatriate, US-naturalized, Vietnamese immigrants. He received his BA in Linguistics from Ohio State University, and then his MA in Humanities from the University of Chicago. He is currently interested in the morphosyntactic structure of idiosyncratic meanings, such as those in idioms; he is also hoping that his research interests in Vietnamese syntax and semantics will get him to speak (Vietnamese) with his family more. In his receding free time, Mike volunteers at a bicycle co-op, teaches himself photography and (classical and gypsy jazz) guitar, and tries not to injure himself with swords, sticks and knives practicing Filipino-Indonesian martial arts (kali-silat).
  • Joanna (Asia) Pietraszko is a first year grad student in the department. She received her MA degree in English Philology from the University of Wrocław, Poland, and studied linguistics at Utrecht University. Asia’s main interests are formal semantics, negation and polarity phenomena (Expletive Negation, Genitive of Negation, FCIs), the syntax and semantic of relative clauses (mainly free relatives, correlatives and amount relatives) in Polish and other Slavic languages, as well as scalar focus particles and the linguistics realizations of concessive meaning. Linguistics is not Asia’s only love. She very much enjoys classical music, jazz, wine, chocolate and watching soccer.
  • Diane Rak received B.S. degrees in Linguistics and Neuroscience from MIT and an M.A. from the University of Chicago. Her main academic interest is in psycholinguistics.
  • Tamara Vardomskaya received her B.A. in mathematics and linguistics at the University of Ottawa, Canada, and then spent some time working in industry before returning to linguistics. Her interests mainly lie in semantics, language acquisition, bilingualism, Slavic and Romance linguistics, and language modeling and computational linguistics. Her interests not quite in linguistics include singing and music performance, poetry translation, genre fiction, and photographing dinosaur exhibits.

 


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