Archive for May, 2009

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

Nicholas Ostler lecture on May 12

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

“The Jungle is Neutral: Newcomer Languages Face New Media”
Nicholas Ostler, President, Foundation for Endangered Languages

Tuesday, May 12
4:00-5:30 pm with reception to follow at

Franke Institute for the Humanities
1100 East 57th Street, JRL S-118

Co-sponsored by the Big Problems program in the College and the Franke Institute for the Humanities

Nicholas Ostler is the author of Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World (2005) and Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin (2008). The first is an unparalleled account of major language expansions through colonization since antiquity, richly grounded historically in dynamics of trade, political domination, and other socio-economic interactions between different populations.

Bauer on ultrasound in linguistic research

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Matt Bauer (Illinois Institute of Technology) will be giving  a special presentation the use of ultrasound  in linguistic research at 10:30am on May 11, 2009 in the Landahl Center for Linguistic Research. A short description of this presentation is given below:

The use of ultrasound in linguistic research represents a non-invasive, easy to use, portable, and (relatively) inexpensive tool to study speech-related anatomical structures, such as the tongue, hard palate, and larynx. Ultrasound is particularly well suited for directly measuring ‘slow’ lingual gestures, such as those for vowels and liquids, as opposed to ‘fast’ gestures, such as the ones for flaps and trills. Laryngeal height can be measured indirectly through the movement of the hyoid bone. This talk will cover the basics of ultrasound technology, recording procedures, data analysis, and advantages and disadvantages of using ultrasound in linguistic research.