Tag Archives: Areal
6/21-23 25th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL-25)

June 21-23, 2013

Organizer contact: William H. Baxter (wbaxter@umich.edu)

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.

7/07 African Linguistics Workshop at LSA Summer Institute

July 7, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Vicki Carstens (carstensv@missouri.edu)

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 (mnoori@umich.edu)

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 www.ojibwe.net and Facebook.

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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 (miglio@spanport.ucsb.edu)

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. http://www.helsinki.fi/~tasalmin/europe_report.html

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 (andrew.hippisley@uky.edu), Greg Stump (gstump@uky.edu)

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  andrew.hippisley@uky.edu and gstump@uky.edu.


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Comparative Syntax

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

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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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Ethnolinguistic Repertoires in American English

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

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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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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

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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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Linguistic Diversity and Language Change

Lyle Campbell – University of Hawaii, Manoa
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
1401 Mason Hall

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In keeping with the theme of the Institute, Universality and Variation, this course addresses language diversity and language change, and how they interact with one another. It investigates broadly the following questions:

(1) How many language families are there in the world? How do we know?

(2) How many language isolates are there in the world, and how can we investigate their history?

(3) What are the prospects for finding new language classifications and thus of reducing the ultimate number of independent language families? How might controversial proposals of distant genetic relationship be resolved?

(4) How many of the existing languages are endangered? What are the implications of this for linguistic diversity and the classification of languages? Can endangered languages undergo changes that are not possible in fully viable non-endangered languages? What are their implications for historical linguistics generally?

(5) What implications does the discovery of unusual or unique linguistic traits in recent documentation of endangered languages have for how we view universals, linguistic typology, and aspect of language change?

(6) How do language contact and diffusion affect views of linguistic diversity?

(7) What is the relevance, if any, of human genetics, the farming/language dispersal hypothesis, and related matters to language classification and linguistic diversity?

Students at any level of preparation in linguistics are welcome to register for this course, although it will be clearest for students who have had at least a solid introduction to general linguistics and some familiarity with the basic concepts of phonology/phonetics, grammar, and historical linguistics.

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Machine Learning

Steve Abney – University of Michigan
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
1401 Mason Hall

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This course provides a general introduction to machine learning. Unlike results in learnability, which are very abstract and have limited practical consequences, machine learning methods are eminently practical, and provide detailed understanding of the space of possibilities for human language learning.

Machine learning has come to dominate the field of computational linguistics: virtually every problem of language processing is treated as a learning problem.  Machine learning is also making inroads into mainstream linguistics, particularly in the area of phonology. Stochastic Optimality Theory and the use of maximum entropy models for phonotactics may be cited as two examples.

The course will focus on giving a general understanding of how machine learning methods work, in a way that is accessible to linguistics students. There will be some discussion of software, but the focus will be on understanding what the software is doing, not in the details of using a particular package.

The topics to be touched on include classification methods (Naive Bayes, the perceptron, support vector machines, boosting, decision trees, maximum entropy classifiers) and clustering (hierarchical clustering, k-means clustering, the EM algorithm, latent semantic indexing), sequential models (Hidden Markov Models, conditional random fields) and grammatical inference (probabilistic context-free grammars, distributional learning), semisupervised learning (self-training, co-training, spectral methods) and reinforcement learning.

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Standard English, Prescriptivism, and Language Ideology

Anne Curzan – University of Michigan
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2407 Mason Hall

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The prescriptive-descriptive binary, a commonplace in most introductory linguistics textbooks, can make it seem like prescriptivism lies outside the purview of serious linguistic study. This course puts prescriptivism at its center, as an important sociolinguistic factor in the development of Modern English as well as a key challenge to linguists in engaging the public in dialogue about linguistic diversity. In this course we will briefly cover the rise of standardization and Standard English in the history of English, and discuss the ways that morality—discourses of good and bad, right and wrong, pure and corrupt—has become entangled with grammar over the past three centuries. The course will tackle the definitions of Standard English and prescriptivism, as well as the nature of standard language ideology and authority. We’ll read a few key theoretical pieces as background and then address: (a) evolving attitudes about the prescriptive authority of usages guides and dictionaries; and (b) “grammar teaching” and Standard English in the educational system. At the end of the course, we will examine recent debates in the national media about language and “correctness” to think through how linguists can most productively engage in public discussions about language given the prescriptive language ideologies in widespread circulation.

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Tense, Mood, and Aspect in AAE

Lisa Green – University of Massachusetts
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2325 Mason Hall

See Course Description

Tense and aspectual properties in AAE are at the top of the list of descriptions—especially those from Creolist and Africanist perspectives—that are intended to highlight the ways in which the linguistic variety differs from other varieties of English. On the other hand, modality in AAE is not commonly addressed in the literature. This course will examine syntactic/semantic and morphological properties of tense, modality, and aspect (TMA) in AAE. Questions have been raised about the interpretation and syntactic representation of tense, especially given weak morphology and the fact that overt tense markers may not be expressed in AAE. This course will present a general overview of tense marking and the ways in which time-related meaning is computed in AAE.

The second part of the course considers grammaticalized markers in AAE that combine with predicates and other markers to indicate information about the way an event is carried out. Questions about properties of tense marking within aspectual sequences in AAE have not received much attention perhaps because so much emphasis has been placed on grammaticalized aspect markers, with the view that AAE is aspect prominent. For instance, some aspectual sequences can take a present or past perspective while still others are limited to present contexts. We will analyze empirical data from different sources in investigating the TMA system in AAE. This section of the course will also consider the types of subtle distinctions that are made in the AAE tense/aspect system. For instance, when overt or covert present tense auxiliary BE (i.e. is) combines with V(erb)-ing, the result is an in-progress reading, as in the following:

1) Sue IS running.

2) Sue running.

     In-Progress Reading:

     Sue’s running is already in progress.

However, when aspectual be combines with V(erb)-ing, the result is an in-progress or inception reading, as in the following:

3) Sue be running when the Mardi Gras characters pass by.

     In-Progress Reading 1: Sue’s running is generally already in progress when the Mardi Gras characters pass by.

     Inception Reading 2: Sue generally begins to run when the Mardi Gras characters pass by.

In addition to considering verbs types (e.g., state and activity) and their lexical properties, we will also examine the role of morphological endings, such as –ing and –ed, in aspectual sequences. Finally, this course will investigate modality in light of modal auxiliaries as well as mood markers in AAE.

We will extend the study of TMA in AAE to practical contexts by considering questions such as the following:

1) How is the TMA system acquired, and how is it reflected in child AAE?

2) How is TMA marking reflected in the discourse structure of ex-slave narratives?

3) To what extent is TMA marking variable in AAE?


The Morphosyntax of Native North American Languages

Marianne Mithun – University of California, Santa Barbara
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2336 Mason Hall

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This course will explore the Institute theme of universality and the complexities of linguistic variability by examining major morphological and syntactic features in languages indigenous to North America. The languages show considerable diversity among themselves, comprising well over 50 distinct families. At the same time, we find a number of areal traits that were apparently spread through contact. Many of the languages exhibit highly developed structures that are relatively rare or less developed elsewhere. A number show elaborate morphological structure, which has implications for syntactic structure. After an overview of traditional and current issues in morphological and syntactic typology, we will move to more specific topics. Among them will be functional differences between roots and affixes; compounding, noun incorporation, and bipartite stem structures; certain elaborately developed sets of distinctions in the domains such as space, means and manner, evidentiality, and reality status; relations between morphologically-defined and syntactically-defined lexical categories; head versus dependent marking and differences that arise from the locus of marking; pronouns and agreement; polysynthesis and ‘configurationality’; cross-linguistic differences in the core/oblique distinction; alternative alignment patterns and their combinations; the variable strength of syntactic relations between predicates and lexical arguments; affix order and constituent order; and issues in clause combining, including ‘switch-reference’, logophoricity, and continua of finiteness.

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