Stanford Linguistics
A Stanford Linguistics 
       department        contribute       

Department News

  • Sometime in December (around 10-13, apparently), a bunch of our folks coauthored papers that were delivered at the 2006 Workshop on Spoken Language Technology in Aruba (not that anybody bothered to report it to the New Sesquipedalian -- It's all right; I'll beg for news, if I have to...). We're not sure who all went, but the coauthors included:

    • Jason M. Brenier, Ani Nenkova, Anubha Kothari, Laura Whitton, David Beaver, and Dan Jurafsky. The (Non)Utility of Linguistic Features for Predicting Prominence in Spontaneous Speech
    • Gang Ji, Jeff Bilmes, Jeff Michels, Katrin Kirchhoff, and Chris Manning. Graphical Model Representations of Word Lattices.

    (see below for more about this alleged conference)

  • *

    Stephan Oepen and Dan Flickinger in rare formal mode

    They're baaaaaa-ck.... Stephan Oepen, formerly of the University of Oslo, now of NTNU in Trondheim and Dan Flickinger (Stanford Linguistics PhD, 1987), formerly of Oslo and/or Saarbruecken, now back in the saddle managing CSLI's LinGO Project, are both in residence this term, teaching Linguistics 187 - Grammar Engineering. They're always happy to talk about NLP, grammar engineering, or Norwegian delicacies....
  • Overheard on Campus: I'll admit, freshman year I purchased some sketchy tome entitled "Presupposition and Assertion in Dynamic Semantics" and asked my linguistics professor to ... See Out and Aboutski: The surreal life - Stanford Stanford Daily - Palo Alto,CA,USA, which reports this HERE. [Will the Beaver blush?, the Sesquipeditor wonders...]
  • Stanford Blood Center: Shortage of all types. For an appointment: or call 650-723-7831. It only takes an hour of your time and you get free cookies.


Caught in the Act


Jason Brenier Wins Submersion Contest in Aruba!

From the 207 photos posted, it's hard to see that those speech technology people actually do any work at their Caribbean conferences, but at least Jason got something out of it. Here he is accepting the prize at the conference banquet for being the first (and only) person to leave the banquet table fully clothed, submerge himself in the ocean, and return to the banquet. The prize was a one-hour massage at the hotel spa...


Linguistic Levity

John Cleese's Letter to America

To the citizens of the United States of America

In light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA andthus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will resume monarchicalduties over all states, commonwealths and other territories (exceptKansas , which she does not fancy), as from Monday next.

Your new prime minister, Tony Blair, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the followingrules are introduced with immediate effect:
  1. You should look up `revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up `aluminium', and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.
  2. The letter `U' will be reinstated in words such as `colour', `favour' and `neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell `doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix `ize' will be replaced by the suffix `ise'.
  3. You will learn that the suffix `burgh' is pronounced `burra'; you may elect to respell Pittsburgh as `Pittsberg' if you find you simply can't cope with correct pronunciation.
  4. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up `vocabulary'). Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as `like' and `you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.
  5. There is no such thing as `US English'. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter `u' and the elimination of `-ize'.
  6. You will relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen, but only after fully carrying out Task 1 (see above).
  7. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but to be celebrated only in England . It will be called `Come-Uppance Day'.
  8. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.
  9. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
  10. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.
  11. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric immediately and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
  12. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling `gasoline') - roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.
  13. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called `crisps'. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with mayonnaise but with vinegar.
  14. Waiters and waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.
  15. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as `beer', and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as `lager'. American brands will be referred to as `Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine', so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
  16. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.
  17. You will cease playing American `football'. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it `soccer'. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American `football', but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).
  18. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the `World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.
  19. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.
  20. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due backdated to 1776.
Thank you for your co-operation.

John Cleese



    • SocioLunch

      12:00. MJH 110 (aka the Ugly Dark Room)

      Bring your own lunch, as well as thoughts on potential speakers for future SocioRaps and potential articles we could read and discuss at future SocioLunches.
    • Berkeley Institute of Cognitive and Brain Seminar

      11:00 in Tolman 5101 (UC Berkeley)

      Nina Dronkers (VA Medical Center, Marinez CA)
      Neurological Insights into Language Processing
    • Berkeley Syntax and Semantics Circle

      14:30-16:00 in 233 Dwinelle Hall (UC Berkeley)

      Nick Fleisher will present a portion of his dissertation research, on modal attributive adjectives.
    • Friday Cognitive Seminar

      15:15 in Jordan Hall (Bldg. 420), room 050 (Psychology)

      Asha Smith
      Strategies in learning vocabulary in new languages: The role of early experience
    • Weekly Social

      16:00 in the department lounge. Gourmet delights from the Social Committee.

    • CSLI Tea

      15:00 in the Cordura Hall Greenhouse
    • Berkeley French Dept. Talk

      17:00 in the French Department Library (Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley)

      Michelle Troberg (University of Toronto)
      Case for change: from `Marie aide Jean' to `Marie aide Jean'
    • Syntax Workshop

      17:30 in MJH 126

      Adams Bodomo (University of Hong Kong and Stanford)
      The Syntax of Ideophones. (abstract)

    • Symbolic Systems Forum

      16:15 in Bldg. 380, room 380C (Math Corner)

      James McClelland (Psychology)
      How the Brain Learns to Differentiate Concepts, and How They Disintegrate When Neurons Die
    • Sociorap

      17:15 in MJH 126

      Benjamin Munson (University of Minnesota)
      The Co-Development of Indexical and Lexical Categories in Children, or, How Kids Learn how to Sound Straight

    • Berkeley Syntax and Semantics Circle

      14:30-16:00 in 233 Dwinelle Hall (UC Berkeley)

      Russell Lee-Goldman will lead a discussion of Gosse Bouma, Robert Malouf, and Ivan A. Sag's 2001 NLLT paper `Satisfying constraints on extraction and adjunction'.
    • Fieldwork Committee Meeting

      15:30 in MJH 110 (the Ugly Dark Room)

      We will be showing the documentary Gwich'in: Language of the Caribou People, which discusses how proposed drilling in ANWR threatens aboriginal language and culture in the area. Tea and scones will be served.
    • UC Santa Cruz Linguistics Colloquium

      16:00 in Humanities 210 (UC Santa Cruz)

      Graham Katz (Stanford University)
      Temporal reference in complement clauses and temporal perspective (abstract)
    • Weekly Social

      16:00 in the department lounge. Gourmet delights from the Social Committee.



  • 9-11 FEBRUARY: 33rd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (BLS 33). UC Berkeley (370 Dwinelle). Program available HERE.
  • For local linguistic events, always consult the Department's event page, available RIGHT HERE

  • Got broader interests? The New Sesquiped recommends reading or even subscribing to the CSLI Calendar, available HERE.

  • What's happening at UC Santa Cruz? Find out HERE.

  • What's going on at UC Berkeley? Check it out HERE.


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? Contribute something at the top of this page or write directly to


January 29, 2007
Vol. 3, Issue 14

This Issue's Sesquipedalian Staff

Editor in Chief:
Ivan A. Sag

Design and Production Consultant:
Philip Hofmeister

Contributing Humor Editor:
Susan D. Fischer

Newsletter Committee: Scott Grimm, Graham Katz, Ani Nenkova

Melanie Levin and Kyle Wohlmut