Stanford Linguistics
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Department News

  • Congratulations to Joan Bresnan, who has accepted an invitation to be an external Fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies from April 2009 - March 2010. Don't worry - she'll still be based here at Stanford, but she'll be making a series of trips there to collaborate with Benedikt Szmrecsanyi and a dedicated Ph.D. student (we know - that's redundant...:-)) on the project "Dynamics of Probabilistic Grammar from an Inter-Variety Perspective."
  • From the LSA Webpage:

    Language Log will be recognized at the LSA's business meeting on January 10, 2009, in San Francisco, California. The award will be accepted on behalf of the Language Log team by two of its members: University of Pennsylvania professor of phonetics Mark Y. Liberman (who founded Language Log in 2003 along with Geoffrey K. Pullum, who is now at the University of Edinburgh) and Stanford professor of linguistics Arnold M. Zwicky (who has been a prolific and prominent contributor since shortly after the blog was started).

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    Look Who's Talking

    Speaking of the LSA's 2009 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Stanford will have quite a showing there, to wit:

    • Arielle Borovsky (Stanford University), Marta Kutas (University of California, San Diego), Jeff Elman (University of California, San Diego): Learning words from context: The influence of constraint, reading comprehension, and vocabulary level
    • Harry Tily (Stanford University): Modeling variation in word order change
    • Julie Sweetland (Center for Inspired Teaching): Inspired linguistics: A strength-based approach to teacher education
    • Eyal Sagi (Northwestern University), Stefan Kaufmann (Northwestern University), Brady Clark (Northwestern University): Tracing semantic change with latent semantic analysis
    • Joanna Nykiel (University of Silesia), Ivan A. Sag (Stanford University): Sluicing and stranding
    • Matthew Adams (Stanford University): Variation and optimization in the English comparative adjective
    • Ting Qian (University of Rochester), T. Florian Jaeger (University of Rochester): Universal efficient language use: Constant entropy in Mandarin Chinese
    • T. Florian Jaeger (University of Rochester), Austin Frank (University of Rochester), Carlos Gomez Gallo (University of Rochester), Susan Wagner Cook (University of Iowa): Rational language production: Evidence for uniform information density
    • Roger Levy (UC San Diego): With uncertain input, rational sentence comprehension is good enough
    • Klinton Bicknell (University of California, San Diego), Roger Levy (University of California, San Diego), Vera Demberg (University of Edinburgh): An empirical investigation and new model of local coherences
    • Olga Dmitrieva (Stanford University): Geminate typology and perception of consonant length
    • Stephen Wechsler (University of Texas, Austin): Person marking and point of view in speech and sign
    • Cathryn Donohue (University of Nevada, Reno): The role of pitch height and contour in tonal perception in Fuzhou
    • Hanjung Lee (Sunkyunkwan University): Focus types and gradients in object case ellipsis in Korean
    • Lauren Hall-Lew (Stanford University): Ethnicity and phonetic variation in a San Francisco neighborhood
    • Inbal Arnon (Stanford University), Eve V. Clark (Stanford University): "On your feet" is better than "feet": Children's lexical knowledge is tied to frequent sequences
    • Bruno Estigarribia (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill): Productive morphosyntax in language disordered populations
    • Inbal Arnon (Stanford University), Neal Snider (University of Rochester): More than words: Speakers are sensitive to the frequency of multi-word sequences
    • Lev Blumenfeld (Carleton University), Ida Toivonen (Carleton University): A featural paradox in Votic harmony
    • Plenary Address: John Rickford (Stanford University) Girlz II Women: Age Grading, Language Change, and Stylistic Variation
    • Penny Eckert (Stanford University), Tanya Matthews (University of Washington): What linguists need to know about human subjects review
    • Poster: Anubha Kothari (Stanford University): Frequency-based expectations and context influence bridge quality
    • Luc Baronian (Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi): The diffusion of phonological change in early Quebec French
    • Poster: William Croft (University of New Mexico), Clayton Beckner (University of New Mexico), Logan Sutton (University of New Mexico), Jon Wilkins (Santa Fe Institute), Tanmoy Bhattacharya (Santa Fe Institute), Daniel Hruschka (Santa Fe Institute): Quantifying semantic shift for reconstructing language families
    • Poster: Tatiana Nikitina (Stanford University), Boris Maslov (University of California, Berkeley): Constructio praegnans and evolution of the goal vs. place differentiation
    • Poster: Rebecca L. Starr (Stanford University): Phonological variation among Mandarin-speaking teachers in a dual-immersion school
    • Fabienne Salfner (ZAS Berlin), Uli Sauerland (Stanford University/ZAS Berlin): On association with contrastive topic
    • Meghan Sumner (Stanford University): Perceptual learning, bad maps, and the subtle nature of category shifts
    • Hye-Won Choi (Ewha Womans University): Heaviness competes with givenness: A corpus study of constituent order in Korean dative construction
    • Emily M. Bender (University of Washington): Validating analyses against data: How syntax can benefit from large-scale validation
    • Invited Plenary Symposium: Computational Linguistics in Support of Linguistic Analysis, Organizers: D. Terence Langendoen (University of Arizona (Emeritus)) and National Science Foundation) and Emily Bender (University of Washington)
    • Bruno Estigarribia (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill): Structural break estimation techniques as a measure of emergence in language acquisition
    • Elizabeth Coppock (Stanford University): Withering exceptions: Predicting participation in the English causative alternation
    • Renee Blake (New York University), Sonya Fix (New York University), Cara Shousterman (New York University): Vowel centralization before /r/ in two AAE dialects: A case of regional variation
    • Thomas Grano (University of Chicago): Predicating gradable adjectives in Mandarin Chinese: Should we posit POS?
    • Laura Staum Casasanto (Stanford University): The role of sociolinguistic variation in phonological processing
    • Neal Snider (University of Rochester): Accessibility and passive choice
    • Scott Grimm (Stanford University): Topicality and raising to subject
    • Matthew Adams (Stanford University), Uriel Cohen Priva (Stanford University), Katrin Schweitzer (University of Stuttgart): Crosslinguistic support for information theoretic effects: A study of German phonology
    • Celina Troutman (Northwestern University), Brady Clark (Northwestern University): Person, pragmatics, and Principle B
    • Rebecca Greene (Stanford University): Language ideology and Appalachian English
    • Asya Pereltsvaig (Stanford University): Adjectives in layers and Babby's Puzzle
    • Yuan Zhao (Stanford University): Statistical inference in the learning of novel phonetic categories
    • American Dialect Society: Andrea Kortenhoven (Stanford University): ". . . and Testifying": An Analysis of Women's Linguistic Performance in a Black Church Community.
    • Panel: The Job Market for Linguists. Panelists: Benjamin Torbert (moderator), U. of Missouri-St. Louis; Grant Barrett, Double-Tongued Dictionary; Christine Mallinson, U. of Maryland-Baltimore County; Rob Podesva, Georgetown U; Jeff Reaser, North Carolina State U.; Rebecca Roeder, Michigan State U., and Julie Sweetland, Center for Inspired Teaching.


    Look Who's Talking (about Sarah Palin)

    What's the difference between Sarah Palin and a turkey?

    The GOP doesn't pay $150,000 to dress a turkey.

    In case you missed the interview Sarah gave after pardoning an Alaskan turkey, you can check it out here (not for the squeamish):


    Linguistic Levity

  • Looking for Work
  • A Japanese doctor said, 'Medicine in my country is so advanced that we can take a kidney out of one man, put it in another, and have him looking for work in six weeks.'

    A German doctor said, 'That's nothing, we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in four weeks.' A British doctor said, 'In my country, medicine is so advanced that we can take half of a heart out of one person, put it in another, and have them both looking for work in two weeks.'

    A Texas doctor, not to be outdone said, 'You guys are way behind. We took a man with no brains out of Texas, put him in the White House and now half the country is looking for work.

  • Oxymorons
  • 25. Child Proof
    24. "Now, then ..."
    23. Synthetic natural gas
    22. Christian Scientists
    21. Passive aggression
    20. Taped live
    19. Clearly misunderstood
    18. Peace force
    17. Extinct Life
    16. Temporary tax increase
    15. Computer jock
    14. Plastic glasses
    13. Terribly pleased
    12. Computer security
    11. Political science
    10. Tight slacks
    9. Definite maybe
    8. Pretty ugly
    7. Twelve-ounce pound cake
    6. Diet ice cream
    5. Rap music
    4. Working vacation
    3. Exact estimate
    2. Religious tolerance
    1. Microsoft Works



    For events farther in the future consult the Upcoming Events Page.

    • Holiday Party

      The Department is providing finger food and some drinks, but otherwise, this is a pot-luck. Bring something to share!

      3:00-5:00 in MJH 126

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  • UPCOMING EVENTS (always under construction)
  • Got broader interests? The New Sesquipedalian recommends reading or even subscribing to the CSLI Calendar, available HERE.

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    Blood needed!

    The Stanford Blood Center is reporting a shortage of types O, A, B-, and AB-. For an appointment, visit or call 650-723-7831. It only takes an hour of your time and you get free cookies. And the Blood Center recently got a new bloodmobile. Check it out HERE


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    5 December 2008
    Vol. 5, Issue 10

    Sesquipedalian Staff

    Editor in Chief:
    Ivan A. Sag

    Andrew Koontz-Garboden
    Beth Levin
    Tom Wasow

    Humor Consultant:
    Susan D. Fischer

    Assistant Editor:
    Richard Futrell

    Melanie Levin
    Kyle Wohlmut