This Friday, January 19th, at 1:20 pm in Humanities 1, Room 210, there will be a colloquium by Martina Wiltschko (University of British Columbia). Her talk is entitled “Nominal speech act structure. A personal view.” The abstract is given below:

The concept of person is in many ways tied to speech acts. This is obvious just by exploring the interpretation of pronouns: 1st person pronouns are used to refer to the speaker, 2nd person pronouns are used to refer to the addressee, and 3rd person is used for individuals other than the speech act participants. Another way in which person plays a role for speech acts has to with the fact that in much of the current literature that seeks to “syntacticize speech acts” (Ross 1970, Speas and Tenny 2003, Zu 2013, Miyagawa 2017, a.o.) speech act participants are part of the syntactic representation of sentences, as evidenced, for example, by speaker or addressee-agreement. However, 1st and 2nd person pronouns can receive an impersonal interpretation (Gruber 2013, Zobel 2014) while still triggering grammatical agreement for 1st and 2nd person. This suggests that there are at least two notions of person: one purely grammatical and the other pragmatic in nature.

In this talk I examine yet another way in which person may be tied to speech acts. In particular, assuming the well- established parallel between the functional architecture of clauses and nominal projections (Chomsky 1970, Abney 1987, Grimshaw 2005, Rijkhoff 2008), we might expect that – just as clauses – nominal projections too are dominated by a dedicated speech act structure. Specifically, I will argue that the arguments of (clausal and nominal) speech act structure do not correspond to speech act participants directly, but instead they correspond to each speech act participant’s ‘ground’ – hence I assume a speaker- and addressee-oriented projection. The function of this layer of structure is to encode the mutual process of grounding – the joint activity which allows interlocutors to establish common ground. To support this hypothesis, I review literature from dialogue based frameworks according to which referring to an individual is a collaborative effort between speaker and addressee (Clark and Wilkes-Gibbs 1986, Clark and Bangerter 2004). With this as my background assumption, I discuss the implications of the nominal speech act hypothesis for a number of empirical phenomena including: impersonals, logophors, and social deixis.


Since 2002, the Dizikes Award has been given each year to a faculty member in the Humanities Division for their commitment and effectiveness in transformative teaching and effective mentoring of both undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to receiving the award, recipients have the honor of selecting an undergraduate student to receive a scholarship in their name. Past recipients include Pranav Anand in 2016, Donka Farkas in 2013, Jorge Hankamer in 2011, and Jaye Padgett in 2006. Current students and recent alumni are now invited to nominate faculty for the 2018 award. According to the call, “Nominations should address the faculty member’s ability to arouse curiosity in students, to encourage high standards, and to stimulate students to original and rigorous work though guidance and mentoring. Other criteria include creating an inclusive learning environment that is open and encouraging to all students, relating the subject to other fields of knowledge and making the learning relevant to experience outside the academy.” Nominations must include a single-page form, available here, along with a one-page narrative. Nominations should be submitted to the the Linguistics Undergraduate Coordinator Matthew MacLeod by Monday February 5th, 2018. If you are considering a nomination, you are encouraged to consult with Matthew for guidance.


Applications are open for the Michigan Humanities Emerging Research Scholars (MICHHERS) program, open to undergraduates and MA students. Additional details from the University of Michigan are provided below:

This 14-day workshop will bring to Ann Arbor talented undergraduate or MA students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in graduate education who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D in Linguistics. Selected applicants will receive a $1,000 stipend for their  participation in the program.  Round trip travel, lodging, and on-campus meals will also be covered by the program.

The application deadline is February 9, 2018. 

This program has now been expanded to a full two-week internship, including additional benefits, thanks to support of a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation.

The program will help participants prepare to apply to a PhD in Linguistics, and will give them an overview of opportunities and resources available for Linguistics students at the University of Michigan.  Participants will meet with our faculty and PhD students about research in linguistics, and will work on their own research project under the guidance of U-M Linguistics faculty.

For details about application, students can go to:



The Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will be held in Austin, Texas, February 15-19, 2018.

AAAS needs a number of session aides for the meeting. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to serve as session aides. Those who volunteer for 8 hours will receive free registration for the entire meeting. Those who volunteer for 16 hours will receive free registration and a year-long digital subscription to Science. Registration is handled on a first-come first-served basis, and the deadline is January 24, 2018.

Students may sign up to volunteer here and register for the meeting here.


LaLoCoTuesday, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, Stevenson 217 There will be a discussion of Latent Semantic Analysis and genism, along with Chapter 11 of “The Oxford Handbook of Computational and Mathematical Psychology”

s/labThursday, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, LCR Steven Foley will be presenting a paper titled “The effect of syntactic constraints on the processing of backwards anaphora” (Kazanina et al 2007)