Stanford Linguistics
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Department News

  • Look Who's Talking

    Lots of Stanford folks (past and present) presenting at BLS next weekend:

    • Elaboration, anaphoric reference to events, and coercion
      Graham Katz (Stanford University)
    • Instrumental subjects
      Scott Grimm (Stanford University)
    • Three types of relative clause constructions in Korean: A construction-based approach
      Jong-Bok Kim (Kyung Hee University) and Jaehyung Yang (Kangham University)
    • Indian English tense-aspect restructuring: Sensitivity to sentential aspect
      Devyani Sharma (Kings College London) and Ashwini Deo (Yale University)
    • Toward a true theory of the periphery: Why some of Culicover's 'odd prepositions' aren't that odd
      Elizabeth Coppock (Stanford University)
    • On the tone/vowel interaction in Fuzhou
      Cathryn Donohue (University of Nevada, Reno)
    • Is syntactic competence probabilistic? Evidence from English dative constructions.
      Joan Bresnan (Stanford University)
    • Field notes on the pronominal system of Zhuang
      Adams Bodomo (University of Hong Kong/Stanford University)
  • Congratulations to Joan Bresnan and her co-PIs Dan Jurafsky, Tom Wasow, Michael Ramscar (Psychology), and Susanne Gahl (University of Chicago), who just heard that their grant proposal "The Dynamics of Probabilistic Grammar" has been funded by NSF-HSD! This project includes lots of ongoing work, some of which will be reported on at the CUNY Sentence Processing Conference in March (more on that in a future issue). Way to go!
  • In case you're wondering where Eve Clark is today (Friday), she's off in Tucson giving a talk at the University of Arizona's Cognitive Science Program, called "One vs. More-than-one: Antecedents to Plural Marking in Acquisition" (abstract)
  • Planning on doing fieldwork? Need to buy equipment for doing linguistic research? Local folks recommend that you check out the following websites:

  • Stanford Blood Center: Shortage of all types. For an appointment, go to or call 650-723-7831. It only takes an hour of your time and you get free cookies.


Caught in the Act

main room control room
psych room

The New Former Phonetics Lab!

The new Department Lab is amazing. It's beautiful. It's almost ready for action. It's a nice place to work! It'll even have a plasma TV (think Deptflix!). It's what's happening. The Sesquipeditor is overwhelmed. In fact, he's


Linguistic Levity

Fear of Flying?

Today's contributions are specifically aimed at those of you who might have been under the mistaken impression that NASA Socio-RocketScientist (!) Charlotte Linde's classic 1988 article and/or Steve Cushing's 1997 opus Fatal Words had solved all remaining linguistic problems in pilot - control tower communication. Read on ...
  • Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"
    Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We all have digital watches!"
  • Tower: "TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees."
    TWA 2341: "Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"
    Tower: "Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?"
  • A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What was your last known position?"
    Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."
  • A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down. San Jose Tower Noted: "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport."
  • A Pan Am 727 flight, waiting for start clearance in Munich , overheard the following:

    Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?"
    Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak in English."
    Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany . Why must I speak English?"
    Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent): "Because you lost the bloody war!"
  • Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency 124.7" Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way,after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway."
    Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern 702?"
    BR Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern... we've already notified our caterers."
  • One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the active runway while a DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee. Some quick-witted comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said, "What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?" The Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a real zinger: "I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I'll have enough parts for another one."
  • The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206.

    Speedbird 206: " Frankfurt , Speedbird 206! clear of active runway."
    Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven."

    The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.

    Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
    Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."
    Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?"
    Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark, -- And I didn't land."
  • While taxiing at London's Gatwick Airport, the crew of a US Air flight departing for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727. An irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming: "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going? I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between C and D, but get it right!"

    Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically: "God! Now you've screwed everything up! It'll take forever to sort this out! You stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour, and I want you to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got that, US Air 2771?"

    "Yes, ma'am," the humbled crew responded.

    Naturally, the ground control communications frequency fell terribly silent after the verbal bashing of US Air 2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller in her current state of mind. Tension in every cockpit out around Gatwick was definitely running high. Just then an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone, asking: "Wasn't I married to you once?"



    • SocioLunch

      No meeting this week
    • 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.
    • Linguistics Department Talk

      15:30 in MJH 126

      Bruno Estigarribia (Stanford)
      Asking questions: empiricism, variation, and acquisition
      (dry run for a job talk)
    • 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

      17:00 in the department lounge. Gourmet delights from the Social Committee.
    • Berkeley French Dept. Talk

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

      Fallou Ngom (Western Washington University)
      Language Analysis in Asylum Cases: A Recent Development in Forensic Linguistics

    • CSLI Tea

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

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

      Iskra Iskrova (Indiana University)
      An Analysis of Haitian Creole Intonation

    • Berkeley French Dept. Talk

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

      Mairi McLaughlin (Cambridge University)
      Crossed Wires? Syntactic Borrowing in French News Agency Dispatches





    Friday, March 16, 2007.
  • For local linguistic events, always consult the Department's event page, available RIGHT HERE

  • Got broader interests? The New Sesquipedalian 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.


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February 2, 2007
Vol. 3, Issue 15

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

Photographer: Gretchen Lantz

Melanie Levin and Kyle Wohlmut