March 9, 2021

The program for the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL) 39 (organized virtually by the University of Arizona) has just been released, with a schedule full of great work by Berkeley linguists!

  • Emily Drummond: Maintaining syntactic identity under sluicing: Pseudoclefts and voice (mis)matches
  • Maksymilian Dabkowski: Laryngeal feet in A'ingae. Implications for metrical theory
  • Rebecca Jarvis: Presuppositionality and syntactic nominalization in finite clausal complements
  • Tyler Lemon: Low nominative agreement in Uab Meto
  • Wesley dos Santos: Long head movement is A-bar movement: the case study of Kawahíva
  • Joshua Martin (BA '17): Monoradical intersectivity and the morphosemantics of suppletion
  • Samir Alam (BA '19) and Elango Kumaran (BA '17): Focus-sensitive restrictions on multi-argument agreement in Maithili
  • Prerna Nadathur (former faculty lecturer) and Hana Filip (PhD '93): Telicity, teleological modality, and (non)culmination
  • Bernat Bardagil (former postdoc): Learning and describing interlocutor indexicality in Mỹky

March 8, 2021

Oliver Whitmore is gauging interest in the potentiality of forming a reading group on Modern/Contemporary Occitan. He is asking those who might be interested to fill out this survey before spring break.

The French Department at UC Berkeley is delighted to announce that Professor Zsuzsanna Fagyal from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be giving a seminar on Wednesday, March 17th from 12-2pm. [Zoom link]

Title: Social Meaning and Consonantal Variation in French and Romance

Abstract: In our forthcoming chapter “Sociophonetics”, Justin Davidson (UC Berkeley) and I take a bird’s-eye view of socially relevant phonetic variation across some varieties of the Romance languages. In this seminar, I will go beyond methodological considerations of social meaning in speech (e.g., first-, second-, and third-wave studies, etc.) and discuss social indexicality more broadly as affect, status, and conventionalized discursive practices in society. Cases of local hypo- and hyper-articulation (‘strengthening’ and ‘weakening’) in consonants, presented in our chapter, will be used as examples in my introductory presentation and as input for discussions with the audience.

Participants are asked to read in advance of the seminar the chapter that she and Justin have co-authored. Please email Mairi McLaughlin for a copy of the chapter.

Here's the latest from the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages:

  • We've digitized and catalogued 15 reel tapes of sound recordings of Kiliwa (Yuman; Baja California) made by Mauricio Mixco (PhD 1971) primarily between 1966 and 1969, when he was a graduate student in our department. The storytellers were Rufino Ochurte, Braulio Espinoza, and Rodolfo Espinoza. Trinidad Ochurte Espinoza collaborated closely with Prof. Mixco in the transcription and translation of his uncles' stories, many of which were published in 1983 as Kiliwa Texts: "When I have Donned My Crest of Stars." Soon Prof. Mixco will also be archiving his papers with our archive.
  • We've digitized four notebooks of transcribed, glossed texts in Potawatomi (Algonquian; US, Canada; here, here, here, and here) that belonged to Charles Hockett (1916-2000). The texts come from speakers Jim and Alice Spear. The first three notebooks are dated 1940, after Hockett received his PhD in linguistics from Yale (1939) with a dissertation supervised by later Berkeley faculty member Murray Emeneau (1904-2005); all four of them come to us as part of the papers of Laura Buszard-Welcher (PhD 2003).

March 5, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

Big Give is an online fundraising tradition that began in 2014, giving alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends the chance to come together on one day to show support for the Linguistics Department specifically, and the Berkeley campus generally. Big Give begins at 9pm on Wednesday, March 10, and runs through 9pm on Thursday, March 11. Watch for our emails around that time — you might even be able to help us win extra money in the hourly contests!

March 3, 2021

Prospective Student Open House: Graduate Student Research Presentations
Monday, March 8, 2021

3:00 Zoom link opened (feel free to start arriving for the event once the link is open)
3:10 Event Begins: Welcome by Lev Michael
3:15 Emily Drummond, Syntactic ergativity without morphological ergativity: Predictions of abstract Case
3:35 Schuyler Laparle, Structuring discourse through gesture
3:55 Emily Remirez, Decoding social encoding with coding
4:15 Raksit Lau-Preechathammarach, Shifting sociolinguistic dynamics, multilingualism, and sound change in Kuy, a minority language of Northeast Thailand

Congratulations to Schuyler Laparle who has been selected for the inaugural class of Berkeley SciComm Fellows! From the official announcement:

These individuals were selected for their passion for science communication, their commitment to help build a community of practitioners at UC Berkeley, and their desire to apply science communication skills to their future careers, spanning academia, policy, outreach, and more. As a Berkeley SciComm Fellow, they will learn facilitation skills, take a deep dive into science communication practice, and receive training to lead two different science communication workshops, Science Storytelling and Public Speaking. They will then have opportunities to run these workshops for the UC Berkeley community.

March 2, 2021

Congratulations to Gašper Beguš on the publication of his article "Estimating historical probabilities of natural and unnatural processes" in Phonology! Click here to download the article (Open Access).

March 1, 2021

A number of Berkeley affiliates and alumni are presenting at the International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation taking place from March 4 to 7, 2021 at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (online):

  • Emotion and Motivation in Language Reclamation (Ruth Rouvier)
  • Emergent multilingual identities among children learning Zapotec (Julia Nee, Rosita Jiménez Lorenzo)
  • Documenting child language in an Indigenous Amazonian community (Amalia Skilton)
  • Talk Story on Collaboration, communities, and relationship-building: Pushing the conversation forward (Badiba Olivier Agodio, Kayla Begay, Tinah Dobola, Octavio León Vázquez, Kate Lindsey, Iara Mantenuto, Jerry William Rain, Katerina Rain, Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada, Hannah Sande, Cheryl Tuttle)
  • pglex: A 'pretty good' lexical service (Ronald Sprouse, Edwin Ko, Andrew Garrett)
  • Zooming through the Pandemic with the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival (Leanne Hinton, Carly Tex)
  • Relating the past, present & future: archiving language collections (Raina Heaton, Zachary O'Hagan, Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Susan Smythe Kung, Nick Thieberger, Paul Trilsbeek)
  • Closing plenary: Language Reclamation Through Relational Language Work (Wesley Y. Leonard)

Berkeley faculty Hannah Sande, Larry Hyman, and PhD alumni Gabriela Caballero, Florian Lionnet, and Nik Rolle will be giving talks at the upcoming Princeton Phonology Forum (Tone and Phonological Theory), taking place from March 19 to 21, 2021. The full program and schedule is available online, and the deadline for registration is March 18.

Gabriela Caballero: Tonal exponence and lexical-grammatical tone interactions in San Juan Piñas Mixtec
Larry Hyman: Allomorphy and Tonal Opacity at the Phrase Level in Kuki-Thaadow
Hannah Sande: Not all morphology is item-based: Evidence from three tonal processes
Nicholas Rolle & Florian Lionnet: Phantom structure: A representational account of floating tone association

February 28, 2021

A Zoom memorial event for John Ohala will be held at 8am (Pacific time) on Saturday, March 13. All are welcome to attend. Please contact Keith Johnson for the link.

In addition, if you would like to add to the remembrances page, which is now a part of John’s departmental web page, please visit this Google form. When you submit your entry on the form the text you entered will automatically appear on the remembrances page.

February 26, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Fieldwork Forum - Wednesday Mar 3 - Zoom - 3:10-4pm
    Kristina Balykova (UT Austin): Working with the last Guató speakers.
  • Language Revitalization Working Group - Wednesday Mar 3 - Zoom - 4:10-5pm
    Víctor Cata and Rosemary Beam de Azcona: Challenging the reader: la traducción de lenguas minoritarias a lenguas coloniales.
    The talk will be held bilingually in English & Spanish / Se presenta de manera bilingüe español-inglés. RSVP here.

    A collection of short stories with themes of religion and gender, Nácasinu Diidxa, first published in a bilingual Isthmus Zapotec - Spanish edition, has been translated into English. In this conversation author Víctor Cata and translator Rosemary Beam de Azcona will discuss the significance of translating from Zapotec into colonial languages.
    Una colección de relatos que exploran temas de la religión y la diversidad sexual, Nácasinu Diidxa, que primero fue publicada en una edición bilingüe diidxazá (zapoteco del Istmo) - español, ahora se ha traducido al inglés. En esta conversación el autor, Víctor Cata, y la traductora, Rosemary Beam de Azcona, hablarán sobre el significado de traducir de lenguas como el zapoteco, cuyos hablantes experimentan la discriminación, a lenguas coloniales como el español y el inglés.
  • Phorum - Friday Feb 26 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Susannah Levi (NYU): Talker familiarity helps speech perception. Does the benefit stop there?
  • Phorum - Friday Mar 5 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Katie Russell (UC Berkeley): TBA.
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Feb 26 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Hadas Kotek (MIT): Top-down derivations: Flipping syntax on its head. Joint work with Bob Frank (Yale).
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Mar 5 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Michael Diercks (Pomona): Bukusu object marking: At the interface of pragmatics and syntax. Joint work with Justine Sikuku (Moi University).
  • Zoom Phonology - Wednesday Mar 3 - Zoom - 11am-12pm
    Hossep Dolatian (Stony Brook): Orthography to Phonology: Constraints on the Armenian schwa.
    For the Zoom link or to be added to the Zoom Phonology mailing list, contact Karee Garvin.

February 24, 2021

Congratulations to Alexander Elias, who has been invited to give an hour-long "Early Career Researcher Plenary Talk" at the 13th International Austronesian and Papuan Languages and Linguistics Conference (APLL13) hosted remotely by the University of Edinburgh on June 10-12, 2021. The title of his talk is "Phonemic Initial Glottal Stops in the Lesser Sundas: The Emergence and Spread of an Areal Sound Pattern."

February 23, 2021

Gašper Beguš will be giving a seminar talk at UC Berkeley's Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences on Friday, March 5, from 11:10am to 12pm. The title of his talk is "Modeling Language with Generative Adversarial Networks" and the abstract is below. Click here for more details. Congrats, Gašper!

Can we build models of language acquisition from raw acoustic data in an unsupervised manner? Can deep convolutional neural networks learn to generate speech using linguistically meaningful representations? In this talk, I will argue that language acquisition can be modeled with Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and that such modeling has implications both for the understanding of language acquisition and for the understanding of how neural networks learn internal representations. I propose a technique that allows us to wug-test neural networks trained on raw speech. 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. With this model, we can test what the networks can and cannot learn, how their biases match human learning biases (by comparing behavioral data with networks’ outputs), how they represent linguistic structure internally, and what GAN's innovative outputs can teach us about productivity in human language. This talk also makes a more general case for probing deep neural networks with raw speech data, as dependencies in speech are often better understood than those in the visual domain and because behavioral data on speech acquisition are relatively easily accessible.

Congrats to Larry Hyman, who (virtually) gave an invited talk on "Grammatical functions of tone" to open the conference Prosody & Grammar Festa 5 held last week in Japan!

Mairi McLaughlin's book La Presse française historique: Histoire d’un genre et histoire de la langue has just been published by Classiques Garnier. The book presents the results of the first major study into the history of language in the French press. It has a dual aim: to shed light on the history of the genre of journalism and to explore what the study of historical periodicals can bring to our understanding of the history of language.

Congratulations, Mairi!

February 22, 2021

Here's the latest from the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages:

  • Chris Beier and Lev Michael archived a new collection of materials on Andoa (also known as Katsakáti; Zaparoan, Peru). In 2009 the Berkeley team, including Ramón Escamilla (PhD 2012) and Marta Piqueras-Brunet (MA 2008), collaborated for an intensive few days primarily with speakers Juan Mucushua and María Sandi, in addition to Dionisia Arahuanaza and Lidia Arahuanaza. The collection includes sound recordings, fieldnotes, a booklet "Katsakáti: El idioma antiguo del pueblo de Andoas," photographs, and documents deriving from previous documentation of the language in the 1950s by Catherine Peeke and Mary Sargent of SIL International. These are the only known surviving sound recordings of the language.

February 19, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

February 16, 2021

Congrats to Maksymilian Dąbkowski, who will be presenting at the 34th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing (Thursday, March 4, at 3:45pm ET). The title of his talk is "Evidence of accurate logical reasoning in online sentence comprehension" and it is a collaboration with Roman Feiman.