3 faculty members presenting at WCCFL 40

Faculty members Andy Kehler, Sharon Rose, and Michelle Yuan are presenting at the 40th meeting of the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 40), which is organized by the Linguistics Department at Stanford University and takes place virtually on May 13-15.

Andrew Kehler, In defense of referential theories of VP-ellipsis

Himidan Hassen (Independent scholar), Peter Jenks (University of California, Berkeley), Sharon Rose, A’-satisfaction with φ-interaction in Tira

Michelle Yuan, A pseudo-relative in Inuit

Tory Sampson attends Institute of the Inclusive Assessment of Multimodal Multilinguals (IAM3)

Graduate student Tory Sampson will be attending the Institute of the Inclusive Assessment of Multimodal Multilinguals (IAM3), a two-week program taking place this upcoming June at Stockholm University in Sweden, The program consists of daily seminars about issues related to translanguaging in deaf people as well as training workshops of online methodologies including eye tracking, ERP, and fMRI.

Nina Feygl Semushina and Rachel Mayberry have a new paper!

Alumna Nina Feygl Semushina (postdoc, Goldin-Meadow Laboratory, University of Chicago) and faculty member Rachel Mayberry have a new open-access paper in Language Learning and Development, titled “Number Stroop Effects in Arabic Digits and ASL Number Signs: The Impact of Age and Setting of Language Acquisition.”


Multiple studies have reported mathematics underachievement for students who are deaf, but the onset, scope, and causes of this phenomenon remain understudied. Early language deprivation might be one factor influencing the acquisition of numbers. In this study, we investigated a basic and fundamental mathematical skill, automatic magnitude processing, in two formats (Arabic digits and American Sign Language number signs) and the influence of age of first language exposure on both formats by using two versions of the Number Stroop Test. We compared the performance of individuals born deaf who experienced early language deprivation to that of individuals born deaf who experienced sign language in early life and hearing second language learners of ASL. In both formats of magnitude representation, late first language learners demonstrated overall slower reaction times. They were also less accurate on incongruent trials but performed no differently from early signers and second language learners on other trials. When magnitude was represented by Arabic digits, late first language learners exhibited robust Number Stroop Effects, suggesting automatic magnitude processing, but they also demonstrated a large speed difference between size and number judgments not observed in the other groups. In a task with ASL number signs, the Number Stroop Effect was not found in any group, suggesting that magnitude representation might be format-specific, in line with the results from several other languages. Late first language learners also demonstrate unusual patterns of slower reaction time for neutral rather than incongruent stimuli. Together, the results show that early language deprivation affects the ability to automatically judge quantities expressed both linguistically and by Arabic digits, but that it can be acquired later in life when language is available. Contrary to previous studies that find differences in speed of number processing between deaf and hearing participants, we find that when language is acquired early in life, deaf signers perform identically to hearing participants.

Michelle Yuan has a new paper in Linguistic Inquiry

Faculty member Michelle Yuan has a new paper in Linguistic Inquiry, titled “Case as an Anaphor Agreement Effect: Evidence from Inuktitut”.

Here is the abstract:

The Anaphor Agreement Effect (AAE) is the cross-linguistic inability for anaphors to co-vary with Φ-agreement (Rizzi 1990; Woolford 1999), with languages making use of a variety of strategies that conspire to circumvent this effect. In this short paper, I identify and confirm a prediction arising from two previous observations by Woolford (1999) concerning the scope of the AAE, based on new evidence from Inuktitut (Eastern Canadian Inuit). I propose that anaphors in Inuktitut are lexically specified as projecting additional syntactic structure, spelled out as oblique case morphology; because Φ-Agree in Inuktitut may only target ERG and ABS arguments, encountering an anaphor inevitably leads to failed Agree in the sense of Preminger (2011, 2014). I moreover argue that this exact AAE pattern is previously unattested, yet is predicted to arise given the range of existing strategies. Finally, this paper provides evidence against previous detransitivization-based approaches to reflexivity in Inuktitut (e.g. Bok-Bennema 1991).

Nina Feygl Semushina co-organizes a workshop on Sign Language studies at V-NYI

Graduate student Nina Feygl Semushina organized a virtual workshop on “Sign Language Studies” on July 21-30, together with Masha Esipova (Princeton University), Philippe Schlenker (NYU/CNRS), and Valeria Vinogradova (University of East Anglia). The workshop highlighted different areas of sign language linguistics, such as iconicity, variation, language acquisition, and sign & gesture. On July 28, Nina gave a presentation on “Acquisition of number and language: does the order matter? Age of first language acquisition effects on automatic number processing.
The workshop was dedicated to the memory of Tatiana Davidenko, a pioneering Deaf teacher and researcher of Russian Sign Language, who passed away in June 2020.
The workshop was part of the Virtual Summer Institute of Linguistics, Cognition, and Culture (V-NYI), organized by Stony Brook University (NY) and Herzen State Pedagogical University (St. Petersburg, Russia). This year, V-NYI Summer Institute connected 301 students & 55 faculty members from 43 countries.

Matthew Carter, Nina Hagen Kaldhol, and Matt Zaslansky presented at SLE

Ph.D. students Matthew Carter, Nina Hagen Kaldhol and Matt Zaslansky gave talks at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. The conference was supposed to take place in Bucharest, but was moved online. The organizers did a great job in making a virtual program, including a welcome session with musical performances from all over Europe!

Matthew Carter. “What Licenses Polyfunctionality?: The Case of /b3/ in Ket”. https://osf.io/qhb5u/

Nina Hagen Kaldhol and Sverre Stausland Johnsen. “Grammaticalization in Somali and the shaping of prosodic types”. https://osf.io/945wh/

Matthew Zaslansky. “Persistence and variation in Turkic deponent verbs”. https://osf.io/9g745/

Language Comprehension Lab presentations at SAFAL-1 and AMLaP

Our Language Comprehension Lab has four presentations this week, one at the First South Asian Forum on the Acquisition and Processing of Language (SAFAL), and three at AMLaP:

Ivano Caponigro is presenting at UC Berkeley

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.