SMircle Workshop Meeting Monday (2/2) at 3:15PM: Kalivoda & Zyman

Please join the SMircle Workshop next Monday at 3:15 in the Greenberg Room as they hear from Nick Kalivoda and Erik Zyman (UC Santa Cruz) on the syntax of relative clauses in Zapotec.

Their title and abstract is given below.

On the Derivation of Relative Clauses in Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec

Much recent work argues that some or all externally headed relative clauses are derived by raising of the head NP from a relative-clause-internal position (Åfarli 1994, Kayne 1994, Bianchi 1999, Bhatt 2002). We present novel data from Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec (TdVZ) which show that relative clauses in this language lack the head-raising derivation entirely. The evidence comes from the failure of reciprocals in RC-heads to reconstruct into their relative clauses for Condition A (despite reciprocals’ regularly reconstructing for Condition A under A′-movement more generally) and from a subtle difference between TdVZ and English with regard to variable-binding possibilities in a particular configuration—a difference unexpected on a head-raising analysis of TdVZ relatives. We discuss two strands of evidence that seem to present challenges to our analysis—one involving apparent relativization of an idiom chunk that preserves the idiomatic reading, the other involving RC-internal interpretations of RC-head modifiers (Bhatt 2002). We argue that this counterevidence is only apparent, and the only plausible analysis of TdVZ relatives is one on which they are not head-raising structures. This shows that externally headed relative clauses are a cross-linguistically heterogeneous category: superficially similar relativization structures in different languages can have very different derivational histories.

Cognition & Language Workshop Thursday (2/12) at 4PM: Grodner

Mark you calendars! Join the Cognition & Language Workshop in two weeks, as they hear from Dan Grodner (Swarthmore). The title and abstract are given below.

A Bayesian Account of Conversational Inferences

Much if not most of the meaning that speakers convey with their words is implicit. The standard account of how perceivers recover implicit content is via a process of rational psychosocial inference: Perceivers appeal to a set of maxims to formulate a generative model of a cooperative speaker (Grice, 1975). This view requires that perceivers reason about the communicative intention of the speaker’s speech act (the whole utterance). Over the past 10-15 years, a number of researchers have argued that the standard account is inadequate because it cannot account for the existence of so-called local implicatures. These are cases where an inference appears to be generated within an embedded constituent within an utterance (e.g., Chierchia, Fox & Spector, 2012; Chemla & Spector 2011, Gajewsky & Sharvit, 2012). I will describe a probabilistic model that follows from the assumptions of the standard Gricean account (Russell 2012) and provide experimental evidence that supports it. I will show how this model can explain seemingly local implicatures without appealing to special grammatical operators. In addition to providing a formalization of Gricean reasoning, this approach allows us to preserve the traditional division of labor between semantics and pragmatics. The present approach is similar in spirit to other recent probabilistic approaches (e.g., Goodman & Stuhlmueller 2013) but covers different empirical territory and differs in its mechanics.

Janneke Van Hofwegen in the Boston Globe!

Janneke’s work is featured in a Boston Globe piece on quotative “be like”, which you can read all about here.

Dan Jurafsky Featured in the New Yorker

Sesquikudos, Dan! And you can read all about it here.

The Annual Review of Linguistics, a new Linguistics Journal!

The Annual Reviews have just launched The Annual Review of Linguistics, a new Linguistics journal.

The journal will cover significant developments in the field of linguistics, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and their interfaces and provide articles that benefit both specialists and nonspecialists, experts and students, teachers of introductory courses, and scholars in neighbouring fields.

Complimentary online access to the first volume of the journal is available until January 2016 at this link.

Look Who’s Talking!

Penny Eckert gave a colloquium at the University of Oregon Department of Linguistics on January 23.

Penny was also recently featured on This American Life, talking about vocal fry. You can read the transcript here.

Arnold Zwicky was featured in a discussion in Time Magazine on “portmansnows” (creative ways people are talking about the storm in the Northeast – link here).

A Few Misleading Translations…

…can make for a lot of laughs! Here’s 50 of them to help you finish your week strong!