Syntax and Semantics

Hyman travels, publishes on Benue-Congo

November 13, 2018
In the days ahead Larry Hyman will be traveling first to the University of British Columbia, where he will present "In search of prosodic domains in Lusoga" and attend workshops on Kinata and Medumba, and then to Ghent University for the International Conference on Reconstructing Proto-Bantu Grammar, at which he will present "Causative and Passive H tone: Spurious or proto?" 
Continuing the African languages theme, Larry also has three new papers in the newly published book East Benue-Congo: Nouns, pronouns, and verbs. The book is open access and can be downloaded in its entirety here. Larry's three chapters are entitled:
  • “Bantoid verb extensions”. In John Watters (ed.), Eastern Benue-Congo: Nouns, pronouns, and verbs, 175-199. Berlin: Language Science Press.
  • “Third person pronouns in Grassfields Bantu”. In John Watters (ed.), Eastern Benue-Congo: Nouns, pronouns and verbs, 201-223. Berlin: Language Science Press.
  • “More reflections on the nasal classes in Bantu”. In John Watters (ed.), Eastern Benue-Congo: Nouns, pronouns and verbs, 225-238. Berlin: Language Science Press.

Linguistics events this week (Nov 9-16, 2018)

November 9, 2018

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Nov 9 - Dwinelle 1303 - 3-4:30pm 
    Tom Roberts (UC Santa Cruz): I can't believe what's not butter: Deriving distributed factivity
  • Fieldwork Forum - Tuesday Nov 13 - Dwinelle 1229 - 4-5:30PM [note special time and place!]
    Haley De Korne (University of Oslo): 
    Language reclamation as a socio-political practice: Strategies of engagement in multilingual environments
  • Group in American Indian Languages (GAIL) - Thursday Nov 15 - 6pm [note: talk begins at 6]
    Kate Hedges and Leanne Hinton (UC Berkeley): Konkow Maidu language and texts
  • SLUgS - Thursday Nov 15 - Dwinelle 1229 - 5-6pm 
    SLUgS will be hosting a language exchange night for members to share information about languages they speak and learn about other languages.
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Nov 16 - Dwinelle 1303 - 3-5pm 
    Jorge Hankamer (UC Santa Cruz) & Line Mikkelsen (UC Berkeley): CP complements to D 

Cal @ Multiple Agreement across Domains

November 1, 2018

A workshop on Multiple Agreement Across Domains is coming up this week in Berlin, hosted by the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS). Berkeley linguistics will be represented in three presentations by students and alumni: 

  • Emily ClemSwitch-reference as multiple agreement with cyclic expansion
  • Nico Baier (PhD '18): Multiple anti-agreement in Northern Italian dialects
  • Elango Kumaran (BA '18):  Non-projection, horizons, satisfaction, and feature exchange in cyclic probing

Congrats all!

BLS workshop announced

November 1, 2018

In place of the general meeting of BLS this February, there will be a workshop on the topic of countability distinctions. Here is the call for papers:

BLS Workshop: Countability Distinctions

08-Feb-2019 - 09-Feb-2019 

Countability distinctions and mass nouns are a topic of long-standing interest in semantics, grammar, and the philosophy and psychology of language. Recent work on this topic has pushed our understanding forward in three separate but related directions: 

  1. There is more than one type of countability distinction relevant to natural language: nouns like furniture are different from nouns like sand both in how quantity judgments are carried out (Barner and Snedeker 2005) and in which types of adjectival modification are possible (Rothstein 2010, Schwarzschild 2011). 
  2. A semantics for mass nouns can be given that captures the many grammatical parallels between water and furniture without ascribing the same status to the minimal elements in their denotations (Chierchia 2010, Landman 2011). 
  3. The crosslinguistic picture on countability distinctions is more nuanced than originally thought: there are languages where all nouns combine with numerals in apparently similar ways (Lima 2014, Deal 2017), and in languages where classifiers are necessary to mediate noun-numeral combinations, there nevertheless exist countability-related distinctions among nouns diagnosable by quantity judgments and adjective distribution (Cheung, Li, and Barner 2010, Rothstein 2010). 


For this workshop, held in place of the general meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, we invite submissions for talks on all aspects of countability distinctions in natural language. Submissions may address questions including, though not limited to, the following: 

- What are the ways in which countability distinctions are manifested in particular languages? 
- Are morphosyntactic differences in the distribution of count versus mass nouns traceable directly to their semantics, or to their syntax, or to both? 
- What do countability distinctions show us about nominal semantics? What do they teach us about nominal syntax? 
- How should we choose among theories of mass noun semantics (or syntax) currently on the market? 
- Are countability distinctions a language universal? Which distinctions are subject to variation (if any), and which (if any) are not? 
- How are countability distinctions represented psychologically, and acquired by children? 

Invited speakers (confirmed): 
David Barner (UC San Diego) 
Suzi Lima (University of Toronto) 

Conference website: http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/bls/ 
Contact: blsworkshop@berkeley.edu 

Organizing Committee: 
Emily Clem, Virginia Dawson, Amy Rose Deal, Paula Floro, Peter Jenks, Tyler Lemon, Line Mikkelsen, Tessa Scott, Yi-Chi Wu

Call for Papers: 

Submission deadline: November 30, 2018 

Abstracts should be submitted in PDF format via EasyChair: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=blsw1 

Abstracts should not exceed two pages in length (12-point type, Times New Roman, single line spacing, 1 inch margins) including examples and references. 

Submissions must be anonymous and are limited to a maximum of one individual and one joint abstract per author or two joint abstracts per author. 

Reviews and notifications of acceptance will be returned to authors by mid-December. 

Sweetser, Regier on the Origins & Nature of Language

November 1, 2018

On-going this semester is a Learning in Retirement course, offered through the Berkeley Retirement Center, entitled The Origins and Nature of Language. The course lecture this week was delivered by Eve Sweetser, and next week's lecture will be given by Terry Regier: 

  • Eve Sweetser: Why are Languages so different?    Slides   Audio Link with Slides
  • Terry Regier: What are the consequences of linguistic diversity for perception and thought?
    Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 2-4 pm, Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Building

Congrats, Eve and Terry!

NELS 48 proceedings published

October 30, 2018

The Proceedings of NELS 48 have just been published in a three-volume set. The set contains three papers by faculty and/or alumni: 

  • Boris Harizanov and Line MikkelsenResumption and Chain Reduction in Danish VP Left Dislocation
  • Nicholas Rolle (PhD '18), Output-Output Correspondence via Agreement by Projection
  • Hannah Sande (PhD '17) and Peter Jenks, Cophonologies by phase

Congrats all! 

Cal Alonquianists gather in Edmonton

October 30, 2018

The 50th Algonquian Conference took place last weekend in Edmonton, Alberta, featuring four talks by Berkeley faculty or alumni: 

  • Rich RhodesMorphological transitivity in Ojibwe
  • Amy Dahlstrom (PhD '86): A Meskwaki construction in narrative texts: independent pronoun + full NP
  • David Costa (PhD '94): Verb negation in Indiana Miami
  • Jerome Biedny, Matthew Burner, Andrea Cudworth, & Monica Macaulay (PhD '87): Classifier Medials Across Algonquian: A First Look

Berkeley authors are depicted below!

Cal faculty & alumni at the Algonquian Conference 2018

Linguistics events this week (Oct 26-Nov 2, 2018)

October 25, 2018

In and around the linguistics department in the next week: 

  • California Universities Semantics and Pragmatics (CUSP) 11 - Saturday and Sunday Oct 27 and 28 - Dwinelle 370
    CUSP will feature semantics and pragmatics talks all day Saturday, as well as Sunday morning, with speakers from across the state!
  • Phorum - Monday Oct 29 - Dwinelle 1303 - 12-1pm
    Sarah Bakst and Caroline A. Niziolek (University of Wisconsin-Madison): Self monitoring in L1 and L2: a magnetoencephalography study
  • Climate Committee - Monday Oct 29 - Dwinelle 1229 - 3-4pm and 4-5pm 
    For everyone, from 3pm to 4pm, we will have a discussion of the 'impostor phenomenon', facilitated by Dr. Amy Honigman from UC Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). For graduate students only, from 4pm to 5pm, Dr. Honigman will talk about the mental health and wellness services that are available for grad students and how to access them.
  • Fieldwork Forum - Thursday Nov 1 - Dwinelle 1303 - 4-5:30PM 
    Catalina Torres (University of Melbourne): TBA
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Nov 2 - Dwinelle 1303 - 3-4:30pm
    Amy Rose DealClausal complementation vs. “relative embedding”: On knowledge and happiness in Nez Perce