Jess H.-K. Law, doctoral student in Linguistics at Rutgers University, will be joining the Department of Linguistics at UCSC as Assistant Professor in the coming academic year! Jess works in theoretical and experimental linguistics, with a focus on semantics and pragmatics. Specifically, she enjoys puzzling over distributivity, plurality, dynamic semantics, speech acts, bare noun phrases. She writes,

There is no better home for my research and teaching than Linguistics at UC Santa Cruz, and there is no better home for my family than the beautiful city of Santa Cruz. I eagerly look forward to working alongside all the brilliant linguists at the department to push the boundary of linguistics.

Congratulations, Jess!


Hitomi Hirayama successfully defended her dissertation on February 27. The presentation investigated the interrogative use of the discourse particles wa and no(da) in Japanese, and it comprised a subset of her dissertation, entitled “Asking and Answering Questions: Discourse Strategies in Japanese.” Her committee consisted of Donka Farkas (co-chair), Adrian Brasoveanu (co-chair), and Ivy Sichel. The defense was followed by a lively celebration hosted by Donka, where members of the linguistic community came together to cheer on Hitomi’s achievements. Congratulations, Hitomi!


Junko Ito and Armin Mester have been successfully awarded a 2-year NSF grant for Syntax-Prosody in Optimality Theory (SPOT), an ongoing collaborative research project with Jenny Bellik, Nick Kalivoda, and Ozan Bellik, which aims to develop new tools for rigorously investigating the mapping from syntactic to prosodic structure in Optimality Theory.

SPOT has also received workshop funding as a Humanities Institute research cluster for 2018-19. The first SPOT workshop took place in Fall 2017.

Congratulations also to Nick Kalivoda, who will be holding a one-year postdoc position during 2018-19 on the SPOT NSF grant at UCSC.


The National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics (NINJAL)  is inviting poster submissions for the 5th NINJAL International Conference on Phonetics and Phonology (ICPP), which will take place at NINJAL on October 26-28, 2018. The three-day conference features the following two main topics: (a) sokuon, or geminate consonants (b) accent, tone, and intonation. UCSC’s  Junko Ito and Armin Mester are invited speakers.

NINJAL invites abstracts for poster presentations related to at least one of the two main topics. If it is related, any presentation is welcome, even if it is not concerned with Japanese. Abstracts on the interface between lexical accent/tone and intonation will be particularly welcome. More information on abstract submission can be found here.



In the coming week (Friday April 27 – Saturday April 28) the department will host an international workshop on the theme of Pronouns and Competition.  The theme of competition (between more and less ideal expressions of the same content) has appeared constantly in both the theoretical literature on anaphoric relations and in the psycholinguistic literature which explores the real-time expression and comprehension of such relations. This workshop aims to ask if the concepts of ‘competition’ at work here are the same or different and to re-evaluate the status of competition in both domains. Over the two days of the workshop there will be 12 oral presentations and seven poster presentations, by researchers from Santa Cruz, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Harvard, Rutgers, London, Amherst, Seattle, Leipzig, Göttingen and San Diego. More information is
available here.


UC Santa Barbara is inviting all eligible students to apply to the Santa Barbara Sneak Peak, an event of the UCSB Linguistics Department that is intended to identify and foster excellent potential graduate applicants from diverse backgrounds. The event will be held Thursday, May 31, 2018 at UCSB, and the application deadline is Monday, April 23, 2018, at 4:00 p.m.

The call for applicants, which includes information about eligibility and the application process, is given below.

The University of California recognizes the variety of personal experiences, values and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such diversity in the UC student body is integral to the University’s achievement of excellence. Santa Barbara Sneak Peek is aimed at graduate students who bring an understanding of the experiences of groups historically underrepresented in higher education. We encourage applications from individuals who meet the eligibility criteria and represent cultural, linguistic, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds not adequately represented in the graduate student population.

Participants in Santa Barbara Sneak Peek will:

– Learn about academic and research opportunities in linguistics at UCSB
– Meet with faculty and graduate students with shared research interests
– Hear from current linguistics graduate students about the graduate
program, the university, and the community of Santa Barbara
– Receive hands-on mentoring in how to create a strong graduate school application

U.S. domestic air/ground transportation and accommodations of applicants selected for participation will be paid for by UCSB.


– Current or completed B.A. or M.A. in Linguistics or a closely related field
– U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, or AB-540/DACA status
– Planned application to UCSB’s graduate program in Linguistics in
Fall 2018 (for admission for the 2018-19 academic year) or later.
Students who have applied to the graduate program previously are not
– Research focus relevant to UCSB’s discourse-functional perspective
on language and faculty research interests
– Ability to contribute to the diversity of UCSB’s graduate community
through research and/or life experience
– The application process is open to all eligible students. Students from ethnoracial and socioeconomic groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants are encouraged to present biographical material describing relevant experiences, activities, research and service, rather than simply group identification.

Selection for Santa Barbara Sneak Peek is not a guarantee of admission to UCSB.  Participants who apply to the graduate program will be evaluated according to the same criteria as all other applicants.


Applications are due via email to, by Monday, April 23, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. All materials must be in PDF format. Applications must include the following:

– A 1- to 2-page single-spaced statement of purpose indicating: (1) the student’s research interests, academic background, and experience, (2) the reason for the student’s interest in UCSB and plans for graduate study; (3) the contributions that the student can make to diversity at UCSB through research and/or life experience.
– College/university transcript(s) (an unofficial electronic version is acceptable)
– Curriculum vitae or résumé
– Letter of recommendation from a faculty member in Linguistics or a closely related field, stating (1) the student’s academic qualifications for seeking to pursue graduate study in Linguistics at UCSB; (2) the contributions that the student can make to diversity at UCSB through research and/or life experience; (3) how the student will benefit from participation in Santa Barbara Sneak Peek.  The letter must be sent directly from the letter writer to the email address above.

Applicants will be notified by no later than Monday, April 30, 2018.


The UCSB Department of Linguistics studies the ways that languages and language varieties around the world are used in everyday life. We look to social interaction, social and cultural change over time, and cognitive and biological processes to understand why languages work the way they do. We have a special focus on the languages of indigenous groups as well as the use of language by groups that are denied power within their society. We therefore have a strong commitment to using linguistics to advance social justice as well as scientific knowledge.

At the master’s level, students receive broad training in UCSB’s distinctive approach to linguistics through coursework in all subfields. At the doctoral level, students specialize in one or more linguistic subfields in order to investigate original research questions. Students may also pursue interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphases to enhance their linguistics degree.

Current faculty research projects include:

– How our bodies shape the music and rhythm of language
– African American undergraduates’ linguistic and cultural practices on college campuses
– How transgender people challenge our ideas about the relationship between language, gender, and identity
– A collaboration with members of an indigenous Mexican community in California to support the maintenance of their languages
– Documenting multiple varieties of California English
– How rare linguistic phenomena change our understanding of language
– The sound system of an endangered American Indian language spoken in Louisiana
– and many more!

For more information about linguistics at UCSB, visit the department’s

For questions about UCSB’s graduate program in linguistics, the Santa Barbara Sneak Peek event, or the application process, contact Mary Bucholtz, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Coordinator (, or Cheryl Saum, Graduate Program Advisor (

Support for Santa Barbara Sneak Peek is provided by UCSB’s Department of Linguistics and the Graduate Division, the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, and the Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Academic Policy.


The University of California does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, age, medical condition (cancer‐related), ancestry, marital status, citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam‐era veteran or special disabled veteran.