Spell-Out Blog

Week of August 31, 2015

Welcome to the Fall 2015 semester!

Classes begin this Wednesday, September 2. Classes on this day will follow a Monday schedule. Please remember that Thursday, September 10 is Study Card Day. For more information, please check the 2015 Academic Calendar.

Welcome G1s!

The Linguistics Department is delighted to welcome this year's incoming students to the PhD program:

Lukas Kahl holds an MA (Cantab) in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, a BA in Romance Studies and Classics from the University of Bonn, and an MA in Indo-European Studies from the University of Jena. His MA thesis is about origin and function of the Brythonic equative. He is most interested in the historical linguistics of Indo-European (especially the Anatolian and Celtic branches), the areal linguistics of the ancient Near East, as well as issues in language classification, reconstruction, and typology. He also enjoys music, poetry, and physical exercise.

Kate Hodges graduated with a BS in neuroscience from King University and spent an additional year studying linguistics at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Her academic interests include formal semantics, the semantics-pragmatics interface, and psycholinguistics. In her spare time Kate enjoys exploring Boston, reading, cooking, and spending time with her dog, Baylie.
Gunnar Lund graduated from Boston College with a BA in Linguistics and Philosophy. There, he completed a thesis investigating the context sensitivity of gradable predicates. His main interests are semantics, pragmatics, and the philosophy of language, with further interests in computational linguistics and logic. In his spare time, he enjoys drawing, making experimental music, and watching baseball and weird movies.
Tsai-Heng (Tiffany) Yang graduated with a MA in Linguistics and a BA in Chinese Literature from National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan. Her MA thesis investigates the distributive readings of Mandarin Chinese. She is interested in syntax, semantics, and syntax-semantics interface. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, discovering new places, and watching NBA games of her favorite team, the San Antonio Spurs.

This Year's Visitors

The Department would like to give a warm welcome to the four visitors who will be joining the department this academic year:

  • Professor Wei Liu (Beijing Jiaotong University)
  • Professor Liying Zhou (Jiangnan University)
  • Jovana Gajic (University of Gottingen)
  • Fanjun Meng (Tsinghua University)

Thesis Defense

Sun-Hee Bae
The Syntax-Phonology Interface in Native and Near-Native Korean
Wednesday, September 2 | 7pm | Boylston 303

Lunch will be served September 3 at 12:30pm in the Boylston Hall 3rd Floor Lounge.

Summer 2015

Here are some news from the summer:

Harvard at LSRL45

Assistant Professor Isabelle Charnavel presented her work titled "Exempt Anaphors and Logophoricity in French" at the 45th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL 45), which took place in Campinas, Brazil, May 6-9.

Harvard at MFM

Gašper Beguš presented his work titled Devoicing in intervocalic position? at the 23rd Manchester Phonology Meeting (mfm), which took place at the University of Manchester, May 28-30.

Harvard at ECIEC34

The following talks featured Harvard presenters at the 34th East Coast Indo-European Conference (ECIEC34), which took place in Vienna, Austria, June 4-7.

Harvard at TEAL10

The following talks and posters featured Harvard presenters at the 10th International Workshop on Theoretical East Asian Linguistics (TEAL10) that took place at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) in Tokyo, Japan, June 13-14. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the workshop also featured a speech by Professor C.-T. James Huang, one of the co-founders.

Harvard at ImPres

Yimei Xiang presented her work titled "Mention-all versus mention-some: Exhaustivity and sensitivity to false answers" at Experimental and crosslinguistic evidence for the distinction between implicatures and presuppositions (ImPres), a workshop that took place at ZAS Berlin, Germany, July 1-3. Also at the workshop was Jacopo Romoli (PhD 2012) who gave his invited talk titled "On the idea that some presuppositions are scalar implicatures: the view from acquisition and Broca’s Aphasia”.

Harvard at XPRAG 2015

Experimental Pragmatics 2015 (XPRAG 2015) took place from July 16 to July 18, at the University of Chicago. The following talks and posters featured Harvard presenters:

Harvard at EGG 7

Aurore Gonzalez's collaboration work with Elizabeth Heredia Murillo (University of Nantes) and Hamida Demirdache (University of Nantes) titled "Negative Coordination in Spanish vs. French" was presented at VII Encuentro de Gramática Generativa (EGG 7), which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 29-31.

Harvard at SICOGG17

Jenny Lee presented her work titled "Null applicative in Ranmo" at the 17th Seoul International Conference on Generative Grammar (SICOGG 17) which took place in Seoul, South Korea, August 5-8.

Harvard at ESSLLI 2015

The 27th European Summer School in Logic, Language, and Information (ESSLLI 2015) took place at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, August 3-14, 2015. Second-year Aurore Gonzalez and third-year Zuzanna Fuchs attended the summer school, and Assistant Professor Kathryn Davidson taught a course titled "The meaning of space: New advances in Sign Language Semantics" with Jeremy Kuhn. The following talks featured Harvard presenters:

Week of May 4, 2015

Spring Semester Ends

The Spring semester officially ends with the last day of Spring Examination Period on Saturday, May 16. Commencement will be on Thursday, May 28.

Spell-Out will resume its weekly postings in September. If you have news you would like to share during the summer, please contact the blog manager Dorothy Ahn. The Harvard Linguistics Facebook page will be updated on a regular basis.

Polinsky Lab Meeting 

Lena Borise (Harvard)
Is it a stress shift? Evidence from a Belarusian dialect (FASL practice talk)
Wednesday, May 6 | 4:15pm | 2 Arrow Street (4th floor)

Polinsky Lab Meeting 

Joel Dunham (Concordia University)
LingSync: Software for Collaborative Linguistic Fieldwork
Wednesday, May 6 | 5:15pm | 2 Arrow Street (4th floor)

Congratulations, Dr. Tsai!

Congratulations to Cheng-Yu (Edwin) Tsai who has successfully defended his dissertation, "Toward a Theory of Mandarin Quantification" on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

Left to right: Isabelle Charnavel, Shigeru Miyagawa, Edwin Tsai, Maria Polinsky, C.-T. James Huang

Harvard at FASL24

The 24th annual meeting of Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics (FASL24) will be held at New York University, May 8th-10th, 2015. Professor Maria Polinsky will be giving an invited talk titled "Molchanie zoloto: Some remarks on silent categories in Russian", and second year Lena Borise will be presenting her work titled "Intensity Peak Shift as a Precursor of Stress Shift?" at the conference.

Week of April 27, 2015

Spring 2015

The last day of Spring classes is Wednesday, April 29. The semester ends with exciting events at the Department this week:

Linguistics Department Spring Reception
Wednesday, April 29 | 5:15pm to 7:15pm | 3rd floor Boylston
All undergradates, graduates, faculty, and visitors are invited!

Department of Linguistics Visitas Open House
Monday, April 27 | 10:00am-11:30am | Boylston 303
The Department of Linguistics is inviting current and incoming freshmen to our Open House. Join us for breakfast to learn more about linguistics via language games, five-minute lectures, and other entertainments.

Senior Thesis Colloquium
Thursday, April 30 | 3:00pm-5:00pm | Boylston 105
See program for more information.

Whatmough X Lecture

Jonathan D. Bobaljik (University of Connecticut)
Morphological Universals: Comparatives and Beyond 
Monday, April 27 | 4:00-6:00pm | Sever Hall 113

A reception will take place after the talk at the Harvard Faculty Club on Quincy Street.

Thesis Defense

Cheng-Yu (Edwin) Tsai
Toward a Theory of Mandarin Quantification
Tuesday, April 28 | 5pm-7pm | Boylston 303

Refreshments immediately following the defense in the Boylston Hall Lounge

Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Science of Language

Thursday, April 30th | 5:30-7pm | Yenching Auditorium


  • Dr. Jesse Snedeker (Psychology)
  • Dr. Gennaro Chierchia (Linguistics)
  • Dr. Gina Kuperberg (Cognitive Neuroscience)
  • Dr. Meredith Rowe (Education)

Moderator: Dr. Alfonso Caramazza

GSAS Indo-European and Historical Linguistics Workshop

Jeffrey Bourns (Harvard University)
Cyberinfrastructure for Indo-European linguistics
Friday, May 1 | 4:00pm | Boylston 103

Harvard at CLS

The following talks featured Harvard presenters at the 51st annual meeting of Chicago Linguistics Society (CLS 51) that took place on April 23-25.

12th Annual Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium at Harvard

The 12th Annual Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium at Harvard took place this past weekend in the Science Center. Some of our own concentrators presented as well as undergraduates from elsewhere in the U.S., Canada, and even Germany. The program can be found here.

Clemens, Coon, Mateo Pedro, Morgan, Polinsky, and Tandet appear in NLLT

The paper "Ergativity and the complexity of extraction: a view from Mayan" co-authored by Polinsky Lab members Lauren ClemensMaria Polinsky, and Gabrielle Tandet '13 and former lab members Jessica CoonPedro Mateo Pedro, and Adam Milton Morgan has been published in Volume 33, Issue 2 (2015) of Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.

Week of April 20, 2015

GSAS Indo-European and Historical Linguistics Workshop

Craig Melchert (UCLA)
More on Ablaut Patterns in the ḫi-Conjugation
Monday, April 20 | 5:00pm | Boylston 335

Language Universals Workshop 

Patrick Jones (Harvard)
Tone Shift is Phonological, and Phonology is not Emergent: Linguistic knowledge and the acquisition of tone in Kinande
Wednesday, April 22 | 5:15pm | Boylston 303

Charnavel at BU

Assistant Professor Isabelle Charnavel presented her work titled “Auxiliary alternations in French passé surcomposé” as an invited talk at the BU Linguistics Program (Department of Romance Studies, CAS) on Thursday, April 16.

Harvard at GLOW38

Dorothy Ahn and Uli Sauerland (ZAS, visiting professor 2013) presented their work titled "Relative Measures: Implications for the Semantics and Syntax of Pseudo-Partitives" at the 38th Generative Linguistics in the Old World colloquium (GLOW 38), which took place in Paris, April 15-18, 2015.

Whatmough X Lecture

Jonathan D. Bobaljik (University of Connecticut)
Morphological Universals: Comparatives and Beyond 
Monday, April 27 | 4:00-6:00pm | Sever Hall 113

2015 Linguistics Department Spring Reception

Wednesday, April 29 | 5:15pm to 7:15pm | 3rd floor Boylston
*Please note that the reception is now on Wednesday, April 29.

Week of April 13, 2015


Zuzanna Fuchs (Harvard)
Pro-drop in Coordinated-WH Questions: Further Challenges for Multidominance and Ellipsis
Monday, April 13 | 12:00pm | 32-D831

Phonology Circle at MIT

Patrick Jones (Harvard)
Underlying falling tones in Interlacustrine Bantu, and their implications for Meeussen’s rule
Monday, April 13 | 5:00pm | 32D-831

Polinsky Lab Meeting 

Kenneth Mai (Harvard)

Heritage speakers on the edge: Sentence final particle usage among heritage Cantonese speakers
Wednesday, April 15 | 5:15pm | 2 Arrow Street (4th floor)

GSAS Indo-European and Historical Linguistics Workshop

Teigo Onishi (Kyoto University)
Notes on Sabellic nouns with the suffix *-ti-
Friday, April 17 | 4:00pm | Boylston 104

ECO-5 at Harvard

ECO-5 that took place at the Harvard Linguistics Department last Saturday, April 11 was a huge success, thanks to the organizers Laurence B-Violette, Lena Borise, and Yujing Huang. This year's workshop featured thirteen presentations from the five participating schools, including the following presentations representing Harvard:

Week of April 6, 2015

Department of Linguistics Spring Open House

The Department of Linguistics Spring Open House for prospective concentrators will take place this Thursday, April 9, 5:00-7:00 pm. Please check the poster for more information.

Polinsky Lab Meeting 

Ava Berinstein (Cultural Vitality) & Erin Olson (MIT)

Prosody Lab Aligner Demo in Q’eqchi’, Mayan
Wednesday, April 4 | 5:15pm | 2 Arrow Street (4th floor)

Polyglot Hour

Wednesday, April 8 | 6:30 -8:30pm | Queen’s Head Pub (underneath Annenberg)

Harvard Linguistic Department is hosting its first ever undergraduate Polyglot Hour! Polyglot Hour will be time for anyone to come and meet other people who speak the language(s) they do in a casual setting. Please check the Facebook event page for more information.

Linguistics Circle Workshop 

Satoshi Tomioka (University of Delaware)
(Non)-Exhaustivity of "Only"
Friday, April 10 | 4:30pm | Boylston 104


Saturday, April 11 | Boylston 335

Harvard will host this year's ECO-5, a graduate student conference bringing together presenters from Harvard, MIT, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Maryland. The program can be found here.

Harvard at Indogermanistisches Forschungskolloquium

Julia Sturm presented her work titled "Preverb + Verb Compounds in the Rg Veda: A Construction-Based Approach" at Erstes Indogermanistisches Forschungskolloquium (First Indo-European Research Colloquium), which took place at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, March 26-27.

Beguš's paper appears in Zeitschrift für Slawistik

Congratulations to third year Gašper Beguš, whose article titled "The Circumflex Advancement in Prekmurje Slovenian and Bednja Kajkavian" has appeared in Zeitschrift für Slawistik 60(1).

Week of March 30, 2015

Advising Fortnight Kickoff Event

Date: Monday, March 30
Time: 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Annenberg Hall

Professor Polinsky and a few students will be there to tell you more about linguistics. Drop by the Linguistics table to learn more! Our Head Tutor, Professor Polinsky, and the Assistant Head Tutor will be holding office hours during the Advising Fortnight in case you have additional questions.

Office Hours:
Head Tutor and Director of Undergraduate Study:
Dates: Thursdays, April 2 & Tuesday, April 7
Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Location: Boylston Hall 314

Assistant Head Tutor: 
Dates: Wednesdays, April 1 & April 8
Time:4:00-5:00 p.m.
Location: Lounge in the Department of Linguistics, Boylston Hall third floor

Polinsky Lab Meeting 

Anita Peti-Stantić (University of Zagreb/Tufts University)
Experimental Morphosyntax of South Slavic Languages - Gender Agreement
Wednesday, April 1 | 5:15pm | 2 Arrow Street (4th floor)

Language Universals Workshop 

Ruth Kramer (Georgetown University)
The Morphosyntax of Gender and Number: Converging and Crossing
Friday, April 3 | 2pm | Boylston 303

Harvard at WCCFL 33

The following talks featured Harvard presenters at the 33rd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 33) which was held at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Mar. 27 – 29.

Department Events: Spring 2015

Week of March 23, 2015

Job Talk: Salvador Mascarenhas

Salvador Mascarenhas (University of Oxford, St. Catherine’s College)
Illusory Inferences: Reasoning and Interpretation
Monday, March 23 | 4pm-6pm | Boylston Hall Fong Auditorium
Reception in the Department of Linguistics immediately following the talk.

Polinsky Lab Meeting 

Ekaterina Kravtchenko
Predictability affects syntactic production: Evidence from subject omission in Russian
Wednesday, March 25 | 5:15pm | 2 Arrow Street (4th floor)

Linguistics Circle Workshop 

Jon Gajewski (University of Connecticut)
The representation of degree in American Sign Language
Friday, March 27 | 4:30pm | Sever Hall 208

Harvard at PLC39

The following talks featured Harvard presenters at the 39th Annual Penn Linguistics Conference that took place at the University of Pennsylvania, March 20-22, 2015.

  • Dorothy Ahn: A New Account for too and either
  • Laurence B-Violette: Obviating the Disjoint Reference Effect in French
  • Jenny Lee: Root Alternation and Verbal Plurality in Ranmo
  • Yimei Xiang: Multiple Exhaustifications and Multiple Scalar Items

Department Events: Spring 2015

Week of March 16, 2015

Spring Recess March 14-22

Spring Recess began last Saturday, March 14, and will end on Sunday, March 22. Happy Spring Break!

Job Talk: Salvador Mascarenhas

Salvador Mascarenhas (University of Oxford, St. Catherine’s College)
Illusory Inferences: Reasoning and Interpretation
Monday, March 23 | 4pm-6pm | Fong Auditorium (Boylston 1st floor)
Reception in the Department of Linguistics immediately following the talk.

Teaching Award: Fall 2014

Lecturer Patrick Jones, and graduate students Dorothy Ahn, Yujing Huang, Marek Majer, and Chrissy Zlogar have won Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning for the Fall Semester 2014.

  • Patrick Jones: LING 115 "Phonological Theory I"
  • Dorothy Ahn: LING 112 "Syntactic Theory I" (TF)
  • Yujing Huang LING 241r "Practicum in Linguistics" (TF)
  • Marek Majer: LING 83 "Language, Structure, & Cognition" (TF)
  • Marek Majer: LING 105 "Sounds of Language" (TF)
  • Chrissy Zlogar: LING 106 "Knowledge of Meaning" (TF)
  • Chrissy Zlogar: LING 115 "Phonological Theory I" (TF)