THREE CAREERS ALIKE IN DIGNITY: PELLUCID, FORMIDABLE, AND SHIBUI

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!

DUEK DISSERTATION DEFENSE

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.

END-OF-YEAR DEFENSES

The last week of the quarter saw a flurry of successful defenses:

  • Steven Foley defended his second qualifying paper, “The Subject Gap Advantage in a split-ergative language: Reading time evidence from Georgian” (Matt Wagers, chair, Sandy Chung, and Ivy Sichel)
  • Hitomi Hirayama defended her qualifying exam, “Expressing Ignorance in Japanese: Contrastive wa versus sukunakutomo” (Adrian Brasoveanu, chair, Donka Farkas, Ivy Sichel, and Junko Shimoyama (McGill))
  • Maho Morimoto defended her qualifying exam, “Listener adaptation to lexical stress misplacement in English” (Grant McGuire, chair, Jaye Padgett, Matt Wagers, and Molly Babel (UBC))
  • Jed Pizarro-Guevara defended his second qualifying paper, “An auditory masked priming study of nasal substitution in Dabaw Bisaya (Cebuano)” (Grant McGuire, chair, Jorge Hankamer and Brian W. Smith)
  • Tom Roberts defended his first qualifying paper, “The semantics of responsive predicates and their complements in Estonian” (Pranav Anand, chair, Donka Farkas, and Jim McCloskey)

KORET SCHOLARS PRESENTATIONS

Two graduating seniors in Linguistics, Dhyana Buckley and Alissa Trowbridge presented posters at the Koret Scholars Undergraduate Research Slam, which was held Friday, June 9, at McHenry Library. Dhyana’s poster was titled ‘Real world entailments: A semantic approach to improving machine learning’; Alissa’s poster was titled ‘Long-distance reflexivization in Sundanese’. Earlier this quarter, Alissa completed a senior thesis on anaphora in Sundanese. Dhyana, who is in the BA/MA program, will become an MA student in the Fall. The Research Slam was opened with remarks by Jaye Padgett in his role as Interim Vice Provost of Student Success.

ZAITSU IN MICHIGAN

Entering MA student Anissa Zaitsu spent the tenth week of the quarter as a participant in the MICHHERS program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She sent in this report about her time there:

“My time in Michigan has been intellectually enriching. I am one of a group of 24 students across 6 different disciplines in the humanities, one of just 4 linguistics students and the only student from UC Santa Cruz. I am working with Acrisio Pires, on my Why-VP research, and have been getting a lot of new feedback and guidance on the topic. Most importantly, I have to present this research to the entire cohort, most of whom are not linguists, so I have had to learn how to present technical linguistic work to people outside of our discipline in such a way that its importance and relevance is clear–a useful and difficult skill to acquire. Each day there is an interdisciplinary workshop and then a discipline-specific event. I have been involved in two linguistics seminars, one with Marlyse Baptista who does morphosyntax work on Creoles and more generally on language contact, and another with Sam Epstein on what it means to work in the generative tradition.

It has been amazing talking to young researchers like myself who do fascinating research across a number of disciplines, looking for ways to make connections between my theoretical work and theirs. This has been a real challenge but the experience has helped me dig deeper and gain perspective about what my own research is about and why it matters.

In addition, the program also has a strong diversity component, and so many of the students come from backgrounds which are underrepresented in graduate programs; the issues that this raises have been a big part of the discussion here.

Above all though, I am enjoying the sights and scenes in Ann Arbor. The weather has been beautiful and the streets are filled with lush greens. I am told it is not this way all year…”