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Department News

  • Elizabeth Traugott will present a paper on Grammaticalization and the emergence of constructions at the Workshop on Constructions and Language Change at the Conference on Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language (CDSL 8) in San Diego, Nov. 4th 2006. She'll also be presenting a plenary paper on Grammaticalization, emergent constructions, and the notion of `newness' at the High Desert Linguistics Society Conference (HDSL 5) in Albuquerque, Nov. 10th 2006.

  • The 2007 LSA Meeting. Wow! According to the on-line information available at the LSA Website, all of the following Stanford folks are presenting papers at the Anaheim meeting in January: Paul Kiparsky, (Rebecca) Starr, Ji Fang, Peter Sells, KCat Campbell-Kibler, Laura Whitton, Arto Anttila, Adams Bodomo, Tom Wasow, Bruno Estigarribia, Rafe Kinsey, Doug Ball, Tanya Nikitina, Viv(ienne) Fong, Nola Stephens, Itamar Francez, Heriberto Avelino, Yuan Zhao, Ivan Sag, Philip Hofmeister, Neil Snider, and Graham Katz (cited more or less in the order their names appear on the program). And this doesn't include the other societies that meet with LSA (e.g. the American Dialect Society, the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics), who haven't published their preliminary programs yet. It also doesn't include all the following alums, who are also presenting in Anaheim: Jennifer Arnold, Florian Jaeger, Brady Clark, David Oshima, Judith Tonhauser, Ashwini Deo, Devyani Sharma, John Beavers, Cathryn Donohue, Rob Podesva, and Mary Rose. Additionally, at least one session (Processing of wh dependencies) is an all-Stanford affair. This must be some kind of record... The Sesquipeditor can only draw one conclusion from all this: We've got to have a Stanford Party in Anaheim!

  • As many of you know, Stanford is hosting the 2007 Linguistic Institute. But maybe maybe you don't all know that the website is now available HERE.

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

  • And after (or before) you've contributed blood, consider contributing something to the Sesquipedalian. Just email to


Caught in the Act

Peter, Mats, and

The Three Musketeers

Here's our Grad Advisor and Institute Director -- Professor Peter Sells -- caught in the act in 1982 doing ....ummm..... we're not sure what with Professor Mats Rooth, Cornell University (center), and ....ummm..... we're not sure who (left) ... [Photo credit: Nirit Kadmon. Thanks to UMass Linguistics web resources]


From the Sesquipedalian Archives

  • [First published: Oct. 13, 1992]

    WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THOSE LITTLE HOTEL SOAPS-- Part One of Two With all the travelling so many of you are gearing up to do, going to all those conferences and whatnot, we thought you could appreciate this topic. The following is an actual series of correspondence which occured between a London hotel's staff and one of its guests (the entire exchange was of such a length that the second half will have to be run next week!). The name of the hotel was, regrettably, not mentioned. (From the Sunday Times)
    Dear Maid,
    Please do not leave any more of those little bars of soap in my bathroom since I have brought my own bath-sized Dial. Please remove the six unopened little bars from the shelf under the medicine chest and another three in the shower soap dish. They are in my way. Thank you,
    S. Berman
    Dear Room 635,
    I am not your regular maid. She will be back tomorrow, Thursday, from her day off. I took the 3 hotel soaps out of the shower soap dish as you requested. The 6 bars on your shelf I took out of your way and put on top of your Kleenex dispenser in case you should change your mind. This leaves only the three bars I left today which my instructions from the management is to leave 3 soaps daily. (sic) I hope this is satisfactory.
    Kathy, Relief Maid
    Dear Maid,
    I hope you are my regular maid. Apparently, Kathy did not tell you about my note to her concerning the little bars of soap. When I got back to my room this evening I found you had added 3 little Camays to the shelf under my medicine cabinet. I am going to be here in the hotel for two weeks and have brought my own bath-size Dial so I won't need those 6 little Camays which are on the shelf. They are in my way when shaving, brushing teeth, etc. Please remove them.
    S. Berman
    Dear Mr. Berman,
    My day off was last Wednesday so the relief maid left 3 hotel soaps which we are instructed by the management. I took the 6 soaps which were in your way on the shelf and put them in the soap dish where your Dial was. I put the Dial in the medicine cabinet for your convenience. I didn't remove the 3 complimentary soaps which are always placed inside the medicine cabinet for all new check-ins and which you did not object to when you checked in last Monday. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
    Your regular maid, Dotty
    Dear Mr. Berman,
    The assistant manager, Mr. Kensedder, informed me this A.M. that you called him last evening and said you were unhappy with your maid service. I have assigned a new girl to your room. I hope you will accept my apologies for any past inconvenience. If you have any future complaints please contact me so I can give it my personal attention. Call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM. Thank you.
    Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper
    Dear Miss Carmen,
    It is impossible to contact you by phone since I leave the hotel for business at 7:45 am and don't get back before 5:30 or 6 pm. That's the reason I called Mr. Kensedder last night. You were already off duty. I only asked Mr. Kensedder if he could do anything about those little bars of soap. The new maid you assigned me must have thought I was a new check-in today, since she left another 3 bars of hotel soap in my medicine cabinet along with her regular delivery of 3 bars on the bathroom shelf. In just five days her I have accumulated 24 little bars of soap. Why are you doing this to me?
    S. Berman

    To be continued...

  • [First published: Oct. 22, 1992]

    These predictions were found in The Village Idiom, the UCSC Linguistics Newsletter:

    `In 200 years, spoken French will have evolved into one sound, a vowel. All other vowels and consonants will have disappeared entirely, leaving only an extended `Eauuuuuuu...' sound. Meaning will be inferred from facial expression. Written French will remain exactly the same. (Their consonants will not be forgotten, however; they will have migrated into Czech, which will by then have no need for vowels.)'
    `In 200 years, the Cyrillic alphabet will have evolved to be exactly like the Roman alphabet, but backwards. A mirror will suffice for translating Russian into Polish.'
    `In the future, entire books in German will be one word (with a verb at the end, of course).'

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sesquip,

Here's an idea: do you think people would have any enthusiasm for posting summaries and/or reviews of talks (not of a particularly critical nature, but perhaps containing information or opinions not belonging to the speaker), so that those of us who could not attend them could find out what they were about? One alternative that might have a similar effect is to ask speakers if they have a handout our powerpoint presentation that they would be willing to have a link to through the sesquiped, so that it could be a source for not just information about future events, but also past ones? Just a not very well thought out thought...

Laura Staum (

[Editor's Note: This letter is being reprinted because the Sesquipeditor can't believe that the complete lack of response reflects a lack of interest. Of course, he also has trouble believing that Pluto isn't a planet anymore, that presidential elections come out the way they do, etc. etc.]




    • Friday Cognitive Seminar

      (Psychology Department)
      15:15. Jordan Hall 420, Room 050

      Casey Williams Learning to listen ahead in Spanish: First language learners are more efficient than second language learners in online sentence processing

    • Linguistics Department Colloquium

      15:30pm. MJH 126

      Undergraduate VPUE research presentations
      5 presentations by Pat Callier and Cole Paulson, Doug Kenter, Rafe Kinsey, Gabe Recchia, and Bea Sanford

    • Weekly Social

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


    • Berkeley Linguistics Department Colloquium

      16:00 -- 17:30. 182 Dwinelle Hall. (UC Berkeley)

      Juliette Blevins (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)
      Lexical Character Displacement: An Evolutionary Approach to Inhibited Sound Change


    • Syntax Lunch

      12:00 -- 13:00. MJH 126.

      Bring your abstracts or thoughts about abstracts ...


    • Developmental Brownbag Lunch Series

      (Psychology) 12:00. Jordan Hall (Bldg. 420), Room 102

      Eve Clark (Stanford University)
      One vs. more than one: how children first express plurality

    • SLSG (Statistical Learning Study Group) Meeting

      17:30. MJH 126

    • Inbal Arnon will be talking about `when children and adults go beyond the input regularities in artificial language learning'.


    • Stanford Phonology Workshop

      No meeting this week

    • Stanford Humanities Fellows Program

      16:30. Terrace Room, MJH 426. (Refreshments will follow)

      William Labov (University of Pennsylvania)
      Narrative as a Causal Theory of Whatever


    • Speech Lunch

      12:00-13:00 in the Phonetics Lab (Bldg. 420 basement).
      (Try to arrive a couple minutes early to avoid the long noon line at the Thai Cafe). Topic to be announced [watch this space].

    • Sociorap
      14:00. MJH 126

      A discussion with William Labov (University of Pennsylvania)
    • Friday Cognitive Seminar

      (Psychology Department)
      15:15. Jordan Hall 420, Room 050

      Dan Yarlett. Estimating the probabilities of linguistic events.

    • UC Santa Cruz Linguistics Colloquium

      16:00. Cowell College Conference Room (UC Santa Cruz)

      Ivano Caponigro (UCSD)
      Topic unknown

    • Linguistics Department Colloquium

      15:30pm. MJH 126

      Shalom Lappin (King's College, London)
      Stuart Shieber (Harvard University)
      Weak Bias Language Models and Universal Grammar

    • Weekly Social

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



  • 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.

  • TREND (TRilateral weekEND) is coming. Mark your calendars!
    TREND includes presentations by students and faculty from Stanford, UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley.

  • Saturday, 18 November
    P-TREND: a one-day workshop on phonetics and phonology
    Sunday, 19 November
    S-TREND: a one-day workshop on syntax and semantics
    370 Dwinelle Hall (UC Berkeley)


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October 20 2006
Vol. 3, Issue 5

This Issue's Sesquipedalian Staff

Editor in Chief:
Ivan A. Sag

Design: Philip Hofmeister

Production Consultants:
Philip Hofmeister, Martin Kay

Senior Reporter: Andrew Koontz-Garboden

Reporters: Philip Hofmeister, Beth Levin

Photographer: Gretchen Lantz

Melanie Levin and Kyle Wohlmut