Archive for the ‘colloquia’ Category

Talk by Wagner on May 6

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Departmental Colloquium

Information Structure Effects on Prosody: English vs. French

Michael Wagner
McGill University

Cobb 201
2:30-4pm *NOTE NEW TIME*

Germanic and Romance languages differ in how prosody is affected by information structure.  Ladd (2008), e.g., observes contrasts between English and Italian that reveal differences in how argument structure and  information structure affect prosody. These differences seem to generalize to other Romance and Germanic languages (see Swerts et al. 2002, Swerts 2007 for experimental evidence on Dutch, Italian, and Romanian). Using evidence (mainly from English and French), this talk explores the semantic, syntactic, and phonological underpinnings of the prosodic differences. The observed patterns suggest a connection between seemingly unrelated facts, e.g., the stresslessness of indefinite pronouns such as ‘something’ and contrastive focus; they reveal that both semantic and phonological givenness play a role in focus marking, as do constraints on syntactic movement; they cast doubt on claims of a universal nuclear stress (Cinque 1993); and finally, they have repercussions in sometimes unexpected ways, e.g., they influence what types of rhyme are considered artistic in poetry.

Reminder about colloquium

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Due to job talks this month, the 2009-2010 colloquium series has had a delayed winter-quarter start. For all those waiting in eager anticipation, colloquia will finally resume next week, Thursday, February 25, with a talk by UChicago’s Katherine Kinzler (Psychology). More on her lab’s research can be found here. As usual, we’ll begin at 3:30 in Cobb 201, followed by tea at 5:00 in the department lounge. See you there!

Winter 2010 colloquia

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

The Department of Linguistics will have its first colloquium of the (new) decade in a few weeks. For now, you can content yourself with our colloquium schedule for Winter quarter 2010 (abstracts available soon):

This is also a good time to remind everyone to hit up the various graduate workshops affiliated with our department. There’s something for everybody, including Semiotics: Culture in Context, Workshop in Semantics and Philosophy of Language, Workshop on Language and Cognition, and Workshop on Language Variation and Change, all of which have several talks scheduled for the coming weeks and months.

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.

Spring and colloquia are in the air

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Spring 2009 colloquia are off and running. This full and final season of talks in the 2009 colloquium series began on April 2 with by MIT’s Adam Albright on “Rabbitometry vs. rabbitography: phonetic faithfulness and affix-by-affix differences in derived words.”

Coming up in the following weeks are several other fantastic speakers, including

April 30: Teresa Satterfield, University of Michigan

May 14: Nick Fleisher, Wayne State University

May 21: Ryan Shosted, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

May 28: Shigeto Kawahara, Rutgers University

June 4: Rob Podesva, Georgetown University

Per custom, colloquia are held on Thursday afternoons at 3:30 in Cobb 201. We look forward to these visits, and hope many of you will join us!