Structural Complexity in Language and Cognition

May 26-28

University of Massachusetts, Amherst


program (html)

program (pdf)


abstracts, handouts, etc.

getting to UMass

accommodations and crash space

about Amherst


Research on complex structures in language and cognition is now reaching a point where the various types of complexity can begin to be defined with sufficient precision to consolidate results and discover the sources and limits of complex human cognition The workshop will feature invited speakers from linguistics, biology, psychology, philosophy and computer science, with a panel discussion of topics such as:

• Is recursion found in non-human animals, or in human nonlinguistic cognitive abilities?
• What is the extent of crosslinguistic variation in the structures showing recursion? Are there languages that lack recursion altogether?
• Some versions of minimalist syntax do not make use of syntactic category labels, and some make crucial use of phases, which do not have a clear syntactic status. What formal mechanisms are necessary for an explanatory account of linguistic recursion?
• What is the source of the apparent correlation between the acquisition of certain recursive sentence structures and cognitive processes like False Belief reasoning?
• Certain linguistic domains such as argument structure and paradigm representation reveal a striking lack of recursion. How are these constraints related to the constraints other cognitive domains?

Our ultimate goal is to refine our knowledge of the formal basis for learning language and start to project that model into the larger sphere of general cognition.

contact organizers:

Peggy Speas

Tom Roeper

Abstract submission for enhanced poster presentations is now closed.

There will be one poster session each day, and each will be preceded by a session of brief (5-minute) public summaries of the posters. Although the formal talks in this conference are by invitation, we hope that the format of the poster session will enhance the exchange of ideas and active participation of all who attend.

Abstracts for posters should be no more than 1 page in length, in pdf format.

To submit an abstract, click on the link to the left

Submission deadline: Feb. 27 Notification: March 25.

Speakers include:

Cedric Boeckx, Harvard University
Noam Chomsky, MIT
Daniel Everett, Illinois State University
Tecumseh Fitch, St. Andrews
Koji Fujita, Kyoto University
Wolfram Hinzen, Durham University
Bart Hollebrandse, University of Groningen
Aravind Joshi, University of Pennsylvania
Eva Juarros-Daussà, University at Buffalo
Jonah Katz, MIT
Manfred Krifka, Humbolt University
Hilda Koopman, UCLA
Peter Ludlow, University of Toronto
Andrea Moro, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University
Lynn Nichols, U.C. Berkeley
Tim O'Donnell, MIT
David Pesetsky, MIT
Steve Piantadosi, MIT
Tom Roeper, UMass
Rebecca Saxe, MIT
Edward Stabler, UCLA
Jill deVilliers, Smith College