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.

Nina Semushina awarded CARTA Anthropogeny Fellowship

Graduate student Nina Semushina just received a CARTA Anthropogeny Fellowship for 2017-2018 year! She joined Anthropogeny Student Specialization Track a year ago, and since then she has actively participated in the program. This winter she got an MA in Linguistics from our Department and now is preparing for her future qualifying exam. Her thesis will be about the impact of delayed first language acquisition on quantitative reasoning and acquisition of numerical concepts.

More information about the Graduate Specialization in Anthropogeny can be found here: http://ling.ucsd.edu/grad/anthropogeny-specialization.html

Phonologists at SCaMP 2

Seven members of the department (Eric Bakovic, Marc Garellek, Kati Hout, Anna Mai, Adam McCollum, Eric Meinhardt, Michael Obiri-Yeboah and Sharon Rose) traveled to LA on the weekend to present a total of 4 talks and 2 posters at SCaMP (SoCal Meeting on Phonology). SCaMP was created last year by Eric Bakovic as a way to bring together phonologists at regional universities for a spring workshop and we were happy to see it continue and to participate.