The weekly newsletter of The Department of Linguistics, The University of Massachusetts, Amherst

What's Happening In South College

April 8, 2004
Issue 2:15

Archived at


Rajesh Bhatt joins the faculty
Andries Coetzee to Michigan
Philosophy talk
Our charming old building
New work

UMass Percussion Ensemble

All that practicing has paid off: the UMass Minuteman Marching Band, often heard playing behind South College, has gotten some good press.

[Thanks to Rajesh Bhatt and Joe Pater for the pointer]

A sight we'd like to see more often

Manfred Krifka in Amherst

Joe Pater, Manfred Krifka, Peggy Speas, Lyn Frazier

From left: Joe Pater, Manfred Krifka, Peggy Speas, Lyn Frazier (April 5, 2004)

At long last, Christopher Potts has submitted his book to Oxford University Press, for publication in their series Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics (series editors David Adger and Hagit Borer).

We couldn't bear to tell Chris that his package has had a bumpy ride:

The package, with only minor damage.

This is what happens when one ships packages with the Remnant Movement company. They are going through a negative phase, so they are very likely to leave you stranded.

Correction (April 10): As is common these days in official circles, the WHISC editors misinterpreted the picture as a sign of danger when it is in fact a sign of business as usual. Chris's manuscript is depicted here lovingly decorated. Chris's editor John Davey reports that the package arrived safely despite postal strikes in Oxford.


Rajesh Bhatt has accepted our offer! He'll be in South College as of September, teaching us all new things about syntax, semantics, computational linguistics, the languages of the Indian subcontinent, and the bands of Austin.


Andries Coetzee has accepted a position in the Linguistics Department at the University of Michigan. He is the new Language Learning Visiting Research Assistant Professor.


The GLSA welcomes

John Whitman and Yoshiyuki Moriyama
Cornell University

Null Objects in Japanese Revisited

Friday, April 9, 3:30 pm, in Machmer W-26


The SPRIG [S(cripting in Perl and) PR(AAT) I(nterest) G(roup)] will meet again this coming Friday, April 9, at 9:00 am, in the Phonetics Lab. Here's your assignment:

  1. Write a script to find the beginning and end of stretches of sound and cut those stretches out.
  2. Write another script to concatenate those stretches.

There is a script that comes very close to doing the first on the PRAAT website in Mietta's scripts, called mark_pauses.praat (here). It's a very long script which shows many of the features to good advantage.

[via John Kingston]


The Department of Philosophy welcomes

David Braun
University of Rochester

Empty Names, Fictional Names, Mythical Names

Friday, April 9, 3:30 pm, in Bartlett 206


"My dissertation will get written, but it's not going to be written at school [...]"
---Anne-Michelle Tessier

The Boston Globe recently reported on our historic campus. The article describes the "handsome, 19th-century Old Chapel" as "charming from a distance". It notes that faculty generally agree that their offices are more than adequately heated. In response to the article, Assistant Professor Christopher Potts said, "My office is much bigger than my PhD advisor's, and it won't be an earthquake that causes it fall down on me". Helen Stickney, in a falling tile zone
From the Boston Globe

The article notes that parts of the campus could use some work. But this is presumably not too much of a concern. According to the article, a Carnegie Foundation study found that "62 percent of college-bound students who visited campuses ranked their appearance as a top concern". With so many prospective students concerned first and foremost with personal appearance, there is a good chance that they won't notice falling ceiling tiles and the like. UMass students are well groomed.


Andries Coetzee spoke at the MIT Phonology Circle on April 5. The title of his talk was 'Variation in a Rank-ordering Model of EVAL: Vowel Deletion in Latvian'.

* * * * *

Sam Hellmuth is presenting at this year's CLS meeting. The paper is called 'Prosodic weight and phonological phrasing in Cairene Arabic'

* * * * *

Joe Pater is an invited speaker at NYU's conference Redefining Elicitation: Novel Data in Phonological Theory (April 9-11). His talk is called 'Exceptions in Optimality Theory: typology and learnability'. The abstract is available in PDF here.

* * * * *

Tom Roeper is speaking at Wayne State University, on April 17. It's an invited lecture called 'Multiple Grammars and Small Clauses: Does the Absence of Functional Categories Invite New Meanings?' The response will be by Eugenia Casielles-Suárez (Wayne State University). Eugenia is a graduate of the UMass Spanish and Portuguese Department who worked closely with many people in South College.


FINAL Call for Papers

Psycho-computational Models of Human Language Acquisition


New Submission deadline: April 15, 2004

A COLING 2004 Workshop Geneva Switzerland August 28, 2004

Check out the description:

The workshop will be devoted to psychologically motivated computational models of language acquisition -- models that are compatible with research in psycholinguistics, developmental psychology and linguistics --- with particular emphasis on the acquisition of syntax.

Whoa! We've got all that covered!

The invited speaker is Elan Dresher.


  • no more than 8 pages (A4 or equivalent)
  • High-quality short papers or extended abstracts of 4 to 5 pages are encouraged.
  • Submissions to the lunch session on word-order should be no more than 2 pages.
  • Papers must conform to the COLING 2004 formatting guidelines.
Submissions should be sent, as attachments, to .
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