Last weekend, many members of the department were involved with the local annual celebration of Oaxacan language and culture, the Vive Oaxaca Guelaguetza. Andrew Hedding, Steven Foley, and Kelsey Sasaki all volunteered, and Jason Ostrove and Maziar Toorsarvandani contributed to the opening remarks with with welcomes in San Martín Peras Mixtec and Santiago Laxopa Zapotec, respectively. And a particular shoutout to Maho Morimoto for playing for many (many) hours of great music with the Banda de Música de del CIS 8 de San Bartolomé Zoogocho Oaxaca.


This Friday, May 26th, at 2:40pm in Humanities 2, Room 259, there will be a colloquium by Susan Lin (Berkeley). Her talk is entitled “Gradience from variation in articulatory magnitude and timing,” and the abstract is given below:

Gradient synchronic variation in speech has long been proposed to be at the root of most sound change, whether through the generation of phonemically ambiguous speech or the creation of phonological innovations available to language learners. However, there exists a disconnect between this form of gradient variation and its typically discrete resulting phonological form. In this talk, I examine two articulatory factors thought to contribute to gradient variation: the magnitude and relative timing of articulations. Using ultrasound data, I focus on the relationship between articulatory magnitude and timing in post-vocalic laterals in English, while exploring some of the factors, including lexical frequency and speech speed, which contribute to that relationship.


This past weekend, Pranav Anand was at the University of Maryland for the 27th edition of Semantics and Linguistic Theory as one of the invited speakers, giving a delightfully-titled talk on “Facts, alternatives, and alternative facts”. Pranav had these non-alternative facts to say about the experience:

“This edition of SALT was extremely well organized. It also included the first ever most distinguished pre-tenure paper award, which went to Ryan Bochnak (grandalum of the department) for a paper on sequence of tense in Washo, a language with optional tense. The sessions were thematically tight, but the program was expansive, with talks and posters in formal and experimental pragmatics as well as formal semantics. Included in that mix was a provocative co-authored poster by alum Kyle Rawlins on the pragmatic components of questions, and rhetorical questions in particular and an extremely convincing co-authored poster by alum Marcin Morzycki on degree modifiers. There was a palpable focus on lesser-studied languages as well. Alum Scott AnderBois delivered a lovely talk on the interaction of reportative evidentials and imperatives in Tagalog and Yucatec. The invited talks were by Maribel Romero, Sarah Murray, and alum Chris Barker, who argued that NPI licensing should be viewed as governed by a scopal economy condition. For my part, I tried to give the new local speciality of fake facts a respectable semantics.”


The last week of April brought phonologists Alan Prince (Rutgers University) and Nazzaré Merchant (Eckerd College) to the department. Alan gave a special lecture on “Property Analysis” in Phonology B, reporting on joint work with Birgit Alber on a new way of analyzing and understanding the typologies produced by OT analyses. At Friday’s Phlunch, Naz presented ‘Representing Stringency Hierarchies Using Property Analysis’ (joint work with our 2016 LRC visitor Martin Krämer), which applied Property Analysis to new work on the typology of syllable codas. During the week, Alan and Naz had many productive discussions with the members of the Santa Cruz Accent Project and the SPOT Project (Syntax-Prosody in Optimality Theory), whose names are too numerous to mention here.


This Friday, April 14th, at 2:40pm in Hum 2 Room 259, we’re kicking off this quarter’s colloquium series with our own Junko Ito and Armin Mester (UCSC). Their talk is entitled “Pitch Accent and Tonal Alignment,” and the abstract is given below.

Recent work (Kubozono 2009, Ito and Mester 2016, among others) has established that the metrical foot plays an irreducible role in the accent pattern of Japanese and its dialects. Here we make a complementary point: Some features of pitch accent systems are irreducibly tonal in
nature, and follow from the constraints aligning tonal melodies with prosodic structure. As a warm-up, we show that the autosegmental well-formedness conditions, recast as OT constraints on tonal alignment and tonal faithfulness, allow for a simple analysis of the recessive accent pattern of Ancient Greek, which has resisted a successful analysis in terms of foot structure (Steriade, Golston, Kiparsky), but follows directly in an account squarely centered on the rightward alignment of the word melody HL+L.

In the main part of the talk, we present some results of the Santa Cruz Accent Project (Adler/Ito/Kalivoda/Mester) on the microvariation in the pitch accent systems of the dialects of Kagoshima Prefecture: the main Satsuma dialect, and the separate dialects of Koshikijima island and the southernmost Kikaijima island (close to the Ryukyu archepelago). All these dialects, except for the main Satsuma dialect, are in serious decline in terms of numbers of speakers. We show that the accentual microvariation in Kagoshima Japanese is due to a simple reranking of the basic constraints aligning the accentual melodies HL and H. The difference in TBU between dialects (syllable- vs. mora-counting behavior), difficult to analyze as a parameter setting, follows from the ranking of constraints against tonal contours on moras and syllables.


On Saturday, March 18th, the department hosted Linguistics at Santa Cruz (LASC), which was a resounding success, featuring talks on linguistic topics of all shapes and sizes on languages both near and far. The day of talks by second- and third-years was rounded out by distinguished UCSC alumnus Kyle Rawlins’s talk on “Unary ‘or'”. The evening was then capped off with a feast and commensurate levels of merrymaking at the Cowell Provost House. Thanks to everyone who helped make LASC happen–in particular, Lisa Hofmann, our LASC paparazzo, who provided us with this photo of the LASC presenters:

LASC 2017 presenters

Back row: Matt Wagers (LING 290 instructor), Margaret Kroll, Tom Roberts, Steven Foley, Jed Pizarro-Guevara, Jake Vincent
Front row: Hitomi Hirayama, Lauren McGarry, Kelsey Sasaki, Kyle Rawlins


Continuing recent work on Meso-American languages, several WLMAns will be presenting their work at the 22nd Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americans (WSCLA), from April 21-23 at the University of British Columbia. There will be two talks by current UCSC students and faculty:

Jason Ostrove “Severing PRO from its silence”
Steven Foley, Nick Kalivoda & Maziar Toosarvandani “Gender Case Constraints in Zapotec”

The program can be found here.


The second Symposium on Amazonian Languages (SAL) will take place over the hill on April 8 and 9 in 1229 Dwinelle Hall on the Berkeley campus. There is no registration — any and all interested are welcome to attend. A schedule with linked abstracts is available here. Please email Zach O’Hagan at with any questions.