Author Archive

The new cohort of 2013

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

2012 has come and gone and with nary an apocalypse in sight, we have the opportunity instead to extend a warm welcome to a new incoming cohort to the department — the department lounge has never seemed as full (and in need of better ventilation). Here’s a quick rundown of this year’s new cast of characters:

IMG_43511Ksenia Ershova received her undergraduate degree in the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow, Russia). She has done fieldwork in the Caucasus, working on different types of clause combining in Circassian languages (Northwest Caucasian) and Dargwa (Northeast Caucasian). Her main interests include morphosyntax, syntax and the syntax-semantics interface, especially in polysynthetic languages.

josh_falk_cbJosh Falk graduated from Stanford University in 2012, where he worked on English prose rhythm, Finnish metrics, and English half-rhyme. He spent the past year at the University of Maryland, studying unsupervised learning of phonetics and phonology, as well as Bayesian modeling of speech perception. His primary interests at the moment are computational phonology, sign language phonology, and poetic metrics.

Screen shot 2013-09-30 at 9.45.57 PMJeff Geiger graduated from Northwestern University in 2012 with a BA in linguistics and geography. His interests, for now, lie in the domain of semantics, pragmatics, and their interface, but he’s excited to learn more about different subfields and expand his linguistic repertoire. He hopes to viciously attack linguistic problems using a variety of methodologies, experimental and otherwise. He is from the Chicago area and is excited that he gets to stay here for longer than he had anticipated. Outside of school, he enjoys playing bass trombone, reading, following college football, not breathing during Northwestern games, watching hockey, reading maps, making maps, and browsing Wikipedia.

HebertBLINGZach Hebert is interested in phonological interfaces, particularly prosodic morphology, and research areas that focus on language as a contextualized phenomenon, such globalization and linguistic-cultural vitality and change, especially the francophone world. He comes to Chicago from Tulane University, in New Orleans, where he studied linguistics, French, and international development.

2314_66452985118_5261_nRobert Lewis is a recent M.A. graduate from the University of Kansas, where his research focused on complementizer agreement in the Najdi dialect of Arabic. Apart from complementizer agreement, he is also interested in morphosyntactic properties of Algonquian languages, particularly with respect to the Potawatomi language. He recently has added to his research interests a curiosity for discourse analysis of oral stories and legal interpretation.

Photo_MariElStephanie Locke is coming from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa where she received her MA in Linguistics. She is interested in issues related to language documentation and revitalization, including topics such as fieldwork, language contact, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, and public policy – to name a few. Needless to say, she is very excited about the interdisciplinary nature of UChicago. Stephanie’s other lofty goals include eating lots of Chicago-syle hot dogs, checking out the local comedy scene, and catching a Blackhawks game.

IMG_1004Patrick Munoz got his B.A. in Linguistics and Philosophy at the University of California San Diego. His interests, which he’s always looking to expand, include semantic and pragmatic issues such as indexicality, relevance conditions, implicature, and too many others to name, as well as how those issue bear on the philosophy of language.

207532_1622980986731_5971742_nJacob Phillips graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in Linguistics. He is interested primarily inphonology and is dedicated to fieldwork and working with under-documented languages. In the past, he worked with Munda languages in eastern India, but he interested in shifting his focus to North African to work with Berber and Semitic languages. In addition to linguistics, Jacob is a competitive distance runner, specializing in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

BetsyBioPhotoBetsy Pillion is a recent graduate of the Ohio State University, where she studied linguistics and Arabic. She is interested in phonological theory, and completed her undergraduate thesis on verbal tone behavior in Mushunguli, a Bantu language spoken in southern Somalia. She has studied abroad in Jordan, and hopes to do fieldwork in the Middle East and North Africa. She’s looking forward to getting involved in the UChicago phonology lab. Outside of academics, Betsy enjoys biking, drawing, eating strange foods, and watching foreign language movies.

Conference on Gesture, Sign and Language

Friday, March 1st, 2013

We invite you to a conference inaugurating the Center for Gesture, Sign, and Language at the University of Chicago.  The conference, which is jointly sponsored by the Divisions of Social Sciences and Humanities, will be held on March 8-9, 2013, in Breasted Hall in the Oriental Institute (see the attached poster and schedule or the program below). Five speakers will present their work and members of the University community will provide commentaries.  In addition, on Friday, March 8, Flying Words will present an ASL poetry performance also in Breasted, followed by a discussion, and then a reception at the new Logan Center.  The conference is free but we ask that you register at so that we can have enough chairs and coffee; the program is available on our website.  We hope to see you all there! it should be a stimulating beginning to an exciting enterprise.


Susan Goldin-Meadow

Diane Brentari

Anastasia Giannakidou



Sessions: BREASTED HALL, THE ORIENTAL INSTITUTE (1155 E. 58th St., Chicago, IL)


conference is dedicated to David McNeill (Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Psychology), the founder of the

Committee on Cognition and Communication at the University and former chair of the Department of Psychology.

ASL-English Interpretation is provided at all sessions


9:15-9:30 Opening remarks (Martha Roth, Dean of the Humanities Division) and dedication to David McNeill

Session 1: Michael Silverstein, chair

9:30-10:30 Daniel Casasanto (invited speaker) “Metaphor in the mind and hands”

10:30-10:45 Sian Beilock (respondent)

10:45-11:00 Haun Saussy (respondent)

11:00-11:30 Discussion

Lunch 11:30 – 1:30

Session 2: Arnold Davidson, chair

1:30-2:30 David Kirsh (invited speaker) “Thinking with hands and body”

2:30-2:45 David Levin (respondent)

2:45-3:00 Larry Zbikowski (respondent)

3:00-3:30 Discussion

Break: 3:30-4:00 PM

Session 3

4:00-5:00 Remarks (Tom Rosenbaum, Provost)

4:10-5:10 Peter Cook & Kenny Lerner (Performance: “Flying Words” Project)

5:00-5:30 Discussion


Reception: 6:00-8:00 PM Remarks (Mario Small, Dean of the Social Sciences Division) (Logan Center for the

Arts (915 E. 60th St, Chicago, IL)



Session 4: Jason Riggle, chair

9:00-10:00 John Haviland (invited speaker) “Pathways from gesture to visible grammar: how three deaf

Zinacantec siblings assemble language out of parts of other things”

10:00-10:15 Amy Dahlstrom (respondent)

10:15-10:30 Lenore Grenoble (respondent)

Break 10:30-1045 AM

Session 5: Susan Levine, chair

10:45-11:45 Diane Lillo-Martin (invited speaker) “Sign Language Acquisition by Deaf and Hearing Children”

11:45:12:00 Ming Xiang (respondent)

12:00-12:15 John Lucy (respondent)

12:15-12:45 Discussion

Lunch: 12:45 – 2:30PM

Session 6: John Goldsmith, chair

2:30-3:30 Ted Supalla (invited speaker) “Examining the link between gestural discourse & grammaticalization”

3:30-3:15 Howard Nusbaum (respondent)

3:45-4:00 Alan Yu (respondent)

4:00-4:30 Discussion

Cisneros co-authored journal publishing

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Congratulations to Carlos Cisneros for having a co-authored paper published in a journal recently!


Ivano Caponigro, Harold Torrence, Carlos Cisneros.  (2013).  “Free Relative Clauses in Two Mixtec Languages”.  International Jounal of American Linguistics 79(1): 61 – 96.

Welcome new first year graduate students!

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

A big Windy City welcome all of our new first-year graduate students this year! With so many of them to get to know, here’s a little cheat sheet for you:


Ross Burkholder is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where he studied Linguistics and German. Linguistically, he has many areas of interest, including Syntax, Language Contact, and Historical Linguistics. Apart from Linguistics, he enjoy the sports of tennis and soccer when he is feeling physically ambitious, and Starcraft when he is not.





Carlos Cisneros is interested in the syntax-semantics interface.  He has fieldwork experience on the Mixtec languages of Oaxaca, Mexico, and his hope is to continue fieldwork on languages of the Americas to better inform theoretical research in both syntax and semantics.  He is also interested in language orthography development and education for indigenous communities.  Lastly, he is pretty curious about tone, its development, and the various implications for its presence in a language.


Emily Coppess received a B.S. in Linguistics and Mathematics from the University of Michigan.  This past year, she was working on research at the University of Maryland, looking at Bayesian modeling of sound category perception.  Currently, she is interested in questions pertaining to modeling language variation and morphosyntax in Germanic and Scandinavian languages.  Outside of Linguistics, she is very interested in Scottish country dancing, crafting and watching old movies (especially Hitchcock and film noir).  She is in the process of teaching herself how to make chain maille.




Julian Grove was the lab manager for the Language Processing Lab and the Phonology Lab from 2010 to 2012. Before that, he earned a B.A. in Cognitive Science from Johns Hopkins. As an incoming first year, he hopes to study the following things while he’s here: ellipsis, binding principle C, degree words, and the use of experimental methods in linguistics.












Emily Hanink comes to Chicago from the University of Connecticut, where she graduated in May 2012 with a dual B.A. in Linguistics/philosophy and German. She also spent a semester at Heidelberg University in 2010. Her research in the past has focused on Germanic linguistics and language acquisition, though currently she is most interested in the syntax and semantics of modality. Her undergraduate career instilled in her a loyalty to the study of philosophy, which she hopes to develop and incorporate into her linguistic research. She is excited to be at a department with such diverse specializations and look forward to research opportunities in areas she has not yet explored.













Hilary McMahan received her BA in Linguistics from Reed College, where her thesis investigated the different semiotic domains relevant in Whorfian and neo-Whorfian linguistic relativity. She is excited to continue exploring these general themes through the joint Linguistics and Anthropology degree at the University of Chicago. Her current research interests lie in the interactions between grammatical systems of deixis and habitual, sociocultural orientations and practices in the Algonquian languages of North America. She also enjoys anything to do with food, traveling whenever possible, and reading anything written by Haruki Murakami.


Cherry Meyer completed her undergraduate degree in Linguistics and Spanish at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She is excited to study Pragmatics, Cognitive Linguistics and Algonquian languages here in Chicago. Her hobbies include biking, art and spending time with friends and family, including her cats at home.








Natalia Pavlou‘s work is focused on presenting and analyzing several morphosyntactic phenomena in (Cypriot) Greek, such as wh-questions, clitics and clefts. Her interest in the language acquisition field initially originated from her participation in the Cyprus Acquisition Team and has expanded in the study of pied-piping, exhaustivity, wh-questions, clefts, clitics and word order in (Cypriot) Greek and Romance languages. Her interests range from these fields to bilingual language acquisition and education in diglossic environments, as well as any other interesting phenomena in other fields.








Özge Sarıgül was born in Istanbul, Turkey. She studied Economics in undergrad at Bogazici University. In her second year she fell in love with Linguistics and decided to continue her studies in this field. She completed her MA degree in Linguistics at the same university in 2011. Özge’s main interests are phonology and psycholinguistics. Besides linguistics, she also loves watching movies and practicing yin yoga.
















Adam Singerman is interested in conducting fieldwork on endangered languages, particularly those indigenous to the Americas, and on pursuing questions of language contact and attrition. After graduating from college but before coming to Chicago, he lived and worked in Brazil, Portugal, Boston and Brazil (again). He is glad to have settled down in one place for the next few years, though he does miss the tropics.












Anqi Zhang graduated from Brown University in 2012 with B.A in Linguistics (honors) and B.A in Egyptology. She is mainly interested in semantics, syntax and the semantics-syntax interface, particularly in ancient Greek and Chinese. She is also very interested in historical linguistics and comparative linguistics. She would like to learn more about corpus linguistics, computational linguistics and experimental psycholinguistics in the future.