This week, we had not one, but two of our graduate students advance to candidacy by successfully defending their qualifying exams:

Kelsey Kraus defended her QE on April 17, entitled “Performance of English Discourse particles,” with committee Pranav Anand (chair), Donka Farkas, Grant McGuire, and Jean E. Fox Tree (Psychology).

Jason Ostrove defended his QE on April 20. His was entitled “Linear adjacency and case morphology in Scottish Gaelic”, with committee Sandy Chung (chair), Jim McCloskey, Jorge Hankamer, and Ruth Kramer (Georgetown).

Congratulations, Kelsey and Jason!


On Saturday, March 18th, the department hosted Linguistics at Santa Cruz (LASC), which was a resounding success, featuring talks on linguistic topics of all shapes and sizes on languages both near and far. The day of talks by second- and third-years was rounded out by distinguished UCSC alumnus Kyle Rawlins’s talk on “Unary ‘or'”. The evening was then capped off with a feast and commensurate levels of merrymaking at the Cowell Provost House. Thanks to everyone who helped make LASC happen–in particular, Lisa Hofmann, our LASC paparazzo, who provided us with this photo of the LASC presenters:

LASC 2017 presenters

Back row: Matt Wagers (LING 290 instructor), Margaret Kroll, Tom Roberts, Steven Foley, Jed Pizarro-Guevara, Jake Vincent
Front row: Hitomi Hirayama, Lauren McGarry, Kelsey Sasaki, Kyle Rawlins


Congratulations to Deniz Rudin, whose paper “Uncertainty and Persistence: a Bayesian Update Semantics for Probabalistic Expressions” was just published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Philosophical Logic. The abstract can be read below, and the full article accessed here.

This paper presents a general-purpose update semantics for expressions of subjective uncertainty in natural language. First, a set of desiderata are established for how expressions of subjective uncertainty should behave in dynamic, update-based semantic systems; then extant implementations of expressions of subjective uncertainty in such models are evaluated and found wanting; finally, a new update semantics is proposed. The desiderata at the heart of this paper center around the contention that expressions of subjective uncertainty express beliefs which are not persistent (i.e. beliefs that won’t necessarily survive the addition of new information that is compatible with all previous information), whereas propositions express beliefs that are persistent. I argue that if we make the move of treating updates in a dynamic semantics as Bayesian updates, i.e. as conditionalization, then expressions of subjective uncertainty will behave the way we want them to without altering the way propositions behave.


Matt Wagers and Steven Foley recently attended CUNY2017 at MIT. The weather was wet and icy, but this induced minimal interference with the conference atmosphere, which – to no one’s Surprisal – was productive and collegial.

Steven delivered his poster on Georgian relative clause processing, while Matt was there for his paper on applying signal detection theory to the analysis of acceptability judgments (joint work with several UMass’ans: Brian Dillon, Caren Rotello and UCSC Linguistics alumna Caroline Andrews [BA ‘11]).

Many other Slugs were in attendance, including 2 other undergraduate alumni: Jeff Runner [BA ‘89] & Shayne Sloggett [BA ‘10]; and 2 MA alumni: Katia Kravtchenko [MA ‘13; currently Saarland University] and Adam Morgan [MA ‘13; currently UCSD]. Sloggett, Kravtchenko and Morgan each delivered a spoken presentation!

An excellent feature of this year’s conference was YouTube streaming of all talks; and poster/slide PDFs deposited via Open Science Foundation. You can view Steven’s poster here or listen to Dillon, Andrews, Rotello & Wagers here.


Continuing recent work on Meso-American languages, several WLMAns will be presenting their work at the 22nd Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americans (WSCLA), from April 21-23 at the University of British Columbia. There will be two talks by current UCSC students and faculty:

Jason Ostrove “Severing PRO from its silence”
Steven Foley, Nick Kalivoda & Maziar Toosarvandani “Gender Case Constraints in Zapotec”

The program can be found here.