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!


Congratulations go to Nathan Sanders (PhD ’03), who will be starting a new job as an Assistant Professor in the Linguistics Department at the University of Toronto later this year! Nathan had this to say about the news:

Starting this summer, I will start a new chapter in my career by joining the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream. The position allows me to focus on my strengths in undergraduate teaching and curriculum design, but I’ll also be able to do research with some amazing colleagues in one of the top linguistics programs in the world. I’ll continue my research in sign language phonetics (check out my article “A cross-linguistic preference for torso stability in the lexicon: Evidence from 24 sign languages” with Donna Jo Napoli, due out in Sign Language & Linguistics this month), and I expect to finish the first draft of my phonetics and phonology textbook with Oxford University Press later this year.


The program for the next SALT (Semantics and Linguistic Theory) meeting is live, and Pranav Anand and alumnus Chris Barker (now Professor and Chair of Linguistics at NYU) are among the four invited speakers for the meeting. SALT 27 is to be hosted by the Linguistics Department of the University of Maryland, College Park, and it will take place on May 12 through May 14, 2017. For more info, see the website here.


This past Thursday and Friday, several of our alumni came together as part of a general conference for Google linguists. And they took pictures! Herewith, evidence:


From left to right: Jonni Kanerva, Jesse Saba Kirchner, Noah Constant, Oliver Northrup, Karl DeVries, Brianna Kaufman, Jeremy O’Brien

As we noted in the past, one semantic generalization that almost perfectly characterizes this group is the property of having been Computer Czar(ina) for the department. Another one that the phonologically inclined (or, perhaps, onomastically inclined) of you will notice is this: they all have a name beginning with /k/, /d͡ʒ/, or /n/.


Alum Devin Tankersley (BA, 2011) provides this long-distance update about his MA-work in Taiwan:

I am in my 3rd and final year as MA student of the Institute of Linguistics at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, currently working on my thesis, a study of the overt pronoun constraint in L1 and L2 Taiwan Sign Language. The program has a strong emphasis on analysis and understanding formal theory, so I am grateful for my training at UCSC, which prepared me for independently seeking out research topics, writing clear and concise argumentation, and deep discussions on various topics. My research interests broadly include syntax-phonology interactions, formal approaches to tone sandhi and tone neutralization, and grammatical description of under-documented languages, including sign languages. I intend to continue on to a PhD in the future, with the goal of making linguistic study more accessible to speakers of endangered and minority languages, as well as making topics in sign language linguistics more mainstream and prominent in the field.

RE: …

Pranav Anand and LRC visitor Dan Hardt traveled to Austin last week to deliver a paper on automatically detecting the antecedents of sluices at Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP) 2016. The conference was replete with UCSC alums: Chis Potts (PhD, 2003) delivered a keynote address on his ongoing work on pragmatic reasoning at scale and Aaron White (BA, 2009) and Kyle Rawlins (PhD, 2008) presented work from their group at JHU on building a large-scale dataset of protorole judgments in a dependency-bank.