Archive by Author
6/21-23 25th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL-25)

June 21-23, 2013

Organizer contact: William H. Baxter (

Click here for Conference website.

See Workshop Description

The 25th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL-25) will be held at the University of Michigan June 21–23, 2013. NACCL is the largest annual conference on Chinese linguistics in North American, hosted each year at a different university, and it draws international participation. Invited speakers and panels on selected topics are planned, as well as individual preparations.

6/27 Janet Pierrehumbert (Sapir Professor): “Lexical Variability”


Janet Pierrehumbert, Northwestern University
2013 Linguistic Institute’s Edward Sapir Professor
Thursday, June 27, 2013 7:00 pm
Askwith Auditorium, Lorch Hall
Reception to follow


Read Abstract

Words are the nexus of the relation between form and meaning in language, and a rich lexicon is a hallmark of the intelligence of the human species. Words support cooperation amongst people by enabling them to share complex information about other times and places, abstract ideas, and emotions and social judgments. These facts motivate a large and fruitful body of research on how  shared vocabularies arise in linguistic communities, and how children acquire the vocabulary of the language spoken around them.  This emphasis on lexical convergence, however,  abstracts away from significant differences across speakers  in the total inventory of words, their abstract representations, their detailed phonetics,  and their patterns of use in context.  Equally,  it abstracts away from variation across words in who knows them, when and where they are used, and how they are pronounced. It  begs the question of  how the vocabularies of languages keep changing even after  a shared norm is in place.

This talk will document an assortment of cases of lexical variability, which touch on levels of linguistic representation from phonetics to pragmatics.  All  involve the interaction of cognitive and social factors in learning, remembering, and producing words. I will discuss these cases in the context of computational models of language acquisition and change.  I conclude by  developing a connection between synchronic variation and the robustness and  adaptability of language over time.

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6/28 Language and Aging

June 28, 2013
2347 Mason Hall

Organizer contacts: Loraine Obler ( and Deborah Keller-Cohen (

Click here for Workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Click here for Workshop website.

Scholars taking different linguistic approaches to study language and aging rarely have an opportunity to talk with each other: those conducting studies of social interaction in aging, those studying social interaction in Alzheimer’s Disease and those conducting studies of language-task abilities that change with aging and/or Alzheimer’s Disease. This workshop brings together scholars who work in these areas to provide an introduction to work in language and aging and to raise unanswered questions. We will consider what language behavior in older adults looks like and how it is impacted by health, cognition and social relations. Methods of analyzing speech, approaches to data collection and implications for intervention will be included.

We will provide a general review of normative changes to language production that have been associated with aging. Interestingly some aspects of language use remain intact as we age while others –such as lexical retrieval and comprehension in non-ideal conditions –are more vulnerable. Asymmetries in language processing are considered in the domains of phonology, the lexicon and syntax.  How dual-task demands affect language production by young and older adults will also be included. In addition we take a look at evidence from bilingual older adults to refine our understanding of language as we age.

Of course changes in language behavior do not occur in isolation from other aspects of behavior such as cognition and health. We look at how the model of the Language in the Aging Brain Laboratory integrates health, brain, and cognitive factors to predict age-related changes in lexical retrieval and sentence processing. Education and hearing will be considered as factors that interact as well.

Language behavior occurs in social contexts so it is important to understand how social engagement and social relations more generally impact language use as we age. For example, beliefs held by others about older adults affect the way the non-old talk to them and how they interpret the speech of adults as they age; we also consider the impact of ageist speech styles on older adults’ language performance. Finally, the nature and complexity of older adults’ social networks as well as the frequency with which they interact with others will be examined since both play a role in maintaining language skills in older age.

A consideration of normal aging processes will be complemented by an examination of the nature of changes resulting from non-normal decline such as Mild-Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease and implications for interventions.

6/28 Student Forum with the Linguistic Society of America

Friday, June 28, 2013 6 pm
Room 2330, Mason Hall
Interested in providing feedback to the Linguistic Society of America?  The LSA is currently engaged in a strategic planning process, and we would welcome your input in the context of a structured focus group. The studentfocus group will be facilitated by David Robinson, the LSA’s Director of Membership and Meetings. Refreshments will be provided, including pizza, salad, and sodas. This event will be held at 6:00 pm on Friday, June 28th in 2330 Mason Hall.

If you plan on attending, please RSVP by Wednesday, June 26th so we can plan to order enough food.

6/28 Variation in the Acquisition of Sound Systems

June 28, 2013
2306 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Lisa Davidson (

Click here for Workshop website.

See Workshop Description

What is the role of variability in how sound systems are acquired or changed? This workshop examines this topic from a number of different perspectives, including child language acquisition, non-native production and perception, sound change, and phonotactic learning. The workshop will be held on one day, including 5 invited 1 hour talks and a poster session.

Speakers include:
Lisa Davidson (New York University)
Matt Goldrick (Northwestern University)
Bob McMurray (University of Iowa)
Katherine White (University of Waterloo)
Alan Yu (University of Chicago)

This workshop is made possible by the generous support of the Departments of Linguistics at New York University and Northwestern University.

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6/29-30 Diachronic Syntax

June 29-30, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: David Lightfoot (

Click here for Workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Work on diachronic syntax has developed remarkably over recent decades, primarily through two impetuses: (i) seeking to explain change in I-language through changes in E-language and principles of language acquisition, and (ii) using search mechanisms linked to computerized corpora of partially parsed historical texts.  The workshop will be devoted to exploring these developments.  Both developments link work on sociolinguistic variation with the emergence of new I-languages and this will be an emphasis of the workshop.

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6/29-30 Universality and Variability: New Insights from Genetics

June 29-30, 2013
2353 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Sarah Graham (

Click here for workshop website.

See Workshop Description

This two-day workshop is an introduction to the investigation of language from the perspective of human genetics. The workshop will be accessible to students and researchers from all levels and academic backgrounds, and no prior knowledge of genetics is required.

Language is in our DNA: our shared genetic endowment lies at the heart of the universal capacity for language, while the genetic differences between us contribute to the variability in our linguistic abilities. Tracing the connections between genes, brains and language will provide fresh insights into many areas of inquiry within linguistics.For example, how does genetic variation contribute to individual differences in language acquisition and use, and to disorders of speech and language? How could genetic factors help explain the universal constraints and tendencies in language? Have genetic differences between human populations shaped the diversity we observe in the world’s languages today? How can studying the DNA of ancient humans and other species inform the debates on the nature and evolution of our capacity for language? How is language grounded in the brain and ultimately in the genome?

On day one of this workshop, researchers working at the interface of genetics and language will give presentations introducing the principles of molecular genetics, the nature of human genetic similarity and variation, the state-of-the-art methods employed by genetic research into language, the exciting discoveries made so far, and the emerging questions and future research directions.  In addition to providingparticipantswith an overview of thecurrent state of knowledge regarding the role of specific genes in language, these presentations aim toequip participants with the core knowledge to tap into this growing literature, to make a sound evaluation of the role of genetics in their area of interest, andto identifythe potential to integrate genetic investigations into their work. Each presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session coordinated by a linguistics researcher, designed to clarify the material covered, to address myths and misconceptions about genetics, and to stimulate discussion of the ramifications for linguistics.  On day two, researchers from both genetics and linguistics will together lead structured discussion sessions, where participants will be encouraged to put forward their own questions and views on the application of genetic studies to linguistics research.


7/01 COSIAC Workshop: Disseminating Research as a Student

Monday, July 1, 2013 7 pm
Room 2306,  Mason Hall
This panel, consisting of Karlos Arregi, Anne Curzan and William Snyder, will be a Q&A that focuses on avenues for disseminating research as a student.

7/02 Keren Rice (Hale Professor): “Fieldwork and community: Aspects of variation and change”


Keren Rice, University of Toronto
2013 Linguistic Institute Ken Hale Professor
Tuesday, July 2, 2013 7:00 pm
Askwith Auditorium, Lorch Hall
Reception to follow

Read Abstract

During my career, I have been interested in addressing and trying to understand the tension that exists between universality and variability in language; I have also been interested in examining ways of working with people in fieldwork where the role that the people that linguists work with are taken into account, with a focus on people as well as on language. In this talk, I would like to examine variation from two quite different perspectives, a general approach to research and specific research that I have been doing.

I begin from the perspective of approaches to research. In recent years in research on endangered languages in Indigenous communities, there has been a trend towards empowerment, collaborative, and community-based models. These models grow out of social science methodology, the development of Indigenous research paradigms, and societal values such as the notion of giving back. I am an advocate of such models, but I have been experiencing a concern with the unidimensionality that sometimes accompanies the discussion of these models, with value judgment placed, perhaps without even realizing it, which privileges ways of research that involve communities directly in the research, with leadership coming from the community. While there are concerns with hearing community needs, does this mean operating under a model in which everyone works together, or can collaboration be more broadly construed?

I then outline a very different type of variation, the absence, or presence thereof, of variation at a time in the history of the Dene (Slavey) language that has important ramifications for the history of how communities were settled, a topic of interest in the communities. The ethnographic record speaks to the emergence of two varieties of the language in the late 19th or early 20th century, with them being largely undifferentiated prior to this time. This does not fit well with people’s sense of their history. I worked with a dictionary compiled in the late 19th century, and this work reveals that the linguistic varieties were in fact distinct at that time, suggesting that the linguistic record supports the community interpretation of its history.

How do these two topics relate? Both speak to the importance of recognizing variation. The linguistic work provides an interesting counterpoint to a comment by Sapir, speaking of the value of linguistic work to understanding culture, that linguistic research requires a “closeness of knowledge that is often out of proportion to what little can be obtained from it for tangible cultural inference” (Sapir 1936: 224). Yet much is to be learned if we can do this work. In restrictive research models, would such work be done?

In rethinking responsibilities, we may have defined collaboration so narrowly as to devalue valuable work, putting burdens on communities that may, perhaps, not be welcome, while the work itself might be perceived to be of value. A broader construal of collaboration may best serve both community and academic needs so long as that broader collaboration is grounded in relationships, respect, and recognition, allowing a range of types of work to thrive.



7/03 The Grammar of Happiness and Q&A Session with Dan Everett

Showing of film “The Grammar of Happiness”
Introduction and question-answer session with Dan Everett
July 3, 2013 7:00 pm
Auditorium, Kraus Natural Science Building

7/05 Monolingual Demonstration by Daniel Everett

Daniel Everett, Bentley University
Friday, July 5 7:00 pm
Askwith Auditorium, Lorch Hall
Reception to follow

7/06 Maintaining Linguistic Diversity: Supporting Language Programs

July 6, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Samantha Disbray (

See Workshop Description

In many settings world-wide, schools and community learning spaces are an important site for language maintenance and the maintenance of language diversity. School and community programs are a context in which linguists, in collaboration with language speakers, teachers and education administrators, can play a central role. However, linguists rarely have training or preparation for this sort of work.

In this workshop, participants will first gain an overview language in education programs world-wide, with a focus on the US and Australia, and survey the types and goals of local programs supporting endangered languages. Four sessions will then focus on the practical tasks that linguists carry out, covering:

  • Working with Stakeholders (Communities, Language Activists, Language Speakers, Teachers and Education Authorities) – Protocols, building expertise and collaboration
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy – Culture and language in programs
  • Supporting oracy and literacy teaching and learning in endangered language programs
  • Resource development and production – simple and accessible technologies for poster, book and multi-media production

A final session will be devoted to the participants experiences, insights brought and insights gained through the workshop.


Some recommended reading and viewing:

Hobson, J., K. Lowe, S. Poetsch & M. Walsh (Ed.s). (2010). Re-Awakening Languages: Theory & Practice in the Revitalisation of Australia’s Indigenous Languages. Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press.

Reyhner , Jon and Louise Lockard (eds.) 2009 Indigenous Language Revitalization Encouragement, Guidance & Lessons Learned. Northern Arizona University.

Cultural Survival Website:

Enduring Voices Website:

Our Mother Tongues Website:

Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity

UNESCO Language and Multilingualism Website & Material on Multilingual Education:   & ‘Education in a Multilingual World’:

About the workshop facilitator

Dr. Samantha Disbray has worked as a linguist supporting Indigenous language workers and teachers in Central Australia for over 10 years. She has worked with the community of Warumungu speakers and documented this endangered language, spoken to the north of Alice Springs (Disbray 2005, 2011). In her PhD project, she documented the Creole language spoken by children of Warumungu heritage (Disbray 2009), and investigated language maintenance strategies in this speech community (Morrison and Disbray 2008). She has been employed by the Northern Territory Department of Education as the regional linguist for Central Australia since 2008, and in this role works with over 20 schools in the region, which run Indigenous Language and Culture Programs in language programs in eight languages. She has also supported the Bilingual Education programs in Central Australia and has written on policy and evaluation of these programs (Disbray, forthcoming).


Some publications by Samantha Disbray

Disbray, S. Forthcoming. Bilingual Education in Warlpiri Schools: An evaluation. To appear in Language Description Informed by Theory (ed) R. Pensalfini, John Benjamins.

Disbray. S (Compiler). 2011. Warumungu Bird Poster, Book and Talking Book. Northern Territory Department of Education and Training, Alice Springs.

Disbray S.  2009. More than one way to catch a frog: A study of children’s discourse in an Australian contact language. PhD Thesis.

Disbray. S (Compiler). 2005. Warumungu Picture Dictionary, IAD Press, Alice  Springs.

Morrison B. Nakamarra and S. Disbray 2008. Warumungu children and language in Tennant Creek. Warra wiltaniappendi = Strengthening languages. Proceedings of the Inaugural    Indigenous Languages Conference (ILC) 2007, Adelaide, Australia (107-111)

7/06-07 Variation and Syntax: Where are we now, and where do we go next?

July 6-7, 2013
2353 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Jeffrey Parrott (

Click here for workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Alan Munn, Michigan State University
Jeffrey Keith Parrott, University of Copenhagen

Supported by the National Science Foundation BCS-1265444

Invited speakers:
David Adger, Queen Mary, University of London
Leonie Cornips, Meertens Institute, Amsterdam
Bill Haddican, Queens College, City University of New York
Cristina Schmitt, Michigan State University
Jennifer Smith, University of Glasgow
Sali Tagliamonte, University of Toronto

For at least the past two decades there has been a growing interest in the reconciliation of sociolinguistic variation and syntactic theory. These vital fields of inquiry have been estranged virtually since their inception, with longstanding disputes mainly centered on fundamental methodological and theoretical issues. However, recent work (e.g., Adger & Smith 2005; Adger 2006; Adger & Smith 2010; Nevins & Parrott 2010, among others) has demonstrated that variationist empirical methods are indeed well suited for investigating variable phenomena of relevance to syntactic theorizing, and furthermore that independently developing theories of syntax and its interfaces have become sufficiently articulated that plausible mechanisms of intra- and inter-individual variation can be proposed. Thus, the purpose of this workshop is not only to synthesize our current understanding of syntactic variation, but to stimulate future collaborative research beyond the conventional domains of either variationist sociolinguistics or theoretical syntax. For instance, application of both variationist empirical methods and refined theoretical concepts (e.g., Adger 2010; Parrott 2012) to the study of second- or first-language acquisition (e.g., Smith et al. 2007; 2009; Parrott 2009), multi-lingualism or -dialectalism, language/dialect attrition or death, heritage languages or dialects, or other emerging topics increases the potential for unification of an even greater scope. To such ends, the workshop is primarily aimed at students and young researchers and features three invited one-hour lectures and up to fourteen 30-minute talks, along with panel commentary, small group collaboration, and plenty of time allotted for general discussion.

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7/07 African Linguistics Workshop at LSA Summer Institute

July 7, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Vicki Carstens (

See Workshop Description

African Linguistics Workshop

2013 LSA Summer Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Sunday July 7, 2013

9:00-9:30 The syntax of Wh/Focus extraction in Serer
Nico Baier, University of California Berkeley

9:30-10:00 Parameterizing Case: other evidence from Bantu
Jenneke van der Wal, University of Cambridge

10:00-10:30 The syntax of the linker in Kinande
Patricia Schneider Zioga, California State University at Fullerton

10:30-10:45 Coffee break

10:45-11:15 N-words in disguise: Zulu and Xhosa augmentless nominals
Vicki Carstens & Loyiso Mletshe, University of Missouri & University of the Western Cape



11:15-11:45 On tonal properties of Setswana agreement markers
Irina Monich, University of Connecticut

11:45-12:15 The interaction of number and gender in Katcha nominal classification
Darryl Turner, University of Edinburgh

12:15-1:45 Lunch break

1:45-2:15 Foot structure and tone in Medumba
Kathryn Hannon Franich, University of Chicago

2:15-3:15 PLENARY

Greenberg’s African language classification a half century later: a personal view
Dr. Paul Newman, distinguished professor emeritus, Indiana University

3:15 Coffee break

4:00-4:30 Abstracting over degrees in Yoruba comparison constructions
Anna Howell, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

4:30-5:00 Metalinguistic negation in Dhaasanac
Sumiyo Nishiguchi, Tokyo University of Science

5:00-5:30 Complexity and remoteness in African tense/aspect systems
Robert Botne, Indiana University

5:30-6:00 Specificity and definiteness in Yoruba
Oladipo Ajiboye, University of Lagos

6:00-9:00 Dinner: The Original Cottage Inn

512 E. Williams Street

Reservation under my name/African linguistics workshop


7/07 Examples in Revitalization Fieldwork – Anishinaabemowin in the Great Lakes

July 7, 2013, 10 am – 1 pm
2407 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Meg Noori (

See Workshop Description

This workshop will focus on the tools and techniques of language revitalization. The workshop will focus on Anishinaabemowin, an endangered North American language.  Used in several provinces and states in the US and Canada, Anishinaabemowin is the heritage language of over 200 native nations.  Although there are numerous dialects, it provides the structural core of language shared by Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Odawa people, also known as the Three Fires Confederacy.  For hundreds of years, the language has been written by traders, translators and teachers.  Despite its widespread history and level of literacy, Anishinaabemowin declined in use during colonization and only recently has the younger generation begun seeking ways to incorporate it into their daily lives.

Fieldwork in Anishinaabemowin requires a strong awareness of dialect similarities and differences as well as generational variance in use and support.  All contacts need to be placed in historical and cultural context in order to maximize the potential use of any linguistic data gathered.  We will talk about phonological, as well as ethnographic data.  We will also look at how to best capture important information while meeting both the linguists’ needs as well as the cultural and curricular needs of the community.

With a particular emphasis on song, ceremony and poetics, we will listen to lyrics from the early 1900s, mid 1900s and the present and attempt to document important linguistic and cultural detail.  Questions for discussion will include: What meta-data is important to gather about recordings?  How can data not volunteered be surmised and respected? What phonological elements vary and how does linguistic and folk representation of sound impact an archive? How can speakers and scholars combine their knowledge of morphological elements?

Lastly, we will talk about the politics of representation and preservation and explore some of the ways Anishinaabemowin is archived at the University of Michigan in Deep Blue, the Bentley Library, in linguistics and language curriculum and on and Facebook.

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7/08 COSIAC Workshop: Professional Development with Anna Marie Trester (Georgetown University)

Monday, July 8, 2013 7 pm
Room 2306, Mason Hall

Whither Linguistics: Oh The Places You’ll Go!

This interactive workshop looks at career exploration through a linguistic lens. I begin by sharing career paths of linguists, then – turning to the series of texts and interactions which comprise job searching – I demonstrate how a linguist’s eye is invaluable in navigating these highly textual genres and in presenting oneself professionally.

Three core linguistic ideas covered:

1) enacting a deictic shift from that of student to professional, moving from focusing on why you want/need a particular job to thinking about why THEY want/need you. 

2) deconstructing some of the unproductive metaphors and framing which shape thinking about the job hunt, and the notion of a perfect job

3) adopting a narrative approach

The goal of the workshop is to increase students’ awareness of how language – especially narrative – works in various sectors of the work force and helps job seekers better connect with their audiences.

7/09 Anne Charity Hudley: “Linguistics and Community Engagement: Keeping it Real”

Anne Charity Hudley, College of William and Mary
Tuesday, July 9, 2013 7 pm
Askwith Auditorium, Lorch Hall

Read Abstract

Linguists have contributed greatly to understanding the role of language in the social stratification of people in marginalized communities. Nevertheless, there remains a significant need for linguists to disseminate the findings of their research and to develop realistic, practical, and easy-to-implement materials that are both linguistically and socially informed. In doing so, the relevance and intellectual contributions of linguistics as a discipline expand, the walls of the academy become more porous, and the work becomes more real.

            In order to build an integrated model of linguistic and social justice, Charity Hudley shares findings from her work with Christine Mallinson that combines sociolinguistic praxis with education policy. Their research focuses on making information about linguistics more accessible to educators and working with them to critically develop their own linguistic ideologies in order to better inform their educational praxis. She draws from their collaborations with the Virginia Senior English Academy and College to Career Initiative, The Middle Grades Partnership, and her National Science Foundation sponsored research: “Collaborative Research: Assessing the Results of Sociolinguistic Engagement with K-12 STEM Education in Maryland and Virginia Public and Independent Schools.”

The Virginia Capstone English/College and Career Readiness Initiative has been in existence for three years and provides for secondary English seminars to be piloted in five schools and each year for 50 teachers to participate in workshops with a language variation focus with follow up professional development on how to use linguistic insights in their classrooms. Teachers from seven regions in Virginia (34 school divisions) are selected to participate each year.

The Middle Grades Partnership brings together educators from 18 independent and public schools to provide learning opportunities for Baltimore City public middle school students. The last three years of professional development for the educators have focused on the theme of language variation in the classroom and educators created materials for use with students in summer enrichment programs on the theme.

The National Science Foundation grant “Collaborative Research: Assessing the Results of Sociolinguistic Engagement with K-12 STEM Education in Maryland and Virginia Public and Independent Schools” is an investigation of 60 K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) educators’ understandings of social, cultural, and linguistic standards in schools. Charity Hudley and Mallinson are working toward a fuller understanding of how language variation and change affects K-12 STEM teachers’ judgments about language differences, pedagogical practices, and student assessments with a particular focus on the language of African-American students.

Such work provides explicit information about some of linguistics’ most critical questions – from the nature of language acquisition and patterning to the exploration of language ideology – in contexts that are of wide interest to researchers in linguistics and related fields as well as in areas that have not traditionally been as aligned with linguistics.

Charity Hudley will also share the vision for using the new sections of Language: Teaching Linguistics and Language and Public Policy as venues for such work. These initiatives reveal how researchers, educators, students, and policy makers can dedicate themselves to creating a framework for the state-by-state, city-by-city, and block-by-block sharing of linguistic information so that it is created by and reaches those who need it most.

7/11 Noam Chomsky: “What is Language, and Why does it Matter”

Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Thursday, July 11, 2013 7 pm
Rackham Auditorium

Read Abstract

There are many questions one can ask about human language, among them, about its distinctive properties, neural representation, characteristic uses, variation, growth in the individual, origins.  Every such inquiry is guided by some concept of what language is, just as in the case of every other biological system – and I will assume that we can take language to be one of these.  In the long history of the study of language, the core question has been dealt with rather casually, but even vague formulations lead to different modes of inquiry.  Thus a traditional view holds that language is primarily a means of constructing thought, contrasting with a modern consensus that it is a primarily a means of communication.  Such contrasting general viewpoints shape inquiry about the whole range of questions in particular ways, and the same is true of other formulations.  Sharpening the core question, and close attention to core properties of the language faculty, can cast a great deal of light on specific topics of linguistic inquiry, as well as concerns over a broader range.

7/12 Forum with Greg Alger of Lexicon Branding

Friday, July 12, 2013 10:00 am
Room 2330, Mason Hall

Lexicon Branding is a San Francisco Bay Area-based firm known for developing strategic brand names for products, services, and companies. Since 1982, Lexicon has worked with clients as diverse as Apple, Subaru, and Starbucks to create some of the world’s most disruptive brand names. The company’s credentials include Swiffer, BlackBerry, OnStar, Embassy Suites, Pentium, Scion, and Febreze. Read more at

7/12 Universality and Empirical Validity in Pragmatics

July 12, 2013
2353 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Marina Terkourafi (

Click here for workshop website.

See Workshop Description


Marina Terkourafi* (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign),

Philippe De Brabanter (UniversitéLibre de Bruxelles) and

Yoshiko Matsumoto (Stanford University)

*Primary workshop contact; email:


In a recent article (“The weirdest people in the world?” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2010), 61–135), Henrich, Heine and Norenzayan argued that a disproportionate amount of behavioral research is conducted using subjects from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) populations, who are frequent outliers even within their own societies and not representative of humanity at large. This is said to seriously undercut the generalizability of the conclusions reached based on the behavior of these subjects and the universality of the theoretical explanations ultimately proposed. This workshop will address the implications of these claims for the field of linguistic pragmatics. Linguistic pragmatics is especially interesting in this regard because, although it is a field where socio-cultural variability is prevalent, it is also one where universalist frameworks have often endured despite frequent and early criticism of cultural bias (two well-known examples are E. O. Keenan’s (1978) critique of Grice’s maxims based on her fieldwork in Madagascar and M. Rosaldo’s (1982) critique of Searle’s speech act theory based on her research among the Ilongot).Our aim is to bring together experts working on different pragmatic phenomena (including but not limited to: implicature, deixis, presupposition, reference resolution, speech acts, conversational structure, and information structure), to address a set of related questions such as:


  • In your view, has research in your area of pragmatics been limited by a bias toward WEIRD populations of researchers and populations studied?
  • If so, how has this bias affected the topics studied and the conclusions reached?
  • What phenomena, if any, have been left out in your particular area of pragmatics, and, conversely, when non-WEIRD populations have been studied, what (new) phenomena have potentially been discovered?
  • If a bias is indeed present, how do you think it could be methodologically and institutionally addressed?


We find these questions to be extremely topical for the discipline at large, as new paradigms such as Experimental Pragmatics are becoming increasingly popular. While those paradigms may themselves be prone to the above limitations, it is precisely empirical work along these lines that could also begin to address them — and may even be said to have begun to do so to a small extent, by deliberately focusing on, among others, subjects with neuro-developmental disorders (notably Autism Spectrum Disorders), and the pragmatics of sign languages.

7/12 Universality and Variability in Segment-Prosody Interactions

July 12, 2013
2407 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Marzena Żygis (

Click here for Workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Christine Mooshammer (USC, Los Angeles,
Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (MIT, sshuf@MIT.EDU)
Marzena Żygis (Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) & Humboldt University, Berlin,

Several studies on universals in phonology and phonetics pertain either to segmentals (e.g. sound frequencies, gaps in inventories, preferences for certain cluster types) or supra-segmentals (e.g. preferences in stress and intonational patterns). In recent years, accumulating evidence has suggested that language-specific interactions between the two levels can induce systematic temporal and qualitative variability on the segmental level. For example, most sounds lengthen substantially following a phrase boundary, but there are exceptions such as the sibilants; lax vowels do not lengthen under stress; and glottal stop insertion also depends on the quality of the following vowel. This workshop is aimed at gaining more insight into the interdependence of the segmental and prosodic levels from a cross-linguistic perspective. Papers which deal with the following questions are of particular importance:

(i) What patterns of segmental and supra-segmental interactions are found cross-linguistically?

(ii) How does metrical structure influence segments, phonotactics and phonological processes?

(iii) What principles govern segment-specific variation due to prosodic effects, e.g. localized hyper articulation, feature enhancement, syntagmatic dissimilation or prominence enhancement?

(iv) Why do some segments or larger units resist the more global prosodic variations, e.g. in order to maintain a contrast?

(v) How do different models deal with the segmental-prosodic variation, e.g. Exemplar Theory (Pierrehumbert 2001), pi-gesture model (Byrd & Saltzmann 2003), (bidirectional) OT (Boersma 1998) and others?

Invited speakers:
Laura Dilley, Michigan State University
Paul de Lacy, Rutgers University
Jelena Krivokapic, Haskins Labs



7/13-14 Globalization and the End of Linguistic Diversity: Historical, Legal and Sociolinguistic Aspects of Cultural Genocide

July 13-14, 2013
2353 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Viola Miglio (

See Workshop Description

UNESCO considers the loss of cultural and linguistic diversity as serious a danger for future generations as the loss of bio-­diversity is for nature (2003, 8). The rate of language extinction has increased enormously over the past 200 years, and even more since the middle of the past century (Krauss 2007, Salminen 1993). Globalization is seen as the loss of relevance of national borders, especially through technical means, as such it can be seen as promoting intercultural contact. Globalization, however, also entails the support of first world economies, through the efficient export of goods from industrialized countries and the management of cultural diversity in terms of potential markets for the consumption of those goods -­‐ thus a ‘global culture’ means in fact a culture of consumption (Banerjee & Linstead 2001). As such, it is a threat to cultural and linguistic diversity and it can accelerate language attrition and death.

This workshop aims at examining the social, historical, political factors and legal practices that have led to the attrition and endangerment of a number of languages in Europe and other parts of the world. The situation of Basque, Breton, Friulian, and Gallo-­‐Italic languages will be analyzed in depth, highlighting the combined effect of language policy on the demographic, and socio-­‐cultural development of these language communities over the past 200 years. Part of the workshop will be devoted to studying policies and practices aimed at reversing language attrition, and comparing the European cases with Canada and the USA.

The legal history of linguistic rights shows that while the right to speak and receive an education in one’s own language has been recognized since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations (1948), the everyday reality of such a basic human right varies widely from country to country, or even within countries. Particularly striking, moreover, is the fact that despite the variability inherent in the socio-­‐cultural conditions of different linguistic communities, the legal instruments of repression, the philosophical arguments that support it and the practices of marginalization that lead to ‘cultural genocide’ are very similar regardless of the time and place where they are applied. So are their sinister results.

These similarities arise out of the recognition that language is one of the supporting pillars of ethnic and cultural identity: by analyzing the role of language in this context, this workshop also conceives of ‘the study of language as a central component of human cultures, social action and perception,’ a theme highlighted by the 2013 LSA Institute.



Banerjee, S. B. and S. Linstead. 2001. Globalization, Multiculturalism, and Other Fictions: Colonialism for the New Millenium? Organization, vol. 8(4):683-­722.

Krauss, M. E. 2007. “Keynote -­‐ Mass Language Extinction and Documentation: The Race Against Time”. In Miyaoka, O., O. Sakiyama, and M. E. Krauss (eds.). The Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 3–24.  

Salminen, T. 1993-­‐9. UNESCO Red Book on Endangered Languages: Europe.

UNESCO 2003 Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in the Information Society (CI-­‐2003/WS/7)

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7/13-14 Patterns of Alignment in the Indo-Iranian Languages: Towards a Typology

July 13-14, 2013
2336 Mason Hall

Organizer contacts: Andrew Hippisley (, Greg Stump (

Click here for workshop website.


See Workshop Description

In their early history, the Iranian and Indic languages developed split-ergative alignment, independently but in parallel. The languages in both branches vary widely with respect to both (a) their degree of reversion to accusative alignment and (b) the trajectories that they have followed in this reversion. The objectives of this workshop is to establish a typology of paths from split ergativity to full accusativity and to identify parallels and contrasts between Indic and Iranian languages.


Invited speakers
Ashwini Deo (Yale University)
The emergence of accusative objects in New Indo-Aryan ergative clauses.

Geoffrey Haig (University of Bamberg)   
Alignment change in Iranian: what happened to agreement?

Andrew Hippisley & Greg Stump (University of Kentucky)
The morphomics of split-ergativity in Indo-Iranian

Paul Kiparsky (Stanford University)
Ranking volume predicts directionality: an OT-based theory of syntactic drift

Agnes Korn (Universität Frankfurt)
Patterns of ergativity and differential object marking in Iranian

Annie Montaut (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris)
From the parallel constructions for past and modal future to the meaning of the ergative case markers

John Payne (University of Manchester)
Alignment and coordination in Iranian

Pollet Samvelian (Université de Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle)
Clitics and alignment in Iranian languages

Saartje Verbeke (Universiteit Gent)
Alternating argument constructions in Indo-Aryan: Case studies from Nepali and Kashmiri

Deadline for abstract submission is February 1, 2013. Abstracts should be sent to both and


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7/13-14 Workshop on Interfaces at the Left Periphery

July 13-14, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contacts: Ed Cormany ( (primary), Sarah Courtney (, Cara DiGirolamo (

Click here to see workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Since Rizzi’s (1997) original syntactic exploration of the sentential left periphery, the complexity of the domain at a clause’s edge has received attention from linguists studying syntax, semantics and prosody. However, study of the cross-linguistic variety in clause boundaries, clause typing, and the information-structural use of peripheral positions has only scratched the surface. This workshop seeks to bring together linguists working on the “left edge” of the sentence from a variety of theoretical backgrounds. We hope to facilitate dialogue between discourse theorists, semanticists, syntacticians, phonologists, and phoneticians to come to a better understanding of what is going on just above (syntactically) or just before (phonologically) the traditional IP domain. Topics that the workshop will cover include but are not limited to: clause typing, complementation, discourse constraints on argument structure, information structure, and word order change as they pertain to the left periphery, sentence-initial positions, and the CP domain.

We will solicit applications to fill three panels. Panels on any aspect of clause boundaries or the left periphery not covered in the invited panels — particularly sessions on prosodic and phonological interfaces — are welcome. Research on understudied languages or languages that have not traditionally been part of the left periphery literature are encouraged. Submissions from graduate students or recent Ph.D. recipients are especially welcome.  Full panel submissions, including presenters and a chairperson, will be accepted in early spring.
The organizers will invite speakers for another three panels, each of which address different aspects of the left periphery.

The first invited panel will center on clause types and the syntax/semantics/pragmatics interface at the left periphery. The panel will bring together researchers working on semantic interpretations at the highest level of the clause, focusing on questions, imperatives, and the distinction between matrix and subordinate clauses.

The second invited panel will focus on the discourse properties of the periphery. This panel will seek out research on the contextual and information-structural constraints on phrases that are displaced from their base positions into the left periphery, as well as research about peripheral discourse particles that perform clause-linking functions.

The third invited panel examines clause boundaries and peripheries from a diachronic perspective. The panel will present research dealing with the roles that information structure and leftward displacement of arguments play in word-order changes (e.g., the development and loss of V2 constructions).

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7/15 COSIAC Workshop: Women in Graduate Programs in Linguistics (with COSWL)

Monday, July 15, 2013 7 pm
Room 2306, Mason Hall

COSWL (Committee on the Status of Women in Linguistics) will discuss the resources offered available to women in graduate linguistics programs.

7/16 Lyle Campbell (Collitz Professor): “Contributions from Endangered Language Documentation to Outstanding Issues in Historical Linguistics”


Lyle Campbell, University of Hawai’i, Manoa
2013 Linguistic Institute Hermann and Klara H. Collitz Professor
Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 7:00 pm
Askwith Auditorium, Lorch Hall
Reception to follow

Read Abstract

The goal of this talk is to explore the relationship between Endangered Languages and Language Change (historical linguistics).

(1) I survey the number of known extinct languages and what that implies for historical linguistic research in general — 22% of all known extinct languages become extinct in the last 50 years. Of the c.420 independent language families and isolates, exactly 100 are extinct – nearly 25% of the linguistic diversity of the world has been lost forever. (2) I review the relationship between fieldwork documentation and the working out of aspects of the history of language families, including instances in the history of Indo-European. (3) I investigate the kinds of changes encountered in endangered languages and attempt to evaluate claims about what this means for language change in general and for language typology – for example, I address the claim that sound change in endangered language contexts need not be regular. (4) I look at a specific language documentation project involving several languages of the Chaco region of South America, noting discoveries there that go against general thinking about what is possible in contact induced change, and presenting other cases that provide insights into other aspects of language change.

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Agreement and Word Order in Minimalist Syntax

Vicki Carstens – University of Missouri
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2330 Mason Hall

See Course Description

The relation called Agree plays a very prominent role in Minimalist theory: it underlies phi-feature agreement, Case valuation, and syntactic movement. This course will explore in detail some of the rich morpho-syntactic phenomena connected with Agree and their implications for syntactic theory and Universal Grammar. Bantu languages will provide much but not all of the empirical content, which will also draw on English, German, Icelandic, and other languages TBA. Topics will likely include various inversion constructions, complementizer agreement, (transitive) expletive constructions, concord phenomena, Feature Inheritance theory, and issues in structural and inherent Case.

 This course will assume familiarity with Minimalist syntactic theory.

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Articulatory Phonetics

Pat Keating – University of California, Los Angeles
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-3:20 pm
2330 Mason Hall

See Course Description

How can speech sounds be described in terms of their articulations, so that not only contrasts but also small phonetic differences can be understood? This course will cover selected topics related to the articulation of speech sounds, probably including:  the articulatory framework of the IPA;  articulatory descriptions of languages, such as in Ladefoged and Madieson’s Sounds of the World’s Languages (1996); aerodynamic data and modeling for different sound types; phonation types, including high-speed imaging of the glottis, electroglottography, and acoustic analysis; articulatory strengthening and prosodic structure; coarticulation.


Articulatory Phonology

Khalil Iskarous – University of Southern California
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm

See Course Description

Articulatory Phonology (AP) is a view of the sound structure of a language that tries to account both for its abstract aspect, contrast and pattern, as well as its physical realization in speech production and perception. And it does so without assuming a dualistic mind-body distinction between phonology-phonetics. The key aspect of AP that allows is to be non-dualistic is a dynamical framework that allows for a principled (non-arbitrary) relation between symbolic/discrete entities and continuous motion. This course will start by introducing students to the dynamical framework of task dynamics, and how contrasts and patterns are expressed in this framework. Students will also be introduced to TaDa, a computational engine allowing for the derivation of continuous motion of articulators and formants from an utterance described in terms of overlapped elementary contrasts, expressed as gestures. Segmental and prosodic phonology will be discussed in combination with each other throughout the course.

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Attitudes, Ideologies, Variation, and Change

Dennis Preston – Oklahoma State University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
1401 Mason Hall

See Course Description

Research about beliefs about language and reactions to it has gone beyond interest in such matters for their own sake, and researchers have used internal, classificatory mechanisms related to attitudes and beliefs to explain both the deployment of linguistic resources and the paths of language change. This course will examine historical and current trends in the study of attitudes and ideologies with reference to their role in more structured accounts of language variation and change. We begin with Hymesian ethnographic studies and social psychological approaches to attitude as developed by Lambert et al. Early uses of ideology and attitude in variationist studies will also be noted, and the continuation of the Hymesian tradition by linguistic anthropologists will be discussed. The course next elaborates on two recent turns — indexicality, as developed by Silverstein, and accounts of variability in linguistic theory, as suggested in attempts to build variable OT representations and the attaching of sociocultural information to forms in exemplar theory. The course also evaluates trends in both discoursal and experimental investigations. In the first, we look at content analyses, at linguistic anthropologists’ use of interaction in extracting ideologies from actions, and at more recent attempts to link attitudinal and ideological content to form in critical discourse analysis as well as proposals to link form and attitude by means of pragmatic analyses. Finally, we investigate task-based and experimental procedures in identifying and interpreting attitudes and ideologies, ranging from overt tasks such as those used in work on perceptual dialectology, including very recent uses of georeferencing techniques, to matched-guise and experimental response settings that seek to expose respondents’ unconscious reactions. We will look carefully at the design of experiments that relate attitudinal and ideological factors to structural elements, including techniques developed in social psychology in implicit research design. We conclude with an overview of the cognitive foundations of attitudinal and ideological processing, touching on acquisition, change, and deployment.

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Bilingual Mixed Languages

Felicity Meakins – University of Queensland
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2427 Mason Hall

See Course Description

Bilingual mixed languages are the result of the fusion of two identifiable source languages, normally in situations of community bilingualism. As recently as the 1990s, the existence of these languages had often been denied or labelled as cases of code-switching, adstrate influence or borrowing (see e.g. Greenberg 1999). Nonetheless they were brought to the attention of contact linguistics by Thomason and Kaufman (1988) as a legitimate form of contact language. Since then a number of edited volumes, papers and monographs have drawn together substantial amounts of data from various languages which have been identified as being ‘mixed’. This course focuses on a number of these languages including Angloromani (England), Bilingual Navajo (US), Gurindji Kriol (Australia), Helsinki Slang (Finland), Light Warlpiri (Australia), Ma’á (Tanzania), Media Lengua (Ecuador), Mednyj Aleut (Bering Strait) and Michif (Canada). Topics to be covered in this course include the socio-historical and structural origins and features of mixed languages; linguistic innovation and continuity in mixed languages; and the relationship of mixed languages to other forms of language contact such as code-switching, borrowing, metatypy and creolisation. A number current issues will also be covered including whether mixed language phonologies are stratified; whether mixed languages can be considered autonomous language systems; and how to characterise variation in mixed languages.

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Pieter Muysken – Radboud University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 3:30-5:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

See Course Description

Languages change continuously, in part because their speakers also use other languages, language contact. I will discuss different ways of studying language contact, from the perspective of stability. Which aspects of language remain stable and under which circumstances is there stability? Which methodologies can be used to study stability and can they reinforce each other? How does stability relate to borrowability? Language contact can be studied at different levels of time depth and geographical scope:

* deep time contacts involving large areas, such as the Circum-Pacific or Eurasia

* historical time contacts involving countries and single languages, such as the history of English in Great Britain

* recent time contacts involving bilingual speech communities, such as the Puerto Rican community in New York

* instant time contacts in experimental settings with cross-linguistic priming of multilingual speakers

These different levels have yielded different and sometimes apparently contradictory results. Some deep time and instant time studies have suggested much less stability than historical and recent time studies. Are these contrasts real or an artifact of the particular study? How could they be explained? I will focus on recent results from our research with deep time relations in the Amazon region (time depth at least 5000 years), historical time depth relations in the Republic of Surinam (time depth about 500 years), studies on heritage languages in the Netherlands (time depth about 50 years), and priming experiments with Turkish-Dutch and Papiamentu-Dutch bilinguals (very limited time depth).

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Ad Backus – Tilburg University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2407 Mason Hall

See Course Description

In this course, we’ll explore the phenomenon of codeswitching, both for its own sake and for what it can tell us about language in general. Overall, codeswitching and contact-induced change will be confronted with the usage-based approach to linguistic competence, providing what could be called a usage-based contact linguistics.

Code-switching is the use of overt material from two or more different languages. It is very common in the speech of bi- and multilinguals the world over, and has attracted the attention of all kinds of linguists, from different sub-branches and  different theoretical persuasions. The class will provide a brief historical overview, in order to map the various contributions to the understanding of the phenomenon, and assess to what degree the study of code-switching is a coherent field (or not).

The usage-based approach will be shown to be relevant for the study of codeswitching and contact-induced language change because it has the potential to unite various strands of CS research that are up to now not much in contact, locked as they are in different corners of the discipline, and studied through different theoretical lenses. To do this, it will be necessary to study codeswitching in conjunction with other contact phenomena, primarily loan translation and grammatical interference, and to do so on both synchronic and diachronic planes. Traditionally, codeswitching is looked at from a self-contained purely synchronic point of view only; the course will explore to what degree a diachronic perspective can enrich both the account of the phenomenon itself and of its embedding in general linguistics. Seen this way, the study of codeswitching allows new windows on the essence of language.

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Comparative Syntax

Acrisio Pires – University of Michigan
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 3:30-5:20 pm
2353 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course aims at introducing students to research on comparative syntax. It is directed to students interested in a more thorough understanding of the common properties of the syntax of human languages and of the possible variation across their structure.

Human languages have strikingly similar structural features, but at the same time they also vary in significant respects. A substantial amount of advances in our understanding of human language has resulted from the individual and comparative analysis of distinct languages. Their similarities and differences can be explored from cognitive, formal, theoretical and typological perspectives. This course focuses on a generative perspective to comparative syntax, by also taking into account insights from linguistic typology. It investigates approaches aiming at explaining both common properties and boundaries of variation across languages. Some of the questions that arise in this context are: what structural principles are common across different human languages? What kind of variation can we find across human languages? What parameters or alternative mechanisms determine the range of this variation? How can this variation be analyzed and understood in a precise way? What mechanisms give rise to this sort of cross-linguistic variation over time?

The course focus will be: (i) to introduce students to a generative approach to syntactic variation across languages, by discussing aspects of variation that have received prominent attention in the linguistics literature (e.g. word order variation regarding verb movement, wh-questions, empty categories); (ii) to explore extensions to different approaches to cross-linguistic variation (e.g. variation in clause structure and word order, and across case systems); (iii) to consider potential difficulties and limitations to unifying approaches to syntactic variation (e.g. non-configurational languages).

Students in this course should have taken an introductory undergraduate course in syntax or semantics.

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Computational Modeling of Sound Change

James Kirby – University of Edinburgh
Morgan Sonderegger – McGill University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

See Course Description

Decades of empirical research have led to an increasingly nuanced picture of the nature of phonetic and phonological change, incorporating insights from speech production and perception, cognitive biases, and social factors. However, there remains a significant gap between observed patterns and proposed mechanisms, in part due to the difficulty of conducting the type of controlled studies necessary to test hypotheses about historical change. Computational and mathematical models provide an alternative means by which such hypotheses can be fruitfully explored. With an eye towards Box’s dictum (all models are wrong, but some are useful), this course asks: how can computational models be useful for understanding why phonetic and phonological change occurs?  Students will study the growing and varied literature on computational and mathematical modeling of sound change that has emerged over the past decade and a half, including models of phonetic change in individuals over the lifespan, phonological change in speech communities in historical time, and lexical diffusion. Discussion topics will include the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches (e.g.simulation-based vs. mathematical models); identifying which modeling frameworks are best suited for particular types of research questions; and methodological considerations in modeling phonetic and phonological change. For this course, some background in probability theory, single-variable calculus, and/or linear algebra is helpful but not required.

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Computational Psycholinguistics

John Hale – Cornell University
Lars Konieczny – University of Freiburg
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2330 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course examines cognitive models of human sentence comprehension. Such models are programs that express psycholinguistic theories of how people unconsciously put together words and phrases in order to make sense of what they hear (or read). They hold out the promise of rigorously connecting behavioral measurements to broader theories, for instance theories of natural language syntax or cognitive architecture. The course brings students up to speed on the role of computer models in cognitive science generally, and situates the topic in relation to neighboring fields such as psychology and generative grammar. Students master several different viewpoints on what it might mean to “attach” a piece of phrase structure. Attendees will get familiar with notions of experience, probability and information theory as candidate explanations of human sentence processing difficulty. This course has no prerequisites although exposure to artificial intelligence, generative grammar and cognitive psychology will help deepen the experience.

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Derivational Approaches to Minimalist Syntax

Sam Epstein – University of Michigan
Hisa Kitahara – Keio University
Dan Seely – Eastern Michigan University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-3:20 pm
2353 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course will cover a number of issues in contemporary Minimalist Theory and analysis. We will discuss why Minimalism, with its commitment to explanation, not mere description or just “data coverage,” accords with the standard goals of scientific theorizing. The question of which properties of human grammars are Linguistic and which might follow from more general law (third factor explanation) will be discussed in this context as well.  We will cover many aspects of Chomsky’s most recent work, and our own lines of research concerning this framework of inquiry, including:  The fundamental properties of derivations; the nature of computational efficiency; representations; Bare Output Conditions; the operations Merge, Agree, Labelling; constraints like the No Tampering Condition; the primacy of CI; Feature Inheritance and set intersected representation in Bare Phrase structure (multi-dominance).

Ideally the student will already have two courses in syntax, will know the mechanics of basic Minimalist analysis, and will have a strong interest in the goals of minimalist method, specifically the quest for explanation.


Ethnolinguistic Repertoires in American English

Elaine Chun – University of South Carolina
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course explores the relationship between the English language and ethnicity in the United States by merging anthropological understandings of race and ethnicity with sociolinguistic methods of description and analysis. In doing so, it introduces students to both traditional and current models of language and ethno-racial identity. Specifically, the course explores sociolinguistic assumptions that may equate “race/ethnicity” with “non-whiteness,” that overlook the inherent relationships between racial categories, and that treat race as isolatable dimension. It will also question conceptions of ethno-racial language as an objective set of features by considering how language is a sociocultural set of practices and resources that produce meanings, identities, and ideologies.

The course will introduce students to a range of ethnolectal models that have been traditionally adopted as well as the problems and politics inherent in them. In particular, it will explore sites across the United States that complicate traditional models, including communities in which groups defy easy categorization in a black-white racial paradigm, cases in which speakers use features associated with racial outgroups, and speakers who simultaneously index gendered, classed, and racialized meanings. The course will additionally emphasize the real-world relevance of studying language and race, namely be considering racist and anti-racist language practices in institutional and media contexts.

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Experimental Pragmatics

Gregory Ward – Northwestern University
William S. Horton – Northwestern University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2306 Mason Hall

See Course Description

The emerging field of experimental pragmatics combines an interest in the theoretical complexities of language use with the experimental methodologies of psycholinguistics. This course will present a broad survey of recent work in this area that has attempted to apply the methods of experimental psychology to classic issues in theoretical pragmatics. Each class session will include both theoretical and experimental readings on topics such as reference, information structure, implicature, and speech acts. These topics wrestle with the relationship between the sentence, as an abstract object with phonological, syntactic, and semantic properties assigned by the grammar of the language, and the utterance, as the concrete realization of that sentence with properties inherited from consideration of the discourse situation. The class will also focus on a number of experimental and analytical methodologies that have been used to investigate these topics, including reaction time studies, eyetracking, and corpus analysis.  In general, the course will be organized primarily around discussion of the assigned readings, and students will have the opportunity to develop a research proposal relevant to issues in language use.  No specific background in or familiarity with particular experimental methods or approaches is required.


Field Methods

Keren Rice – University of Toronto
Course time: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20
2437 Mason Hall
Note: This class may count for double credit.

See Course Description

This course is an introduction to linguistic field methods. We will work with a speaker of a language that none of us know, endeavoring to discover as much as possible about the structure of the language, at all levels – phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic – through a combination of structured questioning and working with texts that we will record from the speaker. The emphasis will be on how to discover the systematicity of an unknown language on its own terms.

Prerequisite: Background in linguistics. Students should be able to transcribe, do morphological analysis, and syntactic analysis.

Recommended co-requisite: Tools for Language Documentation (Claire Bowern)

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Gesture and Gestural Documentation

Mandana Seyfeddinipur – The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2427 Mason Hall

See Course Description

In the past ten years the study of hand gestures has become an established area of investigation in different disciplines. This course will provide an introduction to theoretical and methodological issues in manual gesture research. The course will provide a solid foundation for further research into the phenomenon by the course participants. We will explore the role of manual gesture in language, culture and cognition and provide hands on training in methods in gesture research. The basic functions of gesture in communication, its interaction with speech in the creation of meaning as well as its role in cognition will be introduced. One focus will be how to document gesture in actual language use doing fieldwork.  In the practical component participants will learn how to record gesture data in naturalistic as well as in experimental settings. In addition the course will provide the opportunity to learn how to annotate and code gesture with available software. Participants are encouraged to bring their own recordings for annotation and analyses. Some familiarity with general linguistics is presumed.

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Historical Linguistics

Andrew Garrett – University of California, Berkeley
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2336 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course provides a very basic introduction to core topics in historical linguistics, appropriate for beginning graduate students or advanced undergraduates who have not taken a previous course on the subject. The following topics will be surveyed: patterns and causes of phonological change (week 1), morphological change (week 2), and syntactic and semantic change (week 3); and methods of reconstruction, determining relatedness and subgrouping, and patterns of diversification (week 4).

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Individual Differences in Sound Change

Jeff Mielke – University of Ottawa
Alan Yu – University of Chicago
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2407 Mason Hall

See Course Description

One of the great mysteries of linguistics is the so-called actuation problem, first articulated in Weinreich, Labov, and Herzog 1968, and still largely unanswered to this day. The question is what causes the inception of language change, if the linguistic conditions favoring particular changes are always present? Previous studies on sound change have mainly focused on group effects, that is, effects observed in a population as a whole. Recent work has drawn on interspeaker variation for a solution to the actuation puzzle. The main impetus for considering individual differences in the context of sound change comes from the need to build a linking theory that bridges the gap between the emergence of new linguistic variants and their eventual propagation.

This course will explore sources of individual linguistic differences, and the role they may play in the initiation and propagation of sound change.  Idiosyncratic variation provides an opportunity to understand the limits and flexibility of the human capacity for language, and to better understand the observed properties of natural languages, which are systems that must be shared by individuals who differ from each other in important ways.  We will focus on three types of individual-level factors that have been implicated in language variation and change, namely covert linguistic/phonetic differences (e.g., differences in lexicon, articulation, and cue weighting), social-attitudinal matters, and neuro-cognitive factors.

Students enrolling in this course should have at least one course in phonetics and/or phonology.

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Introduction to Minimalist Syntax

Norbert Hornstein – University of Maryland
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2306 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course will be built around novel analytic techniques made available with the adoption of minimalist assumptions.  As novelty is best appreciated against the background of what is conventional, there will be some retrospective glances, with an eye to understanding both what is new and what is continuous with earlier approaches.  To ground the discussion empirically, we will concentrate on the following “hot” areas:

  • Phrase Structure
  • Control and Binding
  • Parasitic Gaps
  • Sidewards Movement
  • Multiple Interrogation and Superiority
  • Multiple Spell Out , Cyclicity, Islands and Ellipsis
  • Existential Constructions

The main idea will be to introduce the central concepts of Minimalism in the context of analyses of these kinds of phenomena.  The minimalist concepts we will discuss include:

    • Bare phrase structure, labels
    • Merge, Internal and External
    • Chain Uniformity
    • Economy, Merge-over Move
    • Relativized Minimality, minimal-domains, Minimal Link Condition
    •  Extension, Virus Theory
    • Bare Output Conditions
    • Levels, Interfaces
    • Last Resort and Greed
    • Linearization
    • Features, Interpretability, Valuation
    • Agree, Probes, Goals
    • Phases
    • Copy Theory and Reconstruction

Topic by Topic:

How To Build A Simple Sentence: For the beginning of classes read Chapter 3 of The Minimalist Program, and Bare Phrase Structure

    1. Merge, External/Internal
    2. Label
    3. Case, minimality and minimal domains, S-structure
    4. Theta relations
    5. D-structure
    6. X’-theory, Bare Phrase structure, Generalized Transformations
    7. Extension

 For the following topics readings will be added as we move along.

  1. How To build a Complex sentence: Raising, Passive, Wh-movement
    1. Internal Merge
    2. Greed, various kinds
    3. Minimality
    4. Cyclicity
    5. Probes and Goals
    6. Extension and Virus Theory
  1. Control and Raising
    1. Theta roles
    2. D-structure
    3. Features, Greed, EPP
    4. Null case
    5. Bare Phrase structure and the status of PRO
  1. Parasitic Gaps and Adjunct Control
    1. Sidewards Movement
    2. Extension and Virus theory
    3. Probes/Goals and Greed
    4. CED effects
  1. Binding and Reconstruction
    1. S-structure,
    2. Copies, LF and PF
    3. Principles A, B, C
    4. Binding and movement
    5. Locality and spell out/phases
  1. Multiple Interrogation
    1. Superiority
    2. Minimality
    3. Attract vs Move
    4. Tucking In
    5. Virus Theory and Extension
  1. Existential Constructions
    1. Agree and Move
    2. Binding and features
    3. Locality
    4. Merge over Move
    5. Numerations
    6. Phases

By this time we will hopefully have passed the semester equator (we are planning about ten weeks for those core topics). At this point we want to open the discussion to Phase Theory. Since this is a more current topic, we expect the course to evolve towards a more participatory, seminar-like, environment, and we even plan to invite more senior graduate students to join in on the show. Be prepared to engage on a frank discussion of the topic.


The usual for this sort of class. We will have regular homeworks that we may even exchange among participants. We allow – in fact encourage – collective work on homeworks, so long as eventually every participant writes their own contribution and participation is explicitly acknowledged. We will expect some conference-like abstract by the middle of the semester with a concrete suggestion for a research topic. The requirements will end with a short squib, based on the abstract, which can be the basis for a future paper, hopefully to be submitted to a conference.

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Introduction to Morphophonology

Adam Albright – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2347 Mason Hall

See Course Description

A survey of ways in which morphological structure influences and constrains phonological processes.  The first half of the course will focus on cases in which phonological processes are sensitive to morphological constituency or the existence of morphologically related forms, including morpheme structure constraints, cyclicity effects in derived words, and paradigm effects (uniformity, antihomophony) in inflected forms.  We will contrast two main approaches: cyclic evaluation of subparts of the word, and surface evaluation employing output-output correspondence constraints.  We then turn to processes that affect some morphemes but not others, including lexically specific allomorphy and affix-specific processes, comparing representational approaches (diacritics, floating features) with dual-route approaches (grammar + memorized exceptions).  A recurring theme throughout the course will be the predictions that different approaches make for acquisition and historical change; in addition, we will consider evidence from corpus studies and psycholinguistic experiments.

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Introduction to Morphosyntax

Karlos Arregi – University of Chicago
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2407 Mason Hall

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This course is an introduction to the internal structure of words and its relation to the structure of phrases and sentences. The topics covered will include examination of the primitives of word structure, isomorphism between syntactic and morphological structure and departures from such isomorphism, and the interplay between syntax and morphology in determining morpheme order. The course will draw on data from typologically diverse languages, and will use the tools of current morphological theory to analyze phenomena such as agreement, cliticization, and argument-structure changing morphology.

Requirements: Students must have had an introductory-level course in linguistics. Some previous experience in syntax is recommended.

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Introduction to Phonology

Gillian Gallagher – New York University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 3:30-5:20 pm
2330 Mason Hall

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This course is an introduction to phonological theory, centering on the representations and the analysis of phonotactic patterns. We will cover theories of phonological representations, beginning with distinctive feature matrices as in The Sound Pattern of English (Chomsky & Halle 1968) and continuing through feature geometry (Clements 1985; Sagey 1986; McCarthy 1988) as well as theories of articulatorily and auditorally detailed representations (Browman & Goldstein 1986 et seq.; Gafos 1999; Flemming 2002). The analysis of phonotactic patterns such as dissimilatory co-occurrence restrictions, consonant-vowel interactions, and harmony patterns will be considered in detail, with attention paid both to the representational components of the analysis as well as the structure of grammatical statements (e.g., the form of markedness constraints). The discussion will largely assume either Autosegmental Phonology (Goldsmith 1975) or Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004) as the formal framework. The course is not designed to provide a systematic introduction to either of these frameworks, though a brief introduction to each will be given. Prior knowledge of either framework is not required. A basic understanding of the phonetic properties of speech sounds will be assumed. There is no textbook for the class, though there will be readings for each class and the lecture notes will be made available. There will be several homework assignments, as well as in class exercises to work through the course material.


Introduction to Psycholinguistics

Matt Traxler – University of California, Davis
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
1401 Mason Hall

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Language scientists attempt to answer three fundamental questions:  1. What does one know when one knows a language?  2. How does an individual access and use that knowledge when producing or understanding language?  3. How did we get this way?  This course will focus on the first two of these three questions.  Students will gain an appreciation for the kinds of theories that language scientists have developed to answer these questions as well as the research methods used to investigate them.  The course will focus chiefly on comprehension issues, but we will also examine contemporary theories of speech production, such as Levelt and Roelof’s Weaver ++ and Dell’s interactive account.

Students will review contemporary accounts of lexical, syntactic, and discourse processing.  This review includes both accounts of normal language function but also the sequelae of brain damage and other forms of language dysfunction. Topics relating to lexical processing include theories of semantic representation, lexical access, and the neural basis of lexical representation and processing. Topics relating to syntactic processing include accounts of syntactic parsing, serial versus parallel processing approaches, and processing of unbounded dependencies. Topics relating to discourse processing include contemporary accounts of discourse representation, inferencing, and the neural basis of discourse processing and representations.


Introduction to Semantics

Eytan Zweig – University of York
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00-12:50 pm and 5:30-7:20 pm on Tuesday, June 25 (no class Wednesday, July 10)
2353 Mason Hall

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This course is an introduction to the study of meaning in language, with a focus on formal semantic theory but also touching on some issues in pragmatics and lexical semantics. We will first establish the core principles of formal semantic research, with a special focus on compositionality – how the meaning of sentences and phrases arises from the meaning of its parts. We will also discuss how every utterance involves several layers of meaning, including literal meaning, presupposition, and pragmatic implications. Then, we will look at many of the components that come together to create the meaning of sentences, showing that even seemingly simple and familiar sentences may contain surprising depths. Questions under discussion will include the semantics of modals, propositional attitudes, quantification, definiteness, and plurality.

There are no requirements for the course, but familiarity with basic set theory and logic will be helpful, as will familiarity with basic syntactic concepts such as constituency.


Language Acquisition and Grammatical Variability

William Snyder – University of Connecticut
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm

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Linguistic theory aims to specify the range of grammars permitted by the human language faculty, and thereby to specify the child’s “hypothesis space” during language acquisition. This course shows, step by step, how to use acquisition data to test theoretical claims about grammatical variation. The text is the instructor’s book, Child Language: The Parametric Approach, published by Oxford University Press. The book covers a number of methodologies, but the course will focus on the analysis of longitudinal corpora of children’s spontaneous speech, and will cover methods of statistical hypothesis-testing that are appropriate for this type of data. The students in the course will each conduct an individual project using data from the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES), which includes corpora for a range of languages. Students will learn how to use correlational analysis and distributional statistics to analyze group data, as well as non-distributional methods that are appropriate for use in single-child case-studies.

Prerequisites:  A decent grounding in syntax and/or phonology. Algebra-level mathematics. Basic computer skills in a Mac or PC environment.

Course Requirements: Enrolled students are required to attend regularly, participate actively in classroom discussion, complete an individual project using data from CHILDES, and present their findings at the final class meeting.


Social Media as Linguistic Data

John Paolillo – Indiana University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2347 Mason Hall

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The “information age” has brought with it an explosion of new kinds of communication, from electronic mail to discussion forums, chat, weblogs, texting, video sharing and many other hybrid modes. Millions of people participate on a daily basis in these “Social Media”, presenting new opportunities and challenges for linguistic research. Social media often offer readily available data, allowing both the content and context of ordinary communication to be studied as it never has before. At the same time, the scale of the available data, its sometimes uncertain provenance, and the constantly evolving status of the supporting media raise significant challenges for analysis. This course addresses the analysis of language in social media, through systematic exploration of current research literature on social media, focusing especially on the uses of computational techniques for the analysis of both language and context.