Anna Mai has a new publication in Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Graduate student Anna Mai has a new paper with Tim Sainburg (Harvard Medical School) and Timothy Gentner (UC San Diego, Psychology) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, titled “Long-range sequential dependencies precede complex syntactic production in language acquisition.” The paper finds that infant vocalizations contain long-range sequential dependencies, a property previously assumed to derive primarily from the complex syntax of adult language use. A summary of the article can also be found on Twitter here.

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.

Yuan Chai publishes paper in Languages

Graduate student Yuan Chai has a new paper (with Shihong Ye) in a special issue of  Languages devoted to exploring the interaction between phonation and prosody.

Chai, Y., & Ye, S. (2022). Checked syllables, checked tones, and tone sandhi in Xiapu Min. Languages 7(1): 47. doi:


A “checked” syllable usually refers to one with a short vowel and an oral or glottal coda, which results impressionistically in a “short” and “abrupt” quality. Although common in languages of the world, it is unclear how to characterize checked syllables phonetically. In this study, we investigated the acoustic features of checked syllables in citation and sandhi forms in Xiapu Min, an under-documented language from China. We conducted a production experiment and analyzed the F0, phonatory quality, vowel duration, and vowel quality in checked syllables. The results show that, in citation tones, checked syllables are realized with distinct F0 contours from unchecked syllables, along with glottalization in the end and a shorter duration overall. In sandhi tones, checked syllables lose their distinct F0 contours and become less glottalized. However, the shorter duration of checked syllables is retained in sandhi forms. This study lays out the acoustic properties that tend to be associated with checked syllables and can be used when testing checked syllables in other language varieties. The fact that in Xiapu Min sandhi checked tones become less glottalized but preserve their shorter duration suggests that, when checked syllables become unchecked diachronically, glottalization might be lost prior to duration lengthening.

Yaqian Huang awarded NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant

Graduate student Yaqian Huang, a PhD candidate in our department, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (Ling-DDRI, with Prof. Marc Garellek) for the project “Phonetics of period doubling.” The goal of the project is to study the production and perception of period doubling, an irregular voice quality with more than one pitch. Yaqian will characterize the articulatory and acoustic properties of period doubling, and determine how it affects pitch and tone perception.

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).