Stanford Linguistics
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Department News

Penny Eckert is "resting uncomfortably" (her words) after successful back surgery yesterday...

In other news, Uli Sauerland recently managed to spend a week with the Pirahã (thanks to EU-funding, two Brazilian government approvals, and Doug Ball's willingness to fill in for him in his class). Uli joined a team of three there (two Brazilians and a PhD-student from Berlin). He reports that there are three tidbits about the Pirahã: They used to fight a lot (he met a guy who claims to have eaten an enemy's flesh when he was younger). Now they are peaceful and friendly -- Uli got adopted as "Pohoipai" and, as you can see, he got the body paint to go with the name. They still live largely as hunter-gatherers, but grow maniok and possibly some bananas and papaya. However, they are largely monolingual and have little contact with the outside world -- when they saw a picture of San Francisco and they assumed it was Humaitá, the Brazilian small city nearest -- i.e. a day away by car and boat from their reservation.

[So what does it all mean? Is recursion innate? Is there UG in the Chomskyan sense? Is Everett right? Are Pesetsky and co. right? Are neither of them right? So many questions.... So little time -- the Sesquipeditor]


Look Who's Talking

John Rickford gave a talk on Thursday at the UC Davis Linguistics Department. His title was: "Relativizer Omission in Anglophone Caribbean Creoles, Appalachian, and AAVE, with implications for the controversy over the English/Creole origins of AAVE". As John's abstract reports, his results "may be bad news for attempts to close off the long-standing debate about AAVE's creole origins, but it opens new vistas for studying and understanding variability in English, and in language more generally."

We've also got some students and alums at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft in Osnabrück, Germany, and most of their names start with S:
  • Scott Grimm
    "An empirical view on raising to subject"
  • Stefan Kaufmann (Northwestern University)
    "On the projection of expressive presuppositions"
  • Sven Lauer
    "The -ever in whatever: What, and how?"
  • Stephanie Shih, Jason Grafmiller, Richard Futrell and Joan Bresnan
    "Rhythm's Role in genitive and dative construction choice in spoken English"


Caught in the Act

It was "Stanford Psycho" (-linguistics) night recently in San Diego, though some of the Stanford folks had come from pretty far away... And some of their faces looked pretty red, but we don't think they were really embarrassed:


Linguistic Levity

Church Bloopers...

They're Back! Those wonderful Church Bulletins! Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences (with all the BLOOPERS) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:
    The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

    The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'

    Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

    Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.

    Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

    Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

    For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

    Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

    Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

    A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

    At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.

    Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

    Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

    Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

    The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

    Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

    The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

    This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

    Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.

    The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

    Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM.. Please use the back door.



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

    • Linguistics Department Open House

      Come meet the prospies!
      12:00pm, MJH 126 -- with lunch!
    • SocioBeer

      Come drink and "socio"-lize with real live sociolinguists!
      5:15, meet in the kitchen
    • Department Social

      4:00pm, lounge
    • Linguistics and Santa Cruz

      Papers presented by UCSC graduate students
      UCSC Alumni speaker Ted Fernald (Swarthmore)
      9:00am-4:00pm, Humanities One, Rm 202, UCSC
    • Spatial Relations: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

      In Cordura 100:
        8:30 - 9:00 bagels and coffee
        9:00 - 9:45 Jeremy Meyers: Hybrid Mereology for Spatial Objects and Situations
        9:45 - 10:30 Darko Sarenac (Colorado State / Philosophy): Is S4 Complete over the Coast of Britain?
        10:30 - 10:40 break
        10:40 - 11:25 James Pustejovsky (Brandeis / Computer Science): Spatiotemporal Properties of Motion in Language
        11:25 - 12:10 Mark Gawron (San Diego State / Linguistics): Verbs and Axes
        12:10 - 1:30 Lunch
        1:30 - 2:15 Daniel Bobrow, Cleo Condoravdi (PARC), Elizabeth Coppock (CYC), and Annie Zaenen: Extended Paths
        2:15 - 3:00 Rusty Bobrow (BBN): Where did you go? Why do you want to know?
        3:00 - 3:10 break
        3:10 - 3:55 Herbert H. Clark (Stanford / Psychology) and Leila Takayama (NRC): Displaced Places in Communication
        3:55 - 4:40 Beth Driver (NGA): Observations, Applications, Examples
        4:45 - 5:15 General Discussion
        5:15 - 7:00 Reception at CSLI

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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-. 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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    27 February 2009
    Vol. 5, Issue 17

    Sesquipedalian Staff

    Editor in Chief:
    Ivan A. Sag

    Assistant Editor:
    Richard Futrell

    Beth Levin
    Tom Wasow

    Laura Staum Casasanto

    Humor Consultants:
    Susan D. Fischer
    Arnold Smith

    Melanie Levin
    Kyle Wohlmut