Archive for October, 2011

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.


Chicagoans to NELS 42

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Many current and former Chicago linguists will be heading to Toronto in November for NELS 42:

  • Ryan Bochnack: The non-universal status of degrees: Evidence from Washo
  • Jon Keane, Diane Brentari, & Jason Riggle: Co-articulation in ASL fingerspelling
  • Martina Martinovic: The subject/non-subject asymmetry in Wolof
  • Yaron McNabb: Hebrew and Arabic definite marking as post-syntactic local dislocation
  • Osamu Sawada (PhD 2010, Mie U.): The meanings of diminutive shifts in Japanese
  • Suwon Yoon: On embedded root phenomenon (ERP): ERP in Korean vs. V2 in Germanic



NSF grant awarded to Grenoble and Sadock for work on West Greenlandic

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Lenore Grenoble and Jerry Sadock received an NSF grant this summer to continue their work on West Greenlandic. The title and abstract of the project is given below. Congratulations!

  • The lexicon of a polysynthetic language (#1056497)
    West Greenlandic, the national language of Greenland, is an Inuit language closely related to other Inuit languages spoken in Alaska and Canada today. Like many other North American languages, it is characterized by extreme polysynthesis: its words are not fixed in form or content, but are productively constructed out of roots and suffixes. Concepts which are encoded as separate words in English tend to be combined into one very long word in polysynthetic languages. This raises very fundamental theoretical questions as to what status the notion of a word has in grammatical theory, what are the limits of word-formation processes in polysynthetic languages, and how we understand concepts like clause and sentence in such a language. The different Inuit languages lexicalize these forms to varying degrees; Greenlandic exhibits relatively little lexicalization of such forms, leading to the issue of which should be included in a dictionary and which can be understood by understanding their individual parts (much as sentences are not included in an English dictionary but certain set phrases are). This project addresses these fundamental issues through the development of a Greenlandic-English digital lexicon and aims to make significant progress in our understanding of how such forms are created, including the underlying processes of word formation and lexicalization and how these interact with grammar. The digital format of the lexicon will enable us to include texts which show the linkage of such sentence-like words into larger discourse units and how they are anchored to the context in which they are produced. This line of inquiry will produce major insights into our understanding of the range of human linguistic diversity and the capacity of linguistic production and processing. This research project will benefit from collaborative contributions from Greenlandic researchers who, in the context of this international collaboration, will also contribute to the valuable graduate training opportunities that this project will provide in fieldwork and linguistic analysis.