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.

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.

Ivano Caponigro presenting parts of his biography of Richard Montague in three continents

Ivano Caponigro has been invited to present parts of his forthcoming intellectual and personal biography of Richard Montague (1930-1971), the father of formal semantics, at Harvard University (May 21), Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany (July 10), Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia (August 10), and CNRS and University of Nantes, France (September 20).

A new grant for SemanticsBabble from the Institute of Arts & Humanities

Ivano Caponigro (Linguistics) and Jonathan Cohen (Philosophy) have been awarded a grant from the Institute of Arts & Humanities (IAH)  at UC San Diego in support of SemanticsBabble, a weekly informal discussion group open to everybody who is interested in theoretical and experimental aspects of semantics and related areas such as its interface with syntax, pragmatics, and philosophy of language. This is the 5th time SemanticsBabble receives an IAH grant.

Ivano Caponigro has been awarded a UC MEXUS/CONACYT research grant

Ivano Caponigro has been awarded a collaborative research grant from The University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS) and El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología – Mexico (CONACYT) for his collaborative project on the “Morpho-syntax and semantics of headless relative clauses across Mesoamerican languages” in collaboration with Harold Torrence (UCLA) and Roberto Zavala (CIESAS, Chiapas).

Investigating Thematic Roles through Implicit Learning: Evidence from Light Verb Constructions

Wittenberg, Eva, Khan, Manizeh, & Snedeker, Jesse (2017): Investigating Thematic Roles through Implicit Learning: Evidence from Light Verb Constructions. Frontiers in Psychology, 8:1089.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01089/full

Abstract:

The syntactic structure of a sentence is usually a strong predictor of its meaning: Each argument noun phrase (i.e., Subject and Object) should map onto exactly one thematic role (i.e., Agent and Patient, respectively). Some constructions, however, are exceptions to this pattern. This paper investigates how the syntactic structure of an utterance contributes to its construal, using ditransitive English light verb constructions, such as “Nils gave a hug to his brother”, as an example of such mismatches: Hugging is a two-role event, but the ditransitive syntactic structure suggests a three-role event. Data from an eye-tracking experiment and behavioral categorization data reveal that listeners learn to categorize sentences according to the number of thematic roles they convey, independent of their syntax. Light verb constructions, however, seem to form a category of their own, in which the syntactic structure leads listeners down an initial incorrect assignment of thematic roles, from which they only partly recover. These results suggest an automatic influence of syntactic argument structure on semantic interpretation and event construal, even in highly frequent constructions.