In connection with the IHR-sponsored SPOT workshop, we will be hosting several visiting faculty in the department this week. Besides giving their respective talks, they will be attending seminars, reading groups, and holding office hours.

Please welcome:
Shin Ishihara (Lund University, Sweden): Monday 11/13 – Sat 11/18
Lisa Selkirk (UMass, Amherst): Friday 11/17 – Sat 11/18


Junko Ito and Armin Mester are mounting a one-day IHR (Institute of Humanities Research)-sponsored workshop on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, called SPOT (“Syntax-Prosody in Optimality Theory”) at Santa Cruz. They provide additional details:

“This is part of our research project aiming to create a computational platform that generates prosodic candidate sets from syntactic structures. Besides a presentation of the pilot SPOT program by Nick Kalivoda and Jenny Bellik, the workshop will consist of research talks focused on the syntax-prosody interface. The invited speakers are Lisa Selkirk (UMass/Amherst) and Shin Ishihara (Lund University, Sweden), and more locally, Nicholas Rolle (UC Berkeley), and Ryan Bennett and Jim McCloskey (UC Santa Cruz).

Here is the program with links to abstracts of the talks:

We hope you will be able to join us!”


This September 1st-3rd, UC Santa Cruz hosted a summer camp for community members and native speakers of two Oaxacan languages in a partnership with the non-profit organization Senderos. WLMA has a new website that shows what happened at the summer camp, check it out at the link:

Also, the Nido de Lenguas: Pop-Up will be making its first appearance this Saturday, November 4th at the Día de los Muertos festival sponsored by the Museum of Art History (MAH). See the schedule here. At the conclusion of the procession at Evergreen Cemetery (3:30-6 pm), Nido de Lenguas will have a table staffed by students with a game for learning the numbers in Santiago Laxopa Zapotec, as well as materials for learning about Nido de Lenguas events.


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.


This Friday, October 6th, at 4:00 pm in Humanities 1, Room 210, there will be a colloquium by Ashwini Deo (Ohio State University). Her talk is entitled “Alternative circumstances of evaluation and the ser/estar distinction in Spanish,” and the abstract is given below:

The Spanish copulas ser and estar have distributional and interpretational patterns that have resisted an adequate analysis. In this talk, I work towards a unified analysis that treats the two copulas as being presuppositional variants that are differentially sensitive to properties of the circumstances at which the truth of the copular sentence is evaluated. On the proposed analysis, estar presupposes that the prejacent is boundedly true at the evaluation circumstance. The prejacent’s bounded truth at a circumstance i at a given context of use c depends on two conditions:

(a) there are no-weaker alternative circumstances i′ accessible at c where the prejacent is false, and

(b) i is a maximal verifying circumstance at c.

Central to the analysis is the notion of a strength ordering over alternative circumstances of evaluation — a circumstantial counterpart to the more familiar ordering over alternative propositions. Assuming that this content is conventionally associated with estar allows for an account of its distinct flavors and readings with a range of predicates. ser is shown to be associated with its own inferences that derive from its status as the presuppositionally weaker, neutral member of the pair.