News

June 14, 2019

Keith Johnson was a member of a team (together with UCB Post-doc Matthias Sjerps, and UCSF Post-doc Neal Fox, and UCSF faculty Edward Chang) who have just published a new paper on "Speaker-normalized sound representations in the human auditory cortex" in Nature Communications.

May 10, 2019

For this final 2018-2019 edition of Calques, here's a look at what some linguists will be up to this summer!

  • Andrew Cheng will be presenting his dissertation research on bilingual Korean Americans three times this summer: at the Acoustical Society of America in Louisville, KY in May (where Meg Cychosz will also be presenting a paper, as well as recent alumnus Matthew Faytak); at the International Circle of Korean Linguistics in July in Melbourne, Australia; and at the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences in August in Melbourne, Australia (where numerous Berkeley linguists will be in attendance!).
  • Virginia Dawson will be giving an invited talk entitled “Paths to exceptional wide scope: choice functions in Tiwa” at TripleA 6 (The Semantics of African, Asian and Austronesian Languages) at MIT, June 1.
  • This week Amy Rose Deal is in Oslo for the annual meeting of Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW), where together with Patrick Grosz (University of Oslo) she co-organized the syntax/semantics workshop (Anaphora at the syntax-semantics-pragmatics interface in endangered and understudied languages). Later in the summer she will continue her fieldwork on Nez Perce, and travel back to Europe to teach a short course on Agree at the University of Bucharest and to give an invited talk at the British Academy conference The Alphabet of Universal Grammar
  • Wesley dos Santos will be leaving soon for a 12-week field research trip involving three different Kawahiva communities living in the states of Rondônia and Amazonas, Brazil. He has also signed off a one-year contract with Unesco and Museu do Índio (Brazil, Rio de Janeiro) to produce a 600-word multimedia dictionary within the Salvaguarda do Patrimônio Linguístico e Cultural de Povos Indígenas Transfronteiriços e de Recente Contato na Região Amazônica. As part of the contract, he will be attending a workshop to be held at the Museu do Índio, Rio de Janeiro, on June 4-6. He also plans to give a talk at the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi on The historical development of an enclitic marker in Tupi-Guarani family in August.
  • Susanne Gahl plans on spending part of the summer in Germany, in her role as a Mercator fellow on the 'Spoken Morphology' project.
  • Dmetri Hayes' paper "What just happened? Evaluating retrofitted distributional word vectors" has been accepted for presentation at the 2019 Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies (NAACL-HLT), to be held in Minneapolis, June 2-7. It will be published in the conference proceedings.
  • Larry Hyman will be in Paris May 20-June 20. He will be speaking at the Workshop on Nominal Expressions in Bantu Languages (talk title: Tonology of Luganda Noun Phrase Constituents), consulting with fellow Bantuists and Bistrots, and attending the annual business meeting of the France-Berkeley Fund on June 12. He then will spend the rest of the summer in Berkeley working on Luganda, Lusoga, Lulamogi and Lunyole (the 140 field methods class language this semester), hence any language that starts with Bantu class 11 lu- (!).
  • A group of Cal linguists will be attending the LSA institute this summer in Davis:  faculty members Keith Johnson, Terry Regier, and Susan Lin;  graduate student Ruth Rouvier; and undergraduates Amelia Fineberg, Wanqing (Psyche) He and Leslie (LaLa) Speights-Barhatkov.  
  • Edwin KoJulia Nee, Cathy O'Connor (PhD 1987), and Erica Carson, Jr. will be implementing the second Northern Pomo Language Camp at Redwood Valley Rancheria in June.
  • Julia Nee will travel to Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico to document language revitalization activities, including a twenty hour language learning camp for kids, in July and August.
  • Emily Remirez is serving as the Social Science and Humanities advisor for the SURF program in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships, supporting and mentoring fellows working towards senior theses. 
  • Eric Wilbanks will be spending his summer teaching LINGR1B, studying for his qualifying exam, and heading to Melbourne to give a talk in the special session on Social Priming in Speech Production and Perception at the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences.

It may be Finals Week, but the events keep coming: 

May 9, 2019

Alumna Thera Crane (PhD 2011), currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Academy of Finland project “Stability and Change in Language Contact: The Case of Southern Ndebele (South Africa)", has received an additional 5-year research grant from the Academy of Finland to work on modality and multilingualism in South Africa. Congrats, Thera! 

Congrats to grad students Andrew Cheng and Erik Hans Maier, who have just received Outstanding GSI Awards! 

Next Friday, May 19, Emily Clem will defend her dissertation, entitled Agreement, case, and switch-reference in Amahuaca. The defense will take place from 10am-1pm in Dwinelle 1229. All members of the department are invited to attend.
Abstract:
This dissertation probes the nature of the syntactic operation of Agree through the lens of the morphosyntax of Amahuaca, an endangered Panoan language of the Peruvian Amazon. I explore the language's system of split ergative marking, arguing that case marking in Amahuaca is the result of agreement with multiple functional heads. This leads to a distinction between abstract and morphological ergative (and nominative) case. I also analyze the extensive system of switch-reference marking, demonstrating that the system has the typologically unusual property of tracking the reference and abstract case of all arguments of the verb, not only subject. I argue that this system arises through adjunct complementizer agreement that probes both the adjunct and matrix arguments directly. In analyzing the case and switch-reference systems of Amahuaca, I demonstrate that the empirical facts can be most straightforwardly accounted for if we assume 1) that some probes are insatiable, agreeing with all goals in their search space, and 2) that Agree is narrowly cyclic, with each instance of Merge defining a new cycle of Agree. 
The following papers and abstracts have been accepted for presentation at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, to be held in Montreal, July 25-27, and will be published in the conference proceedings:
  1. Efficient use of ambiguity in an early writing system: Evidence from Sumerian cuneiform, by Noah Hermalin and Terry Regier.
  2. Evolution and efficiency in color naming: The case of Nafaanra, by Noga Zaslavsky, Karee Garvin, Charles Kemp, Naftali Tishby, and Terry Regier.
  3. Semantic categories of artifacts and animals reflect efficient coding, by Noga Zaslavsky, Terry Regier, Naftali Tishby, and Charles Kemp.
  4. Season naming and the local environment, by Charles Kemp, Alice Gaby, and Terry Regier.
  5. "Natural concepts" revisited in the spatial-topological domain: Universal tendencies in focal spatial relations, by Alexandra Carstensen, Noah Hermalin, Terry Regier, and George Kachergis.
A paper entitled "Communicative need in color naming", by Noga Zaslavsky, Charles Kemp, Naftali Tishby, and Terry Regier has appeared in the journal Cognitive Neuropsychology
Terry Regier visited the computational linguistics group at the University of Toronto, April 22-24, and gave a talk there.

May 7, 2019

During this year's Big Give, 30 donors gave a total of $5,741 toward the audiotape digitization costs of $12,000, equalling 48% of the amount needed.  This left about $7K still to raise on our crowdfunding page.
To date, 8 donors have given a total of $475 (7% of the remaining balance) and thus 52% of our goal has been reached.  Thank you!! 

Announcing the 2020 BLS Workshop on “Phonological Representations: At the Crossroad Between Gradience and Categoricity”!  Please mark your calendar for the workshop on Feb 7 & 8, 2020.  Call for papers to follow.

May 3, 2019

In and around the linguistics department in the next week -- it's RRR week AND

May 2, 2019

Graduate student Tessa Scott will be presenting on Case and agreement in Mam: PCC and syntactic ergativity effects at the Workshop on the Languages of Meso-America at UCSC on Friday, May 3rd.

In the next few weeks postdoc Bernat Bardagil Mas will give two talks. The first, at the Person & Perspective workshop at USC, is entitled Privative [participant] and partial agreement displacement; the second will be at the University of Potsdam, with the title Panará morphosyntax and extraction restrictions.

April 29, 2019

Help us digitize Linguistics lectures from the past!  This year's Big Give helped us raise about half of the funding needed to digitize 275 reel to reel tapes that were recently found at the BLC.  The 140 recordings were made between 1960-1985.

So far six lectures have been digitized -- you can access them at the links below:

We are hoping to raise the remainder of the funds needed by June 30. To donate, please go to our crowdfunding page at: https://crowdfund.berkeley.edu/project/15081  Thank you!

April 26, 2019

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday April 26 - Dwinelle 1303 - 3-4:30pm  
    Discussion of binding and variable-free semantics (Reading: Ch 15 of Jacobson 2014, Compositional Semantics)
  • Phorum - Monday April 29  - 1303 Dwinelle - 12-1pm 
    Daniel Silverman (SJSU): Evolution of the speech code: Higher order symbolism and the grammatical Big Bang
  • Honors Colloquium - Monday April 29 - 370 Dwinelle - 3-5pm  
  • Fieldwork Forum - Wednesday May 1 - 1303 Dwinelle - 11am-12:30pm 
    Bernat Bardagil-Mas (Berkeley): 
    The language of the Manoki
  • GAIL/FForum - Thursday May 2 - 5:30pm
    Eugene Buckley (UPenn): Change and contact in Pomoan stress patterns 
  • SLUgS - Thursday May 2 - 1229 Dwinelle - 5-6pm 
    End-of-semester potluck! Attendees are encouraged to bring linguistics-themed foods.
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday May 3 - Dwinelle 1303 - 3-4:30 
    Virginia Dawson (UC Berkeley): 
    Paths to exceptional wide scope: Choice functions in Tiwa

April 25, 2019

Coming up on Monday is the annual Honors Colloquium, featuring the work of undergraduates writing honors theses in linguistics. The colloquium will be held in Dwinelle 370 from 3:10-5. This year the presenters will be:

Romi Yount
Title: "Speech Patterns of Bipolar Disorder"
Advisor: Professor Keith Johnson.
 
Eric Chen
Title: "Phonological Reconstruction of Proto-Kampa Consonants"
Advisor:  Professor Lev Michael
Yvette Yi-Chi Wu
Title: "Plural Classifier xie and Grammatical Number in Mandarin Chinese"
Advisors:  Professors Peter Jenks and Amy Rose Deal

April 24, 2019

Congrats to Larry Hyman, who will be delivering the 14th Annual Joshua and Verona Whatmough Lecture at Harvard next week. Larry's talk is entitled The Fall and Rise of Vowel Length in Bantu.

April 23, 2019

Congrats to Ruth Rouvier, who has received a fellowship from the Linguistic Society of America to attend this summer's Linguistic Institute at UC Davis! 

April 19, 2019

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday April 19 - Dwinelle 1303 - 3-4:30pm  
    Madeline Bossi (UC Berkeley) & Michael Diercks (Pomona College): V1 in Kipsigis: Head movement and discourse-based scrambling 
  • Phorum - Monday April 22  - 1303 Dwinelle - 12-1pm
    Yulia Oganian (UCSF): A temporal landmark for syllabic representations of continuous speech in human superior temporal gyrus
  • Linguistics Colloquium - Monday April 22 - 370 Dwinelle - 3-5pm  
    Lenore Grenoble (Chicago): Documenting contact and change in Siberian multilingual contexts
  • Special Anthropology lecture/workshop - Tuesday April 23 -  223 Moses Hall - 3-6pm
    Denise Arnold & Juan de Dios Yapita: De-ontologising Andean landscapes: some reflections for Qaqachaka Marka
  • Fieldwork Forum - Thursday April 25 - 3401 Dwinelle - 4-5:30PM  
    Adam Benkato (Berkeley): A new copula in an Arabic dialect & fieldwork as a heritage speaker 
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday April 26 - Dwinelle 1303 - 3-4:30pm  
    Discussion of binding and variable-free semantics (Reading: Ch 15 of Jacobson 2014, Compositional Semantics)