News

September 18, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

September 15, 2020

Gašper Beguš will be giving a talk at the CompLang group at MIT on Tuesday, September 22, at 5pm EDT (2pm Pacific) over Zoom (p/w "Language"). Here is the title and abstract:

Modeling Language with Generative Adversarial Networks

In this talk, I argue that speech acquisition can be modeled with deep convolutional networks within the Generative Adversarial Networks framework. A proposed technique for retrieving internal representations that are phonetically or phonologically meaningful (Beguš 2020) allows us to model several processes in speech and compare outputs of the models both behaviorally as well as in terms of representation learning. The networks not only represent phonetic units with discretized representations (resembling the phonemic level), but also learn to encode phonological processes (resembling rule-like computation). I further propose an extension of the GAN architecture in which learning of meaningful linguistic units emerges from a requirement that the networks output informative data. I briefly present five case studies (allophonic learning, lexical learning, reduplication, iterative learning, and artificial grammar experiments) and argue that correspondence between single latent variables and meaningful linguistic content emerges. The key strategy to elicit the underlying linguistic values of latent variables is to manipulate them well outside of the training range; this allows us to actively force desired features in the output and test what types of dependencies deep convolutional networks can and cannot learn.

The advantage of this proposal is that speech acquisition is modeled in an unsupervised manner from raw acoustic data and that deep convolutional networks output not replicated, but innovative data. These innovative outputs are structured, linguistically interpretable, and highly informative. Training networks on speech data thus not only informs models of language acquisition, but also provides insights into how deep convolutional networks learn internal representations. I will also make a case that higher levels of representation such as morphology, syntax and lexical semantics can be modeled from raw acoustic data with this approach and outline directions for further experiments.

September 14, 2020

We received word this week that both Susanne Gahl and Lev Michael have been promoted to Full Professor!

Congratulations on this recognition of your excellence, and of your scholarly impact!

September 13, 2020

Updates from the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages:

September 11, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Fieldwork Forum - Wednesday Sep 16 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Peter Jenks (UC Berkeley): Audience and authorship in the Moro Grammar project.
  • Language Variation and Change Working Group - Tuesday Sep 15 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Discussion of Hawkey 2019. Please email Annie Helms for the Zoom link and/or to be added to the bCourses site.
  • Phonetics and Phonology Forum - Friday Sep 11 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Nicholas Rolle (Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft; PhD 2018): First-last harmony or outward-looking allomorphy in Cilungu grammatical tone.
    Please email Anna Björklund or Dakota Robinson for the Zoom link and/or to be added to the Phorum mailing list.
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Sep 11 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Bonnie Krejci (Stanford): Variable unaccusative/unergative behavior in Russian (and beyond).
    More information is provided on the SSCircle website and in an email sent out to the mailing list. Please email Tyler Lemon or Maddy Bossi to be added to the mailing list!
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Sep 18 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Round robin
  • Zoom Phonology - Thursday Sep 17 - Zoom - 9-10am
    AMP Practice Posters. For the Zoom link and/or to be added to the Zoom Phonology mailing list, contact karee_garvin@berkeley.edu.
    Myriam Lapierre (UC Berkeley): Two types of [NT]s in Panãra: Evidence from production and perception.
    This talk provides articulatory and perceptual phonetic data on Panãra (ISO code: kre), a Northern Jê language of Central Brazil, supporting the existence of a previously undocumented phonological distinction. Maddieson & Ladefoged (1993) note that, while partially nasalized stops are sometimes described as post-oralized nasals and sometimes as pre-nasalized stops, they should have the same phonological representation. Panãra exhibits a distinction between exactly these two types of [NT] sequences, which arise from two distinct phonological processes. The data here is analyzed within the framework of Q Theory, a model of representational phonology which decomposes the segment (Q) subsegments (q q q), providing the level of granularity necessary to distinguish between post-oralized nasals and pre-nasalized stops.

    Richard Bibbs (UC Santa Cruz): Align-driven clitic movement in Chamorro.
    Prosodically dependent material, or clitics, often have limited distributional patterns subject to positional constraints, such as being unable to occur sentence-initially. Often clitic placement is accounted for syntactically. However, in several languages the position of clitics has been shown to be the result of prosodic factors. Previous work shows the interaction of Match–Theoretic mapping constraints and prosodic well-formedness constraints correctly captures rightward prosodic movement of clitics in Irish; however the use of Match–Theoretic mapping constraints is shown to be insufficient for clitic placement in Chamorro. Instead, alignment mapping constraints, alongside prosodic well-formedness constraints, are required to motivate leftward movement of clitics in Chamorro and correctly capture their linear position.

September 9, 2020

Congratulations (again!) to Larry Hyman, whose chapter "In search of prosodic domains in Lusoga" has appeared in the (open access) book Syntactic architecture and its consequences, vol. 1: Syntax inside the grammar (2020), edited by András Bárány, Theresa Biberauer, Jamie Douglas, and Sten Vikner.

September 7, 2020

Congratulations to Larry Hyman, whose chapter "Possessive tone in Tswefap (Bamileke): Paradigmatic or derivational?" has appeared in African Languages in Time and Space: A Festschrift in Honour of Professor Akinbiyi Akinlabi (2020), edited by Eno-Abasi Urua, Francis Egbokhare, Oluseye Adesola, and Harrison Adeniyi.

September 6, 2020

Updates from the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages:

  • Larry Hyman and Thera Marie Crane (PhD 2011), now at the University of Helsinki, archived a new collection of sound recordings and field notes on Nzadi (Bantu, Democratic Republic of the Congo), from the fall 2008 undergraduate field methods course and a study group the following term. Simon Nsielanga Tukumu, a Jesuit priest then working toward an MA at the Graduate Theological Union, was the consultant, and the students in the class were Christina Agoff, Ian Coffman, Chad Hegelmeyer, John Keesling, José María Lahoz, Dillon Mee, Getty Ritter, Massoud Toofan, Salgu Wissmath, and Lue Yee Tsang. They also published a grammar in 2011! The project was featured in SFGate at the time.

September 4, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

September 3, 2020

Bernat Bardagil gave an invited talk this week (September 3) at the Prosódia & Bilinguismo symposium, organized online by the Federal University of São Carlos in Brazil, with the title "A esquerda da oração nas línguas Jê: estrutura prosódica e sintática."

September 1, 2020

A virtual version of the 9th Cambridge Comparative Syntax conference, originally scheduled for the spring, will be taking place next week, with two collaborative Berkeley talks on the program:
 

August 31, 2020

August 28, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:
  • Fieldwork Forum - Wednesday Sep 2 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Welcome (back) meeting: Join us via Zoom to catch up on summer developments. All are welcome!
  • Language Revitalization Working Group - Wednesday Sep 2 - Zoom - 4:10-5pm
    The Language Revitalization Working Group (along with the Center for Race and Gender and the Center for Latin American Studies) will be hosting Henry Sales on Wednesday, September 2 from 4:10-5:00 PST. (Se presenta esta charla en inglés con interpretación al español.) Henry Sales is a native Mam speaker from San Juan Atitán, Guatemala, who works in Oakland as an activist, teacher, interpreter, volunteer, and advocate for mistreated and underrepresented Mayan populations. He will speak about his work teaching Mam classes at Laney College and Oakland High, and the many ways in which he works to preserve and celebrate Mayan language, traditions, and community in the Bay Area. For a Zoom link to join the meeting, please email jnee@berkeley.edu.
    [flyer in English] [flyer in Spanish]
  • Language Variation and Change Working Group - Tuesday Sep 1 - Zoom (email Annie Helms) - 3-4pm
    The group will be selecting papers to read during the Fall semester.
  • Sociolinguistics Lab at Berkeley - Wednesday Sep 2 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Welcome meeting and discussion of Rosa & Flores 2017. Please email Isaac Bleaman for the Zoom link and/or to be added to the SLaB email list.
  • *dhworom - Friday Sep 4 - Zoom - 12-1pm
    Edwin Ko will be organizing *dhworom, a historical linguistics reading group, which will be meeting biweekly Fridays 12-1pm this coming semester via Zoom. The focus of the group this fall will be on historical (morpho)syntax with special attention to the following topics: (a) change in morphosyntactic alignment, (b) grammaticalization, and (c) contact-induced (morpho)syntactic changes. The first meeting will be on Friday, September 4, 12-1pm. If you are interested in attending any or all of the meetings, please send Edwin an email at eddersko@berkeley.edu and he will add you to the mailing list.

August 27, 2020

Ruth Rouvier has just received a NFMLTA/NCOLCTL Dissertation Research Support Grant (the abbreviations stand for the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations and the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages). Congratulations, Ruth! Information about the grant program is available here.

August 26, 2020

Congrats to Bernat Bardagil, who gave a talk this week at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea on "The loss of Jê nominal verbs in Panará"!

August 25, 2020

Three Berkeley linguistics presentations took place at the 2020 international Researching and Applying Metaphor conference, organized by Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences at Hamar, held on Zoom, June 18-22:
- Schuyler Laparle and Eve Sweetser, "Harmful living beings: A family of metaphors for cancer"
- Eve Sweetser, "Towards a theory of multimodal metaphoric creativity"
- Schuyler Laparle and Kelly Jones, "Gesture space as discourse space: How the Conduit Metaphor is used in topic switching"

Congrats!

August 21, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Annual Departmental Fall Meeting - Monday August 24 - Zoom - 3pm

August 20, 2020

Berkeley linguists have been engaged in many ways over the summer, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. We're happy to share the stories that were submitted to Calques during its summer hiatus:

  • Andrew Cheng filed his dissertation, "Accent and Ideology among Bilingual Korean Americans" and accepted a one-year postdoctoral position at the Department of Language Science at UC Irvine. He will be working with Dr. Judith Kroll and Dr. Gregory Scontras on heritage bilingualism research and teaching a few courses in phonetics and sociolinguistics. In addition, he is excited to announce two organized symposia, one on language contact and change in Asian American/Asian Canadian communities, and the other on Asian representation and identity in the field of linguistics and in academe, both of which he will be moderating at the upcoming LSA meeting in (maybe virtual) San Francisco.
  • Julia Nee wrote Calques to share:
    This summer, I spent a lot of time thinking my teaching approaches. I re-designed Ling 155 (building on Rich Rhodes's syllabus and assisted greatly by Emily Remirez) to be based on learning objectives and following principles for equitable grading. If you'd like to learn more about that you can check out this best practices for assessment summary from the Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Program that features some of my course materials, or just ask me about it! I also participated in a panel discussion on the topic, which you can see here. In other fun news, a group of Cal linguists (me, Andrew Garrett, Martha Schwarz, Allegra Robertson, Meg Cychosz, and Amalia Skilton) completed an 80.1 mile relay run over 7 (socially distanced!) days to raise over $3000 for COVID-19 relief.
  • Zachary O'Hagan was part of a virtual panel Archiving and Language Documentation for ABRALIN ao Vivo, with Ana Paula Brandão (U. Federal do Pará), Pattie Epps (UT), Susan Kung (UT), Denny Moore (Museo Goeldi), and Jorge Rosés Labrada (Alberta).
  • Emily Remirez wrote Calques to share:
    This summer I collaborated with Julia Nee to teach Linguistics 155AC, including adapting a mixed methods, term-long research project for the remote, short summer term. Students were invited to reflect on their own experiences with language, linguistic discrimination, and other concepts from class. I am very proud of their projects! I also continued to work with Keith on writing a Python library implementing the Generalized Context Model for speech perception and presented on this work as a guest lecture for Andrew C and Geoff's Linguistic Data class. Outside of work, I stepped out of my comfort zone and launched an art-thing called third ear prints, and started taking pet portrait commissions!
  • Isaac Bleaman's article "Implicit standardization in a minority language community: Real-time syntactic change among Hasidic Yiddish writers" has appeared in Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence.
  • Amy Rose Deal received word that her book A theory of indexical shift will be published in October!
  • Susanne Gahl gave a talk at a LabPhon satellite workshop, "Us(e)Phon: Usage-based Approaches to Phonological Change," in July. The title of her talk was, "Which age-related changes in pronunciation are lexical? And why don't we already know?"
  • Terry Regier wrote to share the news of two publications and one presentation:
    - Yang Xu, Emmy Liu, and Terry Regier. "Numeral systems across languages support efficient communication: From approximate numerosity to recursion." Open Mind. (This elaborates and extends an earlier conference paper of the same name.)
    - Francis Mollica, Geoff Bacon, Yang Xu, Terry Regier, and Charles Kemp. "Grammatical marking and the tradeoff between code length and informativeness." In Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
    - Sonnet Phelps, Amit Millo, Kevin Holmes, and Terry Regier. "Categorical perception as inference under uncertainty: New evidence from color." Poster presentation at the (virtual) 42nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
  • Leanne Hinton wrote with an update on the Breath of Life Institute:
    As usual, we (the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival, plus Andrew and myself) started planning early in the year for our biennial Breath of Life Archival Institute for California Indian Languages (BOL). But by April it was clear we’d have to put it off – as of now, that would be to June 2021. But instead we held a series of six Saturday morning sessions on Zoom for everyone who had applied, made all the digital archival materials for the attending language groups available for the groups to research or download, had videos and live discussion by Kayla Begay (PhD 2017) and Crystal Richardson on linguistics, and a memorable panel by Stan Rodriguez and Loren Bommelyn. Participant projects were presented on the last day. One benefit of the virtual venue is that some of the Linguists who were experts on participating languages who lived as far away as Hawai’i or the East Coast, would not have been able to come in person, but were now able to work virtually as linguistic partners with the language teams. Many thanks to the staff at the Bancroft Library and to SCOIL, for their help in making this event work for everyone!
  • Ernesto Gutiérrez Topete and Annie Helms presented talks at the 50th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL), hosted by UT Austin, which was entirely online this year. Ernesto's talk was titled "Frequency and efficiency in Spanish fixed expressions" and Annie's talk was titled "Sociophonetic variability in the production of Spanish /e/ by Catalan-Spanish bilinguals in Barcelona."
  • Mairi McLaughlin shared the news that Michael Arrigo (RLL, Linguistics track) filed his dissertation entitled "Rumor Has It: The Press Conditional in French and Spanish" in August. His committee members were Professor Mairi McLaughlin (Chair), Professor Andrew Garrett, and Professor Richard Kern. Mike is now a lecturer in the French Department at UC Berkeley.
  • Beth Piatote was invited to write a short story for the SF Chronicle series "The Throughline" about life after COVID-19. Her theme was "rewriting the rules," and here is her take on it!
  • Miriam R. L. Petruck (PhD 1986) wrote to share two new publications — one paper and one edited proceedings volume:
    - Ronen Tamari, Chen Shani, Tom Hope, Miriam R. L. Petruck, Omri Abend, and Dafna Shahaf. "Language (Re)modelling: Towards Embodied Language Understanding." In Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics.
    - Tiago T. Torrent, Collin F. Baker, Oliver Czulo, Kyoko Ohara, and Miriam R. L. Petruck (eds.). Proceedings of the International FrameNet Workshop 2020: Towards a Global, Multilingual FrameNet.
  • At the end of June, Paula Floro retired as Department Manager after almost 24 years at Berkeley Linguistics. At the same time, Paula started a new "full-time, lifetime job": helping to raise her first grandchild, Arabella!

    Baby Arabella

 

August 19, 2020

Semantics and Linguistic Theory 30, hosted virtually by Cornell this year, has been taking place this week and has featured the following talks by department members and alumni:

  • Prerna Nadathur: Causality and aspect in ability, actuality, and implicativity
  • Scott AnderBois and Maksymilian Dąbkowski (first year grad student!): A'ingae =sa'ne APPR and the semantic typology of apprehensional adjuncts
  • Nicholas Fleisher (PhD 2008): Unconcealed Questions
  • Pranav Anand and Maziar Toosarvandani (PhD 2010): Embedded presents and the structure of narratives

Congrats all!