Stanford Linguistics
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Department News

  • Congratulations to Hal Tily and Rebecca Greene, who both received Stanford Dissertation Year Fellowships for next year!
  • And more congrats to Scott Grimm, who received the Bloch Fellowship to attend this summer's LSA Linguistic Institute at UC Berkeley, to Jessica Spencer, who received the new, one-time Bright Fellowship (funded by Institute faculty), and to Roey Gafter, who received a regular fellowship. If you're a faculty member planning to spend some time at the institute this summer, you should pay the affiliates fee as soon as possible, as that's the only way more fellowships can be awarded to people who are now alternates (this includes a number of our grad students)...
  • Richard Futrell, the Quip's astute assistant editor, was just admitted to the department's Coterminal MA Program and also just got a grant from CREEEEEEEEEEEEEES (Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian studies) to go to Hungary this summer. Gratulálunk!
  • There was a nice piece on John Rickford's Alumni Achievement Award (reported in our September 24 edition) in a recent UCSC Press Release. Check it out here. Great picture, John!
  • Interested in Linguistics and Education? Subscribe to the edlinguistics mailing list at: or send a message with subject or body 'help' to:
  • And a warm sesquiwelcome to Caroline Piercy, who will be visiting us for the spring quarter:
    Caroline Piercy

    Caroline Piercy

    I'm a visiting scholar from the University of Essex in the UK where I'm in the final year of my PhD (supposedly!). My interests are variation and change particularly phonological change. My PhD thesis examines the English of Dorset in the South-West of England. I'm looking at the /a/ vowels in words like 'trap' and 'bath' to see whether they are merged or split. In my spare time I like to get out in the countryside; so being in California is a real treat. On less active days you'll find me curled up under a blanket with a good book.

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    Look Who's Talking

    If you missed the CUNY Sentence Processing Conference last week (held at UC Davis, not at CUNY -- it's just the name of the conference), you missed a substantial Stanford presence, videlicet:
    • Roger Levy (UCSD), Florencia Reali and Thomas Griffiths
      Digging-in effects as rational limited-parallel sentence comprehension
    • Klinton Bicknell and Roger Levy
      A new model of local coherences as resulting from Bayesian belief update
    • Philip Hofmeister (UCSD)
      Encoding Effects on Memory Retrieval in Language Comprehension
    • Jennifer E. Arnold (UNC)
      Sex differences in pronoun comprehension: Women have a greater first-mentioned bias than men
    • Victor Kuperman, Thomas Wasow and Vitoria Piai
      What to expect of distance: Processing of phrasal verbs in Dutch and English
    • Elizabeth Wonnacott and Amy Perfors (MIT)
      Constraining Generalisation in Artificial Language Learning: Children are Rational Too
    • Jennifer E. Arnold, Aparna Nadig, Loisa Bennetto and Josh Diehl
      Reference production and comprehension in children with and without autism
    • Inbal Arnon and Neal Snider (U Rochester)
      More than words - speakers are sensitive to the frequency of four-word sequences
    • Harry Tily, Marie-Catherine de Marneffe and Roger Levy
      Comprehension difficulty reflects an understanding of likely production errors
    • Laura Staum Casasanto (MPI), Richard Futrell and Ivan A. Sag
      Parallels between Production and Comprehension of Multiple That: What's good for the goose...
    • Peter Graff and T. Florian Jaeger (U Rochester)
      Optimizing Distinctiveness: Similarity Avoidance in the Mental Lexicon
    • Austin F. Frank, Anne Pier Salverda, T. Florian Jaeger and Michael K. Tanenhaus
      Analysis of multinomial time-series data with "state" dependencies
    • Roger Levy, Klinton Bicknell, Tim Slattery and Keith Rayner
      Readers Maintain and Act on Uncertainty about Past Linguistic Input: Evidence from Eye Movements
    • Casey Lew-Williams and Anne Fernald (Stanford Psychology)
      Fluency in Using Morphosyntactic Cues to Establish Reference: How do Native and Non-Native Speakers Differ?
    • Anne Fernald
      Learning to Listen, Learning to Talk: Early Fluency in Understanding Facilitates Vocabulary Growth
    • Carlos Gómez Gallo and T. Florian Jaeger
      Early Verb Choice and Fluency as Evidence for Moderately Incremental or Possibly Limited Parallel Sentence Production
    • Steven Piantadosi, Harry Tily and Edward Gibson
      The Communicative Lexicon Hypothesis
  • Also over the break, Scott Grimm was in Berlin giving a couple of talks at the Centre for General Linguistics' (ZAS) Syntaxzirkel: "Number Marking and Individuation: A View from Dagaare" and "An Empirical View on Raising to Subject".
  • Joan Bresnan gave a talk at Northwestern University in March (joint work with Marilyn Ford): "Variation in Processing Dative Constructions in Australian and American English".
  • Also in March: Inbal Arnon talked about "Starting Big: the role of multi-word phrases in language learning and use" in a Cognitive Psychology Colloq in Jerusalem and at a Linguistics colloq in Bar-Ilan. She also gave a talk in Tel-Aviv titled "Learning constructions - the path of relative clause acquisition".
  • And this week, Eve Clark gave a talk at the University of Colorado at Boulder on "Adult Speech and Gesture Inform Children about Unfamiliar Word Meanings", after which she was the discussant for three papers on "Pragmatic Understanding in Bilingual Children" at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development.
  • Meanwhile, Beth Levin gave a talk this week at the University of Texas at Austin, titled "The Root: A Key Ingredient in Verb Meaning''.

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    Donate to LinguistList

    Last year, our department won the Linguistlist fund drive. For information about this annual event, check out this website.

    Be sure to mention your Stanford Affiliation when you donate, which can be done in many ways:
    • You can donate right now using their secure credit card form here
    • Alternatively you can also pledge right now and pay later. To do so, go here.
    For all information on donating and pledging, including information on how to donate by check, money order, or wire transfer, please visit here.


    Meghan's Mystery Name Game

    She's BAAAAAACK.... Meghan's Mystery Name Game is back this quarter! Be the first one to find Meghan and tell her the name in the following spectrogram and win a tasty snack or other prize!
    Happy Guessing and Good Luck!


    Linguistic Levity

    Hollywood Squares

    If you remember the Original Hollywood Squares and its comics, this may bring a tear to your eyes. These great questions and answers are from the days when 'Hollywood Squares' game show responses were spontaneous, not scripted, as they are now. Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course..

    Q. Do female frogs croak?
    A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.

    Q. If you're going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be?
    A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it.

    Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years.
    A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes.

    Q. According to Cosmopolitan, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think that he is attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he's married?
    A. Rose Marie: No; wait until morning.

    Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?
    A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.

    Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?
    A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing old question Peter , and I'll give you a gesture you'll never forget.

    Q. Charley, you've just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year?
    A. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I'm too busy growing strawberries.

    Q. When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a goose do?
    A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?

    Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
    A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.

    Q. According to Ann Landers, is there anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people?
    A. Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army.

    Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?
    A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.

    Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex?
    A. Charley Weaver: I'll lend him the car, the rest is up to him.

    Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?
    A. Charley Weaver: His feet.


    Speeding Farmer

    A farmer got pulled over by a state trooper for speeding, and the trooper started to lecture the farmer about his speed, and in general began to throw his weight around to try to make the farmer uncomfortable.
    Finally, the trooper got around to writing out the ticket, and as he was doing that he kept swatting at some flies that were buzzing around his head.
    The farmer said, "Having some problems with circle flies there, are ya?" The trooper stopped writing the ticket and said"Well yeah, if that's what they are, I never heard of circle flies."
    So the farmer says "Well, circle flies are common on farms. See, they're called circle flies because they're almost always found circling around the back end of a horse."
    The trooper says, "Oh," and goes back to writing the ticket. Then after a minute he stops and says, "Hey...wait a minute, are you trying to call me a horse's ass?"
    The farmer says, "Oh no, officer. I have too much respect for law enforcement and police officers to even think about calling you a horses ass."
    The trooper says, "Well, that's a good thing," and goes back to writing the ticket. After a long pause, the farmer says, "Hard to fool them flies though." He was subsequently arrested and jailed for reckless driving.



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

    • No Speech Lunch Today

    • Department Social

      4:00pm, lounge
    • Live Electronic Music by CCRMA

      performers (in order): max mathews, baeksanchang, rob hamilton, craig hanson, jakes bejoy, fernando lopez-lezcano, adnan marquez-borbon, luke dahl, rocco di pietro, mike gao, theory, jsynikal, foxology, tucunduva, steinunn arnardottir, jeffrey owen denton cooper
      $5 or free with stanford id
      7:00pm at the compound in san francisco
    • SocioRap

      Andrew Wong (CSU East Bay)
      "Brand Names As Paintings: The Applications of Linguistic Anthropology in Brand Name Development"
      12:00pm, MJH Chair's Office

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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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    2 April 2009
    Vol. 5, Issue 19

    Sesquipedalian Staff

    Editor in Chief:
    Ivan A. Sag

    Government Censor:
    Richard Futrell

    Reporters: Beth Levin
    Andrew Koontz-Garboden

    Alyssa Ferree

    Humor Consultant:
    Susan D. Fischer

    Melanie Levin
    Kyle Wohlmut