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 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
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
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.
- Jeffrey Jack Green, A movement theory of adjunct control
- Aaron Steven White and Kyle Rawlins, A typology of veridical inferences
- Ethan Myers and Masaya Yoshida, What can if-stripping tell us about ellipsis?
- Nick Huang and Gesoel Mendes, On pronominalization and ellipsis in clausal idioms
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 on.ge 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.
September 5-8, postdoc Thomas Schatz is at the Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience in Philadelphia, presenting a poster on joint work with Naomi Feldman: "Neural network vs. HMM speech recognition systems as models of human cross-linguistic phonetic perception."
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 (/to.ma/) 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.
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 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.
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."
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.
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 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.
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.
- 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.
- What to learn in learning word meanings, Valentine Hacquard
- Processing adjunct control: Rapid use of structural information in reference resolution, Jeffrey Green, Michael McCourt, Alexander Williams and Ellen Lau
- Real time status of semantic exceptions to the Adjunct Island Constraint, Annika Kohrt, Trey Sorensen & Dustin Chacón
- Quantified sentences as a window into prediction and priming: An ERP study, Aniello De Santo, Jonathan Rawski and John E. Drury
- On sluicing and its kin: Evidence from Egyptian Arabic, Usama Soltan
- Belief, intention, and the grammar of persuasion, Thomas Grano
- Uncovering bias in Estonian negative polar questions: An experimental study, Thomas Roberts
- Contextual, lexical, and structural factors licensing Mention-Some embedded questions, Morgan Moyer and Kristen Syrett
- Non-subject control of temporal adjuncts, Jeffrey Green
- Testing the real-time status of covert movement of wh-operators and QPs in English, Austin Kraft, Jonathon Coltz and Dustin Chacón
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.
- Dustin Chacón, How to Make A Resumptive Pronoun
- Quinn Harr, Reporting Modal Beliefs
- Quinn Harr and Alexander Williams, Epistemic Uses of "Likely" and "Might" Are Only Indirectly So
- Thomas Grano, Choice Functions in Intensional Contexts: Rehabilitating Bäuerle’s Challenge to the Scope Theory of Intensionality
- Rodica Ivan & Brian Dillon, When NPI illusions fail: The case of strict NPIs and neg-words in Romanian
- Gesoel Mendes, Verb-echo answers
- Jon Ander Mendia, Ethan Poole, & Brian Dillon, Spurious NPI licensing is covert licensing
- Usama Soltan, On the syntax of comparative correlatives: Evidence from Egyptian Arabic
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."
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.
- 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.
March 7 in Stuttgart at a workshop within DGfS, Norbert Hornstein asks Questions regarding a minimalist theory of islands, as an invited speaker on the theme of Referential and relational approaches to syntactic asymmetries.
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!
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".
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.
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."
- Jeffrey Jack Green, Adjunct control as logophoric control
- Jeffrey Jack Green, Michael McCourt, Ellen Lau & Alexander Williams, PRO in adjuncts is interpreted as quickly as overt pronouns
- Theodore Levin, Paulina Lyskawa & Rodrigo Ranero, Optional agreement in Santiago Tz’utujiil (Mayan): The effects of animacy and grammatical function
- Colin Phillips, Tess Wood, Shevaun Lewis & Allyson Ettinger, Language is everywhere: institutionalizing a grassroots language science community
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!
- 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.
- Yu'an Yang & Ying Liu, Exhaustivity and at-issueness: Evidence from L1 Acquisition of Mandarin
- Annemarie van Dooren, Dutch must more structure
- Alexander Williams & Jeffrey Green, Why control of PRO in rationale clauses is not a relation between arguments
- Theodore Levin, Distinguishing object agreement and clitic doubling in Noun Incorporation constructions
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.
'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.
October 27-30 in the extreme northeast, NELS 48 has work by Nick Huang, Omer Preminger and Maria Polinsky, as well as Maryland PhDs Aaron White, Alex Drummond and Terje Lohndal, and Maryland BA Emma Nguyen.
- Nick Huang, The bound possessor effect: a new argument for the phasehood of definite DPs
- Omer Preminger, No case for agreement (as a causer of case)
- Lena Borise and Maria Polinsky, Focus without movement or operators: syntax-prosody interface in Georgian
- Aaron Steven White and Kyle Rawlins, The role of veridicality and factivity in clause selection
- Alex Drummond, Resurrecting Rule H: An attempt to fix Fox’s analysis of the Dahl paradigm
- Artemis Alexiadou and Terje Lohndal, The typology of V2: Evidence from heritage languages and urban vernaculars
- Emma Nguyen and Gabriel Martinez Vera, A surprising comparison: a unified account of degree surprisingly with bare adjectives and comparatives
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.
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!
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 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
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).
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!
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.
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
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.
- Aaron Doliana and Sandhya Sundaresan, Toward a Formal Analysis of Proxy Control
- Dongwoo Park, What is elided in English vbP ellipsis, and when?
- Jamie Douglas, Rodrigo Ranero & Michelle Sheehan, Two kinds of syntactic ergativity in Mayan
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.
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!
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.
- Michaela Socolof, The position of the negative particle ara and NPIs in Kabyle negation
- Rachel Dudley, Meredith Rowe, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, Distributional cues to factivity in the input
- Theodore Levin, Palauan DOM is a licensing phenomenon
- Dongwoo Park, When and where does ellipsis occur?
- Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine and Theodore Levin, On the unavailability of argument ellipsis in Kaqchikel
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.
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 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 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 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 14-16, 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 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 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 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 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
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.
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.
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)
- Thematic relations in different views of meaning, Alexander Williams
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.
New in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, "English-speaking preschoolers can use phrasal prosody for syntactic parsing" by erstwhile visitors Alex de Carvalho and Lyn Tieu, with Jeffrey Lidz, Tonia Bleam and Anne Christophe.
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"
June 7 Naomi Feldman talks about Testing low-level speech features using speech corpora at Indiana's Corpus Linguistics Fest 2016.
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:
- Robyn Carston, Linguistics, University College London
- Lyn Frazier, Linguistics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- Andrew Kehler, Linguistics, University of California at San Diego
- Ernest Lepore, Philosophy, Center for Cognitive Science, Rutgers University
- Shevaun Lewis, Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University
- Stephen Neale, Philosophy, City University of New York
(joint work with Daniel Harris, Philosophy, Hunter College)
- Craige Roberts, Linguistics, The Ohio State University
- Petra Schumacher, Linguistics, University of Cologne
- Mandy Simons, Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University
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."
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 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 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 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 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.
- 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"
- 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 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.
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 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.
- 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
- 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.
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!
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
Rachael Richardson, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Agreement attraction in Spanish comprehension, Sol Lago, Diego E. Shalom, Mariano Sigman, Ellen Lau and Colin Phillips
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.
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.
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!
Kaitlyn Harrigan, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, Syntactic Bootstrapping in the Acquisition of Attitude Verbs
Bradley Larson and Alexis Wellwood, A long-distance morphosyntax and semantics for comparative clauses
Bradley Larson, Nicholas Longenbaugh and Maria Polinsky, Subject/Object Parity in Niuean and the Labeling Algorithm
Matt Wagers, Structuring Expectations
Alex Drummond and Dave Kush, Decomposing the Spanish Reflexive Passive
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
- Bob Slevc, "Parses of corrected errors persist"
- Michael McCourt, Jeffrey Green, Ellen Lau and Alexander Williams, "Syntax or discourse: Processing implicit control from passives"
- Nina Hsu and Jared Novick, "Dynamic engagement of cognitive control facilitates recovery from misinterpretation"
- Shota Momma, Hiromu Saki and Colin Phillips "Give me several hundred more milliseconds: The temporal dynamics of verb prediction"
- Sol Lago, Anna Namyst and Ellen Lau, "N400 semantic expectation effects provide evidence for rapid pronoun resolution"
- 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
- Alix Kowalski and Yi Ting Huang, "The influence of discourse information on syntactic cues to grammatical role assignment"
- Dustin Chacón and Colin Phillips, "When resumptive pronouns complete unbounded dependencies they do so inadvertently"
- Shota Momma, Bob Slevc and Colin Phillips, "The timing of verb planning in active and passive sentence production"
- Wing Yee Chow, Ilia Kurenkov, Julia Buffinton, Becca Kraut and Colin Phillips, "How predictions change over time: Evidence from an online cloze paradigm"
- Zoe Schlueter and Ellen Lau, "How quickly is Definiteness Information incorporated into Comprehender Expectations?"
Talks with past Terps
- Laurel Brehm, Erika Hussey and Kiel Christianson, "Cue strength and executive function in agreement comprehension"
- Michael Frazier, Peter Baumann, Lauren Ackerman, David Potter and Masaya Yoshida, "Does wh-filler-gap dependency formation resolve local ambiguity?"
Posters with past Terps
- Lauren Ackerman, Nina Kazanina and Masaya Yoshida, "Does the cataphoric dependency formation help the parser resolve local ambiguity?"
- Helena Aparicio, Ming Xiang and Chris Kennedy, "Online processing of relative vs. absolute adjectives: A visual world study"
- Aaron Apple and Akira Omaki, "Development of sentential complement ambiguity processing"
- Peter Baumann and Masaya Yoshida, "A psycholinguist asking who binds himself: Interference effects in the processing of reflexives"
- Peter Baumann, Nina Kazanina and Masaya Yoshida, "Online processing respects a pragmatic constraint or Hurford's constraint"
- Peter Baumann, Kathleen Hall, Nayoun Kim, R. Alexander Schumacher and Masaya Yoshida, "The processing of adjunct wh-questions"
- Daria Chernova and Natalia Slioussar, "The time course of syntactic ambiguity processing: Evidence from Russian"
- Wing-Yee Chow and Manuel Carreiras, "Effects of ergative case marking in online verb predictions: ERP evidence from Basque"
- Wing-Yee Chow and Manuel Carreiras, "Effects of verb transitivity on subject-verb agreement processing: ERP evidence from Basque"
- Scarlett Clothier-Goldschmidt and Matt Wagers, "Grammatical Person, Pronouns and the Subject-Object Asymmetry in Relative Clauses"
- Brian Dillon, Charles Clifton, Shayne Sloggett and Lyn Frazier, "Only some relative clauses cause retrieval interference in filler-gap processing"
- Brian Dillon, Adrian Staub, Joshua Levy and Charles Clifton, "Distinguishing discrete from gradient grammaticality using Likert scale data"
- Julie Franck and Matt Wagers, "Hierarchical structure and memory retrieval mechanisms in attraction: A SAT study"
- Margaret Grant, Brian Dillon and Shayne Sloggett, "Similarities in processing attachment and pronominal ambiguities"
- Kathleen Hall and Masaya Yoshida, "Parallelism in pronoun-antecedent dependency resolution"
- Erika Hussey, Kiel Christianson, Nathan Ward, Michael Nosek and Arthur Kramer, "Stimulation of executive control regions influences garden-path recovery"
- Michael Frazier and Masaya Yoshida, "Morphological and syntactic cues in the processing of gapping"
- Dave Kush and Julie Van Dyke, "When the gap-filling gets tough: Resolving multiple filler-gap dependencies"
- Sol Lago and Claudia Felser, "Computation of number agreement in native and non-native speakers of German"
- R. Alexander Schumacher and Masaya Yoshida, "Verb subcategorization and syntactic prediction"
- Natalia Slioussar and Natalia Cherepovskaia, "Number, gender and case feature interaction in processing: Evidence from Russian"
- Shayne Sloggett and Brian Dillon, "Interference in reflexives is the result of a logophoric interpretation"
- Anya Stetsenko, Tatiana Matushkina and Natalia Slioussar, "Agreement attraction errors and Russian case syncretism: Production experiments"
- Matthew Tucker, Ali Idrissi and Diogo Almeida, "Plural type matters for on-line processing: Self-paced reading evidence from Arabic"
- Matthew Tucker, Ali Idrissi, Jon Sprouse and Diogo Almeida, "Resumption ameliorates but does not repair island violations: Evidence from Modern Standard Arabic acceptability"
- Sandra Villata, Brian McElree, Matt Wagers and Julie Franck, "Temporal dynamics of weak islands: A speed-accuracy trade-off study"
- Ming Xiang, Juanhua Yang and Suiping Wang, "Classifier mismatch in ellipsis resolution"
March 13 Alexander Williams gives the colloquium talk at Rutgers. One of only nine colleges founded before the Revolutionary War, Rutgers was until 1825 named "Queen's College", in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of mad King George III. Rutgers thus shares its earlier namesake with the Haida Gwaii of British Columbia.
March 4-6 in Leipzig, at the Alternative to Formal Features Workshop sponsored by the German Society for Linguistics, Omer Preminger presents "Syntactic operations exceed what the interfaces can account for.'' The audience will surely leave quoting the student in Goethe's Faust: "Mein Leipzig lob' ich mir! Es ist ein klein Paris und bildet seine Leute."
February 19-21, GALANA features work by Kaitlyn Harrigan, Juliana Gerard, Valentine Hacquard, Jeffrey Lidz, alumna Morgan Moyer and visitor Elaine Grolla. There will also be introductory remarks by Howard.
Congratulations to Aaron Steven White, who has won NSF support to work on "Information and incrementality in syntactic bootstrapping," his forthcoming dissertation, with Co-PI Jeffrey Lidz Lidz and PI Valentine Hacquard.
Now legally available, Alexander Williams's Arguments in Syntax and Semantics. "It is about understanding theories of argument structure," blurbs one tournament winning valueballer, "understanding them deeply."
Congratulations to Montgomery Blair student Harini Salgado, now a semi-finalist in the Intel Talent Search for her "Using Kullback-Leibler Divergence to Study the Effects of Vocal Tract Length Normalization on Dialect Differences in Vowel Speech Samples." The paper grew out of work Harini did at UMD last summer with Caitlin Richter and Naomi Feldman. Each year the Talent Search chooses only 300 students as semifinalists. From this select pool, 40 are then invited to Washington, DC in March to participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for three top awards of $150,000 each.
Now out in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Omer Preminger's “Case in Sakha: are two modalities really necessary?", co-authored with Theodore Levin. The paper argues against the 2010 claim from Baker & Vinokurva that Sakha, a Siberian Turkic language, requires two modes of case assignment, both by configurational rules and by functional heads, and shows that rules of the former sort are sufficient.
Congratulations to Elika! The '08 Baggett alumna is one of Forbes's "30 Under 30: Young Scientists Who Are Changing The World"! The magazine celebrates Elika's finding – reported here, here, and in her 2013 UPenn dissertation under Dan Swingley – that while "around 6 months, infants start understanding words for foods and body parts, not until 10 months do they get words like 'uh-oh' or verbs like 'eat'."
January 9 at U. Paris Diderot, Sayaka presents "Locality on generalized pied-piping and wh-agreement in Bantu," a talk at the 23rd Conference of the Student Organization of Linguistics in Europe.
Congratulations to Kenshi, who in 2015 becomes Assistant Professor at the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics in Tokyo.
December 15-19, TAU hosts a workshop with UMD, first in a series to promote research collaborations and student exchanges between the two universities. The UMD team is Bill Idsardi, Colin, Dustin Chacón, Kasia Hitczenko, Laurel Perkins, Maria Polinsky, Naomi Feldman and Omer Preminger. This first workshop is on two themes – phonological learning and resumptive pronouns – that benefit from cross-language comparison and multi-disciplinary approaches. It brings together experts in syntax, phonology, computational modeling, psycholinguistics, language acquisition, and language disorders.
Congratulations to 2013 alumnus Dave Kush, who has been awarded 3 years of support from the NIH, through its highly competitive NRSA fellowship, the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. Dave's research proposal is titled "Retrieval dynamics and interference in anaphoric resolution: Skilled and unskilled readers."
In Technology's Latest Quest: Tracking Mental Health, Newsweek reports work by Philip that looks for "signals in language use that help produce insight into people’s mental health status." Also discussed is related research by Carol Espy-Wilson, Professor of Computer and Electrical Engineering.
Now out as Ch.11 in Experimental Perspectives on Presuppositions, "Three-Year-Olds’ Understanding of Know and Think," by Rachel Dudley, with Naho Orita, Valentine Hacquard and Jeff Lidz. The paper investigates three-year-olds’ representations of the attitude verbs think and know, in an attempt to assess children’s understanding of factivity. The results show that some three-year-olds are able to distinguish think and know, particularly in ways that suggest they understand that know presupposes the truth of its complement, and that think does not. The remaining three-year-olds, however, seem to treat both as non-factive. This suggests that early representations of know may be non-factive, and raises the question of how children come to distinguish the verbs.
November 13 Paul Pietroski is at U. Konstanz, talking to their "Foundations of Semantics" group, and reporting on his work with Jeffrey Lidz, in "Semantic Framing: The Meaning of 'most'." Lake Constance, on whose banks met the council that ended the Great Schism, is today the only area in Europe with no agreed borders.
Rachael Richardson, Naomi Feldman and William Idsardi, "What defines a category? Evidence that listeners' perception is governed by generalizations"
Caitlin Richter, Naomi Feldman and Aren Jansen, "Representing speech in a model of phonetic perception"
Now out in Frontiers in Psychology, Local anaphor licensing in an SOV language, by '13 alumnus Dave Kush, along with Colin Phillips. Dave and Colin studied the licensing of reciprocals in Hindi, an SOV language, in order to determine whether pre-verbal anaphors are subject to morphological interference from feature-matching distractors in a way that post-verbal anaphors are not. They found no evidence that distractors eased processing of an unlicensed reciprocal. However, the presence of a distractor increased difficulty of processing following the reciprocal. This paper discusses the significance of these results for theories of cue selection in retrieval.
November 7, USC honors the late Jim Higginbotham with the first lecture in a biennial series, Paul Pietroski on "Form and Composition." In this talk Paul compares Higginbotham's view of semantics to those represented by Heim and Kratzer, on the one hand, and Polly Jacobson, on the other. The Higginbotham Lectures are hosted jointly by the departments of Linguistics and Philosophy.
November 7-9 in Tübingen at a workshop on pronouns under attitude verbs, postdoc alum Tom Grano presents “How to neutralize a finite clause boundary: Phase theory and the grammar of bound pronouns,” joint work with Howard Lasnik.
Congratulations to Kasia Hitczenko, who has received a Paula Menyuk Travel Award to help with travel expenses for BUCLD. Kasia will be presenting "Cognitive Limitations Impose Advantageous Constraints on Word Segmentation", joint work with Yale's Gaja Jarosz.
November 7-9, BUCLD features talks and posters by fifteen current or former Maryland language scientists: Angela, Julie, Kasia, Kate, Katie Leech, Naho Orita and Rachel; Colin, Jeff, Naomi, Valentine and Yi Ting; Akira Omaki, Elika Bergelson and Morgan Moyer; and also Meredith Rowe.
- Angela He and Jeffrey Lidz: Development of the verb-event link between 14 and 18 months
- Kasia Hitczenko and Gaja Jarosz: Cognitive Limitations Impose Advantageous Constraints on Word Segmentation
- Elika Bergelson and R. Aslin: Meaning Specificity in One-Year-Olds’ Word Comprehension
- Akira Omaki, T. Kobayashi and J. Lidz: Cue reliability in the acquisition of Japanese case markers
- Juliana Gerard and Jeffrey Lidz: 4-5 year olds do not attach non-finite adjuncts too low
- Yi Ting Huang, K. Leech and M. Rowe: Understanding difficulties in children’s interpretation of passives: A SES comparison
- Morgan Moyer, Kaitlyn Harrigan, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz: 2-year-olds’ comprehension of personal pronouns
- Naho Orita, H. Ono, Naomi Feldman and Jeffrey Lidz: A conservative interpretation of the reflexive zibun by Japanese children
- M. Sundara, C. Ngon, K. Skoruppa, N. Feldman, G. Onario, J. Morgan, S. Peperkamp: Young infants’ discrimination of subtle phonetic contrasts
Student workshop: The publication process
- Jeffrey Lidz, University of Maryland, Editor-in-Chief of Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics
Poster Symposium: Linguistics for Everyone: Engaging a broader public for the scientific study of language acquisition.
- Representing UMD at this symposium will be: Jeff Lidz, Rachel Dudley, Katie Leech (UMD/Harvard), Meredith Rowe (Harvard), and Colin Phillips.
October 24, Omer Preminger presents "The syntax (and morphology) of non-valuation" at the UMass linguistics colloquium. In this talk Omer argues that, not only in morphology but also in syntax, what was traditionally thought of as one member in a set of possible feature values actually corresponds to the absence of valued features altogether, and that this view of (non‑)valuation leads to empirical advancements in the domains of case assignment and agreement intervention.
Now out in Language and Linguistics Compass, "Expanding our reach and theirs: When Linguists go to High School." In this paper Jeff and Yakov describe our outreach programs at local public schools, including their activities, their motivations and goals, and their prospects.
Congratulations to Angela, one of two recipients of the annual SLD Student Award, for "a record of achievement, and of sustained interest in interdisciplinary research" on language development. The prize helps defray the costs of attending the Society for Language Development Symposium – whose theme this year is "The Representation of Number: Origins and Development" – for graduate students who are presenting papers or posters at BUCLD.
Baggett Fellow alumna Elika Bergelson was awarded $1.25M by the National Institute of Health for being named one of the 2014 Early Independence Award recipients. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester, and her work uses a wide variety of creative methods to examine how babies acquire language.
Just published, "The structure-sensitivity of memory access: evidence from Mandarin Chinese", by Brian, Wing Yee, Matt, and Colin – a big family of Maryland psycholinguists! – with Taomei Guo and Fengqin Liu from Beijing Normal University. The paper, which is based largely on work Brian and Wing Yee did at Maryland and in China as students, examines the processing of the Mandarin Chinese long-distance reflexive ziji. It evaluates the role that syntactic structure plays in the memory retrieval operations that support sentence comprehension, using the multiple-response speed-accuracy tradeoff (MR-SAT) paradigm. The results suggest that not all locality effects may be reduced to the effects of temporal decay and retrieval interference.
Congratulations to Omer Preminger, whose book is now published! Agreement and its Failures "investigates how the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement is enforced by the grammar," and as Mark Baker writes in his back-cover endorsement, it "does a masterful job of showing how a small-looking and semi-familiar fact about agreement is rich in theoretical consequences which the rest of us have not taken seriously enough."
Sept. 21 at MIT, Naomi presents a plenary talk for Phonology 2014, "Using Speech Corpora in Phonetic Modeling." Also giving a plenary talk, "Asymmetries in the representation of categorical phonotactics", is NYU's Gillian Gallagher, a visitor with us this semester.
Hail to 12 Maryland language scientists and alums, plus their crew, who ran the Ragnar Relay in 28hrs 59mins 30secs on 12-13 September 2014.
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 at the National Harbor just down the Potomac from Washington DC. Each runner covered 3 of the 36 legs, covering a total of 13-22 miles. The crew began on Friday morning, then ran continuously for around 28 hours and 59 minutes and 30 seconds, running many legs at night, through early autumnal drizzles, ending around 3pm on Saturday.
An inspiring feat by runners Aaron Steven White, Alison Shell, Alix Kowalski, Andrea Zukowski, Anton Malko, Bob Slevc, Brad Larson, Dustin Chacón, Jeffrey Lidz, Nina Hsu, Shevaun Lewis and Shota Momma.
Bravo also to this year's tireless support crew.
A warm welcome our new class of PhD students: Sigríður Björnsdóttir (Iceland), Kasia Hitczenko (Yale), Nick Huang (Yale), Gesoel Mendes (Paraná, Brazil), and Laurel Perkins. We look forward to five happy and fruitful years!
Congratulations to Chris Dyer (PhD '10), and also to Hal Daumé III in CS, for winning Google Faculty Research Awards, in Machine Translation and Natural Language Processing, respectively. These are "one-year awards structured as unrestricted gifts to universities to support the work of world-class full-time faculty members at top universities around the world."
Congratulations to Naomi Feldman, who with OSU's Micha Elsner, has been awarded an NSF grant for "Cognitive models of the acquisition of vowels in context." The project examines how language learners can take into account coarticulatory influences between neighboring sounds when acquiring the sound categories of their language.
Hello to Omer Preminger, our new Assistant Professor, who starts with us this semester.
Jeffrey Green is one of three students representing UMD at the National Central University of Taiwan (NCU) annual Immersion Program in Chinese language and culture, August 11-29. NCU has graciously offered tuition remission to three UMD graduate students – including course fees, teaching materials, accommodations, meals, local field trips, and special events. The UMD Graduate School will cover your roundtrip airfare to and from Taiwan.
Congratulations to Yakov, who has accepted at postdoctoral research position with Dan Swingley in the University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychology, investigating phonetic learning and language acquisition. He begins in October.
In Philadelphia Yakov will join Megan Sutton, who is beginning a postdoc in the same department, with John Trueswell. The two Marylanders will maintain the terpitude at Penn, after Professor Swingley's recent graduation of Baggett alumna Elika Bergelson, who is now on a postdoc at the University of Rochester, in the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
Huge congratulations to Ellen Lau, and Happy Birthday to her healthy and beautiful boy Tadeu, born July 15th in the morning! Also, a big happy slap on the back alumnus Diogo Almeida for becoming an uncle!
July 18 at the Nanzan University Center for Linguistics, Michael Fetters and Koji Sugisaki present "On the Nature of Null Objects in Japanese: Preliminary Report of Psycholinguistic Experiments with Adults and Children" at the 2014 Comparative Syntax and Language Acquisition Workshop (CSLA).
July 14-18, the IASCL features work by Aaron, Alexis, Angela, Kate, Naho, Rachel, Shevaun, as well as Valentine, Jeff, Alexander, and Meredith Rowe including (at least) five papers, a poster and three workshops.
The role of grammar and extralinguistic cognition in verb learning, convened by Angela Xiaoxue He
- John Trueswell, with Lucia Pozzan, Judith Köhne and Lila Gleitman: "Learner's sentence processing limitations shape word and grammar acquisition"
- Sandy Waxman, with Kathleen Geraghty, Brock Ferguson and Xiaolan Fu: "When less is more: Evidence from Mandarin-acquiring infants acquisition of novel transitive verbs"
- Ben Ambridge: "Explaining children's difficulties with reversible passives: The role of verb and construction meanings"
- Angela Xiaoxue He, with Alexis Wellwood, Jeffrey Lidz and Alexander Williams: "When participant structure and argument structure do not match: Participant structure construction in adults and prelinguistic infants"
- Letitia Naigles, discussant
2. Syntactic, semantic and pragmatic contributors to the acquisition of attitude verbs, convened by Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz
- Kaitlyn Harrigan: "'Want' is easier than 'think' for preschoolers"
- Shevaun Lewis: "Three-year-olds' difficulty with false belief is pragmatic"
- Aaron Steven White: "Syntactic sources of semantics and pragmatics"
- Rachel Dudley, with Naho Orita: "The factivity of 'know' in three-year-olds"
- Jeff Lidz and Valentine Hacquard, discussants
3. Fostering preschool children’s academic language, convened by Meredith Rowe
- Angela Xiaoxue He, Xiangzhi Meng, Alexander Williams and Jeffrey Lidz: "Thematic role assignment in Resultative Constructions in English- and Mandarin-learning children"
- Aaron White: "Contextually modulated syntactic variability in child-directed speech"
July 1 at the École Normale Superieure in the former Lutetia, Jeff Lidz delivers "Children's Attitude Problems," reporting joint work with Valentine Hacquard and the Attitudes Group: Rachel, Aaron, Kate, Naho, Morgan and Shevaun.
June 30-July 4 in Auckland, Chris Heffner presents "A more slowly ticking clock isn’t less useful" at the Universitas 21 Graduate Research Conference: Celebrating Ageing Research. This is Maryland's first year in the Universitas 21 network, and Chris is one of three UMD students chosen to be our first representatives to this annual conference, winning full support for this big trip to the other side of the world!
Congratulations to Chris Heffner, who is among the authors of an article now out in Psychological Science: "Long-Term Temporal Tracking of Speech Rate Affects Spoken-Word Recognition," by Melissa M. Baese-Berk, Christopher C. Heffner, Laura C. Dilley, Mark A. Pitt, Tuuli H. Morrill, and J. Devin McAuley. The article finds that, when a portion of speech is sped up or slowed down, the rate of the surrounding speech influences what words are heard.
Congratulations to Megan, who has won the Howard Lasnik Distinguished Linguistics TA Award. This annual award, granted by faculty consensus, honors excellence in TA'ing. From all of us: thank you Megan!
We are delighted to welcome Maria Polinsky to our faculty! Masha will leave Harvard and begin as Professor of Linguistics here in Fall 2015. She will also be Associate Director of the Language Science Center.
June 22-27, the 52nd ACL features much Terpwork! Naho Orita presents "Quantifying the role of discourse topicality in speakers' choices of referring expressions," joint work with undergraduate major Eliana Vornov, as well as Naomi Feldman and Jordan Boyd-Graber. The paper is part of a ACL workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics, for which Naomi is a keynote speaker. Naomi also has joint work with Stella Frank and Sharon Goldwater at the general ACL conference, title "Weak semantic context helps phonetic learning in a model of infant language acquisition". Meanwhile Philip Resnik is co-chairing a workshop, "Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology," and is co-author on two papers. These papers also involve '09 alumnus Yuval Marton, and LING-affiliates Jordan Boyd-Graber and Hal Daumé III.
- "A Unified Model for Soft Linguistic Reordering Constraints in Statistical Machine Translation" - Junhui Li, Yuval Marton, Philip Resnik, and Hal Daumé III
- "Political Ideology Detection Using Recursive Neural Networks" - Mohit Iyyer, Peter Enns, Jordan Boyd-Graber and Philip Resnik
Jordan and Hal are also co-authors on three further papers:
- "Anchors Regularized: Adding Robustness and Extensibility to Scalable Topic-Modeling Algorithms" - Thang Nguyen, Yuening Hu and Jordan Boyd-Graber
- "Polylingual Tree-Based Topic Models for Translation Domain Adaptation" - Yuening Hu, Ke Zhai, Vladimir Eidelman and Jordan Boyd-Graber
- "Predicting Instructor's Intervention in MOOC forums" - Snigdha Chaturvedi, Dan Goldwasser and Hal Daumé III
Huge congratulations to Allyson Ettinger, who has won an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! Awarded to only 2,000 of 14,000 applicants, this prestigious fellowship provides three years of full support.
June 21-29, UMD hosts the 6th NASSLI, or North American Summer School in Logic, Language and Information. The school features top faculty in linguistics, philosophy, cognitive and computing sciences teaching a dozen and a half intensive 5-day courses, as well as 5 one-hour sessions of student presentations. The faculty includes our own Norbert Hornstein and 2010 alumnus Tim Hunter, as well as Angelika Kratzer, Frank Veltman, James Pustejovsky, Larry Moss, Yoad Winter, Shalom Lappin, Dan Lassiter, Gregory Kobele, Sylvain Salvati, David Danks, Kevin Zollman, Lucas Champollion, Lutz Schröder, Dirk Pattison, Justin Bledin, Alexandru Baltag, Bryan Renne, Sonja Smets, Nina Gierasimczuk, Jakub Szymanik, Shane Steinert-Threlkeld, Jan Broersen, Wiebke Petersen and Kata Balogh. Concurrently, semantic valueballers will be competing for the Beaver Cup, in honor of David Beaver, director of the 2012 NASSLLI at Austin, and member of the steering committee.
June 13, in the Gascon Bayonne, Jeff gives an invited talk at "Quantifier Scope: Syntactic, Semantic, and Experimental Approaches," a workshop in Bayonne, France. Bayonne, overrun by Björn Ironside in 842, and namesake to Bayonne, NJ, has since developed one of the world's great hams, as well as the longest tradition of bull-fighting in France.
June 3-7, Colin Phillips is is giving 5 talks in the Distinguished Scholars Lecture Series at the Chinese University of Hong Kong: "Linguistic Illusions: Where you see them, and where you don't," "Generating expectations and meanings in language comprehension and production," "Encoding and navigating structured linguistic representations: Recent surprisings," and "Language acquisition and language processing: Could less really be more?," plus one mystery talk. This Colinpalooza follows recent talks at Edinburgh, Lund, and Bristol. Let's hope for a good rest upon Colin's return to Maryland!
May 24, Naomi Feldman is an invited speaker at a symposium on Bayesian Methods in Cognition, part of the Association for Psychological Science Convention. Naomi's talk is titled "Modeling statistical learning in language acquisition."
May 13-15, Valentine Hacquard is an invited speaker at the workshop on Perspective and Modal Semantics, hosted by Linguistics at OSU. She is presenting "Child semantics and the meaning of attitudes," as well as well as joint work with Pranav Anand on "Attitude Reports, Discourse Reports, and Factivity."
May 13th at the CUNY Syntax Supper, Carolina presents "(Hyper)-raising and Long Distance Agree and minimality effects: a view from Brazilian Portuguese, Greek, Romanian," joint work with Arhonto Terzi and Michaella Marchis Moreno.
Congratulations to alumna Shevaun Lewis, who took first in the under 30 women's division at the Azalea Classic 5K run, with a time of 25:16, after finishing second in that division last year! Speedy postdoc Tom Grano took 6th in the highly competitive division of men in their 30s, at 21:37. At 24:50, Bob Slevc from Psychology took 9th in that same division, with Alexander Williams puttering 3 seconds behind Bob, earning 7th among men in their 40s. Liz Redcay from Psychology was at 29:44, while Andrea Zukowski and Valentine Hacquard – first-time 5Kers, along with Alexander – tied at 31:24. Here's a photo.
A round of applause for Alexis, who is to be Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, starting in Fall 2014. Yes, quaecumque sunt vera! Northwestern and Maryland are partners in the CIC, so we can look forward to continued institutional connections with our happy alumna.
Three cheers for Wing Yee Chow, who this fall will join the faculty of Linguistics at UCL, University College London, as Lecturer in Experimental Linguistics (equivalent to our Assistant Professor). We can all agree with the UCL motto: Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward! ("Cuncti adsint meritaeque expectent praemia palmae," Vergil).
May 2-4 in London, Ontario, Carolina presents "On locality effects in Brazilian Portuguese and Romanian: hyper-raising vs. LDA," a paper with Mihaela Marchis, at the 44th Linguistics Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL) at The University of Western Ontario.
Congratulations to Terje, who is now Professor of English Linguistics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the youngest full professor in all of Norway.
April 19, Morgan presents "2-year-olds’ Comprehension of Pronouns" at the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium, reporting on work she has done for her Honors thesis under the supervision of Valentine Hacquard.
Congratulations to former RA Cybelle Smith for winning an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! Cybelle is currently in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Congratulations also to Rachel Dudley and Allyson Ettinger for receiving Honorable Mention. Here is the total list.
April 17, Omer Preminger talks at the NYU Syntax Brown Bag. New York City, a city in New York, is believed by some to have once known been known as Lenapehoking, a word believed by some to mean 'in the land of the Lenape people' in the Algonquian language of the Lenape, a group known to European colonists as the Delaware Indians.
April 14th at the Utah Department of Linguistics colloquium, Yakov presents "A Bayesian model of categorical effects in consonant and vowel perception: Ockham's Razor and applications to L2 learning." The talk builds on previous joint work with Emily Coppess and Naomi Feldman and presents recent work on nasals with Jack Diaz (Linguistics/CS undergraduate at UMD) and extensions to L2 learning with alumna and Utah faculty, Shannon Barrios, as well as Bill Idsardi and Matt Winn of UW-Madison.
April 10-12 at CLS 50, Carolina Petersen presents "Hyper-Raising and locality: a view from Brazilian Portuguese and Greek" co-authored with Arhonto Terzi. This is the fiftieth annual meeting of the CLS!
Congratulations to Sol Lago! She has accepted a postdoc with Claudia Felser at the Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism. Beginning this August, Sol will be right outside of Berlin, occupying the residence of the Prussian kings.
Yakov was named a finalist for the prestigious University of Maryland Graduate Student Distinguished Service Award.
The Service Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 4th at 4:30pm.
Dustin will be presenting a poster at the 4th Formal Approaches to South Asian Languages (FASAL IV) Conference at Rutgers, March 29-30. The poster is titled "Word Order Effects on Long-Distance Dependency Resolution: Within and Between Languages" and presents work done by Dustin and a host of collaborators on long-distance extraction in Bangla. Safe trip, Dustin!
In the news after its publication in Language this month, is Gagliardi and Lidz's "Statistical Insensitivity in the Acquisition of Tsez Noun Classes." Let's hope this is the first ripple in a huge splash!
Huge congratulations to Dan, who is to be Assistant Professor in the Program in Linguistics at the College of William and Mary, second oldest institution of higher learning in America (after Harvard), in historic Williamsburg, Virginia.
Congratulations to alumnus Terje Lohndal for two recent awards: the Young Research Prize from the Royal Norwegian Society of Science and Letters, and the Nils Klim Prize, "awarded to a younger Nordic researcher under the age of 35 who has made an outstanding contribution to research in the arts and humanities, social sciences, law and theology." Terje is Associate Professor of English Linguistics Department of Language and Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
March 17 at the Utah Department of Linguistics colloquium, Jeffrey Green presents "Remote Control: Evidence against grammatical binding of PRO in reason clauses," building on recent joint work with Mike McCourt, Alek, Ellen Lau and Alexander Williams. The University of Utah is Jeff's alma mater, and faculty home to alumna Shannon Barrios.
March 13-15, work by Alek, Anna, Anton, Dan, Dustin, Ilia, Katie Leech, Mike McCourt, Shota and Sol, along with Alexander, Bob Slevc, Colin, Ellen, Jared Novick, Meredith Rowe, Polly O'Rourke and Yi Ting Huang, plus PhD alumni Shevaun Lewis, Wing-Yee Chow, Brian Dillon, Akira Omaki, Matt Wagers and Masaya Yoshida, postdoctoral alumna Ming Xiang, Baggett/RA alumni Glynis MacMillan and Michael Shvartsman, as well as BA alumna Cynthia Lukyanenko, and even Blair High School intern Alan Du, will be presented at the 27th Annual CUNY Conference on Sentence Processing. Wow! Watch out for Terrapins ambling through Ohio's third largest city.
- Dan Parker, Alan Du (Blair High School) and Colin Phillips: "Time heals semantic illusions, but not syntactic illusions"
- Brian Dillon, Joshua Levy, Adrian Staub and Charles Clifton: "Linear order effects in agreement: Evidence from English wh-questions"
- Polly L. O'Rourke and Gregory J. H. Colflesh: "The P600 and the n-back task: Evidence that domain general conflict resolution ability underpins the resolution of garden-paths"
- Michael Shvartsman, Richard Lewis and Satinder Singh: "Spillover Frequency Effects in a Sequential Sampling Model of Reading"
- Dustin Chacón, Mashrur Imtiaz, Shirsho Dasgupta, Sikder Monoare Murshed, Mina Dan, and Colin Phillips: "Structural and non-structural locality effects in Bangla filler-gap dependencies"
- Wing Yee Chow, Glynis MacMillan, Shefali Shah, Ilia Kurenkov, Ellen Lau and Colin Phillips: "Partial use of available information in the early stages of verb prediction"
- Shevaun Lewis and Colin Phillips: "Pragmatic processing costs reflect linking to context, not enrichment"
- Mike McCourt (PHIL), Aleksandra Fazlipour, Ellen Lau and Alexander Williams: "Implicit Agents in Short Passives and Remote Control of Reason Clauses"
- Shota Momma, Robert Slevc and Colin Phillips: "The effect of syntactic category on advance planning in sentence production"
- Sol Lago, Diego Shalom, Mariano Sigman, Ellen Lau and Colin Phillips: "Yo pienso, tu piensas, él piensa: Crosslinguistic agreement effects in comprehension"
- Ellen Lau and Anna Namyst: "Dissociating neural effects of predictability and incongruity in adjective-noun phrases"
- Dan Parker and Colin Phillips: "Selective priority for structure in memory retrieval"
- Natalia Slioussar, Anton Malko and Colin Phillips: "Two Distinct Attraction Profiles in Comprehending Russian Gender Agreement"
- Yi Ting Huang, Kathryn Leech and Meredith Rowe: "Exploring socioeconomic differences in syntactic development through processing"
- Yi Ting Huang: "Pragmatic inferencing across scales: Linguistic and extra-linguistic effects"
- Cynthia Lukyanenko and Cynthia Fisher: "Abstract agreement: Children's sensitivity to subject-verb agreement in comprehension does not require knowledge of specific lexical co-occurrences"
- Brian Dillon: "Locality in filler-gap dependencies: Evidence from extraposition"
- Akira Omaki, Brian Dillon, Takuya Kubo, Manami Sato and Hiromu Sakai: "Anti-locality preference in the processing of Japanese reflexive binding"
- Manuel F. Borja, Sandra Chung and Matt Wagers: "Relative clause processing and competing pressures in an agreement-rich language"
- Emily Pendleton and Matt Wagers: "Animacy and the active construction of filler-gap dependencies in relative clauses"
- Ming Xiang, Emily Hanink and Genna Vegh: "Before and after, and processing presuppositions in discourse"
- Sandra Villata, Luigi Rizzi, Akira Omaki and Julie Franck: "Relativized Minimality: a systematic investigation on intervention effects"
- Lauren Ackerman, Michael Frazier and Masaya Yoshida: "Resumptive pronouns salvage island violations in forced-choice tasks"
- Michael Frazier, Peter Baumann, Lauren Ackerman, David Potter and Masaya Yoshida: "Local coherence effects and crossing reflexive- and wh-dependencies"
- Nina Hsu, Susanne Jaeggi and Jared Novick: "A common neural basis for syntactic and non-syntactic conflict-control"
- Richard Lewis, Michael Shvartsman and Satinder Singh: "Why do Interference Effects Arise in Sentence Processing? A Sampling Theory of Memory as Optimal Discrimination Among Noisy Traces"
March 7-9 in Los Angeles, Chris talks about "Local plural anaphora as sub-event distributivity" at WCCFL 32. He will be joined by Terp alums Tim Hunter and Masaya Yoshida, with a talk on “Condition C Reconstruction, Late-Adjunction and LF-Form-Chain Analyses of Sluicing," as well Mrs. Ivana LaTerza, with a poster on "Relative Clauses in an Article-less Language."
Congratulations to Eleanor Roosevelt HS interns Amina Iro and Uchenna Uzomah, who won first place and honorable mention in the Behavioral Sciences category at the Eleanor Roosevelt Science and Engineering Fair for EEG projects they are conducting with Ellen Lau. Amina is investigating how quickly word predictions are generated, and Uchenna is investigating whether differences in the neural responses observed to nouns and verbs reflect their syntactic or semantic differences.
Congratulations to Michael Fetters, for winning a place in the NSF's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Program. From June through August of 2014, Mike will be doing research on the acquisition of argument ellipsis under Dr. Koji Sugisaki at Mie University. In Mie, Michael Fetters will be only 90 minutes away from Iga, considered to be "one of the birthplaces of the ninja clans," who some believe invented ellipsis.
February 20 in Palo Alto, Alexis gives an invited talk in the Cognition & Language Workshop, a series of talks on experimental studies of natural language meaning hosted by the Center for the Study of Language and Information and the Stanford Humanities Center.
Just out in Frontiers in Psychology, "On Recursion" by Watumull, Hauser, Roberts, and Norbert Hornstein. The essay endeavors to clarify discussions of recursion, as they pertain to languages and the language faculty.
Congratulations to Allyson, whose paper with Tal Linzen and Alec Marantz is out in Brain and Language. Titled "The role of morphology in phoneme prediction: Evidence from MEG", the paper reports evidence from surprisal in an MEG study that morphology and phoneme prediction are central in auditory word recognition.
As reported in the Huffington Post, research on perfect pitch involving Baggett alumnus Lawrence Chen was recently published in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. The article ("Valproate reopens critical-period learning of absolute pitch" by Judit Gervain, Bradley W. Vines, Lawrence M. Chen, Rubo J. Seo, Takao K. Hensch, Janet F. Werker and Allan H. Young) reports that "adult men who took valproate (VPA) (a HDAC inhibitor) learned to identify pitch significantly better than those taking placebo—evidence that VPA facilitated critical-period learning in the adult human brain."
January 2-5, work by Alexis, Angela, Chris H., Chris L., Dan and Dustin, with support from Jeff, Colin, Bill and Alexander, will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Minneapolis. There will also be a presentation by Scott Jackson from CASL, and three talks (!) involving alumna Annie Gagliardi.
Chris Heffner and Bill Idsardi, Limits on Phonetic Category Learning
Chris LaTerza, Ruth Kramer, Morgan Rood and Dustin Chacón, Plural Shifted Indexicals are Plural: Evidence from Amharic
Dan Parker and Colin Phillips, Negative polarity illusions and the format of hierarchical encodings in memory
Andrew Wedel, Rebecca Sharp and Scott Jackson, Phonetic cues distinguishing minimal pairs are hyperarticulated in natural speech
Ann Gagliardi, Input ≠ Intake: the case of Norwegian noun classes
Ann Gagliardi, Pedro Mateo Pedro and Maria Polinsky, The Acquisition of Relative Clauses in Q’anjob’al Mayan
Ann Gagliardi, Michael Goncalves, Nina Radkevich and Maria Polinsky, The Biabsolutive in Nakh-Dagestanian: Syntax and Learnability
Alexis Wellwood, Decomposing gradable adjectives and introducing degrees
Angela Xiaoxue He, Alexis Wellwood, Jeffrey Lidz and Alexander Williams, Assessing event perception in adults and prelinguistic children: A prelude to syntactic bootstrapping
December 18-20, Valentine gives an invited talk at the 19th Amsterdam Colloquium, within a workshop titled: "More on Modals: New Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives." Also from Maryland, Jeff Horty, Professor of Philosophy, is giving the E.W. Beth Foundation Lecture.
Congratulations to Norbert and alumnus Jon Sprouse, whose Experimental Syntax and Island Effects is now published! Congratulations also to all the authors, who include several Maryland faculty and alumni, not only Norbert and Jon, but Colin, Brian Dillon, Johannes Jurka, Dave Kush, Akira Omaki, Lisa Pearl, Matt Wagers and Masaya Yoshida. The book grew out of the 2008 Mayfest, "Island Perspectives."
Congratulations to undergrad alumna Cynthia Lukyanenko, whose honors thesis work with Stacey Conroy and Jeff Lidz is now out in Language Learning and Development. The article, "Is she patting Katie? Constraints on pronominal reference in 30-month-olds," investigates young children’s knowledge of syntactic constraints on noun phrase reference, by testing 30-month-olds’ interpretation of two types of transitive sentences. It finds that, in a preferential looking task, children’s adult-like interpretations are consistent with adherence to Principles A and C of Binding Theory.
Just out in Language Learning and Development, "No Fear of Commitment: Children's Incremental Interpretation in English and Japanese Wh-Questions" by Akira Omaki, Imogen Davidson-White, Takuya Goro, Jeff Lidz and Colin Phillips. The paper explores whether children incrementally resolve filler-gap dependencies, using Japanese and English ambiguous wh-questions of the form "Where did Lizzie tell someone that she was gonna catch butterflies?", in which one could answer either the telling location (main clause interpretation) or the butterfly–catching location (embedded clause interpretation). It finds that English-speaking adults and children generally prefer the main clause interpretation, whereas Japanese adults and children both prefer the embedded clause interpretation. Also, Japanese children were unable to inhibit their embedded clause interpretation bias when the sentence was manipulated to syntactically block such analyses. These findings suggest that syntactic and interpretability cues may have distinct impacts on children’s sentence comprehension processes.
This week Ellen Lau is at the Neurobiology of Language Conference in San Diego, where she's serving as the Meeting Liaison and presenting a poster on 'Costs and benefits of prediction in adjective-noun phrases' with former RA Allison Fogel and undergrad alumna Tania Delgado.
In the new LI, three articles by Terps: two (!!) by Brad, one of which is with Norbert, and one by Masaya. Masaya's article, with Isaac Rottman, is Sluicing, Idioms, and Island Repair. Brad's solo piece is Arabic Conjunct-Sensitive Agreement and Primitive Operations. His article with Norbert is A Note on P-Stranding and Adjunct Extraction from Nominals. Amazing! Congratulations guys.
Congratulations to Megan, whose abstract for BUCLD38 had the highest ranking of any with a student as the first author, earning her the Jean Berko Gleason Award. In related good news, Rachel Dudley received the Paula Menyuk travel award, to help defray her travel costs.
October 29 at ZAS in Germany, Colin Phillips presents "Generating expectations and meanings in comprehension and production."
Huge congratulations to Sara McVeigh, who has been awarded the Dean's Senior Scholar Award by the College of Arts and Humanities. An active member of the acquisition lab, TA, and undergraduate major, Sara 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." Sara's award will be announced at the Fall Scholar Reception, and again at Commencement. Hurray for Sara!
Go see, at 2:14-2:51, Kate, Sol, Dave Kush, Anton and Anna Chrabaszcz, as well as Jared Novick, Andrea and Colin, in President Wallace Loh's latest video message to the university community. Here the president celebrates the opening of the new Language Science Center.
November 1-3, Angela, Alexis, Megan, Mike, Naho, Rachel, Yakov, Morgan Moyer, Erin Bennett and Alix Kowalski, will be presenting talks or posters at the 38th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, together with 5 faculty members from linguistics – Alexander, Colin, Jeff, Naomi, and Valentine – plus Yi-Ting Huang from HESP. Wow.
Colin Phillips, "Parsing and learning: Could less really be more?" (invited talk in Sunday's symposium, "A new approach to language learning: Filtering through the processor")
Rachel Dudley, Naho Orita, Morgan Moyer, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz, "Factivity in three-year-olds' understanding of 'know' and 'think'" (talk)
Megan Sutton, Mike Fetters and Jeffrey Lidz, "Principle C Effects are Structural, not Linear, in 30 Month-Olds" (talk)
Angela He, Alexis Wellwood, Jeffrey Lidz and Alexander Williams, "Assessing event perception in adults and prelinguistic children: A prelude to syntactic bootstrapping" (poster)
Erin Bennett, Yakov Kronrod and Naomi Feldman, "Modeling effects of input variability in phonetic acquisition" (poster)
Yi-Ting Huang and Alix Kowalski: Baseball bats & butterflies: Context effects on pragmatic inferencing in adults and children (alternate talk)
October 18-20, NELS 44 features work by Chris, Dustin, Sayaka, Aaron, plus an invited talk by Colin. Chris and Dustin present "Plural shifted indexicals are plural: evidence from Amharic", joint work with Georgetown's Jen Johnson, Ruth Kramer and Morgan Rood. Sayaka Goto's talk is titled "Locality/Anti-Locality and Weak Crossover Effects." Aaron White will give a poster called "Factive-implicatives and modal complementizers".
Congratulations to Ellen, whose paper "Automatic semantic facilitation in anterior temporal cortex revealed through multimodal neuroimaging," with Alexandre Gramfort, Matti Hamalainen and Gina Kuperberg, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Bravos to 12 Maryland language scientists, friends and alums, plus their support crew, who ran the Ragnar Relay on 4-5 October 2013. The relay stretched over a monstrous 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" – and past shut-down national parks – pausing for petit fours and spritzers chez Hornstein and Weinberg, ending ultimately at the National Harbor just down the Potomac from Washington DC. Each runner covered 3 of the 36 legs, covering a total of 13-22 miles. The crew began at 10:30am on Friday, then ran continuously for around 26 hours and 22 minutes, running many legs at night, through Indian Summer temperatures in the 80s, ending at 12:52pm on Saturday.
October 11-13 at JK23, Sayaka Goto gives a poster titled "Two types of accusative subjects in Japanese" and Dongwoo Park gives a poster titled "Korean ECM construction and Cyclic Linearization." This year the conference is at MIT.
Just out in Semantics and Pragmatics, "Epistemics and Attitudes" by Pranav Anand and Valentine Hacquard. The paper investigates the distribution of epistemic modals in attitude contexts in three Romance languages, as well as their potential interaction with mood selection, and gives an account of which attitude verbs allow epistemic modals in their complements.
Congratulations to alumna Annie Gagliardi and Jeff Lidz, whose "Statistical Insensitivity in the Acquisition of Tsez Noun Classes" has been accepted for publication in Language.
September 19, Alexander talks about Russell on descriptions with the Philosophy Club at Kenmoor Middle School in Landover Maryland. This is part of an outreach program started by graduate students in the Philosophy Department, in conjunction with the Talented and Gifted Program at Kenmoor. Someone from the department will join the Club twice every month this semester.
September 17 the College of Arts and Humanities honors Alexis Wellwood with the Student Service Award at its Annual Faculty & Staff Convocation. The Dean will also announce faculty appointments and promotions from the past academic year, including the promotion of Valentine Hacquard to Associate Professor.
September 18-21, Tom is at the University of Split in Croatia, to talk about "Restructuring at the syntax-semantics interface." The talk will be at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, within the "Workshop on Infinitives at the Syntax-Semantics Interface: A Diachronic Perspective." Split, centered on the palace of Emperor Diocletian and named after a common shrub of the area, is the second largest city in Croatia - making this the second time in two weeks that a talk by Tom has been delivered in the second largest city of some country.
September 14-15, Paul shares keynote speaker honors with Barbara Partee at Semantics: Mathematics or Psychology?. The conference, hosted by Princeton University, is supported by the Cooperative Research Network in Analytic Philosophy, or CRNAP, a recently launched "international scholarly network linking the Princeton Department of Philosophy, the Australian National University School of Philosophy, University of Oxford Faculty of Philosophy, and the Institut Jean-Nicod (Paris)."
September 11-13 Tom and Aaron present their poster "An experimental investigation of partial control" at Sinn und Bedeutung 18 in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the second largest city in the Basque Country.
We are delighted to welcome six new members to our PhD program: Lara Ehrenhofer (Oxford), Allyson Ettinger (Brandeis), Jeff Green (Utah), Anton Malko (St. Petersburg), Chris Neufeld (Toronto), and Zach Stone (NYU). Here's to a happy half decade!
A warm welcome two new Baggett Scholars, Aleksandra Fazlipour (Rochester) and Natalia Lapinskaya (Toronto), as well as Ilia Kurenkov (UMass Amherst), Anna Bonnet (Maryland) and Caitlin Richter (Edinburgh), who will be RAs for Colin, Ellen and Naomi, respectively.
To appear in Child Development, "Referential labeling can facilitate phonetic learning in infancy," by Henny Yeung, Lawrence Chen, and Janet Werker. The paper shows a link between infants' understanding of word labels and the development of speech perception.
Naomi Feldman has been awarded a 2-year grant from the National Science Foundation entitled "Integrating low-level speech features into a model of speech perception". This interdisciplinary project draws on techniques from cognitive modeling and speech recognition to look at how people's perception of speech sounds is shaped by the speech they hear. The research will be carried out in collaboration with Aren Jansen at Johns Hopkins University.
July 31 in Berlin, Naho Orita presents "Discovering pronoun categories using discourse information" at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. This is work done with Rebecca McKeown, Naomi Feldman, Jeff Lidz and Jordan Boyd-Graber.
To appear in Psychological Review, "A role for the developing lexicon in phonetic category acquisition", by Naomi Feldman, Tom Griffiths, Sharon Goldwater, and James Morgan. The paper presents a joint model of phonetic and lexical acquisition, illustrating how learning about words can help children learn about sounds.
Congratulations to Alexis, who has been honored with the ARHU Graduate Student Service Award. 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 Alexis!
Congratulations to Shannon, the first recipient of the "Howard Lasnik Distinguished Linguistics TA Award." And thank you Howard, from all our students and faculty, for maintaining and encouraging such high standards in teaching for so many years! We look forward to giving this award annually for years to come.
Felicitations to Ewan, who has accepted a post-doc in the Laboratoire de Science Cognitive et Psycholinguistique at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.
2013 is an exciting year for several recent alumni! Phil Monahan and Eri Takahashi begin at U. Toronto, Scarborough, Phil as Assistant Professor and Eri as Lecturer. Jon Sprouse is moving to Connecticut as Associate Professor of Linguistics. Lisa Pearl and Usama Soltan have both been promoted to Associate Professor, Lisa in Cognitive Science at UC Irvine and Usama in Arabic at Middlebury. Tim Hunter begins his Assistant Professorship of Linguistics at the University of Minnesota. And Matt Wagers, Assistant Professor at Santa Cruz, together with Sandra Chung, received an NSF grant on "The Real-Time Grammar of Chamorro WH-Dependencies." Congratulations to all our old friends!
Congratulations to Yuki Ito, whose paper "Raising to object in wager/assure-class verbs: A PF account of the defective paradigm" has been accepted for publication by Studia Linguistica.
Big congratulations to Wing-Yee who in September begins a post-doc at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language. BCBL is in Donostia-San Sebastián, capital city of Gipuzkoa, on the Bay of Biscay.
May 16-18 at the University of Riga, Alexis Wellwood will present work with Rachel Dudley, Chris Vogel and Brendan Ritchie, at the 9th International Symposium of Cognition, Logic and Communication: Perception and Concepts. Their paper, "Talking about Causing Events," grew out of a project with PHLING.
In the sixth installment of the WORLDWISE Arts & Humanities Insights Videos, Colin Phillips provides insights on how we seem to understand language so effortlessly even though it is not effortless at all. Also featured in the video are many of our students, graduate and undergraduate, including Chris Heffner, Glynis MacMillan, Kate Harrigan, Morgan Moyer, Sol Lago, Dan Parker, Shota Momma, Wing Yee Chow, Shevaun Lewis, and Dave Kush.
May 3-5 at Semantics and Linguistic Theory 23, Michaël presents "Part and Parcel of Eliding Partitives". This paper argues, contrary to the common analysis, that in sentences such as "Ten students entered and many sat down", "many" is equivalent not to "many students" but rather to "many of them," with ellipsis of the partitive.
Congratulations to Alison Shell, Shevaun Lewis, and Colin Phillips who won honors at Saturday's Azalea Classic 5K run! Alison took 2nd place overall among women, while Shevaun took 2nd in the women's 20-29 age group. Colin took 3rd place overall among the men, with an mean speed of 10.205 mph. Hot on their heels were Yakov Kronrod and Bob Slevc.
Yakov Kronrod has been awarded the first annual Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Leadership. The award is "in recognition of his leadership skills and for exemplifying a new generation of student leaders from the University of Maryland, College Park." This was one of only three awards given campus-wide, one each for the categories of leadership, innovation, and community development.
Congratulations to junior Sophia Sanborn, a double major in linguistics and philosophy, for winning the Beinecke Scholarship, one of only 20 awarded nationally each year. Sophia was nominated by the Philosophy Department to the University, who then chose her to represent Maryland in the annual competition. The scholarship provides a very substantial stipend for graduate study in a field of the winner's choosing. Sophia plans to choose either linguistics or philosophy.
April 18, Naho Orita and Rachel Dudley will be giving talks in Masaya Yoshida's lab, Northwestern University. Naho will present, "The role of discourse in the acquisition of pronouns," and Rachel will present, "Bootstrapping the semantics of attitude verbs."
In April 17-19, in New York (CUNY), Carolina Petersen is presenting her paper "Raising and hyper-raising across experiencer in Brazilian Portuguese: a vP phase evidence" at the 43th Linguistics Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL).
April 18-20 at CLS 49, Yuki Ito presents "Asymmetric A-movement within vP," while Rachel Dudley, Naho Orita, Morgan Moyer, Valentine Hacquard, and Jeff Lidz present "Three year olds' understanding of "know" and "think"".
April 13, Dustin Chacón goes to Northfield, Minnesota, to present at the Minnesota Undergraduate Linguistics Symposium as an invited speaker. He presents his research done in collaboration with Michael Fetters, Kate Harrigan, Eric Pelzl, Colin Phillips, and Rachel Dudley on learning that-trace effects and language variation. This project started as a Special Interest Group last Winter Storm.
Michaël Gagnon: "Noun Phrase Ellipsis Revisited"
Alexis Wellwood: "How much plurals count"
Aaron Steven White: "An experimental investigation of partial control"
MACSIM, the Mid-Atlantic Colloquium for Studies in Meaning, is a regional workshop on issues related to meaning in natural language. It consists of presentations and posters by graduate students from the participating departments in the Mid-Atlantic: NYU, CUNY, Rutgers, Penn, Delaware, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Georgetown. Faculty from these departments participate in audience discussion. There is also one invited talk by a faculty member, and plenty of time to get to know people and their work.
The talk explores the consequences of Cinque’s (2006) suggestion that whereas Partial Control instantiates 'true', biclausal control, Exhaustive Control predicates realize functional heads that instantiate monoclausal raising structures. Tom shows that this view makes accurate predictions about a number of correlates of the EC/PC split, including the crosslinguistic distribution of restructuring (monoclausality effects), the distribution of finite complements (in English), and the distribution of overt embedded subjects (crosslinguistically).
April 13 at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in San Francisco, Sol Lago and Wing Yee Chow, with co-authors Shannon Barrios, Dan Parker, Giovanna Morini and Ellen Lau are presenting a poster , titled "Long-term memory effects in the N400 during sentence processing: evidence from a novel recognition memory – sentence comprehension paradigm".
Chris Heffner and Josh Falk have each been awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for 2013-2016. These highly competitive fellowships are NSF's most prestigious awards for graduate study. They carry a generous stipend, and a large virtual feather-in-the-cap. Chris is a student in the NACS program, with Linguistics and Hearing & Speech Sciences as his home departments. Josh is a Baggett Fellow in our Department of Linguistics. Congratulations Chris and Josh!
- Zoe Schlueter, "The Effect of Proficiency on the Antecedent Preferences of Personal Pronouns and Anaphoric Demonstratives by English Second Language Learners of German"
- Rachel Dudley, "Bootstrapping the semantics of attitude verbs"
- Dongwoo Park, "Functional Phrase and Subject-to-Object Raising in Korean"
Susan Ojo, an intern in our acquisition lab, won first place in her category again, this time at the regional science fair! This is the second blue ribbon Susan has won by presenting research done with Rachel Dudley, Naho Orita, Morgan Moyer, Valentine Hacquard and Jeff Lidz.
March 21-23, Bradley Larson, Dan Parker, Dave Kush, Dustin Chacón, Glynis MacMillan, Sol Lago, Shota Momma, Wing Yee Chow, Colin Phillips, and Jeffrey Lidz represent UMD Linguistics at the 26th annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing in Columbia, South Carolina, with a total of nine talks:
- Dave Kush, Colin Phillips, and Jeff Lidz, "Retrieval respects crossover"
- Sol Lago, Shayne Sloggett (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Wing Yee Chow, and Colin Phillips, "What types of lexical information are reaccessed during pronoun processing?"
- Shota Momma, Robert Slevc, and Colin Phillips, "Advance planning of verbs in head-final language production"
- Wing Yee Chow, Colin Phillips, and Suiping Wang (South China Normal University), "Are our eyes really faster than our brains? Aligning eye-tracking and ERP time estimates"
- Dustin Chacón and Colin Phillips, "Biases in resolving wh-dependencies in a hybrid language"
- Dan Parker, Glynis MacMillan, and Colin Phillips, "Illusory NPI licensing: Now you see it, now you don’t"
- Wing Yee Chow, Cybelle Smith, Glynis MacMillan, and Colin Phillips, "Argument identity impacts predictions faster than argument roles"
- Wing Yee Chow, Colin Phillips, and Suiping Wang (South China Normal University), "Predictive computations underlie the N400’s sensitivity to thematic role-reversals"
- Dan Parker and Bradley Larson, "Two flavors of long distance dependency discerned through island effects"
In addition there are five talks by Maryland language scientists from other departments or from CASL:
- Erika Hussey, Susan Teubner-Rhodes, Alan Mishler, Isaiah Harbison and Jared Novick, "Trainability and selective transferability of conflict resolution skills to parsing and non-parsing domains"
- Suzanne Freynik and Polly O'Rourke, "L2 processing of Arabic derivational morphology"
- Polly O'Rourke, "The underlying cognitive components of sentence processing: Not all P600s are alike"
- Yi Ting Huang, Xiangzhi Meng and Kathryn Leech, "Who did what to whom? An investigation of syntactic reanalysis in English and Mandarin"
- Yi Ting Huang and Alix Kowalski, "Baseball bats and butterflies: Context effects on pragmatic inferencing in adults and children"
Yakov Kronrod was awarded the Honorable Mention at the 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting Student Poster Competition in the Brain and Behavior category. The poster, "A Unified Model of Phoneme Perception", was based on joint work with Emily Coppess (U Chicago) and Naomi Feldman. He will be recognized in a spring issue of Science.
Congratulations to Susan Ojo, a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School who has been interning in our acquisition lab, for winning first prize in the behavioral sciences category at her school's science fair! Presenting research on the acquisition of factive verbs done with Rachel Dudley, Naho Orita, Morgan Moyer, Valentine Hacquard and Jeff Lidz, Susan beat out researchers interning in other University of Maryland labs and the Children's National Medical Center. This weekend, March 9-10, Susan advances to the regional science fair at Prince George's Community College. Good luck at regionals, Susan!
March 12-15, Brad Larson presents "The Inherent Syntactic Incompleteness of RNR" at the Parenthesis and Ellipsis workshop at the 35th Annual Conference of the German Linguistics Society in Potsdam, Germany.
March 1, Valentine presents "Attitude problems" for Harvard's Linguistics Circle Workshop. The talk examines asymmetries in the semantics and pragmatics of attitudes of belief and desire and in their acquisition. The talk explores a semantic explanation for the asymmetry in children's understanding of think and want, as opposed to an explanation relying on a fundamental change in conceptual structure.
Congratulations to Bradley Larson for his squib with Norbert Hornstein, "A note on P-stranding and adjunct extraction from nominals," to appear in Linguistic Inquiry. The paper identifies a problem for a unified analysis of adjunct extraction and preposition stranding. Prohibitions of adjunct extraction are obviated under sluicing while prohibitions of P-stranding are not.
Congratulations to Wing Yee Chow, whose recent paper with Colin Phillips is to appear in Brain Research. The title is "No semantic illusions in the 'Semantic P600' phenomenon: ERP evidence from Mandarin Chinese."
February 15, 150 students from Northwood High School in Silver Spring visit the University to learn about language science from graduate students and faculty associated with the IGERT project on biological and computational foundations of language diversity. Students will participate in hands-on activities examining topics ranging from infant speech perception to machine translation (and everything in between), with the goal of learning how different methods contribute to our understanding of human language.
February 13, Ellen Lau presents 'Predictive facilitation in lexical processing: mechanisms and neural implementation' at the Center for Cognitive Science at the University of Buffalo.
Now out here, "The semantics and pragmatics of belief reports in preschoolers" by Shevaun Lewis, Valentine Hacquard and Jeff Lidz, along with "Null complement anaphors as definite descriptions" by Alexander Williams.
Yakov Kronrod was awarded the Joshua E. Neimark Memorial Travel Assistance Award. This award will provide financial support to attend and present his work at America’s largest general scientific conference, the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 14-18 February in Boston. The award was established by Dr. Edith D. Neimark to honor her brother, Dr. Joshua E. Neimark, who received his doctorate from MIT but died in 1961, at the age of 30, from respiratory disease. It is intended to assist young scientists in attaining a career in their chosen field, a goal that Joshua Neimark did not live to achieve. Four awards are awarded annually to deserving candidates selected to present their work at the annual meeting.
Just out, "What complexity differences reveal about domains in language" by Bill Idsardi and Delaware's Jeff Heinz. The article argues that humans employ distinct learning mechanisms for phonology and syntax, since this is the best explanation for a difference that has been overlooked: all phonological patterns belong to the regular region of the Chomsky Hierarchy, but not all syntactic patterns do.
On February 8, Brad Larson will present "The what and when of processing coordinated-wh questions", joint work with Dave Kush and Shevaun Lewis, at the 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics at Arizona State University in Tempe. Brad will discuss psycholinguistic evidence supporting the hypothesis that non-final wh-words in coordinated-wh questions do not participate in movement dependencies, but rather form purely semantic relationships with the verb.
On January 16, Wing Yee is giving a talk at the Department of Linguistics at University College London. She presents "Unfolding predictions in semantic interpretation: Insights from N400 blindness to thematic role reversals," where she will discuss recent electrophysiological and eye-tracking research that is starting to provide insights on how comprehenders compute predictions during language processing.
January 12, Valentine presents "Children's Attitude Problems" at Mindreading, Understanding, and Emotion, a two-day conference at the University of North Carolina. The paper explores the connection between children’s linguistic acquisition of mental state (‘attitude’) verbs and their mindreading development.
Shevaun Lewis, Dave Kush and Brad Larson present "Processing filled gaps in coordinated wh-questions." Shevaun is also presenting "Pragmatic parentheticals and the acquisition of 'think'," with Valentine Hacquard and Jeff Lidz. Brad Larson and Dan Parker present a poster titled "'Across the board movement’ is actually asymmetrical." Dave Kush presents "Online sensitivity to Strong Crossover (and Principle C)," work with Colin Phillips and Jeff Lidz. Wing Yee Chow presents "Unfolding predictions in semantic interpretation: Insights from blindness to thematic role reversals," joint work with Colin Phillips and Suiping Wang. With Alexis Wellwood and Jeffrey Lidz, alumna Annie Gagliardi presents "Modeling meaning choice for novel adjectives using Bayesian learning."
Finally, alumnus Jon Sprouse, PhD 2007 will receive the 2013 LSA Early Career Award, which recognizes scholars early in their career who have made outstanding contributions to the field of linguistics.