Colloquium Today (10/31) at 3:30PM: Campbell-Kibler

Our next colloquium speaker will be Kathryn Campbell-Kibler (Ohio State), at 3:30PM today, Oct 31 in the Greenberg room.

Reducing sociolinguistic cognition to previously unsolved problems

More than half a century of research in language variation and related fields has documented speakers’ ability to alter small details of their speech to conform to or agentively change the social elements of an interaction. Likewise, listeners are able to note these speech patterns and use them to form or change their social reading of a situation. These abilities apply both to linguistic forms speakers can verbally describe or even manipulate on command, and to those they cannot. In this talk I discuss the cognitive structures necessary to accomplish these feats. I consider the history of the sociolinguistic monitor, variation’s most developed model, and discuss its shortcomings in light of current evidence. I propose that sociolinguistic cognition requires no specialized cognitive machinery, rather its patterns are explainable by independently motivated structures of linguistic and social cognition and their interactions. Given that linguistic and social processing are both as yet not fully understood, the study of sociolinguistic cognition can help illuminate their structure by examining their interactions. To do so successfully, both the linguistic and the social must be centered.

P-Interest Workshop Meeting Today (10/31)

Come to the P-Interest workshop meeting today for a talk by our own Alex Djalali on Partial Order Optimality Theory! The abstract is given below:

A constructive solution to the ranking problem in Partial Order Optimality Theory

I give a solution to the ranking problem in Partial Order Optimality Theory (PoOT), which can be stated as follows: Allowing for free variation, given a finite set of input/output pairs, i.e., a dataset, that a speaker knows to be part of some language, how can learn the set of all PoOT grammars under some constraint set compatible with that dataset?

For an arbitrary dataset, we provide set-theoretic means for constructing the set of all PoOT grammars compatible with that dataset. Specifically, we determine the set of all strict orders of constraints that are compatible with the dataset. As every strict total order is in fact a strict order, our solution is applicable in both PoOT and classical optimality theory (COT), showing that the ranking problem in COT is a special instance of a more general one in PoOT.

Dissertation oral Monday, November 3: Djalali

The Department of Linguistics is pleased to announce a dissertation oral presentation by Alex Djalali:

On adjectival comparatives 

Monday, November 3, 2014, 2pm-3:15pm
Margaret Jacks Hall, Rm 126

The syntax and semantics of adjectival comparatives like (1a) are complicated matters that have concerned both syntacticians and semanticists for at least 100 years.

(1) a. Orcutt is taller than Smith (is)
(1) b. The maximal degree of height Orcutt possesses is greater than the maximal degree of height Smith possesses

It is generally agreed that (1a) is a suitable paraphrase of the meaning of (1b), which suggests, both implicitly and explicitly, that any formal syntactico-semantic analysis of adjectival comparatives should make reference to (at least) the notions of degrees, scales, and measures. The path I will pursue in this dissertation takes each of the aforementioned concepts seriously but moves away from standardly assumed degree-based analyses like Seuren (1973), von Stechow (1984), Heim (1985), Kennedy (1997) and Heim (2006) (to name just a few) to a more Cresswellilan-one (Cresswell 1976).

This might seem odd, if only because recent work like Kennedy (1997) can also be understood in a Cresswellilan-light. However, there are many aspects of Cresswell’s (1976) proposal–philosophical and formal–and in the work presented here, degrees themselves will not be understood as proper objects in my semantic ontology. If degrees exist at all, they will be understood as real numbers necessary only when considering a small sub-class of comparative constructions. I will argue that, in making such a move, one gets a better and more general treatment of the syntax and semantics of adjectival comparatives in the form of, what I take to be at least, a transparent albeit Spartan semantic representation language that makes no use of various misbehaved covert operators at the level of logical form that are traditionally present in the various semantic analysis of adjectival comparatives considered here. I will show that, even under the assumption of such minimal representations, my analysis gets the semantic facts involving adjectival comparatives right.

(The format for this open part of the oral exam is a 30-45 minute talk by the PhD candidate followed by questions from those attending, for a total of no more than 75 minutes.   Please arrive promptly!)

Oral exam committee: Cleo Condoravdi and Chris Potts (Co-advisors), Dan Lassiter, Beth Levin
University oral exam chair: Thomas Icard (Philosophy)

SMircle Workshop Meeting Monday (11/3) at 3:15 PM

Join the SMircle Workshop at 3:15 PM in the Greenberg Room Monday, as they welcome our own Sharese King, who will present on her research on the Finnish case system. Her title and abstract are given below.

Investigating Case Selection in Finnish Elative-Marked Partitives

Finnish part-whole constructions show complex alternations between partitive and elative case. While partitive or elative case typically appears on the embedded NP, this case alternation can also appear on the quantifier, independently of the NP. In the situations where case appears on both the quantifier and the NP, four patterns are expected: QPARNPELA, QELANPPAR, QPARNPPAR, *QELANPELA. The QELANPELA pattern, where the quantifier and NP both have elative case, is said to be ungrammatical (Anttila and Fong 2000). However, preliminary results from a grammaticality experiment and data from a corpus analysis suggest that Finnish speakers find this pattern acceptable.

Chris Manning Featured in Stanford Report!

The work of Chris Manning and CS grad student Spence Green on a hybrid human-machine translation system was featured in the Stanford Report this week. Read the article here.

The work was presented at the following conferences:

Sesquikudos, Chris!

Fieldwork Workshop Meeting Wednesday (11/5) at 2:30PM

Join the Fieldwork Workshop next Wednesday as they welcome visitor Steven Bird.

Come with questions or to meet fellow fieldworkers!

All are welcome!

Look Who’s Talking!

Vera Gribanova will present “Discourse-driven head movement, VSO and ellipsis in Russian” at NELS 45 at MIT on Oct. 31-Nov. 2.

Chris Manning’s work with numerous collaborators was presented at EMNLP 2014, in Doha, Qatar:

  • “NaturalLI: Natural Logic Inference for Common Sense Reasoning” (Gabor Angeli and Christopher D. Manning)
  • “A Fast and Accurate Dependency Parser using Neural Networks” (Danqi Chen and Christopher Manning)
  • “Human Effort and Machine Learnability in Computer Aided Translation” (Spence Green, Sida I. Wang, Jason Chuang, Jeffrey Heer, Sebastian Schuster and Christopher D. Manning)
  • “Modeling Biological Processes for Reading Comprehension” (Jonathan Berant, Vivek Srikumar, Pei-Chun Chen, Abby Vander Linden, Brittany Harding, Brad Huang and Christopher D. Manning)
  • “Glove: Global Vectors for Word Representation” (Jeffrey Pennington, Richard Socher and Christopher Manning)
  • “Combining Distant and Partial Supervision for Relation Extraction” (Gabor Angeli, Julie Tibshirani, Jean Wu and Christopher D. Manning)
  • “Learning Spatial Knowledge for Text to 3D Scene Generation” (Angel Chang, Manolis Savva and Christopher D. Manning)

“Predictive Translation Memory: A mixed-initiative system for human language translation” (Spence Green, Jason Chuang, Jeffrey Heer, and Christopher D. Manning) was presented earlier this month at the ACM 2014 User Interface and Technology Symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii.