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Department News

  • Congratulations to Elizabeth Traugott, who was recently awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Uppsala (Sweden). Pictures to follow. The next wave of Uppsala honorary doctorates (those who will receive the honor following in ECT's steps) includes Noam Chomsky and Kofi Annan!
  • Morphology Run Amok: Did anyone besides Graham notice the linguistic beauty of the Daily Show's faux-Senior White House Correspondent John Oliver's piece on Terrroists and the War on Terror?:

    "They are an emboldenable bunch. This is an unconventional war. This isn't WWII where there were losers and winners. Its a new kind of war where enemies can either be emboldened or beweakened. So we have to enscare them to the point where they rebecave themselves. We must disimagine the very thinkment of misunsuccessiveness. That is what we have to bedo."
  • Look Who's Talking

    • Bruno Estigarribia is already off presenting his "Asking questions: empiricism, variation, and acquisition" at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Linguistics Circle this Thursday
    • Itamar Francez is off to Yale to present "Context dependence and propositional structure in existentials" on February 15
    • CUNY Alert: All of the following folks are involved in papers that have been accepted (either as posters or as presentations) at the upcoming CUNY Sentence processing conference: Hal Tily, Philip Hofmeister, Inbal Arnon, Neal Snider, Anubha Kothari, Gabe Recchia, Laura Staum, Joan Bresnan, and Ivan Sag. The CUNY conference will be held March 29-31 in La Jolla, which is a long way from CUNY.... Go Figure!

  • 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


Artie and his pet rabbit...

Sigh..... No one was caught in the act of doing anything this week, not even the Former Phonetics Lab. So, since no one submitted any news of interest, the Sesquipeditor has taken the liberty of including a picture of Penny and Ivan's cat Artie. Artie's real name is `Artham', which is the neuter form of `Arthas', which was his original name (before his little anatomically significant trip to the vet)... You see, Artie originally had a brother `Vaakie', whose real name was `Vaak'. Now `Vaak' and `Arthas' are of course Sanskrit for `word' and `meaning', which the true Sanskrit aficionados among you will no doubt recognize from Kalidasa's famous `Vagarthau iva samprikhtau...' (`intertwined like word and meaning'...) The names fit, because Vaak did all the talking and Artie sat around giving meaningful looks.

Anyway, our cats' names quickly evolved into `Artie/Wartie' and `Vaakie/Waakie' because, well, it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time, given their total cuteness, utter lack of decorum, etc. Alas, Vaak came to an early end and, much to our surprise, Artie suddenly became the most talkative cat in the world (We're kicking ourselves for not having done a systematic cat language study; we could have cornered the market!). This picture shows you that Artie has now settled for a stuffed rabbit as his bedtime companion. And we decided to call the rabbit `Harvey', rather than `Arjuna', `Bhima', or `Drtarashtra'...


Linguistic Levity

From the Ludicrous Lexicon

  • ADULT: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.
  • BEAUTY PARLOR: A place where women curl up and dye.
  • CANNIBAL: Someone who is fed up with people.
  • CHICKENS: The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.
  • COMMITTEE: A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.
  • DUST: Mud with the juice squeezed out.
  • EGOTIST: Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
  • HANDKERCHIEF: Cold Storage.
  • INFLATION: Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.
  • MOSQUITO: An insect that makes you like flies better.
  • RAISIN: Grape with a sunburn.
  • SECRET: Something you tell to one person at a time.
  • SKELETON: A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.
  • TOOTHACHE: The pain that drives you to extraction.
  • TOMORROW: One of the greatest labor saving devices of today.
  • YAWN: An honest opinion openly expressed.
  • WRINKLES: Something other people have. You have character lines.



    • Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society

      All day in 370 Dwinelle Hall (UC Berkeley)
      Program available HERE.
    • Berkeley Institute of Cognitive and Brain Seminar

      11:00 in Tolman 5101 (UC Berkeley)

      Keith Johnson (Berkeley Linguistics)
    • SocioLunch

      12:30 in MJH 110 (the Ugly Dark Room)

      Lauren Hall-Lew will lead an informal discussion of: "Nonresponsive performance in radio broadcasting: A case study", by Juan Antonio Cutillas-Espinosa and Juan Manuel Hernández-Campoy (Language Variation and Change 18: 317-330). Please bring lunch and ideas for future articles you'd like to discuss.
    • Friday Cognitive Seminar (Psychology)

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

      Becky Ray
      Neural bases of self and close other-referential processing
    • UC Santa Cruz Linguistics Colloquium

      16:00 in Humanities 210 (UC Santa Cruz)

      Greg Carlson (University of Rochester)
      Flying Squirrels, Lake City, and Incorporation: What's in a name?
    • Weekly Social

      NO SOCIAL THIS WEEK -----Go to BLS instead!

    • Berkeley Phonetics and Phonology Phorum

      12:00 in 46 Dwinelle Hall (UC Berkeley)

      Meghan Sumner (Stony Brook University/UC Berkeley)
      The effect of experience in the perception and representation of dialects
    • Berkeley Linguistics Colloquium

      16:10 in 182 Dwinelle (UC Berkeley)

      Christopher Ball (University of Chicago)
      Inalienability and Discourse in Wauja (Xingu Arawak)
    • Department Colloquium

      12:00 in MJH 126

      Mathias Scharinger (University of Konstanz)
      Phonetic variation in speech perception and lexical access (abstract)
    • CSLI Tea

      15:00 in the Cordura Hall Greenhouse
    • Annual Faculty Research Lecture (UCSC)

      20:00 in the Music Recital Hall (UC Santa Cruz)

      Geoffrey K. Pullum (UCSC)
      Who Pays Any Attention to the Syntax of Things?

    • Berkeley Institute of Cognitive and Brain Seminar

      16:00 in Phonology Lab, 46 Dwinelle Hall (UC Berkeley)

      Gerry T.M. Altmann (University of York, UK)
      Mapping between language and the visual world: dissociations between the visual world and its mental representation

    • SocioRap

      17:15 in MJH 126

      Scott Schwenter (The Ohio State University)
      Signed, Sealed, but not Delivered: Problematizing the Envelope of Variation

    • SocioLunch

      No meeting this week.

    • Berkeley Syntax and Semantics Circle

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

      Amy Campbell will lead a discussion of 'The real-time status of island phenomena,' by Colin Phillips (Language, Dec. 2006). (Paper available HERE)
    • Department Colloquium

      15:30 in MJH 126

      Meghan Sumner (SUNY Stony Brook/UC Berkeley)
      The effect of experience in the perception and representation of dialects (abstract)
    • Weekly Social

      17:00 in the department lounge. Gourmet delights from the Social Committee.

    • NIH LCOM Study Section Workshop at Berkeley

      All day in Phonology Lab, 46 Dwinelle Hall (UC Berkeley)

      Talks by various researchers, including Katherine Demuth (Brown University and Institute for Learning and Brain Science (I-LABS), University of Washington) Ping Li (University of Richmond), Zenzi Griffin (Georgia Tech University), Jeffrey Lewine (Alexian Neurosciences Institute), Catherine Best (MARCS Auditory Laboratories, University of Western Sydney), Pierre Halle (Laboratoire de Phonetique et Phonologie, CNRS/Sorbonne-Nouvelle) and Keith Johnson (UC Berkeley).
      Information at




    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 9, 2007
Vol. 3, Issue 16

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