Stanford Linguistics
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Department News

  • The last issue of the New Sesquipedalian raised the question of why The Ohio State University is so damn definitely determined. Dagnabit -- Arnold Zwicky already did the definitive dissection.
  • Congratulations!

    • Andrew Wong, who has been an Assistant Professor at U. of Hawaii since completing his dissertation in our department in 2003, has just accepted a full time position at Lexicon Branding, Inc, in Sausalito. He starts in June. Andrew, we're thrilled that you'll be coming back to the Bay Area!
    • Ida Toivonen and Ash Asudeh have a new addition to their family. Alfred Cyrus Asudeh was born at 19:04 on March 20 in Ottawa, Canada. He weighed 7.5 lbs and was just over 20 inches long (tall?). Alfred and Ida are both doing great and are already at home resting. Ash and Ida write that Alfred and older siblings Thora and Isak will be accompanying them to the LSA Institute this summer, so we'll all soon have a chance to meet him/them in person!
    • Itamar Francez has just accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University, where he will join Ashwini Deo, starting this coming fall. This fellowship is in both Linguistics and Philosophy. Congratulations, Itamar!
    • John Beavers has just been offered a position as Assistant Professor at his UG alma mater: The University of Texas at Austin. He seems to be as happy as a pig in .... [but we'll wait to see if he accepts the offer].

  • Look Who's Talking

    • Julie Sweetland (Research Specialist at the Center for Inspired Teaching) has a couple talks of interest:

      • March 31. Alliance for Quality in Urban Education Symposium, American University. Julie was a respondent to the keynote by Lisa Delpit (her hero!). Delpit's talk was titled `Strategies for Dealing with Cultural Conflict in Urban Schools'. Julie's was titled `Inspired Teaching in Urban Classrooms'.
      • April 9. American Education Research Association Annual Meeting. `Learning from Teaching: Effective Professional Development for Sociolinguistic Diversity.' Julie's paper is part of a panel on Preparing Teachers for Dialect Diversity through Sociolinguistic Approaches. Our own Angela Rickford is the discussant!
    • Bravo! to Hal and Neal for their excellent presentations at the CUNY Sentence Processing Conference in La Jolla (see previous issues of this journal for details). You should have seen the sign language show at Neal's talk: Neal's gestures were like a third sign language! (in addition to ASL and British Sign Language)
  • The Stanford Blood Center has a shortage of types O-, A-, and B-. 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

Inbal in MX

The Stanford Field Work team (led by Heriberto Avelino) had a lot of fun during their spring break research trip to Mexico. Everyone is now fluent in some variety of Mayan. :-) Inbal (above) is doing what she always does: studying child language while the band (Mariachi in the present case) plays on. In the meantime, the kids in the picture below are making Jason `write down all the English he knows'. Presumably he was there a long time... Other exciting events sadly not captured on film: Jason being stung by a scorpion, Mateo (that's our distinguished grad student from the Adams family) dislocating his jaw yawning, Mateo rubbing habanero chiles in his eyes, and everyone except Heriberto and Inbal getting food poisoning from street-vendor sorbet. (the former had the foresight not to buy any; the latter had the foresight to leave the country a day earlier...)

Jason in MX


Linguistic Levity

  • Sesquisayings from This Week's Humorist

    1. A bicycle can't stand alone because it is two-tired.
    2. What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead giveaway).
    3. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
    4. A backward poet writes inverse.
    5. In democracy it's your vote that counts; In feudalism, it's your count that votes.
    6. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
    7. If you don't pay your exorcist you get repossessed.
    8. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.
    9. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat minor.
    10. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
    11. The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
    12. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
    13. You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
    14. Local Area Network in Australia: the LAN down under.



    • Special Linguistics Colloquium

      11:30 in MJH 126

      Luc Steels (U Brussels (VUB AI Lab) and Sony CS Lab Paris)
      Experiments in Artificial Language Evolution with Fluid Construction Grammar Abstract:

      • Over the past decade, we have engaged in computational and robotic experiments where a group of autonomous embodied agents self-organise communication systems with properties similar to those of human natural languages. Initially we focused on lexical languages and their co-evolution with perceptually grounded categories. Today we are sufficiently advanced that we can investigate how grammar may emerge in these experiments. To achieve this, we have adopted construction grammar as the main linguistic perspective and designed and implemented a novel unification-based formalism called Fluid Construction Grammar. This talk surveys both the overall research program, its current state, and the experiments with Fluid Construction Grammar.
    • UCSC Language and Linguistics Group (SCLL)

      Time and Location unknown (UC Santa Cruz)

      Zoltan Szabo (Yale University)
      The Determination of Meaning
    • SF Bay ACM Data Mining SIG

      18:30 in SAP LABS, Building D, 3410 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto

      Mehran Sahami (Senior Research Scientist, Google)
      Using Data Mining to Measure Similarity Between Words and Objects. (abstract)




  • 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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April 6, 2007
Vol. 3, Issue 22

This Issue's Sesquipedalian Staff

Editor in Chief:
Ivan A. Sag

Design and Production Consultant:
Philip Hofmeister

Contributing Humor Editor:
Susan D. Fischer

Thomas A. Wasow

Stacy Lewis, Will Leben, Lis Norcliffe

Newsletter Committee: Scott Grimm, Graham Katz, Ani Nenkova

Photographer: Lis Norcliffe

Melanie Levin and Kyle Wohlmut