Several UCSC linguists flew into Hawaii for the 25th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference. The Accent Research Group — Junko Ito, Armin Mester, Nick Kalivoda and Jeff Adler (in absentia) — presented their work (with a talk and poster) on the endangered Japanese dialects of Kagoshima at the satellite workshop on prosody and prosodic interfaces. They met up with familiar Santa Cruz-related folks — Haruo Kubozono (NINJAL), former LRC visitor and workshop organizer, and Larry Hyman (UCB), the workshop commentator. Kohei Nishimura, former LRC visiting graduate student also gave a talk based on the NINJAL corpus of Spoken Japanese. At the main conference, they were joined by Hitomi Hirayama, who gave both a poster on “Discourse effects of biased questions in Japanese” at the main session and a talk (joint with Adrian Brasoveanu) at an East Asian Psycholinguistics satellite workshop on “Expressing ignorance in Japanese: contrastive wa vs. sukunakutomo.”

Pictured above: Hitomi Hirayama, Nick Kalivoda

Pictured above: Haruo Kubozono, Nick Kalivoda, Larry Hyman, Armin Mester, Junko Ito





Last week Pranav Anand attended the first workshop at the University of Siena on Evaluatives in Deliberative Contexts. He reports:

“I spent Thursday and Friday at a workshop on Evaluatives in Deliberative Contexts organized by Valentina Bianchi at University of Siena. The workshop’s goal was to create a forum for formal semanticists, formal syntacticians, corpus linguists, political scientists, and economists to come together to talk about how to model the devices people use to express opinion in political discussions. I spoke about my joint work with Jeannie Fox Tree, Lyn Walker, and Steve Whittaker on modeling political argumentation and, more recently, narrator mood. It was great to be on the ground as an interdisciplinary collaboration is just getting started and to talk with formal linguists about these tricky pragmatic issues.”


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.


Our official first week back culminated in a lovely reception catered by none other than our beloved Viva’s, where we welcomed old and new to the department.

Two new faculty members have joined the department:

Ryan Bennett (Ph.D. UCSC, 2012) comes to us from Yale, where he has been Assistant Professor, and joins the department as Assistant Professor.

Amanda Rysling (Ph.D. UMass, Amherst, 2017) joins us as Assistant Professor as well.

Our incoming graduate class for Fall 2017 consists of two Ph.D. students and four M.A. students:

Jeremie Beauchamps received his B.A. and M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Ottawa. His thesis was on posture locatives and existential expressions in Mẽbengokre. This reflects both a broader interest in the syntax-semantics interface, and commitment to original fieldwork on Mẽbengokre and other Jê languages.

Benjamin Eischens received a B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Minnesota, after which he served with AmeriCorps. He has investigated Northern Azeri – the focus of his senior thesis being its light verb constructions. He is primarily interested in syntax, with broader interests in Turkic and Semitic.

Joining us as new MA students are Richard Bibbs (B.A. with honors in Linguistics, UC Santa Cruz, Spring 2017), Dhyana Buckley (Former B.A./M.A.), Lydia Werthen (Former B.A./M.A.), and Anissa Zaitsu (Former B.A./M.A.).

Welcome also to the newest members of the BA/MA Program: Jacob Chemnick and Anny Huang (both of whom you may remember from their past presentations at LURC).

At the reception we also had the opportunity to welcome four undergraduate exchange students from ICU in Tokyo, Japan.