Faculty member Eva Wittenberg, together with former postdoc Shota Momma (UMass Amherst) and colleague Elsi Kaiser (USC), has a new paper out in Glossa:
Wittenberg, E., Momma, S., & Kaiser, E. (2021). Demonstratives as bundlers of conceptual structure. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 6(1), 33. 1-30. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.917
Pronoun resolution has long been central to psycholinguistics, but research has mostly focused on personal pronouns (“he”/“she”). However, much of linguistic reference is to events and objects, in English often using demonstrative pronouns, like “that”, and the non-personal pronoun “it”, respectively. Very little is known about potential form-specific preferences of non-personal and demonstrative pronouns and the cognitive mechanisms involved in reference using demonstratives. We present a novel analysis arguing that the bare demonstrative “that” serves a different function by bundling, and making linguistically accessible, complex conceptual structures, while the non-personal pronoun “it” has a form-specific preference to refer to noun phrases mentioned in the previous discourse. In two English self-paced reading studies, each replicated once with slight variations, we show that readers are reading the demonstrative slower throughout, independently of frequency or complexity of the referent, as a reflection of differences in processing demonstratives vs. pronouns. These findings contribute to two distinct but connected research areas: First, they are compatible with an emergent experimental literature showing that pronominal reference to events is preferably done with demonstratives. Second, our model of demonstratives as conceptual bundlers provides a unified framework for future research on demonstratives as operators on the interface between language and broader cognition.
Faculty member Ivano Caponigro gave a virtual colloquium talk in the Linguistics Department at the University of Kansas on Thursday February 25, 2021. His presentation was on ‘Mesoamerican insights on headless relative clauses and the syntax/semantics interface’ with data and generalization from his new book Headless Relative Clauses in Mesoamerican Languages, which he co-edited with Harold Torrence and Roberto Zavala Maldonado. The book results from a 4-year collaborative project studying 15 languages from 5 language families and involving 21 scholars from Mexico, USA, Canada, and France. On Friday February 26, Ivano had individual meetings with graduate students and faculty members.
Faculty Rachel Mayberry recently gave two invited talks in discussing recent findings regarding the critical period for language:
“Post-childhood first-language development: What it looks like and what it means,” a keynote presented at the First National Conference about teaching Portuguese as a second language for the Deaf: the curriculum of basic education and higher education on November 10, 2020.
“The acquisition of sentence structure under conditions of extreme language delay,” an invited talk given to the Linguistics Department at the University of Pennsylvania on November 13, 2020.
Spanish Academic coordinator Alicia Muñoz Sánchez and French Academic coordinator Stéphanie Gaillard gave a talk on “The core of language teaching: an approach to effective teacher training” at the Symposium on Language Pedagogy in Higher Education on Saturday October 3rd, 2020. The conference was supposed to take place in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois but was moved online because of COVID-19.
Faculty member Ivano Caponigro has edited the volume Headless Relative Clauses in Mesoamerican languages (Oxford University Press) together with Prof. Harold Torrence (UCLA) and Prof. Roberto Zavala Maldonado (CIESAS, Mexico). The book results from a 4-year project in which a team of 21 scholars from Mexico, USA, Canada, and France investigated the morpho-syntax and semantics of several varieties of headless relative clauses across 15 languages (all from Mesoamerica but one) by adopting the same template, definitions, and data collection methodologies.
Link to the Publisher’s book webpage (with book endorsements)
Link to the project website (with video interviews to each scholar involved in the project)
Link to the book webpage within the project website (with freely available chapters)
Faculty member Eva Wittenberg, PI of the Language Comprehension Lab, just received both an IBM University Award and a UCSD Innovation Grant for Inclusive Research Excellence, to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic influences language comprehension throughout society, in an exciting ongoing project with colleagues Rachel Ostrand, Dan Kleinman, and Adam Morgan. Dr. Wittenberg was also awarded a Yankelovich Center Book Manuscript/Grant Proposal Improvement Grant.
Faculty member Eva Wittenberg has been awarded a UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences research grant to investigate counterfactuals like, “If I had bought toilet paper in February, I would have one fewer worry right now.” Congratulations, Eva!
Faculty member Ivano Caponigro is giving a talk on “Logic and Grammar: Richard Montague’s Turn towards Natural Language” at the Working Group in the History and Philosophy of Logic, Mathematics, and Science at UC Berkeley on March 18, 2020. Ivano will present some of the findings from the intellectual and personal biography of Richard Montague (1930-1971) that he is currently working on.