Eva Wittenberg has two new papers out

TROTZKE, A. and WITTENBERG, E. (2017) ‘Expressive particle verbs and conditions  on particle fronting’, Journal of Linguistics, 53(2), pp. 407–435. doi: 10.1017/S0022226716000153.

Jackendoff, Ray & Eva Wittenberg (2017). Linear grammar as a possible steppingstone in the evolution of language. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24.1, pp 219–224. OpenAccess

Adam McCollum has two upcoming presentations at WCCFL 35

At this year’s West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, Adam McCollum will be giving a talk on “Non-iterative vowel harmony in Crimean Tatar” with Darya Kavitskaya from Berkeley at 9:30 on April 28th.

He will also be presenting a poster entitled “Unbounded harmony is not always myopic: Evidence from Tutrugbu” with James Essegbey from the University of Florida.

Separating viewpoint from mode of representation in iconic co-speech gestures: insights from Danish narratives

Graduate student Anne Therese Frederiksen recently published a paper on gesture form and function in Language and Cognition titled ‘Separating viewpoint from mode of representation in iconic co-speech gestures: insights from Danish narratives‘.

Abstract: During narrative retelling, speakers shift between different viewpoints to reflect how they conceptualize the events that unfolded. These viewpoints can be indicated through gestural
means as well as through verbal ones. Studies of co-speech gestures have inferred viewpoint from gesture form, i.e. how entities are mapped onto the (primarily manual) articulators, but the merits of this approach have not been discussed. The present study argues that viewpoint is more than gestural form. Despite connections between the two, many other factors may influence a gesture’s form. Assessing viewpoint from gesture form alone limits the applicability of gestural viewpoint as a window onto speakers’ event conceptualization and introduces unnecessary differences in the categorization of viewpoint across gestures types. The present study examines iconic co-speech gestures in Danish narratives, and makes explicit the means used to infer gestural viewpoint. The approach advocated here ensures that the notion of viewpoint can be applied in a principled way to all or most iconic gestures.

UC San Diego Linguistics at the LSA Annual Meeting

Many members of our department presented at the Linguistics Society of America’s 91st Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas on January 5-8. They are listed below in bold and in alphabetical order, together with their co-authors and the titles of their presentations:

Angeliki Athanasopoulou
“The acquisition of Greek clitic construction prosody: an acoustic analysis”

Angeliki Athanasopoulou, Irene Vogel (University of Delaware), Hossep Dolatian (University of Delaware)
“Are the acoustic properties of canonical and non-canonical stress the same?”

Eric Bakovic
“Apparent ‘sufficiently similar’ degemination in Catalan is due to coalescence”

Grant Goodall
“Designing a language and the design of language”

Meilin Zhan (MIT), Roger Levy (MIT), and Andrew Kehler
“Testing a Bayesian pronoun interpretation model with Chinese ba and bei”

Ryan Lepic
“A usage-based analysis of the THEME construction in ASL”

Ryan Lepic and Corrine Occhino (University of New Mexico)
“Sign language structure: a construction-theoretic perspective”

Eric Meinhardt
“Non-stationarity and other critical mathematical problems for channel coding-based explanations of variation in language production”

Savithry Namboodiripad and Grant Goodall
“Formal acceptability experiments as a tool for exploring variation in constituent order”
Titus von der Malsburg (University of Potsdam), Till Poppels, Roger Levy (MIT)
“The President gave her inauguration speech: explicit belief and implicit expectations in language production and comprehension”

William Matchin is giving a colloquium talk at UC Irvine

 William is giving a colloquium talk at UC Irvine Department of Linguistics this Monday, January 23rd, entitled “Structure and content in real-time: an integrated theory of syntax”:
A successful syntactic theory provides insight into the creative machinery of language. However, there is an apparent fundamental divide among current syntactic theories. Mainstream Generative Grammar uses the simplest possible building blocks and provides a theory of the nature of syntactic structure, but its connection to real-time sentence processing is entirely unclear. On the contrary, “lexicalist” grammatical theories posit structurally complex building blocks and
connect well with real-time sentence processing but lack insight into the origin of these structures.

In this talk I propose an integration of these two approaches: a
Minimalist Grammar as a system of conceptual-semantic combination that generates syntactic objects, and Tree-Adjoining Grammar as a system that makes efficient use of these objects during comprehension and production. I provide evidence for this integrated framework with neuroimaging experiments that localize these systems to distinct anatomical locations of the brain. I also present neuroimaging data that support the integrated approach to an important problem for syntactic theory: island phenomena. I will discuss how the integrated approach facilitates communication among syntactic theory, psycholinguistics, and neurolinguistics, and potentially allows for better understanding of language acquisition and language disorders.

If you want a quick kiss, make it count: How choice of syntactic construction affects event construal

An open access article by Eva Wittenberg and Roger Levy has just appeared in Journal of Memory and Language! Here’s the abstract:

 

When we hear an event description, our mental construal is not only based on lexical items, but also on the message’s syntactic structure. This has been well-studied in the domains of causation, event participants, and object conceptualization. Less studied are the construals of temporality and numerosity as a function of syntax. We present a theory of how syntax affects the construal of event similarity and duration in a way that is systematically predictable from the interaction of mass/count syntax and verb semantics, and test these predictions in six studies. Punctive events in count syntax (give a kiss) and durative events in mass syntax (give advice) are construed as taking less time than in transitive frame (kiss and advise). Durative verbs in count syntax (give a talk), however, result in a semantic shift, orthogonal to duration estimates. These results demonstrate how syntactic and semantic structure together systematically affect event construal.

Eva & Roger have a new paper out

Wittenberg, Eva & Roger Levy (2017). If you want a quick kiss, make it count: How choice of syntactic construction affects event construal, Journal of Memory and Language 94, 254-271.
Abstract: When we hear an event description, our mental construal is not only based on lexical items, but also on the message’s syntactic structure. This has been well-studied in the domains of causation, event participants, and object conceptualization. Less studied are the construals of temporality and numerosity as a function of syntax. We present a theory of how syntax affects the construal of event similarity and duration in a way that is systematically predictable from the interaction of mass/count syntax and verb semantics, and test these predictions in six studies. Punctive events in count syntax (give a kiss) and durative events in mass syntax (give advice) are construed as taking less time than in transitive frame (kiss and advise). Durative verbs in count syntax (give a talk), however, result in a semantic shift, orthogonal to duration estimates. These results demonstrate how syntactic and semantic structure together systematically affect event construal.