Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Club Activities Update (9/26)

We have had a lovely year so far and only expect things to get better this year in Linguistics Club! Welcome again to all our new and returning members! In case you missed it, here are some of the meetings we've had already:
-Our Mass Meeting, in which we introduced ourselves and the club, and played a rousing game of MooT! Both teams (the Afro-Asiatic team and the Dravidian team) tied. There was also free pizza and cookies, courtesy of the department and Sarah Harper, respectively.

-Our second meeting, where we watched Project Nim and had free popcorn. We also had coloring books with famous linguists. You can download the coloring book here.

-For our third meeting, we repeated an old classic, "Language and Humor Night." We watched comedians talk about language. Links will be posted later for you to see them again and show them to your friends! There was also free cake, courtesy of Cassie Kelly. (Noticing a theme?)

Keep an eye on this blog for all upcoming events! We have a "big" event (normally a guest lecture or a movie) with free pizza on the first of every month. Upcoming events include: a movie this Monday (TBA), an exec board presentation on Artificial Languages, a TV Dialects night, a collaboration with the Society of Physics Students on the Physics of Speech and Sound, and a guest appearance from Sam Epstein, plus possibly a "field trip" to the LSA Meeting in January. Stay tuned!

Michigan Linguistics Over the Summer

Welcome back, everyone! The Linguistics Club has gotten off to a great start this year with a handsome bunch of fresh faces and a great line-up of fun events. I will post more about those later ("I" being your friendly neighborhood Linguistics Club president, Amy Hemmeter), but now I want to share the stories of some of our Linguistics concentrators and their exciting summers:
Linguistics major Andrea Hernandez Morales became certified to teach ESL, and boned up her skills teaching ESL to migrant workers in Adrian, Michigan. Way to put your knowledge of Linguistics to good use to help out a community in need!

Super-senior Tony Natoci spent his summer doing research and other tasks. In his own words:

--I began work on a paper with Sam Epstein that will expand on my 615 term paper from last winter term. In it we hope to expose an inconsistency between two well known (but not as of yet thought of as conflicting) theories of chain-based quantifier scope interpretation.

--I did the dirty work (experiment coding, some experimentation, stimulus/token production, other odds and ends) for Andries's nasal assimilation project. The research question being asked, in a nutshell, is whether or not listeners can perceptually compensate for nasal place assimilation in phrases like "aspirin powder," where the word-final nasal /n/ is often pronounced as [m] because of the following labial consonant. We are also manipulating the speech rate of the phrases being presented to the listener (increasing the speech of each phrase by 20-40%) to see if speech rate affects this perceptual process. Early returns on the data suggest that it does. YAY!

--I've also done a lot of work with ultrasound imaging. I helped Jon Yip, a third-year graduate student, align his ultrasound frames with their auditory counterparts, a time consuming but essential step, especially for Jon's project, which explores the timing of articulatory gestures in modern Greek. I've also been working for Andries and Pam on their own project involving ultrasound images of the tongue. My task here has been to draw point-by-point tongue contours with the help of the contouring program EdgeTrak. It's tedious work (as with all ultrasound research, as you may be gathering), but the ultimate reward - millisecond by millisecond data showing exactly where and how the tongue moves during speech - makes the process worthwhile.

Senior Emily Reimann also worked on research. She worked with Acrisio Pires on bilingualism and 2nd language acquisition experiments, scrambling, and wh-question constructions. As part of the job, she tutored a research assistant in basic syntax, and sat in on group research meetings. She recently headed to Turkey for a conference in Turkish linguistics to gather information for her honors thesis.

And finally, we have more research from senior Carl Veshka. Carl spent this Summer conducting research on syllable contact in Korean. In Korean, there is a syllabification process that results in a tautosyllabic consonant cluster onset in a succeeding syllable. Carl established that this type of syllabification occurs in Korean in order to satisfy proper syllable contact in Korean. He took this research a step further looking at the production of made-up [CVNGVC]- words (where N stands for nasal and G stands for glide) in Korean. In this study he set out to determine whether the nasal stop in [CV.NGVC]- words surfaced as an alveolar nasal stop or a palatal nasal stop. The study showed that nasal stops in [CV.NGVC]- indeed are palatal and not alveolar. Hypothesizing about why this place change occurs is still in progress.

Congratulations to all of our seniors who spent their summer doing something academic and productive. Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Theme Semester 2012! And a special presentation from phonology professor Andries Coetzee!


The website recently went up for the Theme Semester 2012 - Language: The Human Quintessence. I highly suggest you check it out. Some highlights include the MLK speaker Leanne Hilton from UC Berkeley talking about language revitalization, John Rickford from Stanford, a specialist on AAVE, and Robert Mankoff of the New Yorker talking about Language and Humor. There is also a film series, two conferences and so so much more! Your Ling Club Exec Board will hold a meeting to determine Ling Club's place in all of this, whether we should continue normal meetings, and I assure you we will try our best to get most of the speakers to come have breakfast with us, even though based on the calendar we may not be having many of them on our normal Fridays.
And if THAT wasn't enough excitement for you, please come to our meeting NEXT week (12/5) to eat FREE pizza and see our guest speaker, Andries Coetzee! He will be giving a basic overview of his major areas of research interest and how he ended up where he is:

My life in Linguistics
I started my college life at a small university in South Africa with a
focus on Hebrew and Greek, and I ended up in Linguistics at the
University of Michigan. In this presentation, I will review the
(mostly) academic route that I took between these two points. I will
focus on the different kinds of research that I have conducted over
the years as I traversed the route from rural South Africa to the big
city life of Ann Arbor! Over the years, my research has focused on:

(i) Biblical Hebrew: How to account for specific issues in the grammar
of Biblica Hebrew, using current linguistic theories.
(ii) Phonological Theory: My graduate education at UMass was very
strongly theory oriented -- with a focus on Optimality Theory. Much of
the research that I have done during grad school, and since then, has
been an exploration of the formal properties of Optimality Theoretic
grammars, and what we can learn from this about how language works.
(iii) Laboratory Phonology: Under the influence of colleagues here at
Michigan, I have also in recent years started exploring more how to
test linguistic theories in the phonology laboratory.

I will give short examples of each of these strands of my research,
and in the process, hopefully give an overview of the different types
of research that can be done in phonology.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tonight: Meet 'n' Greet with EMU!

Hello again all! Sorry for the confusion about tonight's activity. Tonight is a Meet 'n' Greet with EMU, where we will have free coffee and tea. Please drop by and discuss language and linguistics with our friends next door.

This is their Ling Club blog.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tonight: Christina Samurkas on Cape Verdean Creole!

Join us as our own Christina Samurkas informs us about Cape Verdean Creole, a Portuguese-lexifier language of Cape Verde!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Colloquium Breakfast TOMORROW (11/18)!

Please join us as we break our fasts with Diogo Almeida, a psycholinguist and syntactician from MSU!

Here's a summary (you might want to come to the breakfast to get a primer on what all of this means!):

One of the central problems for neurobiological theories of cognition in
general, and language in particular, is how to articulate and integrate
research, to borrow Marr's (1982) terminology, at the computational,
algorithmic and implementational levels of analysis. In this talk, I will
present results of behavioral and electrophysiological experiments that
attempt to uncover indices of information retrieval from the mental
lexicon. I will argue that these indices can be used to tie together
research from different domains of psychology of language (from perception
to comprehension) with research on theoretical linguistics, and can help
establish a mutually constraining relationship across the different levels
of analysis. Based on a series of electrophysiological experiments, I will
suggest that the temporal dynamics of visual word recognition reveal (1)
that access to actual linguistic information occurs at an earlier time
frame than previously thought, (2) how we can begin to tease apart early,
bottom-up lexical recognition from slightly later lexical integration
processes in language comprehension, and (3) that continuous access to
lexical level information over time can, in some circumstances, precipitate
the generation or fine-tuning of specialized forward models in the early,
putatively domain general, visual system.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Linguistics Humor Night!

Thanks so much to Marlyse Baptista for presenting last night! Her presentation was interesting and informative, and we had an excellent turnout!
Next week (11/14/11), we'll be having a "Linguistics Humor Night", where we will watch video clips of comedians talking about language. We did this last year, and it was a lot of fun! We have a lengthy list of clips, but if you have any others, please feel free to send them to us.