Eva Wittenberg presenting at SALA

Eva Wittenberg is presenting at the 34th South Asian Languages Analysis Roundtable (SALA-34) at the University of Konstanz, Germany on June 19-21, 2018:

Ashwini Vaidya and Eva Wittenberg, “Frequency regulates argument sharing effects in Hindi light verb constructions” (talk)

Eva Wittenberg and Ashwini Vaidya, “Peeling oranges in Hindi: Ergative case-marking as cue in real-time event construal” (poster)


UC San Diego Linguistics at CUNY

Our graduate students Dayoung Kim and Till Poppels, our postdoc William Matchin, and our faculty members Grant Goodall, Andrew Kehler, and Eva Wittenberg are presenting five posters at the ​31st Annual CUNY Sentence Processing Conference at UC Davis on March 15-17, 2018:

Suhas Arehalli and Eva Wittenberg: “The mess reveals the system: People use top-down cues to resolve errors in contexts with highly random noise, but not with highly structured noise”

Dayoung Kim and Grant Goodall: “Complexity effects in A- and A’-dependencies”

Adam Morgan, Titus von der Malsburg, Victor S. Ferreira and Eva Wittenberg: “This is the structure that we wonder why anyone produces it: Resumptive pronouns in English hinder comprehension”

Till Poppels and Andrew Kehler: “Reconsidering asymmetries in voice-mismatched verb phrase ellipsis”

William Matchin, Diogo Almeida, Jon Sprouse, and Gregory Hickok: “Subject island violations involve increased semantic processing, but not increased verbal working memory resources: evidence from fMRI”

William Matchin is also giving a talk:

William Matchin, Christian Brodbeck, Christopher Hammerly, and Ellen Lau:
“The temporal dynamics of structure and content in the language network”

Language Comprehension Lab Talks

The Language Comprehension Lab has two talks at the AMLaP-Asia 2018 conference in Hyderabad, India:

“This is the structure that we wonder why anyone produces it: Resumptive pronouns in English hinder comprehension”
Talk by Adam Morgan, Titus von der Malsburg, Victor S. Ferreira and Eva Wittenberg

“Frequency effects modulate argument sharing effects in Hindi LVCs”
Talk by Ashwini Vaidya and Eva Wittenberg

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.



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.