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!



SPLAP: Wednesday, 1:20 – 2:20 pm, LCR There will be a discussion of Mayr (2017), on the topic of “Predicting polar question embedding”

LaLoCoThursday, 2:00 – 3:00 pm, LCR Continued discussion of distributional semantics, and Tom Roberts will be presenting a paper

WLMAFriday, 10:00 – 11:30 am, Stevenson 217 Ryan Bennett will be giving a talk titled “Recursive Prosodic Words in Kaqchikel”

PhlunchFriday, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, LCR Aaron Kaplan (Assistant Professor, University of Utah) will be giving a talk titled “Positional Licensing in Harmonic Grammar”

LIP: Friday, 3:00 – 3:45 pm, Stevenson 217 Stephanie Lain will be presenting her current research


This Friday, November 17th, at 4:00 pm in Humanities 1, Room 210, there will be a colloquium talk by Brian Dillon (UMass, Amherst). His talk is entitled “Process and representation in morphosyntactic processing: A psychophysical approach using Signal Detection Theory.” The abstract is given below:

Intuitive acceptability judgments have long formed the empirical foundation of syntactic and (to a lesser extent) psycholinguistic theories (Schütze, 1996). Despite their centrality, there remain many open issues in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of acceptability judgment data. One important thread of research in experimental syntax addresses these issues by borrowing methodology from psychophysics, such as magnitude estimation (Bard et al. 1996; Cowart, 1997), to more precisely model the relationship between linguistic stimuli and perceived acceptability.

In this talk I will follow these researchers in treating intuitions of acceptability as psychological evidence. Accordingly, I will argue that acceptability judgments can be fruitfully understood as psychophysical data. To this end, I will describe a framework for analyzing acceptability judgment data using Signal Detection Theory (Bader & Haussler, 2010; Macmillan & Creelman, 2005). This approach offers an explicit model of how the underlying percept of acceptability is reflected in experimental measures of acceptability, such as judgments in a rating task.

To illustrate this approach, I survey a series of studies that investigate diverse illusory agreement licensing phenomena (“agreement attraction”) in English using untimed acceptability judgment measures (joint work with Charles Clifton, Christopher Hammerly, Joshua Levy, and Adrian Staub). I report several results. First, untimed judgment measure mirror the patterns seen in more ‘online’ measures of sentence comprehension. Second, the untimed judgment data exhibit surprisingly little evidence of contamination from slow, ‘deliberative’ processes (cf. Bader & Haussler, 2010). Third, and perhaps most interestingly, this analysis of the judgment data yields unique insights into the cognitive processes and representations that underly agreement attraction effects. In particular, the judgment data lend support to models that analyze illusory agreement errors as the result of mis-identification of an agreement controller in working memory (e.g. Badecker & Kuminiak, 2007; Wagers et al., 2009), rather than models that locate the error in a noisy representation of the morphosyntactic features of the agreement controller (e.g. Eberhard, Cutting & Bock, 2005).


SPLAP: Wednesday, 1:20 – 2:20 pm, LCR There will be a discussion of Chapter 3 of Wataru Uegaki’s dissertation

s/lab: Wednesday, 3:00 – 4:00 pm, LCR Amanda Rysling and visiting BA alum Shayne Sloggett will be presenting

LaLoCoThursday, 2:00 – 3:00 pm, LCR Continued discussion of  Chapter 5 of the textbook “Intro to Connectionist Modeling of Cognitive Processes”, which is about back-propagation and multi-layer networks

PhlunchFriday, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, LCR Andrew Angeles will be leading a discussion of “Postfocal Downstep in German” (Kügler and Féry 2017)