Monthly Archives: February 2010

Workshop on Language Variation and Change: “The Origin of Accentlessness,” Jay Jasanoff (Harvard), February 26

Workshop on Language Variation and Change
Sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies
This Friday we present the 4th talk of Winter Quarter for the Language Variation and Change Workshop at the University of Chicago.  We are very excited to announce :
Diebold Professor of Indo-European Linguistics and Philology
Department of Linguistics, Harvard University
Friday, February 26th at 4 pm, in Harper 103 (1116 E. 59th Street)
*this is 30 minutes later than our usual time*
The Origin of Accentlessness, or Balto-Slavic Mobility without Tears

*Stick around for a reception after the talk to eat, drink, and chat with Jay and the other workshop attendees.*
Start planning now for the last of Winter quarter’s LVC presentations:
Friday, March 12th at 3:30 pm: April Grotberg (University of Chicago) “The development and distribution of Coptic case morphology”
See details on our website here:
This talk is part of a year-long workshop on Language Variation and Change, with a focus on the motivations and consequences of language change from diverse perspectives (incl. linguistic, historical, social, cognitive, and computational). Meetings are held bi-weekly on Fridays.  Each meeting features a presentation, followed by discussion.
We have a number of exciting speakers lined up for this series, both local and from abroad. The current list and meeting schedule, together with further information about the workshop, can be found at:
If you are interested in presenting recent research as part of this series, please email one of us (listed below). Graduate students of any department are especially invited!
Any persons with a disability who believe they might need assistance in attending the workshops are asked to contact Alice Lemieux in advance at
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Inner Asian and Uralic Languages Offered at SWSEEL (Indiana University)

Central Eurasian Languages at the 2010 Summer Workshop in Slavic, East European and Central Asian languages (SWSEEL) at Indiana University:

* Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced Dari, Tajik, and Uyghur

* Introductory and Intermediate Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Pashto, Turkmen, and Uzbek

* Introductory Hungarian and Mongolian

Course dates: June 18 – August 13, 2010

Fellowships Available!

Application Deadline for Fellowships: March 22, 2010

(Fellowships available only for US Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents)

Applications are available online at

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Chicago Premiere of Polish Film “Zero” at the 13th Annual European Union Film Festival, March 21, 25

13th Annual European Union Film Festival (March 5-April 1), held at the Gene Siskel Film Center, is the largest showcase in North America for the cinema of the European Union (EU) nations. All 27 EU nations are represented in this year’s festival, which includes 59 feature films, all Chicago premieres. The festival features the most provocative film entertainment Europe has to offer, including European blockbusters, edgy avant-garde, escapist comedies, thoughtful documentaries, films by acclaimed directors, and new discoveries.

* Poland *

* ZERO *

2009, Pawel Borowski, Poland, 110 min., with Robert Wieckiewicz, Bogdan Koca

Sunday, March 21, 7:30 pm & Thursday, March 25, 8:00 pm

This marvelously inventive thriller scrambles its way through a densely packed twenty-four hours in an unnamed European metropolis, where the lives of more than forty characters fatefully intersect. A CEO, a hospital worker, a peddler, a gigolo, a duplicitous wife, a short-tempered taxi driver, and scores of others are introduced in absorbing mini-dramas; then, like relay runners, each hands the narrative on to the next, until one sprawling tale encompassing adultery, espionage, murder, child pornography, extortion, and robbery takes shape. In Polish with English subtitles. 35mm print courtesy of Opus Film.

Please visit the Gene Siskel Film Center’s site,, for a schedule of all screenings and to purchase tickets.

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“A Poet in Transition,” Joanna Kurowska (UChicago), February 25

Joanna Kurowska
(Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literatures)

“A Poet In Transition”

Bilingual poet Joanna Kurowska will read her Polish and English poems and talk about the challenges of writing poetry in a second language.

Thursday, February 25th, 5:00 pm

The Franke Institute for the Humanities
(1100 E. 57th Street, in the Regenstein Library)

Reception to Follow

This event is brought to you by the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies and the Program on Poetry and Poetics. For more information about this event please contact or 773-702-0875. Persons with a disability who believe they need assistance are requested to call 773-702-8274 in advance.

Joanna Kurowska is a bilingual poet. She immigrated to the US from Poland over twenty-one years ago. Currently, she writes poetry exclusively in English. Her English poems have appeared in/ Christianity and Literature/,/ Concise Delight/, /International Poetry Review/, /Oklahoma Review/, /The Penwood Review/; and are forthcoming in /The New York Quarterly, /and /Vineyards./ With regards to her Polish phase, Joanna has published two books of poetry in Poland, /S’ciana/ (?The Wall,? Wydawnictwo Dolnos’la;skie, Wroc?aw 1997) and /Obok/ (?Near,? Oficyna Literacka, Kraków 1999). Her Polish poems have appeared in a number of magazines, including /Kultura/ in Paris, /Temat/, /Przegla;d// Powszechny/, and/ Fraza/ (fortcoming). Finally, her own translations of her Polish poems have appeared in /Concise Delight/, /International Poetry Review, /and /The Penwood Review/. More are forthcoming in /Bateau Journal /and/ Strong Verse/. Joanna Kurowska has taught at the University of Chicago since 1997; and, in the summer, at Indiana University since 1995.

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“Celebrating Chekhov” Film Series at Gene Siskel Film Center, February 7-March 3

From the Gene Siskel Film Center site:

From February 7 through March 3, the Gene Siskel Film Center takes note of 2010 as the 150th anniversary of the birth of Russian playwright and short-story writer Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) with the series Celebrating Chekhov, presenting eight films based on or inspired by his writings.

Chekhov, one of the most beloved and internationally appreciated of all Russian writers, brought to his work a keen understanding of the circumstances and forces that shape human behavior. In masterworks including The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard, and Uncle Vanya, and in scores of short stories, his characters are aristocrats who sense helplessly that their era of privilege is coming to a close, or members of the middle class whose lives are strictly and frustratingly defined by the demands of propriety. Lost dreams, unfulfilled ambitions, unrequited love, lives undercut by indolence, perfidy, failure, and the greed of others–this is the eternal stuff of Chekhov. His body of work has proven to be as rich a source of material for the movie screen as for the stage.

Our series features the most recent Chekhov screen adaptation, Karen Shakhnazarov’s WARD NO. 6, the film that is currently Russia’s official submission for Academy Awards consideration. This harrowing tale of a smug doctor whose downfall is brought about through his obsession with a patient is made all the more fascinating by the fact that Chekhov was a practicing physician his entire career, and wrote in his spare time.

The fading milieu of princely living is evoked with relish in films including THE HUNTING ACCIDENT and THE SEAGULL, while the holiday atmosphere of the seaside resort of Yalta, where Chekhov himself lived for some years, is made to symbolize freedom for a couple meeting on the sly in THE LADY WITH THE DOG.

Directors Andrei Konchalovsky and Nikita Mikhalkov rise to the emotional challenge of Chekhov, eliciting magnificently nuanced performances from large ensemble casts in Konchalovsky’s UNCLE VANYA and Mikhalkov’s AN UNFINISHED PIECE FOR A PLAYER PIANO. Two more experimental treatments of Chekhov’s material are seen in Kira Muratova’s CHEKHOV’S MOTIVES and in Louis Malle’s VANYA ON 42ND STREET.

Celebrating Chekhov is a presentation of Seagull Films in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art and Mosfilm Studio.

—Barbara Scharres

For a schedule of screenings, and to purchase tickets, please visit:

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“Russian Case Morphology and the Syntactic Categories,” David Pesetsky (MIT), March 4

David Pesetsky, MIT
“Russian case morphology and the syntactic categories”
Thursday, March 4th, 10:30am
Place TBA


Sometimes it is the oddest facts that provide the best clues to
significant properties of language, because their very oddity limits
the space in which we are likely to search for possible explanations.
In  this talk, I argue that the strange behavior of  Russian nominal
phrases with paucal numerals (‘two’, ‘three’ and ‘four’) provide clues
of just this type concerning the syntactic side of morphological case.

When a nominal phrase like the Russian counterpart of ‘these last two
beautiful tables’ occupies a nominative environment, the pre-numeral
demonstrative and adjective (‘these last’) bear nominative plural
morphology, and the numeral itself is nominative. The post-numeral
adjective (‘beautfiul’), however, is often genitive plural; and the
noun (‘table’) is genitive singular — a situation that the
illustrious Russian grammarian Peshkovsky (1956) characterized as “a
typical example of the degree to which grammatical and logical
thinking may diverge”.

I suggest that the behavior of these phrases is actually entirely
logical — once one adopts a particular structural analysis of the
Russian DP. and a particular view of the nature of case morphology.
Developing ideas by Richards (2007), I propose that Russian is a
covert case-stacking language in which the realization of out case
morphemes suppresses the pronunciation of inner morphemes — with this
process restricted, however, by the phonological freezing effect of
phase spell-out (Chomsky 1995; 2001).  The case affixes themselves —
traditionally classified using case-specific sui generis terminology
(nominative, genitive, etc.) — are actually instantiations of  the
various syntactic categories: N, P and V.  The interaction of this
proposal with the theory of phases and spellout raises at least the
possibility that there is no special theory of morphological case.

Posted in: University of Chicago Events

Solomia Krushelnytska – An Evening of Opera at the Ukrainian National Museum, February 26

Solomia Krushelnytska – An Evening of Opera at the Ukrainian National Museum

Friday, February 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm

A musical evening at the Ukrainian National Museum featuring the

repertoire of Solomia Krushelnytska.
Featuring Puccini, Verdi and other composers.

Admission $20 per person.

The Ukrainian National Museum is located in the heart of the Ukrainian Village, at 2249 West Superior Street in Chicago.

Free Parking is available beside the Museum.

For driving instructions, visit the Museum’s website at

For additional information, please call (312) 421-8020 or e-mail

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Call for Proposals: The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Slavic Linguistics Society, Deadline: April 30

Call for Proposals:

The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Slavic Linguistics Society
University of Chicago
29-31 October 2010

The purpose of the Slavic Linguistic Society is to create a community of students and scholars interested in Slavic linguistics in its broadest sense, that is, the systematic and scholarly study of the Slavic languages and the contacts of Slavic with non-Slavic languages. The Society aspires to be as open and inclusive as possible; no school, framework, approach, or theory is presupposed, nor is there any restriction in terms of geography, academic affiliation or status.

Papers dealing with any aspect of Slavic linguistics as understood above and within any framework are appropriate including sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, language acquisition, etc.. The only restriction is that all papers should address an issue pertaining to Slavic linguistics as defined above. We encourage everyone to participate and ask you to share this announcement with as many colleagues and students as possible. In view of the openness of our orientation, all papers are expected to be readily intelligible to other scholars, regardless of theoretical orientation.

-500 word maximum
-2 page maximum (the second page may be used for tables, figures and references)
-Word doc or PDF format
-Place the title at the top of the first page; do not include your name, institution, or any identifying information on the abstract



We are also pleased to announce a special workshop on contact linguistics & Slavic languages in connection with the conference:


Jouko Lindstedt (Professor of Slavonic Philology, Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki)
Aleksandr Rusakov (Professor, Department of General Linguistics, University of St. Petersburg & Researcher in Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences)

We invite paper proposals on all aspects of contact and Slavic, diachronic and synchronic, including such topics as
contact and the development of the Slavic languages, contact between different Slavic languages, and contact between Slavic and non-Slavic languages. [Note: if you have already submitted an abstract and wish to have it considered for the workshop, please send a message to us at]


For millennia, speakers of Slavic languages have expanded over a considerable territory, coming into contact with speakers of other languages, both Slavic and non-Slavic. These contacts have left their imprint on the Slavic languages and have played important roles in their differentiation over time. By the same token, many of the Slavic languages have had a significant impact on the other languages they have come in contact with. The introduction of writing in the late first millennium brought yet another vehicle for contact influences, in particular from Greek in the early period, but continuing as a vehicle for change with the development of the literary traditions of the different Slavic languages.
The range and extent of contact-induced phenomena vary according to time and language and are often difficult to assess. Cases of lexical borrowing are generally clear, in terms of what is the source and what is the target, but in other areas of potential contact-induced change, it can be difficult if not impossible, to prove without question that a given phenomenon or feature is the result of contact and not independent innovation or shared inheritance. This is perhaps
particularly true for the impact of one Slavic variety upon the other, where the genetic and typological properties of
both are extremely close to one another. Additional ambiguities are introduced by the fact that some important contact phenomena occurred during the prehistoric period.***

The organizing committee:
Victor Friedman
Yaroslav Gorbachov
Lenore Grenoble

Posted in: Calls for Papers and Upcoming Conferences, University of Chicago Events
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Call for Papers: “The Role of Political and Epistemological History in the Archaeology of the Former Soviet Union” Theoretical Archaeological Group, Deadline: February 25

Call for Papers

Theoretical Archaeology Group 2010
Friday, April 30th to Sunday, May 2nd, 2010
Brown University, Providence, RI, USA
Session: The Role of Political and Epistemological History in the Archaeology of the Former Soviet Union

Since the collapse of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) the number of foreign archaeologists working in the Balkans, Eastern-Europe, and Central Asia has steadily increased. Though the former ‘great unknown’ is now more accessible than ever, several issues have come to the fore as significant impediments to conducting collaborative or comparative research. Foremost among these are ontological issues associated with the prevalence of the culture-historical paradigm and ethnos theory as applied in Soviet archaeology and ethnography. The legacy of this research paradigm leaves current political and social boundaries as deterrents to comparative archaeological research.

In many parts of the FSU the prehistoric past is key to the development of contemporary boundaries and national pride. Archaeologists are well placed, however, to analyze the fluidity of such boundaries, doing research that must often cross shifting political, social, and linguistic borders in order to be comprehensive. Though typically archaeologists do not treat the politics of their field in publications, a keen awareness of contemporary and historical identity politics and archaeological practices is a necessary prerequisite to an understanding of material cultural assemblages.

Several themes deriving from the Soviet and post-Soviet culture-historical paradigm, along with destructive data collection and a general dismissal of theory are often critiqued by western scholars. Yet, these same scholars can be unfamiliar with the idiom and historiography of the archaeology of the FSU, often due to still lingering linguistic barriers. Thus, they are in turn criticized for their superficial understanding of the area’s corpus of material-culture and historiography and their broad generalizations about theoretical orientation. This often places the two archaeological traditions at odds when it comes to field methodology, collaborative grant writing or publication, and even museum research.

Papers are invited, which discuss the historical and contemporary influences on archaeological research in the area of the FSU and their effect, both past and present, especially as regards politics and epistemology. Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by February 25th to either or

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Slavic Colloquium: “Gombrowicz and Theological Drama,” February 25

Professor Lukasz Tischner (Jagiellonian University) to present “Grombrowicz and Theological Drama”

Time: 6-8pm, February 25. Location: Foster 305 (1130 E. 59th Street)

Reception to follow.

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