Several UCSC linguists flew into Hawaii for the 25th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference. The Accent Research Group — Junko Ito, Armin Mester, Nick Kalivoda and Jeff Adler (in absentia) — presented their work (with a talk and poster) on the endangered Japanese dialects of Kagoshima at the satellite workshop on prosody and prosodic interfaces. They met up with familiar Santa Cruz-related folks — Haruo Kubozono (NINJAL), former LRC visitor and workshop organizer, and Larry Hyman (UCB), the workshop commentator. Kohei Nishimura, former LRC visiting graduate student also gave a talk based on the NINJAL corpus of Spoken Japanese. At the main conference, they were joined by Hitomi Hirayama, who gave both a poster on “Discourse effects of biased questions in Japanese” at the main session and a talk (joint with Adrian Brasoveanu) at an East Asian Psycholinguistics satellite workshop on “Expressing ignorance in Japanese: contrastive wa vs. sukunakutomo.”

Pictured above: Hitomi Hirayama, Nick Kalivoda

Pictured above: Haruo Kubozono, Nick Kalivoda, Larry Hyman, Armin Mester, Junko Ito





Last week Pranav Anand attended the first workshop at the University of Siena on Evaluatives in Deliberative Contexts. He reports:

“I spent Thursday and Friday at a workshop on Evaluatives in Deliberative Contexts organized by Valentina Bianchi at University of Siena. The workshop’s goal was to create a forum for formal semanticists, formal syntacticians, corpus linguists, political scientists, and economists to come together to talk about how to model the devices people use to express opinion in political discussions. I spoke about my joint work with Jeannie Fox Tree, Lyn Walker, and Steve Whittaker on modeling political argumentation and, more recently, narrator mood. It was great to be on the ground as an interdisciplinary collaboration is just getting started and to talk with formal linguists about these tricky pragmatic issues.”


This Friday, October 20th, at 4:00 pm in Humanities 1, Room 210, there will be a colloquium talk by Judith Aissen (UCSC). Her talk is entitled “Right-edge topics in Tsotsil (Mayan).” The abstract is given below:

Recent work on word order in Mayan has suggested the existence of a topic position at the right edge of the clause (Clemens and Coon, to appear). Under this analysis what has traditionally been analyzed as basic V-O-S order in some Mayan languages actually reflects V-O-Topic order, with the subject in a transitive clause being the canonical topic. This talk consider evidence for a right-edge topic in Tsotsil, focusing not on subject topics but on possessor topics. We conclude by discussing the relation of this right-edge position to the larger typology of topic positions in Mayan.


Graduate student Erik Zyman‘s paper “Quantifier Float as Stranding: Evidence from Janitzio P’urhepecha” has been accepted for publication in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. The paper argues that Janitzio P’urhepecha quantifier float (cf. The girls are all reading) is derived by movement that splits up an underlying nominal (cf. all the girls), stranding the quantifier—challenging the view that floated quantifiers are (always) adverbials adjoined to some clausal projection. One of the main arguments comes from Janitzio P’urhepecha’s strikingly wide array of DP positions (most of them subject positions): whether an ordinary DP is possible, impossible, or marginal in a given position, a floated quantifier behaves the same way in that position. The large array of subject positions uncovered in this investigation lends new support to the “distributed” view of subjecthood. A preprint version of the article may be found here.


Adrian Brasoveanu and Jessica Rett (UCLA) have published a paper on “Evaluativity across adjective and construction types” in Journal of Linguistics. An adjectival construction is evaluative iff it conveys that the property associated with the adjective exceeds a relevant threshold. The paper presents the first experimental tests of the scope and nature of evaluativity across adjectival constructions and adjective types. The studies confirm that evaluativity is conditioned by adjective type (relative or absolute, Kennedy & McNally 2005) and is not restricted to the positive construction. However, they also show several new and surprising aspects of evaluativity: that it is perhaps better characterized as a gradable property than a binary one; that the ways in which relative and absolute adjectives differ in their evaluativity vary across construction; and that, contrary to standard intuitions, subjects are willing to attribute evaluativity to the subject position of comparative constructions like Sue is taller than Bill.