Spell-Out Blog

Week of September 19, 2016

Senior Faculty Syntax Opening

The Department of Linguistics at Harvard University seeks to make a tenured appointment at the rank of Professor in the area of syntax. Details may be found here. Please contact Cheryl Murphy for more details.

Linguistics - Departmental Teaching Award

Last June, Laine Stranahan was awarded the Department of Linguistics Distinguished Teaching Award in Linguistics for tutorials she taught in the 2014-15 academic year.  Congratulations Laine!  

The tutorial titles were:

  • Semantic Internalism and Externalism
  • Semantics and Philosophy of Time
  • Psycholinguistics of Scalar Implicature

Language and Cognition

Isabelle Charnavel 
Steps towards a grammar of dance
Tuesday, September 20 | 5:30pm | William James Hall 1305

Week of September 12, 2016

Senior Faculty Syntax Opening

The Department of Linguistics at Harvard University seeks to make a tenured appointment at the rank of Professor in the area of syntax. Details may be found here. Please contact Cheryl Murphy for more details.


Dorothy Ahn
The, That, and THAT: Three definites across languages
Friday, September 16 | 12pm | Location: Boylston 303

Harvard at AMLaP

The following talks featured Harvard presenters at the 22nd Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP) conference that took place in Bilbao, Spain, in September.

  • Laine Stranahan with Dylan Hardenbergh and Jesse Snedeker (Harvard Psychology) - "Cognitive Load Impairs but does not Suspend Contrastive Inference" (Poster)
  • Yujing Huang - "The Unaccusative Hypothesis revisited: on the mismatch between syntax and lexical semantics" (Talk)

Harvard at CogSci 2016

Yujing Huang presented her work with Laine Stranahan and Jesse Snedeker,  titled "Reexamining the Unaccusative Hypothesis: a Visual World Paradigm study" at Cognitive Science Society Annual Meeting 2016 (CogSci 2016), a meeting that took place in Philadelphia, in August.

Harvard at SuB21

Dorothy Ahn presented her work in a poster titled "Weak, Strong, and Deictic: Three Kinds of Definites" at the 21st Sinn und Bedeutung, a workshop that took place in Edinburgh, UK, September 4-6.

Harvard at MIT Workshop on Exhaustivity 2016

Harvard was well represented at the MIT Workshop on Exhaustivity 2016 that took place at MIT on September 10. The following talks featured Harvard presenters:

  • Yimei Xiang (PhD 2016) - "Mandarin particle dou: A pre-exhaustification exhaustifier", commentated by Professor Gennaro Chierchia.
  • Andreea Nicolae (PhD 2013) - "Reducing the locality of PPI anti-licensing to an instance of PPI shielding"
  • Assistant Professor Kathryn Davidson - "The contribution of sign languages toward a new unified picture of conjunction and disjunction"

Week of September 6, 2016

Senior Faculty Syntax Opening

The Department of Linguistics at Harvard University seeks to make a tenured appointment at the rank of Professor in the area of syntax. Details may be found here. Please contact Cheryl Murphy for more details.

Department Fall Reception

The Linguistics Department welcomes all undergraduates, graduates, faculty and visitors to the Department's fall reception on Thursday, September 8th at 5PM on the third floor of Boylston Hall. 

Welcome G1s!

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

Shannon Bryant Shannon Bryant graduated with a BA in English from the University of Georgia. As an undergraduate, she centered her studies on stylistics, incorporating linguistic theory into literary analysis. Now, her primary academic interests include semantics, pragmatics, language acquisition, and language processing. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys hiking, aimless wandering, and knitting scarves for winter. 
Yingtong Liu Yingtong Liu graduated from Utrecht University with a MA degree in linguistics. Before that, she did her BA study in Renmin University of China. Her MA thesis investigates the link between reflexivization and binding in Chinese languages, with a decomposition perspective of Chinese anaphors. Her current research interests lie in syntax, lexicon semantics and formal semantics. In her spare time, she enjoys music, hiking and movies. 
Giuseppe Ricciardi Giuseppe Ricciardi graduated from University of Bari with a BA in Philosophy, from University of Genova with a MA in Philosophy of Language and Mathematical Logic and from University of Toronto with a MA in Linguistics. His MA at University of Toronto investigates into the so-called 'epistemic use' of the Italian future morphology. His academic interests include formal semantics and pragmatics, theory of argumentation, syntax-semantics interface, philosophy of linguistics and any other research area that aims to understand the relationship between language and reasoning. In his spare time, Giuseppe enjoys walking at a fast pace, practicing a light physical activity in the gym and having conversations that help him to regain his mental energies.
Zachary Rothstein-Dowden Zachary Rothstein-Dowden holds an MA in medieval history from Central European University and a BA in Classics and Indology from Brown. He is interested in Indo-European historical linguistics and especially historical morphology.  He also plays cello and enjoys going to concerts in the Boston area. 

Week of August 31, 2016

Welcome to the Fall 2016 semester!

Classes began yesterday, Wednesday, August 31. Please remember that the course registration deadline is Thursday, September 8. 

If you have news or announcements that you would like to be posted on Spell-Out anytime during the semester, please email gunnarlund@g.harvard.edu. Unless you specify otherwise, submissions received by the end of working hours on Friday will be reviewed and posted in the following week's issue.

Week of May 9, 2016

Spring semester ends

The Spring semester final examinations will end on Saturday, May 14. This is the last Spell-Out post of the semester, and the weekly postings will resume in the fall.


Zuzanna Fuchs
Topichood and split DPs in Georgian: movement or base-generation?
Wednesday, May 11 | 1-2pm | 32-D831

Meaning and Modality Lab Meeting

Carina Kauf
The Identity Crisis of ``If X were Y,...'' - Counterfactuals and Counter-Identity
Wednesday, May 11 | 4pm | 2 Arrow St Rm 420

Harvard at SULA 9

Visiting Associate Professor Roberta Pires de Oliveira presented her work with Marcelo Giovannetti (Universidade Federal de Roraima) titled "Bare nouns and object mass nouns in Wapichana (Aruák): Preliminary remarks" at the 9th Semantics of Under-Represented Languages in the Americas (SULA9), which took place at the University of California, Santa Cruz, May 6-8, 2016.

Congratulations, Dr. Xiang!

Congratulations to Yimei Xiang who has successfully defended her dissertation, "Interpreting questions with non-exhaustive answers" on Thursday, May 5, 2016.

Left to right: James Huang, Gennaro Chierchia, Yimei Xiang, and Danny Fox (MIT). [Photo by Edwin Tsai]

Congratulations, Dr. Lee!

Congratulations to Jenny Lee who has successfully defended her dissertation, "Split intransitivity in Ranmo" on Friday, May 6, 2016.

Left to right: Masha Polinsky, Jenny Lee, and James Huang. [Photo by Edwin Tsai]

Week of April 25, 2016

Reading Period Begins Thursday

The Spring semester is winding down as the final day of classes (Wednesday, April 27) approaches. The Spring Reading Period will begin Thursday, April 28, and lasts through Wednesday, May 4. For more information please check the FAS Academic Calendar.

GSAS Indo-European and Historical Linguistics Workshop

Julia Sturm (Harvard University)
Non-Compositional Preverb + Verb Compounds in the R̥g Veda: Constructions, Idiosyncrasy, and Semantic Change
Monday, April 25 | 5:30pm | Boylston 335

Language and Cognition

Kathryn Davidson
Exercising the language organ: Two studies on the role of early language input
Tuesday, April 26 | 5:30pm | William James Hall 450

Meaning and Modality Lab Meeting

Kathryn Davidson & Ronice Quadros
Blending speech with depicting signs
Wednesday, April 27 | 4pm | 2 Arrow St Rm 420

Senior Thesis Colloquium

Thursday, April 28 | 1:30pm-5pm | Boylston 105



Opening Remarks (Prof. Kevin Ryan, Head Tutor)


Lauren Goff

Dropping a Medieval Beat: Text Setting Patterns in the Chansons of Gilles Binchois


Lauren Boranian

Singin’ in the Brain: Music in Expressive Aphasia Treatment


Jack Weyen

The origins and development of the English casual slang suffix -s




Priyanka Sen

Thematic Role Assignment at the Morphosyntax/Semantics Interface: From Linguistics to Neuropsychology


Dylan Hardenbergh

Contrastive Inferences Under Cognitive Load


Carl Rogers

Distinguishing already from perfect aspect: A case study of Chinese yijing




Sasha Benov

Variation in Czech: The Use of the Prothetic v in Informal Speech


Sean Frazzette

DreamWorks Studios Present: A Search for a Gradient of Animacy in Slavic Languages


Kathy Tran

Rising to One's Potential: Joshi Ryoku and the "Power" of Feminitity in Japan


Closing Remarks

Spring Reception

This year's Spring reception will be held Thursday April 28 at 5pm on the 3rd floor of Boylston Hall.

Language Universals Workshop 

Laura McPherson (Dartmouth)
The talking xylophone of the Sembla: Seenku phonology in a speech surrogate system
Friday, April 29 | 4pm | Boylston 237

MBB Open Science Conference

The following talks and posters featured Harvard presenters at the Harvard Mind, Brain, and Behavior Open Science Conference held on Thursday, April 21.

  • Dorothy Ahn, "Grammatical Facilitation of Number Word Acquisition"
  • Gašper Beguš, "Why do Vowel Durations Differ Across Phonetic Environments?"
  • Yujing Huang, "On the Mismatch Between Meaning and Form: A Case Study"
  • Pooja Paul, "Syntactic and Pragmatic Factors drive asymmetries in the online processing of ‘only’: evidence from eye-tracking"

Week of April 18, 2016

Polyglot Hour

Wednesday, April 20 | 6:30 | Queen's Head Pub

Harvard Linguistic Department is hosting its third annual 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 Harvard Linguistics Facebook page for updates.

GSAS Indo-European and Historical Linguistics Workshop

Adam Cooper (Northeastern University)
The Typology of PIE Syllabic Sonorants Revisited
Thursday, April 21 | 5pm | Boylston 237

Harvard at ECO5

The following talks featured Harvard presenters at this year's ECO-5 Graduate Student Workshop that took place at MIT on April 16.

  • Lena Borise “Phrase accent L as a focus marker in Georgian” 
  • Gunnar Lund “Object Markers in Northwest Caucasian: Agreement or Clitic Doubling”
  • Tiffany Yang “LF Movement of the Interrogative Disjunction Operator”