Stanford Linguistics

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Welcome, Visitors!

A warm welcome to our diverse group of visitors this year! More about their research and interests:

Stephen Wechsler

Stephen Wechsler

Stephen Wechsler is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. He is spending this fall at Stanford while on leave from UT. His work centers on syntax, morphosyntax, and lexical semantics. He has worked on a variety of languages, including Korean, Balinese, Serbian/Croatian, ASL, Swedish, Finnish, and English. Stephen is currently writing a book on the syntax-lexical semantics interface, to be published by Oxford University Press. Earlier this month, Stephen was the keynote speaker at the Texas Linguistics Society 9 Conference; his address was "The Austronesian WH Disagreement."

Judi Preston

Judi Preston

Judi Preston is a visiting scholar from Nagoya University, where she did her graduate work in language processing and second language acquisition of adult learners of Japanese. For her PhD dissertation, she developed a profiling procedure to evaluate the learner's stage of acquisition of Japanese grammar based on real-time, spontaneous speech interviews. Her specific research at Stanford involves applying the descriptive framework of LFG to her corpus of Japanese L2 data.

Helge Lødrup

Helge Lødrup

Helge Lødrup is Professor of Linguistics from Oslo, Norway: He reallys enjoy visiting Stanford; it is his second time! His sponsor is Joan Bresnan, and he is working on the syntax of an exotic language often referred to as 'Norwegian', within the framework of LFG. His current projects concern aspects of binding theory, and raising to object with believe-type verbs. An important premise of both projects is the realization that the grammatical options of Norwegian are traditionally underreported.

Tibor Laczko

Tibor Laczko

Tibor Laczko is an Associate Professor from the Department of English Linguistics, University of Debrecen, Hungary. He's here on a Fulbright research grant for this academic year. He investigates morphosyntactic phenomena in Hungarian noun phrases (possessive constructions, nominalization, participle formation etc.) in comparison with English in an LFG framework. Tibor is working on a book while here and just joined the ParGram project.

Mika Shindo

Mika Shindo

In Japan, Mika Shindo worked for the National Institute of Communications and Technology (Kyoto); her research explores the mechanisms of semantic extensions and their syntactic constructions. Her Ph.D. (Kyoto U.) panchronically analyzes divergent extensions of meanings and constructions of English sensory adjective pairs having the same origin, such as bright vs. clear, flat vs. plain, keen vs. eager. Mika's dissertation also included a collaborative project with NLP researchers in NICT analyzing whether adjectives in a given sensory modality connect with the same modality of cognition.

Elena Maslova received her Ph.D. from Institute of Linguistics in St. Petersburg (Russia) and Habilitation (post-doctoral qualification in general linguistics and typology) from Bielefeld University (Germany), with which she is still affiliated. She spent quite a number of years studying the Yukaghir languages (spoken in the Saha republic of Russia), and published two grammars of these languages and a collection of texts. At the present time, Elena's primary research interests cluster around methodological (in particular, mathematical) aspects of linguistic typology. Among other things, she is interested in looking for meaningful links between statistical cross-linguistic studies and Stochastic OT models (as well as other probabilistically oriented versions of OT).


Undergraduate Researchers Present

Several linguistics undergraduates participated in department-sponsored internships this summer, working closely with faculty on research projects ranging from phonetics to sociolinguistics. On Friday, November 4th, they presented their findings at a department-wide colloquium:

Tracy Conner

Tracy Conner "Language and Social Identity"

Tommy Grano

Tommy Grano "English pronoun case in coordination"

Lisa Tittle

Lisa Tittle "Clarity in communication"

Rowyn McDonald

Rowyn McDonald (with Tracy Conner) "Changing ALL"


Summer, Deuxième Partie

More in the summer lives of linguists ...

(See the bottom of the page for answers.)

(1) I got my solar power equipment eaten up by roaches (this after having my first laptop eaten by roaches). I managed to rig the thing to work again, though, in the process learning among other things that there's a difference between AC and DC current. Damn near fried my second laptop trying to McGuyver my way to some power for my laptop. I also went pineapple hunting in the bush with perhaps the youngest fluent speaker of Ulwa in town, who's about 12ish. Oh yeah, another thing. With that same kid and one of my consultants, I went fishing, and damn near got my hand amputated by a monstrous tarpon fish that caught my line (you have to hold the line in your hand, and when the fish is big and strong, and this one was, the line digs into your hand, burning your hand). Fish got away, but I still have my hand. I ate this, and some rodent that basically looks like a groundhog, but who's name escapes me at the moment. Also shrimp for a while until I was totally sick of it. And powdered milk. Comi tambien endangered green sea turtle (the staple meat of the Ulwa and Miskitu people).

(2) This summer I took my first trip to Africa, for a mixture of fieldwork and fun. I spent 9 weeks in the Akan-speaking regions of Ghana (in the south-central regions), collecting both primary data and secondary sources on some phonological processes in Akan, namely syllable-initial consonant palatalization (its regional distribution and dialect differences, its morphophonological constraints, and other questions of variable production). I had about two dozen consultants from different regions and towns, some very good friends and others complete strangers who I just met on the street. I also had a good time at the University of Ghana's excellent linguistics library, and enjoyed conversations and delectable meals with a few very helpful Akan linguists. And I spent a good deal of time trying to practice my conversational Twi, but improvement in that area will have to wait for another future visit!

(3) I *really* didn't do anything interesting. Well, other than the last few days of the summer, when I translated and made new subtitles for a John Woo movie. Does that count? No, no, it wasn't like a professional thing, it was just me, at home, getting annoyed that the movie didn't have good English subtitles. So I made new ones.

(4) I drank Belgian beer, gave a talk, didn't give another (though I wanted to, really, I wanted to), gave one more, tried to teach people in the High land, left the country, was charmed by the limitlessness of Berlin, raced to Venice to capture its beauty and lie at the beach, wondered what THAT was all about but got distracted by the Alps, which I approached from France and left headed North. I didn't eat horse meat, but I thought about it. Instead I learned that singers don't like air conditioning and that Maryland is close to Washington and yet so far away and almost as humid as Boston. I almost gave up, wanted to leave it all behind, but then there was help, encouragments, and several wine-induced stimulating conversations about the way we process at multiple European cities, a sparkling day in Cassis followed by the a 1994 Bordeaux and McCluskey (Angela, that is), and, I guess, my own very very own curiosity. Six countries and many hours at cheap airports later, I came a lot closer to (temporary) peace. Amen.

(5) My wife and I took our 6-wk old baby on a trip across the USA, from Durham, NC, to Stanford, CA, going through Kansas City, MO. As a result, he now definitely loves planes and airports. I left for two weeks to go to the LFG05 conference in Bergen, Norway, and the Xth International Congress for the Study of Child Language in Berlin, Germany. I presented work on Spanish Clitic Doubling in OT, the role of gesture in getting and maintaining children's attention in interactions (with Eve Clark), and the acquisition of English Yes-No Question with special emphasis on reduced and uninverted forms. Everything went rather well, I must say, but I missed my family a lot. Between conferences I went to Paris for four days to visit old friends. Then we went to Santa Fe, NM for 5 days, and then to KC, MO for a weekend for a wedding, both trips "sponsored" by my in-laws! We played tennis like crazy and got beat by my in-laws 40 years' experience in doubles... shameful, given that my mother-in-law has had both her knees replaced! Then the rest of the time we worked. Cheers!

(6) I spent most of the summer sitting on my (posterior).



Salutations to Penny Eckert, whose accomplishments were recognized last week by the University of Copenhagen with an honorary doctorate (officially, Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa). Congratulations to Penny for this well deserved honor! We look forward to her photos and tales of wining and dining in Denmark.

This has been a busy November for David Beaver. The beginning of the month saw him honored with the Gordon and Dailey Pattee Faculty Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding faculty in the humanities and social sciences. Congratulations, David! He then took his show on the Japanese road, addressing "The Semantics and Pragmatics of Focus Sensitivity" at the National Institute of Informatics Workshop on Focus in Tokyo and the English Linguistic Society of Japan in Fukuyoka.

Tom Wasow has been making the most of his autumn quarter leave. He was the inaugural speaker in the Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Washington's new Turing Center on November 4th (the title of his talk: "Selecting Among Paraphrases"). The Turing Center is dedicated to "Investigating problems at the crossroads of natural language processing, machine learning, Web search, and the Semantic Web." Emily Bender is among its affiliated faculty, and is one of three people on its advisory board.

As part of the Stanford Humanities Center's 25th anniversary conference, Geoff Nunberg organized a panel on "Knowledge in Language" on Oct 15. Tom was one of the members of the panel; his presentation was called "Knowledge of Language".

John Rickford delivered the keynote speech at the Mary Lou Fulton Endowed Symposium, at Arizona State's University Club in November. John's speech, "African American Vernacular English (aka Ebonics) and the Black/White Achievement Gap in Schools," can be found here (mp3).

Elizabeth Traugott recently published a book with Laurel J. Brinton (find it in the department library): "Lexicalization and Language Change" (Research Surveys in Linguistics). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Elizabeth also recently published the following articles:
"Lexicalization and grammaticalization", in A. Cruse, F. Hundsnurscher, M. Job, P. R. Lutzeier, eds., Lexikologie/-Lexicology. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, Vol. 2: 1702-1712 (2005).

(Ka'ala Yezbick and Elizabeth Closs Traugott) "Recent developments in viewpoint -wise". American Speech 80: 105-112 (2005).



We're looking forward to your tasty treats and holiday cheer at our annual department holiday party! Next Friday, December 9th, at 3pm in the MJH lobby.

Albuquerque ... the place to be during the first weekend of 2006. Almost 30 Stanford linguists will present at the 2006 LSA meeting, including Elizabeth Traugott (discussant, panel on "Speaker-based motivations for language change") and Ivan Sag (ellipsis symposium: "What's LF got to do with it?"). More notes from the field in January.

SSILA's annual meeting will be held concurrently with the LSA, where you'll find Andrew Koontz-Garboden ("Two classes of intransitive verbs in Ulwa"), Elisabeth Norcliffe ("Agent focus in Jakaltek"), and Judith Tonhauser ("Paraguayan Guaraní as a tenseless language").

Speaking of Judith ... she's off on another Paraguay adventure. She writes: "From 11/24 to 12/24, I'll return to the small community "San Isidro" in the south-east of Paraguay where I already lived during the summer (which is winter in Paraguay) -- this time, it's going to be summer there and I'm looking forward to eating lots of pineapples. Of course, I expect to learn lots more about subsistence farming, chicken breeding and cow herding, so if you have any pressing questions concerning these topics, let me know. And, yes, I'll also be doing fieldwork on Guaraní, which is the first language for everybody in the village -- they even have a radio station which broadcasts in Guaraní! I'll be working on the nominal and verbal temporal system of the language. Hope you all have a good break, and I'll see you in 2006!" [Editors' note: We'll miss you, Judith, jepiguáicha.]

Elizabeth Traugott is the invited speaker for three upcoming talks in Copenhagen and Berlin:

"They're all crazy about the simple life": Historical aspects of adverbial ALL. Current Topics in Typology, celebration for Ekkehard König, Berlin (Jan. 13th-14th, 2006).
"Constructions and grammaticalization revisited". Invited talk, Copenhagen (Jan. 16th, 2006).
"Object topicalization in Old English". Invited talk, Copenhagen (Jan 17th, 2006).

Peter Sells will be in Berlin in mid-December, where he'll talk about "OT Moderations of MP derivations" at the Descriptive & Explanatory Adequacy in Linguistics workshop.



Nikhila's BDay

Nikhila ushers in another year ...
It's not a birthday week without cake ...



(1) Andrew Koontz-Garboden, (2) Lauren Hall-Lew, (3) Rebecca Starr, (4) Florian Jaeger, (5) Bruno Estigarribia, (6) John Beavers

December 2005
Vol. 2, Issue 2