Monthly Archives: October 2017

Guest Lecture (10/27/2017): Tore Nesset (Universitetet i Tromsø)

Friday, October 27, 2017 3:00pm
J.W. Wilson, Room 201, 75 Waterman Street, Providence RI

For those who might be interested, Tore Nesset from the University of Tromsø will be giving a guest lecture (during SLAV 1300 Sociolinguistics) titled Corpus Data and Socio-Linguistic Factors: Rival Forms in Russian. Tore’s research interests are in Slavics linguistics, especially Russian morphology and phonology, cognitive linguistics, and Optimality Theory. Together with next week’s LLL speaker Laura Janda, he is the leader of the CLEAR (cognitive linguistics: empirical approaches to Russian) research group. For more information, his website’s here.

LingLang Lunch (11/1/2017): Laura Janda (Universitetet i Tromsø)

Laura Janda’s research focuses on Russian aspect and other Slavic grammatical categories, as well as the development of language pedagogy. For more information, her website is here.

What happens to a language under pressure: discriminatory language policy and language change in North Saami

North Saami, a Finno-Ugric language spoken by 20,000 people in the extreme north of Norway, Sweden and Finland, is undergoing a language change in the use of its possessive constructions. We find evidence that a number of factors converge, creating a complex situation that advantages one possessive construction over the other. Given the timing of the change, it seems likely that the replacement of NPx by ReflN was sparked in part by educational policies that removed children from their L1 environment during their school years, creating a sociolinguistic situation in which morphological complexity was disadvantaged. This study thus sheds light on what may be a concrete linguistic effect catalyzed by discriminatory policy.

(Sponsored by Slavic Studies, CLPS, and the C.V. Starr Foundation Lectureship fund through the Dean of the Faculty’s Office.)

Colloquium (11/15/2017): Florian Schwarz (University of Pennsylvania)

Florian Schwarz is interested in the formal semantics and pragmatics of natural language. Using a variety of experimental methodologies like eye-tracking studies and the visual world paradigm, he investigates how phenomena at the semantic-pragmatic interface such as presuppositions and implicatures are processed online. For more information, his website is here.

The Time-course of Presupposition Projection – Experimental Data and Theoretical Issues

A central question in the study of language is whether a given linguistic phenomenon can be explained in terms of domain-general aspects of cognition, or whether it requires reference to specific linguistic knowledge. Presuppositions, a sub-type of meaning consisting of backgrounded content that is typically taken for granted, offer an interesting case study in this regard: their characteristic ‘projection’ behavior (reflected in surviving embedding under various entailment-canceling operators) exhibits certain asymmetries, whose nature and source remains contested. One view is that they result from superficial aspects of language use unfolding in time; alternatively, they could be directly encoded at the level of linguistic representations. While recent proposals in the theoretical literature on projection directly allude to the role of the time-course associated with comprehending language `from left to right’, relatively little remains known about the real-time cognitive processes involved in comprehending presuppositions and deriving their projected interpretations. I present three experimental studies of projection out of conjunctions, disjunctions, and conditionals, using a variety of methods – from inference tasks to eye tracking during reading and in the visual world paradigm – to explore the role of left-to-right processing in projection. The overall upshot is that while presupposition projection effects arise relatively quickly online, in line with processing-based accounts of projection, they nonetheless incur additional processing costs, as reflected in small reading time delays. I discuss how the current empirical picture relates to the broader theoretical landscape.

Southern New England Workshop in Semantics (12/2/2017)

Saturday, December 2, 2017
MIT Stata Center, 32 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA

This year, the Southern New England Workshop in Semantics (SNEWS) will be held in MIT. As always, the workshop aims to be a friendly venue for graduate students in Linguistics to present their work in semantics and receive feedback, so ongoing research and stuff that you’re still figuring out are most welcome! The talks should be 20 min + 10 min for questions.

Those interested in presenting should contact the Brown liaison Junwen Lee by October 27th (Friday). The deadline for submitting presentation titles is November 17th.

Besides graduate students, post-docs, visitors at the participating schools, and faculty are also encouraged to attend and sit in for the presentations!

Short description of SNEWS:

The Southern New England Workshop in Semantics (SNEWS) is an annual workshop for graduate students in Linguistics to present their research and receive feedback in an informal setting. Topics of presentation generally fall into any of the following categories (broadly defined): semantics, pragmatics, semantics/pragmatics interface, experimental and psycholinguistic investigations into semantic/pragmatic phenomena, etc. The workshop is meant to encourage the development and exchange of ideas through friendly interaction between students and faculty from different universities in the area. Universities that have participated in the past include Yale, UConn, UMass, MIT, Harvard, and Brown.

For more details about the event, please contact Junwen Lee, or refer to the event website here.