Congratulations to Priyanka Biswas!

Congrats to Priyanka Biswas, who is joining Apple as a Computational Linguist. She will be working to expand Siri’s functionality internationally.

Priyanka has lectured for the Department for the past two years, teaching a variety of courses (Languages and Cultures of America, Syntax, and Computational Linguistics). We are sad to see her go, but pleased to see where she’s going!

Prof. Mayberry has been awarded a 5-year HIH research grant

Prof. Rachel Mayberry has been awarded a 5-year NIH continuation research grant on a project entitled “Age of acquisition effects on sign language development and brain processing.” The grant will secure funding for Mayberry Laboratory for Multimodal Language Development and is designed to investigate the nature and scope of the critical period for language. Here is a brief summary. A series of experiments investigate the hypothesis that development of the brain language system requires linguistic experience during early life in order to develop full functionality. The critical period for language is modeled using deafness and American Sign Language as the test case. This is possible because ASL is a natural language, and individuals born deaf often begin to learn it at a variety of ages after experiencing scant language in any form. The experiments investigate and link critical period effects on syntactic development, neurolinguistic processing, and brain structure.
Congratulations to Prof. Mayberry!

Prof. Gabriella Caballero will serve at SSILA and ELDP

Congratulations to Prof. Gabriela Caballero, who will serve linguistics in two significant capacities as of 2019.
First, she will be the new Vice President/President Elect of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA), an organization devoted to the scientific study of the languages of the Indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America. The Vice President/President Elect is a two-year term and then becomes the SSILA President. After the term of President, the position entails serving on the Executive Committee as the Past President for one year (the current president is Keren Rice).
Second, Prof. Caballero will be part of the Endangered Language Documentation Programme (ELDP) panel. The panel consists of eight academics in charge of evaluating research proposals in language documentation and linguistics carried out across the world (current members include Katia Chirkova, Pattie Epps, Nicholas Evans, Diana Forker, Jeff Good, Gary Holton, and Stephen C. Levinson). This is a 3- to 5-year appointment.

Eva Wittenberg has a new paper in Cognitive Science

Eva Wittenberg has a new paper in Cognitive Science:
 
Ziegler, J. , Snedeker, J. and Wittenberg, E. (2018), Event Structures Drive Semantic Structural Priming, Not Thematic Roles: Evidence From Idioms and Light Verbs. Cognitive Science. doi:10.1111/cogs.12687
 
Abstract:
What are the semantic representations that underlie language production? We use structural priming to distinguish between two competing theories. Thematic roles define semantic structure in terms of atomic units that specify event participants and are ordered with respect to each other through a hierarchy of roles. Event structures instead instantiate semantic structure as embedded sub‐predicates that impose an order on verbal arguments based on their relative positioning in these embeddings. Across two experiments, we found that priming for datives depended on the degree of overlap in event structures. Specifically, while all dative structures showed priming, due to common syntax, there was a boost for compositional datives priming other compositional datives. Here, the two syntactic forms have distinct event structures. In contrast, there was no boost in priming for dative light verbs, where the two forms map onto a single event representation. On the thematic roles hypothesis, we would have expected a similar degree of priming for the two cases. Thus, our results support event structural approaches to semantic representation and not thematic roles.

Andy Kehler visits the University of Cologne as a Mercator Fellow

Andy Kehler is currently finishing his first of four visits to the University of Cologne as a Mercator Fellow.   While there he presented three invited talks: “Conversational Eliciture” at the Workshop on At-Issueness, Scope, and Coherence, “Prominence in a Referential Theory of VP-Ellipsis” at the Prominence in Language 2018 Conference, and “A Bayesian Model of Pronoun Production and Interpretation” to the CRC Prominence in Language Research Group.