This Friday, February 16th, at 1:20 pm in Humanities 1, Room 210, there will be a colloquium by Adam Ussishkin (University of Arizona). His talk is entitled “Roots, or consonants? On the early role of morphology in lexical access.” The abstract is given below:

Words consist of a phoneme or letter sequence that maps onto meaning. Most prominent theories of both auditory and visual word recognition portray the recognition process as a connection between these units and a semantic level. However, there is a growing body of evidence in the priming literature suggesting that there is an additional, morphological level that mediates the recognition process. In morphologically linear languages like English, however, morphemes and letter or sound sequences are co-extensive, so the source of priming effects between related words could be due to simple phonological overlap as opposed to morphological overlap. In Semitic languages, though, the morphological structure of words reduces this confound, since morphemes are interdigitated in a non-linear fashion. Semitic words are typically composed of a discontiguous root (made up of three consonants) embedded in a word pattern specifying the vowels and the ordering between consonants and vowels. Active-passive pairs in Maltese illustrate this relationship (the root is underlined); e.g., fetaħ ‘open’-miftuħ ‘opened’. In this talk, I report on a series of experiments on the Semitic language Maltese investigating the extent to which root morphemes facilitate visual and auditory word recognition, and to what extent potential priming effects are independent of the phonological overlap typically inherent in morphological relationships. These experiments make use of the visual masked (Forster and Davis, 1984) and auditory masked (Kouider and Dupoux, 2005) priming techniques. The results of the experiments show that not only do roots facilitate visual and auditory word recognition in Maltese, but that these morphological effects are independent of phonological overlap effects.


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.


Last Saturday (November 18), the department hosted an IHR-funded workshop entitled Syntax-Prosody in Optimality Theory (SPOT). The workshop, which was organized by Junko Ito and Armin Mester, featured invited talks from guests Shinichiro Ishihara (Lund University), Lisa Selkirk (UMass Amherst), and Nicholas Rolle (UC Berkeley). There were also several talks from UCSC students and faculty. Jenny Bellik and Nick Kalivoda presented their application SPOT, a computational tool for research on the syntax-prosody interface, and some theoretical consequences of the program’s constraint definitions. Ryan Bennett (UCSC) presented joint work with Jim McCloskey (UCSC) and Emily Elfner (York University) on “Incorporation, focus and the phonology of ellipsis in Irish”. The talks all resulted in stimulating discussion. In addition to the visiting speakers, interested faculty and students made the journey to Santa Cruz from Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Fresno State. The workshop culminated in a reception, where the warm and friendly air and conversation continued.

Below are a few photos from Junko’s phone. More photos from the IHR photographer coming soon!