August 17-20, SALT XXX has a poster by Yu'an Yang and a poster by Tyler Knowlton with collaborators, as well as a talk by Paolo Santorio from Philosophy. This 30th SALT is hosted by Cornell University, which also hosted the first.

Yu'an Yang, No commitments: A unified account of Mandarin discourse particle "ba"

Tyler Knowlton, Paul Pietroski, Alexander Williams, Justin Halberda and Jeffrey Lidz, Determiners are 'conservative' because their meanings are not relations: Evidence from verification

Paolo Santorio, Simplification is not scalar strengthening

August 17-23, virtually from Utrecht, Maria Polinsky kicks off the first workshop of the Microcontact project, Heritage Language Syntax, with "Not everything is lost: Differential restructuring in heritage language compared to the baseline." A second invited talk is by alumnus Terje Lohndal, who presents joint work on "Verb movement in American Norwegian: V2, non-V2, and cross-linguistic influence."

Congrats to Philip Resnik whose project on Modeling Co-Decisions has won NSF support. The project is aimed at better understanding decision-making by looking at both metadata and language as sources of information helping to predict when two individuals will make the same choice and why. With CoPI Kris Miller, Assistant Professor in our Department of Government and Politics , Philip will develop new computational models of co-decision in political contexts (co-voting), look at substantive questions about legislative decision-making, and also go beyond the political domain to look at decisions about citation in the scientific literature.

Congratulations to Tyler Knowlton, 2020 recipient of the Howard Lasnik Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student. This annual award, granted by faculty consensus, honors excellence in TA'ing. Past winners are: Laurel Perkins, Nick Huang, Jeff Green, Rachel Dudley, Angela He, Megan Sutton and Shannon Barrios. The whole department benefits from such excellence, so thank you Tyler, for all your hard work!

Congratulations to Tyler Knowlton, winner of the ARHU Graduate Student Service Award for 2020. The award recognizes "those students who have consistently demonstrated excellence in service to their department and to the College, in their "commitment to the department and the College," their "exceptional work ethic," their "initiative and service above and beyond the job description." There is a plaque on display in the Dean's office with the engraved names of Service Award winners: look for past winners Shevaun Lewis *13 and Alexis Wellwood *14.

July 31, Rodrigo Ranero presents "Linguistic Links of Xinka: Importance for the Strengthening of Identity," in a Zoom talk hosted by the Guatemalan Presidential Commission Against Discrimination and Racism (CODISRA), to be given in Spanish. Rodrigo worked with the Xinka community from 2012-2015, and will discuss the status of Xinka as a linguistic isolate and the importance of ongoing language reclamation projects.

Congratulations to Maria Polinsky, PI on "Computational Models for Studying Word Class Distinctions in Polysynthetic Languages, which has been awarded several years of NSF support. "[The] project explores noun-verb distinctions in polysynthetic languages by developing new methods in computational linguistics that promote and facilitate cross-linguistic comparisons," with an eye to criteria for a universal distinction between nouns and verbs. Collaborating with Masha will be Smaranda Muresan, Research Scientist at the Data Science Institute (DSI) and the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University.

Congratulations to Tyler Knowlton, who has earned an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant for "The mental representation and acquisition of the universal quantifiers,'' with advisor Jeffrey Lidz. "Gaining a better understanding of how speakers represent and acquire words [like "each" and "every"],'' writes Tyler in his winning proposal, "will improve our understanding of the logical primitives of thought and the ways in which children make use of their input when learning a language."

July 20-31, Omer Preminger asks what a mental "lexicon" is, at the annual NYI Summer School of the New York - St. Petersburg Institute of Linguistics, Cognition and Culture, in a course co-taught with Asia Pietraszko (University of Rochester) titled "Words and other things: What do you need to list in your head?"

July 29, the virtualized CogSci 2020 has presentations from Zoe Ovans, incoming first-year Leslie Li, post-docs Thomas Schatz and Zara Harmon, HESP faculty Yi Ting Huang, and Naomi Feldman, who gives an invited talk for a sympositum on Statistical Learning and Development. In addition, Laurel Perkins *19 will be presented with the Glushko Dissertation Prize for her 2019 dissertation, How Grammars Grow.

Invited Talks

Naomi Feldman "Distributional learning from natural speech"


Ruolan Li, Thomas Schatz, Yevgen Matusevych, Sharon Goldwater, & Naomi Feldman. Input matters in the modeling of early phonetic learning

Yevgen Matusevych, Thomas Schatz, Herman Kamper, Naomi Feldman, & Sharon Goldwater. Evaluating computational models of infant phonetic learning across languages.

Zoe Ovans, Yi Ting Huang, & Naomi Feldman. The (un)surprising Kindergarten Path.


Zara Harmon & Vsevolod Kapatsinski. Competition between top-down and preceding-item cues accounts for effects of experience on language production.

Congratulations to Wing-Yee Chow *13, now Associate Professor in Experimental Linguistics at University College London. Wing-Yee has been at UCL since 2014, following a one year research postdoc at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, and five years at UMD that led to her dissertation on The temporal dimension of linguistic prediction, supervised by Colin Phillips.

Now out in Glossa, “Functional structure in the noun phrase: revisiting Hebrew nominals. Omer Preminger opposes recent claims that nominal phrases are headed by nouns, marshaling the arguments that Ritter 1991 used to justify a Number phrase between DP and NP.

June 26, Howard Lasnik talks about "Levels of representation and semantic interpretation" in an online lecture organized by the Brazilian Linguistics Association, or Abralin. The lecture is part of a series, Abralin en Vivo, "designed to give students and researchers free access to state-of-the-art discussions on the most diverse topics related to the study of human language during this difficult quarantine period," co-organized by Abralin with the Permanent International Committee of Linguists, the Asociación de Lingüística y Filología de América Latina, Sociedad Argentina de Estudios Lingüísticos, the Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée, the , the Linguistic Society of America, the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, the Australian Linguistic Society and the British Association for Applied Linguistics.

Congratulations to Chia-Hsuan Liao, new Assistant Professor of Experimental Linguistics at National Tsing Hua University (t͡sʰiŋ hwa), Taiwan, within its Institute of Linguistics, begining in 2021. After finishing her PhD thesis on "The computation of verb-argument relations in online sentence processing," supervised by Ellen Lau, Chia-Hsuan will join another Maryland alum in the Institute's faculty, Ying-chu (Josephine) Su *01, who while at Maryland wrote a dissertation on "Scope and Specificity in Child Language: A Cross-Linguistic Study on English and Chinese."

Congratulations to Dave Kush *13 who in 2021 heads to U Toronto as Assistant Professor of Psycholinguistics in its Centre for French and Linguistics at its Scarborough campus, with a 49% joint appointment in Linguistics at the main (St. George) campus in Old Toronto. Dave joins Phil Monahan *09 and Ewan Dunbar *13, making UT the university with the largest number of our alumni among its faculty (though as yet no single department has more than two). While at Maryland, Kush had advisors Colin Phillips, Jeffrey Lidz, and unofficially Norbert Hornstein, and wrote a dissertation showing that we make rapid and faithful use of c-command and locality constraints in our online interpretation of bound pronouns and reflexives, but suggesting that memory is probed in terms of nonrelational features that only mimic c-command relations. After graduating, he was first a postdoctoral researcher at Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, CT, with Julie A. Van Dyke, and then moved to the Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet in Trondheim, where he has held a tenured position since 2016.

Congratulations to Philip Monahan *09, now Associate Professor both in the Department of Linguistics at Toronto, and also in the Centre for French and Linguistics at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, further strengthening Terpresentation in The 6ix. While at Maryland, Phil wrote a dissertation with Bill Idsardi and David Poeppel showing by means of MEG that "even at the earliest (non-invasive) recordable stages of auditory cortical processing, we find evidence that cortex is calculating abstract representations from the acoustic signal."

BA alum Morgan Moyer is to join Ira Noveck for a research postdoc at the Laboratory of Formal Linguistics (LLF) within Paris Diderot University (Paris 7) after finishing her dissertation at Rutgers this summer. The dissertation asks when speakers permit 'mention-some' readings of embedded interrogatives, as in "I know who has a copy of that book: Bill," and suggests a pragmatic account of new experimental data. With Noveck, a leader in the area of experimental pragmatics, Morgan will do studies on the interpretation of discourse connectives. At Maryland, Morgan worked with Valentine Hacquard, Jeffrey Lidz and grad mentors Rachel Dudley and Kate Harrigan on development in children's understanding of attitude verbs and pronouns.

Congratulations to Ewan Dunbar *13 who returns to his BS/MA alma mater, U. Toronto, now as Assistant Professor of Computational Linguistics in the Department of French. At Maryland, Ewan wrote a dissertation on Statistical Knowledge and Learning in Phonology, supervised by Bill Idsardi. He then held a postdoctoral position at the Laboratory of Cognitive Science and Psycholinguistics within the École normale supérieure in Paris from 2013 to 2017, at which point he became Assistant Professor in Linguistics at Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7).

June 8-11, the 12th Heritage Language Research Institute, originally at Penn State, takes place online, organized by Maria Polinsky, its Director. The institute features talks and workshops on a wide variety of Heritage Languages, including a talk by 2012 alum Terje Lohndal.

June 9, Polina Pleshak assists in an online Kaqchikel summer course hosted by the University of Kansas, by explaning how to pronounce ejectives, implosives, glottal stops and devoiced sonorants.

Congratulations to Polina, Paulina, Rodrigo and undergraduate Marisa Fried, who have (again) won support from The Jacobs Research Funds. Polina's project is work with collaborator Irine Burukina, from Eötvös Loránd University Budapest (one of several universities named after a scientist who also provides the name of a lunar crater), on "Comparative analysis of nominal phrases in Kaqchikel and K’iche," which continues a project begun at the Guatemala Field Station. Also related to research from the field station is Paulina, Rodrigo and Marisa's project on "Three phonological puzzles in Santiago Tz'utujil," which concerns sibilant harmony, vowel epenthesis and syncope.

Congratulations to Phoebe Gaston, who in August starts a postdoc in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Communication-Connecticut training program, working with Jim Magnuson, from the Department of Psychological Sciences, and Emily Myers, from the Department of Speech Language and Hearing Sciences.

Congratulations to Angela Xiaxue He *15, newly hired as Assistant Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University in the Department of English. Angela begins this tenure track job after her year as Research Assistant Professor in the Brain and Mind Institute at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which followed postdocs at USC with Alexis Wellwood and at Boston University with Sudha Arunachalam, and a dissertation on Verb Learning under Guidance, supervised by Jeffrey Lidz.

Out soon, Sentence First, Arguments Afterward, a collection of 23 essays by Lila Gleitman and collaborators, edited by Jeffrey Lidz, with a forward by Noam Chomsky. Jeff, who was a postdoc with Lila from 1997 to 2000, also kicks off the chapters, with a paper titled "From Structuralism to Cognitive Science: Lila R. Gleitman's Contributions to Language and Cognition."

Congratulations to Philip Resnik, whose "RAPID: Advanced Topic Modeling Methods to Analyze Text Responses in COVID-19 Survey Data" has earned NSF Rapid Response Research funding, for one year. The project will use deep learning and Bayesian topic modeling to analyze and classify responses, both closed and open-ended, to questions in surveys administered by both public and private organizations responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Congratulations to Alexis Wellwood *14, now Associate Professor of Philosophy with tenure at USC. Alexis started with us as a Baggett Fellow in 2008, mentored by Valentine Hacquard, then continued with Valentine as her advisor, plus Paul Pietroski, Alexander Williams, Jeffrey Lidz, and Colin Phillips as "unofficial mentors," and a Language Science Fellowship that encouraged an independent study and coursework in the Philosophy Department. She got her PhD in 2014 with a dissertation on Measuring Predicates, then spent two years as Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern, before joining USC in 2017. With an office in University Park, Los Angeles, Alexis is one of now three LA Terrapins, along with Tim Hunter *10 and Laurel Perkins *19 over in Westwood at UCLA.

Congratulations again to Laurel Perkins, first Terp to win the Glushko Dissertation Prize from the Cognitive Science Society. Since 2011, this very prestigious prize has been awarded annually to about five outstanding dissertations in cognitive science; this year there are seven winners.

Huge congratulations to Laurel Perkins *19, who is to be Assistant Professor of Linguistics at UCLA! Professor Perkins will join 2010 alum Tim Hunter in handling the department's computational linguistics curriculum, in tandem with her work in language acquisition, which gave us a dissertation on How Grammars Grow: Argument Structure and the Acquisition of Non-Basic Syntax. Between graduating and securing the UCLA job, Laurel became a post-doctoral fellow with Anne Christophe at the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique in the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris.

Congratulations to Naho Orita *15, now Associate Professor at Waseda University, Tokyo, in its Center for English Language Education in Science and Engineering. Naho wrote her dissertation on Computational Modeling of the Role of Discourse Information in Language Production and Acquisition, with Naomi Feldman as her advisor. Most recently Naho was a couple miles to the east, at Tokyo University of Science.

Now in Linguistic Inquiry, "Null Objects in Korean: Experimental Evidence for the Argument Ellipsis Analysis," from Chung-hye Han and Kyeong-min Kim (Simon Fraser), Keir Moulton (Toronto), and our own Jeffrey Lidz. The paper argues that null objects in Korean are ellipsis of the object alone, and not ellipsis of its VP after verb raising, on the basis of two interpretive facts confirmed through two experiments: first, a speaker's acceptance of readings for null objects correlates positively with them accepting bound readings for an overt pronoun; and second, null object interpretations do not permit corresponding null adverb interpretations, as a VP ellipsis account would wrongly predict.

March 27-29, the Penn Linguistics Colloquium has a talk by Yu'an Yang and a poster by undergrad Marisa Fried, with Paulina Lyskawa and Rodrigo Ranero. Also presenting are former postdoc William Matchin, with "The cortical organization of syntax," and 2007 alum Jon Sprouse, who is the co-author on "Syntax-driven asymmetries in morphological decomposition as revealed by masked visual priming."

  • Yu'an Yan, Commitment issues: A unified analysis of Mandarin discourse particle 'ba'
  • Marisa Fried, Paulina Lyskawa and Rodrigo Ranero, Agreement in K’iche’ (Mayan): Reflections on Microvariation

Congratulations to Tyler Knowlton, winner of the Jerrold J. Katz Young Scholar Award at the 32nd CUNY, for his paper "The mental representation of universal quantifiers: Evidence from verification." Named in memory of Jerry Katz, the award "recognizes the paper or poster presented at the Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing that best exhibits the qualities of intellectual rigor, creativity, and independence of thought exemplified in Professor Katz’s life and work." Tyler's paper, with co-authors Jeffrey Lidz, Paul Pietroski, Alexander Williams and Justin Halberda, marshals behavioral evidence to argue that the Conservativity of quantificational determiners, such as every, follows from their being mentally represented, not as relations between two sets, but rather as one-place quantifiers relativized to a domain. With this award Tyler joins two previous alumni winners: Sol Lago and Wing Yee Chow in 2011, jointly, for “Word frequency affects pronouns and antecedents identically: Distributional evidence," and Dan Parker in 2014, for "Time heals semantic illusions, but not syntactic illusions." Both of those presentations were co-authored with Colin Phillips, who was also a partner in two other winning papers, with Andrew Nevins in 2004 for “Syntactic and semantic predictors of tense: An ERP investigation of Hindi," and with Sachiko Aoshima in 2005, for "The source of the bias for longer filler-gap dependencies in Japanese."

Congratulations to Maria Polinsky, who has been elected to Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi, or The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Masha is one of 158 foreign members of the 400 member Division of Humanities and Social Science, which includes alum Terje Lohndal among its linguists under 70. The honorary president of the Academy is Olympic sailor King Harald V of Norway, but Masha received the good news from its Secretary General, Øystein Hov, an atmospheric scientist specializing in pollution who was formerly research director at the Meterological Institute.

Now in Glossa, Paulina Lyskawa's "The structure of Polish numerically quantified expressions." Based on her 888, the paper argues that the curious behavior of DPs with paucal numerals in Polish, such as pięć czarownic ‘five witches’, can be captured if the numeral is specifier to a silent head that takes the noun phrase as its complement. The noun gets genitive case structurally, while the numeral gets accusative from a null preposition.

March 19-21, the virtualized CUNY 2020 has Hanna, Tyler, Masato, Mina, Chia-Hsuan and Laurel from LING, as well as Zoe Ovans from HESP and Rosa Lee from SLA; postdoctoral fellows Shohini Bhattasali and Andrés Buxó-Lugo; plus Colin, Philip, Jeff, Alexander and Paul Pietroski, Yi Ting Huang and Jared Novick. Two of CUNY's organizers and hosts are alumni – Brian Dillon and Shota Momma – as is its one of its keynote speakers, Matt Wagers. Other alumni contributing work are Masaya Yoshida, Jon Sprouse and Robert Fiorentino; former post-bac RAs Shayne Sloggett and Margaret Kandel; and former undergrads, Jon Burnsky and Cynthia Lukyanenko.



Alumni presentations

  • Matt Wagers, Animate Intruders
  • Whitney Tabor, Sandra Villata and Jon Sprouse, A theory of island semi-accessibility: the case of the Strong/Weak distinction
  • Shota Momma, Michael Wilson and Victor Ferreira, Syntax guides verb planning in sentence production
  • Shota Momma and Michael Wilson, What does that tell us about production?: That speakers plan sentences hierarchically
  • Daniela Mertzen, Anna Laurinavichyute, Brian Dillon and Shravan Vasishth, A pre-registered large-sample investigation of similarity-based interference in English, German and Russian
  • Wenting Tang, Robert Fiorentino and Alison Gabriele, Enhancing sensitivity to nominal number facilitates the processing of subject-verb agreement in second language learners
  • Kate Stone, Elise Oltrogge, Shravan Vasishth and Sol Lago, The real-time application of grammatical constraints to prediction: Timecourse evidence from eye tracking
  • Wesley Orth, Masaya Yoshida and Shayne Sloggett, Tracking the time course of the NPI illusion: why do only some appear online?
  • Eszter Ronai and Ming Xiang, Accounting for syntactic complexity in Hungarian relative clauses
  • Shayne Sloggett, Nick Van Handel and Amanda Rysling, A-maze by any other name
  • Margaret Kandel and Jesse Snedeker, Picture naming in adults and children: effects of codability and frequency provide evidence for cascading activation in production
  • Jon Burnsky and Adrian Staub, Thematic role assignment difficulty revealed by a forced choice task
  • Cynthia Lukyanenko and Frances Blanchette, What’s in a grammar? Mainstream speakers’ processing of English negative concord

Now in print, "Enough time to get results? An ERP investigation of prediction with complex events" by Chia-Hsuan Liao with advisor Ellen Lau, in Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Building on work showing that comprehenders rapidly form predictions about the object of a transitive clause given its verb, the paper asks whether they can use all aspects of a complex verb. It reports a suite of studies on Mandarin Chinese, comparing complex resultative verbs in Mandarin Chinese ("The kid bit-broken his lip") to complex coordinate verbs ("The manager hit-scold his employee"), and shows that prediction in the former is delayed relative to the latter.

March 6-8 at WCCFL 38, Yu'an Yang presents "Do children know whanything?," joint work with Daniel Goodhue, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz. Joining Yu'an will be recent alum Nick Huang, now faculty at the National University of Singapore, presenting “Nounless” nominal expressions in Mandarin Chinese: Implications for classifier semantics and nominal syntax. This year WCCFL is co-hosted by the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, in beautiful Vancouver, Canada, specifically in the territory of the Musqueam People (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), whose traditional language is the downriver dialect of Halkomelem.

February 22, Polina Pleshak and Jad Wehbe are at Harvard for ECO-5, a graduate student workshop featuring work from MIT, Harvard, UConn, UMass, and Maryland. Polina presents "Small nominals in locative phrases" and Jad, "Unifying counterfactual and past tense uses of kaan in Lebanese Arabic."

February 6, Phoebe Gaston gives the colloquium talk at Cornell Linguistics, on “The role of syntactic context in auditory word recognition.'

This week in London, York and Bristol, Ellen Lau presents three talks on the neuroscience of syntactic and semantic working memory representations, including "Sequences, scenes and syntax: Towards a neural model of working memory representations in language comprehension," and "Towards a neural model of syntactic data structures."

For most of this semester, Maria Polinsky is in Oslo for "MultiGender: A multilingual approach to grammatical gender," a research project led by Marit Westergaard and UMD alum Terje Lohndal under the auspices of the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The project focuses on acquisition, variation, change and attrition in systems of grammatical gender.

Welcome faculty affiliate David Lebeaux, who will visit us occasionally, using the Emeritus Office. Author of Where does Binding Theory Apply? and Language Acquisition and the Form of the Grammar, Dave joins us most recently from NEC in Princeton, New Jersey.

Congrats again to Rodrigo Ranero! DC's Cosmos Club will support "The syntax of silence in Santiago Tz'utujiil, and endangered Mayan language," a project Rodrigo will undertake this summer, furthering his work on ellipsis. The Cosmos Club was founded in 1878 for the promotion of science, literature, art and "their mutual improvement by social intercourse." Rodrigo's grant is part of what since 1998 has been the club's main enterprise: a program of small research grants for graduate students enrolled in selected universities in the Washington, D.C. area.

Check out the story on Alayo Tripp's postdoctoral research, with Ben Munson, from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. The work is supported by a grant to Munson from the National Institutes of Health, on "Race, ethnicity, and speech intelligibility in normal hearing and hearing impairment.'' As reported in the article, the target of the research is "misunderstanding between racial groups who speak the same language, particularly those between hearing-impaired older individuals and the people around them, including health-care workers and caregivers. [Munson and Tripp] are especially interested in whether simply listening to someone of a different race or ethnicity than one’s own adds an additional challenge to speech communication."

Now in Cognition, "Syntactic category constrains lexical competition in speaking" by alum Shota Momma with former RA Julia Buffinton and faculty mentors Colin Phillips and Bob Slevc from Psychology. The paper reports two experiments using "a novel sentence-picture interference paradigm" and uses them to argue "that lexical competition in production is limited by syntactic category," so that for example the noun pronounced running will not interfere with the verb pronounced walking.

Maša Bešlin returns from two weeks of immersive Kaqchikel organized by the Winter School at the Guatemala Field Station. This follows a break during which Maša also gave a talk "On the categorial status of the passive participle in Serbo-Croatian" at the Novi Sad Linguistic Colloquium 9, at the University of Novi Sad, in the capital of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.

Congratulations to Simon Chervenak, a summer intern with Tyler Knowlton, whom the Washington Academy of Sciences has awarded Best Paper in Behavioral Sciences at its Blair Magnet School STEM Fair, January 9. Simon, a student at Blair, presented "Psychosemantics of Universal Quantifiers," based on work he did with Tyler and Jeffrey Lidz this past summer.

January 2-5 in New Orleans, the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas learns about "Narcissistic allomorphy in Santiago Tz'utujil" from Paulina Lyskawa and Rodrigo Ranero, as well as former Baggett, Chris Baron. SSILA 2020 is coincident with the Annual Meeting of the LSA.

January 2-5, the Society for Computation in Linguistics learns about "Modeling the learning of the Person Case Constraint" from Adam Liter and Naomi Feldman. SCiL is co-located with the Annual Meeting of the LSA, this year in New Orleans.

Now in Language, "Hope for Syntactic Bootstrapping" by Kaitlyn Harrigan *15 with advisors Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz. The paper reports a suite of experiments which show that the children's interpretation of sentences with hope, an infrequent attitude verb, varies with whether it occurs with a finite or infinitival complement clause: kids take them to describe some sort of belief in the former case and some sort of preference in the latter. This supports the view that children treat syntactic frame as informative about an attitude verb’s meaning.

December 18-20, the 22nd Amsterdam Colloquium has two talks from UMD, one by Anouk and Annemarie, with Valentine and NYU's Ailis Cournane, the other by Paolo Santorio from Philosophy, with collaborators.

December 6, UConn hears the holiday story of "WH-Movement through the Ages" from Jeffrey Lidz, reporting work by Jeff, Mina Hirzel, Laurel Perkins and others on the development of children's ability to represent wh-dependencies.

Now in Linguistics, Morphology in Austronesian Languages from Maria Polinsky with former postdoc Theodore Levin. The paper "is an overview of the major morphological properties of Austronesian languages," including discussions of the distinctions between roots and stems and clitics versus affixes; of reduplication; of suf-, pre- and infixation; and of the morphosyntax of voice.

Congratulations to Marisa Fried, Linguistics major, who was recently named a Dean's Senior Scholar. Marissa is one of only seven recipients of this prestigious annual award, which recognizes "distinguished and creative academic performance [and] promise of continued distinction in the discipline," as well as "leadership qualities and a commitment to community involvement." The award was granted at the Fall Scholar Reception, on November 14, and will be announced again at Commencement.

Marisa is President and founder of the Undergraduate Linguistics Club; a double major in Spanish Language, Literatures, and Culture; and a research assistant to Rodrigo Ranero and Paulina Lyskawa on projects concerning endangered Mayan languages, supported by an NSF Grant (#BCS-1563129) to Maria Polinsky. She has twice studied at the LSC's Guatemala Field Station, learning some Kaqchikel and K'iche'.

The Dean's Senior Scholar award has gone to Linguistics majors (only?) four times before: to Grace Hynes and John Mathena in 2016, to Neomi Rao in 2015, and to Sara McVeigh in 2013. We are proud to welcome another member to this elite group!

What can animal communication teach us about human language?, asks a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B edited by Bill Idsardi with Jonathan B. Fritz from NYU and Gerald S. Wilkinson from UMD Biology, with an introductory essay by the editors plus NACS student Adam Fishbein. The issue, highlighted in Maryland Today, contains 14 further papers on the topic, including work by several members of Maryland's Brain and Behavior Initiative, and two to which Bill contributed.

In one, Bill joins a group led by Adam Fishbein, plus Dean of BSOS Greg Ball, and birdsong expert Bob Dooling, to ask "How much do birds really care?" about Sound sequences in birdsong. The paper compares zebra finches to budgies: "Psychoacoustic evidence shows that adult zebra finches are relatively insensitive to the sequential features of song syllables [but] seem to be exquisitely sensitive to the acoustic details of individual syllables to a degree that is beyond human hearing capacity, [while budgies] hear sequential features better." It then lays out a finite state model of the finch's sequential percepts.

In the other paper, Bill goes solo to offer Some cautions regarding the phonological continuity hypothesis from Fitch 2018, according to which "there may be continuity between animal rule learning and human phonology, and that the circuits underlying this provided the precursors of our unusual syntactic abilities." Bill notes in response that this hypothesis will be more difficult to test than one might think at first, due to several "formal differences between sound patterns and sentence patterns," which Bill describes in terms of automata theory.

Listen to Jeffrey Lidz answer the question "How is the internet changing language for kids?" on In Plain Language, a podcast which promises "invaluable tips from top experts to make your child's language skills skyrocket." OFC Jeff's answer is roughly: "Shaking My Head, Not Much Here." Also on the podcast is Kristen Syrett, faculty at Rutgers and former advisee of Jeff's.

November 23-29, Howard Lasnik gives three talks in Guangzhou. The first is a keynote address at the International Symposium on Interfaces in Generative Linguistics, titled “The syntax-semantics interface: Some recurrent themes." Howard then presents “A Reconsideration of Exceptional Case-Marking” at South China National University, November 25, followed by “Reflections on Ellipsis and Identity” at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies the next day. Until recently Howard had also been scheduled to head down-river to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, to discuss “Reflections on Ellipsis and Identity” on November 29. But this was cancelled after the university was shut down due to protests. 一路平安, Howard!

November 15-16, at Formal Diachronic Semantics 4, "Polysemous want: Language change from a synchronic perspective," by Annemarie van Dooren, Gesoel Mendes and 2019 alum Nick Huang. FoDS 4 is being held at the Ohio State University in Columbus, the capital of Ohio, 2nd most populous city in the Midwest, and 14th most populous in the U.S., six places ahead of D.C..

November 7-10, the BU Conference on Language Development has work by Mina Hirzel, recent alums Alayo Tripp, Kasia Hitczenko, Laurel Perkins, and several collaborating faculty: Valentine Hacquard, Jeffrey Lidz, Alexander Williams, Naomi Feldman, Bill Idsardi. In addition, Jan Edwards from Hearing and Speech Sciences is giving a plenary address.

Plenary address

  • Jan Edwards, Dialect mismatch and learning to read: Research to practice


  • Mina Hirzel and Jeffrey Lidz, 3 year-old children respect the complex-NP constraint
  • Alayo Tripp, Naomi Feldman and William Idsardi, Are infants sensitive to informant reliability in word learning?
  • Jeffrey Lidz and Laurel Perkins, The development of wh-question representations in infancy: Evidence from 15- and 18-month-olds
  • Jordan Schneider, Laurel Perkins and Naomi Feldman, A noisy channel model for systematizing unpredictable input variation.
  • Alexander Williams, Laurel Perkins and Jeffrey Lidz, Transitive clauses can describe 3-participant events: Evidence against one-to-one matching between arguments and participants in verb learning
  • Laurel Perkins, Naomi Feldman and Jeffrey Lidz, Mind the gap: Learning the surface forms of movement. (Alternate)


  • Kasia Hitczenko and Naomi Feldman, Naturalistic data support distributional learning across contexts
  • Ailís Cournane, Mina Hirzel, Valentine Hacquard: Learning to map modals to meanings: an elicited production study on ‘force’ and ‘flavor’

October 25-27, the 13th Arizona Linguistics Circle has Maria Polinsky giving a keynote talk. The theme of the conference is "Research across linguistic subfields."

Sigwan Thivierge is an original member of Natives4Linguistics, a new Special Interest Group convened under the auspices the Linguistic Society of America. Any member of the LSA is welcome to join the group, whose goals are:

  • "Increasing the participation of Native American and other Indigenous peoples within the discipline of Linguistics as well as at the LSA Annual Meeting."
  • "Developing and promoting decolonial strategies to better incorporate Native American and other Indigenous needs and values about language into linguistic science. This includes sharing these with LSA leaders and assisting them with implementation."
  • "Creating a space for Indigenous community scholars and linguists, and non-Indigenous linguist partners to network and gain insight on relevant issues concerning Indigenous communities and their respective languages."

October 25-27, the 50th Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society has talks by Aaron Doliana, Paolo Santorio from Philosophy, and 2015 alum Aaron Steven White. Doliana argues that Wh-quantifier float in German diagnoses A-traces and successive cyclicity in vP. Santorio goes after Fixing De Morgan’s law in counterfactual antecedents, with co-authors Jacopo Romoli (Ulster) and Eva Wittenberg (San Diego). And White, led by his student at Rochester, Ellise Moon, explains The source of nonfinite temporal orientation. On this celebration of its fiftieth instance, NELS returns to its home base of MIT.

Congratulations to Jon Sprouse *07, first recipient of an LSA award to honor "excellence for scholarship in syntax" by a mid-career researcher, endowed by the family of the late C.L. Baker. The citation accompanying the award, quoted below, notes virtues of Jon's research that were evident already in his student work and dissertation, "A program for experimental syntax," and acknowledges the importance of his fellow 2007 alum and collaborator, Lisa Pearl.

 * "Jon Sprouse is an experimental syntactician whose work is characterized by imagination, innovation, care, and respect for the facts. He has made methodological contributions of central importance, enabling syntacticians to base their theoretical work on a much more secure empirical foundation. He has also made contributions of central importance to some of the core issues in [syntax](/tags/syntax/) and linguistic theory more broadly – concerning the nature of [island-hood](/tags/islands/) and (in collaboration with [Lisa Pearl]( the theory of learnability."

October 19-24 at Ilia State University, Maria Polinsky lectures on "Experimental Approaches" at the Third International School in Formal Linguistics.

October 17, Omer Preminger provides "further evidence against binding-as-agreement" at the University of Oslo with an invited talk titled 'The Anaphor Agreement Effect.'

October 17-18 at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Development Society, Tyler Knowlton argues that "Concepts of universal quantification ("each" and "all") may support infant and adult understanding of collective and distributive actions," in a poster reporting joint work with Nicolò Cesana-Arlotti and Justin Halberda from Johns Hopkins, plus our own Jeffrey Lidz and Paul Pietroski. This year's meeting is in Louisville, Kentucky, which the CDS describes as "one of the most uniquely authentic destinations on the planet," and as "an entirely different type of Southern." The city is also named after the final King of France, Louis XVI, who was guillotined in 1793, thirteen years after the honor, bestowed for his support of the American Revolution.

October 16-18 in Moscow, Maria Polinsky keynotes the 9th meeting in the Typology of Morphosyntactic Parameters series, with "Look Right," a talk focussing on the right edge of clauses in Tongan. The meeting is hosted by Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, the Institute of Linguistics of RAS, and Lomonosov Moscow State University.

October 12-13, Jeffrey Lidz keynotes the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's Linguistics Workshop on Syntax-Semantics Interface, Language Acquisition, and Naturalistic Data Analysis, along with former UMD postdoc Ivano Caponigro. Jeff will give two talks, first "How to Grow a Grammar'' and then "The Psychosemantics of Quantification," discussing joint work with Laurel Perkins and Tyler Knowlton, among several others. After the conference, he will take a surfing lesson, as pictured in this photo.

October 11-12, Chia-Hsuan Liao is at Nortwestern's International Brain and Syntax Think Tank presenting "The time course of computing verb-argument relations in sentence comprehension: Evidence from the N400," joint work with Ellen Lau and 2013 alum Wing Yee Chow. Also presenting are 2006 alums Masaya Yoshida and Rob Fiorentino, as well as former postdoc Ming Xiang.

October 10-12, Rodrigo Ranero is at the 9th Conference on Indigenous Languages of Latin America, talking about sluicing in Kaqchikel: “Truncamiento en kaqchikel: consecuencias para la identidad en la elipsis."

Say hello to faculty visitor Elena Simonato, Senior Lecturer of Russian linguistics at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Professor Simonato's interests include the heritage languages, especially those of Swiss communities in Russia.

Congrats to Rachel Dudley *17, who starts a 2-year research postdoc at the Central European University, in its Department of Cognitive Science and Cognitive Development Center at the Hungarian capital of Budapest. With Ágnes Kovács and Ernő Téglás, and support from the McDonnell Network, Rachel will be investigating (precursors of) semantic development in infancy, possibly including recursion in early attitude ascriptions, or preverbal infants' reasoning with negation, disjunction and conditionals. Since graduating Rachel has been in Paris, at the Département d'Etudes Cognitives in the Ecole Normale Supérieure, on a postdoc with Salvador Mascarenhas and Emmanuel Chemla.

Listen to Rodrigo Ranero discuss linguistics, Mayan languages, and emigration from Guatemala on ConCriterio, a weekly radio program. The conversation begins at 2:38:54 (and not when the Facebook page says it begins).

Congratulations to Anton Malko *18, who in January takes a postdoctoral position with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's national science agency. Anton will be working on a project that requires a combination of expertise in language, social science, statistics, and NLP, creating a bridge between specialists in each of those areas.

September 14 at the Workshop for Young Female Researchers in Speech Science & Technology, Leslie (Ruolan) Li, a Rochester undergrad who worked with Thomas Schatz at Maryland this past summer over the summer, will be presenting her joint work with Thomas and Naomi Feldman, plus Yevgen Matusevych and Sharon Goldwater: "Modeling early phonetic learning: The effect of input size and speaker distribution." The meeting is in Graz, the capital of Styria and second largest city in Austria.

Congratulations to Justin Malčić, whom the Linguistic Association of Great Britain has awarded their Outstanding Undergraduate Dissertation in Linguistics prize, just one of three annually, for "The Asymmetry and Antisymmetry of Syntax," Justin's dissertation at Cambridge.

September 13-16 at the Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience, Craig Thorburn and Thomas Schatz present a poster on joint work with Naomi Feldman, "A quantitative model of the language familiarity effect in infancy." This year's CCN is in Berlin, Germany.

Learn about Filler-gap dependency comprehension at 15 months from Laurel Perkins and Jeffrey Lidz in the new issue of Language Acquisition. The paper asks why 15-month-olds behave as if they comprehend filler-gap dependencies such as wh-questions and relative clauses. Do they, surprisingly, already represent such dependencies as adults do? Or are they following an interpretive heuristic, based on verb knowledge and an understanding of the task? Laurel and Jeff argue for the latter, based on a preferential looking study in which only children with higher vocabulary behave as if they comprehend wh-questions and relative clauses. This is predicted directly by the interpretive heuristic they suggest, but not by the alternative.

Congratulations to Chia-Hsuan Liao, whose dissertation work will be supported by The William Orr Dingwall Foundation, which annually honors two doctoral candidates who are "specializing in the cognitive, clinical, and neural foundations of language."

Greetings to Shohini Bhattasali and Zara Harmon, postdoctoral fellows with Philip Resnik and Naomi Feldman, respectively. Shohini just finished a PhD at Cornell with advisor John Hale, working at the boundary of computational linguistics and cognitive neuroscience. Zara has a PhD from the University of Oregon, and will be working with Naomi and Jan Edwards to build a model to predict the outcomes of morphology-related interventions for children with developmental language disorder.

Fresh in Glossa, "The agreement theta generalization" from Maria Polinsky and Omer Preminger. The paper defends the generalization that something which assigns a DP a thematic-role is never in a higher clause than a head which agrees with it, and discusses how to capture this fact syntactically.

Say hello to Hailin Hao and Alexey Kozlov, two visiting students. Hailin is studying prosody and psycholinguistics at the University of Amsterdam. Alexey is a PhD student in Linguistics at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, working on the prospective aspect, with a specialization in Uralic Languages.

September 4-6 in Osnabrück, SuB 24 has Annemarie van Dooren discussing The temporal perspective of epistemics in Dutch. Annemarie presents the results of judgments studies supporting the view that epistemic modals take scope outside the tense of their clause.

Welcome to two visiting professors, Morgan Sonderegger from McGill, and Soo-Min Hong from the University of Seoul, a UMD alum from the Class of '05.

Congratulations to 2017 alum Zoe Schlueter, now a postdoc with Jason Rothman at the Artic University of Norway in Tromsø. Zoe is doing EEG/ERP work within a project called Heritage-Bilingual Linguistic Proficiency In the Native Grammar, led by Professor Rothman. Since finishing her dissertation, "Memory Retrieval in Parsing and Interpretation," Zoe has been at Edinburgh, working as a postdoctoral researcher with Chris Cummins and Antonella Sorace on a project on bilingualism, pragmatic enrichment and reasoning biases.

Warm greetings to future alumni Maša Bešlin (Novi Sad), Nika Jurov (Paris), Alex Krauska (Northwestern), Justin Malčić (Cambridge), Jessica Mendes (São Paolo) and Polina Pleshak (Moscow State). We look forward to five fun and productive years!

Congratulations to Alayo Tripp, who heads to Minnesota for a postdoctoral fellowship with Ben Munson in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences.

Gesoel Mendes and former visitor Marta Ruda discuss First conjunct agreement in Polish, in the new issue of Snippets. The paper argues that sentences with first conjunct agreement have a mono-clausal, not a bi-clausal analysis, using as evidence cases that overtly include only an inflected verb, used as a "verb echo response" to either a polar question or a negative statement.

Say Hello to Jad Wehbe and Laurel Whitfield, our new Baggett Fellows. Jad just graduated from Harvard, with concentrations in Linguistics and Mathematics, and a senior thesis on modality and past tense in Lebanese Arabic, with advisor Gennaro Chierchia. Laurel comes to us from UMass Amherst with a B.S. in Psychology, a minor in Linguistics and Education, and a senior thesis with Adrian Staub that uses eye-tracking data to assess processing of garden paths and object relative clauses in 7-and 8-year-olds. Jad and Laurel will be mentored by Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz.

August 20-22 in Helsinki, the Society for the Neurobiology of Language has work by Chia-Hsuan Liao and Aura Cruz Heredia, together with former Baggett Bethany Dickerson, '13 alum Wing Yee Chow, Maria Polinsky and Ellen Lau.

  • Chia-Hsuan Liao, Wing Yee Chow and Ellen Lau. Bag of words precedes bag of arguments: The time course of computing argument identity in sentence comprehension
  • Chia-Hsuan Liao, Macie McKtrick, and Maria Polinsky. Where do code-switching constraints apply? An ERP study of code-switching in Mandarin-Taiwanese sentences
  • Aura A L Cruz Heredia, Bethany Dickerson and Ellen Lau, Towards a functional interpretation of sustained anterior negativities

Congratulations to Nick Huang, who has a 2-year postdoc with '07 alumni Jon Sprouse and Lisa Pearl, headquartered at at UConn, before then joining the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Singapore, in 'Lion City.' The postdoc, on issues relating to cross-linguistic variation and learning of syntax, will be supported by Nick's future university home, through its Overseas Postdoctoral Fellowship program.

Congratulations to Kasia Hitczenko, who heads to Northwestern for a postdoc with Matt Goldrick in Linguistics, Vijay Mittal in Psychology, and Joseph Keshet from Computer Science at Bar-Ilan University. She will be part of an NIH-funded project to determine whether speech patterns can signal vulnerability to psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Congratulations to Laurel Perkins, who in October begins a postdoc with Anne Christophe at the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique in the Ecole normale supérieure, just east of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, France. The project, "Representing subjects and objects in infancy: A behavioral and computational investigation," is funded by a Post-Doctoral Study Grant from the Fyssen Foundation.

July 24 at the Crete Summer School of Linguistics, Maria Polinsky hosts a Workshop on the Languages of the Caucasus, with four talks and six posters. Crete was the site of the Minoan civilization (ca. 2700 - ca. 1100 BCE), which gave us the still undeciphered Linear A script.

This July, Rodrigo Ranero is in El Novillero, Guatemala, supervising an international group of scholars and students conducting field research with speakers of K’iche’, the second most widely spoken language in Guatemala after Spanish. The group had previously participated in a two-week immersion course in the language, and are now conducting individual research activities, advised by Rodrigo.

Bilingualism features a new keynote article from Maria Polinsky and Gregory Scontras on Understanding heritage languages. The paper aims to "synthesize pertinent empirical observations and theoretical claims about vulnerable and robust areas of heritage language competence into early steps toward a model of heritage-language grammar[, ...] highlighting two key triggers for deviation from the relevant baseline: the quantity and quality of the input from which the heritage grammar is acquired, and the economy of online resources when operating in a less dominant language.''

The July 12 Congressional Quarterly has Philip Resnik answering Yes on their question of whether "computerized risk-assessment tools reduce the suicide rate." Philip was also quoted in CQ's June 3 edition, on recent movement towards legislation on issues related to Artificial Intelligence.

Congratulations to Laurel Perkins, 2019 recipient of the Howard Lasnik Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student. This annual award, granted by faculty consensus, honors excellence in TA'ing. The whole department benefits from such excellence, so thank you Laurel, for all your hard work!

In the newest Language, Maria Polinsky explains how Field stations for linguistic research help overcome the practical barriers to doing linguistic fieldwork. She also describes how ideas on how to make a field station productive and sustatinable have been implemented in Guatemala.

Congratulations to 2016 alum Shota Momma, Assistant Professor of Linguistics at UMass Amherst, as of this Fall. Since getting his PhD here with Colin Phillips, Shota has been a postdoc at UC San Diego with Tamar Gollan and Vic Ferreira. Now Shota will join 2011 alum and Associate Professor at UMass, Brian Dillon, as well as Assistant Professor and 2011-12 UMD postdoc, Kristine Yu.

June 19-21, Parsing and Prediction in Reykjavík has work by Phoebe Gaston and Hanna Muller, along with Ellen Lau and Colin Phillips, and a number of past visitors, Baggetts, and alumni. Here are the talks by current Marylanders:

Congratulations to 2010 alum Tim Hunter, now Associate Professor of Linguistics at UCLA. After writing his dissertation with Paul Pietroski, "Relating Movement and Adjunction in Syntax and Semantics," Tim went on to postdoctoral positions at Yale with Bob Frank and at Cornell with John Hale, and then an Assistant Professorship at Minnesota, before arriving at UCLA in 2016, to direct its computational linguistics curriculum.

Congratulations to 2015 alum Angela He, who in September becomes Research Assistant Professor in the Brain and Mind Institute at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. This is a triumphant homecoming for Angela, who received her BA from CUHK in 2009, with advisor Thomas Hun-tak Lee, before getting her PhD at Maryland, with advisor Jeffrey Lidz. Since graduating, Angela has held postdoctoral positions at Boston University with Sudha Arunachalam and at USC with fellow alum Alexis Wellwood.

Congratulations to Anna Namyst, who is now Lab Manager for the National Institute of Mental Health MEG Core facility in Bethesda. Thank you, Anna, for all your work at our lab over the years!

Congratulations to incoming grad student Polina Pleshak, and returning visitor to the Guatemala Field Station Irine Burukina (ELTE, Budapest), whose project on the "Syntax of referential nominal phrases and nominalization in Kaqchikel of Patzún" has been awarded research support from The Jacobs Research Funds.

June 10, the 11th Heritage Language Research Institute takes place at the University of New Mexico, organized by Maria Polinsky, its Director. The institute features talks and workshops on a wide variety of Heritage Languages.

June 1-3, Sigwan Thivierge talks about "Phase Unlocking in Georgian" at the annual meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association, at the University of British Columbia.

Du 1er au 3 juin, Sigwan Thivierge parle de «Déverrouiller de phases en Géorgien» lors du congrès annuelle de L’association canadienne de linguistique, à l'Université de la Colombie-Britannique.

May 27-30, Omer Preminger is in Tromsø at the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics at the Arctic University of Norway, giving three talks, listed below. The first is a talk at the delightfully named Workshop on Thirty Million Theories of Syntactic Features, organized in part by Maryland homeboy Peter Svenonius. The other two are for the Linguistics Department.

Big congratulations to new Associate Professor Ellen Lau, who now has tenure, and to Valentine Hacquard, who is now Full Professor. Also newly tenured this season in our language science community are Yi Ting Huang and Jared Novick.

For "Whistling on Tiptoes: Investigating Rare Lexical Categories in Tz’utujil (Mayan)," The Jacobs Research Funds has awarded a grant to Omer Preminger, Paulina Lyskawa, Rodrigo Ranero and former Baggett Fellow Chris Baron. The grant will fund the group's fieldwork in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, this summer, when they will investigate the syntactic distribution and semantics of two lexical categories in the language: positionals and ideophones.

This summer Hanna Muller and Jackie Nelligan both have internships in the language technology industry. Hanna will be a "language engineer intern'' at Amazon in Boston, while Jackie will be a "computational linguist intern" at Google in Palo Alto.

May 23, Maria Polinsky discusses "Some Puzzles in Agreement and Concord," at "MultiGender: A multilingual approach to grammatical gender." This is the inaugural meeting of a research project led by Marit Westergaard and UMD alum Terje Lohndal under the auspices of the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

May 20 at the UC San Diego linguistics colloquium, Ellen Lau talks about "Neural measures of structured linguistic representations." Here's the abstract of Ellen's talk.

After many years of research, we still know relatively little about how linguistic structure is neurally encoded, and we lack consensus on whether even any neural correlate of these structured representations has been identified. In this talk, I will argue that investigations of neural measures of structure can be usefully organized according to whether they are aimed towards (1) initial instantiation of a structural relation, (2) working memory representations necessary for non-local structural relations, or (3) short-term memory representations of all structural relations (Lau, 2018). I will discuss recent EEG and MEG research from our group on all three of these fronts.

May 16-18, the Chicago Linguistic Society meets, and has a poster by Suyoung Bae with Hyosik Kim from Northwestern, "The Structural Ambiguity of Long Form Negation in Korean (Polarity Particle Answers to Negative Questions)."

Congratulations to Ellen Lau for a seed grant from UMD's Brain and Behavior Initative to study the "Neural representations of continuous speech and linguistic context in native and non-native listeners" with professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Jonathan Z. Simon. Their abstract is below.

Much previous research has established that listeners and readers routinely generate context-based predictions that constrain perception and interpretation of language, but the form of this top-down/bottom-up interaction is still hotly debated. One critical question is how far down the processing hierarchy predictions are propagated—e.g. if ‘I heard a dog…’ predicts the word ‘bark’, does this modulate neural responses in units that represent lower-level speech sounds and acoustic features, as well as higher-level semantic units? This project aims to study this question for non-native speakers with difficulties in language comprehension. The method proposed here is poised to provide more accurate estimates of top-down influences on neural responses because it tackles longstanding limitations of standard approaches with respect to the format of the input (controlled vs. naturalistic) and the ability to estimate spatiotemporal response functions for multiple stages of processing simultaneously.

May 13, Valentine Hacquard talks about Possibilities and Necessities in Acquisition at the New York Philosophy of Language Workshop, a weekly meeting group that hosts invited speakers. Valentine will talk about how children come to understand, for a given modal auxiliary, such as have to or can't, both whether expresses necessity or possibility, and also what 'flavors' of modality it can be used to talk about: possibility in virtue of our information, our rules, our desires, and so on. The talk reports joint work with many collaborators, including Anouk Dieuleveut, Annemarie van Dooren, Mina Hirzel, Anissa Zaitsu and NYU's Ailís Cournane.

In the new Frontiers, we learn that Error-Driven Retrieval in Agreement Attraction Rarely Leads to Misinterpretation, from alumni Zoe Schlueter *17 and Dan Parker *14, along with Zoe's former advisor, Ellen Lau. The paper asks whether errors of agreement attraction may lead to an interpretation of the attractor as the semantic subject of the verb. For example, when comprehenders perceive as acceptable "The key to the CNL offices were never found," do they also understand that the offices were never found? Using a novel paradigm that combines self-paced reading with a speeded forced choice task, the authors find that such errors of interpretation occur in only a small subset of trials that exhibit errors of agreement. Accordingly they conclude that "an agreement violation often reflects a low-level rechecking process that is only concerned with number and does not have an impact on the structural representation of the sentence."

May 11, Rodrigo Ranero presents "Voice Mismatches in Kaqchikel (Mayan) Sluicing" at WSCLA 24, hosted right here at UMD.

May 3-4 at USC, Omer Preminger discusses "The modular locus of the Person Case Constraint" at Person and Perspective, a workshop in honor of María Luisa Zubizaretta. Also presenting is Baggett alum Chris Hammerly, who is talking about "The P-constraint, obviation, and word order in Southern Ojibwe," and also about "A new perspective on obviation from attitude contexts" with Alexander Göbel.

Now in the Journal of Memory and Language, "Rebels without a clause: Processing reflexives in fronted wh-predicates, from past and present Terps Akira Omaki, Zoe Ovans and Brian Dillon, as well as Harvard student Anthony Yacovone. The paper concerns sentences with cataphoric reflexives inside a fronted wh-phrase, as in "The chef that Crawley hired knew how annoyed with himself the butler would be," and asks whether we initially engage in an anaphoric search for a binder, wrongly with respect to the final interpretation. Based on two eye-tracking studies, it finds that we do, and proposes in response "that structural guidance for reflexive resolution occurs only when the necessary configurational syntactic information is available when the reflexive is encountered."

April 17, UMD's Undergraduate Research Day, 1-4PM, features posters by Linguistics undergraduates Mariam Aiyad, Abigail Kameny, Divya Lahori, Lillianna Righter, and William Simpson, who are presenting various projects on language acquisition they are doing in our department. The presentations are at Stamp in the Grand Ballroom.

April 13, undergraduate Lillianna Righter is at VALING, the Virginia Area Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium, explaining "Infants' use of the verb-event link to learn verb meaning," based on work done with Jeffrey Lidz. This year VALING is hosted by William & Mary, home to alumni Dan Parker and Kaitlyn Harrigan.

Congratulations to RA Zachary Wellstood, who has earned support from the NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The award is for Zach's proposal to carry out "the first formal study of the syntax and semantics of juncture morphemes in any Central Khoisan language." Specifically, Zach will work on serial verb constructions in Cua, which involve "juncture morphemes" between verbs.

The 2019 QS World University Rankings have Maryland at #3 worldwide for Linguistics degrees, "an eye-catching climb up the table for [Maryland], which has risen 10 places from 13th to third," say the rankers.

April 13 at the Great Lakes Expo for Experimental and Formal Undergraduate Linguistics, the keynote talk is by Jeffrey Lidz: “Are meanings in the head? Lessons from the language-vision interface." GLEEFUL began nine years ago at Michigan State, and was named by MSU and UMD alum, Chris Heffner, now a postdoc at UConn and soon Assistant Professor at Buffalo. You can also see Mina Hirzel talking at GLEEFUL on the front page of its website.

April 12 at the Michigan State Undergraduate Linguistics Conference, MSU alum Adam Liter gives the keynote talk, “Why do you think why kids produce medial wh-phrases: Grammar or performance?"

Celebrating 50 years since "Guess Who?," U. Chicago has plenary speakers Howard Lasnik and Haj Ross himself, author of the paper that gave us "sluicing", at Sluicing and Ellipsis at 50, April 12-13. The program also includes a poster from Gesoel Mendes and Nick Huang, on "Null subjects and ellipsis from an idiom perspective," and a talk by 2006 alum Masaya Yoshida, Associate Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern, on "Condition C reconstruction, clausal ellipsis and island repair."

Read about Ellipsis in Transformational Grammar, in a chapter by Howard Lasnik and 2014 alum and Assistant Professor at Dokkyo University, Kenshi Funakoshi, within the new Oxford Handbook of Ellipsis. The chapter "examines three themes concerning ellipsis that have been extensively discussed in transformational generative grammar: structure, recoverability, and licensing. It reviews arguments in favor of the analysis according to which the ellipsis site is syntactically fully represented, and compares the two variants of this analysis (the deletion analysis and the LF-copying analysis). It is concluded that the deletion analysis is superior to the LF-copying analysis. A discussion of recoverability follows, which concludes that in order for elided material to be recoverable, a semantic identity condition must be satisfied, but that is not a sufficient condition: syntactic or formal identity must be taken into account. The chapter finally considers licensing. It reviews some proposals in the literature about what properties of licensing heads and what local relation between the ellipsis site and the licensing head are relevant to ellipsis licensing."

April 6 at NYU, the 8th Mid-Atlantic Colloquium for Studies in Meaning has a talk by Annemarie van Dooren and posters by Anouk Dieuleveut, Mina Hirzel and Sigwan Thivierge. This 8th MACSIM marks the end of the first 'cycle' of MACSIM, with each of its eight member universities now having hosted it once. Maryland hosted the Second MACSIM in 2012. So look forward to another MACSIM at UMD sometime within the next eight years!

  • Annemarie van Dooren, Figuring out epistemic uses of English and Dutch modals: The role of aspect
  • Anouk Dieuleveut and Valentine Hacquard, Implicative inferences of ability statements with perception verbs
  • Mina Hirzel, Valentine Hacquard and Ailís Cournane: Young children use different modals for different “flavors”
  • Sigwan Thivierge, High shifty operators in Georgian indexical shift

April 5 at UConn, Valentine Hacquard explains "What to learn in learning attitude and modal meanings" at the Linguistics Department colloquium.

Now in the Journal of Memory and Language, Anouk Dieuleveut makes Distinctions between primary and secondary implicatures, in a paper co-authored with Emmanuel Chemla and Benjamin Spector. Here the authors present experimental evidence suggesting that some scalar implications – where use a weak term implies a commitment to the negation of a stronger counterpart – cannot be explained as neo-Gricean implicatures, and are better understood either as semantic, or as the result of more sophisticated reasoning.

At CUNY in Colorado, it's Terps all the way down: Zoe Ovans, Tyler Knowlton, Phoebe Gaston, Hanna Muller and Chia-Hsuan Liao; RAs Aura Cruz Heredia and Lalitha Balachandran; Bob Slevc, Colin Phillips, Ellen Lau, Jeffrey Lidz, Paul Pietroski and Yi Ting Huang; alumni Alexis Wellwood, Brian Dillon, Dan Parker, Dave Kush, Dustin Chacón, John Drury, Masaya Yoshida, Matt Wagers, Shota Momma, Wing Yee Chow and Zoe Schlueter; past postdocs Ming Xiang and Martin Hackl; former RAs Bethany Dickerson, Christopher Hammerly, Jon Burnsky, Margaret Kandel, Tom Roberts and Shayne Sloggett; and past visitors including at least Alex de Carvalho, Iria de Dios Flores, Matt Husband and Jesse Harris.



March 22-24 at the 43rd Penn Linguistics Colloquium, Sigwan Thivierge argues for Expanding the agreement domain in Georgian. Addressing a puzzle about the distribution of the Georgian plural marker -t, especially in the inverse agreement paradigm, Sigwan argues that licensing requirements on 1st/2nd person objects force these objects to move to a high position where they block number agreement. The analysis in turn implies that the vP phase is unlocked when there is no vP-peripheral target for agreement.

March 21 the Society for Research in Child Development meets in Baltimore, with posters by Mina Hirzel, Tyler Knowlton and Adam Liter, reporting on joint work with Valentine Hacquard, Jeffrey Lidz, Michigan State's Alan Munn and a number of collaborators.

March 18, Sigwan Thivierge talks about "Expanding the agreement domain in Georgian," in a special session of a graduate syntax seminar on 'Hierarchy effects' led by Jessica Coon at McGill. Sigwan engages a puzzle about plural agreement in Georgian: the suffix -t indexes plural in any argument that is first or second person; but it agrees with a third person argument only if it is the subject of an Inverse clause that also has a third person object. To explain this, Sigwan makes an analogy with cases where a complementizer registers agreement only with a DP that has been A'-moved across it.

March 13, Maria Polinsky presents "Linguistics Matters" in the Distinguished Lecture Series at the NSF's Directorate of Social, Behavior and Economic Sciences.

March 8, Maria Polinsky limns The Landscape of Exceptives in a colloquium talk at the University of Chicago.

Exceptives are constructions that express exclusion, e.g. "The New York Times subscription includes daily access to all online content, except the crossword puzzles." The main components of exceptives include a restricted quantifier phrase (all online content in the example above) and the exceptive phrase (except the crossword puzzles in the example above). Researchers recognize two kinds of exceptives: connected and free. In connected exceptives, the exceptive phrase is a nominal modifier attached to the restricted quantifier phrase, as in the example above. In free exceptives, the exceptive phrase is a clause-peripheral clausal modifier expressing an exception to the generalization stated in the main clause (Except (for) the crossword puzzles, the New York Times subscription includes daily access to all online content). I will compare data from English and Russian and use that comparison to argue that free exceptives are not a cross-linguistically uniform syntactic phenomenon. In English, free exceptives (formed with except XP) are derived by clausal ellipsis; the same analysis applies to Russian free exceptives with a conjunction (krome kak). Meanwhile, Russian prepositional exceptives are derived in a different manner, namely as phrasal adjuncts. Given the different possible derivations of free exceptives, it is critical to understand whether the choice between the phrasal and clausal strategies is determined by independent properties of a given language. I present several hypotheses concerning the cross-linguistic distribution of clausal and phrasal free exceptives. I also discuss the relation between exceptive constructions and ellipsis, especially in connection to island violation repairs.

March 6, those at the Conference of the German Linguistic Society will learn that Optional agreement in Santiago Tz'utujil is syntactic, thanks to a presentation of work by Theodore Levin, Paulina Lyskawa and Rodrigo Ranero, within a workshop titled "Who cares? Contrast and Opposition in 'Free' Phenomena". This year's meeting is in the northwestern city of Bremen, famous both for kale and for Beck's brewery.

Congratulations to former postdoc Theodore Levin, who heads to the beautiful Northwest for a job at Facebook. Best of luck, Ted!

Congratulations to 2017 alum Chris Heffner, who is to be Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo in Communication Disorders and Sciences! Chris will begin in autumn 2020, after a one year postdoc with the Acoustical Society of America. Since graduating from the NACS program at Maryland, Chris has been postdoctoral research fellow with Emily Myers in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Connecticut.

Now in Language Cognition & Neuroscience from 2014 alum Sol Lago, Antecedent access mechanisms in pronoun processing: Evidence from the N400, joint work with former advisor Ellen Lau, lab manager Anna Namyst, and Potsdam colleague Lena Jäger. The paper asks whether, in processing a phrase like "his castle" or "his estate", N400 responses at the noun ("castle" or "estate") are modulated by whether the noun in the antecedent to the possessive pronoun ("his") is or is not conceptually related (as "prince" is to "castle" but not "estate"). It reports two studies which show no strong evidence for semantic facilitation via coreference, casting doubt on earlier studies which suggested that such facilitation should be found. In response the authors argue that previously reported priming effects may have resulted from task-related strategies involving prediction of upcoming inputs, on the basis of prior context, rather than from automatic spreading activation mediated by resolution of the pronoun.

In a special issue of TiCS honoring Lila Gleitman, A Meditation from Jeffrey Lidz on learning, memory and syntactic bootstrapping. The meditation begins with an apparent paradox: whereas work on syntactic bootstrapping depends on learners retaining information about the set of distributional contexts that a word occurs in, work on identifying a word’s referent suggests that learners do not retain information about the set of extralinguistic contexts that a word occurs in. In response Jeff argues that this asymmetry derives from the architecture of the language faculty. Learners expect words with similar meanings to have similar distributions, and so learning depends on a memory for syntactic environments. The referential context in which a word is used is less constrained and hence contributes less to the memories that drive word learning.

Now in Neuropsychologia, An fMRI investigation of argument relations and the angular gyrus from Ellen Lau and her former postdoc William Matchin, with Chia-Hsuan Liao and Phoebe Gaston, titled "Same words, different structures." The paper aims to refine recent hypotheses suggesting that semantic combination is supported by the Anterior Temporal Lobe (ATL) and the Angular Gyrus (AG), with a division of labor in which AG is involved in event concepts and ATL is involved in encoding conceptual features of entities and/or more general forms of semantic combination. Using fMRI, it asks whether the AG supports the computation of specifically linguistic argument structure, or the computation of event concepts more broadly. To distinguish these possibilities the authors used a novel, lexically-matched contrast: VPs with a verb, such as frightened the boy, contrasted with NPs with the same verb in participial form and adjectival function, the frightened boy. Here the VPs have argument structure, in a way that the NPs do not. And results showed that, while many regions showed increased activity for NPs and VPs relative to unstructured word lists (AG, ATL, pSTS, anterior IFG), replicating evidence of their involvement in combinatorial processing, neither AG or ATL showed differences in activation between the VP and NP conditions. These results suggest that increased AG activity does not reflect the computation of argument structure per se, but are compatible with a view in which the AG represents event information denoted by words such as frightened independent of their grammatical context. By contrast, pSTS and posterior IFG did show increased activation for the VPs relative to NPs. We suggest that these effects may reflect differences in syntactic processing and working memory engaged by different structural relations.

Prosody and function words cue the acquisition of word meanings in 18-month-old infants, demonstrates past visitor Alex de Carvalho in a recent paper for Psych Science with Jeffrey Lidz, alum Angela Xiaoxue He, and frequent collaborator in Paris, Anne Christophe. The paper reports two experiments, building on Jeff and Angela's Penguin paradigm, which show that infants interpret a novel word as referring to either an object or an action, given its position within the prosodic-syntactic structure of sentences.

Now in Glossa, Omer Preminger shows us What the PCC tells us about “abstract” agreement, head movement, and locality. And what that is, is that there can be no agreement in ϕ-features which systematically lacks a morpho-phonological footprint.

January 3-6 in NYC, the LSA's Annual Meeting has work by Suyoung, Tyler, and Phoebe, with faculty collaborators, as well as a report on gender bias in our field, by a large group that includes Hanna, Phoebe, Adam, Mina, Kasia, Paulina, Jackie, Max and Laurel, as well as previous Baggetts Bethany Dickerson and Maggie Kandel.

January 3, the 2nd meeting of the Society for Computation in Linguistics has posters, tutorials and panel discussions led by Maryland students and alums. SCiL is co-located with the Annual Meeting of the LSA, which this year is in New York City.



Kasia Hitczenko, Reiko Mazuka, Micha Elsner, and Naomi Feldman, Normalization may be ineffective for phonetic category learning.

Panel discussion

Congratulations to Nick Huang, whose Control complements in Mandarin Chinese is now out in the Journal of East Asian Linguistics. On the basis of Mandarin data, Nick argues that control predicates can take fully clausal complements, and also display restructuring phenomena despite this, contrary to recent proposals. His analysis of control in Mandarin also lends new support to the claim that Chinese makes a distinction between finite and nonfinite clauses.

December 3 at UC Irvine's colloquium, Maria Polinsky argues that It's still about grammar: Cascading structural reorganization in bilinguals. She shows that heritage speakers of Russian who are dominant in English lack the monolingual's preference for sloppy readings of VP ellipsis, and suggests that this results from differences in their system of verbal aspect, and in their inventory of null pronouns.

Now out from Emeritus Professor Paul Pietroski, Conjoining Meanings: Semantics without Truth Values from Oxford University Press. Here Paul argues that "meanings are neither concepts nor extensions, and sentences do not have truth conditions. [Rather,] meanings are composable instructions for how to access and [...] build monadic concepts (a.k.a. mental predicates) that are massively conjunctive, while lexical meanings are instructions for how to fetch concepts that are monadic or dyadic. This allows for polysemy, since a lexical item can be linked to an address that is shared by a family of fetchable concepts. But the posited combinatorial operations are limited and limiting."

Now out in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, "The importance of input representations" from Jeffrey Lidz and Laurel Perkins. The article is a contribution to a special issue of responses to Charles Yang's "A Formalist Perspective on Language Acquisition."

November 21 in Moscow, Maria Polinsky gives a talk on cross-linguistic differences among exceptive constructions, such as "Все, кроме Маши, засмеялись" ('Everyone but Masha laughed'), with some but not all being derived through clausal ellipsis.

November 21-23, Maria Polinsky talks at the Winter Neurolinguistics School [yes, winter!], sponsored by the Center for Language and Brain at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow.

Congratulations to Kasia Hitczenko, who convinced the Cognitive Science Society to shift from single-blind to double-blind review, through a well-argued letter to its president. Kasia's initiative came out of the Bias in Linguistics group, and satisfies her NRT Science Policy requirement.

November 8-9, the Multiple Agreement across Domains workshop at ZAS has Sigwan Thivierge asking "When is Agreement Agreement?" and giving "The view from Georgian."

November 4, Maryland returns to the Boston University Conference on Language Development with talks and posters on work by Zoe Ovans, Tyler, Laurel, Kasia, Anouk and Annemarie; postdoc Thomas Schatz; PhD alumni Rachel Dudley, Lisa Pearl, Lara Ehrenhofer and Angela He; undergraduate alumni Morgan Moyer and Emma Nguyen; Baggett alum Elika Bergelsen; past visitor Alex de Carvalho; former graduate student Sigridur Bjoernsdottir; and UMD faculty Yi Ting, Valentine, Rochelle, Paul, Naomi, Jeff, Jared, Ellen, Colin and Alexander; along with many collaborators.


Tyler Knowlton, Justin Halberda, Paul Pietroski and Jeffrey Lidz, Acquiring the universal quantifiers: every part together or each part on its own?

Rochelle Newman, Toddlers’ accommodation of accent: Acoustic and experiential factors

Presenterp posters

Annemarie van Dooren, Maxime Tulling, Ailis Cournane and Valentine Hacquard, Lexical aspect as a crosslinguistic cue to modal meaning: Evidence from Dutch

Anouk Dieuleveut, Annemarie van Dooren, Ailis Cournane and Valentine Hacquard, Learning the force of modals: Sig you guess what sig means?

Kasia Hitczenko, Reiko Mazuka, Micha Elsner and Naomi Feldman, Normalization may be ineffective for phonetic category learning

Laurel Perkins, Tyler Knowlton, Alexander Williams and Jeffrey Lidz, Matching number vs. linking roles: Using 3-participant scene percepts to understand infants’ bootstrapping

Thomas Schatz, Naomi Feldman, Sharon Goldwater and Emmanuel Dupoux, Phonetic learning without phonetic categories

Valentine Hacquard, Rachel Dudley and Jeffrey Lidz: With or without “too”: Reasoning about people’s questions and their presuppositions

Zoe Ovans, Jared Novick and Yi Ting Huang, Better to be reliable than early: Cognitive-control effects on developmental parsing

Posterp posters

Lara Ehrenhofer, Kazuko Yatsushiro, Tom Fritzsche, Barbara Höhle, Jeffrey Lidz, Colin Phillips, Yi Ting Huang: Verbs, not subjects, drive subject-as-agent misinterpretation in children’s comprehension of passives

Morgan Moyer, Z. Husnain, Kristen Syrett, Won’t somebody think of the children? Beyond maximality with plural definite descriptions

Angela Xiaoxue He, Sandra Waxman, Sudha Arunachalam, Sleep consolidates syntactically-derived verb meanings in 2-year-olds

B. Axel, N. Havron, Isabelle Dautriche, Alex de Carvalho, Anne Christophe: When predictions fail: Adults and children stop predicting upcoming syntactic categories in unreliable contexts

A. Bates, Lisa Pearl: What input gap is there across socioeconomic status for complex syntax? A quantitative and cognitive modeling analysis of linguistic evidence for learning syntactic islands

Emma Nguyen, Lisa Pearl: Using developmental modeling to specify learning and representation of the passive in English children

Elika Bergelson, A. Weisleder, J. Bunce, C. Rowland, M. Casillas, A. Cristia: How different is speech input and output across subgroups? First results from >12,000 hours of naturalistic recordings

October 19, Colin Phillips delivers a keynote lecture on "Linking Speaking and Understanding" at the 17th International Conference on the Processing of East Asian Languages in Taipei. After that, Colin will stay to give a series of additional talks, as recipient of a distinguished visitor award, and hopefully eat a series of distinguished feasts.

Big congratulations to 2018 alum Allyson Ettinger, who in Fall 2019 joins the University of Chicago as Assistant Professor of Linguistics! Chicago Linguistics is also home to postdoctoral alum, Ming Xiang.

Now out, Language, Syntax and the Natural Sciences, essays for Juan Uriagereka, edited by Ángel Gallego and Roger Martin. Among its 18 chapters, including one by Noam Chomsky, the collection features several new papers by UMD faculty and alumni: Tonia Bleam, Norbert Hornstein, Bill Idsardi, Howard Lasnik, Jairo Nunes and Paul Pietroski.

  • Tonia Bleam and Norbert Hornstein, Deriving multiple "object" constructions
  • Howard Lasnik, Two families of questions
  • Jairo Nunes, Linearizing chains at LF
  • Paul Pietroski, Limiting semantic types
  • William J. Idsardi, Why is phonology different? No recursion

October 11-12, at a symposium aimed Towards Mechanistic Models for Meaning Composition, Ellen Lau presents "Neural measures of structure representation: The role of lists," and discusses neural indices of the difference between perceiving the expression pizza flower as such, and perceiving a list of two words, pizza and flower. The symposium is hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), in Norway's third largest city, Trondheim, where the linguistics faculty includes UMD alumni Terje Lohndal and Dave Kush.

October 8, the USC Linguistics colloquium has Maria Polinsky with "On the right periphery." Central to the talk is the analysis of VOS order in Tongan. Masha provides evidence, including novel prosodic data, that this involves rightward displacement of the subject, so that Tongan VOS is a subject-topic structure. But the displacement results, not from rightward movement, but rather from ellipsis in a biclausal structure. The talk then broaches the question of whether we can predict the syntax or information structure of right-peripheral expressions, based on independent properties.

Now in Human Brain Mapping, The temporal dynamics of structure and content in sentence comprehension: Evidence from fMRI-constrained MEG, by an all-star crew of neuroterps: former postdoc and current professor at South Carolina William Matchin, current postdoc Christian Brodbeck, former Baggett and current PhD student at UMass Chris Hammerly, and Ellen Lau. The paper reports MEG evidence supporting the conjecture, based on prior studies using fMRI, that the posterior temporal lobe (PTL) plays an important role in lexicalized syntactic processing, while the anterior temporal lobe (ATL) and anterior inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), regions traditionally associated with syntax, showed minimal effects of sentence structure. The results also indicated that ATL, PTL and IFG all showed effects of semantic content, in that they showed increased activation for real words relative to nonwords.

October 5-7, NELS49 has a poster by Nick and Gesoel, and talks by alumni Jeffrey Green, Aaron Steven White, and Masaya Yoshida.

October 5-7 at the Annual Meeting on Phonology, Maxime Papillon discusses "The Logical Phonology of Hungarian Voicing Assimilation," joint work with Alena Aksenova (Stony Brook) and Charles Reiss (Concordia), in a poster presentation.

Big congratulations to Valentine Hacquard and husband Tarek, who on September 21 welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Casper Anandan.

September 26 at the International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, Phoebe Gaston argues that “Syntactic category facilitates rather than inhibits lexical competition” in a poster with co-authors Ellen Lau and Colin Phillips. Also with a poster are postdoc Christian Brodbeck and NACS professor Jonathan Z. Simon, who argue that "MEG Responses Track Lexical Processing of Continuous Narrative Speech". The conference is in Edmonton, capital city of the prairie province of Alberta, and center of the Canada's oil and gas industry.

September 25-26 in Göttingen, Omer Preminger delivers "The Anaphor Agreement Effect: Further evidence against anaphora-as-agreement" at LinG1, the first edition of a new annual workshop hosted by Linguistics in Göttingen at the Georg-August University, founded in 1734 by King George II of Great Britain, grandfather of the king bested by George Washington half a century later.

Click "translate" on Georgia's news site, to read its report on the 2nd South Caucasian Chalk Circle conference, co-organized by Maria Polinsky and supported in part by the Maryland Language Science Center. Here is a recent announcement of the conference from the Shota Rustaveli Georgian National Science Foundation.

September 7 at Stony Brook, Ellen presents "The search for neural indices of syntactic structure" at the Linguistics colloquium.

Congratulations to Allyson Ettinger, now Research Assistant Professor at the Toyota Technological Institute, "a philanthropically endowed academic computer science institute, dedicated to basic research and graduate education in computer science."

September 5-7, Daniel Goodhue discusses "High negation questions and epistemic bias" at the 23rd annual Sinn und Bedeutung conference, held this year at the the Centre de Lingüística Teòrica at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

September 3-11, the South Caucasian Chalk Circle hosts its second annual Summer School in linguistics, at Ilia State University, codirected by Maria Polinsky and Léa Nash. Handling syntax and semantics at the school will be Masha (with Léa Nash) and Annemarie van Dooren. Masha's syntax class will feature a guest lecture by Sigwan Thivierge. The SCCC derives its name from a 1948 play by Bertold Brecht ("The Caucasian Chalk Circle"), which reworked Brecht's earlier play "The Augsburg Chalk Circle", which was inspired by a 14th Century play by Li Xingdao ("The Chalk Circle").

Say Hello to Thomas Schatz, our second new postdoc. Thomas (/ studied Cognitive Science at the Université Paris 6 in 2016 with supervisors Emmanuel Dupoux and Francis Bach, and has since then been a postdoctoral researcher for the Bootphon Team within the Cognitive Machine Learning project supported jointly by the École Normale Supérieure, the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, and École des hautes études en sciences sociales. Thomas works on computational models of phonetic category learning in infancy, and will be working mainly with Naomi Feldman.

A warm greeting to Cassidy Henry from UCLA, Masato Nakamura from the University of Tokyo, and Craig Thorburn from MIT, our newest class of PhD students, now a mere half decade from alumni status!

The department mourns the loss of alumnus Akira Omaki, who passed away on August 6th 2018, following complications from lymphoma.

Akira earned his PhD from Maryland in 2010, with a dissertation that integrated research on child language acquisition, adult sentence processing, and syntactic theory. After a postdoc in Geneva with Julie Franck, Akira joined the faculty of the Cognitive Science Department at Johns Hopkins University. Then in 2016 he took up a position in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Washington. All the while Akira maintained strong friendships and work relations with his former classmates and teachers.

He leaves behind his wife Elise, and their two-year old daughter Aya.

A fuller remembrance of Akira, written by Colin Phillips and UW department chair Richard Wright, is here.

Congratulations to 2017 alum Dongwoo Park, now Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature at Korea National Open University!

Congratulations to Ellen Lau, whose project on "Sustained Activity Mechanisms for Neurally Encoding Linguistic Structure" has earned NSF support (BCS#1749407). The project will use multimodal neuroimaging, which integrates data from electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, and functional MRI, to investigate how sustained increases in neural activity contribute to language understanding.

Congratulations to Naomi Feldman, whose "Optimizing Input for Language Interventions" project with co-principal Patrick Shafto from Rutgers and co-investigator Jan Edwards from our own HESP has been awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health (#1R21DC017217). The project uses models of pedagogical reasoning – also known as "machine teaching" in computer science – to predict which language interventions will be most effective for helping children with Specific Language Impairment learn grammatical morphemes.

Say Hello to our four new Baggetts and RAs: Anissa, Aura, Lalitha, and Zach. Anissa Zaitsu, who joins us from UC Santa Cruz, is a Baggett Fellow, with mentors Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz. Aura Cruz Heredia is our second Baggett, and she has come from UCLA to work with Ellen Lau. Also from UCLA is Lalitha Balachandran, who is an RA for Colin Phillips. Zachary Wellstood is an RA for Maria Polinsky, and he graduated from NYU.

Through her NSF grant on "Cleaning, Organizing, and Uniting Linguistic Databases," Maria Polinsky, together with Judith Klavans, is directing three undergraduate students in linguistics and computer science – Oliver Bentham (UMD), Theresa Phan (UMD), and Abraham Nygren (U of Alaska) – who are working to create computational means of data annotation and analysis for several polysynthetic languages, most of them endangered: Arapaho, Kwakwala, Chukchi, Inuktitut, and others. August 20-26 in Santa Fe, the students will attend the International Conference on Computational Linguistics, where they will meet and interview researchers working on these languages.

Congratulations to 2015 alum Aaron White, whose MegaAttitude Project with Kyle Rawlins and Ben Van Durme from Hopkins has won NSF support. The project – which continues work represented in Aaron's UMD dissertation, with advisors Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, on learning attitude verb meanings by syntactic bootstrapping – seeks to understand what inferences can be drawn about the meanings of mental state verbs, based on the syntactic typology of their complement clauses. It does this in two ways. "First, it develops and deploys multiple scalable, crowd-sourced annotation protocols, based on experimental methodologies from psycholinguistics, in order to collect data about a wide variety of inference patterns triggered by all of the thousands of English predicates that combine with subordinate clauses. Second, it leverages recent advances in multi-task machine learning to build a unified computational model of the relationship between such predicates, the structure of their subordinate clauses, and the inferences that they trigger, which is trained on these data. This model not only helps to reveal systematicities in how humans compute the inference patterns of interest; it can also be straightforwardly incorporated into applied technologies for natural language understanding."

Now out from Maria Polinsky, Heritage Languages and their Speakers, published by Cambridge University Press. The book is an introduction to heritage languages and their speakers, covering phonetics and phonology, morphology and morphosyntax, semantics and pragmatics, typology, sociolinguistics, language acquisition and psycholinguistics, featuring data from a wide array of languages. It puts a special emphasis on recurrent structural properties that occur across multiple heritage languages, and is clear about where we presently lack the data to adjudicate important analytical or theoretical claims.

Welcome to Daniel Goodhue, who we are lucky to have joining us as a postdoc. Dan got his PhD in winter 2018 from McGill, under supervisors Michael Wagner, Bernard Schwarz and Luis Alonso-Ovalle, with a thesis "On asking and answering biased polar questions." Since then he has been a postdoctoral researcher in Paris at the École Normale Supérieure, in the psycholinguistics laboratory of the department of Cognitive Science, nearby our own 2017 alum Rachel Dudley. Dan's research is in semantics and pragmatics, and their relation to syntax and prosody. While here he will develop work in the intersection between semantics and acquisition, under the guidance of Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, and with the customary assistance of everybody else!

August 10-11, Form and Analysis in Mayan Linguistics has work by Rodrigo, Paulina, Masha, former postdoc Theodore Levin, and several other members of the Guatemala Field Station, including Executive Director Pedro Mateo Pedro. The meeting is taking place at Cooperación Española in Antigua Guatemala – a UNESCO Word Heritage Site – and is funded by in part by generous support from the UMD Language Science Center and Guatemala Field Station.

  • Palatalización en K’ichee’ y palatales en Awakateko, Pedro Mateo Pedro, Maria Polinsky, Johanna Liseth Mendoza Solís, Estefana Pérez Pérez & María Juliana Sis Iboy
  • Derivando la concordancia opcional en los idiomas Mayas de Oriente, Theodore Levin, Paulina Lyskawa & Rodrigo Ranero
  • La semántica de la causalidad en K’iche’, Pedro Mateo Pedro, Mario Marroquín, Sindy Fabiola Can Pixabaj, Clifton Pye, Ambridge Benjamin & Laura Doherty

Now out, "The Anatomy of a Comparative Illusion" by Alexis Wellwood, 2014 alum and current Assistant Professor of Philosophy at USC, along with USC colleague and 2008 UMD visitor Roumyana Pancheva, former advisor Valentine Hacquard, and Colin Phillips.

The paper is about comparative constructions, such as More people have been to Russia than I have, that are initially reported to be acceptable and meaningful, but are judged to be incoherent upon reflection. Using acceptability judgments and verbatim recall tests, it investigates four hypotheses about the source of this 'comparative illusion': a shallow syntactic parser, some type of repair by ellipsis, an incorrectly-resolved lexical ambiguity, or a persistent interpretation of the sentence as comparing numbers of events, as in "People have been to Russia more (often) than I have." The results support only the final hypothesis, that comparative illusions reflect speakers’ initial attempts to compare numbers of events, and fail to notice when this interpretation becomes grammatically unavailable at the than-clause.

Now out in a volume on Semantics in Language Acquisition, "Main clause syntax in the acquisition of propositional attitude verbs" from 2015 alum, and current Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Data Science at Rochester, Aaron Steven White, with former advisors Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz. The paper presents evidence from computational modeling to support the proposal that children can reliably distinguish between verbs of belief, such as think, and verbs of desire, such as want, based on abstract syntactic properties of their complements. This distinction can then be used to help infer the meanings of attitude verbs, via syntactic bootstrapping.

July 28 Kasia Hitczenko has a talk at CogSci in Madison, "How to use context to disambiguate overlapping categories: The test case of Japanese vowel length," with co-authors Reiko Mazuka, Micha Elsner and Naomi Feldman.

July 16-August 3, the NY-St. Petersburg Institute of Linguistics, Cognition, and Culture has a three-week Introduction to Syntax from Omer Preminger, with teaching assistant Paulina Lyskawa. Omer will also teach the third week of another course, Three Puzzles in Syntax and Semantics course, focusing on the Definiteness Effect.

Congratulations to Philip Resnik, who is part of Maryland's team on a multi-institutional IARPA grant to develop systems for multi-lingual translation, information retrieval and summarization systems that is effective even with 'low resource' languages, for which there is little data that is digitally accessible. The Terp team, which also includes Marine Carpuat, Hal Daumé III and its head Doug Oard, will join four other institutions on the grant: Edinburgh, Cambridge, Yale and Columbia, its lead institution. The system they are collectively building – called SCRIPTS, or System for Cross Language Information Processing, Translation and Summarization – will take advantage of recent developments in deep learning neural networks to sift through large amounts of linguistic data and extract structural patterns. Importantly, it is designed to incorporate four key areas of language processing – speech recognition, machine translation, cross-language retrieval, and information summarization – into a single robust platform. Says Kathleen McKeown, Professor of Computer Science at Columbia and leader of the group, “intelligence analysts have come to meetings and told us precisely the kind of system they need to be more efficient." Two languages of interest mentioned in press releases are Hausa and Uyghur.

July 22-24 at Madison, the Society for Mathematical Psychology has Naomi Feldman giving a keynote address at its 51st Annual Meeting. This year MathPsych is coincident with the 16th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling.

Now in LI from former postoc Tom Grano and Howard Lasnik, "How to neutralize a finite clause boundary: Phase theory and the grammar of bound pronouns." The paper observes that several dependencies which are ordinarily unacceptable across a finite clause boundary are ameliorated when the subject of that clause is a bound pronoun. To account for this it proposes that bound pronouns optionally enter the derivation with unvalued ϕ-features, and that under certain conditions unvalued features in this position will void the phasal status of CP.

July 11 in Siena, "Scalar implicature variability in adults and children: The case of 'or'", by a Michigan State crew that includes Adam Liter, is at a workshop on Scalar Implicatures: Formal and Experimental Exploration. The authors are Maryland alums Alan Munn and Cristina Schmitt, with Adam, plus MSU undergraduates Rachel Stacey, Bobby Felster, Adam Smolinski.

Congratulations to Nick Huang, 2018 recipient of the Howard Lasnik Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student. This annual award, granted by faculty consensus, honors excellence in TA'ing. So from all of us: thank you Nick, for all your hard work! The whole department benefits from it.

June 30-July 3 at the International Congress of Infant Studies, Tyler presents "Getting a grip on infants' event representations: Participant number in TAKE and PICK-UP," with authors Tyler Knowlton, Laurel Perkins, Alexander Williams and Jeffrey Lidz. Jeff will also be participating in a special symposium, "Can We Close the Gaps in Research on Nonadjacent Dependency Learning?" with Jill Lany (Notre Dame), Felix Wang (Penn) and Jon Willits (Riverside).

June 28, Maria Polinsky talks about "Heritage Language as a Window on Language Design" to Potsdam's Research Unit on Emerging Grammars in Language Contact Situations, on which Masha is a Mercator Fellow supported by the German Research Foundation.

Abstract: This talk examines the linguistic knowledge of heritage speakers: unbalanced bilinguals who grow up learning a minority language but use the dominant language of their society as adults. Such speakers are ubiquitous in modern society and studying their language offers a window on universal principles of language structure (which they follow), vulnerable domains in language (which undergo change in these speakers’ language), and principles of language reorganization. We show that their language is constrained by strict rules of underlying grammar, not just online limitations.

Now in Cognition, "Developing incrementality in filler-gap dependency processing," from Emily Atkinson (former student of 2010 alum Akira Omaki at Hopkins and current Visiting Assistant Professor at Michigan) along with Jeffrey Lidz, Colin Phillips, 2008 alum Matt Wagers, and also Akira himself. The paper asks whether 5- and 6-year-old children incrementally assign interpretations to temporarily ambiguous wh-questions like What was Emily eating the cake with __?. Based on visual world eye-tracking experiments, it suggests that adult-like active formation of filler-gap dependencies begins to emerge only around age 6.

Colin invites readers to "Discover Linguistics" in the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth's Imagine Magazine, in a special issue on language and linguistics. Check out page 29!

Now out, Children's attitude problems, from Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, in the new issue of Mind & Language. Summarizing work done through the Attitudes Project, the paper argues that, in learning the meanings of attitude verbs, children use information contained in both syntactic distribution and pragmatic function, exploiting potentially universal links between semantic subclasses of attitude verbs, their syntactic distribution and the kinds of indirect speech acts they can be used to perform.

Congratulations to Laurel Perkins, who has won NSF support for her dissertation project, Behavioral and Computational Investigation of Transitivity in the Acquisition of Non-Basic Syntax, together with advisors Jeffrey Lidz and Naomi Feldman. Proposals for Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement awards "are judged on the basis of their scientific merit, including the theoretical importance of the research question and the appropriateness of the proposed data and methodology to be used in addressing the question."

June 17 in the the Netherlands, Omer explains "How to tell a syntactic phenomenon when you see it," at the Groningen Syntax Workshop, brought to you by UG, the second oldest Dutch university.

Now in Glossa, Individuals and non-individuals in cognition and semantics, from UBC's Darko Odic with Jeffrey Lidz, emeritus professor Paul Pietroski, alumnus Tim Hunter, and also Justin Halberda from Johns Hopkins, all members of the group that has worked on the mental representation of quantifiers in language. The paper reports two experiments which, using standard psychophysical testing, found that participants evaluate a count-noun sentence via numerical representations and evaluate a corresponding mass-noun sentence via non-numerical representations, consistent with a principled interface between language and cognition for evaluating these terms. Lead author Darko Odic will be joining us for the Cognitive Science Colloquium on October 25, 2018.

Learning attitude verb meanings in a morphologically-poor language, by Nick Huang, Chia-Hsuan Liao, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, is now out in the Proceedings of the Boston University Conference on Language Development. The paper asks whether in Mandarin Chinese, despite its morphological poverty and regular silencing of arguments, patterns of usage might neverthelss differentiate the distributions of propositional attitude verbs that express judgments of truth, such as think, versus those that express preferences, such as want, so that a child acquiring the language might use this distinction to infer the semantic class of an unknown verb.

Congratulations to Philip Resnik, whose project on Tackling the AI Mental Health Data Crisis will be supported by an Amazon Machine Learning Research Award. Using the resources of Amazon Web Services, the project develops a large scale virtual data enclave for assessing and monitoring mental health conditions using behavioral and language signals in social media data, and the computational framework to do so.

June 6-8 at UCL, Valentine Hacquard gives three talks on the acquisition of modals and attitudes, reporting on work with Jeffrey Lidz, Ailis Cournane, Meredith Rowe, Annemarie van Dooren, Anouk Dieuleveut, Nick Huang, Chia-Hsuan Liao, Rachel Dudley, Kaitlyn Harrigan, Aaron Steven White, Naho Orita, and Shevaun Lewis.

  • June 6: Children’s attitude problems: belief vs. desire
  • June 7: Figuring out what ‘must’ and ‘can’ must and can mean
  • June 8: Children’s attitude problems: belief vs. knowledge

Congratulations to Jeffrey Green, Visiting Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign starting this Fall, with a focus on psycho- and neurolinguistics. Jeff joins our many alumni who are presently faculty at Big 10 schools: Alan Munn, Cristina Schmitt and Heather Taylor at Michigan State, Julien Musolino at Rutgers, Acrisio Pires at Michigan, Brooke Larson at Iowa, Dustin Chacón at Minnesota, Masaya Yoshida at Northwestern, and postdocs Tom Grano and Ming Xiang at Indiana and Chicago. Best of all, Ellen Lau at Maryland!

Starting May 24, another international group is at the Guatemala Field Station, for two weeks of intensive Kaqchikel, then two weeks of research with local languages: Kaqchikel, Tz'utujil, Q'anjob'al, and Chuj. In the immersive language study stage, the group will be supervised by Pedro Mateo Pedro, Angela Harmon and Shevaun Lewis. In the two final weeks of the trip Maria Polinsky will be conducting daily research workshops with the participants. The participants will present results of their work at at the Universidad Maya Kaqchikel and Universidad del valle de Guatemala, at Altiplano.

Group members

names of returning participants are marked with an asterisk
  • Irina Burukina* (ELTE, Budapest)
  • Brecken Keller (UMD undergraduate)
  • Emily Speed* (Utah State, undergraduate)
  • Caleb Ewing (Florida)
  • Isabel Townsend-Last (Towson)
  • Akshay Aitha (Berkeley, undergraduate)
  • Polina Pleshak (Moscow State, MGU)
  • Carola Emkow* (Free University of Berlin)
  • Rodrigo Ranero*
  • Paulina Lyskawa*
  • Ted Levin* (NUS Singapore, former UMD postdoc)
  • Christopher Baron* (MIT, former Baggett Fellow)

For their project on "Verbal Agreement in Santiago Tz'utujiil", Rodrigo Ranero, Paulina Lyskawa, and former postdoc Ted Levin have been awarded a grant from Jacobs Research Funds, for travel and expenses this summer in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, where they will work with speakers of Tz'utujiil, starting already on May 26.

May 18 Jeffrey Lidz gives the colloquium talk at Northwestern, where he got his start both as an undergraduate and as an Assistant Professor. His talk, "Second Year Syntax," includes discussion of joint work with Laurel Perkins.

Out in Cognitive Science, "Semantic information and the syntax of propositional attitude verbs," from 2015 alum Aaron White with Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz. The paper shows that the syntactic distribution of propositional attitude verbs, such as think and want, carries very fine‐grained information about their semantics and pragmatics – whether one considers the sorts of discrete qualitative classifications that linguists traditionally work with or the sorts of continuous quantitative classifications that can be derived experimentally.

Congratulations to 2015 alum Angela Xiaoxue He, who heads to USC as a postdoc on Alexis Wellwood's NSF-supported project, "Individuating and comparing objects and events" (BCS #1829225), which "studies parallels in the conceptualization of the basic categories 'object' and 'event' as they are encoded in language and understood by both adults and 4 year olds." A happy reunion of the original Third Man Group!

May 10-12 in Taipei, the 25th Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association has an invited talk from Maria Polinsky, "On the Right Edge: Deriving the VOS Order in Tongan." Also among the invited speakers is alumnus Matt Wagers, who with Sandra Chung will discuss "Resumptive Pronouns Inside and Outside Grammar: Evidence From Chamorro and Palauan."

May 10-12, the Cambridge Comparative Syntax conference has "Microvariation in the realization of Eastern Mayan number agreement" by Paulina Lyskawa and Rodrigo Ranero, with former postdoc Ted Levin.

May 11 at Hopkins, Tyler Knowlton asks "Are natural language quantifiers first- or second-order?," in a talk at the Workshop on The Development of Set and Quantifier Representations. The workshop is part Susan Carey's project, supported by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, on "The nature and origins of the human capacity for abstract combinatorial thought," which includes as collaborators Jeffrey Lidz, Paul Pietroski, and Tyler's undergrad advisor Justin Halberda.

May 4, Maxime Papillon is at Concordia for the 10th North American Phonology Conference, talking about "Match-Extend Serialization for Reduplication in Multiprecedence Phonology."

Congratulations to incoming PhD student Cassidy Henry, for winning a prestigious SMART Scholarship from the US Department of Defense. Designed to increase the civilian scientific workforce in DoD laboratories, this "Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation" Scholarship covers tuition and stipend for 5 years, in exchange for employment at a government laboratory upon completion. So 2023 will bring a return to work on computational linguistics research in the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate (CISD) at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, West (ARL-W) in Los Angeles, where Cassidy is presently a student research apprentice, and has been since June 2016.

April 28 at UMass, the East Coast 5 meeting has work by Hanna Muller, Hisao Kurokami and Sigwan Thivierge.

  • Hanna Muller, No-licensors yield NPI illusions, but not-licensors don't
  • Hisao Kurokami, Acquisition of Additive Particles in Japanese and English
  • Sigwan Thivierge, Syntactic roots: Evidence from Algonquian

ECO-5 is a venue for graduate students from five East Coast universities – UMass, MIT, Harvard, UConn, and UMD – to present their current, original work in syntax.

April 26-28, CLS has an invited talk by Valentine, plus a talk and a poster by Jeff Green, the former representing joint work with Michael McCourt, Ellen and Alexander. Our crew will be joining BA alum Morgan Moyer '14; former Baggett Tom Roberts '15; PhD alums Dustin Chacón *15, Usama Soltan *06, and John Drury *05; and former postdoc Tom Grano.

Invited talk

  • What to learn in learning word meanings, Valentine Hacquard



April 21, Maria Polinsky asks "How do I know I am in the right field?" at the GU Morphosyntax Workshop.

Masha's paper starts by examining the relationship between two verb-initial orders, VSO and VOS, in the Polynesian language Tongan. In comparing two possible derivations of VOS, it shows that the analysis of VOS as derived from VSO via A-scrambling is untenable. Instead, it argues for an alternative analysis according to which Tongan VOS is a structure with a base-generated righthand topic. In principle such a derivation can be achieved by different mechanisms; the paper compares several analyses leading to the appearance of a righthand topic and demonstrates that the analysis in terms of distributed (scattered) deletion is best in capturing the facts of Tongan. On a theoretical level, Masha offers new arguments against rightward movement as possible operations in syntax, thus arguing for a more austere syntactic model. On a methodological level, she proposes to rely on the combination of segmental and prosodic evidence in support of a particular account and considers new ways of adducing prosodic facts in support of syntactic analyses.

April 20, Mina Hirzel is a special alumni speaker at the Michigan State Undergraduate Linguistics Conference, an event founded in 2010 by MSU and UMD alum Chris Heffner. Mina will present joint work with Laurel Perkins and Jeffrey Lidz, titled "Local and long distance dependencies in 16 to 20 month-olds." The talk asks when children come parse wh-questions in an adult-like manner. Prior work suggests that infants as young as 19 months can parse sentences incrementally and predictively, but recent findings with older children have not found evidence for predictive parsing of wh-object questions until 6 years of age. Mina's talk emphasizes the contribution of syntactic knowledge to parsing strategies in 16 month-olds, and preliminary data from 20-month-olds which provides new insight into infants' syntactic representations and also predictive parsing of wh-questions at this age.

April 20-22, WCCFL 36 has a poster from Gesoel plus two from philosophy student Quinn Harr, one them co-authored with Alexander. Joining Gesoel and Quinn at the poster session are 2011 alum Brian Dillon, 2015 alum Dustin Chacón, and former postdoc Tom Grano. Brian also has a talk, as does 2006 alum Usama Soltan. And 2010 alum Akira Omaki has the honor of being one of four invited keynote speakers.

April 18 at Universiteit Utrecht, Experimental Methods in Language Acquisition Research has a keynote by Jeffrey Lidz, "2nd year syntax," and also a talk by alum Juliana Gerard, "Errors, predictions, and continuity in grammar and processing." Julie is traveling to UU in the Netherlands from UU in Northern Ireland, where she is Lecturer in Linguistics.

"Syntactic Structures after 60 years" is now out, with essays by Howard, Jeff, Omer, Paul, Jon Sprouse and many other luminaries, including Chomsky himself, accompanying a reprint of his 1957 classic. There is also an introductory essay by Norbert, Howard, Pritty Patel-Grosz and Charles Yang, the editors of the volume.

  • Howard Lasnik, Syntactic Structures: Formal Foundations
  • Jeffrey Lidz, The explanatory power of linguistic theory
  • Jon Sprouse, Acceptability judgments and grammaticality, prospects and challenges
  • Omer Preminger, Back to the Future: Non-generation, filtration, and the heartbreak of interface-driven minimalism
  • Paul Pietroski, Meanings via Syntactic Structures

April 10-14 in eastern Budapest, GLOW41 has a talk and a poster by Maxime Papillon, as well as a symposium organized by Maria Polinsky with Marcel den Dikken, on "Predication in relation to propositions and properties." Max's talk, "One-Relation Representation for a Simpler-Than-Strings Phonology," is part of a workshop on The importance of formalization in phonology, while the poster, Deriving Harmony Pattern from Graph Geometries," is in a workshop on "Long-distance segmental phenomena."

April 13-15 in Canada's capital, Sigwan Thivierge talks at the 23rd Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Languages of the Americas, on the syntax of roots in Nishnaabemwin.

Congratulations to Jackie Nelligan, new recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and also to Hanna Muller, who earned Honorable Mention, for their projects: "Surprisal and dependency length in morphologically rich languages" and "Negative polarity illusions and the temporal dynamics of sentence comprehension," respectively. Jackie and Hanna are two of only ten students in Linguistics or Psycholinguistics nationally to receive these distinctions!

Congratulations to alumnus Terje Lohndal, whom the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters has granted its Fridtjof Nansen award for younger researchers (under 40). The award is awarded to "Norwegian researchers, or researchers living in Norway, who have provided scientific contributions of international importance at a very high level."

Congratulations to 2015 alum Naho Orita, who is to be Lecturer at Tokyo University of Science, a position equivalent to Assistant Professor.

March 30, Colin Phillips is at UMass giving their colloquium talk. His title is "Speaking, understanding, and grammar."

Fresh in Glossa, "Grammaticalized number, implicated presuppositions, and the plural" from Adam Liter with Tess Huelskamp, 2017 alum Chris Heffner, and 1996 alum Cristina Schmitt. The paper concerns two different interpretations of plural morphology, exhibited for example in downward entailing contexts. In languages like English, the plural in such contexts receives a one-or-more (inclusive) interpretation, and is in this way semantically unmarked. But in languages like Korean, the plural is semantically marked, in always receiving a more-than-one (exclusive) interpretation, regardless of context. Using an artificial language learning paradigm, the paper asks two questions about such patterns. First, should semantic markedness of the plural be linked to the non-grammaticalization of the number paradigm? Second, does semantic markedness follow from insufficient statistical evidence for simplifying the lexical entry for the plural? Its results show that participants continue to assign an exclusive interpretation to plural morphology under the scope of negation, which is compatible with the hypothesis that non-grammaticalized number entails semantic markedness.

March 15-17, the County of Yolo crawls with Terps, and CUNY has a focus on Ellen Lau, who is party to twelve presentations, as well as Colin Phillips, the two of whom are invited speakers at a Special Session called Linguistic Computation Electrified. Joining them in body or in mind are current linguistics PhD students Chia-Hsuan, Jeff Green, Lara, Phoebe and Tyler; HESP PhD student Zoe Ovans and SLA PhD student Nur Başak Karataş; linguistics PhD alumni Akira Omaki, Brian Dillon, Dan Parker, Dave Kush, Diogo Almeida, Dustin Chacón, John Drury, Jon Sprouse, Matt Wagers, Masaya Yoshida, Wing-Yee Chow, Sol Lago and Zoe Schlueter; HESP alum Rachel Adler; former postdocs William Matchin and Ming Xiang; current RA Anna Namyst; former RAs and Baggett Fellows, Chris Hammerly, Julia Buffinton, Michaela Socolof, Nancy Clarke and Shayne Sloggett; BA alums Emma Nguyuen and Neomi Rao; emeritus faculty Paul Pietroski; current faculty Masha, Jeff and Alexander; other UMD faculty Bob Slevc, Jared Novick, Kira Gor and Yi Ting Huang; and also several former long-term visitors to our department, including Jesse Harris, Matthew Husband and Natalia Slioussar. Here are all the various presentations by past or present students, postdocs and faculty.

Invited talks

  • Ellen Lau, Towards a model of linguistic structure building: what do ERPs contribute?
  • Colin Phillips, Prediction, production, and memory


  • Emily Atkinson, Ian Rigby, Naomi Shapiro, Brent Woo and Akira Omaki, Syntactic adaptation effects do not transfer across tasks
  • Dan Parker, A multi-dimensional view of NPI licensing
  • Lara Ehrenhofer, Neomi Rao, Julia Buffinton, Ellen Lau & Colin Phillips, Competing predictions drive N400 sensitivity to argument role reversals
  • Rachel Adler, Jared Novick and Yi Ting Huang, Context, conflict, and the time course of interpreting irony
  • Shayne Sloggett and Brian Dillon, Person blocking in reflexive processing: when "I" matter more than "them"
  • William Matchin, Christian Brodbeck, Christopher Hammerly & Ellen Lau, The temporal dynamics of structure and content in the language network
  • William Matchin, Diogo Almeida, Jon Sprouse and Gregory Hickok, Subject island violations involve increased semantic processing, but not increased verbal working memory resources: evidence from fMRI
  • Yi Ting Huang, Mary Bounds and Yuichi Suzuki, Verb learning in English and Japanese: Statistical and non-statistical effects


  • Chia-Hsuan Liao & Ellen Lau, Extra time to get results? ERP data on complex predicates in Mandarin
  • Christopher Hammerly, Resumptive pronouns can ameliorate island violations in real-time comprehension
  • Christopher Hammerly, Adrian Staub and Brian Dillon, Response bias modulates the grammaticality asymmetry: Evidence for a continuous valuation model of agreement attraction
  • Dave Kush & Ashley Lewis, Tracking quantifier scope: EEG evidence for active representational updating
  • Dave Kush & Ragnhild Eik, Comparing retrieval of antecedents for referential and ‘donkey’ pronouns (in Norwegian)
  • Dave Kush & Ragnhild Eik, Animacy-driven expectations in Norwegian relative clause processing
  • Dustin Chacón, Minding the Gap?: (Some) Conditions on Resumption in English
  • Dustin Chacón, Attraction is Subject-ive: Dissociating Illusions and Intrusions in Agreement Attraction
  • Mary Christensen and Dustin Chacón, Determining Obligatory Inversion in Spanish WH-Extraction
  • Ellen Lau, Nancy Clarke, Michaela Socolof, Rusudan Asatiani & Masha Polinsky, Early detection of conflicting constraints? ERP evidence from Georgian
  • Emma Nguyen and Jon Sprouse, Exploring heterogeneous P600 satiation in an attempt to reveal N400s in semantic P600 sentences
  • Jared Novick, Nina Hsu, Sara Milligan and Al Kim, P600 vs. N400 indicators of comprehension: Dynamic effects of cognitive-control engagement on real-time parsing
  • Jeffrey Green, Michael McCourt, Alexander Williams and Ellen Lau, Processing adjunct control: Rapid use of structural information in anaphora resolution
  • Aydogan Yanilmaz and John Drury, Intervening and non-intervening Interference
  • Alexandre Herbay, Phaedra Royle, John Drury, Lauren Fromont and Karsten Steinhauer, Contrasting lexical pre-activation, prediction-based and post-lexical integration accounts of the N400 ERP effect in priming studies
  • Jun Lyu, Hongchen Wu, Aydogan Yanilmaz and John Drury, ERP effects distinguishing Negative polarity versus Free choice: A look at English ANY and Mandarin RENHE
  • So Young Lee, Aydogan Yanilmaz, Jiwon Yun and John Drury, The processing of Turkish and Korean NPI licensing and intrusion: ERP evidence
  • Lara Ehrenhofer, Kazuko Yatsushiro, Tom Fritzsche, Barbara Höhle, Jeffrey Lidz, Colin Phillips and Yi Ting Huang, Verbs, not subjects, drive subject-as-agent misinterpretation in children’s comprehension of passives
  • Jed Pizarro-Guevara and Matt Wagers, Not all filler-gap dependencies are perceived alike: Evidence from Tagalog
  • Nayoun Kim, Laurel Brehm and Masaya Yoshida, Antecedent retrieval in ellipsis and pronominals
  • Nayoun Kim, Laurel Brehm, Patrick Sturt and Masaya Yoshida, How long can you hold the wh-filler?
  • Ming Xiang and Josef Klafka, Memory retrieval in comprehension is sensitive to production alternatives
  • Yenan Sun, Eszter Ronai, Alan Yu and Ming Xiang, The role of contextual-pragmatic information in speech perception: an eye-tracking study
  • Nur Basak Karatas, Kira Gor, Robert Slevc & Ellen Lau, Complex sentence planning in L1 & L2 Turkish
  • Nur Basak Karatas & Ellen Lau, A morphological cue beats a semantic constraint in Turkish agreement attraction
  • Phoebe Gaston, Ellen Lau & Colin Phillips, Resolving cross-method conflicts in the timing of cohort competition using jTRACE
  • Sol Lago, Lena Jäger, Anna Namyst & Ellen Lau, ERP priming effects in the processing of coreference: a Bayesian analysis
  • Tyler Knowlton, Athena Wong, Justin Halberda, Paul Pietroski and Jeffrey Lidz, Different determiners, different algorithms: Two majority quantifiers in Cantonese bias distinct verification strategies
  • Wing-Yee Chow and Di Chen, Listeners rapidly use unexpected information to update their predictions: Evidence from eye-movements
  • Irene Symeonidou, Iroise Dumontheil, Wing Yee Chow and Richard Breheny, Irony processing in adolescents: an ERP study
  • Zoe Ovans, Jared Novick and Yi Ting Huang, Better to be reliable than early: Cognitive-control effects on developmental parsing
  • Zoe Schlueter, Anna Namyst & Ellen Lau, Predicting discourse status: N400 effects of determiner expectation
  • Zoe Schlueter, Dan Parker & Ellen Lau, Things that should affect agreement attraction in comprehension, but don't
  • Zoe Schlueter, Chris Cummins and Antonella Sorace, Loss aversion bias is affected by L2 proficiency, not by more rational behavior in the L2

New in Glossa, The scope of children’s scope and Cross-linguistic scope ambiguity, by Jeffrey Lidz and Gregory Scontras, Maria Polinsky, C.-Y. Edwin Tsai and Kenneth Mai, respectively. Jeff's paper reviews some developmental psycholinguistic literature on quantifier scope, and shows that scope has served as a valuable probe into children’s grammatical representations, the nature of children’s on-line understanding mechanisms, and the role that experience plays in language acquisition. Masha's paper presents evidence that English-dominant adult heritage speakers of Mandarin, like native speakers, lack inverse scope in Mandarin, but also lack it in English, unlike most other native speakers of English. It interprets these results as evidence for the pressure to simplify the grammar of scope, decreasing ambiguity when possible.

Give an invited talk at a workshop on ellipsis, that is, at this year's DGfS, the 40th annual meeting of the German Linguistic Society, titled Ellipsis in the context of linguistic memory access.

Congratulations to former postdoc William Matchin, who in August becomes Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, SC. Welcome back East, William!

Jeffrey Lidz is “Specifying quantifier meanings" as an invited speaker at the Workshop on Co-Distributivity in Paris, France.

Young children's conceptions of knowledge, from 2017 alum Rachel Dudley, is now out in Philosophy Compass. Rachel asks how evidence from child development might bear on whether the concept of knowledge has as a constituent the concept of belief. Based both on new findings and a contextualization of older findings, she argues for a picture of development whereby core competence with belief and knowledge concepts emerges much earlier than previously thought (in the first or second year of life), leaving us with no clear evidence that knowledge attributions emerge earlier than belief attributions.

Three-Year-Olds' Understanding of Desire Reports Is Robust to Conflict, concludes Kaitlyn Harrigan in a paper with Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz now out in Frontiers in Psychology. The paper presents two experiments with 3-year-olds, exploring their interpretation of sentences about desires, and their ability to represent desires whose contents conflict with the current state of affairs. Both find that 3-year-olds successfully interpret sentences with the verb "want", and suggest that their ability to represent desires is adult-like at this age. This casts some doubt on the view that children's inability to represent the contents of mental states that conflict with reality are what causes their persistent difficulty with counter-actual uses of belief verbs, such as "think".

Congratulations to 2012 alum Terje Lohndal, named one of three Young Outstanding Researchers for 2018, in the category of Humanities and Social Science, by the The Research Council of Norway.

February 15-17 in Tübingen, an invited talk at Linguistic Evidence from Valentine Hacquard, "Learning what ‘must’ and ‘can’ must and can mean." Valentine will discuss her project on the acquisition of words expressing modality, highlighting for this audience the way it draws on multiple sources of evidence, including corpus studies and behavioral experiments.

February 16-18, Colin Phillips and Lara Ehrenhofer are doing Family Science Days at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, held this year in the capital of Texas. Meanwhile Masha, joining the AAS remotely by WebEx, will ask "Want to Know How Language Evolved?" and answer "Study Heritage Languages" in a talk within a session on Cultural and Linguistic Insights From the Study of Immigrant Languages.

Say hello to three new visitors, Alice Jesus, Meg Cychosz and Xiao Qimin. Alice is a PhD student from the Universidade de Lisboa, where she wrote her MA thesis on "Acquisition of mood in European Portuguese complement clauses: the role of the features ‘epistemicity’ and ‘veridicality’." Meg, whose last name is pronounced like "see kosh", joins us from Berkeley, where she is a 3rd year PhD student working on acquisition of phonology. And Xiao Qimin is a professor at Zhejiang International Studies University in China. His name is pronounced like "shyao chee min."

DC's Cosmos Club will support "Documenting Santiago Tz'utujiil," a project Rodrigo Ranero will undertake this summer, traveling to Patzún and Santiago Atitlán to work with consultants in analyzing the morphosyntax of their variety of Tz'utujiil. The Cosmos Club was founded in 1878 for the promotion of science, literature, art and "their mutual improvement by social intercourse." Rodrigo's grant is part of what since 1998 has been the club's main enterprise: a program of small research grants for graduate students enrolled in selected universities in the Washington, D.C. area.

February 2, Colin Phillips is at Harvard giving their colloquium talk.

Now in the Annual Review, papers from Norbert, Colin with 2016 alum Shota Momma, plus 2009 alum Phil Monahan.

Warm congratulations to Ana and Gesoel Mendes, who welcome their son Heitor, born January 23, happily and healthily. Enjoy this wonderful time, Gesoel!

Wait a Second!, by alum Wing-Yee Chow, is now in Language, Cognition & Neuroscience. With Ellen Lau, Suiping Wang and Colin Phillips, Wing-Yee examines the time course with which argument role information impacts verb prediction, by reporting some EEG experiments on the comprehension of verb-final sentences in Mandarin Chinese, begun before Wing-Yee took her post at University College London. The experiments manipulate the order of pre-verbal noun phrase arguments while holding lexical information constant, and examine its effects on accessing the verb in long-term semantic memory by measuring the amplitude of the N400 component. The results suggest that time is a key factor governing how diverse contextual information contributes to predictions. Here argument role information is shown to impact verb prediction, but its effect is not immediate.

Back in Patzún for a week of field work on Tzu'tujiil are Rodrigo Ranero, Paulina Lyskawa and former postdoc Theodore Levin. They are continuing their investigation of absolutive agreement in the Santiago variety of the language, with the collaboration with consultant Doña Rosario.

Check out Philip in Politico on the use of NLP and data analysis for government work.

January 4, Zach Stone gives a poster at the first meeting of the Society for Computation in Linguistics, a group founded in part by Marylanders Naomi Feldman and Tim Hunter. SCiL will meet alongside the LSA, which this year is in Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • 'A structural theory of syntactic derivations,' Zach Stone
    We describe a category of structured sets and show how to use it to model syntactic derivations. Its objects are (derived) trees (as partial orders) connected by order-preserving maps. This generalization allows for feature-sharing (Pesetsky & Torrego 2007; Frampton & Gutmann 2000) and feature geometry (Harley and Ritter 2002; Bye & Svenonius 2011). This category induces good definitions for isomorphisms (which keep track of the dependency structure of each derived object, and relations between the dependency structures between steps) and substructures (describing constituency). The category admits many "good" constructions such as products and coproducts. We then give applications of these constructions for formalizing grammatical operations as pushouts (Ehrig et al. 1973; Ehrig et al. 1997; Van den Broek 1991), including showing consequences for feature-sharing models of agreement.

January 4-7, UMD fields three posters at the LSA, two by Jeffrey Green, one by Paulina Lyskawa and Rodrigo Ranero, with former postdoc Theodore Levin. Sigwan Thivierge is also at the meeting, as part of Expanding​ ​Linguistic​ ​Science​ ​By​ ​Broadening​ ​Native​ ​American​ ​Participation, an LSA workshop aimed at connecting Native American community work on language with studies by academic linguists. And Colin gave a talk and a poster with Allyson Ettinger, Tess Wood and Shevaun Lewis titled “Language is everywhere: Institutionalizing a grassroots language science community," in a "showcase" LSA session on "Expanding the Reach of Linguistics: Collaborations with Other Disciplines and Beyond."

Maria Polinsky joins a 3-year project on Grammatical Dynamics in Language Contact, led by Heike Wiese at the University of Potsdam and funded by the German Research Foundation, as one of two Mercator Fellow visiting professors, along with Shana Poplack of the University of Ottawa. The project will analyze the usage of bilingual speakers with a migration background – mainly heritage speakers of Russian, Turkish and Greek in Germany and the USA – with the aim of contributing to theories of language contact and variation.

Warm congratulations to Allison and Jeffrey Green, who welcome their daughter Holly, born on the evening of December 14. Holly, who joins her brother August, is a healthy baby, at 6 pounds 10 ounces and 19 inches long. Enjoy this wonderful time, for the second time, Jeff!

Now available, the Proceedings of GLOW XI in Asia, featuring papers by Yu'an, Aaron, Rodrigo and 2017 alumnus Dongwoo Park:

  • Ying Liu and Yu'an Yang, To Exhaust, or Not To Exhaust: An Experimental Study on Mandarin Shi-Clefts
  • Aaron Doliana and Sandhya Sundaresan, Proxy Control: Extending the Typology of Control in Grammar
  • Jamie Douglas, Rodrigo Ranero, and Michelle Sheehan, Two Kinds of Syntactic Ergativity in Mayan
  • Dongwoo Park, What is Elided in English VbP Ellipsis and When?

December 8, Valentine Hacquard gives the colloquium talk at UMass Linguistics. She will talk about how children the meanings of modals, such as "must" or "might," reporting work from her Acquiring the Language of Possibility project.

December 4-5 at the 10th Brussels Conference on Generative Linguistics, Omer Preminger is "Assessing the morphosemantic program for phi-features: The prospects of a cross-modularly stable representation," in a workshop on The Morphology and Semantics of Person and Number, organized by the of the Catholic University of Leuven's Center for Research in Syntax, Semantics and Phonology.

Now out from Zoe Schlueter, with Alexander Williams and Ellen Lau, "Exploring the abstractness of number retrieval cues in the computation of subject-verb agreement in comprehension," in the Journal of Memory and Language. The article investigates 'agreement attraction' errors in number agreement between verbs and subjects, with the aim of asking: How faithful is retrieval of number information in relation to the grammar? Do retrieval models necessitate the inclusion of cues as abstract as the terms in which the grammatical dependencies are stated, such as the feature "PLURAL"? Or is it sufficient for cues to target only certain instantiations of an abstract category, perhaps the most frequent ones, like the plural "-s"? Through a series of experiments, Zoe examines the impact of conjoined singular attractors ("The advice from the doctor and the nurse…"), which are syntactically plural but whose plurality is introduced by a vehicle, the conjunction ‘and’, that is not an unequivocal correlate of syntactic plurality. The results find strong agreement attraction for both conjoined plurals and for plurals in "-s", which suggests that retrieval processes do not only target unequivocal morphological correlates of syntactic plurality. But it also find some attraction with conjoined adjective attractors ("The advice from the diligent and compassionate doctor…"), which is compatible with a system in which an imperfect correlate of syntactic plurality, like the word ‘and’, can become associated with the plural retrieval cue due to frequent co-occurrence with the actual target feature.

Two new articles, one from Ellen Lau and Chia-Hsuan Liao, the other from Phoebe Gaston with NYU's Alec Marantz, in Language, Cognition & Neuroscience:

  • 'Linguistic structure across time: ERP responses to coordinated and uncoordinated noun phrases,' Ellen Lau & Chia-Hsuan Liao
    Relatively little is known about how linguistic structure is neurally encoded. The current study examines a relatively subtle manipulation of syntactic and semantic structure: the difference between reading a list of two noun phrases (“sunlit ponds ### green umbrellas”) and their syntactic coordination (“sunlit ponds and green umbrellas”). In two ERP experiments, the presence of the coordinator resulted in an increased anterior negativity across the entire second noun phrase, even though coordination had no direct relevance for the memory recognition task. These findings demonstrate that structural connectedness exerts strong, ongoing differences in neural activity even when structured and unstructured materials are very tightly matched in sequence and content. These differences may reflect ongoing maintenance of structure in memory, or computation of the more complex semantic or discourse representation associated with syntactic coordination.

  • 'The time course of contextual cohort effects in auditory processing of category-ambiguous words: MEG evidence for a single “clash” as noun or verb,' Phoebe Gaston & Alec Marantz
    The size and probability distribution of a word-form’s cohort of lexical competitors influence auditory processing and can be constrained by syntactic category information. This experiment employs noun/verb homonyms (e.g. “ache”) presented in syntactic context to clarify the mechanisms and representations involved in context-based cohort restriction. Implications for theories positing single versus multiple word-forms in cases of category ambiguity also arise. Using correlations between neural activity in auditory cortex, measured by magnetoencephalography (MEG), and standard and context-dependent cohort entropy and phoneme surprisal variables, we consider the possibility of cohort restriction on the basis of form or on the basis of category usage. Crucially, the form-conditional measure is consistent only with a single word-form view of category ambiguity. Our results show that noun/verb homonyms are derived from single category-neutral word-forms and that the cohort is restricted incrementally in context, by form and then by usage.

November 17 at the Harvard Linguistics colloquium, Valentine Hacquard presents her work on Acquiring the Language of Modality, on which she is joined by Anouk Dieuleveut and Annemarie van Dooren, as well as Co-Principal Investigator Ailis Cournane, with the support of NSF BCS #1551628.

November 8-10, SNL has work by Mina Hirzel, Chia-Hsuan Liao, Phoebe Gaston, with Ellen Lau, Jeffrey Lidz, former postdoc William Matchin and former RA Natalia Lapinskaya. Also just up the road at the Baltimore Aquarium, which hosts the conference reception, are illustrious PhD alums Dave Kush, Jon Sprouse, Diogo Almeida, Philip Monahan and Rob Fiorentino, as well as BA alum Emma Nguyen.

Work by current students

  • "Investigating task-modulated syntactic prediction with MEG," Phoebe Gaston, Chia-Hsuan Liao, William Matchin and Ellen Lau
  • "Syntactic Constituent Rate Effects in EEG," Ellen Lau, Mina Hirzel, Natalia Lapinskaya and Jeffrey Lidz

Work by former students

  • "Performance differences on reading skill measures are related to differences in cortical grey matter structure in young adults," Clinton Johns, Andrew A. Jahn, Hannah R. Jones, Dave Kush, Peter J. Molfese, Julie A. Van Dyke, James S. Magnuson, Whitney Tabor, W. Einar Mencl, Donald P. Shankweiler and David Braze
  • "Prediction-related activity in the medial prefrontal cortex reflects processing of cataphor cues," Andrew Jahn, Dave Kush, Ashley Lewis and Julie Van Dyke
  • "EEG responses to two A-movement phenomena: Unaccusatives and passives," Jon Sprouse and Susi Wurmbrand
  • "ERP responses to active versus “passive” gap filling," Laura Snider and Jon Sprouse
  • "Isolating syntactic structure-building in the brain: An MEG study on Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian," Diogo Almeida, Aida Talić, Željko Bošković and Jon Sprouse
  • "Asymmetrical MMNs to socially-marked biological sounds: A potential challenge to the phoneme underspecification hypothesis," Roberto Petrosino, Diogo Almeida, Andrea Calabrese and Jon Sprouse
  • "The (non-)satiation of P600/SPS effects to distinct grammatical violations." Emma Nguyen and Jon Sprouse
  • "ERP responses to two types of subject island violations and constructions with substantially similar processing dynamics," Jayeon Park and Jon Sprouse
  • "Do Different Types of Script Induce Differences in Hemispheric Lateralization During Reading? Evidence from a Cross Linguistic MEG Study," Kefei Wu and Diogo Almeida
  • "Tracking the dynamics of wh- dependency resolution inside and outside of islands: An ERP investigation," Lauren Covey, Alison Gabriele and Robert Fiorentino
  • "Examining individual differences in the processing of referential dependencies in Spanish: An ERP investigation," Nick Feroce, Lauren Covey, Robert Fiorentino and Alison Gabriele
  • "Auditory Cortex Represents Abstract Phonological Features: A Mismatch Negativity Study of English Voicing," Philip Monahan and Jessamyn Schertz
  • "When Do Words Get in the Way? An EEG Investigation of the Interaction between Talker and Linguistic Cues in Speech Processing," Philip Monahan and Chandan Narayan
  • "The cortical organization of syntactic processing in American Sign Language: Evidence from a parametric manipulation of constituent structure in fMRI and MEG," William Matchin, Agnes Villwock and Austin Roth, Deniz Ilkbasaran, Marla Hatrak, Tristan Davenport, Eric Halgren and Rachel Mayberry
  • "A syntax area in the posterior superior temporal sulcus," William Matchin and Gregory Hickok

11/11 in Berlin, an invited talk by 2015 alum Aaron White, and a talk by Nick Huang, Chia-Hsuan Liao, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, at SelectionFest 2017, a workshop "aimed at bringing together linguists investigating mechanisms of selection," organized by the Research Unit on (Experimental) Syntax and Heritage Languages at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft:

  • Aaron Steven White, "Computational approaches to clause selection"
  • Nick Huang, Chia-Hsuan Liao, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, "Selection properties of Mandarin attitude verbs and consequences for syntactic bootstrapping"

Congratulations to Andrea Zukowski, whose leadership of College Park Parkrun has led our Office of Community Engagement to select her as 2017 Community Champion, one of their "Making a Difference Awards." The award will be granted publicly at their “Making a Difference” Awards Celebration on December 5th.

Congratulations to alum Angela He, winner of the Peter Jusczyk Best Paper Award for “Verb learning in 14- and 18-month-old English-learning Infants.'' This honor is awarded annually by the editors of Language Learning and Development to the best paper published in the journal each year, with preference given to papers whose first authors are five years or less past their PhD.

November 3-5, BUCLD 42 has work by Nick Huang, Chia-Hsuan Liao, Laurel Perkins and Mina Hirzel, alongside Valentine Hacquard, Alexander Williams, Jeffrey Lidz and Naomi Feldman, as well as HESP faculty Jan Edwards and Yi Ting Huang, Linguistics PhD alums Julie Gerard, Angela He and Akira Omaki, BA alums Emma Nguyen and Cynthia Lukyanenko, RA alum Caitlin Richter, Baggett alum Elika Bergelson, and past visitors Elaine Grolla and Alex de Carvalho.


  • 'Event concepts and early word learning,' J. Trueswell, S. Arunachalam, A. He, J. Lidz, A. Williams and L. Perkins


  • 'Learning attitude verb meanings in a morphosyntactically-poor language via syntactic bootstrapping,' N. Huang, C. Liao, V. Hacquard, J. Lidz
  • 'Learning to Filter Non-Basic Clauses for Argument Structure Acquisition,' L. Perkins, N. Feldman and J. Lidz
  • 'Before and after the acquisition of adjunct control,' J. Gerard and J. Lidz
  • 'Conceptual correlates of transitivity in early verb learning,' L. Perkins, A. Williams and J. Lidz
  • 'Spoken word recognition of children with cochlear implants,' T. Mahr and J. Edwards
  • 'Production-Comprehension Asymmetry in Children’s Medial Wh-questions,' C. Lutken, A. Omaki
  • 'Children’s and adults’ processing of variable agreement patterns: Agreement neutralization in English,' C. Lukyanenko, K. Miller
  • 'Trajectories of Lexical Comprehension Improvement: Investigating the 14month Boost,' E. Bergelson
  • 'What did you say? Infants’ early productions match caregiver input,' C. Laing, E. Bergelson
  • 'A Performance Account for Medial Wh-Questions in Child English,' E. Grolla and J. Lidz
  • ' “Look! It is not a bamoule!” 18-month-olds understand negative sentences,' A. de Carvalho, A. Barrault and A. Christophe


  • 'Biased distributions in dialogs do not shape verb learning,' M. Hirzel, A. White and J. Lidz
  • 'Vocabulary Predicts Filler-Gap Dependency Comprehension at 15 Months,' J. Lidz and L. Perkins
  • 'A New Test of One-to-One Matching Between Arguments and Participants in Verb Learning,' A. Williams, L. Perkins, A. He, S. Björnsdóttir and J. Lidz
  • 'Young Infants Discriminate Subtle Phonetic Contrasts,' M. Sundara, C. Ngon, K. Skoruppa, N. Feldman, G. Molino Onario, J. Morgan and S. Peperkamp
  • 'Understanding the effects of dialect familiarity on lexical processing efficiency in preschool children using the visual world paradigm,' M. Erskine, T. Mahr and J. Edwards
  • 'Syntactic processing and word learning with a degraded auditory signal,' I. Martin, M. Goupell and Y. Huang
  • 'L1 transfer effects in L2 acquisition of the causative alternation: Asymmetric learning potential in a novel-verb paradigm,' Y. Huang, M. Bounds and Y. Suzuki
  • 'It’s hard to coerce: a unified account of Raising-Past-Experiencers and Passives in Child English,' E. Nguyen and W. Snyder
  • 'Why Do Female Infants Say More Words? An Input/Output Analysis of Talking Status and Gender,' S. Dailey and E. Bergelson
  • 'More Than Wordplay: An Analysis of Word-form Variability in Speech to Infants,' C. Moore and E. Bergelson
  • 'Characterizing North American Child-Directed Speech by Age, Gender, and SES,' M. Casillas, E. Bergelson, M. Soderstrom, A. Seidl and A. Warlaumont
  • 'Learning allophones: What input is necessary?,' C. Richter

October 30 at the USC linguistics colloquium, Valentine Hacquard presents work on acquisition of attitude verb meanings that she has done with Rachel Dudley, Kate Harrigan, Aaron White, Shevaun Lewis and others, under the support of her project with Jeffrey Lidz, "Acquiring the Semantics and Pragmatics of Attitude Reports" (NSF #BCS-1124338).

Halloween at Harvard's Language Development Lab, in their Language & Cognition talk series, Laurel Perkins presents joint work with Jeffrey Lidz, Naomi Feldman and Alexander Williams on verb learning in infancy.

Now out in Frontiers in Psychology from 2016 alum Juliana Gerard, Similarity-based interference and the acquisition of adjunct control, writing with Jeffrey Lidz and two collaborators at the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics. The article asks why preschool-aged children do not uniformly understand nonfinite temporal adjuncts, such as "after tripping on the sidewalk," as being controlled by the subject of their host clause. On the basis of two comprehension experiments, it is argues that such errors may not indicate differences between the child and adult grammar. Rather, they may be explained at least in part as errors of similarity-based interference during memory retrieval in parsing.

October 14 in Portland, Tyler Knowlton presents his work at the Cognitive Development Society: "Sentences, Centers, and Sets: Set Selection and the Meanings of More and Most" is the title of his poster.

October 7, Georgetown hosts MACSIM, with a talk by Laurel Perkins and posters by Anouk Dieuleveut, Tyler Knowlton, and the group of Annemarie van Dooren, Gesoel Mendes and Nick Huang, representing Maryland.

  • Laurel Perkins, Perceiving transitivity: Consequences for verb learning
  • Anouk Dieuleveut, Testing force variability in modals: A word learning experiment
  • Nick Huang, Annemarie van Dooren and Gesoel Mendes, The future of ‘want'
  • Tyler Knowlton, Distinguishing first- from second-order specifications of “each”, “every” and “all”

MACSIM is a regional workshop on issues related to meaning in natural language. It consists of oral presentations and posters by graduate students from the participating departments in the Mid-Atlantic: NYU, CUNY, Rutgers, Penn, Delaware, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Georgetown. There is also one invited talk by a faculty member from the group – this year, Satoshi Tomioka – and plenty of time to get to know people and their work.

Now in Language Learning & Development from Adam Liter, The Interpretation of Plural Morphology and (Non-)Obligatory Number Marking: an Argument from Artificial Language Learning, co-authored with 2017 alum Chris Heffner and former teacher at Michigan State Cristina Schmitt, herself a 1996 alum. The article reports a study that examined whether and how speakers of English, which obligatorily encodes number in the noun phrase, learn an artificial language where number is only optionally marked on the noun phrase. It found that English speakers could learn a system with optional number marking, treating number-neutral noun phrases as compatible with both plural and singular interpretations. The results are also consistent with the hypothesis that the learners interpret the plural marker as meaning “more than one”, unlike in English. Taken together, these results suggest that the differences in interpretation of the plural morphemes cross-linguistically may depend on properties of the available alternative in the input and/or the learning system and are therefore not just an arbitrary pairing of form and meaning.

September 30 at a Rutgers workshop on Word Learning and Linguistic Theory, Laurel Perkins present "Perceiving transitivity: Consequences for verb learning," which reports on Laurel's work with Jeffrey Lidz, Naomi Feldman and Alexander Williams on verb learning in infancy.

Skål to 12 Maryland language scientists, who ran the 207 miles of the Ragnar Relay, in 31 hours, 10 minutes and 38 seconds, finishing 23rd overall out of more than 230 squads! The relay stretches over an epic route from Cumberland, in the western tip of Maryland, "east through thick forest trails and scenic paths [...] through the quiet streets of many charming historic Civil War-Era towns," ending ultimately in D.C. at Yards Park near the Navy Yards on the banks of the Anacostia. Guided by organizers and crew Tara Mease, Tess Wood and Shevaun Lewis, the team was Baggett Fellow Bethany Dickerson, Linguistics graduate students Aaron Doliana, Anouk Dieuleveut, Jeff Green, Lara Ehrenhofer and Nick Huang, Linguistics faculty Andrea Zukowski, Colin Phillips and Jeffrey Lidz, and CASL scientists Polly O'Rourke, Thomas J. Conners and Nate Clair.

September 23 at MIT's Workshop on Simplicity and Grammar Learning, Laurel Perkins presents "Learning to Filter Non-Basic Clauses for Argument Structure Acquisition," jointly authored with Naomi Feldman, and relating to work with Jeffrey Lidz.

Now out, a special issue of Phonology on "Computational phonology today," edited by Bill Idsardi and Stony Brook's Jeff Heinz. The issue begins with a introduction from Bill and Jeff, in which they highlight three aspects of current work in computational phonology, each illustrated in the nine papers of this collection: data science and model comparison, modeling phonological phenomena using computational simulations, and characterizing the computational nature of phonological patterning with theorems and proofs.

Say hello to our three international visitors: Daisuke Hirai from Kindai University (Japan), Masataka Yano from Tohoku University (Japan), and Sergio López Sancio from the University of the Basque Country (Spain).

September 7 in Berlin at Sinn und Bedeutung 22, "Children's comprehension of pronouns and definites" by Saskia Brockmann, Sara McConnell, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz. This is work that Saskia developed during her visit to Maryland in 2016.

September 2-8 at the International Summer School on Typology and Lexis, Maria Polinsky teaches a class on Mayan languages from a cross-linguistic perspective. The event is hosted by the School of Linguistics at the Higher School of Economics at Moscow, and run jointly with Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Stockholm University.

A warm greeting to Adam, Hanna, Hisao, Jackie and Yu'an, now only 5 years from being Maryland Linguistics alumni!

Selamat jalan to Theodore Levin, off to the National University of Singapore for a postdoc with Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, in the Department of English Language and Literature. They will be working on the syntax and morphology of extraction asymmetries cross-linguistically.

Out at last, "The role of incremental parsing in syntactically conditioned word learning" by Jeffrey Lidz, Aaron Steven White (PhD 2015), and former RA Rebecca Baier, in Cognitive Psychology. The paper reports on experiments that show a developmental change in children's ability to use a noun’s syntactic environment as a cue to its meaning, and argues that this arises from children’s developing knowledge of, and reliance on, verbs’ subcategorization frame frequencies to guide parsing, coupled with an inability to revise incremental parsing decisions.

Say hello to our new Baggett, Bethany Dickserson, and to Margaret Kandel, Colin's new RA. Bethany comes to us from Michigan State , where she was a triple major in Linguistics, Spanish and Cognitive Science, working in the Acquisition and Sociolinguistics labs. Maggie graduated from Yale in Linguistics, and also worked down here at CASL a couple of years ago.

Congratulations to Colin Phillips, one of eight linguists who have been named LSA Fellows for 2018. Since 2006, LSA Fellows have been recognized annually for their "distinguished contributions to the discipline." Colin joins Howard Lasnik and Maria Polinsky, who were inducted in 2008 and 2016, respectively.

August 1-11 at the The Norwegian Summer Institute on Language and Mind, Colin Phillips and alum Dave Kush are lecturing on "Real-time Grammatical Computation," alongside other courses taught by alums Terje Lohndal and Lisa Pearl, and UMD Philosophy professor Georges Rey. This is the second year of the summer school, which is organized by Georges and Terje, together with University of Oslo Professors Nicholas Allott and Carsten Hansen.

Congratulations to Rachel Dudley, who is off to the Department of Cognitive Studies at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, for a two-year postdoc with Salvador Mascarenhas and Emmanuel Chemla, concentrating on reasoning in children and adults, as well as her own work on the acquisition of attitude verbs and presupposition triggers.

Now out, The real-time processing of Strong and Weak Crossover from 2013 alum Dave Kush with Jeffrey Lidz and Colin Phillips, in the new Glossa. The paper reports two experiments on processing of pronouns in Strong and Weak Crossover constructions, aimed at probing the extent to which the incremental parser can use syntactic information to guide antecedent retrieval. Antecedent retrieval did not appear to consider gender-matching wh-fillers that stood in a Strong Crossover configuration to a pronoun; yet it did seem prone to interference from matching fillers in Weak Crossover configurations. These results suggest that the parser can indeed make rapid use of Principle C and c-command information to constrain retrieval of antecedents, and a general view of retrieval that integrates inferences made over predicted syntactic structure into constraints on backward-looking processes like memory retrieval.

August 3-4 in Vancouver, BC, the ACL's Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning has as its two keynote speakers our own Naomi Feldman, along with 2010 alum Chris Dyer. This year CoNLL focuses on statistical, cognitive and grammatical inference, with Naomi discussing "Rational distortions of learners' linguistic input" and Chris asking "Should Neural Network Architecture Reflect Linguistic Structure?".

  • Rational distortions of learner's linguistic input
    Language acquisition can be modeled as a statistical inference problem: children use sentences and sounds in their input to infer linguistic structure. However, in many cases, children learn from data whose statistical structure is distorted relative to the language they are learning. Such distortions can arise either in the input itself, or as a result of children's immature strategies for encoding their input. This work examines several cases in which the statistical structure of children's input differs from the language being learned. Analyses show that these distortions of the input can be accounted for with a statistical learning framework by carefully considering the inference problems that learners solve during language acquisition.

  • Should neural network architecture reflect linguistic structure?
    I explore the hypothesis that conventional neural network models (e.g., recurrent neural networks) are incorrectly biased for making linguistically sensible generalizations when learning, and that a better class of models is based on architectures that reflect hierarchical structures for which considerable behavioral evidence exists. I focus on the problem of modeling and representing the meanings of sentences. On the generation front, I introduce recurrent neural network grammars (RNNGs), a joint, generative model of phrase-structure trees and sentences. RNNGs operate via a recursive syntactic process reminiscent of probabilistic context-free grammar generation, but decisions are parameterized using RNNs that condition on the entire (top-down, left-to-right) syntactic derivation history, thus relaxing context-free independence assumptions, while retaining a bias toward explaining decisions via "syntactically local" conditioning contexts. Experiments show that RNNGs obtain better results in generating language than models that don’t exploit linguistic structure. On the representation front, I explore unsupervised learning of syntactic structures based on distant semantic supervision using a reinforcement-learning algorithm. The learner seeks a syntactic structure that provides a compositional architecture that produces a good representation for a downstream semantic task. Although the inferred structures are quite different from traditional syntactic analyses, the performance on the downstream tasks surpasses that of systems that use sequential RNNs and tree-structured RNNs based on treebank dependencies. This is joint work with Adhi Kuncoro, Dani Yogatama, Miguel Ballesteros, Phil Blunsom, Ed Grefenstette, Wang Ling, and Noah A. Smith.

Nancy Clarke, Michaela Socolof, Annemarie van Dooren and Sigwan Thivierge are in Tbilisi with Maria Polinsky, continuing work on Georgian that grew out of the year-long Fieldmethods class that Masha taught with Omer Preminger. In addition, Nancy and Michaela are running ERP experiments supervised by Ellen Lau. One series looks at the processing of subject- and object-relative clauses in Georgian. Another compares responses to tense morphology, following different predictive cues (NP-case versus adverbials), adapting to Georgian the questions and methods that Dillon et al. 2011 applied to Hindi.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Green, 2017 recipient of the Howard Lasnik Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student. This annual award, granted by faculty consensus, honors excellence in TA'ing. So from all of us: thank you Jeff, for all your hard work!

July 24-28 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Maria Polinsky teaches "Generative Syntax and Formal Typology" at the 2017 Tbilisi Summer School in Linguistics, together with Eric Potsdam.

Congratulations to Chris Heffner, who heads to UConn with two years of NSF support for Identifying a Common Mechanism for Phonetic Learning and Phonetic Adaptation, a project with Emily Myers and Peter Molfese in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, and Psychological Sciences, at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, as well as Vincent Gracco at Haskins.

Chris's project centers on plasticity in speech perception: the ability to change behavior based on input from the environment. There are substantial individual differences in phonetic learning of new speech sound categories, as happens when learning a new language, and also in phonetic adaptation of known speech sound categories, as occurs when encountering an accented talker. Despite the parallels between phonetic learning and phonetic adaptation, these two domains remain only weakly connected. In this project, a series of studies are designed to test whether a single, unified mechanism underlies plasticity for speech sound learning of non-native categories and plasticity for speech sound adaptation to unusual variants embedded in native language speech. The project reflects a search for common behavioral and neural correlates of plasticity for learning and plasticity for adaptation. This search will be undertaken using a combination of (1) finding intercorrelations between two tasks of phonetic learning and two tasks of phonetic adaptation that vary in task demands, (2) probing for correlates of those tasks in structural MRI, resting-state MRI, and DTI measures, and (3) assessment of causal mechanisms of phonetic plasticity by way of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). These experiments will be used to test a proposed model of phonetic plasticity with specific behavioral and neural predictions.

Big congratulations to Ewan Dunbar, class of 2013, who starts as Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7) in the Laboratoire de Linguistique Formelle in Fall 2017! Since finishing his dissertation on Statistical Knowledge and Learning in Phonology, Ewan has been a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, Ecole Normale Supérieure/Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.

July 10-28, the NY-St.Petersburg Institute of Linguistics, Language and Culture hosts two seminars, "The many failures of Agree" and "The Structure of Human Language: An Introduction to Generative Syntax," taught by Omer Preminger and Maria Polinsky (with John Bailyn), respectively. The institute, known by the acronym NYI, is an advanced study program organized every July in St. Petersburg, Russia at St. Petersburg State University. This is its fifteenth year.

July 4, Sigwan Thivierge is in Göttingen, giving a joint presentation on negation, "Negation & Co.," with local PhD students Marten Stelling and Jovana Gajić, as part of the The Landscape of Neg-words Project led by Hedde Zeijlstra on crosslinguistic variation in negatively marked expressions. The meeting is at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, whose faculty over the centuries has included Gauss, Riemann and Hilbert.

Three cheers to Naomi Feldman, whose Modeling the Development of Phonetic Representations has just won 3 years of NSF support. This grant is paired with one from the UK's Economic and Social Research Council to Sharon Goldwater at Edinburgh, under the SBE-RCUK lead agency agreement. The proposed research tests the hypothesis that children's processing of speech can become specialized for their native language through a process of dimension learning that does not rely on knowledge of sound categories. Two dimension learning models are proposed, drawing on representation learning methods that have performed well in low-resource automatic speech recognition, where extensive labeled training data are not available. The first relies on temporal information as a proxy for sound category knowledge, while the second relies on top-down information from similar words, which infants have been shown to use. Each model is trained on speech recordings from a particular language and is evaluated on its ability to predict how adults and infants with that language background discriminate sounds. The research will yield new methods for training and testing cognitive models of language with naturalistic speech recordings and has the potential to significantly impact theories of how and when children learn about the sounds of their native language.

How can feature sharing be asymmetric?, asks Omer Preminger in a new volume of Papers for David Pesetsky. Omer engages two puzzles for the traditional view that feature valuation is an asymmetric relation, with the features of one item determining those of another: delayed evaluation effects, where two items agree at a point in the derivation where the relevant feature value is not yet available; and privative valuation effects, where the agreed 'value' is the absence of one. He suggests a solution to these puzzles, based on the idea that valuation is the result of a union operation, similar to the set-theoretic union operation but defined, crucially, over geometric feature structures.

Check out Antipassive, Experimental approaches to ergativity, Split ergativity is not about ergativity and Ergativity and Austronesian-type voice systems in the Oxford Handbook of Ergativity from Maryland ergativologists Maria Polinsky, Omer Preminger and Theodore Levin, with colleagues.

  • Antipassive, Maria Polinsky
  • Experimental approaches to ergativity, Nicholas Longenbaugh & Maria Polinsky
  • Split ergativity is not about ergativity, Jessica Coon & Omer Preminger
  • Ergativity and Austronesian-type voice systems, Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, Theodore Levin & Coppe van Urk

June 27 Aaron discusses "Wh-quantifier floating in German" at Leipzig, his alma mater, in a meeting of the syntax group at the Institut für Linguistik.

June 26-30, the Kavli Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience has lectures by Naomi and Ellen, in its course on Computational Perspectives on Language Prediction in the Brain:

  • Naomi Feldman, Prediction in speech perception & acquisition: an ideal observer computational perspective
  • Ellen Lau, Semantic and syntactic prediction in the brain: Perspectives from multimodal imaging studies

Also among the lecturers is 2009-10 Baggett alumnus Dave Kleinschmidt, who in 2018 begins as Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rutgers.

Ütz apetik to the new weblog from our linguists at the Guatemala Field Station. Follow them over the next few weeks of research, collaboration, friendship and adventure.

May 28, Suyoung Bae presents "The relaxation of the radical reconstruction in Korean long-distance scrambling" at the 13th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics, held this year at the International Christian University in Toyko, Japan.

May 27, it's off to the Guatemala Field Station for Anouk Dieuleveut, Michaela Socolof, Nancy Clarke, Paulina Lyskawa, Rodrigo Ranero and Ted Levin, along with Maria Polinsky and Omer Preminger. On this second year of the field station, our linguists join an international group of researchers in Patzun for a month of intensive language study and research in Mayan languages. Nan chik, Terps!

May 24-31, Howard Lasnik is at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, discussing "Clauses, Quasi-Clauses, and Phases: A Surprising Generalization and a Speculation" at a colloquium talk, and then giving a 3 day mini-course at South China Normal University, "Clause reduction, clause permeability, and their syntactic effects: A selective history." Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong Province, so named because it occupies the east ("dong") of the historical province of Guang ('expansive'), from the Eastern Wu state of the 3rd Century BCE, whose west is today occupied by Guangxi Province ('Guang West').

May 22-25 in Urbana-Champaign, Maria Polinsky leads the 10th Heritage Language Research Institute. The NHLRC meeting will feature presentations by scholars of heritage languages and a round table with educators to discuss efforts to support heritage languages in schools to help our heritage speakers succeed personally, linguistically and academically.

May 16-18, Maria Polinsky is at Queen Mary University of London, giving three days of lectures as the first Randolph Quirk Fellow, an honor due to a generous donation from The Lord Quirk (CBE, FBA, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, Quain Professor English Language and Literature, linguist, and author of A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language).

  1. Bilingual Grammars: a case for cascading structural reorganisation
  2. The grammar of exception
  3. Prosody and V1

May 11-14, Rachel Dudley and Jeff Lidz are in College Park, MD for SALT 27. Jeff gives an invited talk on a pre-SALT Workshop on Meaning and Distribution, titled "Action and Attitudes: Verb learning from 0 to 4." On Saturday, Rachel presents a 4-minute talk and a poster, Discovering the factivity of know from its distribution, joint work with Jeff, Valentine Hacquard and Meredith Rowe.

Congratulations to alumnus Brian Dillon for winning the UMass College of Humanities and Fine Arts Outstanding Teacher Award.

Now out in Glossa, Cross-linguistic scope ambiguity: When two systems meet by Gregory Scontras, Maria Polinsky, C.-Y. Edwin Tsai and Kenneth Mai. The paper reports that, for sentences such as "A shark ate every pirate" or "Every shark attacked a pirate," heritage Mandarin speakers lack inverse scope in Mandarin, just as native speakers of Mandarin do, and furthermore that they also lack inverse scope in English, their dominant language in adulthood. The authors interpret these results as evidence for the pressure to simplify the grammar of scope, decreasing ambiguity when possible.

Congratulations to Kasia Hitczenko, who this summer will be in Reiko Mazuka's lab, working on models of phonetic category acquisition that take into account prosody's effects on vowel length, with support from the NSF's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students program.

April 29 Ellen gives an invited talk at the 8th annual University of Connecticut Language Fest on ‘New Directions for Neural Measures of Syntactic and Semantic Structure Building'.

Congratulations to 2011 alum Brian Dillon, now Associate Professor of Linguistics at UMass, six years after his dissertation with Colin Phillips, Structured Access in Sentence Comprehension, and 13 years after he first arrived as an RA to Colin from the University at Buffalo.

May 4-6 at Cambridge Comparative Syntax 6, Gesoel Mendes and Rodrigo Ranero present "Restrictions on Adjunct Extraction: Microvariation in Mayan," as part of the Rethinking Comparative Syntax project at Cambridge University. At the same meeting Maria Polinsky will give an invited talk titled "Disassembling grammatical architecture: A view from languages in contact".

Three cheers to alum Alexis Wellwood, who becomes Assistant Professor of Philosophy at USC in Fall 2017! Alexis first came to Maryland as a Baggett Fellow in 2008, under the supervision of Valentine Hacquard. While a grad student, Alexis was leader of PHLING, and did a rotation with Philosophy professor Michael Morreau as part of her fellowship in IGERT. In 2014 she finished her dissertation, Measuring Predicates, still with Valentine. Then Alexis became Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern, where she has been on the faculty for the last three years. Enjoy LA, Alexis!

April 27, Howard Lasnik is at the UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese, giving the Lois E. Matthews Lecture, on "Locality and Quasi-Locality – Old and New Approaches to ‘Clause-mate’ Phenomena".

Hooray for Aaron Steven White, soon to be Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Data Science at the University of Rochester, with secondary appointments in the Computer Science and the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Aaron arrived at Maryland in 2009 as a Baggett Fellow, with advisors Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz. He then graduated UMD in 2015, with a dissertation on Information and Incrementality in Syntactic Bootstrapping, still with Valentine and Jeff. Since then he has been a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Science of Learning Institute, working mainly with Kyle Rawlins and Ben Van Durme.

Congratulations to Zoe Schlueter, who in September starts a postdoctoral research position with Chris Cummins, Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language, part of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. This is a kind of home-going for Zoe, who in 2012, just before coming to Maryland, received a Masters in Developmental Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh, under the supervision of Antonella Sorace.

Congratulations to Shota Momma, winner of this year's Caramello Award, within Social Sciences, for Parsing, Generation, and Grammar, his 2016 dissertation, written under the supervision of Colin Phillips. The prize is "recognizes original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline," and will be awarded on May 11 at the Graduate School's eighth annual Fellowship and Award Celebration.

Now out, Coreference and Antecedent Representation Across Languages from 2014 alum Sol Lago, with a phalanx of Terps: former RA Shayne Sloggett; current grad Zoe Schlueter; 2013 alumna Wing Yee Chow; and faculty Ellen Lau, Alexander Williams and Colin Phillips. The paper, published in the Journal Experimental Psychology; Learning, Memory, and Cognition, reports studies that used eye-tracking while reading to examine whether resolution of anaphoric pronouns, in German and English, involves rapid reactivation of the phonological and semantic properties of the antecedent. For German, a language with grammatical gender, it finds early sensitivity to the semantic but not to the phonological features of the pronoun’s antecedent. In English, on the other hand, where there is no grammatical gender, readers did not immediately show either semantic or phonological effects specific to coreference. The authors therefore propose that early semantic facilitation arises due to syntactic gender reactivation, and that antecedent retrieval varies cross-linguistically depending on the type of information relevant to the grammar of each language.

Congratulations to Zoe Schlueter and Chris Heffner, who with their advisors have won NSF support for their dissertation projects, respectively: Morphosyntactic and Interpretive Dependency Formation in Agreement Attraction and Categorization and Segmentation Inside and Outside Language. Proposals for Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement awards "are judged on the basis of their scientific merit, including the theoretical importance of the research question and the appropriateness of the proposed data and methodology to be used in addressing the question."


Zoe Schlueter, Morphosyntactic and Interpretive Dependency Formation in Agreement Attraction

There is growing evidence that the interpretations comprehenders arrive at are not always faithful to the linguistic input (for recent reviews see Karimi & Ferreira, 2015; Christianson, 2016). The current project investigates the extent to which basic properties of memory retrieval contribute to unfaithful interpretations in cases of agreement attraction, in which retrieval interference causes comprehenders to perceive a sentence with a subject-verb agreement violation (?The key to the cabinets are rusty?) to be grammatical in the presence of a non-subject attractor noun. This work has important broader implications for the relationship between the retrieval operations used to construct morphosyntactic dependencies and interpretive dependencies. While there is a detailed and well-supported model of the retrieval mechanisms underlying agreement attraction (Wagers et al., 2009; Dillon et al., 2013), the research looking at the resulting interpretations is very limited (Lau et al., 2008; Patson & Husband, 2016). This reflects a broader trend: while recent years have seen much progress in our understanding of how cue-based memory systems account for the formation of morphosyntactic dependencies (e.g. McElree, 2000; Van Dyke & Lewis, 2003; Lewis & Vasishth, 2005), little work has examined how this relate to the interpretive dependencies comprehenders build. The four behavioral experiments proposed here ask how misretrievals in checking agreement dependencies impact the resulting interpretation, and thus not only examine one possible mechanism for misinterpretation, but also investigate to what extent the memory retrieval operations for purely formal dependencies are impacted by the interpretive dependencies that have to be formed between the same items.

Chris Heffner, Categorization and Segmentation Inside and Outside Language

Humans hear the speech of others almost every day. Understanding that speech is often quite difficult, as can be seen when interacting with automated speech recognition technologies. Doing so requires the use of complex yet surprisingly effective cognitive abilities. But are the mental tools that humans use to understand speech used for speech only, or are there ones that are applied to multiple purposes? This project seeks to link language learning and perception to other tasks to determine the extent to which speech perception shares an underlying basis with other cognitive processes. This project will enrich the understanding of cognition. Furthermore, it could open up new avenues for designing technologies to better improve speech processing as well as lead to new methodologies to train people learning a second language. To study the domain-specificity of speech perception, this project will center on two particular aspects of speech: category learning and segmentation. Accurate comprehension of spoken language demands the segmentation of continuous speech into discrete words, just as the perception of actions demands the segmentation of perceived activity into discrete events. And listeners must learn to deal with the variability in speech sounds in order to treat some sounds as belonging to the same category, just as they must group, say, disparate dog sounds as belonging to a single “barking” category. One experiment will investigate the extent to which rate information can affect the segmentation of events, while another will assess the extent to which biases that seem to be present in phonetic category learning can also be found in non-speech category learning. A third experiment will use magnetoencephalography (MEG) to probe the acquisition of certain types of speech sound categories. All told, the research will illuminate whether and which processes in language and in other domains parallel each other, which relates to the notion of modularity, the idea that the brain houses separate components that have evolved to perform individual functions in the world.

Three cheers to Naomi Feldman and Omer Preminger, who on April 4 received tenure in our department! They will be accepting high-fives, effective immediately.

Huge congratulations to Ellen Lau, Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year for 2017. The prize, one of four awarded this year in response to thirty nominations, "recognizes outstanding achievement in mentoring by paying tribute to those faculty members who have made exceptional contributions to a student’s (or students’) graduate education and experience." Thanks also to Mina Hirzel, who led Ellen's nomination. On Thursday, May 11, 2017, 3:00-5:00 p.m., in Adele H. Stamp Student Union in the Prince Georges Room, we will all have the opportunity to applaud, as Ellen's award is recognized at this year's Graduate School’s Annual Fellowship and Award Celebration.

April 7 finds Maria Polinky giving a plenary talk at the University of Utah Student Conference in Linguistics, titled "Structure or processing? Comparing monolingual and bilingual grammars," while at the same time in Seattle, Washington, a paper with Eric Potsdam, "Exceptive constructions: Tahitian and beyond," is presented at the The 24th meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association. Go West!

April 3 in Valencia, Laurel Perkins and 2015 alum Naho Orita are at the Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics, a part of this year's meeting of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Laurel presents a talk on work with Naomi Feldman and Jeffrey Lidz, Learning an Input Filter for Argument Structure Acquisition. Naho has a poster titled Predicting Japanese scrambling in the wild. In addition to the attraction of these talks, "Valencia offers a combination of AVANT-GARDE STYLE, CULTURE and MEDITERRANEAN SPIRIT, bound to captivate any visitor," the conference webpage informs us. Bon voyage Laurel!

March 31, Howard Lasnik discusses "Locality and Quasi-Locality: New Approaches to Old Paradigms / Old Approaches to New Paradigms" at the Linguistics Department Colloquium at the University of Arizona.

March 30-April 1, Cambridge, Mass., hosts over 30 Terps past and present for CUNY, which features work by Jon Burnsky, Hanna Muller, Chia-Hsuan Liao, Lara Ehrenhofer, Nick Huang, and Zoe Schlueter; Alix Kowalski, Nina Hsu and Zoe Ovans; Colin Phillips, Ellen Lau and Jeffrey Lidz; Bob Slevc, Jared Novick and Yi Ting Huang; alumni Akira Omaki, Alexis Wellwood, Brian Dillon, Dan Parker, Dave Kush, Jon Sprouse, Juliana Gerard, Lisa Pearl, Masaya Yoshida, Matt Wagers, Shota Momma, Terje Lohndal and Wing-Yee Chow; former RAs and Baggetts Chris Hammerly, Julia Buffinton, Shayne Sloggett; former postdoc Ming Xiang; and past visitors Emily Darley, Jesse Harris, Matt Husband, and Natalia Slioussar.


Brian Dillon, Caroline Andrews and Matt Wagers, A new argument for distinct, co-active parses during language comprehension

Jon Burnsky, Emily Darley, Hanna Muller, Julia Buffinton and Colin Phillips, Interpreting negation in incomplete propositions

Ming Xiang, Suiping Wang, Juanhua Yang and Bo Liang, Production bias, but not parsing complexity, predicts wh-scope comprehension preference

Shayne Sloggett and Brian Dillon, Animacy in reflexive processing: when "it" matters more than verbs

Shota Momma, Yashna Bowan and Victor Ferreira, Non-linear lexical planning in sentence production

Zoe Schlueter, Dan Parker and Ellen Lau, (Mis)interpreting agreement attraction: Evidence from a novel dual-task paradigm


Anne Ng and E. Matthew Husband, Interference effects across the at-issue/not-at-issue divide: Agreement and NPI licensing

Carolyn Jane Lutken and Akira Omaki, What do you think why American children produce Russian wh-questions?

Christopher Hammerly and Brian Dillon, Restricting domains of retrieval: Evidence for clause-bound processing from agreement attraction

Dan Parker, Memory retrieval in sentence comprehension uses a non-linear cue combination rule

Dan Parker, Selective agreement attraction effects: Not all phrases are equally attractive

Dave Kush, Terje Lohndal and Jon Sprouse, (In-)consistent Island Effects in Norwegian?

Ellen Lau and Chia-Hsuan Liao, Neural indices of active structure maintenance: ERP evidence from noun phrase coordination

Jeffrey Geiger and Ming Xiang, Ellipsis in context: Identity and salience both drive interpretation

Jesse Harris, Stephanie Rich and Ian Rigby, Predictability and misperception: An eye movement and ex-Gaussian analysis

Jesse Harris and Stephanie Rich, Predicted analyses linger: The case for structural prediction with either-or structures.

Jesse Harris, John Gluckman and Marju Kaps, Sloppy on the road to strict? Stereotypical gender and the interpretation of VP Ellipsis.

K.J. Savinelli, Gregory Scontras and Lisa Pearl, Context management vs. grammatical processing in children's scope ambiguity resolution

Lara Ehrenhofer, Yi Ting Huang, Jeffrey Lidz and Colin Phillips, Word order does not influence German five-year-olds’ interpretation of passives

Ming Xiang, Chris Kennedy and Allison Kramer, Semantic adaptation and its time course: an investigation of gradable adjectives

Natalia Slioussar and Daria Chernova, Resolving attachment ambiguity: forget case, but remember number!

Nayoun Kim, Alexis Wellwood and Masaya Yoshida, Online Processing of wh-adjuncts

Nayoun Kim, Laurel Brehm and Masaya Yoshida, Retrieving the structural and lexical content of wh-fillers: an attraction effect

Nazbanou Nozari, Akira Omaki, Jessa Sahl and Zoe Ovans, Attentional resource allocation in children’s subject-verb agreement production

Nick Huang and Colin Phillips, A "missing NP illusion" in Mandarin Chinese doubly center-embedded sentences

Shota Momma, L. Robert Slevc, Rebecca Kraut and Colin Phillips, Timing of syntactic and lexical priming reveals structure-building mechanisms in production

Sol Lago, Martina Gračanin-Yuksek, Duygu Şafak, Orhan Demir and Bilal Kırkıcı, Contextual and syntactic information jointly affect the processing of Turkish anaphors

Steven Foley and Matt Wagers, Subject gaps are still easiest: relative clause processing and Georgian split ergativity

Wing-Yee Chow, Heavy NP shift really is the parser’s last resort

Wing-Yee Chow and Patrick Sturt, Predictive pressures do not override the effects of verb bias in syntactic parsing

Yi Ting Huang, Nina Hsu, Elinora Leonard, Juliana Gerard, Alix Kowalski and Jared Novick, Syntactic parsing with limited control: Effects on the kindergarten path

Zoe Schlueter, Shota Momma and Ellen Lau, No grammatical illusion with L2-specific memory retrieval cues in agreement processing

March 24, Jeffrey Lidz is in Philadelphia, discussing Input and Intake in Language Acquisition at PLC41, as part of a special panel on "Current Issues in Language Acquisition," alongside Penn's John Trueswell, Illinois's Sylvina Montrul, and NYU's Ailis Cournane.

March 15-17 Ted Levin presents "M-merger as relabeling: A new approach to head movement and noun-incorporation," joint work with Omer Preminger, as a poster at Generative Linguistics of the Old World in Leiden, South Holland. Meanwhile in a workshop on heritage languages: "Restructuring in heritage grammars," by Zuzanna Fuchs, Gregory Scontras and Maria Polinsky.

March 20-23 at the University of Oslo Center for Multilingualism across the Lifespan, Maria Polinsky is teaching at a four-day course, "From Hypothesis to Experiment," on scientific methods in linguistics.

Now in Language Learning & Development, "Think" pragmatically: Children's interpretation of belief reports, from 2013 alum Shevaun Lewis, with Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz. The paper is directed at why children under 4 years of age often evaluate belief reports based on reality instead of beliefs: for example, they tend to reject sentences like, “John thinks that giraffes have stripes” on the grounds that giraffes do not have stripes. Previous accounts have proposed that such judgments reflect immature Theory of Mind or immature syntactic/semantic representations. In this paper, Shevaun argues that the difficulty is actually pragmatic. Adults frequently use belief reports to provide information about reality (e.g., “I think the stove is still hot”). Young children have difficulty determining when the main point is reality (the stove situation) vs. mental states (John’s ideas about giraffes). The experiments show that if the context emphasizes beliefs, children are more able to evaluate belief reports appropriately (Experiment 1). The pattern of children’s truth value judgments demonstrates that they understand the literal meaning of think sentences, despite their pragmatic difficulty grasping the speaker’s intention (Experiment 2).

March 10-12, Maria Polinsky is at Georgetown as a plenary speaker for Georgetown University Round Table, which this year focuses on "Variable Properties: Their nature and acquisition." Alongside Masha in the program are Elan Dresher, Lisa Green, David Lightfoot, Elissa Newport, Gillian Sankoff, Natalie Schilling and Charles Yang.

March 10-15, Howard Lasnik is speaking and teaching at Fluminense Federal University in the State of Rio de Janeiro. March 10 he gives an invited talk on "Clause-mates, phases, and bound pronouns" at the 10th International Congress of the Associação Brasileira de Lingüística, a.k.a. Abralin. Then on March 13-15 at the Abralin Summer Institute, he leads a nine-hour course on "Deletion, reduction, ellipsis and their syntactic effects: A brief history".

Now in Language Learning and Development from 2015 alum Angela He with Jeffrey Lidz, Verb learning in 14- and 18-month-old English-learning infants. This paper reports on a series of experiments Angela did at Maryland under the title of "Penguin". Her results provide evidence that 18-month-old English-learning infants are able to learn novel verbs by recruiting morphosyntactic cues for verb categorization, and then using the presumption that verbs describe events (not objects) to constrain their search for possible verb meanings.

The week of February 27, Allyson Ettinger is at the Communication Science Laboratory of Tohoku University, meeting with students and giving two invited talks, one to their NLP group and one to their psycholinguistics group. The invite comes from 2015 alumna Naho Orita, who is now Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Information Sciences at Tohoku. The university, whose name means "northeastern university," is in Sendai, the second largest city north of Tokyo, known for its many universities, its Tanabata Festival, and its grilled beef tongue.

February 18 Ellen Lau is at the Graduate Linguistics Expo at Michigan State, presenting 'Linguistic structure forwards and backwards: Prediction and memory representation,' one of two invited talks at this year's GLEAMS meeting. Ellen graduated from MSU in 2003 with a BS in Psychology.

February 18-20, several students are in Boston for the AAAS Family Science Days, running the Language Science for Everyone booth, organized by Laura Wagner from the Ohio State University. The students – Laurel Perkins, Lara Ehrenhofer, Kasia Hitczenko, Mina Hirzel and Paulina Lyskawa from Linguistics, as well as Julianne Garbarino and Allison Johnson from HESP – will be using a variety of engaging, hands-on activities to demonstrate basic concepts in language and cognitive science.

February 16-17, many students and faculty are in D.C. for Language Advocacy Day, an annual event organized by the Joint National Committee on Language. Among them are linguistics students Jeffrey Green and Anton Malko, linguistics faculty Ellen Lau and Bill Idsardi, as well as Shevaun Lewis, Yi Ting Huang, Eric Pelzl, Sudha Rao, Lucy Claire Erickson, Lijuan Shi, Yoonjee Hong, Catherine María Pulupa, and Angela Harmon. They will be meeting with representatives from congress and various Executive Branch agencies to discuss how language science relates to the national interest.

February 15 Colin Phillips is in Pavia at the 43rd Incontro di Grammatica Generativa, giving an invited talk on "Order and direction in grammar, speaking and understanding," at a special workshop on "Order and direction in grammatical operations." Also speaking at the workshop, on "The empirical significance of derivational operations," is 2010 alumnus Tim Hunter, now Assistant Professor at UCLA.

February 20-22 in Singapore, work by Aaron Doliana, Dongwoo Park and Rodrigo Ranero will be presented at the 11th Generative Linguistics of the Old World in Asia conference.



Now out as Chapter 10 in the Oxford Handbook of Universal Grammar, "The argument from the poverty of the stimulus" by Howard Lasnik and Jeffrey Lidz.

February 2-3 at MIT's Center for Brains, Minds and Machines, Naomi Feldman speaks at a Workshop on Speech Representation, Perception and Recognition. Other invited speakers include former Maryland linguistics faculty David Poeppel, and also Nima Mesgarani, who graduated from Maryland's PhD program in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Congratulations to Rodrigo Ranero, who has won a Firebird Fellowship for the Documentation of Oral Literature and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, along with Yolanda Estrada, professor in the School of History at Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala. The Fellowship is to support the project "Documenting Kaqchikel Ritual Language" in Summer 2017. Rodrigo and Professor Estrada will collaborate with an organized group of Kaqchikel " Ajq'ija' " (Spiritual Guides) from the town of Sumpango, documenting the particular register of Kaqchikel used in the guides' ceremonies, as well as the content of the rituals and how it relates to Kaqchikel cosmovision.

February 2, Omer Preminger is at the Berkeley Syntax & Semantics Circle, talking about "What the PCC tells us about ‘abstract’ agreement, head movement, and locality".

February 3-5, Omer Preminger gives a plenary address at the Berkeley Linguistics Society's 43rd Annual Meeting.

February 3-5 at the Berkeley Linguistics Society, Gesoel Mendes and Rodrigo Ranero present "Adjunct Extraction: A View from Mayan", within a parasession devoted to "Languages of the Americas".

Congratulations to 2014 alum Sol Lago, for a 3-year grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) in support of her research on how Spanish and English native speakers process gender and number agreement in German. The research will be used as a test case for two important questions: are some languages more difficult to understand and potentially learn than others? And can this difficulty lie in how a speaker's native language shapes their processing mechanisms? Sol will be conducting this work within Shravan Vasishth's lab at the University of Potsdam, where Sol has been a postdoctoral researcher since she fininshed her dissertation at UMD, "Memory and Prediction in Cross-Linguistic Sentence Processing."

Congratulations to Philip Resnik who was recently elected to the North American Association for Computational Linguistics Executive Board. The Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) and its chapters are the premier scientific and professional organizations for people who work on computational approaches to human language.

Poke into Cortex for "The role of the IFG and pSTS in syntactic prediction," from postdoc William Matchin, Baggett Christopher Hammerly, and their mentor Ellen Lau. The paper raises questions about several neuroimaging experiments that have interpreted activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) as expressive of basic syntactic combination in comprehension. Based on a new fMRI experiment, it provides support for an alternative hypothesis: these regions instead underlie top-down syntactic predictions that facilitate sentence processing but are not necessary for building syntactic structure. The experiment reveals increased activity for both natural and jabberwocky sentences in the left IFG (pars triangularis and pars orbitalis) and pSTS relative to unstructured word lists and two-word phrases, but does not show any such effects for two-word phrases relative to unstructured word lists in these areas. This is most consistent, the authors argue, with the hypothesis that increased activity in IFG and pSTS for basic contrasts of structure reflects syntactic prediction, rather than construction.

January 9, President Barack Obama awarded 2010 alumnus Chris Dyer the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, which is "the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers." Chris is one of only 102 recipients. The President writes that “[t]hese innovators are working to help keep the United States on the cutting edge, showing that Federal investments in science lead to advancements that expand our knowledge of the world around us and contribute to our economy.” Huge congratulations to Chris, from his alma mater!

Congratulations to 2010 alum Chris Dyer, distinguished by this survey as among the most prolific authors in Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning.

January 6, Gesoel Mendes and Rodrigo Ranero are at The Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas in Austin, Texas, presenting "Adjunct Extraction in Kaqchikel and Tz'utujiil." Joining them will be Baggett alumnus Chris Baron, who presents "A Prospective Puzzle and a Possible Solution."

January 5-8 in Austin, there's work by Michaela, Rachel, Ted and Dongwoo at the 91st Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Rachel's talk is also the alternate for the new 5-minute Linguist event, during which speakers will be judged on their ability to present their research in a brief but informative way, without notes, to a nonspecialist audience. Eight talks, plus Rachel's, were chosen as finalists, out of 84 applicants.



Now out, 1000 Ways to Misrepresent Noam Chomsky, by Norbert Hornstein with Nathan J. Robinson, in 'Current Affairs: A Magazine of Politics and Culture.' The article focusses on the confusions propagated in two recent books, Tom Wolfe's The Kingdom of Speech and Chris Knight's Decoding Chomsky.

December 8, Maria Polinsky is at the the CUNY Grad Center talking about "Information structure without cartography".

Now out Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, "A unified account of categorical effects in phonetic perception" by 2014 alum Yakov Kronrod, currently a data scientist at Amazon, with his PhD advisor Naomi Feldman, and Naomi's former RA, Emily Coppess, who is currently PhD student in linguistics at Chicago. The paper shows that both strong and weak categorical effects in perception of consonants and vowels can be captured by a unified statistical model, capturing differences in the degree of categorical effects through a single parameter.

December 8-10 at the conference on Formal Description of Slavic Languages, Paulina Lyskawa presents Separating universal principles from attrition and transfer in heritage language, in which she "examines several areas of vulnerability, the direction of change and its correlation to other linguistic and social factors in Heritage Polish." The conference is in Berlin, Germany, whose name is believed to derive from the word for 'swamp' in Polabian, an extinct West Slavic language.

In a blog post for Scientific American, Jeffrey Lidz responds to recent claims that Chomsky's views on language and its acquisition have been discredited. Jeff argues that these claims misunderstand Chomsky's actual positions, and fail to argue against them. With a variety of examples, he characterizes the sort of data that motivate Chomsky's positions, and on which his critics are silent.

Now in NaLS, remarks On how verification tasks are related to verification procedures from Jeffrey Lidz, with alumni Tim Hunter and Alexis Wellwood, as well as Darko Odic, now an Assistant Professor of Psychology at UBC in Vancouver. The authors here clarify the relation between meanings, truth conditions, and verification procedures, so as to correct misunderstandings of their earlier work on the meaning of "most".

November 17-18 in Valladolid, the 4th Form and Analysis in Mayan Linguistics features talks by Rodrigo, Paulina, Gesoel, Ted and Chris Baron, as well as Pedro Mateo Pedro, director of the the field station in Guatemala, where much of the research to be reported was done this past summer. Here are the Terp presentations:

  • Gesoel Mendes & Rodrigo Ranero, La extracción de adjuntos en kaqchikel y tz’utujiil (Adjunct extraction in Kaqchikel and Tz'utujiil)
  • Jamie Douglas, Rodrigo Ranero & Michelle Sheehan, Derivando la ergatividad sintáctica en los idiomas mayas (Deriving syntactic ergativity in Mayan languages)
  • Ted Levin & Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, On the unavailability of argument ellipsis in Kaqchikel
  • Paulina Lyskawa, How to turn 'in' into 'w' – phonology vs. suppletion in Set A 1st singular affix
  • Chris Baron, A Prospective Puzzle and a Possible Solution
  • Pedro Mateo Pedro, La adquisición de los sufijos de categoría en Chuj (The acquisition of category suffixes in Chuj)

November 11, Colin is at Stanford Linguistics giving their colloquium talk.

November 4, Paulina Lyskawa presents "Converging vs. competing phonology: Does code-switching play a predictable role?" at the 45th New Ways of Analyzing Variation, held this year in downtown Vancouver, by co-hosts Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria.

November 8, Rachel Dudley presents her work at a joint lab meeting of the Rowe Lab, run by former Terrapin Meredith Rowe, and the Early Childhood Lab, run by Paul Harris.

November 7-11, Theodore Levin is at Seoul National University for a series of lectures on case and nominal licensing.

November 4-6 at BUCLD, Masha is the keynote speaker, joining Kasia, Mike, Rachel, and Julie, Jeff, Naomi and Valentine, as well as Baggett alumnus Chris Baron, Alix Kowalski, Yi Ting Huang and Jared Novick from HESP, and past visitor to Linguistics, Kouki Miyazawa, in presenting work at this annual conference on language acquisition. In addition, Colin will lead a student workshop on "Building your profile in a digital world."


  • Maria Polinsky, Cascading consequences of syntactic reorganization: Ellipsis in heritage languages


  • Jeffrey Lidz, Rachel Dudley and Valentine Hacquard, Children use syntax of complements to determine meanings of novel attitude verbs
  • Valentine Hacquard, Rachel Dudley, Christopher Baron and Jeffrey Lidz, Factivity is acquired gradually over the preschool years
  • Juliana Gerard, Jeffrey Lidz, Shalom Zuckerman (Utrecht) and Manuela Pinto (Utrecht), Similarity-based inference in the acquisition of adjunct control
  • Stephanie Antetomaso, Kouki Miyazawa, Naomi Feldman, Micha Elsner, Kasia Hitczenko and Reiko Mazuka, Modeling phonetic category learning from natural acoustic data
  • Yi Ting Huang, Nina Hsu, Juliana Gerard, Alix Kowalski and Jared Novick, Cognitive-Control Effects on the Kindergarten Path: Separating Correlation from Causation


  • Michael Fetters and Jeffrey Lidz, Early knowledge of relative clause islands and island repair


  • Colin Phillips, Building your profile in a digital world

Congratulations to Grace Hynes and John Mathena, who have both been selected as Dean's Senior Scholars. They are two of only seven recipients of this prestigious annual award, which recognizes "distinguished and creative academic performance [and] promise of continued distinction in the discipline," as well as "leadership qualities and a commitment to community involvement." Their awards award will be announced at the Fall Scholar Reception, on November 15, and then again at Commencement.

Grace is active in our Acquisition Lab, where she has worked on projects with Valentine Hacquard, Jeffrey Lidz, and Rachel Dudley, among others. John is a PULSAR student and double major in Linguistics and Psychology, active in the Arabic Flagship Program, who has worked on projects with Colin, recent alum Shota Momma, and RA Hanna Muller.

The Dean's Senior Scholar award went to Linguistics majors Sara McVeigh in 2013, and Neomi Rao in 2015, but we have never before had two winners in one year. Amazing! Hurray for both Grace and John!

November 2, Valentine Hacquard gives the Michael S. Goodman Lecture in the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences at Brown University. Her talk, "Grasping at Factivity," discusses joint work with Rachel Dudley and Jeffrey Lidz, on how children learn to use mental state verbs like think and know, understanding the nonveridicality of the former and the factivity of the latter.

October 28, Colin Phillips is giving the colloquium talk at Delaware Linguistics.

October 21-22, the University of Bucharest has a crash-course on agreement with Omer Preminger at the helm. The course is part of a larger France-Romania academic cooperation project headed by Carmen Dobrovie-Sorin of the CNRS and the Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7.

Now in Cognition, from 2014 alum Dan Parker and Colin Phillips, Negative polarity illusions and the format of hierarchical encodings in memory. The paper is about cases where comprehenders fleetingly accept sentences with unlicensed agreement or an unlicensed NPI, but judge those same sentences as unacceptable after more reflection, such as: *The diplomats that no congressman could trust have ever supported a drone strike. It argues against the view that these uniformly reflect general faults of memory, and advances a more specific account. On the basis of seven reading-time and acceptability judgment experiments, it shows that NPI illusions, but not agreement illusions, can be reliably switched “on” and “off”, depending on the amount of time from when the potential licensor is processed until the NPI is encountered.

October 14-15 at the Control Workshop at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Maria Polsinky discusses "Ergativity and control/raising".

October 14-16, Alexander and Jeff Green, plus Annemarie and Ted, are at the North East Linguistic Society, hosted this year by UMass, along with alumni Dustin Chacón, Brian Dillon, Alex Drummond, Tim Hunter, Diogo Almeida, and Masaya Yoshida, former Baggett Fellow Shayne Sloggett, and former post-doc Ming Xiang, presenting their work in talks and posters.


  • Alexander Williams and Jeffrey Green, Why Implicit Control is not a syntactic or semantic relation between arguments
  • Shayne Sloggett and Brian Dillon, When errors aren't: How comprehenders selectively violate Binding Theory
  • Tim Hunter and David Potter, Distinguishing approaches to island insensitivity
  • Nayoun Kim, Kathleen Hall and Masaya Yoshida, Grammatical Illusions in Locative constructions


  • Annemarie van Dooren, Priority necessity modals and their complements
  • Theodore Levin, Distinguishing object agreement and clitic doubling in Noun Incorporation constructions
  • Dustin Chacón and Nikhil Lakhani, Resumptive pronouns affect later filler-gap dependency processing
  • Alex Drummond and Junko Shimoyama, Complex degrees and an unexpected comparative interpretation
  • David Adger, Alex Drummond and David Hall, Deconstructing Condition C Reconstruction
  • Diogo Almeida and Matthew Tucker, The complex structure of errors and the independent visibility of φ-feature
  • Jeffrey Geiger and Ming Xiang, "Context can!": Contextual accommodation in exophoric and anaphoric versions

October 8 and 10, Howard Lasnik presents "Clause-mates, phases, and bound pronouns" at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, and then, for a Workshop on Shrinking Trees at Universität Leipzig, 400 miles due west in the German State of Saxony, "Shrinking Trees: Some Early History".

September 28-30, Valentine Hacquard gives both a mini-course and a colloquium talk on the semantics and pragmatics of attitude reports, from the perspective both of the formal semanticist and of the child learner. The course will focus on attitudes of belief vs. desire on Day 1, and on factivity on Day 2. Day 3 will feature a talk titled "Grasping at factivity", which reports joint work with Rachel Dudley and Jeffrey Lidz on how children develop competence with factive verbs, such as know.

October 1, the 6th MACSIM is at CUNY, with work by Rachel, Jeff Green, Nick Huang, and Quinn Harr from Philosophy. MACSIM is a regional workshop on issues related to meaning in natural language. It consists of oral presentations and posters by graduate students from the participating departments in the Mid-Atlantic: NYU, CUNY, Rutgers, Penn, Delaware, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Georgetown. There is also one invited talk by a faculty member from the group – this year, Philippe Schlenker – and plenty of time to get to know people and their work.


  • Rachel Dudley, Discovering the factivity of know


  • Jeffrey Green, Pragmatic control of rationale clauses
  • Quinn Harr, In what sense is might an epistemic modal?
  • Nick Huang, Syntactic bootstrapping with minimal morphosyntactic cues: Learning Mandarin Chinese attitude verb meanings

Hail to 12 Maryland language scientists, plus their crew, who won bronze in their division of the Ragnar Relay, out of 97 teams, running 207 miles in 29 hours, 2 minutes and 49 seconds. The team was 14th out of 315 overall.

The relay stretched over an epic route from Cumberland, in the western tip of Maryland, "east through thick forest trails and scenic paths [...] through the quiet streets of many charming historic Civil War-Era towns," ending ultimately in D.C. at Yards Park near the Navy Yards on the banks of the Anacostia.

An inspiring feat by runners Adam Fishbein, Alison Shell, Andrea Zukowski, Anouk Dieuleveut, Colin Phillips, Eric Pelzl, Laurel Perkins and fiancé Nathan Letourneau, Nick Huang, Nina Hsu, Phoebe Gaston, Shevaun Lewis, and Tom Conners. Congratulations also to this year's tireless support crew, Lara Ehrenhofer and Tara Mease

September 24 at the Northeast Computational Phonology Circle, Chris Neufeld talks about "Modelling phonetic categories and categorical perception with inner product spaces". This year NECPhon returns to UMass, site of its first meeting, to hold its tenth.

September 22-24 in Paris, Maria Polinsky is at a Workshop on Georgian and South Caucasian languages, which she helped to organize. Masha will give the introductory lecture, and lead a tutorial on experimental work.

September 23 at the Second Language Research Forum, Zoe Schlueter presents joint work with Ellen Lau and 2016 alumnus Shota Momma, in a paper titled "Grammatical knowledge without native-like online processing routines: subject-verb agreement in Chinese L2 learners of English".

September 17 Jeffrey Lidz explains “The Nature and Origins of Principle C,” at a workshop organized by 2007 Maryland alums Lisa Pearl and Jon Sprouse.

September 19-20, Maria Polinsky is speaking at a Workshop on Heritage Language Acquisition sponsored by the Language Acquisition, Variation & Attrition research group within the Department of Linguistics at UiT, the Arctic University of Norway, in conjunction with the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics.

September 16-17 at Stanford, Omer Preminger is invited to present "What the PCC tells us about 'abstract' agreement, head movement, and locality" at a workshop on head movement.

Say hello to Iria de dios Flores in 1413H, and Zuzanna Fuchs in 3416A, two new visitors to our department this semester. Iria joins us from the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, where she is writing a PhD titled "The role of grammar in language processing." She has a special interest in grammatical illusions. Zuzanna is a third year PhD student at Harvard, with Maria Polinsky as her advisor. Her research focuses on syntax, including experimental methodology and fieldwork.

Congratulations to Chia-Hsuan Liao, who has a paper in the Journal of Neurolinguistics, titled "Direction matters: Event-related brain potentials reflect extra processing costs in switching from the dominant to the less dominant language". The paper uses ERP to study whether, in bilinguals, specifically Mandarin-Taiwanese bilinguals, the processing cost of switching languages is modulated by (1) the direction of the switch, or (2) cloze probability. The results suggest that switching into the non-dominant language is more costly, and that cloze probability interacts with switching only at an early stage.

September 1-3 in Bilbao, Zoe Schlueter is at the 16th Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing conference, presenting "The impact of coordination on agreement processing: Abstract and surface cues to plurality", with co-authors Ellen Lau and Alexander Williams. Zoe will be joining join many UMD Linguistics alumni, including Sol Lago ('14), Alexis Wellwood ('14), Wing-Yee Chow ('13), Dave Kush ('13), Brian Dillon ('11), Diogo Almeida ('09), Masaya Yoshida ('06), Hajime Ono ('06), Tomohiro Fujii ('06) and Nina Kazanina ('05), as well as past Baggett Fellow Shayne Slogget, and a few department visitors. Here's what our students past and present are talking about:


  • The impact of coordination on agreement processing: Abstract and surface cues to plurality, Zoe Schlueter, Alexander Williams & Ellen Lau
  • Agreement attraction in Turkish, Sol Lago, Martina Gracanin Yuksek, Duygu Safak, Orhan Demir, Bilal Kirkici & Claudia Felser
  • Decomposition and processing of negative adjectival comparatives, Daniel Tucker, Barbara Tomaszewicz & Alexis Wellwood
  • Eye-tracking evidence for active gap-filling regardless of dependency length, Yangzi Zhou, Rosanna Todd & Wing-Yee Chow
  • Ordered access to antecedents of pronouns: New SAT Evidence, Dave Kush & Julie A. Van Dyke
  • An MMN investigation of the Russian voicing contrast, Kevin Schluter, Stephen Politzer-Ahles & Diogo Almeida
  • Who piggybacks on what? Resolving wh-dependency by the predicted Question particle, Hajime Ono, Masaya Yoshida & Tomohiro Fujii
  • Updating mid-sentence predictions using information from negating elements in variably predictable contexts, Emily Darley, Chris Kent & Nina Kazanina


  • When do comprehenders violate the Binding Theory? It depends on your point of view, Shayne Sloggett & Brian Dillon

A warm greeting to Aaron, Anouk, Mina, Rodrigo, Sigwan, and Tyler, now only 5 years from being Maryland Linguistics alumni!

Now in Frontiers in Psychology, "Locality and Word Order in Active Dependency Formation in Bangla," by 2015 alumnus Dustin Chacón, with Colin Phillips and co-authors from the Universities of Dhaka and Calcutta: Mashrur Imtiaz, Shirsho Dasgupta, Sikder M. Murshed, and Mina Dan. The paper asks whether preferences to resolve filler-gap dependencies 'locally' are sensitive to linear locality or structural locality. It pursues this question through three experiments in Bangla, or Bengali, a language in which embedded clauses may either precede or follow the embedding verb. This property of Bangla allows for manipulation of whether the first gap linearly available is or is not contained in the same clause as the filler. In Experiment 1, an untimed ambiguity resolution task, there was a global bias to resolve a filler-gap dependency with the first gap linearly available, regardless of structural hierarchy. But in Experiments 2 and 3, which use the filled-gap paradigm, there was sensitivity to filling of the soonest gap only when when gap site is both structurally and linearly local. The paper takes this to suggest that comprehenders may not show sensitivity to the disruption of all preferred gap resolutions.

September 2 at the National University of Singapore, Theodore Levin speaks "On the complementarity of case/agreement and (pseudo) noun incorporation," at the invitation of the Department of English Language & Literature.

Hello to our new Baggetts, Michaela and Jackie, as well as RAs Hanna and Nancy, who will work with Colin and Masha, respectively.

  • Michaela Socolof joins us from McGill, where she majored in Linguistics, minored in Italian, and wrote an honors thesis on "Relativization Strategies in Māori". In 2015 Michaela studied the Māori language during a semester at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

  • Jackie Nelligan has a BA in Philosophy-Psychology-Neuroscience and Mathematics, with a minor in Linguistics, from Washington University of St. Louis, where she wrote an honors thesis titled "Ternary and single stress patterns with Weak Bracketing". She was also captain of the volleyball team.

  • Hanna Muller recently completed her BA in Linguistics at NYU, where she worked Stephanie Harves and UMD alum Dustin Chacón, among others. In addition to her Linguistics major she also completed minors in Spanish, Mathematics, and Computer Science, and wrote an honors thesis on German syntax.

  • Nancy Clarke joins us from UMass Amherst, where she majored in Linguistics and worked with Ellen Woolford and Seth Cable, under whose guidance she has researched the marking of future tense in Tlingit.

Congratulations to 2015 alum Kaitlyn Harrigan, who is to be Lecturer of Psycholinguistics in the Department of Psychology at the College of William and Mary. Down in Williamsburg, Virginia, Kate will have a chance to re-join forces with 2014's Dan Parker, now Assistant Professor of English and Linguistics.

Congratulations to Juliana Gerard, now Lecturer in Linguistics in the School of Communication at Ulster University, where she will work with Jacopo Romoli. Julie will be along the northern shore of the Loch Lao ("Inlet of the Calf") at the Jordanstown campus of UU in County Antrim, about 10km north of Belfast ("Mouth of the Sandbanks"), the capital of Northern Ireland.

Congratulations to Allyson Ettinger, whose "Probing for semantic evidence of composition by means of simple classification tasks," with Philip Resnik and CS's Ahmed Elgohary, has been judged best paper within the first ever Workshop on Evaluating Vector Space Representations for NLP (RepEval), held within this year's meeting of Association for Computational Linguistics in Berlin.

Congratulations to Valentine Hacquard and NYU's Ailis Cournane, for 2 years of NSF support (BCS#1551628) to "Acquiring the Language of Possibility: Consequences for language variation and change" . The project examines children's acquisition of words expressing possibility and necessity, in relation to patterns of cross-linguistic variation and historical change. It will involve both a corpus study, and a series of behavioral experiments to test children's comprehension and production of modal words.

Congratulations to Rachel Dudley, who with Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz has won NSF DDRI support for "The role of input in the acquisition of factivity" (1628110), research that will go towards Rachel's dissertation. Proposals for DDRI awards "are judged on the basis of their scientific merit, including the theoretical importance of the research question and the appropriateness of the proposed data and methodology to be used in addressing the question."

New from Maria Polinsky, Deconstructing Ergativity: Two Types of Ergative Languages and Their Features. In this book, Masha argues that ergative languages instantiate two main types: one where the ergative subject is a prepositional phrase (PP-ergatives), this being syntactic ergativity, and one with a noun-phrase ergative (DP-ergatives). The book provides an analysis of both types, and traces the diachronic connection between them. It also illustrates the two with extensive descriptions of Tongan (PP-ergative) and Tsez (DP-ergative), based on Masha's original fieldwork.

August 10-13, Alexander, Allyson, Caitlin Richter, Colin, Kasia, Naomi and Philip have work at the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, in Philadelphia.

Talk at main conference

  • A framework for evaluating speech representations, Caitlin Richter, Naomi Feldman, Harini Salgado and Aren Jansen

Talk at symposium (Concepts from Event Semantics in Cognition)


Check out the Oxford Handbook of Developmental Linguistics, edited by Jeffrey Lidz, William Snyder (UConn) and Joe Pater (UMass). Among the chapters are contributions from several current faculty and recent alumni:

  • The Acquisition of Phonological Inventories, Ewan Dunbar [*13] and Bill Idsardi
  • Quantification in Child Language, Jeffrey Lidz
  • Logical Connectives, Takuya Goro [*07]
  • Statistical Learning, Inductive Bias, and Bayesian Inference in Language Acquisition, Lisa Pearl [*07] and Sharon Goldwater
  • Language Development in Children with Developmental Disorders, Andrea Zukowski

July 25-August 5 Maxime Papillon is in beautiful Lagodekhi, teaching phonological theory at the Eastern Generative Grammar summer school. Lagodekhi is the heart of the Georgian wine country, at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, and bordering the Balakan District of Azerbaijan.

Fresh in Cognitive Science, "Modeling Statistical Insensitivity: Sources of Suboptimal Behavior," from alumna Annie Gagliardi, with Naomi Feldman and Jeffrey Lidz. The article observes that children learning languages with noun classes (grammatical gender) have ample statistical information available that characterizes the distribution of nouns into these classes, but their use of this information to classify novel nouns differs from the predictions made by an optimal Bayesian classifier. It then uses rational analysis to investigate the hypothesis that children are classifying nouns optimally with respect to a distribution that does not match the surface distribution of statistical features in their input, and finds that the best model imputes a bias to ignore certain features during classification, rather than an inability to encode those features during learning.

Congratulations to Maria Polinsky, PI on "Investigating Endangered Language Contact for Awakateko and K'iche', two Mayan languages", which has won support from the NSF (#BCS-1563129).

Congratulations to Philip Resnik, both for a Bloomberg Research Grant and for a UMB-UMCP seed grant! The first, "What's the Angle? Disentangling Perspectives from Content in the News", is with Noah Smith (University of Washington), Amber Boydstun (UC Davis), and Justin Gross (UMass Amherst). The second, "Development of Computational Modeling to Identify Symptom Changes in Schizophrenia and Depression", is with Deanna Kelly, Professor in Psychiatry at University of Maryland Baltimore.

Now out in Frontiers in Psychology, "Establishing new mappings between familiar phones: Neural and behavioral evidence for early automatic processing of nonnative contrasts" by alumna Shannon Barrios and co-authors Anna Namyst, Ellen Lau, Naomi Feldman, and Bill Idsardi. Part of a special issue on "Phonology in the bilingual and bidialectal lexicon," the article investigates whether advanced Spanish late-learners of English overcome native language mappings to establish new phonological relations between familiar phones, using data from both behavioral and MEG studies. The results suggest that phonological relatedness influences perceived similarity, as evidenced by the results of the native speaker groups, but may not cause persistent difficulty for advanced L2 learners. Instead, L2 learners are able to use cues that are present in their input to establish new mappings between familiar phones.

Congratulations to Rachel Dudley, 2016 recipient of the Howard Lasnik Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student. This annual award, granted by faculty consensus, honors excellence in TA'ing. So from all of us: thank you Rachel, for all your hard work!

June 15-18 at UW in Seattle, Maria Polinsky leads five faculty and four presenters at the Ninth Heritage Language Research Institute, in pursuing several questions from the standpoint of research, language planning, and linguistic training: How do bilingual children turn into adult heritage speakers? What are the vulnerable domains in the languages of both populations, what are their strengths, and where are the differences? And how can we preserve and maintain the relative stability of early childhood bilingualism?

Congratulations to Ellen and her family, who on June 7 welcomed a beautiful new boy, Antonio John Alvares de Azevedo Lau, at 9lbs 2oz.

Jeffrey Lidz and Alexander Williams have won 3 years of NSF support for "Transitivity of Sentences and Scenes in Early Language Development" (#BCS-1551629), a project that continues work done with Angela Xiaoxue He, Alexis Wellwood and Rachel Dudley, recently joined by Laurel Perkins, Sigríður Björnsdóttir and Mina Hirzel. The project is directed at the claim that very young children take transitive sentences to describe events viewed as having two participants. It asks whether children reliably view their world in these terms, and considers several problem cases.

June 12-17 Allyson and Philip join Marine and Hal, with CS students He He and Yogarshi Vyas, at the 15th Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, held this year in San Diego. Here are their papers:

  • Allyson Ettinger, Philip Resnik and Marine Carpuat, "Retrofitting sense-specific word vectors using parallel text"
  • Yogarshi Vyas and Marine Carpuat, "Sparse Bilingual Word Representations for Cross-lingual Lexical Entailment"
  • He He, Jordan Boyd-Graber and Hal Daumé III, "Interpretese vs. Translationese: The Uniqueness of Human Strategies in Simultaneous Interpretation"

May 19 Chris Heffner heads to the Language Pod at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, to serve for 2 months as a mentor on behalf an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program at our Big Ten partner, The Ohio State University. The program, titled "The Science of Language and the Language of Science", is headed by co-Principal Investigators Laura Wagner from Psychology and Kathryn Campbell-Kibler from Linguistics. Support for Chris's expedition comes from a NACS Research Training grant.

Bon voyage to Rodrigo Ranero, Chris Baron, Paulina Lyskawa, Gesoel Mendes, Theodore Levin, Omer Preminger and Maria Polinsky, who on May 31 leave for Tecpan, Patzun, and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, on the first group trip to the Guatemalan Field Station. Also with the group will be Carola Emkow from the Free University of Berlin, and three graduate students from other universities: Emma Bierings (Leiden), Sasha Kozhukhar (HSE Moscow) and Elizaveta Vostokova (HSE Moscow). The group will pursue several research projects on the structure of Mayan languages spoken in the area – Kaqchikel, Tzutujil, Mam, and Chuj – while joining ongoing projects on literacy and health led by Wuqu' Kawoq, an NGO who is a partner in the station.

Fresh out the box, Theodore Levin's "Successive-cyclic case assignment: Korean nominative-nominative case-stacking", in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. The paper argues that nominative-nominative stacking in Korean is incompatible with an Agree model of case-assignment, but consistent with an emended version of the Dependent Case model.

Congratulations to 2015 alumnus Dustin Chacón, who returns to his alma mater as a contract assistant professor in the Institute of Linguistics at Minnesota. This past year, Dustin has been a Faculty Fellow in the Department of Linguistics at NYU.

May 18 and 19 Omer Preminger is in eastern Germany discussing intervention and agreement, first with "Feeding relations and their breakdowns: A theory of dative intervention" in a colloquium for the IGRA (Interaction of GRAmmatical Building Blocks) group at the University of Leipzig, and then in "What the PCC tells us about ‘abstract’ agreement, head movement, and locality" at the Center for General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin.

May 6-7, the department hosts Mayfest 2016, "Context", doubling this year as PHLINC3. Mayfest is an annual two-day workshop organized by our graduate students. It brings together 8-12 distinguished researchers, representing diverse perSpectives, to discuss some fundamental issue in linguistics. We welcome:

May 9, Valentine Hacquard and Ailis Cournane present "Constraints on modal variation across languages and development" at New Research on Modality, a one-day workshop at Georgetown. The other presenters are Cleo Condoravdi, Elena Herburger, Aynat Rubenstein, and the Georgetown Gradable Modal Expression Group featuring Paul Portner.

May 4, Valentine Hacquard is at Montgomery-Blair High School, talking about semantics.

Congratulations to Rachel Dudley, selected as a finalist for the Graduate Student Distinguished Service Award, one of only five across the entire university. Watch Rachel receive her honor at the awards ceremony on May 1 here, at the 2:04:32 mark. The award recognizes "service, involvement, leadership, and scholarship above and beyond the scope of typical responsibilities."

Congratulations to Paulina Lyskawa, who has won a doctoral fellowship from Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for her proposal, "The relation of case, agreement and word order in three varieties of Heritage Polish."

May 7 at NAPhC9, Maxime Papillon presents "Learning Novel Contrasts Based on Small Phonetic Details." The theme of this 9th North American Phonology Conference, taking place this year at Concordia, is "phonological representation and computation from an internalist, nativist, symbol-processing perspective."

Check out this reply from Lidz, Han & Musolino to Piantadosi & Kidd's questions about their recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, "Endogenous sources of variation in language acquisition."

Jeffrey Lidz

Fresh in Language Acquisition from 2012 visitor Lyn Tieu and then advisor Jeff, NPI licensing and beyond: Children's knowledge of the semantics of "any". The paper presents a study of 4-5 year-old children’s knowledge of the semantics of the negative polarity item (NPI) any, and shows that these children, like adults, interpreted it as quantifying over the largest domain available in the context.

April 29-May 1 at Utah, WCCFL 34 features upcoming first-year, Sigwan Thivierge; current students Carolina and Mike; post-doc Ted Levin; alumni Aaron White, Alexis Wellwood, Jon Sprouse and Masaya Yoshida; and also an invited talk by Colin Phillips. The Department of Linguistics at Utah is also home to alumna Shannon Barrios, who graduated in 2013 with a dissertation on Similarity in L2 Phonology.

  • Deriving Inverse-Marking Patterns in Nishnaabemwin, Sigwan Thivierge (Concordia)
  • Pseudogapping does not involve heavy shift, Michael Fetters and Aaron Steven White (Hopkins)
  • Defective Intervention defended: adverbs and experiencers in Romance, Carolina Petersen and Mihaela Marchis Moreno (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
  • Palauan DOM is a licensing phenomenon, Theodore Levin
  • Ellipsis or pro-form–Reconstruction effects of sluicing in Mandarin Chinese, Wei Song and Masaya Yoshida (Northwestern)
  • States and events in the semantics of stage-level predications, Alexis Wellwood (Northwestern)
  • The trace of categorical structure in gradient judgments, Aaron Steven White (Hopkins) & Jon Sprouse (Connecticut)

April 21 in Philadelphia, Valentine Hacquard gives a colloquium talk, Grasping at Factivity, at Penn Linguistics, the department that was founded by Zellig Harris in 1947, and which granted Noam Chomsky every one of his non-honorary degrees. Here is the abstract for the talk:

  • Speakers mean more than their sentences do, because they can take a lot about their audience for granted. This talk explores how presuppositions and pragmatic enrichments play out in acquisition. How do children untangle semantic from pragmatic contributions to what speakers mean? The case study I will focus on is how children learn the meaning of the words think and know. When and how do children figure out that think but not know can be used to report false beliefs? When and how do they figure out that with know, but not think, speakers tend to presuppose the truth of the complement clause? I will suggest that the path of acquisition is traced by the child’s understanding both of where such verbs occur, and of why speakers use them.

April 21 at the Radcliffe Institute, Jeffrey Lidz talks at Asking About Children’s Questions, a seminar led by former Terp Meredith Rowe on the question of what young children's use of questions tells us about their theory of mind, about their ability to learn by asking, about their understanding of knowledge, and about their understanding of who has it.

Congratulations to Phoebe Gaston and Kasia Hitczenko, two of only 18 students in Linguistics to win Honorable Mention from the NSF GRFP competition! Phoebe and Kasia's project proposals were titled "Modeling syntax for a linear parser: Neural evidence for constraints of hierarchical structure in probabilistic models of auditory comprehension" and "Does speech normalization help infants acquire the sound system of their language?". Also honored was former Baggett Fellow, Erin Bennett, now a student in Psychology at Stanford.

Congratulations to Rachel Dudley for winning the University's Wylie Fellowship. The fellowship recognizes "the excellence of [her] research proposal, work done on the project to date, and the potential importance of the dissertation to the student’s field of research," and comes with one semester of support. The fellowship is named after Ann Wylie, University Provost, Professor of Geology, and mother of artist Eva Wylie.

Check out the Proceedings of GALANA6, edited by Laurel Perkins, Rachel Dudley, Juliana Gerard and Kasia Hitczenko, with an Introduction by Laurel. The volume collects 13 papers from the excellent 6th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America, held here at UMD during a snowstorm in the winter of 2015.

Now out, "Discontinuous Development in the acquisition of filler-gap dependencies" by 2012 alumna Annie Gagliardi, with Jeff and Tara. The article reports three experiments on the comprehension of wh-questions and relative clauses, by 15- and 20-month olds. It finds that, under certain circumstances, both groups can understand uses of both constructions. But it argues that they reach this understanding in different ways. Only the 20-month-olds deploy a representation of filler-gap dependencies. The 15-month-olds instead make inferential use of what they know about the argument-structure of the verb.

April 15 down at Gallaudet Linguistics, Maria Polinksy is invited to speak at a panel on Heritage Signers, organized by Deborah Chen Pichler.

April 15 at a conference to honor Bob Freidin, Howard Lasnik joins his student Jon Sprouse and his teacher Noam Chomsky as a guest speaker at “Prospects for the Theory of Syntax”.

April 11-14, Bill Idsardi and Colin Phillips are speaking at a Workshop on (Morpho-)Phonological Processing, organized by the Language and Brain Laboratory in the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics at University of Oxford. Bill and Colin's talks are titled, respectively, "Unwinding morpho-phonology" and "Linking speaking and understanding: Underlying mechanisms with very different surface effects."

Hurray to 2010 alumnus Tim Hunter, who now joins the faculty at UCLA Linguistics, after several productive years at Minnesota. As the "successful candidate," Tim has "demonstrate[d] strong engagement with linguistic theory in the areas of syntax and/or semantics and will have primary responsibility for overseeing the [UCLA] department’s graduate and undergraduate programs in computational linguistics."

April 8, Alexander Williams is at Kenmoor Middle School in Landover, beginning a series of monthly classes on linguistics for sixth graders.

Just out in the debut of Glossa, alumni duo Dunbar and Wellwood's "Addressing the 'two interface' problem: Comparatives and Superlatives."

April 7 in Göttingen, GLOW features "Subject/Object Symmetry: A spurious effect" by Maria Polinsky and MIT student Nick Longenbaugh. The University of Göttingen was created on the orders of the grandfather of King George III, who approved the Tea Act of 1773 and thereafter lost the American colonies.

Congratulations to Shota Momma, who in July joins Vic Ferreira's Language Production Lab as a postdoctoral research fellow in Psychology at UC San Diego. Surf's up, Momma!

Congratulations to Juliana Gerard, who has won an NSF Dissertation Research Improvement Grant for "Similarity-based interference and the acquisition of adjunct control." These grants provide funds for items not normally available through the student's university, especially for data-gathering and field research. Here is the abstract of Julie's successful proposal:

  • "By age 4, children's language abilities are already quite sophisticated; however, there are still many ways in which they seem to differ linguistically from adults. There is not always a consensus regarding the source of children’s behavior, and even less clear are the mechanisms involved in the transition from non-adultlike to adultlike behavior. The proposed research investigates the acquisition of adjunct control as a case study in accounting for children’s errors in terms of sentence processing mechanisms. In sentences with adjunct control, there is a syntactic control dependency between the main clause subject and the null subject of a non-finite adjunct, as in "John bumped Mary after tripping on the sidewalk." In these types of sentences adults only allow a subject control interpretation, but all previous studies on the acquisition of adjunct control have reported that children allow a wider range of interpretations than adults. While many factors may contribute to children’s non-adultlike behavior in a linguistic task, all of these studies assumed that children’s behavior was due to non-adultlike linguistic knowledge rather than considering extra-grammatical factors. Based on models from adult psycholinguistics, the proposed research outlines four experiments to test the hypothesis that children’s errors for sentences with adjunct control are due to similarity-based interference. Unlike the previous accounts, this approach allows for a more continuous developmental trajectory. Furthermore, effects of similarity-based interference have been observed for a number of constructions in children and adults, but there has been little investigation into why the effects observed for children are greater than the effects observed for adults. Considering an extra-grammatical explanation for children’s non-adultlike behavior therefore presents the possibility to investigate the mechanisms responsible for this difference in future research."

March 15-18, Naomi Feldman visits MIT and presents "How phonetic learners should use their input," as well as "Modeling language outside of the lab", in the context of their Phonology Circle group.

March 8-11 in Leiden, Jeffrey Lidz talks "Most" at Tightening the Articulation Between Language and Number, a workshop organized by Pierre Pica and Johan Rooryck for the Lorentz Center for Workshops in the Sciences at the Universiteit Leiden, alma mater to both Spinoza and Descartes, and the oldest Dutch university.

March 2-5 at Florida, CUNY has an invited talk by Masha, plus work involving Anton, Julie, Laurel, Rachel, Shota, Sirri, Valentine, Philip, Jeff, Ellen, Colin and Alexander from Linguistics; Yi Ting Huang and Jared Novick from HESP, Bob Slevc from Psychology, Rachel Adler from NACS, Nina Hsu from CASL, and Eric Pelzl from SLA; as well as Linguistics alumni Masaya Yoshida, Aaron Steven White, Matt Wagers, Yi-ching Su, Dan Parker, Hajime Ono, Akira Omaki, Sol Lago, Dave Kush, Angela He, Tomohiro Fujii, Rob Fiorentino, Brian Dillon, and Wing-Yee Chow; plus recent visitors Michele Alves and Christian Brodbeck, former postdoc Ming Xiang, former Baggett Shayne Slogget, and former RA Michael Svartsman.

Invited talk

  • Maria Polinsky, What does it take to be a native speaker?

Talks (in chronological order)

  • Laurel Perkins, Angela Xiaoxue He, Alexander Williams, Rachel Dudley, Sigríður Björnsdóttir and Jeffrey Lidz, "Can Intransitive Clauses Name 2-Participant Events? A New Test of Participant-to-Argument Matching in Verb Learning" (at pre-CUNY workshop on events in language and cognition)
  • Yi Ting Huang, Lauren Abadie, Alison Arnold and Erin Hollister, "Novelty of discourse referents promotes heuristics in children’s syntactic processing"
  • Shota Momma, Yingyi Luo, Hiromu Sakai, Ellen Lau and Colin Phillips, "Lexical predictions and the structure of semantic memory: EEG evidence from case changes"

Flash talks

  • Juliana Gerard, Jeffrey Lidz, Shalom Zuckerman and Manuela Pinto, "Adjunct control interpretation in four year olds is colored by the task"
  • Anton Malko and Natalia Slioussar, "Gender agreement attraction in Russian: novel patterns in comprehension"


  • Tomohiro Fujii, Hajime Ono and Masaya Yoshida, "A constraint on the online empty pronoun resolution in Japanese"
  • Dan Parker, "A new model for processing antecedent-ellipsis mismatches"
  • Nayoung Kim, Laurel Brehm and Masaya Yoshida, "Agreement Attraction in NP ellipsis"
  • Michele Alves, "Attraction interference effects of number in pronominal resolution processing in Brazilian Portuguese"
  • Yi Ting Huang, Juliana Gerard, Nina Hsu, Alix Kowalski and Jared Novick, "Cognitive-control effects on the kindergarten path: Separating correlation from causation"
  • Kathleen Hall and Masaya Yoshida, "Complexity effects in sluicing and sprouting"
  • Julian Grove, Emily Hanink and Ming Xiang, "Comprehension Priming Evidence for Elliptical Structures"
  • Sol Lago, Anna Stutter and Claudia Felser, "Cross-linguistic variation in sensitivity to grammatical errors: evidence from multilingual speakers"
  • Nina Hsu, Ashley Thomas and Jared Novick, "Does visual cognitive control engagement help listeners tidy up the garden-path?"
  • Yi-ching Su, "Felicity Condition and Children’s Knowledge of Restrictive Focus"
  • Wing-Yee Chow, Yangzi Zhou and Rosanna Todd, "Eye-tracking evidence for active gapfilling regardless of dependency length"
  • Jeremy Pasquereau and Brian Dillon, "Grammaticality illusions are conditioned by lexical item-specific grammatical properties"
  • Samar Husain and Dave Kush, "Linear proximity effects in Hindi reciprocal resolution"
  • Shota Momma, Julia Buffinton, L. Robert Slevc and Colin Phillips, "Similar words compete, but only when they’re from the same category"
  • Akira Omaki, Zoe Ovans and Brian Dillon, "Intrusive reflexive binding inside a fronted wh-predicate"
  • Chelsea Miller and Matt Wagers, "Limited Reactivation of Syntactic Structure in Noun Phrase Ellipsis"
  • Dan Parker and Liana Abramson, "Parallelism guides syntactic prediction for across-the-board extraction"
  • Shayne Sloggett and Brian Dillon, "Person blocking effects in the processing of English reflexives"
  • Dan Parker, Michael Shvartsman and Julie Van Dyke, "Agreement attraction is selective: Evidence from eye-tracking"
  • Shota Momma, L. Robert Slevc and Colin Phillips, "Split intransitivity modulates lookahead effects in sentence planning"
  • L. Robert Slevc, "Structural priming from errors reflects alignment, not residual activation"
  • Aaron Steven White, Valentine Hacquard, Philip Resnik and Jeffrey Lidz, "Subcategorization frame entropy in online verb-learning"
  • Dave Kush and Julie Van Dyke, "The effect of prominence on antecedent retrieval: new SAT evidence"
  • Jed Pizarro-Guevara and Matt Wagers, "The role of Tagalog verbal agreement in processing wh-dependencies"
  • Eric Pelzl, Taomei Guo and Ellen Lau, "Tuning in: adaptation to mispronunciation in foreign-accented sentence comprehension"
  • Rachel Adler, Jared Novick and Yi Ting Huang, "Understanding contextual effects during the real-time comprehension of verbal irony"
  • Robert Fiorentino, Alison Gabriele and Lauren Covey, "Using event-related potentials to examine individual differences in the processing of pronominal reference"
  • Yi Ting Huang and Alison Arnold, "Word learning in linguistic context: Processing and memory effects"

Congratulations to 2014 alumnus Kenshi Funakoshi, who in 2017 joins Dokkyo as Lecturer of Linguistics, equivalent to Assistant Professor. At Maryland Kenshi wrote a dissertation titled "Syntactic head movement and its consequences", under Howard's supervision. His new university is in Sōka, just 30km from Tokyo. Founded in 1881 by a Japanese expert on Kant, the university takes its name from an abbreviation of Doitsu-gaku Kyōkai [獨逸學協會], which means German-studies Society.

February 24 Maria Polinsky explores "The relationship between theoretical and empirical syntax" at The Syntax of Argument Structure, a workshop organized by Artemis Alexiadou and Elisabeth Verhoeven for the 38th Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft, DGfS). This year the meeting is in Konstanz, near the Swiss frontier in southwestern Germany, on the Bodensee, the only part of Europe without any agreed borders.

Now out, "'Syntactic perturbation' during production activates the right IFG, but not Broca’s area or the ATL" by William Matchin and Greg Hickok. The paper reports an fMRI experiment of ‘syntactic perturbation’ - a task that forced subjects to switch sentence constructions while speaking. The results highlighted the right IFG as a brain area potentially involved in facilitating syntactic restructuring through the inhibition of initial syntactic plans.

Say hello to Kouki Miyazawa, a postdoc visiting from Reiko Mazuka's lab at RIKEN in Japan, working on infant acquisition of phonology. He will be here through the end of March.

February 18 at Formal Approaches to Japanese Linguistics, Maria Polinsky presents "Parametrizing subject transparency", one of four invited talks. This year FAJL is at Mie University.

February 5-7, Maria Polinsky is at BLS42 presenting "Niuean subject/object symmetry," joint work with Nick Longenbaugh.

Say hello to Saskia, a PhD student from Uni. Tübingen with advisor Sigrid Beck. Her work focuses on on the acquisition of pronouns and indexicals, and Saskia will develop her thoughts on this with us this semester, working especially with Valentine and Jeff.

February 5 at Santa Cruz, Colin Phillips reconciles surface differences between comprehension and production in "Speaking, understanding, and the architecture of language," reporting work with Shota Momma, Ellen Lau, Wing-Yee Chow, Bob Slevc and many others.

February 5 at Stanford, Jeff explains "How Syntax Solves Children’s Attitude Problems", reporting work with Valentine and Rachel Dudley, as well as recent alumni Aaron White, Kate Harrigan and Shevaun Lewis, and many other members, past and present, of our Acquisition Lab.

Say hello to Amsterdam PhD student Caitlin Meyer, who works on the acquisition of numerals and ordinals, with advisors Fred Weerman, Sjef Barbiers and Johan Rooryck.

Visiting us this semester from the Guangdong University of Technology is Wáng Hé-yù [xə ɥy], a 2014 PhD from the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. Dr. Wáng, whose dissertation is titled "The Syntax and Semantics of English and Chinese Middles", will be working with Howard on the analysis of Voice and transitivity alternations within a Minimalist framework.

Now in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, "Endogenous sources of variation in language acquisition" by Jeff, Chung-hye Han, and Julien Musolino. The paper argues that, "when the exposure language is compatible with multiple grammars, learners choose a single, systematic, grammar at random," based on its finding that some idiolects of Korean have the verb in a higher position than others, without there being differences in the linguistic input that would explain this.

Now in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, two articles by Colin Phillips and Lara Ehrenhofer, "The role of language processing and language acquisition", plus a response to seventeen commentaries on this paper, "Learning obvious and obscure properties of language." The papers discuss various ways that language processing can be used to understand language acquisition.

January 16-17, Maria Polinsky presents "The processing of long-distance dependencies in Niuean" at Experimental Approaches to Arabic and Other Understudied Languages, joint work with MIT student Nick Longenbaugh. Also being presented is work by UMD Linguistics alumni Dustin Chacón ("Different grammars = Different parsers?"), Matt Wagers ("Morphology and informativity in incremental dependency formation – a Chamorro perspective", with Sandra Chung) and John Drury ("Illusions of grammaticality on NPI licensing in Turkish: Does the parser ignore the grammar?", with Aydogan Yanilmaz).

Now in Language Learning & Development from Alexis '14, Annie '12 and Jeff, "Syntactic and Lexical Inference in the Acquisition of Novel Superlatives." This paper argues, based on several word-learning tasks with 4-year-olds, that a “syntactic bootstrapping” hypothesis correctly predicts a bias toward quantity-based interpretations of a novel word appears in the syntactic position of a determiner, but also leaves open the explanation of a bias towards quality-based interpretations when the same word is in the syntactic position of an adjective. It then gives four computational models that differentially encode how lexical, conceptual, and perceptual factors could generate the latter bias, and concludes that it most likely results from a combination of lexical bias and perceptual encoding.

January 18-20 in Berlin, Rachel Dudley and Adler are at Trends in Experimental Pragmatics presenting, respectively, "Using corpus methods can begin to address how children acquire presupposition triggers" (with Valentine, Jeff and Meredith Rowe), and “The time course of verbal irony comprehension and context integration” (with Jared and Yi Ting). This first instance of TiXPrag is being organized by Uli Sauerland and Petra Schumacher.

Congratulations to Tim, who in January becomes a Research Specialist with John Trueswell and Lila Gleitman at UPenn's Department of Psychology in Philadelphia. Tim is a graduating linguistic major, and has worked in the Acquisition Lab with Jeff Lidz.

This week along the Oder in Wrocław, two meetings led by Colin Phillips at the Center for Experimental Research on Natural Language. The two discussions – "Comprehension, production and prediction" and "The Nature of Linguistic Constraints: Explanation and Reductionism" – are part of a broader workshop on psycholinguistics, with other scholars from Poland and Germany. Wrocław is the capital of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, and its University has been home to many important scholars, including Erwin Schrödinger.

Now in Frontiers, an article on the relevance of heritage linguistics to the study of linguistic competence, from Maria Polinsky and collaborators Gregory Scontras and Zuzanna Fuchs. The paper presents a series of case studies, documenting some of the deficits and abilities typical of heritage speakers – in morphosyntax, argument structure, relativization and scope – together with the broader theoretical questions they inform.

Congratulations to Colin Phillips for his reëlection as a member-at-large of the steering group for Section Z of the American Academy for Advancement of Sciences, the section for "Linguistics and Language Science". This group of four members also includes our own Maria Polinsky, elected last year, as well as our old friend David Poeppel, elected the year before that. It's a near total Terpover!

This year, February, the AAAS annual meeting will be in Washington DC, and UMD will be part of a multi-university team that will be leading a "Language Science for Everyone" booth at the popular Family Science Days event.

November 13-15 in Boston, the BU Conference on Language Development features work by visitor Alex de Carvalho and alumnae Kate Harrigan and Angela He, done jointly with Jeff Lidz and Valentine Hacquard. Jeff is also a discussant in a lunch symposium on syntactic bootstrapping, together with Cynthia Fisher and Anne Christophe.

  • Alex de Carvalho, Angela He, Jeffrey Lidz and Anne Christophe, 18-month-olds use the relationship between prosodic and syntactic structures to constrain the meaning of novel words

  • Kaitlyn Harrigan, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, Hope for syntactic bootstrapping

  • Jeffrey Lidz, with Anne Christophe and Cynthia Fisher, In(put)s and Out(put)s of the Syntactic Bootstrapper (Lunch Symposium)

Skål to 2013 alumnus Dave Kush, soon to be Onsager Associate Professor in Linguistics in Trondheim, Norway, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet). There he joins 2012 alumnus Terje Lohndal, Professor in the same department, in a city where one in five residents is a university student.

November 5-6, the Workshop on Modality Across Categories invites Valentine Hacquard to present "Constraints on modal variation across languages and development" at Universitat Pompeu Fabra University. Notably, Barcelona may be the European city whose flag looks most like Maryland's.

Warm congratulations to Allison and Jeffrey Green, who welcome their boy August, born just after midnight on October 29. August is a big and healthy baby, at 7 pounds 14 ounces and 21inches long. Enjoy this wonderful time, Jeff!

November 7 at Delaware, Kasia Hitczenko presents Modeling adaptation to a novel accent at NECphon, the Northeast Computational Phonology Workshop. The paper concerns adaptation to novel accents, and argues, relying on recent work by former Baggett Fellow, Dave Kleinschmidt, that the best model of this is one in which the listener's phonetic categories are both shifted and expanded.

Congratulations to Neomi Rao–Linguistics major, PULSAR student, and Summer Fellow–for being named a Senior Scholar by the College of Arts and Humanities. Neomi is one of only seven recipients of this prestigious annual award, which recognizes "distinguished and creative academic performance [and] promise of continued distinction in the discipline," as well as "leadership qualities and a commitment to community involvement." Great job Neomi!

Now in Frontiers in Psychology, Processing Implicit Control by Mike McCourt, Jeffrey Green, Ellen Lau and Alexander Williams. This paper is about implicit control of reason clauses, the sort of anaphoric dependency we intend when we use "The ship was sunk (and the reason was) to collect the insurance" to mean that the sinker was the intended collector. Based on four reading time studies, the paper argues that, contrary to earlier claims, there is as yet no psycholinguistic evidence for the standard analysis of such anaphora, which treats it as binding of PRO by a silent argument in the passive, and that there are good motives to pursue a pragmatic alternative.

October 23 at New Ways of Analyzing Variation, Paulina presented "Heritage speakers abide by all the rules: Evidence of language-contact effects in Heritage Polish word-final devoicing," a poster with UToronto colleagues Emilia Melara and Ruth Maddeaux.

October 23 at Arizona, Paul Pietroski presents "Semantic Internalism" as part of the Linguistics Colloquium.

October 16, Baggett Fellow Chris Baron presents Generalized Concept Generators at the first poster session of this year's NELS. Chris shows how certain kinds of opacity in belief reports, not captured in the semantics on familiar analyses, can be so handled through broadening the use of 'Concept Generators', which map any object to a concept under which the believer apprehends it.

October 15-17 in Chicago, the Society for the Neurobiology of Language hosts presentations by Phoebe, William, Natalia, Anna and Ellen; plus alumni Diogo Almeida, Akira Omaki, Utako Minai and Rob Fiorentino; and former postdocs Ming Xiang and Mathias Scharinger.

Present Terps

  • Ellen Lau, Polly O’Rourke, Anna Namyst, Sanna Darwish and Tim Dawson, The impact of timing on lexical-semantic prediction in L1 and L2
  • William Matchin, Christopher Hammerly and Ellen Lau, A parametric study of hierarchical structure building in fMRI and MEG
  • Phoebe Gaston, Laura Gwilliams and Alec Marantz, The time-course of cohort restriction in syntactic context: MEG evidence for a single auditory wordform
  • Natalia Lapinskaya, Uchenna Uzomah, Marina Bedny and Ellen Lau, Dissociating neural effects of semantic and syntactic category on lexical processing
  • Lars Meyer, Maren Grigutsch, Molly J. Henry, Noura Schmuck, Phoebe Gaston and Angela D. Friederici, Delta-band oscillatory phase predicts formation of syntactic phrases: electroencephalography evidence from attachment ambiguities
  • Yohei Oseki, Laura Gwilliams, Esti Blanco-Elorrieta, Phoebe Gaston, Alec Marantz and Liina Pylkkänen, Neural Dynamics of Morphological and Phrasal Composition

Past Terps

  • Mathias Scharinger, Timing predictions in speech are affected by attention and speaking rate: evidence from electrophysiological omission responses
  • Stephen Politzer-Ahles, Ming Xiang and Diogo Almeida, “Before” and “after”: investigating the relationship between temporal connectives and chronological ordering using event-related potentials
  • Alison Gabriele, Robert Fiorentino and Lauren Covey, Examining individual differences in the processing of pronominal reference using event-related potentials
  • Utako Minai, Kathleen Gustafson, Robert Fiorentino, Allard Jongman and Joan Sereno, Assessing pre-natal rhythm-based discrimination of language by fetal magnetocardiography (fMCG)
  • Connor Lane, Shipra Kanjlia, Akira Omaki and Marina Bedny, Atypical language lateralization in congenital blindness

October 16-18 at NELS in Montreal, the invited speakers include both Omer Preminger and Valentine Hacquard. In this Terrapin double-header. Omer will present Head movement, phrasal movement, and clitic doubling: Towards a principled typology, and Valentine, Theme and variations in the expression of modality.

October 16-18 at NELS, Dongwoo Park presents VP as an Ellipsis Site in Korean, which gives new data that Korean has VP ellipsis, and argues that such ellipsis is deletion that occurs during the syntactic derivation.

October 10, 2010 alumnus Tim Hunter is an invited speaker at the First Workshop on Minimalist Parsing, with the talk Left-Corner Parsing of Minimalist Grammars. The talk relates psycholinguistic work on the processing of wh-dependencies, where there is much evidence for active prediction of gaps, to theories of incremental parsing using Minimalist Grammars, as developed by Ed Stabler. Also invited is former UMD postdoc, and present professor at UMass Amherst, Kristine Yu.

Check out two new publications, A 'bag-of-arguments' mechanism for initial verb predictions and Interference in the processing of adjunct control, which report core parts of the dissertation work of Wing-Yee Chow and Dan Parker, respectively.

Big cheers for 12 Maryland language scientists and alums, plus their crew, who ran the Ragnar Relay in only about 28hrs.

The relay stretched over an epic 200-mile route from Cumberland, in the western tip of Maryland, "east through thick forest trails and scenic paths [...] through the quiet streets of many charming historic Civil War-Era towns," pausing for the now traditional petits déjeuners chez Hornstein and Weinberg, ending ultimately in D.C. at Yards Park near the Navy Yards on the banks of the Anacostia. Each runner covered 3 of the 36 legs, covering a total somewhere between 11 and (incredibly!) 28 miles. The team began on Friday morning, then ran continuously for around 28 hours, through the dark and stormy night, with constant rain at the edge of the offshore hurricane Joachin, ending around 1:17pm on Saturday.

An inspiring feat by runners Alison Shell, Andrea Zukowski, Colleen Moorman, Colin Phillips, Emily Darley, Eric Pelzl, Jeff Lidz, Lara Ehrenhofer, Marta Ruda, Phoebe Gaston, Shevaun Lewis and Shota Momma.

Hail also to this year's tireless support crew, Julia Buffinton, Laurel Perkins, Tara Mease, and Tess Wood.

October 9 at Delaware, Jeffrey Lidz gives the Linguistics Colloquium talk. This anticipates the 20th anniversary of Jeff's PhD from Delaware, earned in Summer 1996 with a dissertation titled Dimensions of Reflexivity.

October 3 at Delaware, Zoe, Annemarie, Chris Baron and Chris Vogel present work at MACSIM, the Mid-Atlantic Colloquium for Studies in Meaning. MACSIM consists of oral presentations and posters, on topics pertaining to linguistic meaning, by students from the participating departments in the Mid-Atlantic: NYU, CUNY, Rutgers, Penn, Delaware, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, and Georgetown. Faculty from these departments participate in audience discussion. There is also one invited talk by a faculty member – this year, Florian Schwarz, organizer of the First MACSIM – and plenty of time to get to know people and their work. Maryland hosted the Second MACSIM in 2012, with invited speaker Roger Schwarzschild, then at Rutgers.


  • Zoe Schlueter, "The Impact of Definiteness Information on Comprehender Expectations"


  • Chris Baron, "Generalizing Concept Generators"
  • Annemarie van Dooren, "Deontic modals and their predicates: A puzzle for compositionality"
  • Chris Vogel, "Vagueness and internalism"

October 3 at Pitt, Rachel Dudley presents an invited talk at "The Geography of Philosophy: Knowledge, Person, and Wisdom," a symposium organized by Stephen Stich (Rutgers, Philosophy), Clark Barrett (UCLA, Anthropology), and Edouard Machery (Pittsburgh, Philosophy). Rachel, the only pre-doctoral speaker invited, will be discussing her work on how children come to understand the presuppositions associated with the use of "know", as opposed to "think". The talk is "Acquiring know and its factivity."

September 22, Omer Preminger is along the Mt'k'vari as an invited speaker at "The Implementation of Obligatoriness" a workshop organized by (not Stalin, despite the title, but) Rajesh Bhatt and Vincent Homer, as part of TbiLLC 2015, the Eleventh International Tbilisi Symposium. Georgia sits on the land that was once the kingdom of Colchis, from which Jason stole the mythical Golden Fleece, on a dare from his treacherous uncle Pelias.

This semester we welcome four visiting PhD students: Michele Alves, Christian Broadbeck, Emily Darley and Alex de Carvalho. Michele is writing a dissertation at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro titled "Processing of gender, number, and person agreement features in pronoun resolution in Brazilian Portuguese." Christian is in Psychology at NYU, and part of the Neurolinguistics Lab, researching such topics as brain activity during resolution of reference. Emily is from the lab of alumna Nina Kazanina, at the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, where she investigates the role of working memory in sentence processing. Alex joins us from the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique at the École Normale Supérieure. He studies language acquisition, working on topics such as prosodic cues to syntactic structure, as in this forthcoming article.

Congratulations to Maria Polinksy, who has been named an LSA Fellow for her "distinguished contributions to the discipline". We are proud to have a second member of our faculty in this distinguished group!

September 3-5, Shota Momma is in Valletta, Malta, at Architectures & Mechanisms for Language Processing, presenting "A grammatically conditioned semantic interference effect in a "Picture-sentence" interference study," a poster on work done with Colin and Bob Slevc.

This semester we are happy to host Jesse Harris, Assistant Professor of Linguistics at UCLA, and director of the UCLA Language Processing Lab. Jesse's work focuses on the comprehension of context-sensitive expressions, using psycholinguistic measures.

Say hello to Theodore Levin (Ted), who recently completed a PhD at MIT, "Licensing without Case." Ted, whose interests are in case, agreement and binding, joins us as a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Maria Polinsky. Note, Ted's last name rhymes with "the win", with stress on the second syllable.

What a sight! The class of 2020: Annemarie van Dooren (Leiden), Chia-Hsuan Liao (Taiwan Normal), Maxime Papillon (Concordia, Ottawa), Paulina Lyskawa (Toronto), Phoebe Gaston (Yale, NYU), and Suyoung Bae (Dongguk), with Rodrigo Ranero (Pomona, Cambridge) deferring his start for one year. We look forward to five productive years of learning.

A warm welcome to Mina Hirzel and Chris Baron, our two new Baggett Fellows. Mina majored in linguistics and neuroscience at Michigan State, and worked at the MSU Language Acquisition Lab with Cristina Schmitt and Alan Munn. Chris majored in linguistics and philosophy at UMass Amherst, with advisors Seth Cable and Rajesh Bhatt. It's going to be a great year!

Congratulations to Dustin, who is to be a Faculty Fellow in Linguistics at NYU, teaching courses there for the coming year. Enjoy NYC!

Congratulations to Angela, who soon begins a postdoc with Sudha Arunachalam in her Child Language Lab at Boston University.

August 31 in Potsdam, the 3rd East Asian Psycholinguistics Colloquium has two alums as invited speakers: Masaya Yoshida and Wing-Yee Chow, Classes of '06 and '13 respectively. Congratulations to our distinguished alumni!

Now out in the proceedings of WAFL, Preminger & Kornfilt's "Nominative as no case at all: An argument from raising-to-ACC in Sakha". The paper presents a new argument for the view that "unmarked case" on a noun phrase represents the absence of any value on its case feature, based on raising-to-accusative constructions in Sakha, a Turkic language of Siberia.

Congratulations to Elika Bergelson, who will join Duke University as Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience in Summer 2016. As a Baggett Fellow, Elika worked with Jeff Lidz, Bill Idsardi and David Poeppel. Since then she has received a PhD in Psychology from Penn, held a position as Research Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Rochester, and won an Early Investigator Award from NIH.

July 25-31, Naho, Naomi, Philip and Hal, have work at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Also presenting are alums and former Marylanders, such as Chris Dyer, Asad Sayeed and Jordan Boyd-Graber.

  • "Why discourse affects speakers' choice of referring expressions," Naho Orita, Eliana Vornov, Naomi Feldman and Hal Daumé III

  • "Tea Party in the House: A hierarchical ideal point topic model and its application to Republican legislators in the 112th Contress," Viet-An Nguyen, Jordan Boyd-Graber, Philip Resnik and Kristina Miler

  • "The media frames corpus: Annotations of frames across issues," Dallas Card, Amber E. Boydstun, Justin H. Gross, Philip Resnik and Noah A. Smith

  • "Deep unordered composition rivals syntactic methods for text classification," Mohit Iyyer, Varun Manjunatha, Jordan Boyd-Graber and Hal Daumé III

July 23-25, CogSci has two Terp posters, with work by Alayo, Naomi and Bill from Linguistics, as well as Alison Shell, Jared Linck and Bob Slevc from Psychology and CASL.

  • Alayo Tripp, Naomi Feldman, and William Idsardi, "What defines a category? Evidence that listeners' perception is governed by generalizations."

  • Alison Shell, Jared Linck and Robert Slevc, "Examining the role of Inhibitory control in bilingual language switching"

Now out in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, "Age-Related Differences in Speech Rate Perception Do Not Necessarily Entail Age-Related Differences in Speech Rate Use" by Chris Heffner, Rochelle Newman from HESP, Michigan State's Laura Dilley, and our own Bill Idsardi.

Congratulations to Angela, 2015 recipient of the Howard Lasnik Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student. This annual award, granted by faculty consensus, honors excellence in TA'ing. So from all of us: thank you Angela, for all your hard work!

Big contratulations to 2013 alumnus Bradley Larson, now to be Visiting Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Iowa, in Iowa City. Brad joins our many alumni who are faculty at Big 10 schools: Alan Munn and Cristina Schmitt at Michigan State, Julien Musolino at Rutgers, Acrisio Pires at Michigan, Tim Hunter at Minnesota, Masaya Yoshida and Alexis Wellwood at Northwestern, and postdocs Tom Grano and Ming Xiang at Indiana and Chicago. And best of all, Ellen Lau at Maryland!

June 16-19, Colin Phillips joins Reuland and Partee in giving four lectures at a mini-conference on pronouns within the annual summer school in linguistics at Moscow's Higher School of Economics.

June 1-12, Bill Idsardi is a Visiting Professor at Bristol University's School of Experimental Psychology, home to 2005 alumna Nina Kazanina. Interestingly, the region of Bristol shares with certain parts of our own the dialect feature of an intrusive L.

May 28 in Urbana-Champaign Naomi Feldman gives an invited talk at Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody, "Testing low-level speech features using speech corpora."

May 18-23, Colin Phillips gives a series of 5 talks at Konkuk University, Seoul.

Now available, Descriptive Grammar of Bangla by CASL's Anne Boyle David, with co-editors Dustin Chacón and Thomas Conners, also from CASL. The book provides comprehensive coverage of the phonology, orthography, morphology, and syntax of Bangla, a language with almost 200 million native speakers that is the majority language in Bangladesh, as well as West Bengal in India, and is a minority language in several other Indian states.

May 15, SALT 25 opens with "On double access, cessation and parentheticality," work that Aaron Steven White, Tom Roberts and Valentine Hacquard have done with Daniel Altschuler from HHU Düsseldorf. The paper concerns the 'double access' reading of sentences like "John said that Mary is pregnant," on which the embedded present tense is taken to refer to the time of speech. Building on corpus data, it shows that this usage is well-attested, and that its seeming marginality is due to an interaction between a 'parenthetical' use of the speech or attitude report – on which it offers evidence for the speaker's weak endorsement of the proposition expressed by the embedded clause – and the 'cessation' implicature sometimes triggered by past tense.

Jeffrey Lidz is this month's featured linguist in the LSA's Member Spotlight. Check it out!

Congratulations to Utako Minai, PhD 2006, now Associate Professor at the University of Kansas. Utako's dissertation, jointly directed by Jeff and Paul, concerned development in children's understanding of the quantifier every.

Congratulations to Andrea Zukowski and Jeffrey Lidz, who took 1st and 2nd in their divisions at the Azalea Classic 5K run, a department tradition, with times of 26:00 and 21:04, respectively. Tonia Bleam ran her first ever 5K in 36:27! At 25:45 Bob Slevc from Psychology came in 10th among men in their 30s, with Alexander Williams wheezing in 43 seconds behind him, 9th among men in their 40s.

The Azalea Classic is organized by the Parent and Teachers Association at University Park Elementary School, a local K-6 public school. Proceeds go to support programs at UPES, paying for such things as books, art and music instruction, classroom equipment and supplies, and field trips. The school has 620 students, of whom approximately 40% receive free and reduced lunch.

April 22, Princeton's Program in Linguistics hosts a talk by Paul Pietroski on Form and Composition.

Congratulations to Aaron Steven White, who has accepted a post-doc at the new Science of Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins. Aaron will be working with Kyle Rawlins in Cognitive Science and Ben Van Durme in Computer Science and the Center for Language and Speech Processing.

Now in Journal of Memory and Language from alumnus Dave Kush "Relation-sensitive retrieval: Evidence from bound variable pronouns," work done with Jeffrey Lidz and Colin Phillips. The paper asks whether memory access mechanisms are able to exploit relational information, c-command relations in particular, by investigating the processing of bound variable pronouns. With off-line judgment studies and eye-tracking studies it shows that referential NPs are easily accessed as antecedents, irrespective of whether they c-command the pronoun, but that quantificational NPs are accessed as antecedents only when they c-command the pronoun. This suggests either that memory access mechanisms can make use of relational information as a guide for retrieval, or that the set of features that is used to encode syntactic relations in memory must be enriched.

In Journal of Memory and Language and Brain and Language, two articles by alumna Sol Lago, with Ellen, Colin, Bill, 2014 alumnus Yakov Kronrod and 2009-11 postdoc Mathias Scharinger. The papers are:

  1. Agreement attraction in Spanish comprehension, Sol Lago, Diego E. Shalom, Mariano Sigman, Ellen Lau and Colin Phillips

  2. Categorical effects in fricative perception are reflected in cortical source information, Sol Lago, Mathias Scharinger, Yakov Kronrod, William Idsardi

Congratulations to 2012 alumnus Terje Lohndal, for the high honor of induction to the Norwegian Academy of Arts and Letters. Terje is Professor of English Linguistics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

April 10, Omer Preminger gives the linguistics colloquium at the University of Connecticut.

Congratulations to RA Caitlin Richter and Baggett Fellow Chris Hammerly, who have won Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation. This NSF program "recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees." Caitlin and Chris, 2 of 16,500 applicants for the prestigious fellowship, are among its only 2000 winners, across all scientific disciplines.

The NSF has honored the LSC with a 5-year award to support interdisciplinary graduate training, through its NRT program (NSF Research Traineeship), a successor to the IGERT. The project, led by faculty and students from 10 departments across the entire university, will connect research on humans and machines, via a focus on how to succeed when Big Data is not available, the normal situation not only for all first-language learners, but also for researchers of nearly all the world's languages. Congratulations to the Director of the LSC, Colin Phillips, as well his Co-Principal Investigators, Rochelle Newman (Hearing & Speech Sciences), Hal Daumé (Computer Science), Robert DeKeyser (School of Languages), and our own Bill Idsardi.

April 5, Nick Huang presents "Is there syntactic tense in Mandarin Chinese? Some evidence from jiang" at the North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics, held this year at UCLA.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Lidz, now rightly honored by the University as a Distinguished Scholar Teacher, one of "a small number of faculty members each year who have demonstrated notable success in both scholarship and teaching." Jeff joins Paul Pietroski, Howard Lasnik and Colin Phillips in this honor. Winners of the award give a public presentation of their research; we look forward to Jeff's next year.

March 27-29, WCCFL 33 features work by Dongwoo, Kate, Valentine and Jeff, as well as alumni Alexis Wellwood, Alex Drummond, Dave Kush, Brad Larson, and imminent Terp Maria Polinsky. Alumnus Matt Wagers will even give one of the keynote addresses!

WCCFL will be held in Burnaby, Canada, just east of Vancouver, at Simon Fraser University, whose campus will readily be recognized by any fan of Battlestar Galactica.



Just out in Linguistic Variation, "The role of case in A-bar extraction asymmetries: Evidence from Mayan," by Jessica Coon, Pedro Mateo Pedro and our own Omer Preminger. The paper asks why, in some morphologically ergative languages but not others, ergative subjects cannot be extracted. It answers that this reflects, not properties of the ergative subject itself, but rather locality properties of absolutive case assignment. It then argues that the Agent Focus construction in Q'anjob'al, a Mayan language of Guatemala, circumvents the restriction by assigning case to internal arguments.

Now out in Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences, "Hyper-active Gap-filling" by Akira Omaki, Ellen Lau, Colin Phillips, and RAs Imogen White, Myles Dakan and Aaron Apple. The paper studies the processing of sentences in verb-medial languages where a wh-object has been fronted. It asks whether comprehenders wait to consult verb transitivity information before constructing filler-gap dependencies, or instead make representational commitments on the gap position before verb transitivity information becomes available. In the latter case, disruption should be observed when the verb is intransitive. In three reading experiments (self-paced and eye-tracking) that manipulated verb transitivity, the authors found evidence for reading disruption when the verb was intransitive, although no such reading difficulty was observed when the critical verb was embedded inside a syntactic island structure, which blocks filler-gap dependency completion. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that in English, as in verb-final languages, information from preverbal NPs is sufficient to trigger active dependency completion without having access to verb transitivity information.

Congratulations to Dan, class of 2014, now winner of the J.J. Katz Young Scholar Award. The award recognizes the paper or poster presented at the Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing that best exhibits the qualities of intellectual rigor, creativity, and independence of thought exemplified in the life and work of Professor Jerrold J. Katz. In this honor Dan joins his classmates Wing-Yee Chow and Sol Lago, who won in 2012.

March 19-21 at USC, the CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing hosts 40 presentations by 30 UMD students, faculty, RAs, alumni, postdocs and visitors, drawn from Linguistics, HESP, CASL, NACS, Psychology and Philosophy. This makes for about 15% of the total program. Our presenters are Dustin, Jeffrey Green, Shota, Zoe, Ellen, Colin and Alexander from Linguistics; RA Julia Buffinton; BA alumna and current RA Anna Namyst; alumni Brian Dillon '11, Dave Kush '13, Diogo Almeida '09, Jon Sprouse '07, Masaya Yoshida '06, Matt Wagers '08, Nina Kazanini '05, Sol Lago '14, Wing-Yee Chow '13; 2005-7 postdoc Ming Xiang; 2001-2 visitor Natalia Slioussar; 2010-1 Baggett alumnus Shayne Sloggett; Mike McCourt from Philosophy; Bob Slevc from Psychology; Alix Kowalski, Yi Ting Huang and Rochelle Newman and Matt Goupell from HESP; NACS alumna Erika Hussey; plus Nina Hsu and Jared Novick from CASL.

  • Talks with present Terps

    1. Bob Slevc, "Parses of corrected errors persist"
    2. Michael McCourt, Jeffrey Green, Ellen Lau and Alexander Williams, "Syntax or discourse: Processing implicit control from passives"
    3. Nina Hsu and Jared Novick, "Dynamic engagement of cognitive control facilitates recovery from misinterpretation"
    4. Shota Momma, Hiromu Saki and Colin Phillips "Give me several hundred more milliseconds: The temporal dynamics of verb prediction"
    5. Sol Lago, Anna Namyst and Ellen Lau, "N400 semantic expectation effects provide evidence for rapid pronoun resolution"
    6. Yi Ting Huang, Rochelle Newman, Allison Catalano and Matthew Goupell, "Using prosody to infer discourse status in normal-hearing and cochlear-implant listeners"

  • Posters with present Terps

    1. Alix Kowalski and Yi Ting Huang, "The influence of discourse information on syntactic cues to grammatical role assignment"
    2. Dustin Chacón and Colin Phillips, "When resumptive pronouns complete unbounded dependencies they do so inadvertently"
    3. Shota Momma, Bob Slevc and Colin Phillips, "The timing of verb planning in active and passive sentence production"
    4. Wing Yee Chow, Ilia Kurenkov, Julia Buffinton, Becca Kraut and Colin Phillips, "How predictions change over time: Evidence from an online cloze paradigm"
    5. Zoe Schlueter and Ellen Lau, "How quickly is Definiteness Information incorporated into Comprehender Expectations?"

  • Talks with past Terps

    1. Laurel Brehm, Erika Hussey and Kiel Christianson, "Cue strength and executive function in agreement comprehension"
    2. Michael Frazier, Peter Baumann, Lauren Ackerman, David Potter and Masaya Yoshida, "Does wh-filler-gap dependency formation resolve local ambiguity?"

  • Posters with past Terps

    1. Lauren Ackerman, Nina Kazanina and Masaya Yoshida, "Does the cataphoric dependency formation help the parser resolve local ambiguity?"
    2. Helena Aparicio, Ming Xiang and Chris Kennedy, "Online processing of relative vs. absolute adjectives: A visual world study"
    3. Aaron Apple and Akira Omaki, "Development of sentential complement ambiguity processing"
    4. Peter Baumann and Masaya Yoshida, "A psycholinguist asking who binds himself: Interference effects in the processing of reflexives"
    5. Peter Baumann, Nina Kazanina and Masaya Yoshida, "Online processing respects a pragmatic constraint or Hurford's constraint"
    6. Peter Baumann, Kathleen Hall, Nayoun Kim, R. Alexander Schumacher and Masaya Yoshida, "The processing of adjunct wh-questions"
    7. Daria Chernova and Natalia Slioussar, "The time course of syntactic ambiguity processing: Evidence from Russian"
    8. Wing-Yee Chow and Manuel Carreiras, "Effects of ergative case marking in online verb predictions: ERP evidence from Basque"
    9. Wing-Yee Chow and Manuel Carreiras, "Effects of verb transitivity on subject-verb agreement processing: ERP evidence from Basque"
    10. Scarlett Clothier-Goldschmidt and Matt Wagers, "Grammatical Person, Pronouns and the Subject-Object Asymmetry in Relative Clauses"
    11. Brian Dillon, Charles Clifton, Shayne Sloggett and Lyn Frazier, "Only some relative clauses cause retrieval interference in filler-gap processing"
    12. Brian Dillon, Adrian Staub, Joshua Levy and Charles Clifton, "Distinguishing discrete from gradient grammaticality using Likert scale data"
    13. Julie Franck and Matt Wagers, "Hierarchical structure and memory retrieval mechanisms in attraction: A SAT study"
    14. Margaret Grant, Brian Dillon and Shayne Sloggett, "Similarities in processing attachment and pronominal ambiguities"
    15. Kathleen Hall and Masaya Yoshida, "Parallelism in pronoun-antecedent dependency resolution"
    16. Erika Hussey, Kiel Christianson, Nathan Ward, Michael Nosek and Arthur Kramer, "Stimulation of executive control regions influences garden-path recovery"
    17. Michael Frazier and Masaya Yoshida, "Morphological and syntactic cues in the processing of gapping"
    18. Dave Kush and Julie Van Dyke, "When the gap-filling gets tough: Resolving multiple filler-gap dependencies"
    19. Sol Lago and Claudia Felser, "Computation of number agreement in native and non-native speakers of German"
    20. R. Alexander Schumacher and Masaya Yoshida, "Verb subcategorization and syntactic prediction"
    21. Natalia Slioussar and Natalia Cherepovskaia, "Number, gender and case feature interaction in processing: Evidence from Russian"
    22. Shayne Sloggett and Brian Dillon, "Interference in reflexives is the result of a logophoric interpretation"
    23. Anya Stetsenko, Tatiana Matushkina and Natalia Slioussar, "Agreement attraction errors and Russian case syncretism: Production experiments"
    24. Matthew Tucker, Ali Idrissi and Diogo Almeida, "Plural type matters for on-line processing: Self-paced reading evidence from Arabic"
    25. Matthew Tucker, Ali Idrissi, Jon Sprouse and Diogo Almeida, "Resumption ameliorates but does not repair island violations: Evidence from Modern Standard Arabic acceptability"
    26. Sandra Villata, Brian McElree, Matt Wagers and Julie Franck, "Temporal dynamics of weak islands: A speed-accuracy trade-off study"
    27. Ming Xiang, Juanhua Yang and Suiping Wang, "Classifier mismatch in ellipsis resolution"