Colloquium Today (11/14) at 3:30PM: Matlock

Join us in the Greenberg Room today at 3:30 PM for a colloquium talk by Teenie Matlock (UC Merced).

Aspect and Metaphor in Framing

Framing plays an important role in everyday communication and reasoning. People constantly frame events, states, and situations with the goal of persuading others to form particular attitudes and take particular actions. This is well known across the social sciences. Still, little is known about the role of linguistic semantics in this process, especially when it comes to subtle shifts in and literal and non-literal meaning. This presentation will review cognitive linguistics research on framing and discuss recent experimental findings on how subtle shifts in aspectual and metaphorical information (e.g., manner of motion in non-literal verbs) can result in different inferences in the interpretation of political messages.

CogLanguage Workshop Talk next Thursday (11/20) at 4PM: Slevc

Join the Cognition & Language Workshop as they welcome Bob Slevc (Maryland), who will give a talk at 4PM in the Greenberg Room. All are welcome!

Language, Music, and Cognitive Control

Our impressive abilities to process complex sound and structure may be most evident in language and music. There is growing evidence that linguistic and musical processing draw on shared cognitive and neural processes, however, it remains unclear exactly what these shared processes are. I will discuss some work investigating structural (syntactic) processing in language and music, and suggest that language/music relations reflect, at least in part, shared reliance on domain general mechanisms of cognitive control.

SMircle Workshop Meeting Monday (11/17) at 3:15PM: Samko

Join the SMircle Workshop in the Greenberg Room Monday, as they welcome Bern Samko (UCSC), who will talk about her work on verb-phrase preposing.

Topicality, focus, and intonation in English verb-phrase preposing

I argue that verb-phrase preposing (VPP) in English involves topicalization, syntactic focus-marking, and, optionally, a particular intonational pattern. The contribution of these elements is compositional, allowing for a unified analysis of discourse functions of VPP that have previously been assumed to be distinct (cf. Ward 1990). In all examples of VPP, the preposing of the VP marks a topic shift in much the same way as DP topicalization with “as for”, and verum focus results from focus-marking of the sentence-final auxiliary. Prosodic marking may contribute an additional scalar interpretation that is also available in intonationally marked canonical-order sentences.

Construction of Meaning Workshop next Friday (11/21): Bumford

The Construction of Meaning Workshop presents:

Incremental quantification and the dynamics of pair-list phenomena

Dylan Bumford
New York University

Friday, November 21, 2014, 3:30pm, Margaret Jacks Hall, Rm. 126

Distributive universals are unique among natural language quantifiers in the following three ways: (i) matrix interrogatives that contain them accept pair-list answers; (ii) indefinites and disjunctions in their scope may assume “arbitrary functional” readings; and (iii) they permit sentence-internal interpretations of a wide range of comparative adjectives, like ‘new’ and ‘different’. Because other quantifiers in the same environments do not give rise to these interpretations, the constructions provide a window into the semantic processes that support quantificational distributivity. In fact, both pair-list and internal readings have been independently argued to expose some of the compositional clockwork behind universal quantification, but the mechanisms they have been taken to reveal are entirely distinct. In contrast, I’ll propose that pair-list phenomena and internal readings of comparative adjectives are two sides of the same coin; they are both side effects of incremental quantification. To make this precise, I’ll analyze distributive universal quantifiers in terms of iterated, incremental update, in effect generalizing the sequential conjunction operator of standard dynamic semantics. This approach captures the tight empirical connection between pair-lists and internal adjectives, and at the same time provides a simpler and more robust account of the data than some of the specialized alternatives.

Fieldwork Workshop Meeting Wednesday (11/19) at 2:30: Kaufman

Join the Fieldwork Workshop next Wednesday at 2:30 in the Ivan Sag Room, where Terrence Kaufman will speak:

Meso-America as a Linguistic Area

That Meso-America constitutes a legitimate linguistic area has been questioned. To address this question, concepts of ‘areal linguistics’ are here surveyed and refined. Proposed Meso-American areal traits are reconsidered against these findings, and are compared with those of other established linguistic areas. Mesa-America proves to be a particularly strong linguistic area. These results contribute both to the study of Meso-American languages and to an understanding of areal linguistics generally.

Berkeley Colloquium Monday (11/17) at 3:10: Srinivasan

Join the UC Berkeley Department of Linguistics as they hear from Mahesh Srinivasan (UC Berkeley) at 3:10 on Monday in 370 Dwinelle Hall.

The Development of Lexical Flexibility

A striking feature of our use of language is that we often use words flexibly, to label multiple meanings. For example, in English we can use the same word newspaper to label an object (“torn newspaper”), its intellectual content (“interesting newspaper), or its creator (“The newspaper is hiring”). In this talk, I explore how children learn to use words flexibly, and what this might tells us about the nature of lexical and conceptual development.

Bonnie Krejci and Kate Lindsey at Stanford Splash!

Bonnie and Kate both took part in Stanford Splash! last weekend, running a class on Language Myths, Language Truths for attending schoolchildren from the greater community in the area.

More information about Stanford Splash 2014 is available here.

Look Who’s Talking!

Rob Podesva will give a colloquium talk today at University of Michigan Linguistics, on “On the Complementarity of the Three Waves: The Acoustic Realization of /s/ in Inland California”.

Dan Jurafksy will speak at a symposium on “Food: Origin, Innovation, Imagination” at the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art on November 17, sponsored by the Case Western Institute for the Science of Origins.