Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Alex Lascarides (Edinburgh) will give a colloquium today (Friday Oct. 18) at 3:30PM in the Greenberg room, followed by a departmental social.
Abstract: In this talk I will present joint work with Nicholas Asher. Our aim is to model conversation when people have conflicting goals; for instance, courtroom cross examination and political debate. I’ll use naturally occurring dialogues to introduce a particular kind of deception, where the speaker doesn’t explicitly lie, but he implies a falsehood that he can subsequently deny was a part of his message. This motivates a new concept, that of SAFETY in discourse interpretation: one needs the means to test whether an implicature in non-cooperative conversation can be treated as a matter of public record.
We’ll propose two alternative ways of modelling both cooperative and non-cooperative conversation, both of which offer an analysis of safety. The first model uses standard techniques from game theory. The second is a proof theoretic analysis which improves on the standard game theory version by fully supporting reasoning about what utterances need to be a part of the definition of the `interpretation game’. In effect, it can distinguish between an utterance that a speaker contemplated but chose not to perform from an utterance that he didn’t contemplate performing at all.
This proof theoretic analysis not only models safety but also provides the means to prove a correspondence Gricean principles of cooperative conversation (e.g., Sincerity) and a situation where the preferences of the conversational participants are normally aligned. Thus Gricean models of implicature are a special case in our framework.
Next colloquium: Esli Kaiser, November 1.
Please join the Phonology Workshop today (Friday October 11) at noon in the Greenberg Room for a talk by Sharon Inkelas, (UC Berkeley), and our own Stephanie Shih (Stanford).
Unstable surface correspondence as the source of local conspiracies
In Agreement by Correspondence theory (ABC; Hansson 2001; Rose and Walker 2004; a.o.), phonological patterns such as harmony and dissimilation arise from the interaction of corresponding surface segments. In harmony, corresponding segments become more similar in order to satisfy featural identity within a correspondence set. In dissimilation, the cost of satisfying identity is too high, and segments become less similar to escape the costly correspondence relationship (Bennett 2013). Harmony and disharmony, therefore, are repairs for resolving the same conspiracy of what we term unstable surface correspondence, in which two structures are similar enough to interact but too uncomfortably similar to co-exist within a certain distance.
In this paper, we argue that viewing local effects of assimilation and dissimilation as consequences of unstable surface correspondence offers an improved perspective on classic nasal-consonant (NC: e.g., *NC̥) patterns that have previously been regulated in Optimality Theory by context-specific markedness constraints (cf. Padgett 1993; Pater 1999/2004). Shifting the burden of grammatical analysis from (potentially arbitrary) contextual markedness to similarity-based surface correspondence illuminates the critical questions of which types of correspondences are the most unstable and which repairs are most likely to resolve them. This is an improvement over previous assumptions that local assimilation should be handled with one theory (autosegmental spreading), and long-distance interactions with another (ABC) (e.g., Rose and Walker 2004; Gallagher 2008; a.o.). The presupposition that local and long-distance effects are different obscures important parallels: recent work (Wayment 2009; Jurgec 2013) has shown that the similarity bias in segments participating in local assimilation resembles similarity thresholds for long-distance correspondences. Our proposal builds on these observations in showing that the underlying motive—unstable correspondence—drives the same repairs for both long-distance and local phonological patterns.
A good idea to get one – and they’re free.
Jason Grafmiller will be giving the oral presentation of his dissertation, “The Semantics of Syntactic Choice: An Analysis of English Emotion Verbs”, on Tuesday, June 18th, from 9:15-10:30 in the Greenberg Room (460-126). Jason will give a 30-45 minute presentation, followed by a question period.
Jason’s oral exam committee is Beth Levin (chair), Joan Bresnan, Meghan Sumner, and Tom Wasow; Mark Crimmins (Philosophy) will serve as the University oral exam chair.
Psychological verbs (psych-verbs) such as admire, amaze, fear, and frighten, have long been known to exhibit marked syntactic behavior in many languages. This behavior has inspired numerous analyses which assume that there is a unified explanation for the observed patterns. In this dissertation, I argue, as some others have, that the explanation is semantic in nature, and can be traced back to the ways in which humans conceptualize mental events and processes. I focus on the more problematic class of psych-verbs, the so-called Object-Experiencer (Obj-Exp) verbs (e.g. amaze, depress, frighten, fascinate). It is commonly argued that the special behavior of Obj-Exp verbs obtains only in their stative and/or nonagentive readings. Authors disagree about the relevance of agentivity, but almost all argue for some grammatically relevant distinction between stative and non-stative Obj-Exp verbs.
Through qualitative and quantitative analyses of the semantic properties of Obj-Exp verbs and their arguments, I explore a controversial topic in previous research: the interaction of stativity and passivization among different subclasses of Obj-Exp verbs in English. Analysis of corpus data shows that eventive and stative passives are available to all Obj-Exp verbs. The choice between active and passive uses is particularly sensitive to the causal role of the stimulus and the nature of the emotion denoted by the verb; together these determine the linguistic construal of the situation as either a causative process or an attitudinal state.
Additionally, I examine the variable (un-)acceptability of English Obj-Exp verbs in agentive contexts, and offer experimental and corpus data showing that a given verb’s acceptability in an agentive context directly correlates with the tendency for its emotion to be associated with a controllable antecedent. These facts argue against analyzing differences in agency among psych-verbs at the level of lexical semantic structure, and instead suggest treating agency as an inference arising from the total integration of semantic, syntactic, and contextual information in the clause.
Overall, the findings of these linguistic studies align well with recent theories developed in the psychological literature on emotion
Come to the Greenberg Room on Monday 5/20 from 12:15-1:05. Ellen Markman (Psychology) will be presenting for the SymSys Forum, a talk entitled “How children generalize what they have learned: Factors that affect the scope, importance, and robustness of generalization”.
A fundamental component of learning is how to extend what was learned to new exemplars, situations, and contexts. Recent advances in the field have revealed that accumulating statistical evidence over time is only one of the factors that effects generalization. Moreover generalization is itself multifaceted: Is the new information deemed applicable to a narrow or broad range of exemplars or situations? Is the information acquired construed as central, definitive, essential or as less important? Is the generalization robust, made with confidence, or tentative and easily revised? To sort all of this out, children rely on a variety of sources of information including: (a) prior knowledge (b) linguistically conveyed information such as generic versus non-generic language (c) other communicative and social means of conveying information such as pragmatics, intentional versus accidental actions, the pedagogical stance, and trust in testimony. I will review recent research that highlights how children navigate these complicated issues.
Terra Edwards (Berkeley) will be presenting for the Anthropology brown bag forum on Monday 5/20 from 12-1:05 in 50-51A. The title and abstract are below. Come on by!
Language Emergence as Condensation in the Seattle Deaf-Blind Community
This paper examines the socio-genesis of a tactile language currently emerging among Deaf-Blind people in Seattle, Washington. Language emergence has been understood in recent work on signed languages as a moment when form-meaning correspondences abstract away from the contexts of their use. Language emergence in the Seattle Deaf-Blind community suggests instead that via “condensation”, the linguistic system grows dense with its history of use. Read the rest of this entry »