LURC 2018

This year’s Linguistics Undergraduate Research Conference
(LURC) will take place on Friday, June 8, featuring talks by three current students:

  • Alejandro Garcia: “Verb phrase ellipsis in Spanish”
  • Emily Martinez-Figueroa: “Object movement and comparatives in Spanish”
  • Kevin Sanders: “Reduplication and sonorant epenthesis in Nuxalk”

The Distinguished Alumna Address will be given by Meredith Landman (BA, 1997), currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pomona College, on “The pragmatics of the sentence-final particle o in Yoruba.” The conference will begin at 1:00pm on Friday in the Stevenson Fireside Lounge.

Click here for the LURC program.



On Friday, June 1st, Deniz Rudin successfully defended his dissertation, “Rising above commitment” before the department and an especially robust committee (Pranav Anand, chair; Adrian Brasoveanu; Donka Farkas; Cleo Condoravdi; and Dan Lassiter). Deniz’s thesis argues for a general pragmatic contribution of rising intonation in English, illustrating its application to rising declaratives and rising imperatives, the latter of which festooned his cake (provided by the firm of Foley, Kraus, Roberts, and Sasaki):



On the morning of Monday May 28 (Memorial Day) Jason Ostrove successfully defended his doctoral dissertation When φ-Agreement Targets Topics: The View from San Martín Peras Mixtec. The committee consisted of Ryan Bennett, Sandy Chung, Jim McCloskey (Chair) and alumna Ruth Kramer of Georgetown University. Jason’s dissertation explores many aspects of the clausal syntax of the variety of Mixtec associated with the town of San Martín Peras in Oaxaca, Mexico and it is, as far as is known, the first extended study of the syntax of a Mixtec language in the context of contemporary syntactic theory. The dissertation grows out of an engagement with the local Mixtec diaspora that began in Jason’s first year in the doctoral program at Santa Cruz and it is one of the many threads out of which the WLMA project grew.


Congratulations to Margaret Kroll, who successfully defended her second Qualifying Paper on April 28. The paper, entitled “Is working memory sensitive to at-issueness? Experimental evidence from at-issue appositives”, examines a curious asymmetry between how long restrictive relative clauses and long appositive relative clauses differentially impact sentence complexity. In a series of acceptability judgment studies, she demonstrates that it is not due to the variable relationship of the appositive relative clause to the discourse, contra existing proposals in the literature. Her committee consisted of Adrian Brasoveanu, Donka Farkas and Matt Wagers (chair).


For those who are of such a mind, there will be a summer school on historical/diachronic linguistics, with a particular focus on sentence types/speech acts. (One might surmise that having done a recent seminar on such topics could be relevant here.) The summer school will take place in Göttingen, Germany (site of Max Planck’s grave) from July 24th-August 4th, and is free including accommodation for University of California students. The deadline for application is February 28th.


On Tuesday, January 31st, Hannah Sande (UC Berkeley) will be giving a colloquium at 1:30pm in Hum 1, Room 210. Her talk is entitled “Modeling the morphology/phonology interface: Evidence from process morphology in Guébie”, and the abstract is below.

Work on the relationship between morphology and phonology has long been split between two views: 1) phonological phenomena occur due to the concatenation of underlying items, or 2) phonological phenomena occur due to the application of some process (Hockett, 1954; Anderson, 1992).

Here I present novel data from Guébie, an endangered Kru language spoken in Côte d’Ivoire, which bears on the crucial question of whether morphology involves item arrangement or processes. I describe two distinct phenomena in Guébie–scalar tone shift and phonologically determined agreement–which demonstrate that not all morphology involves affixation (contra Trommer and Zimmermann, 2014; Zimmermann 2016). I present a unified analysis of these two phenomena, in which morphological processes are modeled with cophonologies (Ito and Mester, 1995; Anttila, 2002; Inkelas and Zoll, 2005) that can apply in phrasal as well as in lexical contexts (cf. McPherson 2014, McPherson and Heath 2016).


The Brandeis M.A. Program in Computational Linguistics, offered by the Department of Computer Science, is an accessible, intensive two-year curriculum for students with a linguistics, language, computer science, mathematics, or science background, including students without prior study of computer science or linguistics. It features individualized curriculum plans and close teaching/mentoring relationships with faculty and boasts high placement rates in industry jobs and PhD programs. Visit the program website for more information.