The 2nd Annual FaculTea

New and returning students are welcome!

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Attention New Students: Classics, Modern Languages, and LINGUISTICS Orientation!

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The Linguistics Tutor Bank

Do you need some extra help with your Linguistics studies? Hosted by the Linguistics Student Association, the Tutor Bank is a resource for any and all students taking a Linguistics class. In the Tutor Bank you will find a listing of contact information for your peers that have achieved an A(+) in the classes they offer tutoring for.

Find the tutor bank at (or click the “Peer Tutoring” heading to the upper right).
There is a standard agreement of a rate of 20$/hour.

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Linguistics Colloquium: Todd Clary

Where/when: April 10 th,  4:15pm in H527

Abstract: Vedic √vŕ̥dh

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Linguistics Colloquium: Hannes A. Fellner The position of Tocharian in Indo-European: Evidence from nominal morphology

When: April 7th, 4:15pm, in H-527





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Linguistics Colloquium: Michela Ippolito “How similar is similar enough?”

Time: 4:15
Where: 4:15


In this talk I investigate the issue of the context-dependence of counterfactual conditionals and how the context constrains similarity in selecting the right set of worlds necessary in order to arrive at their correct truth-conditions. The present proposal is that similarity is constrained by what I call Consistency and Non-Triviality. Assuming a model of the discourse along the lines proposed by Roberts (1996) and Buring (2003), according to which conversational moves are answers to often implicit questions under discussion, the idea behind Non-Triviality is that a counterfactual statement answers a conditional question under discussion and, therefore, is required to make a non-trivial assertion. I show that nonaccidental generalizations which have often been taken to play an important role in the interpretation of counterfactuals, are crucial in selecting which conditional question is under discussion, and I propose a formal mechanism to identify the relevant question under discussion.

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Colloquium: Dr. Sverre Stausland Johnsen on Vowel reduction in Old English and its origin in phonetic error

When: Friday February 13th 4:15pm
Where: H-527



In Old English, an original unstressed long *’ō’ is in some
morphological categories reflected as variation between ‘u’ and ‘a’.
The traditional explanation for this variation is that *’ō’ generally
developed to ‘a’, but that it developed to ‘u’ when the following
syllable also had a *’u’.

My hypothesis is that *’ō’ reduced to ‘u’ in medial syllables due to
the short duration of such syllables. A statistical study of an Old
English corpus strongly supports my new hypothesis, and finds no
support for the traditional explanation. I suggest that *’ō’ has
reduced and raised to ‘u’ as the result of phonetic errors by speakers
and listeners, and that a purely grammatical account for this
phenomenon seems redundant.



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Linguistics Colloquium: Jonathan Bobaljik

(Im)possible suppletive patterns

The comparative and superlative corresponding to good are suppletive: better and best rather than hypothetical, but unacceptable, *gooder, *goodest. In a large, cross-linguistic survey of suppletion in adjectives (Bobaljik 2012), it turns out that some patterns of suppletion are widely attested, while others are virtually unattested. For example, essentially no language has a pattern like *good-better-goodest in which only the comparative is suppletive. Looking at a large, cross-linguistic sample (tens or hundreds of languages) allows us to distinguish between accidental and systematic gaps, and to seek explanations for generalizations that appear to be linguistic universals.

In this talk, I will go over an explanation for some of the universals presented in Bobaljik 2012, focusing in particular on the role of structure within words. The explanation of why ABA patterns like *good-better-goodest do not occur provides us with a template for looking for structure in words beyond adjectives. Armed with this ‘structure-detector’, we will look at a large survey of pronominal paradigms. In pronouns too we find that some patterns of suppletion are widely attested, while others are virtually unattested. The conclusions developed on the basis of adjectives lead us to posit hidden structure in pronouns as well, as an explanation for apparent universals.

*in collaboration with: Peter Smith, Beata Moskal, Jungmin Kang, Ting Xu

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McGill Colloquium: Dialect variation and phonetic change: Incipient tonogenesis in Khmer

Below is information pertaining to McGill’s Colloquium:

Speaker: James Kirby (University of Edinburgh)
When: Monday, Jan 19, 3:30
Place: Education Building, room 627

Title: “Dialect variation and phonetic change: Incipient tonogenesis in Khmer”

Unlike many languages of Southeast Asia, Khmer (Cambodian) is not a tone language, but an incipient tone contrast has been noted in several Khmer dialects for at least 50 years. While the process of tonogenesis is reasonably well-understood, the manner by which it seems to be taking place in Khmer – conditioned by loss of onset /r/ – has not been reported for any other language. In this talk, I will compare new acoustic and perceptual data on the emergence of tone in two varieties of Khmer: the colloquial speech of the capital Phnom Penh, and the dialect spoken in Kiên Giang province, Vietnam. I will show how this sound change may have been set in motion by devoicing of /r/, and sketch a statistical learning account of how differences in the perception of devoicing might help explain the observed differences between dialects. Finally, I will briefly discuss the implications of these findings for our understanding of tonogenesis and phonetic change more generally.


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