On Saturday, the department gathered en masse to celebrate and appreciate the many many contributions of three faculty retiring this year, Sandy Chung, Bill Ladusaw, and Armin Mester. The festivities were chaired by Judith Aissen, who began by assuring the retirees that the Other Side was in many ways better (free parking!) and then oversaw a procession of faculty (Jim McCloskey, Jaye Padgett, and Matt Wagers) and former students (Chris Barker, Vera Gribanova, Louise McNally, and Rachel Walker) whose tributes evoked the wit, the wisdom, and the warmth of the honorees. Between the stories swapped, the pictures shared, and the old friends who joined us to celebrate three remarkable careers, it was an event both joyous and (in Judith’s words) a touch mournful. Thanks go to the organizers, Adrian Brasoveanu, Ashley Hardisty, Junko Ito, and Maria Zimmer for putting together an event at once so spontaneously heartfelt and carefully orchestrated. (Take that, Tonys.)

The vignettes offered–of Armin contemplating the true nature of optimality theory in his in-deck hot tub, of Sandy daring Matt Wagers to just try to run an experiment outside laboratory confines, of the veritable Ars Linguistica Bill has imparted to students across the years (an audience favorite regarding including a bit of formalism in a general talk: It’s good to show a glint of steel beneath the velvet glove.)–vividly reminded the audience of the personalities the department will soon miss. But we will miss much more. The various encomiums heaped upon the three sounded the same themes over and over: a gift for teaching and mentoring; a dedication alongside research to university service; and, above all, a striving for lasting insight beyond the technical, modish, or easy that inspired students and colleagues alike. This last characteristic is the goal every Santa Cruz linguist aspires to, and Armin, Bill, and Sandy have played instrumental roles in imprinting that desire on several generations of scholars.

For their countless contributions to the fields of Phonology, Semantics, and Syntax, to the students who their words and their acts inspired, to the university which owes greatly to their probity and grace, and, ultimately, to the department they called home for three decades (and then some), we thank them.

May the next phase be even better!


Karen Duek will be defending her dissertation at 11:30am on Monday, June 19th, in HUM 1 Room 210. Karen’s dissertation is titled “Sorting a complex world: an experimental study of polysemy and copredication in container and committee nominals.” The committee consists of Adrian Brasoveanu (chair), Donka Farkas, and Pranav Anand.


Capping off the inaugural year of the Workshop on the Languages of Meso-America is the Symposium on Oaxacan Linguistics on Monday, June 12 from 9am-5pm in Hum 1, Room 210. The symposium will feature talks on a variety of languages by invited speakers Christian DiCanio (SUNY Buffalo) Emiliana Cruz (UMass Amherst), and Eric Campbell (UCSB), as well as UCSCers Jason Ostrove, Steven Foley, Nick Kalivoda, and Kelsey Sasaki. For more information, see the full program here.


One of the standout features of our department is the special way in which undergraduate research is encouraged and acknowledged. LURC this year represented a diversity of interests, with excellent talks delivered by Richard Bibbs, Brianda Caldera, Justin Talbott, Anny Huang, and our Distinguished Alumna speaker Maura O’Leary (UCLA), on topics in syntax, diachronic linguistics, morphophonology, sociolinguistics and semantics, in a variety of languages from Chamorro and Polynesian languages, to Spanish-English border slang, to Mandarin Chinese and English.
LURC presenters
Front Row: Ivy Sichel, Maura O’Leary
Back Row: Anny Huang, Brianda Caldera, Richard Bibbs, Justin Talbott
(Photo by Kelsey Sasaki)

LURC 2017

This year’s Linguistics Undergraduate Research Conference
(LURC) will take place on Friday, June 2, featuring talks by four current students:

  • Richard Bibbs: “Chamorro Agent Reduplication”
  • Brianda Caldera: “Border Slang”
  • Justin Talbott: “Polynesian Pull Chains & Factorial Typology”
  • Anny Huang: “The Event Structure of Mandarin Chinese Resultatives”

The Distinguished Alumna Address will be given by Maura O’Leary (BA, 2013), currently a PhD student at UCLA, on “Constraints on Noun Phrase Evaluation Times.” The conference will begin at 12:45pm on Friday in the Stevenson Fireside Lounge–see the full program here.


Jenny Bellik was in Vancouver May 19-21 for the Northwestern Phon{etics, ology} conference at UBC. Jenny reports that the program leaned toward the -etics, but she represented the -ology side with a poster “Danish stød in recursive prosodic words,” joint work with Nick Kalivoda, sparked by Junko & Armin’s paper 2015 “The perfect prosodic word in Danish.” BA/MA alumn John Alderete also presented a poster, “Drilling down into phonological well-formedness in the structure of speech errors.” She also notes that the campus and the weather were both beautiful!


Continuing the recent departmental trend of espousing our beliefs at UChicago were a trio of graduate student talks at the latest instantiation of the Chicago Linguistics Society, May 25-27. Jason Ostrove discussed the morphology-prosody interface in San Martín Peras Mixtec clitic doubling, Steven Foley rhapsodized on the Gender Case Constraint in Zapotec (joint work with Nick and Maziar ), and Tom Roberts contemplated the semantic nature of responsive predicates in Estonian. Under the omniscient eye of Ida Noyes, the conference was a great success, bringing together linguists of many different stripes for fruitful discussion, vigorous debate, and heartbreaking renditions of such karaoke klassics as Txoria Txori.


Last week, Junko was at WAFL (Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics) 13. Junko and Armin were on the organizing committee of this year’s WAFL, taking place at ICU (Junko’s undergraduate alma mater) in Tokyo, Japan. Junko had this to say:

“There were many interesting presentations at WAFL (on Korean, Japanese, Turkish, and related languages and dialects), and the discussions after each talk were particularly lively given the language focus. The keynote speakers were Jaklin Kornfilt (Syracuse University) and former LRC visitor, Haruo Kubozono (NINJAL, National Institute of Japanese Linguistics). Talks and posters were given by former UCSC EAP exchange students Shigeto Kawahara (Keio University) and Atsushi Oho (Tohoku University). Santa Cruz has hosted at least one ICU undergrad exchange student every year since Shigeto, but I learned that next year FOUR ICU linguistics exchange students were selected by UCEAP to come to Santa Cruz. They were all helping out with the registration and logistics at WAFL, and were *very* excited to come across the Pacific in the Fall.

On the final day of the workshop, a special Memorial session was held, dedicating WAFL 13 to Professor Emerita Kazuko Inoue, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 98. Regarded as the Mother of Theoretical Linguistics in Japan, her former ICU students and advisees, including Shigeru Miyagawa (MIT), Yoshi Kitagawa (Indiana U.), Satoshi Tomioka (Delaware), and Junko Ito (UC Santa Cruz) spoke at the Memorial Session in her honor. The GLOW obituary by another of her former ICU students, Naoki Fukui (Sophia University), is a very informative and moving account of Inoue’s life work in linguistics.”