Classes and readings

Below you'll find a list of courses I've taken and links to my notes. You can also access summaries for particular papers and books by looking at my running bibliography.

Spring 2009 (and beyond)

This is the time I started working towards a dissertation on language and emotion--during the Spring and Summer, I was mostly exploring a variety of topics. You can see all my reading notes and exploratory essays here:

Winter 2009

Practice and Performance with Barbara Voss

Course description: "Poststructuralist theories of iteration and mimesis are increasingly used by social scientists to negotiate the tension between social structure and social practice. We will undertake focused readings of several prominent theoretical frameworks in this area: Gidden’s structuration theory, Bourdieu’s practice theory, and Butler’s theories of gender performativity, De Certeau’s analysis of tactics and strategies, Scott’s theory of hidden transcripts, and Muñoz’s theory of disidentification. In addition to original texts by these social theorists, we will read and discuss ethnographic and archaeological case-studies that employ methodologies inspired by these approaches. The seminar aims to critically assess the intersections and contradictions between these theorists’ work as well as to explore their use in anthropological practice. Issues of gender, sexuality, and ethnicity will be central to these discussions."

Class notes: (Click here)

Introduction to semantics and pragmatics with Chris Potts

Course description: "Conventional meaning and pragmatic enrichment, with special emphasis on the foundations of semantics and pragmatics, the central problems of the theory, the role of logic and model theory in semantic analysis, and interconnections with other aspects of language and communication."

Class notes: (Click here)

Introduction to semantics and pragmatics with Arnold Zwicky

Course description: "This seminar investigates an assortment of cases where two or more expressions serving as alternatives seem to be in free variation, differing at most in stylistic value; explores the semantic, discourse function, syntactic, prosodic, and processing factors that favor the choice of one variant over the other; and evaluates claims about the stylistic values of the variants."

Class notes: (Click here)

Autumn 2009

Seminar in psycholinguistics: information-theoretic models of language and cognition with Dan Jurafsky and Michael Ramscar

Course description: "Information theory and its relation to learning and to reference, meaning, and information encoding. Information-theoretic models of linguistic structure at the phonological, morphological, and syntactic levels, and the links between information theory and information structure/clause packaging. The role of uncertainty and uniform information density in sentence processing."

Class notes: (Click here)

Introduction to syntax with Tom Wasow

Course description: Actually, I TA'ed this course and have a bunch of notes on it. 

Web page with all my course materials

French conversation with Jane Dozer

Summer 2009

Construction grammar and typology with Bill Croft

Course description: "In this course, we will examine what the typological approach contributes to construction grammar, and vice versa. In the first week, we will examine the relationship between syntactic categories and syntactic constructions from a typological perspective, following Radical Construction Grammar, and introduce the semantic map model and multidimensional scaling. In the second week, we will examine the structure of constructions, and present a Radical Construction Grammar analysis of certain aspects of noun phrase structure. In the third week we will adapt Chafe's verbalization model for constructional analysis, and present a usage-based approach to the relationship between form and meaning." 

Class notes: (Click here)

The language of public discourse with Geoff Nunberg

Course description: "In this course we'll be taking up some basic questions about the language that societies use in their public discussions of political and cultural issues, as shaped by the media, political groups, and other institutions. How does this language influence, mobilize or reflect popular opinion, and how is it connected to the language of everyday conversation? What role do the media play in diffusing this language? How does one or another contesting group, sector, or party establish control over a certain part of public discourse? Are there semantic and pragmatic features unique to this discourse? What is the relation between the words of public discourse and social concepts: what can we conclude about the mental life of a society from the appearance of new words or sub-vocabularies or the disappearance or alteration of old ones?" 

Class notes: (Click here)

Linguistic prehistory and population genetics with Bernard Comrie

Course description: "Although the use of language to construct hypotheses relating to prehistory has a long tradition, recent advances both within linguistics (e.g. typology, language contact studies) and in other disciplines (e.g. archaeology, genetics) provide us with a much richer set of tools to assess the contribution that linguistics and other disciplines can make to unraveling such aspects of human prehistory as population migration, population contact, and physical culture. The aim of this course will be to examine recent literature and ongoing research that deal with the interaction of linguistic and other evidence in studying human prehistory." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Understanding typological distributions with Balthasar Bickel

Course description: "Typological distributions — i.e. distributions of structural features among the languages of the world — typically reveal non-accidental skewings. While in the past century, the tools used in explaining such skewings were mostly limited to preference laws in the nature of synchronic grammar, recent research has greatly expanded the typologist's toolbox and has at the same time turned typology into a historical discipline. This course introduces some of the key methodological and theoretical aspects of these developments. We will begin by discussing how modern typology can cope with language-particular details and variation within languages. We will then examine statistical methods that can be used to analyze historically grown distributions, separating the various factors that determine these distributions (language contact, inheritance, processing preferences etc.). The last part of the course will be devoted to recent case studies on universal trends and on areal relationships." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Verbal art with Lev Michael

Course description: "Despite the importance of verbally artistic uses of language in the world's speech communities, verbal art has remained relatively peripheral to the basic tasks of language documentation and language typology. The goal of this course is to provide the student with the necessary conceptual and methodological tools to document and describe verbally artistic speech genres, and to contribute to scholarship on the structure and typology of these genres." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Bilingualism with Devyani Sharma

Course description: "Bilingualism, or contact between two linguistic systems, is both individual and social: in the individual, grammar interaction can reveal the nature of mental representations and cognitive processes; in society, mixed codes serve to embody and mediate complex social roles and stances. This course investigates both sides of bilingualism. In the individual dimension, we will explore language transfer and other cognitive effects in bilingual speech, formal models of grammar interaction, constraints on code-switching, and patterns in acquisition and attrition. In the social dimension, we will examine indexical functions of mixed codes, sociolinguistic repertoires, and policy debates. Throughout the course we will consider the individual/social interface: how does an individual grammar adjust to complex input from the social environment? And how do social norms come to be fixed by individual behavior? In the process, students will develop an awareness of the relationship between distinct research goals, data collection techniques (elicited, naturalistic, corpora), and analytic methods (implicational scaling, descriptive statistics, quantitative and qualitative analysis) in the study of individual and societal bilingualism." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Computational methods in linguistic reconstruction with Johanna Nichols, Don Ringe, and Tandy Warnow

Course description: "This course will introduce the basic linguistic and mathematical concepts of computational phylogenetic analysis as applied in historical linguistics. Our primary goal is to give students the intellectual tools to critically evaluate the scientific literature in this area. Therefore, the course will include in-depth discussions of methodological issues related to the choice and encoding of linguistic data, use of computational algorithms, and interpretation of results. The discussion will be illustrated with recent publications." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Narrative and viewpoint with Barbara Dancygier

Course description: "In this course we will look at the ways in which cognitive linguistics tools (mental spaces, construction grammar, blending, frame theory) can be used in analyzing the linguistic correlates of the processing of longer narrative artifacts (mostly, fiction, but also drama, travel writing, etc.). We will start with some basic cognitive and linguistic concepts, such as causation, sequentiality, temporality, or deixis, to then move on to a more thorough investigation of two ranges of constructions: referential expressions and representation of speech and thought (STR)." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Spring 2009

Language and gender with Lauren Hall-Lew

Course description: Actually, I TA'ed this course and have a bunch of notes on it. 

Web page with all my course materials

Historical morphology and phonology with Paul Kiparsky 

Course description: "Sound change and analogical change in the perspective of linguistic theory. Internal and comparative reconstruction."

Class notes: (Click here)

Laboratory methods in psycholinguistics with Victor Kuperman 

Course description: "Issues that commonly arise in the design and implementation of linguistic experiments and in the statistical analysis of empirical results. Topics in experimental design include selection of stimuli, blocking, and power analysis and sample size calculation. How to fit and interpret statistical models using the multilevel regression and Bayesian inference, as implemented in software packages R and Bugs. Topics include interpretation of model coefficients for fixed and random effects, collinearity, model criticism, as well as comparison and reporting of models. Theoretical issues worked out at lab sessions using examples from experiments and corpus studies, including those provided by students."

Class notes: (Click here)

Winter 2009

Seminar in sociolinguistics: Variation and spoken style with Penny Eckert

Course description: "The nature of spoken style. New kinds of variables that play a role in style, the structure of style, and the role of style in the construction of meaning in variation." 

Class notes: (Click here) and here's a how-to for getting YouTube videos in Praat

Amharic with Issayas Tesfamariam 

Course description: Basic Amharic, focused on reading/writing.

Autumn 2008

Foundations of linguistic theory with Paul Kiparsky 

Course description: "Theories that have shaped contemporary linguistics; recurrent themes and descriptive practice."

Class notes: (Click here)

Programming for linguists with Elizabeth Coppock

Course description: "Computer programming techniques for collecting and analyzing data in linguistic research. Introduction to the UNIX environment, Perl programming, and other scripting tools. How to gather, format, and manipulate corpus, field, and experimental data; combine data from multiple sources; and create web surveys." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Amharic with Issayas Tesfamariam 

Course description: Basic Amharic, focused on reading/writing.

Summer 2008

Poetries in Contact: The encounter of Perso-Arabic and Sanskritic metrical traditions with Paul Kiparsky and Ashwini Deo

Description: Work on understanding Urdu meter, especially in relation to Arabic and Persian traditions.

Spring 2008

African American Vernacular English with John Rickford

Course description: Actually, I TA'ed this course and have a bunch of notes on it. 

Web page with all my AAVE course materials

Analysis of variation with Penny Eckert 

Course description: "The quantitative study of linguistic variability in time, space, and society emphasizing social constraints in variation."

Class notes: (Click here)

Readings in linguistic anthropology with  

Course description: "One or two major related works on language in its cultural context. Works for 2007-08 involve attempts to correlate linguistic and non-linguistic data for analysis of prehistoric human contact and migrations."

Class notes: (Click here)

Winter 2008

Community studies of variation with Penny Eckert 

Course description: Anyone studying sociolinguistics needs to know what the community studies say. We take two classic studies and critique the hell out of them: Labov (1966) and Milroy (1980). You go out in the world knowing what you can and can't say about these studies (as well as a variety of studies that take their inspiration from these).

Class notes: (Click here)

Morphosyntax with Beth Levin 

Course description: "The role of morphology in grammar: how word structure serves syntax in the expression of meaning. Universal properties and typology of morphological categories; proposals towards their principled explanation in a restrictive theory of language."

Class notes: (Click here)

Graduate studies in political psychology with Jon Krosnick 

Course description: "For students interested in research in political science, psychology, or communication. Methodological techniques for studying political attitudes and behaviors."

French with Heather Howard 

Course description: "Proficiency-based. Advanced-level skills including past, present, and future narration, description, and defending points of view on social and cultural issues. Topics from cultural comparisons with French and Francophone contexts."

Fall 2007

Quantitative, probabilistic, and optimization-based explanation in linguistics with Chris Manning 

Course description: "Capturing the soft constraints inherent in linguistic systems, based on quantitative evidence obtained from linguistic corpora. Computer tools for collecting and modeling data. Emphasis is on syntax."

Class notes: (Click here)

Sociolinguistic theory and analysis with John Rickford 

Course description: "Methods of modeling the patterned variation of language in society. Emphasis is on variation, its relation to social structure and practice, and its role in linguistic change. Intersection between quantitative and qualitative analysis, combining insights of sociology and linguistic anthropology with quantitative linguistic data."

Class notes: (Click here)

Cybernetics with Hugh Dubberly and Paul Pangaro (computer science)

Course description: "Application of cybernetics to designing complex interactive systems, modeling human-computer interaction, and managing design processes for physical, virtual, social, or hybrid systems. Software applications and web services; environments for learning, business, and government; and collaboration systems for work or play. History and principles of cybernetics relative to CS and AI."

Class notes: (Click here)

Social networking with Henning Hillmann (sociology)

Course description: "Theory, methods, and research. Concepts such as density, homogeneity, and centrality; applications to substantive areas. The impact of social network structure on individuals and groups in areas such as communities, neighborhoods, families, work life, and innovations."

Class notes: (Click here)

French with Heather Howard 

Course description: "Proficiency-based. Advanced-level skills including past, present, and future narration, description, and defending points of view on social and cultural issues. Topics from cultural comparisons with French and Francophone contexts."

Lab syntax with Ivan Sag and Tom Wasow

Course description: "Recent work in syntax that employs data-rich methods like corpora and laboratory studies, emphasizing research by seminar participants." Class notes available upon request.

TA training workshop with Beth Levin 

Course description: "For second-year graduate students in Linguistics."

Linguistics Society of America Summer Institute 2007

Meaning in discourse: psycholinguistic theory and empirical methods with Gail McKoon and Richard Gerrig 

Course description: "The goal of this course is to explore psycholinguistic theories of how readers and listeners represent the meanings of extended discourse. Starting in the 1970's, researchers developed a repertory of methods that allowed them to assess the psychological reality of different types of representations for sentences and larger units of discourse. The current theoretical view is that much of comprehension is the result of passive, automatic, global memory retrieval processes. An important aspect of these contemporary theories is that they apply broadly across circumstances of language use and not only to instances of text comprehension. The course will be introductory with a lecture style. Across the class meetings, questions about meaning will be interleaved with examples of experimental methods that are relevant to each particular question. This analysis of methods will allow us to provide students with a firm understanding of the origins and prospects for psycholinguistic theories of meaning in discourse."

Class notes: (Click here)

Field semantics and semantic typology with Jurgen Bohnemeyer 

Course description: "The goal of this course is to familiarize beginning graduate students theoretically and practically with the approach to semantic typology developed at the Max Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics. Semantic typology, the cross-linguistic study of linguistic categorization, opens up a new empirical window on the language-cognition interface. It requires the collection and analysis of primary data from a wide variety of typologically diverse languages. We will discuss theoretical and methodological prerequisites and review key studies in the domain of spatial (locative predications; spatial frames of reference) and temporal semantics (linguistic segmentation of motion events and causal chains). Part of the course is dedicated to training in methods for collecting and analyzing semantic data in field research. This will include hands-on experience with a battery of different elicitation tools. This part is designed to be useful to students interested in any form of field research on problems of linguistic meaning." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Working memory and informational constraints in language processing with Ted Gibson and Ev Fedorenko 

Course description: "This course will be a lecture course investigating the relationship between working memory and informational constraints in language processing. Anyone with an interest in working memory in cognition and how it applies in language processing is welcome to attend. Throughout the course, we will be drawing upon various kinds of evidence including behavioral and ERP experiments, computational modeling, and corpus studies. We will first present and discuss a number of competing theories of how working memory constrains language comprehension in both unambiguous sentence complexity and ambiguity resolution, cross-linguistically. Second, we will discuss informational constraints (e.g., plausibility, animacy, syntax) and their interaction, as well as the relationship between working memory and these informational constraints. We will then go on to discuss the question of domain-specificity as it relates to working memory and language processing. Finally, we will discuss the available evidence for the neural structures underlying the working memory system and languages comprehension." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Pattern-based models of lexical knowledge with Farrell Ackerman, Jim Blevins, Fermin Moscoso del Prado Martin, and Michael Tomasello 

Course description: "This course examines a number of mutually-reinforcing perspectives on the role that lexical exemplars and general pattern-matching processes play in systems of lexical and morphological knowledge. The course is designed to span a number of traditional boundaries to highlight the recent convergence of traditional models of morphological structure, usage-based theories of lexical acquisition and information-theoretic approaches to lexical processing. The first part of the course will introduce students to traditional analyses of morphological systems in which the form variation within a language is represented by means of sets of exemplary patterns. The second part introduces usage-based models of lexical acquisition and highlights the role that individual constructions and word tokens play in lexical islands. The third part summarizes the evidence for effects of inflectional and derivational paradigms on word recognition response latencies and explains how psycholinguistic evidence for the influence of lexical and morphemic paradigms on human lexical processing argues in favor of experience-based models of the mental lexicon. In addition, this component of the course will introduce the statistical tools that are used for characterizing these effects and for drawing consequences about the underlying system of knowledge." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Presession: Experimental design for linguistics with Charles Clifton 

Course description: "We will discuss and evaluate tools for testing hypotheses about linguistic performance (with occasional forays into examining linguistic knowledge). The tools will range from simple questionnaire methods (including web-based questionnaires), through various ways of obtaining quantitative judgments of sentence acceptability, to technically-sophisticated ways of probing into real-time aspects of language processing. In each case, we will discuss how explicit experimental procedures can permit us to control for the effects of factors that could plausibly confound our experimental manipulations." 

Class notes: (Click here)

Presession: Logic for linguistics with Christopher Potts 

Course description: "This presession course will help students use logical tools in the analysis of linguistic meaning, and it will strive to illustrate the ways in which formal analysis can be linguistically enlightening. We will use simple formalisms (e.g., basic set theory, propositional logic) to get precise about complex ideas (e.g., quantification, intensionality). We will introduce the lambda calculus and use it to develop a theory of compositional interpretation. Since the pragmatics courses at the Institute are likely to be as formally oriented as the semantics ones, we will also cover an alternative view of propositions in terms of probability theory and discuss the information that this shift in perspective can provide."

Class notes: (Click here)

Spring 2007

Phonetics with Heriberto Avelino 

Course description: "The study of speech sounds: how to produce them, how to perceive them, and their acoustic properties. The influence of production and perception systems on sound change and phonological patterns. Acoustic analysis and experimental techniques. Lab exercises."

Class notes: (Click here)

Lab syntax with Tom Wasow and Ivan Sag  

Course description: "Recent work in syntax that employs data-rich methods like corpora and laboratory studies, emphasizing research by seminar participants." 

Class notes: (Click here)

A survey of benefactives with Ivan Sag

Course description: This is really just a continuation of a project I began with Ivan last semester. I'm interested in testing claims about the grammaticality of sentences like *He was baked a cake on his birthday. I think some things that are claimed to be ungrammatical are fine (and that problems are probably related to processing).

French with Sarah Streicher

Course description: "Emphasis is on the development of authentic discourse appropriate to French and Francophone contexts."

Winter 2007

WH-questions and processing with Ivan Sag

Course description: "The goal of this course is to provide an introduction to key problems in the analysis of `WH-constructions', i.e. the long distance dependencies between `fillers' and `gaps' that abound in the world's languages. We will survey various approaches to the analysis of these unbounded dependency constructions (UDCs) from a historical perspective, critically examining both empirical predictions and methodological shortcomings. Students are expected to have some background in syntax and semantics and not to be afraid of mathematical formalisms."

Class notes: (Click here)

The technology of field work with Chris Manning

Course description: The goal of this research project was to learn some of the important technological tools that field workers use. To do that, I learned how to use things like Toolbox and Kirrkirr. To get familiar with the tools, I’ll scrounged around for some data that was trapped in paper (in this case, some Keiga Jirru from Sudan, which Roger Blench put me in touch with). I also put together a usability report on Kirrkirr (to help make it easier to use for linguists and community members both).

Phenomenological foundations of cognition, language, and computation with Terry Winograd

Course description: "Critical analysis of theoretical foundations of the cognitive approach to language, thought, and computation. Contrast of the rationalistic assumptions of current linguistics and artificial intelligence with alternatives drawn from phenomenology, theoretical biology, critical literary theory, and socially-oriented speech act theory. Emphasizes relevance of theoretical orientation to the design, implementation, and impact of computer systems as it affects human-computer interaction." (My final project for this was on "the language of categories".)

Class wiki: (Click here)

French with Sarah Streicher 

Course description: "Emphasis is on the development of authentic discourse appropriate to French and Francophone contexts."

Autumn 2006

Foundations of syntax with Peter Sells and Beth Levin

Course description: "Focus is on the role of the verb and the lexicon in the determination of sentence syntax. Topics: the argument/adjunct distinction, subcategorization and argument structure, motivation for a lexicalist approach, principles governing argument expression, operations on argument structure and grammatical function changing rules, unbounded dependencies, and the approach to unbounded dependencies rooted in principles of lexical expression and subcategorization satisfaction." (My final project was on patterns of givethrow, and send in Japanese.)

Class notes: (Click here)

Lab syntax with Joan Bresnan

Course description: "Hands-on use of methods for analyzing quantitative syntactic data, including clustering and classification, regression, and mixed models." (Our final class project was on dative alternations in children.)

Language and thought with Lera Boroditsky

Course description: "Do people who speak different languages think differently? Does learning new languages change the way you think? Do polyglots think differently when speaking different languages? Are some thoughts unthinkable without language? This course examines the many interrelationships between language & thought.  The course topics will bring together ideas and findings from cognitive, developmental, and cultural psychology, as well as linguistics, anthropology, ethology, and neuroscience." (My final project was a research plan to look at the role of metaphor in cognition, specifically by looking at interfaces.)

French with Jane Dozer

Course description: "Emphasis is on the development of authentic discourse appropriate to French and Francophone contexts."

Spring 2006

Field methods (Hawaiian) with Brooke Lillehaugen

Course description: We learned the basics of field methods here with a  speaker of Hawaiian. My final projects were on (i) the tense and aspect system and (ii) sound frequencies in a story told by our consultant (laying the groundwork for an OT analysis).

Winter 2006

Lexical semantics with Beth Levin

Course description: "Introduction to issues in word meaning, focused primarily around verbs. Overview of the core semantic properties of verbs and the organization of the verb lexicon. Approaches to lexical semantic representation, including semantic role lists, proto-roles, and causal and aspectual theories of event conceptualization." (My final paper was about whether give was underneath benefactive constructions, looking at data from English, Japanese, Kinyarwanda, and Salish.)

Autumn 2005

The structure of Sayula Popoluca with Rich Rhodes (Berkeley)

Course description: "In this course we will look at the phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics of Sayula Popoluca. The morphophonemics is quite complex, and a number of opaque morphophonemic alternations are bounded at phrase level rather than word level, raising interesting problems for the theory of phonology. A significant portion of the course will be dedicated to explicating the morphophonology. A second major portion of the course will be devoted to morphosyntax and lexical semantics. The theoretical approach will be that of construction grammar. In addition we will work with texts to elucidate both clausal syntax and discourse level patterns. Students in this course will be expected to apply their developing understanding of Sayula Popoluca to work on an unedited text as their course project. The product will be an edited version of the text" (mine was "The Story of White Flower").

(Sayula Popoluca is a Mixe-Zoquean language of southern Veracruz, Mexico. Its speakers are linguistic and culltural descendents of the Olmecs, who were the original creators of Mesoamerican culture. This language is spoken in and around the municipality of Sayula de Alemán by approximately 2,500 speakers. Typologically, the Mixe-Zoquean languages are agglutinative, headmarking, and ergative, with extensive compounding and cliticization. Because of long contact with Spanish, Mixe-Zoquean languages show interesting contact phenomena. The language is endangered in that fewer and fewer childen are learning it.)

Spring 2005

Phonology with Arto Anttila

Course description: This course was an introduction to Optimality Theory. My final project was an investigation of laryngeal harmony in Ndebele (I was pretty happy with it). 

Winter 2005

Advanced intro to linguistics with Arnold Zwicky

Course description: This was the first course in linguistics I took (in order to try it out to see if it really was something I was interested in or just a passing fancy). Arnold led us through all the standard pieces. My final paper was on the patterns of Zulu loan words. More fun was the final presentation since I got to start off with a game of "guess the noun class".

Linguistics links

Other fun stuff