Unofficial Links

by Joan Bresnan
[May 29, 2006]
New things are in gold

I have found a link to a valuable new dissertation by Cholthicha Sudmuk (Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 2005), researcher at the Royal Institute of Thailand.  Supervised by Steve Wechsler, the author characterizes the range of serial verb constructions in Thai from both syntactic and semantic persepctives, then constructing an LFG analysis involving both functional and thematic control:

The Syntax and Semantics of Serial Verb Constructions in Thai.

I have just returned from Bangkok, where the 1st World Congress on the Power of Language (May 22-25, 2006) was held in honor of the birthday of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is very interested in linguistic matters.  The conference brought together a group of people who might never attend the same conferences but nevertheless share a focus on language, from the academic to the political.  It was a fascinating experience.    Cholthicha Sudmuk, of the Royal Institute, was my superb guide throughout my first visit to Thailand, where I also enjoyed the hospitality of Professor Udom in a wonderful visit to two Buddhist temples and an evening of classical Thai dance performances.   All of the organizers were extremely gracious.   One of the papers presented is by Cholthicha:

Cholthica Sudmuk.  2006.  The syntax and semantics of serial verbs in Thai: LFG Approach.


Another paper;

Joan Bresnan and Jennifer Hay. 2006. "Gradient Grammar: An Effect of Animacy on the Syntax of give in Varieties of English".

The recent line of work is building on the idea of "Spoken Syntax"... and I'll have more on this soon.  Meanwhile, I'm off to the DELS (Directions in English Language Studies) Conference at Manchester. 
Something interesting afoot:

...we are holding a three-day conference which is intended to focus on current and, especially, future directions in English Language research, both synchronic and diachronic.

In addition, because DELS uniquely brings together historical and contemporary studies, it will be the occasion for the launch of an international association for research in English Language/Linguistics.

Last year I was in New Zealand on  a University of Canterbury Visiting Erskine Fellowship.  I was hosted by Ida Toivonen with Ash Asudeh (both now moving to Carleton University in Ottawa where they will work in linguistics and cognitive science -- and what a dynamic duo they are! -- have a look at their Journal of Linguistics review of two minimalist textbooks, "Symptomatic Imperfections", currently available from the New Work link on Ash's personal webpage).  In addition to guest-teaching syntax with Ida and discussing morphology and cycling with my old varsity coeval Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy -- among other fun things --
I began a collaboration with Jen Hay, which has just resulted in a new paper:

Jennifer Hay and Joan Bresnan. 2006. "Spoken Syntax: The Phonetics of  giving a hand in New Zealand English".  To appear in The Linguistic Review 23: Special Issue on Exemplar-Based Models in Linguistics.

It is not such a strange leap as it may first appear, for me to have taken up a topic in exemplar-based linguistic models.   For one thing, Rens Bod and Ron Kaplan had already shown how analogical reasoning from stored syntactic exemplars would work for the dependency-cum-constituency grammars that LFG  characterizes.  In fact, Rens has a paper on this appearing in the same journal volume:

Rens Bod, 2006. Exemplar-Based Syntax: How to Get Productivity from Examples. The Linguistic Review 23, Special Issue on Exemplar-Based Models in Linguistics.

And for another thing, I was already impressed by the exemplar-based lexical models developed by Harald Baayen and his students, as well as by the related work of Janet Pierrehumbert, such as

Pierrehumbert, J (2001) Exemplar dynamics: Word frequency, lenition, and contrast. In Bybee, J. and P. Hopper (eds) Frequency effects and the emergence of linguistic structure. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 137-157.

I was really intrigued by Jen's approach to morphology that I had happened to read about in her Language paper:

Hay, Jennifer (2002) From Speech Perception to Morphology: Affix-ordering Revisited.  Language 78.3, 2002: 527-555.

For a former philosophy major like myself, whose first exposure to morphology was in the MIT days of The Sound Pattern of English, this new take on level-ordered morphology was a fascinating eye-opener.   I knew that Jen was a collaborator of Harald Baayen, who had become a collaborator of mine in our paper:

Joan Bresnan, Anna Cueni, Tatiana Nikitina, and Harald Baayen. In press.  "Predicting the Dative Alternation."   To appear in Royal Netherlands Academy of Science Workshop on Foundations of Interpretation proceedings.

And while at Canterbury I read the first draft of Jen's and Harald's synoptic paper on statistical  approaches to morphology--

Hay, J and Baayen, H. (2005).   Shifting paradigms: gradient structure in morphology.    Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(7): 342-348 (pdf)

In other words, I got involved in exemplar-based models out of general intellectual curiosity in the new  paradigms that are rapidly blossoming in linguistics and allied fields of cognitive science.

I will continue with these notes from time to time, but at the moment I've run out of it.

Links to June 18, 2004 are now on a separate page.
Links up to October 2003 are now on a separate page.
Links up to August 2002 are now on a separate page.
Links up to September 2001 are now on a separate page.
Links up to October 2000 are now on a separate page.
Links up to August 1999 are on a separate page.
Links up to August 1998 are on a separate page.
Yes, there are some official links, too: start with Essex LFG, to find more LFG  internet-accessible information about current research, publications, people, and events.