Qi Cheng and Rachel Mayberry have a new paper on PNAS

Alumna Qi Cheng (Ph.D. 2020, currently assistant professor in the linguistics department at the University of Washington), faculty member Rachel Mayberry, Eric Halgren and Austin Roth (both at UC San Diego), and Denise Klein and Jen-Kai Chen (both at the Montreal Neurological Institute, MNI) just published the paper “Restricted language access during childhood affects adult brain structure in selective language regions” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Vol. 120(7). The paper shows effects of the childhood language environment on grey matter development in language relevant regions in the adult brain. These findings show that the growing brain needs linguistic stimulation for the brain-language system to fully develop.

Emily Davis presented at the Linguistic Society of America, 2023 Annual meeting

Graduate student Emily Davis presented both a talk and a poster at the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting 2023 in Denver, which was held January 5-8, 2023. The title of the talk was “Multiple center-embedding is more common in verb-final languages” and the abstract can be seen here. The poster was entitled “Learnability and emergence of dependency structures in an artificial language”, the abstract can be seen here, while the poster is below.

Michelle Yuan has a new article in Language

Faculty member Michelle Yuan has a new paper in Language:

Yuan, Michelle. 2022. Ergativity and object movement across Inuit. Language 98(3): 510-551. doi: https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.0.0270


Although the Inuit language is generally characterized as ergative, it has been observed that the ergative case patterning is relatively weaker in certain Eastern Canadian varieties, resulting in a more accusative appearance (e.g. Johns 2001, 2006, Carrier 2017). This article presents a systematic comparison of ergativity in three Inuit varieties, as a lens into the properties of case alignment and clause structure in Inuit more broadly. Building on the previous insight that ergativity in Inuit is tied to object movement to a structurally high position (Bittner 1994, Bittner & Hale 1996a,b, Woolford 2017), I demonstrate that the relative robustness of the ergative patterning across Inuit is tightly correlated with the permissibility of object movement—and not determined by the morphosyntactic properties of ERG subjects, which are uniform across Inuit. I additionally relate this correlation to another point of variation across Inuit concerning the status of object agreement as affixes vs. pronominal clitics (Yuan 2021). These connections offer testable predictions for the status of ergativity across the entire Inuit dialect continuum and yield crosslinguistic implications for the typology of case alignment, especially in how it interacts with the syntactic position of nominals.