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Inauguration 2009: Yes!

Department News

Tine Breban

Tine Breban

is a postdoctoral researcher of the Research Foundation-Flanders based at the Department of Linguistics of K.U.Leuven (University of Leuven, Belgium). Her research is concerned with synchronic and diachronic processes of grammaticalization and (inter)subjectification taking place in the English noun phrase. Her current focus is the development whereby ordinary adjectives such as old, different, certain, regular, which describe a property of the entity denoted by the noun phrase (e.g. in an old man, old attributes the property being old or advanced in age), come to function as secondary determiners supplementing the main determiner, e.g. I liked your old car meaning 'not the car you drive now (i.e. your car), but the one you had in the past' or as the primary determiner in the noun phrase, e.g. certain movies are very violent. The general theoretical framework that she is working in can be described as corpus-based cognitive-functional linguistics. She is visiting us (Winter and Spring quarters) on a Fulbright scholarship. Her faculty sponsor is Beth Levin, though she will also be working with Elizabeth Traugott. Welcome, Tine!

  • Congratulations to Eve Clark and Patricia Amaral, who received a grant from the Spencer Foundation to do research on the acquisition of approximative adverbs. They kinda maybe received the award sometime, well, last year (not sure where), but the official acceptance from, like, Stanford, you know, only happened sometime this month, or whenever....
  • And did we mention the four grad students who recently completed their degrees? Doug Ball, Liz Coppock, Laura Staum, and (drum roll): Ivan Garcia-Alvarez. Sesquifelicitations to all four!!

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    Letters to the Editor

    From: S. Lauer
    Sent: Fri, 16 Jan 2009 14:01:57 -0800 (PST)
    Subject: Managing papers

    Dear Sesquipeditor,

    I could not help noticing that the link in this week's edition, on software tools for organizing your PDF files. It recommends a Mac-only tool ("Papers") that (i) costs money and (ii) does not really function as a bibliography manager and (iii) is still in its infancy. The newsletter readers may be interested in learning that there is BibDesk (, which does not have any of these shortcomings. It evolved as a graphical Bibfile-Editor, but has been doing iTunes style pdf-organizing for a while and comes with awesome features like citekey-generation and -autocompletion in your favorite latex editor.

    In a word, it is the best thing since sliced bread, and I would have thought that any academic Mac user is using it already.


    [Ed: Nostra Culpa]


    Alumni Notes

    Itamar Francez (now a postdoc at the University of Chicago) writes: Well, i'm starting a 2 year postdoc here, Na'ama is assistant professor in the Dept. of Near Eastern Language and Cultures. We live in a beautiful 4 bedroom apartment in Hyde Park, 20 meters away from Powell's, the world's most fantastic bookstore, and we saw Obama's snipers climbing up and down the synagogue where Martha Nussbaum had her bat-mitzvah. Alma goes to a local child care and, against our advice, has set her parameter for causative formation to zero derivation (the other day she said (the Hebrew version of) "eat me with some strawberries" ). It turns out that Leonard Linsky is our upstairs neighbor. What else? It's unreasonably cold. But the city and the neighborhood are nevertheless utterly charming. We're getting a cat, probably to be named Smila. Tommy Grano, who I TAed at some point, is here and seems to be doing very interesting stuff. Generally, the department seems exciting and is very welcoming, and they have a social that brings back memories. They even had cheap California wine last week...

    [The Sesquipedalian welcomes sentimental notes, nostalgic meanderings, or even simple news items from department alumni.... Sigh, it takes us back - the Sesquipeditor]


    Look Who's Talking

  • Tanya Nikitina gave a couple of talks while in Russia last November:
    • "Systems of 'split' encoding of goal and source arguments: Toward a typology".
      The 5th Conference on Typology and Grammar for Young Scholars, organized by the Institute for Linguistic Studies (St. Petersburg, November 9, 2008).
    • "Grammaticalization theory and the typology of adpositional systems".
      Seminar on grammaticalization at St. Petersburg University.
  • Eve Clark is giving a keynote talk ("Acquisition in interaction") in Groningen, at the conference on Relating Asymmetries between Speech and Comprehension in the Acquisition of Language, 24-25 January 2009.

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    Linguistic Levity

    Subject: Fwd: Presidential library for W

    Dear Fellow Constituent

    The George W Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations. The Library will include:

  • The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
  • The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.
  • The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
  • The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
  • The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
  • The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
  • The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
  • The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
  • The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
  • The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your first visit, they make you to go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.)
  • The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.
  • The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
  • The Supreme Court Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
  • The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
  • The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
  • Note:
    The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President's accomplishments.

    The library will also include many famous Quotes by George W. Bush:

  • 'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'
  • 'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
  • 'Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.'
  • 'No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine.'
  • 'I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.'
  • 'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'
  • 'Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.'
  • 'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'
  • 'The future will be better tomorrow.'
  • 'We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.'
  • 'One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.' (during an education photo-op)
  • 'Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.'
  • 'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'
  • 'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
  • 'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.'...George W. Bush to Sam Donaldson

    Jack Abramoff, Co-Chair G.W. Bush Library Board of Directors



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

    • Phonology Workshop

      Alex Jaker will be reporting back to us about the talks at CUNY's "Foot in Phonology" conference that he attended this past weekend.
      4:00pm, MJH Chair's Office
    • Cognition and Language Workshop

      Ronald Langacker (UCSD)
      4:15pm, Cordura 100
    • Empirical Syntax Research Seminar

      Victor Kuperman
      3:00pm, ExL Lab (420-067)
    • Department Colloquium

      Giorgio Magri (MIT)
      "A Theory of Individual Level Predicates Based on Blind Mandatory Scalar Implicatures"
      3:30, Bldg. 460, Room 126
    • Department Social

      5:00pm, the lounge


  • 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+ and O-. 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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    23 January 2009
    Vol. 5, Issue 12

    Sesquipedalian Staff

    Editor in Chief:
    Ivan A. Sag

    Beth Levin
    Gregory Ward

    Humor Consultant:
    Susan D. Fischer

    Assistant Editor:
    Richard Futrell

    Melanie Levin
    Kyle Wohlmut