2014 Apr 10

Circles: Mark Baker (Rutgers)


Sever 306
5:30pm to 7:00pm

Parameters of Structural Case

Abstract: Although there is decent evidence that some structural cases are assigned by agreement with a designated functional head (Chomsky 2000, 2001), there is good reason to think that not all are. In this talk, I explore the idea that other structural cases are dependent cases in (roughly) the sense of Marantz 1991: they are assigned to one NP if and only if there is another NP in the same local domain. The most general form of a dependent case condition, I claim, is “If XP is in c-command relationship R with ZP in domain WP, then...

Read more about Circles: Mark Baker (Rutgers)
2013 Oct 17

Circles: Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (Arizona)


Boylston 303
5:30pm to 7:00pm

Steps to the Physics of Language

Abstract: The study of complex systems seems to affirm the Thompson-Turing claim that “some physical processes are of very general occurrence.” Notably, those involving Fibonacci-based “golden” forms, ubiquitous in nature, and a number of mathematical models standard in modern physics (matrix representation of operators, with associated eigenvalues and eigenvectors expressing directional stability). This lends immediate interest to the observation that the repeated  structural motif in the human syntactic system, the X-bar...

Read more about Circles: Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (Arizona)
2013 Nov 06

Universals: Norbert Corver (UiL-OTS, Utrecht university)


5:15pm to 7:00pm

Small but Intense

Abstract: "Ideation reigns supreme in language, […] volition and emotion come in as distinctly secondary factors." With these words, Edward Sapir (1921:217) claimed that language is primarily a tool for the expression of thought (ideas). The expression of affect is only secondary. This secondary role is reflected in the form of language: "[T]he emotional aspect of our psychic life is but meagerly expressed in the build of language;" (Sapir ibidem). Roman Jakobson (1960) acknowledges the supremacy of the expression of thought but emphasizes...

Read more about Universals: Norbert Corver (UiL-OTS, Utrecht university)
2013 Nov 15

Universals: Juergen Bohnemeyer


Boylston 103
4:30pm to 6:00pm

The linguistic transmission of cognitive practices: reference frames in Mesoamerica

Abstract: Ongoing research since the 1970s has shown that speech communities vary in the types of reference frames their members prefer for reference to small-scale space in discourse. Furthermore, the frame types used in cognitive tasks such as recall memory show similar variability, and a given population's linguistic preferences significantly predict that population's preferences in cognitive tasks (Pederson et al 1998; Levinson 2003; Majid et al 2004). Two interpretations of...

Read more about Universals: Juergen Bohnemeyer
2014 Mar 07

Universals: Gaja Jarosz


Boylston 103
Registration Closed 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Modeling the Acquisition of Phonological Structure
Gaja Jarosz, Yale University
A rapidly growing research area in phonology investigates the grammatical underpinnings of gradient acceptability and the kinds of computational models that can explain human learning of such knowledge from language input.  An important and consistent finding of this work is that knowledge of gradient and statistical patterns references the same phonological representations and principles that are relevant in the...
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2013 Nov 07

Universals: Paul de Lacy


Boylston 303
5:00pm to 6:30pm

What counts as evidence for universals?

Abstract: My talk is about Generative theories of the phonological module (PhM). I will identify some core requirements that such theories impose on evidence for the PhM, then discuss several cases where these evidential requirements are not met. I will then argue that these cases are fairly representative of work in phonological theory, with the consequence that an unknown (but presumably large) number of claims about PhM universals have an uncertain status.

Some optional background reading:

de Lacy, Paul (...

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2014 Apr 18

Circles: Alec Marantz (NYU)


Boylston 103
4:30pm to 6:00pm

Competition and Prediction in Word Processing: MEG Studies of Visual and Auditory Word Recognition

Abstract: Recent experimental evidence supports the view that entropy (uncertainty) over the representations consistent with the linguistic input and surprisal of processed input relative to this entropy drives brain responses in language processing – not the competition between representations consistent with the input. Thus, for example, high cohort entropy (and thus high competition among members of a cohort, i.e., the words consistent with auditory input up to...

Read more about Circles: Alec Marantz (NYU)
2014 Mar 28

Circles: Sharon Inkelas (UC Berkeley)


Boylston 103
4:30pm to 6:00pm

ABC+Q: segmental subdivisions in correspondence

Abstract: Phonological theory has long been challenged by the behavior of contour segments and contour tones in harmony patterns. Sometimes these entities participate in phonology as whole units; at other times, their subsegmental parts act independently. This talk, based on joint work with Stephanie Shih (Stanford/Berkeley), builds on insights from Aperture Theory (Steriade 1993), Articulatory Phonology (Browman and Goldstein 1989; Gafos 2002) and Autosegmental Theory (Goldsmith 1976) to propose a novel phonological...

Read more about Circles: Sharon Inkelas (UC Berkeley)