P-Interest Workshop Today (3/06) at Noon: Silverman

Join us today at noon in the Greenberg Room for a talk by Daniel Silverman (San José State) on two functional forces governing neutralization.

Neutralization: rhyme and reason in phonology

“Neutralization” is a conditioned limitation on the distribution of a language’s contrastive values. The thesis explored herein: most cases of neutralizing alternation are heterophone-maintaining, and are consequently function-neutral, in the sense that lexical semantic distinctness remains stable. Only in those rare instances when a neutralizing alternation is homophone-deriving might it be function-negative, in terms of potentially rendering lexical semantic content non-distinct. Indeed, neutralization is often function-positive, as it may serve as an aid to parsing the speech stream into its functional (morphemic and lexical) components. In all, it is proposed that neutralization may proceed largely unchecked (thus increasing what I term phonological RHYME), until encountering a passive, usage-based pressure inhibiting excessive derived homophony (that is, until phonological REASON would be breached).

2015 SemFest Schedule (Friday, 3/13)

SemFest is right around the corner! Next Friday (3/13) at 1PM in the Greenberg Room, we will gather to hear about exciting semantics work going on in the department! All are welcome!

SemFest 2015 – Schedule

1:00 – 1:30 Phil Crone and Michael C. Frank “Morphosyntactic and Referential Cues to the Identification of Generic Statements”

1:30 – 2:00 Michael Henry Tessler and Noah D. Goodman “A Computational Model of Generic Language”

2:00 – 2:30 Greg Scontras and Noah D. Goodman “The Role of Context in Plural Predication”

2:45 – 3:15 Ming Chew Teo “Contrastive lor in Singapore Colloquial English: Another discourse-semantic account”

3:15 – 3:45 Lelia Glass “An Analysis of the Negatively-Biased Mandarin Belief Verb yˇiwéi

4:00 – 4:30 Dasha Popova “Evidential Uses of Komi-Zyrian Past Tense Morphemes”

4:30 – 5:00 “James Collins The Scope of Futures”

5:00 Social in the Department Lounge

Welcome to Rebekah Baglini!

Welcome to Rebekah Baglini! Rebekah, who is finishing her dissertation at the University of Chicago, will be joining the Department next fall as a Mellon Postdoctoral fellow. Rebekah has been awarded a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities at Stanford beginning in Autumn 2015.

Here is how she describes her research:

My work focuses on semantics and its interface with morphology and syntax, and relies heavily on typological considerations and data from less commonly studied languages. I have been conducting fieldwork on the Senegambian language Wolof since 2010.

You can find out more here!

In Memory of Joshua Fishman

Joshua Fishman, editor of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, author/editor of more than fifty books and over 1000 articles, has passed away.

Dr. Fishman was a regular visitor to Stanford (through the School of Education) until very recently. The Joshua A. Fishman and Gella Schweid Fishman Family Archive is housed at Stanford.

Fishman wrote many influential books, including the early works Sociolinguistics: A Brief Introduction (1970), and Readings in the Sociology of Language (1968). He was one of the big three founder-leaders of modern sociolinguistics (Fishman: Sociology of Language, Hymes: Ethnography of Speaking, Labov: Quantitative Sociolinguistics), and with his passing, only one remains (Labov). Many in the department were honored to know him as an author, teacher, colleague and friend.

[Thanks to John Rickford for the heartfelt eulogy from which this note is adapted.]

Look Who’s Talking!

Jeremy Calder gave a talk on his QP2 work at CSU Bakersfield on March 4.

Tania Rojas-Esponda spoke on “Discourse particles and focus effects in a question-under-discussion framework” in the LingLangLunch talk series at Brown University on March 4.

Sven Lauer and Cleo Condoravdi presented “Hypothetical facts and hypothetical ideals in the temporal dimension” at the 37. Jahrestagung der deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft.

Tom Wasow is giving a plenary talk today at the 37. Jahrestagung der deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft at the University of Leipzig: “The non-categorical character of most linguistic generalizations”.

Chris Potts gave several recent talks:

  • “Coordinating on context and construal”, Google, February 19.
  • “Embedded implicatures as pragmatic inferences under compositional lexical uncertainty”, Psychology Department, UC Santa Cruz, February 18.
  • “Embedded implicatures as pragmatic inferences under compositional lexical uncertainty”, Invited talk at the 41st Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, February 8.

P-Interest Workshop Meeting Today (2/27) at Noon

Join the P-interest workshop today at noon in the Greenberg Room, where Santiago Barreda (UC Davis) will speak about speaker-adaptive vowel perception.

Modelling speaker-adaptive vowel perception using a statistical pattern-recognition model

In this talk I will outline experimental evidence suggesting that vowel perception and the determination of apparent speaker characteristics are related processes, and that they interact and cooperate. In this view of vowel perception, the interpretation of acoustic information is based on what the listener expects for a given speaker, and the detection of speaker changes is an important aspect of speech perception. This approach to speech perception is able to explain a wide range of experimental results including the influence of instructions on vowel perception, the increased reaction times associated with mixed-speaker listening situations, and the indirect effect of some speech cues (e.g. pitch) on perceived vowel quality. I will outline a statistical model of vowel perception that identifies vowel sounds probabilistically, on the basis of speaker-specific expectations. The results of some behavioral experiments were simulated using this model to compare the predictions made by alternative views of vowel perception. Results support the notion that vowel perception is tied to speaker expectations and the detection of speaker changes rather than being deterministically related to the acoustic characteristics of a speech sound.

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.

Sesquikudos to Masoud!

…For all of his help in the 2015 AAAS meeting’s Family Science Days (San Jose meeting, Feb 12-16)!