ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER LASC

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

YOU MIGHT KNOW THIS PAPER

Congratulations to Deniz Rudin, whose paper “Uncertainty and Persistence: a Bayesian Update Semantics for Probabalistic Expressions” was just published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Philosophical Logic. The abstract can be read below, and the full article accessed here.

This paper presents a general-purpose update semantics for expressions of subjective uncertainty in natural language. First, a set of desiderata are established for how expressions of subjective uncertainty should behave in dynamic, update-based semantic systems; then extant implementations of expressions of subjective uncertainty in such models are evaluated and found wanting; finally, a new update semantics is proposed. The desiderata at the heart of this paper center around the contention that expressions of subjective uncertainty express beliefs which are not persistent (i.e. beliefs that won’t necessarily survive the addition of new information that is compatible with all previous information), whereas propositions express beliefs that are persistent. I argue that if we make the move of treating updates in a dynamic semantics as Bayesian updates, i.e. as conditionalization, then expressions of subjective uncertainty will behave the way we want them to without altering the way propositions behave.

MAIN EFFECT OF GOOD TIMES AT CUNY

Matt Wagers and Steven Foley recently attended CUNY2017 at MIT. The weather was wet and icy, but this induced minimal interference with the conference atmosphere, which – to no one’s Surprisal – was productive and collegial.

Steven delivered his poster on Georgian relative clause processing, while Matt was there for his paper on applying signal detection theory to the analysis of acceptability judgments (joint work with several UMass’ans: Brian Dillon, Caren Rotello and UCSC Linguistics alumna Caroline Andrews [BA ‘11]).

Many other Slugs were in attendance, including 2 other undergraduate alumni: Jeff Runner [BA ‘89] & Shayne Sloggett [BA ‘10]; and 2 MA alumni: Katia Kravtchenko [MA ‘13; currently Saarland University] and Adam Morgan [MA ‘13; currently UCSD]. Sloggett, Kravtchenko and Morgan each delivered a spoken presentation!

An excellent feature of this year’s conference was YouTube streaming of all talks; and poster/slide PDFs deposited via Open Science Foundation. You can view Steven’s poster here or listen to Dillon, Andrews, Rotello & Wagers here.

WLMA + UCSC = WSCLA

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.

LASC 2017!

Mark your calendars for this year’s edition of Linguistics at Santa Cruz (LASC), the annual UCSC linguistics research conference at which second- and third-year graduate students present their research. The all-day event will take place on Saturday, March 18th, in Hum 1, Room 210. Eight talks are on the slate this year, covering a diverse range of subfields, including syntax, semantics, pragmatics, morphophonology, psycholinguistics, and numerous combinations therein, and spanning such languages as English, Cebuano, Georgian, Estonian, Chamorro, Hawai’i Creole, and Japanese. This year’s Distinguished Alumnus Lecture be given by Kyle Rawlins (Johns Hopkins), entitled “Unary ‘or'”. The full program can be found here. Don’t miss it!

WERTHEN AT TULCON

Also in north of the border news, BA/MA student Lydia Werthen was at the University of Toronto last weekend for the Toronto Undergraduate Linguistics Conference (TULCON). Lydia presented her recent findings in her research on Wh-Continuation. Featured at the conference were keynote speakers Naomi Nagy, who spoke about heritage language change and variation, and Alexandra Motut, who discussed results from eye-tracking experiments in non-obligatory control. Lydia reports that despite the below-freezing weather conditions, it was a wonderful and enlightening experience!

WHAWLMA

Last quarter, we alerted you to the existence of a new reading group, WLMA, which focuses on the languages of Meso-America. Ever organized, the WLMAns have provided us this update on activities taking place in Spring Quarter and the summer.

Pranav Anand and Maziar Toosarvandani recently received a Board Opportunity Fund award from the UC Santa Cruz Foundation. Thanks to this award as well as the Linguistics Department and the Institute of Humanities Research, WLMA will be holding a one-day workshop on Monday, June 12, bringing together researchers here with three invited speakers:

Emiliana Cruz (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), a linguistic anthropologist concentrating on Chatino.

Eric Campbell (UC Santa Barbara), a morphosyntactician working on Zapotec and Chatino.

Christian DiCanio (State University of New York, Buffalo), a phonetician studying Trique and Mixtec.

The Board Opportunity Fund award will also allow us to continue development of the technical infrastructure to support ongoing fieldwork by WLMAns in several Mixe, Mixtec, Zapotec languages spoken in the Monterey Bay area.

We are also happy to announce that Andrew Hedding and Jason Ostrove have been selected as UC Public Scholars for 2017-2018, thanks to support by the UC Santa Cruz Institute of Humanities Research and the Mellon Public Scholars Program at the UC Davis Humanities Institute. The awards will enable Andrew and Jason to devote time during Summer 2017 toward their respective fieldwork on Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec Mixe and San Martín Peras Mixtec as well as to language and culture documentation for community members and the general public.