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Department News


    • Shiao Wei Tham will be an Assistant Professor at Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Wellesley starting in the fall. Congratulations, Shiao Wei!
    • Devyani Sharma will be moving soon to the Linguistics Department at Queen Mary, University of London. In case you don't know the British scene, QM is the top ranked linguistics department in the UK, according to the last Times league tables... Other luminaries there include Jenny Cheshire, Colleen Cotter and David Adger (Is he really old enough to be called a luminary?...) Way to go, Devyani!
    • Last Friday Nikhila Pai was inducted into the San Francisco State University Chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha (Public Administration National Honorary Society). This is in recognition for her outstanding academic record while a student in the Public Administration Program at San Francisco State University. Congrats, Nikhila - we hear you got elected to be Vice President of the Society, too!

    • Cleo Condoravdi and Paul Kiparsky are both off this weekend to attend the Workshop on Greek Syntax and Semantics at MIT. Cleo will comment on a paper by Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga; Paul on one by Nick Nicholas and Brian Joseph.
    • Peter Sells is away this weekend at the 4th Worksop on Altaic in Formal Linguistics (WAFL-4), being held at Harvard. He's giving a paper there (coauthored by Shin-Sook Kim) on `Universal NPIs and the Generalized Immediate Scope Constraint'.

  • Stanford Blood Center: Shortage of O-, A-, B-, B+ and AB-. For an appointment: or call 650-723-7831. It only takes an hour of your time and you get free cookies.

Letters to the Editor

John Beavers ( writes:

Thank you for publishing a picture of our rally and helping publicize the struggle of my people to be free. [Ed. Note: See last week's New Sesquipedalian.] As you may or may not be aware, since the tanks rolled in on our peaceful rally and we were forced to disperse like dogs, I have been captured by secrets ops forces, who descended on my hiding place in black helicopters, and taken away to a secret dissidents' prison. I have no idea where this prison is located. There are Starbucks everywhere. I only have email access thanks to the kindness of a small Laotian water boy who has secretly passed on to me the Blackberry of a prison guard who was executed for sedition. Please trace this signal and send help. Even this line of communication will soon be cut as the batteries are almos


Caught in the Act


Semanticist by day; lounge crooner by night...

OMG! PhD candidate Dmitry Levinson was caught in the act late last Saturday night in a San Francisco den of musical iniquity (the Do Re Mi, which our sources have revealed was closed down more than once in the last decade's onslaught of Japantown rice squad crackdowns). Here he is, applying his baritone charms to the task of wooing damsels of the night, who in this case (luckily) turned out to be some of our department's own L-initial birthday celibrants, who managed to get him home in time without incident... Nice going and Happy Birthday!


Linguistic Levity


There were four sophomores taking chemistry and all of them had an "A" so far. These four friends were so confident that, the weekend before finals, they decided to visit some friends and have a big party. They had a great time but, after all the hearty partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to State College until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final then, they decided that after the final they would explain to their professor why they missed it. They said that they visited friends but on the way back they had a flat tire. As a result, they missed the final. The professor agreed they could make up the final the next day.

The guys were excited and relieved. They studied that night for the exam. The Professor placed them in separate rooms and gave them a test booklet. They quickly answered the first problem worth 5 points. Cool, they thought! Each one in separate rooms, thinking this was going to be easy.... then they turned the page.

On the second page was written.... For 95 points:

Which tire? _________

Today's Daffynitions

  • Silver Nitrate: A rental fee for the Lone Ranger's horse after dark.
  • Afterbirth: The years between delivery and kindergarten
  • Furlong: When your dog needs a clipping
  • Denominator: One who puts a candidate's name into the ring.
  • Convocation: A trade for criminals.
  • Heroes: What a guy in a boat does.
  • Relief: What trees do in the spring.
  • Baloney: Where some hem lines fall.
  • Gossip: Mouth to mouth recitation.
  • Dogmatic: A device for washing your pets.
  • Artifact: Information dispensed by gallery owners (Ian Barker)
  • Relent: To borrow something you borrowed before (Stan Kegel)
  • Petrie Dish: Mary Tyler Moore about 35 years ago (Gary Hallock)
  • Abundance: Big party held in a bakery. (Douglas Helsel)
  • Impotence: Long time no seed. (Renee from Napa)
  • Peonies: What you'll get if you forget to pull your panties down in the bathroom (Gary Hallock)
  • Dialogue: Color a tree trunk before cutting it into lumber (Rosalie Moscovitch)
  • Laundry: Grass during a drought (Stan Kegel)
  • Coconut : Someone who is crazy about hot chocolate (One Bad Day)
  • Canopy: Unable to urinate. (Sandy Sibert)
  • Cabinet: When your taxi trap has been sprung. (Lexicon) Debris: De circumcision. (Sandy Sibert)
  • Provocation: Believes in hard work (Ken Pinkham)
  • Lawyer: A person who writes a 10,000 word document and calls it a "brief." (Curly David)
  • Alimony: The billing without the cooing. (Richard Lederer)
  • Kissing: A means of getting two people so close together that they can't see anything wrong with each other. (Gail S. Angel)



  • Friday, 18 May
  • Saturday, 19 May
  • Monday, 21 May
  • Tuesday, 22 May
    • CSLI TEA

      15:00 in the Cordura Hall Greenhouse
  • Wednesday, 23 May

      12:00 in Jordan Hall 420:102

      Kirsten Thorpe (Psychology)
      Factors affecting how Spanish-speaking children learn and interpret adjectives in real-time speech comprehension

      14:30 in MJH 126

      Pranav Anand (UCSC)
      A Non-Relativist Treatment of Predicates of Personal Taste
  • Thursday, 24 May

      10:00 in Encina 3rd floor, APARC- Philippines Room

      Communication between and with Humans and Technologies
      (RSVP needed, this may be restricted to Stanford only)

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

      Johan van Benthem (Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation, Amsterdam and Stanford)
      Logic and Reasoning: Do the Facts Matter?

  • Friday, 25 May

      15:30 in MJH 126

      Scott Schwenter (Ohio State)
      Dialogicality and Negation

      17:00 in the department lounge. Gourmet delights from the QP Fest Committee!.



  • END OF THE YEAR PARTY is Saturday, June 9. Live Music by Creole Formation and Dead Tongues!Nobody will want to miss it.
  • 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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May 18, 2007
Vol. 3, Issue 28

This Issue's Sesquipedalian Staff

Editor in Chief:
Ivan A. Sag

Design and Production Consultant:
Philip Hofmeister

Contributing Humor Editor:
Susan D. Fischer

Beth Levin, Lis Norcliffe

Newsletter Committee: Scott Grimm, Graham Katz, Ani Nenkova

Photographer: Lis Norcliffe

Melanie Levin and Kyle Wohlmut