Issue 2013/04/12

Perspectives on Modality

Today in Cordura 100 from 9:30am to 5pm the Language and Natural Reasoning group at CSLI is presenting the Perspectives on Modality workshop. For more info and the schedule see the website:

The study of modality lies at the intersection of reasoning and natural language. In linguistic theory and in logic modality has received intensive study. In NLP it has recently become relevant, as the field is moving beyond the identification of events and their participants towards making inferences about the (likelihood of) occurrence or non-occurrence of events. This workshop assembles linguists, logicians and computer scientists to assess standard and non-standard models of the meaning and inferential properties of modal expressions and to discuss the potential compatibility of seemingly disparate formal frameworks and the way their results can be integrated in NLP.

Davis for P-Interested Today

Come on by the Greenberg Room today at 12:15 for Andrea Davis‘ (Arizona) talk. Here’s the abstract:

When is Phonetic Variation Helpful for Learning Word Forms?
Phonetic variation between speakers promotes generalization when learning new words (Richtsmeier et al., 2009; Rost & McMurray, 2009, 2010). But is variation always helpful for generalization? It could be the case that whether variation is beneficial for generalization depends on a variety of factors, including prior experience with the language, the developmental stage of the learner, whether or not the new words are similar in form to other words, or whether the test is on perception vs production of the new words. The proposed work focuses on two of these factors. Do learners with more experience with a language still benefit from phonetic variation, when learning new words? Additionally, is there a difference between perception and production, in whether experienced learners continue to benefit from phonetic variation?

LangCog Lab meeting on Tuesday

Ally Kraus writes:

Hi everyone!

Join us Tuesday 4/16 at noon for our next meeting, where Mike and Ricardo will be doing practice talks for SRCD (Mike’s abstract below, Ricardo’s pending). We’ll be meeting in Jordan 419 at noon and lunch will be served. I’ll be ordering from Ike’s. Send me:

- sandwich name
- half or whole
- type of bread
- what toppings you’d like
- any special requests/adjustments.


Please send me your requests by Saturday at 10AM so I can place the order.

See you next week!

Developmental and postural changes in children’s visual access to faces
The faces of other people are a critical information source for young children. During early development, children undergo significant postural and locomotor development, changing from lying and sitting infants to toddlers who walk independently. We used a head-mounted camera in conjunction with a face-detection system to explore the effects of these changes on children’s visual access to their caregivers’ faces during an in-lab play session. In a cross-sectional sample of 4–20 month old children, we found substantial changes in face accessibility based on age and posture. These changes may translate into changes in the accessibility of social information during language learning.

QP Fest 2013!

Just us next Friday, 19 April, 2-5pm in Greenberg for our department’s 10th annual QP Fest, featuring talks by Hsin-Chang Chen, James Collins, Judy Kroo, Dasha Popova, and Tania Rojas-Esponda. Special bonus: Social to follow hosted by your QP Fest Committee – so you first years can just relax and enjoy the talks! Visit for agenda and abstracts.

Look Who’s Talking

  • Two Stanford linguists will be giving talks at SALSA at UT Austin this weekend: Katherine Hilton is presenting Obscuring Causality in Rape Discourse: a Quantitative Analysis of Variation in Argument Structure and Samy Alim is presenting Obama’s Steez: The Racial Politics of Being Articulate While Black.
  • Rob Podesva is an invited panelist at the Workshop on Sound Change Actuation at UChicago this weekend. Alum Uriel Cohen Priva will also be giving a talk.
  • Two Stanford linguists will be presenting at the Chicago Linguistic Society next week: Vera Gribanova is co-presenting Russian prepositions and pre xes: unifying prosody and syntax with alum Lev Blumenfeld (Carleton) and Number mismatch in Bulgarian nominal coordinate structures with Boris Harizanov (UCSC), while Sam Bowman is presenting Two arguments for vowel harmony by trigger competition. Alumni Blumenfeld and Judith Tonhauser are also giving talks.

Pet names

Be careful what you name them, folks. This article has some wisdom on how to name them well, as does the following anecdote.

A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables when a voice in the dark said, ‘Jesus knows you’re here.’

He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more, he shook his head and continued.

Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard ‘Jesus is watching you.’

Startled, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot.

‘Did you say that?’ he hissed at the parrot.

‘Yes’, the parrot confessed, then squawked, ‘I’m just trying to warn you that he’s watching you.’

The burglar relaxed, ‘Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?’

‘Moses,’ replied the bird.

‘Moses?’ the burglar laughed, ‘What kind of people would name a bird Moses?’

The bird replied, ‘The kind of people who would name a Rottweiler Jesus’