Archive for the 'Ling-Tea' Category

LingTea, 2/9 and 2/16 – Daniel Harasim

In this and next week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Feb. 9th and 16th) 12-1pm in room 117, Daniel Harasim will give talks with the title “Musical Syntax“.

Title: “Musical Syntax”.

Abstract: Musical structures can be formalized similar to the syntax of natural languages. The syntax of western music is based on a harmonic tension-resolution structure that is intuitively perceivable. In this talk, I will shortly explain musical syntax using music text book examples and Jazz standards. Then I will focus on the formalization of musical syntax using dependency structures in a generative framework. I will end by explaining core challenges of parsing musical structures and its implementation using a meta-rule formalism in a general parsing framework.


LingTea, 2/2 – Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Feb. 2nd) 12-1pm in room 117, Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron will give a talk with the title “The role of speech production planning in shaping patterns of phonological variability“. This is a practice job talk.


Connected speech processes have played a major role in shaping theories about phonological organization, and how phonology interacts with other components of the grammar (Selkirk, 1974; Kiparsky, 1982; Kaisse, 1985; Nespor and Vogel, 1986, among others). External sandhi is subject to locality conditions, and it is more variable compared to processes applying word-internally. We suggest that an important part of understanding these two properties of external sandhi is the locality of speech production planning.

Presenting evidence from English flapping and French liaison, we argue that the effect of lexical frequency on variability can be understood as a consequence of the narrow window of phonological encoding during speech production planning. This proposal complements both abstract, symbolic and gestural overlap-based accounts of phonological alternations. By connecting the study of phonological alternations with the study of factors influencing speech production planning, we can derive novel predictions about patterns of variability in external sandhi, and better understand the data that drive the development of phonological theories.

LingTea, 1/26 – Lydia Felice, Sarah Mihuc

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Jan. 26th) 12-1pm in room 117, Lydia Felice and Sarah Mihuc will each present on their work on Kabyle Berber.

Speaker: Lydia Felice
Title: An Analysis of the State Alternation in Kabyle Berber

Abstract: In Kabyle, nominals may appear in the Free State or Construct State. Free State nominals are characterized by presence of the prefix a-. Construct State nominals lack this prefix. Nominals in the Free State appear as preverbal subjects, complements of certain prepositions, and objects of the verb. Nominals in the Construct State appear as postverbal subjects and complements of certain prepositions. I assume that the Free State morpheme is an intrinsic case marker occupying K0. Nominals in the Construct State are DPs that must be licensed structural case, while nominals in the Free State are KPs that receive case from the FS morpheme a-. I propose that treating the FS vowel as K0 accounts for the full distribution of Free State and Construct State nominals.


Speaker: Sarah Mihuc
Title: Effects of Focus on Word Order in Kabyle Berber

Abstract: A variety of word orders are attested in Kabyle Berber; changes in word order have previously been explained as related to focus and topic in Berber (Mettouchi 2008). In order to precisely test the relationship between focus and word order, I present an experiment based on Calhoun’s (2015) experiment on Samoan focus and word order. Speakers were shown illustrations of events, and were asked to answer questions about them. The questions have answers with six different types of focus. Thus, the answers to each question type show which word order is associated with which type(s) of focus in Kabyle Berber.

LingTea, 1/19 – Jessica Coon

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Jan. 19th) 12-1pm in room 117, Jessica Coon will give a talk with the title “The linguistics of Arrival: Aliens, fieldwork, and Universal Grammar“. This is a practice talk for an up-coming Arrival-related public lecture.


If aliens arrived, could we communicate with them? How would we do it? What are the tools linguists use to decipher unknown languages? How different can human languages be from one another? Do these differences have bigger consequences for how we see the world?

The recent science-fiction film Arrival touches on these and other real questions in the field of linguistics. In Arrival, linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is recruited by the military to translate the language of the newly-arrived Heptapods in order to answer the question everyone wants to know: why are they here? Language, it turns out, is a crucial piece of the answer.

Jessica Coon, science consultant for the linguistics in Arrival, has never worked with an alien, but will discuss her own fieldwork on Mayan languages, and what these languages can tell us about linguistic diversity and Universal Grammar.

LingTea in Winter 2017

In the upcoming Winter 2017 term, LingTea will take place every Thursday from 12-1pm. The first session will be on January 12th. Below is a tentative list of available dates for LingTea presentations:

  • Jan: 12th, 19th, 26th
  • Feb: 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd
  • Mar: 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th
  • Apr: 6th, 13th.

Everyone is invited to sign up for a slot.

LingTea, 11/24 – Junko Shimoyama & Keir Moulton

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Nov. 24th) 12-1pm in room 117, Junko Shimoyama and Keir Moulton (who will be present through Skype) will give a talk with the title “On inverse trace conversion in Japanese internally-headed relative clauses“.


We report on our ongoing project that examines a recent analysis of various types of relative clauses in Japanese (Erlewine and Gould 2014, 2015). Our focus will be on the use of Inverse Trace Conversion and a maximal informativeness analysis of internally-headed relative clauses.

LingTea, 11/17 – Lydia Felice & Lisa Travis

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Nov. 17th) 12-1pm in room 117, Lydia Felice & Lisa Travis will give a talk on the topic of Kabyle morphology.


Some researchers have observed the prefixes are more loosely connected to the stems that they attach to than are suffixes (e.g. Hyman 2008, Bobaljik and Wurmbrand 2001). This asymmetry can be accounted for if one assumes (a) that syntax is the generative system that creates complex morphological structure and (b) morpheme order is determined by the syntax. In one version of this view, suffixes are attached to the stem via head movement and prefixes through some mechanism of morphological merger (e.g. Kayne 2015). We use these ideas to account for the realization of gender morphemes in Kabyle, a dialect of Berber and to further relate this account to the nano-syntax of Case (Caha 2009).

Selected references:

Bobaljik, J. and Wurmbrand, S. (2001). Seven prefix-suffix asymmetries in Itelmen. In Proceedings of CLS.Caha, P. (2009). The Nanosyntax of Case. PhD thesis, University of Tromsø.Hyman, L. M. (2008). Directional asymmetries in the morphology and phonology of words, with special reference to Bantu. Linguistics, 46(2):309{350.Kayne, R. S. (2015). Antisymmetry and morphology. prefixes and suffixes. unpublished ms, NYU.

LingTea, 11/10 – Justin Royer

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Nov. 10th) 12-1pm in room 117, Justin Royer will give a talk with the title “Classifier systems in Chuj (Mayan)“.


Chuj, a Mayan language, has a robust system of classification. On the one hand, it features over 15 nominal classifiers which classify nouns according to their physical and social attributes. On the other, it possesses a set of numeral classifiers which obligatorily accompany nouns after certain numerals. Both types of classifiers can surface within the same utterance.    This talk will consist in presenting an overview of the environments in which nominal and numeral classifiers are licensed in Chuj. Data from ongoing fieldwork will be put forward in order to describe and discuss the theoretical implications of these systems and their interaction. Regarding nominal classifiers, I will follow Craig (1986) in arguing that nominal classifiers mark nouns that are referential or salient. This contrasts with prior analyses, which have described them as definite determiners (see e.g. Domingo Pascual 2007). Moving on to numeral classifiers, I will provide substantial evidence in support of Krifka (1995), and Bale and Coon’s (2014) claims that numeral classifiers result from the deficiency of certain quantifying expressions, rather than from the deficiency of certain nouns (Cherchia 1998). Finally, I will establish the importance of treating these two classifying systems as separate systems, governed by separate linguistic properties.

Ling-Tea, 11/4 – Francisco Torreira

Join us this week for Ling-Tea at its regular time, 12–1 in room 117.

Speaker: Francisco Torreira
Title: “Melodic constructions in Spanish and their implication for intonational phonology”


In this presentation I will explore the structure of intonation, arguing for the existence of melodic constructions, which I define as meaningful sequences of tonal targets with association properties that may be melody-specific and dependent on the metrical structure utterance. Following a qualitative description of several melodic constructions in English, Catalan, and Spanish, I provide data from two imitation-and-completion experiments, each carried out on a Spanish melodic construction: the low-rise-fall and the circumflex contour. I show that a high tonal target in each of these melodies is realized either at the right edge of the phrase (i.e. with a delimitative function) in phrases of one prosodic word (e.g. Manolo), or on a stressed syllable (i.e. with a culminative function) in longer phrases (e.g. El hermano de Manolo ‘Manolo’s brother’). To account for this alternation in contour shape, I argue for a stricter separation between tonal targets and metrical structure in intonational phonology, allowing melodic constructions in the intonational lexicon-grammar of a language to have tonal targets without an intrinsic culminative function (i.e. as pitch accents)  or delimitative function (i.e. as edge tones). More generally, the data support the existence of meaningful intonational units larger than those traditionally discussed in the intonational phonology literature (e.g. pitch accents, edge tones, prenuclear and nuclear contours).”

LingTea, 10/13 – Nico Baier

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Oct. 13th) 12-1pm in room 117, a talk will be given by Nico Baier (UC Berkeley). Title and abstract are below.

Unifying Anti-Agreement and Wh-Agreement
In many languages, φ-agreement is sensitive to the A’-movement of its controller. Some languages, such as Abaza, exhibit ‘wh-agreement’, an effect in which dedicated agreement morphology cross-references extracted arguments (Chung and Georgopoulos 1988). In other languages, such as Tarifit Berber, extracted arguments cannot control full agreement. This is known as ‘anti-agreement’ (Ouhalla 1993). These two effects have previously been treated as distinct. Wh-agreement is viewed as normal result of Agree with a goal bearing a wh-feature (Georgopoulos 1991, Watanabe 1996, a.o.). Anti-agreement is generally taken to reflect a disruption of agreement in the syntax proper (Schneider-Zioga 2007, Ouhalla 1993, a.o.). In this paper, I argue that this traditional wisdom is incorrect and that wh-agreement and anti-agreement are in fact two instantiations of the same phenomenon. Both effects are the result of a φ-probe copying both φ- and wh-features from a goal. Patterns of anti-agreement and wh-agreement arise when partial or total impoverishment applies to the [φ+wh] feature bundle in the morphological component, blocking insertion of an otherwise appropriate, more highly specified agreement exponent.

LingTea, 10/6 – Coon, Keine & Wagner / Garcia

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Oct. 6th) 12-1pm in room 117, two groups of presenters will give talks in preparaton for the upcoming NELS conference. Jessica Coon and Michael Wagner will present their collaborative work with Stefan Keine (USC) on the Hierarchy effects in German copula constructions: The PCC corner of German“. The abstract can be found here.

Guilherme Garcia will present his work with the title “Grammar trumps lexicon: Typologically inconsistent weight effects are not generalized“. The abstract can be found here.

LingTea, 9/29 – Mikael Vinka

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Sept. 29th) 12-1pm in room 117, Mikael Vinka will give a talk with the title “Aspects of VP Ellipsis in South Saami“.


This talk will an an overview of VP ellipsis in South Saami, its basic distribution and properties. In this language, modals and sentential negation may host the Merchantonian [E]-feature, whereas the aspectual auxiliary may not.   I claim that the dichotomy between modal and aspectual auxiliaries follows from Bjorkman’s (2011) Agree-based theory of the T-V relation: the aspectual auxiliary is a default element which is inserted to realize tense and phi-features. Modals and the negation, on the other hand, project, and therefore they may host the [E]-feature.   In order to bring clarity to these properties, it is necessary to pay attention to some of the finer details of the relation between the inflectional and verbal domains.

LingTea, 9/22 – Francesco Gentile

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Sept. 22nd) 12-1pm in room 117, Francesco Gentile will give a talk with the title “The Virtues and Limits of the Maximal Informativity Presupposition“. 


Assuming a Hamblin/Karttunen semantics for questions (Hamblin 1973, Karttunen 1977), recent work (Fox and Hackl 2006, Abrusán and Spector 2011, Abrusán 2014) posits that questions carry a Maximal Informativity Presupposition (MIP), namely, the requirement that there is a true Hamblin answer that semantically  entails all the true Hamblin answers in a question’s denotation. In this talk, I investigate how ‘how many’ questions with certain non-distributive predicates (e.g., ‘How many students solved this problem together?’)  bear on the status of the MIP. On the one hand, I argue that this type of questions are best understood when we relativise the notion of entailment inherent in the MIP to pragmatic entailment. On the other hand, I start investigating the consequences of this move, also in the light of evidence from possibility modals and weakly distributive predicates (Buccola 2015).

LingTea, Fall 2016

LingTea will be held this Thursdays from 12:00–1:00pm in Linguistics Department room 117 (feel free to bring your lunch!). LingTea is a good place for students, faculty, postdocs, and visitors to present ongoing research in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. It’s also a perfect venue for dry runs of forthcoming conference talks. Anyone is welcome to give a LingTea talk! To sign up for a Ling-Tea, email this year’s organizer, Kevin Qin. Available Thursdays are:

Sept. 15th, 22nd, 29th

Oct. 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th

Nov. 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th

Dec. 1st, Dec. 8th

Ling-tea, 4/26 – Douglas Gordon

Join us for the Final Ling-tea of the semester!
Who: Douglas Gordon
When: Tuesday April 26th 1:00-2:00
Where: Ling 117
What: Animate-inanimate coordination in Mi’gmaq: consequences for conjunction reduction

There are two possible analyses of DP coordination: that apparent DP coordination is underlyingly TP coordination and material has been elided or simply that two DPs are coordinated. Conjunction reduction (CR) is the ellipsis of a repeated subject and verb in all but one of a set of conjuncts and can be used to derive DP coordination from underlying TP coordination.
I argue that CR is only an available mechanism in Mi’gmaq when plain DP coordination is not possible. I discuss this issue in reference to like- and mixed-animacy coordination, since transitive verbs must agree with the animacy of their internal argument. I show that in cases where the conjuncts match in animacy, CR would fail to derive grammatical agreement on the verb. I also show, however, that CR may be an available mechanism in cases where animacy of the conjuncts does not match.

Ling-Tea, 4/19 – Dejan Milacic

Please join us this week for Ling-Tea at its usual time and place: Tuesday at 1:00 in Linguistics room 117.
Presenter: Dejan Milacic
Title: Two types of dual number (a practice talk for CLS 52)

I identify three attested patterns for the morphological expression of dual and plural number in languages with number systems which include these categories. I note that two of these patterns lead to contradictory predictions about the morphological markedness of dual relative to plural. Plural is expressed by more morphemes than dual in languages like Mi’gmaq (Coon & Bale 2014), while dual is expressed by more morphemes than plural in languages like Manam (Lichtenberk 1983).

The system of number features and markedness put forward by Nevins (2011) is argued to account for the Manam pattern, but does not account for the Mi’gmaq pattern. I show that a logical extension of this feature system in fact gives the opposite result: it accounts for the Mi’gmaq pattern, but does not account for the Manam pattern. I give evidence from semantics and agreement to argue that this result is desirable. Based on this evidence, I suggest that dual marking in languages like Manam should be analyzed like non-inflectional plural marking (Wiltschko 2008; Butler 2011). I conclude that the meaning of dual marking in these languages comes from the morpheme’s origin as the numeral ‘two’ rather than coming from a number feature as in languages with the other two patterns.

Ling-Tea, 4/5 – Colby, Sonderegger, Bang

Please join us this week for Ling-Tea at its usual time and place: Tuesday at 1:00 in Linguistics room 117.

This week Sarah Colby, Morgan Sonderegger, and Hye-Young Bang will be presenting their research. Details to follow!

Ling-tea, 3/29 – Bing’er Jiang

This week at Ling-Tea, Bing’er Jiang will present work on Mandarin double object constructions, in preparation for the upcoming MOTH Syntax Workshop. As always, Ling-Tea will take place Tuesday at 1pm in room 117.

I propose that in Mandarin double object constructions (e.g. John sent Mary a letter), gei is an overt realization of Harley (2002)’s possessive PHAVE head, shown in (1). It raises to join the predicate to form the verb, regardless of whether the predicate is null or overt.

(1) [vP Agent [v’ cause/ø [PP Goal [P’ PHAVE (gei) [DP Theme]]]]]
A comparison with the dative construction (e.g. John sent a letter to Mary) provides evidence for this account. First, the double object construction  (DOC) does not allow inanimate Goal arguments (Oehrle 1976).  Second, idioms of the DOC lose the idiomatic reading in their dative construction counterpart. Third, there are subtle semantic differences between dative and double object constructions, which offer further support for this account. This proposal also gives a unified account of why gei sometimes appears to be a preposition (2) and sometimes a verb (3).
(2)  Guge  na     gei    Lailai   yi-ge  ping-guo.

       Guge  take PHAVE Lailai  one-CL  apple
       ‘Guge brings Lailai an apple.’
(3)  Guge gei   Lailai yi-ge     ping-guo.
       Guge give Lailai one-CL apple
       ‘Guge gives Lailai an apple.’

Ling-Tea, 3/15 – Kim, Kilbourn-Ceron, Lamontagne

Please join us this week for Ling-Tea at its usual time and place: Tuesday at 1:00 in Linguistics room 117.

This week we have three MOLT practice talks:

Donghyun Kim, Meghan Clayards, Heather Goad – Patterns of individual differences in second language vowel perception

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, Michael Wagner, Meghan Clayards – The effect of production planning locality on external sandhi: A study in /t/

Jeff Lamontagne – Mid-Vowel Features and Allophony in Laurentian French

Ling-Tea, 3/8 – Hadas Kotek

Hadas Kotek will present in this week’s Ling-Tea, Tuesday 3/8 from 1pm–2:30 in room 117. Note that this will be an extended 90 minute Ling-Tea for a practice talk.
Title: Most: architecture, evidence, and variation
Abstract: Formal semantic analyses often take words to be minimal building blocks for the purposes of meaning composition. However, work on syntax and morphology has converged on the view that the unit of the “word” should not receive a special status. In this talk, I argue for the same conclusion for the compositional semantics of superlatives, concentrating in particular on the superlative quantifier most. I present a series of experimental studies supporting the conclusion that most is decomposed into a gradable predicate many and a superlative morpheme –est, and uncover a previously unnoticed micro-variation among English speakers in their interpretation of most. I argue that these findings lend support to the unified analysis of “most (of the)” as in Mary climbed most of the mountains and “the most” as in Mary climbed the most mountains in Heim (1999) and Hackl (2009). More broadly, I discuss questions of modularity and methodology in linguistics, and conclude that investigating the interaction between the meaning, structure, and real-time use of language can illuminate underlying theoretical primitives in the architecture of grammar.
**This is a practice job talk, all are welcome!**
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