Archive for the ‘research group’ Category

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.

Last LCC workshop of the year

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The Workshop on Language, Cognition and Computation (along with our other graduate workshops, Language Variation and Change and Semantics and Philosophy of Language) is wrapping up another academic year. Please join us this Friday at a special time for the final LCC talk of the year, presented by the U. of C.’s James Kirby. He will be speaking at noon in the Karen Landahl Center on “A phonetics-phonology mismatch in Vietnamese” (abstract below). Join us afterwards for our end-of-the-year barbecue at Midway Plaisance Park just south of the Classics building. See you there!

According to phonetically-based phonological frameworks, functional constraints such as perceptual distinctiveness play a central role in shaping phonological behaviors (Boersma, 1998; Hayes et. al, 2004). This view is challenged by evidence of phonetically unnatural patterns active in synchronic phonological grammars (Anderson, 1981; Hyman, 2001). I consider arguments for the phonetic grounding of phonological features in Vietnamese tone, where it has been argued that, despite dialectal differences in the phonetics of tone production, phonetically grounded tone features are shared across dialects (Pham, 2001, 2003). From the results of a cross-dialectal perception study, I argue that the features relevant for the perception of tones no longer correspond to their phonologically active counterparts in any straightforward way, either within or between dialects. This result is discussed in terms of its  implication for the notion of phonetically grounded phonological constraints, as well as for the relationship between subphonemic and categorical levels of linguistic structure.

Illinois Speech Day

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Some readers may want to mark their respective calendars: Illinois Speech Day, a daylong meeting consisting of presentations and discussion on the theme of computational models of speech, will be happening in just a few weeks.

Moreover, it’s happening a convenient two blocks or so away from campus, and is correspondingly full of U of C presenters, including Max Bane, Sam Bowman, Matt Faytak, James Kirby, John Labiak, Olivier Lescop, Sravana Reddy, Jason Riggle, Susan Rizzo, Morgan Sonderegger, Mark Stoehr, Siwei Wang, and Sonija Waxmonsky.

That’s in addition to faculty, postdoc, and student presenters from UIUC, Northwestern, and TTIC, so take note:

Monday, May 10, TTI-Chicago, 6045 S. Kenwood Ave., Chicago.

Kratzer on campus Friday

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

This Friday, June 5, the Workshop on Philosophy of Language and Semantics, co-sponsored by the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, will be hosting Angelika Kratzer from UMass Amherst. Her talk will be in Cobb 110 from 1-3 p.m. Please join us!

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!