Colloquium Today (4/11) at 3:30: Gal

Susan Gal (University of Chicago) will present a colloquium at 3:30 today in the Greenberg Room, with a social and dinner following.

Plain and Fancy: The Role of Qualities in the Analysis of Linguistic Variation

Abstract: Indexicality has been a key analytical term in the understanding of variation. Instead of correlations between co-occurring features and social categories, we now search for the way culturally-formulated identities are linguistically indexed or invoked. The concepts of style and indexicality have been important and productive analytical tools in the exploration of how social meaning is achieved. But some puzzles remain. How and why do people invariably attribute sensual qualities to the variants they recognize, and actually come to hear linguistic forms as being: plain or fancy, thin or thick, big or small, oily or plain, flat or curvy, good or bad? How come such qualities come in pairs? Why are matters of language apprehended in terms more suited to objects (e.g. flat, thick, oily)? This paper examines the construction of such sensuous metaphors for linguistic form and the arrangement of linguistic varieties on qualitative axes of differentiation. It suggests that speakers rely on specific cultural frameworks and a limited set of semiotic principles to recognize, produce and sometimes transform the qualities attributed to linguistic variants, to speakers themselves, and to an array of other, closely related expressive forms: sartorial and bodily signs; interactional “manner” and comportment. The paper presents ethnographic and linguistic evidence from German-Hungarian bilinguals in Hungary and from observations about English made by travelers in the United States in the early 19th century.

QP Fest April 25th

A message from your QP Fest committee:

Remember to save the date for QP Fest: April 25th, 2-5 p.m., followed by a Friday Social. We’ve got a great line-up of speakers: Sam Bowman, Phil Crone, Lelia Glass, Masoud Jasbi, and Bonnie Krejci. And just a reminder if you’re still considering a talk: Today’s the deadline to let us know, thanks! (please direct email to Robin Melnick)

Article on Dan Jurafsky’s work on Yelp reviews

Check out this article published today about new research on the language and psychology of online restaurant reviews, conducted by Dan Jurafsky and collaborators.

Tania Rojas-Esponda Receives Mellon Fellowship

Tania has accepted a Mellon Dissertation Fellowship for next year. Congratulations!

Djalali presenting in AllNatural Meeting Today at 11AM

Come hear Alex Djalali present his work on Synthetic Logic in the AllNatural Workshop group, today at 11 AM in Gates 159.

Look Who’s Talking!

Two papers from the department will be presented at the International Conference on Learning Representations:

  • Sam Bowman will present “Can recursive neural tensor networks learn logical reasoning?
  • Sida I. Wang, Roy Frostig, Percy Liang, and Christopher D. Manning will present “Relaxations for inference in restricted Boltzmann machines”

Penny Eckert presented at the University of Arizona on March 27 on “Looking for meaning in all the right places” as part of their School of Anthropology Distinguished Lecture Series.

Alum Rob Munro will be speaking at the Stanford Computational Social Science conference today on “Crowdsourcing and Natural Language Processing for the Social Good”.

Alum Philip Hofmeister is teaching a course on “The psycholinguistics of island effects” at the GLOW 37 Spring School in Brussels from April 7-11.

Dan Lassiter is an invited speaker at CLS 50 this weekend. He’ll present his paper “Information, cost, and monotonicity: Experiments on ought“.

Welcome to Boris Harizanov

Boris Harizanov will join our faculty as Assistant Professor in September.

Welcome to the department, Boris!