Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Stanford to host SALT 2015

On May 15-17, 2015, Stanford will host the 25th installment of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT), the premier conference for linguistic semantics and pragmatics in North America.

The program is now posted: view it here. You can register here; early registration ends April 15.

We hope to see you there!

Look Who’s Talking!

Kate Lindsey is talking at the International Conference for Language Documentation and Conservation at the University of Hawaii, Manoa on Friday, February 27, 2015.

Colloquium next Friday (2/13): Eisenstein

We’re pleased to announce a colloquium talk next Friday by Jacob Eisenstein (Georgia Tech). As always, the talk will be in the Greenberg Room at 3:30.

Variation and Change in Online Writing
Online writing is an increasingly ubiquitous mode for informal, phatic communication, but the implications of this shift for the relationship between writing and speech are still contested. While some point to the rise of a new “netspeak” dialect, quantitative analysis suggests a picture that is more complex: online writing reproduces lexical and phonetic variation from spoken language, while simultaneously hosting an impressive array of apparently novel orthographic variables. I will present computational statistical techniques for identifying variation in online writing, and will discuss the geographical, social, and linguistic properties of several types of variables. Next, I will consider the diachronic perspective, where large-scale longitudinal data enable robust inferences about patterns of linguistic influence across thousands of lexical variables. I conclude with ongoing work on whether and how orthographic variables can maintain their social and geographical distinctiveness in the face of pressure towards leveling in an ever more densely-connected online world.

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

Our next colloquium speaker will be Kathryn Campbell-Kibler (Ohio State), at 3:30PM on Wed, 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.

Meaningful Lunch Tuesday (9/30) at 11:45 AM

Everyone with an interest in semantics is invited to Meaningful Lunch — an intermittent informal lunch meeting for all those at Stanford working on or interested in the study of natural language meaning, broadly construed!

The main purpose of these lunches is to keep everyone informed about current or nascent semantic-y research that is going on, scout out possibilities for collaboration, learn about plans of semantics-related events for the academic year, and generally have a good time in the company of your fellow meaning-folks.

This quarter’s lunch will take place on Tuesday, September 30, from 11:45am-12:50pm in Room 126 on the ground floor of Margaret Jacks Hall. Lunch will be provided.

Do come for some or all of that time!

Last Sesquip of The Year!

We’ll be seeing you again in the fall — thanks for reading, and don’t forget to send all your stories, jokes, and tidbits to!

To close the year out right, here’s a comic courtesy of MSU Linguistics:

Kevin McGowan to Offer Praat Script Mini-Course!

Kevin McGowan will be offering a three-day course on Praat scripting, Wednesday, June 25 – Friday, June 27. The class will meet 10-12 and 1-3.

More information to come, but get it on your calendars!

Socio talk Thursday, 5/15: Andrew Wong

Stanford linguistics alum Andrew Wong (California State University East Bay) will be visiting on Thursday, May 15  to speak to us about Perceptions of Unconventional Spelling in Brand Names.’ The talk will be in the Greenberg Room from 3:30-5:00.

Perceptions of Unconventional Spelling in Brand Names

<Starz>, <Netflix>, and <La-Z-Boy>.  These are just a few household brand names that consist of unconventional spellings of English words.  Third-wave variationists (e.g., Campbell-Kibler 2010, Eckert 2012, Podesva 2011) have recently called for a new approach to sociolinguistic variation that takes social meaning rather than linguistic change as its point of departure.  This approach has led researchers to use perceptual methodologies to study the full spectrum of linguistic resources that have the potential to take on social meaning.  The present study furthers these efforts by using perception data to examine the social meaning of unconventional spelling in brand names.

An online survey was used to collect data from 395 respondents (207 men, 185 women) on their perceptions of four spellings of poetic: <POETIC>, <POETICK>, <POETIK>, and <POETIQ>.  In this presentation, I will focus on the potential of the three unconventional spellings to convey newness and distinctiveness to people of different backgrounds.  I will argue that it is limiting to look at spelling practices through a normative lens.  Unconventional spellings do not all produce the same effects, and the standard/non-standard binary is not useful for understanding the meaning of orthographic variation.  This study also demonstrates the indeterminacy and uneven distribution of the social meanings of orthographic variation.  The <c>~<ck>~<k>~<q> alternation evokes a field of potential meanings.  Depending on various contextual factors, any of these meanings may be evoked in the situated use or interpretation of the variable, and certain meanings may be activated for some people but not others.


Campbell-Kibler, Kathryn 2010.  The sociolinguistic variant as a carrier of social meaning.  Language Variation and Change 22: 423-441.
Eckert, Penelope 2012.  Three waves of variation study: The emergence of meaning in the study of sociolinguistic variation.  Annual Review of Anthropology 41: 87-100.
Podesva, Robert 2011.  Salience and the social meaning of declarative contours: Three case studies of gay professionals.  Journal of English Linguistics 39: 233-264.