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.