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Department News

  • It is with great sadness that we mark the departure of Diane Jakubowski, without whose efforts last summer's LSA Linguistic Institute would never have materialized. In addition, Diane has been doing a fantastic job as director of Student Services in both Linguistics and Symbolic Systems this year. May 30 is her last day and she will be sorely missed... But we wish her well in all her future endeavors -- stay in touch, Diane!
  • We've just got word that Stefan Kaufmann was awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in the Linguistics Department at Northwestern University. Tres Cool and Congratulations, Stefan!
  • And Sesquicongratulations also to Dmitry Levinson, Tanya Nikitina, and Doug Ball, all of whom recently passed their dissertation oral exams. (More orals coming soon...)
  • Deadline! Deadline! May 31 (Saturday?) is the abstract deadline for both AMLaP and NWAVE. Get those abstracts in!
  • Overheard in Tom and Ivan's seminar (Ling 204: Grammar and Usage):
      `The liver is the pre-linguistic cognitive structure and the alcohol it is saturated in is the need to communicate.' No comment.
  • Ashwini Deo was visiting last week to work with Paul Kiparsky on a project funded by the Humanities center entitled "Poetries in contact: The encounter of Perso-Arabic and Sanskritic metrical traditions".
  • Welcome back to Patricia Amaral, who, as you've probably noticed, has returned to Stanford as a postdoc!
  • A little birdie tells us that Nikhila Pai was just awarded an MA in Public Administration from San Francisco State University. Way to go, Nikhila!

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    Look Who's Talking

    John Rickford is off to the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica this summer, to teach for a month at the Carribean Language and Linguistics Institute. He's giving a course on "The Sociolinguistics of West Indian Language and Society". Very cool (ummm, actually, it never goes below 79/26 in July in Kingston. Caveat Creolist!)


    Caught in the Act

    Kay honored in Geneva

    Last week Martin Kay was off in Geneva (yes, as in Switzerland), where (as he puts it) "they were giving honorary degrees to half a dozen native speakers of French, one guy from Harvard Business School, and me, but, for reasons that remain a complete mystery, they chose me to give the speech thanking the university on behalf of them all". Perhaps the purpose was to introduce some levity into a ceremony that was, umm,...well..., Swiss. We think he succeeded, but you can judge for yourself (si vous lisez le francais). Here is the speech.



  • Eckert Recants

    It turns out we were too quick to dump on the French. Their 75 languages include immigrant languages. The list comes from this report.

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    Linguistic Levity

    Two 90-year-old women, Vivian and Edith, had been friends all of their lives. When it was clear that Edith was dying, Vivian visited her every day. One day Vivian said, "Edith, we both loved playing women's softball all our lives, and we played in all through high school. Please do me one favor: when you get to Heaven, somehow you must let me know if there's women's softball there."

    Edith looked up at Vivian from her death bed, "Vivian, you've been my best friend for many years. If it's at all possible, I'll do this favor for you."

    Shortly after that, Edith passed on.

    At midnight a couple of nights later, Vivian was awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to her, "Vivian, Vivian."

    "Who is it?" asked Vivian, sitting up suddenly. "Who is it?"

    "Vivian -- it's me, Edith."

    "You're not Edith. Edith died."

    "I'm telling you, Vivian, it's me," insisted the voice.

    "Edith! Where are you?"

    "In Heaven," replied Edith. "I have some really good news and a little bad news."

    "Tell me the good news first," said Vivian.

    "The good news," Edith said, "is that there's softball in Heaven. Better yet, all of our old buddies who died before us are here, too. Better than that, we're all young again. Better still, it's always springtime, and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play softball all we want, and we never get tired.."

    "That's fantastic," said Vivian.

    "It's beyond my wildest dreams! So what's the bad news?"

    "You're pitching Tuesday."



    For events farther in the future consult the Upcoming Events Page.

  • FRIDAY, 30 MAY
    • Speech Lunch

      Jay McClelland
      Goodness judgments of spoken wordforms: Theory and data
      12:00pm, ExL Lab
    • Wesson Lectures on Problems of Democracy

      Philippe Van Parijs (Universite catholique de Louvain)
      Discussion Seminar
      1:00pm, 460-426
    • Linguistics Department Colloquium

      Undergraduate Honors Presentations
      3:30pm, MJH 126
    • UCSC Linguistics Colloquium

      Michael Wagner (Cornell)
      A compositional theory of contrastive topics
      4:00pm, Humanities One, Room 202, UCSC
    • Weekly Social!

      5:00, department lounge
    • Epistemology Meets Logic, Informally

      9:15am-5:30pm, Cordura 100
    • Epistemology Meets Logic, Informally

      9:15am-1:45pm, Cordura 100
    • PARC Forum

      Ronald M. Kaplan (Powerset)
      "Powerset: Deep natural language processing for consumer search"
      4:00pm, George Pake Auditorium, PARC
    • Computer Musings

      Don Knuth
      "Fun with Binary Decision Diagrams (BDDs)"
      5:30pm, Skilling Auditorium
    • End of the Year Party!

    • 4:00pm, Linguistics Courtyard

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  • UPCOMING EVENTS (always under construction)
  • Got broader interests? The New Sesquipedalian recommends reading or even subscribing to the CSLI Calendar, available HERE.
  • HOW ABOUT MIT? UMass Amherst? U Chicago? Rutgers?

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    Earthquake Donations

    1. China Red Cross (Chinese Site)
    If connection fails, please try here.
    Visa card acceptable.

    2. Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, please write a check and put "5.12 Sichuan earthquake donation" as the memo.

    Mailing Address:
    Consul Yan Li
    Education Office,
    The Consulate General of the People's Republic of China,
    1450 Laguna street, San Fransisco, CA 94115.

    The consulate will forward your donation to China Red Cross

    3. Chinese Consulate in Houston
    Acceptable:check/money order/cashier's check
    Payable to:Chinese Consulate General in Houston
    Memo: Earthquake donation, ????
    Address:811 Holman Street, Houston, TX 77002

    4. Chinese Consulate in New York: Chinese, English

    5. Chinese Embassy in UK: Chinese, English

    6. Chinese Embassy in Australia: English

    Your ENTIRE contribution is guaranteed to go to the earthquake relief directly if you choose above options. However, for convenience, if you prefer to pay online, you can try the following. Administrative or transactional fee may apply.

    Other options:

    Blood needed!

    The Stanford Blood Center is reporting a shortage of types O, A+, and B-. For an appointment, visit or call 650-723-7831. It only takes an hour of your time and you get free cookies. The Blood Center is also raising money for a new bloodmobile.


    Want to contribute information? Want to be a reporter? Want to see something appear here regularly? Want to be a regular columnist? Want to take over running the entire operation? Write directly to


    30 May 2008
    Vol. 4, Issue 29

    Sesquipedalian Staff

    Editor in Chief:
    Ivan A. Sag

    Beth Levin
    Stanley Peters
    Laura Staum
    Laura Whitton

    Lauren Hall-Lew

    s Humor Consultant:
    Susan D. Fischer

    Assistant Editor:
    Richard Futrell

    Melanie Levin
    Kyle Wohlmut

    Read Shih Comics Here
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