Weekly Digest, 1/27/23

Happy Year of the Rabbit to all those who celebrate, their family, and their friends!

If you have news to share, please submit your news for future issues of SCling Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s ✨fresh✨ at USC Linguistics.

USC Working Papers call for papers

The call for papers for Volume 6 of the USC Working Papers in Linguistics is out! See below for information from graduate student editors Darby Garchek and Metehan Oğuz:

We are happy to announce again that we are now accepting submissions for our annual departmental journal, USC Working Papers in Linguistics! For this year’s volume, we will be accepting paper submissions until the deadline, May 15th, 2023.

For this year’s volume, we are looking for submissions from both students and faculty that are completed projects which are close to being ready to send to journals. This includes things like screening project papers, manuscripts, and conference presentations for conferences without proceedings. If you have a question about whether something should be submitted, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

Please note that the publications in this journal are considered a work-in-progress, and publication in this journal does not preclude publication of the same work in a different journal. The idea behind these submissions is to provide opportunities for students and faculty to get smaller publications on their way to more outward-facing journal publications. This allows those who submit to receive more feedback from other members of the department, and also acquire more publications for their CVs/websites/etc. It also allows other linguistics departments to see what sort of work we are producing at USC.

You can find the call for papers with more information on submission requirements on our websiteSubmissions should be sent to uscwpinling@gmail.com. You can also find the style sheet for submissions attached to this email. We are accepting both LaTeX and word submission this year.

We look forward to your submissions! Please feel free to email us with any questions you might have!

Darby & Mete

Look Who’s Talking 🗣

  • Elsi Kaiser lead a seminar on ambiguity in language titled “Ambiguity in Language: At the Intersection of Linguistics and Psychology ” at Semper Curious. This is an organization that provides seminars by guest scholars on various topics (history, art, psychology, chemistry, anthropology, etc) that interested individuals can sign up for in order to learn about new topics.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Linguistics graduate students celebrated the Lunar New Year on Saturday with a dinner at Northern Cafe. Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Upcoming Events

Departmental Colloquium on Feb. 2

This is a reminder that there will be a departmental colloquium on Thursday, 2/2 at 3:30pm in GFS 330. Please check your email for details.

Department Events

  • Monday, 1/30 at 1pm @ PhonLunch: Professionalization talk
  • Tuesday, 1/31 at 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Darby Garchek, title TBD
  • Wednesday, 2/1 at 5pm @ MeaningLab: Yasha Sapir (Philosophy) on “Slurs denote subordinated social properties and presuppose bad background theories”
  • Friday, 2/3 at 1:30pm @ S-Side Story: paper discussion, details circulated via email

Weekly Digest, 1/20/2023

It’s shaping up to be a busy semester already!

If you have news to share, please submit your news for future issues of SCling Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s ✨fresh✨ at USC Linguistics.

Dani Byrd interviewed for USC Dornsife Magazine

An article published in USC Dornsife Magazine on Dec. 15, 2022 titled “Hear, Hear!” by Meredith McGroarty examines the power of sound and recent advances in combating hearing loss. The author interviewed Dani Byrd, who offered insight into linguistic approaches to the study of sound and how the delicate and intricate machinery of the ear is critical to our ability to interact with the acoustic world around us.

“Isn’t it amazing,” says Byrd, “that these tiny fluctuations in air pressure can make you laugh or cry, can convey urgency, can make you fall in love?”

“Hear, Hear!” by Meredith McGroarty

Upcoming Events


There will be several colloquia this semester. Please mark your calendars for the first three, which are scheduled for the following days:

  • Thursday, Feb. 2 at 3:30pm
  • Monday, Feb. 6 at 3:30pm
  • Thursday, Feb. 9 at 3:30pm

Department Events

  • PhonLunch: no meeting next week
  • Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Second round of practice talks for CAMP5
  • Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 4:30pm @ MeaningLab: Anja Chivukula (Philosophy) on “Toward a hybrid theory of conversational relevance”

Weekly Digest, 1/13/23

Happy New Year, Trojans, and welcome to the Spring 2023 semester!

If you have news to share, please submit your news for future issues of SCling Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s ✨fresh✨ at USC Linguistics.

Narayanan wins USC + Amazon research award

Shri Narayanan‘s research on “Bilinear mechanisms for physical layer security in the Internet of Things” was one of five faculty projects selected for a research award from the USC + Amazon Center on Secure and Trusted Machine Learning. The Center was established in 2021 to support “fundamental research and development of new approaches to machine learning (ML) privacy, security, and trustworthiness.” You can read more about the center and faculty awards here. Congratulations, Shri!

USC MS in Speech-Language Pathology tours Dynamic Imaging Center

Dani Byrd, Yijing Lu, Prakash Kumar (Engineering), and Shri Narayanan hosted a tour and seminar for the USC Dynamic Imaging Science Center for 25 faculty and students from the USC MS Program in Speech-Language Pathology on Nov. 30, 2022. Photo credit: Mary Yung.

PhD alum Hagedorn promoted to Associate Professor

Congratulations to PhD alum Christina Hagedorn on her recent promotion to Associate Professor at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. Check out what Christina has been working on on her website.

Look Who’s Talking 🗣

  • Jessica Campbell presented a poster on “Frequency stability of articulatory and acoustic modulation functions” at the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) meeting held Dec. 5-9 in Nashville, TN.
  • Reed Blaylock gave a plenary talk titled “Beatboxing Phonology” at the 7th Asian Junior Linguist Conference held on Dec. 11 at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.
  • Several USC linguists presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), held in Denver, Colorado Jan. 5-8:
    • Jun Lyu and Elsi Kaiser on “Chinese complex reflexive ta-ziji as an exempt anaphor”
    • Elango Kumaran on “Number agreement does not always favor plural”
    • Luismi Toquero-Pérez on “The syntactic representation and semantics of number neutrality: The case of Alasha Mongolian”
  • Jun Lyu and Elsi Kaiser gave a poster presentation on “Empathic and logophoric binding of Chinese reflexives: An experimental investigation” at the 53rd meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS) held in Vienna, Austria on Jan. 12-14.

Traveling Trojans

Jun Lyu traveled to Gdańsk, Poland for a three-week vacation over the winter break. He really enjoyed the city, the Polish food (sausage, cakes, soup), and the Indian food near where he stayed.

Upcoming Events

Colloquium save the date

Save the date for a colloquium talk by Robin Karlin (University of Wisconsin – Madison) on Feb. 6. You can learn more about Robin’s work on her website. Details to come.

Department Events

  • Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Practice talks for CAMP
    • Esra Eldem on “Morphological Decomposition in Heritage Turkish Speakers in the U.S.: Evidence from a Masked Priming Experiment”
    • Linh Pham on “Anaphora resolution in Vietnamese: On the effects of person feature constraints on the interpretation of reflexive ‘mình’”

Weekly Digest, 12/3/22

Happy December and end of term, all! This will be the final SCLing Wrap for 2022—see you all in the ✨fresh✨ new year.

Please make sure to submit your news for future issues of SCLing Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s fresh at USC Linguistics.

Congratulations to Jesse 🎉

Congratulations to recent grad Jesse Storbeck (Ph.D. 2022), who will be starting as a post-doctoral researcher in the Language Learning Lab (PI Josh Hartshorne) at Boston College, starting in January 2023!

Department hike

Thanksgiving break saw the long-awaited return of the annual departmental hike! Andrew Simpson and several of the grad students intrepidly hiked to the Dawn Mine in San Gabriel on Nov. 25.

Meaning lab outing

Also over Thanksgiving, the Meaning Lab led by Alexis Wellwood took a fieldtrip to Hollywood to play an Alice in Wonderland-themed street puzzle. Alexis reports that the team—aptly named “The Gleebers”—scored pretty high up on the leaderboard despite the occasional pitstop for tea and cookies.

Upcoming Events

Weekly Digest, 11/17/22

Gobble, gobble, all! Thanksgiving break is just around the corner! Enjoy the time off, everyone—SCLing Wrap will be taking a little post-turkey nap as well before we return for the semester-end push.

If you have news to share, please submit your news for future issues of SCLing Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s ✨fresh✨ at USC Linguistics.

Colloquium: Tim Hunter

Please join us for Tim Hunter’s colloquium this Monday 11/21, from 3:30–5pm!

Tim Hunter, UCLA

Monday 11/21 @ 3:30pm, Conference Room (hybrid)

Distinguishing mildly context-sensitive modes of tree-building

Over the last 15-20 years, formal computational work has revealed important differences between the kinds of tree-building mechanisms that lie at the heart of various grammatical formalisms. From a linguistic point of view, these differences are more interesting than the perhaps better-known convergences between formalisms at the level of weak generative capacity. But in general it has been difficult to identify empirical cases that tie into the formal differences that have been identified. In this talk I’ll suggest that languages that lack the wh-island constraint (e.g. Bulgarian) provide one such case, where one class of formalisms appears to have a distinct advantage over another class. The structures we find in these languages seem to be best accounted for via either (a) a bottom-up tree-building system that employs unbounded derivational state, or (b) a system that allows for a certain kind of counter-cyclic tree-building. Somewhat surprisingly, these options are more in line with the mechanisms that underlie formalisms such as Tree Adjoining Grammar (TAG; Joshi 1985) or Combinatory Categorial Grammar (CCG; Steedman 2000), than they are with the formalism known as Minimalist Grammar (MG; Stabler 1997) — despite the fact that the relevant structures are not particularly controversial from the perspective of mainstream syntactic theory. This mismatch suggests a revised perspective on what the truly distinguishing features are of the mechanisms employed in our mainstream minimalist theories.

Congratulations to Yifan Yang!

Recent USC alum Yifan Yang (PhD 2022) has accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at the School of Foreign Languages at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Super congratulations, Yifan!

Look Who’s Talking 🗣

  • Travis Major gave a virtual guest lecture on using ELAN and data management for Harvard’s fieldwork class and fieldwork lab on Friday, Nov. 11.
  • Zuzanna Fuchs gave a virtual guest lecture at the University of Maryland in the “Heritage Languages and their Speakers” course on Thursday, Nov. 17. The title of Zuzanna’s guest lecture was “New insights from eyetracking.”

Caught in the Moment

The Psycholinguistics Lab welcomed guest speaker Kelsey Sasaki (Oxford) last week. Thanks to Elsi Kaiser for sending in this snapshot!

Upcoming Events

This week

  • Monday 11/21, 1pm @ PhonLunch: Jessica Campbell on “Frequency stability of articulatory and acoustic modulation functions”
  • Psycholing Lab: no meeting next week
  • S-Side Story: no meeting next week

Coming up after the break

  • Monday 11/28 2pm @ PhonLunch: Yubin Zhang (title TBA)
  • Monday 11/28, 2:10pm @ S-Side Story: Jun Lyu on “Resumptive pronouns and the processing of complex NP islands: An eye-tracking study”
  • Monday 11/27, 4:30pm @ MeaningLab: Alexis Wellwood (title TBA)
  • Tuesday 11/29, 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Muxuan He (title TBA)

Weekly Digest, 11/11/22

Welcome to mid-November! Here’s the latest.

If you have news to share, please submit your news for future issues of SCling Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s ✨fresh✨ at USC Linguistics.

Colloquium: Annette D’Onofrio

Please join us for Annette D’Onofrio’s colloquium this Monday 11/14, from 3:30–5pm!

Annette D’Onofrio, Northwestern University

Monday 11/14 @ 3:30pm, Conference Room (hybrid)

Perceiving sound change reversal: Age-based dynamics in Chicago’s Northern Cities Vowel Shift

Sound changes in progress are often hallmark features of regional dialects, becoming linked with local speakers and local social meanings. These changes are can be examined in apparent time through both age-based differences in production, and through listener age differences in perception. However, little is known about the ways in which sound changes that are reversing in production over time are perceived by community members. In this talk, I explore how listeners of various ages within one U.S. community in Chicago produce and perceive vowels implicated in the region’s characteristic Northern Cities Vowel Shift (NCS), which is undergoing reversal over time. Findings suggest that sociolinguistic perception is not simply a reflection of an individual’s static social position within a community, from which matched production and perceptual patterns are derived. Instead, a listener’s own positionality, experience, and ideas about others in their community can condition not only their sociolinguistic productions as speakers, but also their expectations as listeners.

Upcoming Events

Next colloquium

  • 11/21: Tim Hunter (UCLA)

Department Events

  • Monday 11/14, 1pm @ PhonLunch: Yijing Lu on “Articulatory mechanism of stuttering” (via Zoom)
  • Tuesday 11/15, 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Kelsey Sasaki (Oxford) on “(Processing) Parallels Between Discourse and Clause-Internal Coherence”

Weekly Digest, 11/4/22

Welcome to November, and don’t forget to set your clocks back this week and vote!

If you have news to share, please submit your news for future issues of SCling Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s ✨fresh at USC Linguistics.

Zubizarreta & Pancheva publish NSF-funded corpus of Guarani narratives

Maria Luisa Zubizarreta and Roumi Pancheva have published an annotated corpus of Guarani as part of an NSF-funded project (Zubuzarreta PI, Pancheva Co-PI). You can check out the corpus at guaranicorpus.usc.edu. The corpus is work in progress, with children’s narratives to come hopefully later this year. Maria Luisa & Roumi welcome comments.

Linguistics Halloween social

Here’s the group from the department Halloween party in DTLA last weekend! How many linguistics themed costumes can you spot?

Upcoming Events

Upcoming departmental colloquia

A reminder that the following colloquia will be taking place later this month:

  • 11/14: Annette D’Onofrio (Northwestern)
  • 11/21: Tim Hunter (UCLA)

Department Events

  • (PhonLunch: No PhonLunch this week)
  • Monday, 11/7, 2:10pm @ S-Side Story: Zhengdong Liu on “Swahili relative clauses / adverbial clauses”
  • Tuesday, 11/8, 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Mete Oğuz on “Processing accusative vs genitive case-marked nouns: Implications for Case Containment Hypothesis”

Weekly Digest, 10/30/22

👻 Happy Halloween, ghost consonants and CV skeletons! Here’s a wrap-up of ghouuuulish news for the week.

If you have news to share, please submit your news for future issues of SCling Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s fresh at USC Linguistics.

USC Working Papers in Linguistics published

Volume 5 of the USC Working Papers in Linguistics has been published! This exciting news comes after a 14-year hiatus, as the last volume was published in 2008. Congratulations to all who contributed to the volume through writing, reviewing, and/or editing the submissions. The following articles are included in this volume:

  • Darby Grachek. “Exceptions in Regular Japanese Accentuation: Aoyagi Prefixes.” USC Working Papers in Linguistics. Link to paper.
  • Haley Hsu. “As a Matter of Fact: A Semantic Exploration by Examining What Follows ‘The Fact That’.” USC Working Papers in Linguistics. Link to paper.
  • Mary “Katie” Kennedy. “Using Acceptability Judgement Task to Explore the Behavior of Causative Light Verbs.” USC Working Papers in Linguistics. Link to paper.
  • Metehan Oğuz. “Proleptic Analysis of Turkish Accusative Subject Clauses.” USC Working Papers in Linguistics. Link to paper.

Welcome, Steven Foley!

Steven Foley will be joining the department in January 2023 as a postdoctoral teaching fellow, after completing a postdoc at Princeton and a PhD at UC Santa Cruz. He specializes in theoretical morphosyntax and psycholinguistics, fieldwork, and behavioral experiments. Often examining case and agreement phenomena in Georgian, his research revolves around complex grammatical dependencies between words and their affixes: how they are parsed during real-time comprehension, and how they vary systematically cross-linguistically. Steven also enjoys arcane wordplay, visual art, conlanging, and the entire discography of Kate Bush.

Look Who’s Talking 🗣

  • Elsi Kaiser gave an invited talk titled “On the role of experience and evidence: Experimental investigations” on Oct. 20 at the University of Konstanz, as part of their departmental colloquium series and as part of a workshop on “The Acquaintance Inference: Linguistic and Philosophical Perspectives.” Check out pictures Elsi sent us from Konstanz below!

Upcoming Events

Colloquia coming up in November

Mark your calendars for two colloquia taking place in the coming month:

  • 11/14: Annette D’Onofrio (Northwestern)
  • 11/21: Tim Hunter (UCLA)

Department Events

  • Monday 10/30, 1pm @ PhonLunch: Darby Grachek on “Prefix/Suffix Asymmetries as a Result of Learning Biases”
  • Tuesday 11/1, 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Helen Lu (USC Development Psychology) on “Learning non-adjacent dependencies from artificial speech in 12-month-old infants”

Weekly Digest, 10/21/22

We’re back! And we have a bunch of news from over fall break to catch up on and more news for the coming week as well!

If you have news to share, please submit your news for future issues of SCling Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s fresh at USC Linguistics.

Upcoming Colloquium: Paul Portner

Please join us for Paul Portner’s colloquium on Monday 10/24 @ 3:30pm in the conference room (and hybrid on zoom).

Paul Portner, Georgetown University

Monday 10/24, 3:30pm

Appropriate Subject Matters

The SOCIAL RELATION between a speaker and addressee plays an important role in determining what is presupposed in their conversation and what are appropriate things to say in the conversation. Indeed, it seems to me that language users’ judgments concerning these presuppositions are clearer than the most of the presuppositions we ordinarily study in formal linguistics. While semanticists may be skeptical about the idea that judgments of this kind should be modeled within semantic/pragmatic theory, I claim that they should. In support of this, I argue that the analysis of certain SPEECH ACT ADVERBS (Schreiber 1972, Sadock 1974, Krifka 2021, Mittwoch 1977, Ifantidou-Trouki 1993, Potts 2005, a.o.) requires a model of how social relations influence the structure and content of the common ground. For instance, frankly (as a speech act adverb) expresses that the upcoming conversational move is made without regard to whether it is appropriate given the standing social relation, and signals the speaker’s proposal to shift the structure of the common ground to one where it is appropriate.

Frankly I don’t care where the truth of this single deed lies, because it lies not with these soldiers. It is a tragedy and the rest of the nation and you too bear the blame. (COCA, Davies 2008-)

I propose a model of the appropriateness in discourse based on Lewis’s (1988) notion of a SUBJECT MATTER and an analysis of speech act adverbs based on that model. I will also touch on other ways in which the subject matters based on social relation might play a role in semantic theory, in particular in the analysis of imperatives and deontic modals, and discuss the relation between this type of social relation and the meanings associated with honorifics and allocutive markers.

Inked ✍️

  • Travis Major. 2022. “Revisiting the Syntax of Monsters in Uyghur.” Linguistic Inquiry. Link to paper.

Look Who’s Talking 🗣

  • Travis Major gave a colloquium talk at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee on Oct. 14. His talk was titled “‘Say’-complementation: re-analyzing Lubukusu complementizer agreement.”
  • Luismi Toquero Pérez gave a talk at UCLA’s Syntax-Semantics seminar titled “The syntax and semantics of number neutral NPs in Alasha Mongolian” on Oct. 12.
  • Luismi Toquero Pérez gave a joint talk with Carol-Rose Little (U. Oklahoma) titled “Degree constructions in Ch’ol” at the 12th Workshop on the Semantics of Under-represented Languages of the Americas (SULA 12), hosted at the University of Ottawa Oct. 13-16.
  • At the Annual Meeting on Phonology (AMP) at UCLA this coming weekend:
    • Elango Kuraman will give a talk titled “Adjustable word edges and weight-sensitive stress.”
    • Rachel Walker (UCSC) and recent USC PhD Yifan Yang will give a poster titled “Temporal Coordination and Markedness in Moenat Ladin Consonant Clusters.”

Grad student social at Dockweiler

Photos courtesy of Haley Hsu

The grad students met at Dockweiler Beach for an evening of socializing in the sand. For some of the students, this was their first bonfire ever!

Upcoming Events

  • Monday 10/20, 1pm @ PhonLunch: AMP reports.
  • Monday 10/20, 3:30pm: Department Colloquium, Paul Portner (Georgetown), “Appropriate Subject Matters”
  • Tuesday 10/25, 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Esra Eldem on “Morphological Decomposition in Heritage Turkish Speakers in the U.S.: Evidence from a Masked Priming Experiment”
  • Wednesday 10/26, 1pm @ Linguistics Teaching Reading group: Discussion of Zuraw et al. 2019

Weekly Digest, 10/7/22

Happy Trojan Family Weekend! And, don’t forget that Fall Break is next week, so SCLing Wrap will also be taking a little autumnal nap. We’ll be back with news the week after!

If you have news to share, please submit your news for future issues of SCling Wrap, cause we need your help keeping up with what’s fresh at USC Linguistics.

Applications open for syntax postdoc and open-rank faculty position in syntax

A reminder that applications are still open for two positions in the department. Please continue to spread the word!

  • Applications for the postdoctoral position in syntax are due Oct. 10, and information can be found here.
  • Applications for the open-rank faculty position in syntax will be review starting Nov. 15, and information about the position and application requirements can be found here.

Look Who’s Talking 🗣

  • Metehan Oguz gave a talk titled “Perspective Shift and Accusative Subject Clauses (ASC) in Turkish: An argument for the proleptic analysis of ASCs” at Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL) 16, held at the University of Rochester Sept. 30 – Oct. 2.

Mark Your Calendars: Upcoming Colloquia

In person colloquia are finally back! Please mark your calendars for our upcoming October visitors, Naomi Feldman (University of Maryland) and Paul Portner (Georgetown), starting on Monday, October 17 immediately after we return from Fall Break!

Naomi Feldman, University of Maryland

Monday 10/17, 3:30pm

Modeling early phonetic learning from natural speech

Theories of language acquisition have typically been developed using an idealization of the phonetic learning problem.  For example, phonetic category learning models have used input that is much less variable than the speech children hear and have assumed that learners already know which dimensions of the speech signal to pay attention to.  In this talk, I use a series of modeling studies to argue that taking seriously the complexity of children’s speech input has major implications for theories of phonetic learning.

We have worked to create models that work on naturalistic speech after finding that phonetic learning models that were developed on simplified data fail when trained on more realistic data.  Our first strategy has been to question theories of what is being learned: perhaps infants are acquiring a language-specific perceptual space during their first year of life, rather than a set of phonetic categories.  Our second strategy has been to question theories of the learning mechanism: perhaps rather than looking for distinct acoustic clusters of sounds corresponding to phones, learners can use statistical information that is more reliable in naturalistic speech.  In each case, we have found that the models that succeed in phonetic learning on naturalistic speech differ in important ways from previous theories.  This work raises new questions about what young infants know about the sounds of their language and underscores the need to take into account the complexity of the data that children hear when building theories of language acquisition.

This is joint work with Kasia Hitczenko, Thomas Schatz, Stephanie Antetomaso, Xuan-Nga Cao, Yevgen Matusevych, Kouki Miyazawa, Emmanuel Dupoux, Micha Elsner, Sharon Goldwater, and Reiko Mazuka.

Department Events

  • Monday 10/10, 1pm @ PhonLunch: CV & Website workshop, led by Dani Byrd
  • Tuesday 10/11, 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Haley Hsu on “As a matter of fact: An exploration of objectivity and what can follow ‘the fact that'”
  • Wednesday 10/12, 11:30am @ S-Side Story: Katie Kennedy will lead a discussion on Distributed Morphology
  • Wednesday 10/12, 9am @ Linguistics Teaching Reading Group: course design mini-series part 3: Course learning objectives
  • Monday 10/17, 1pm @ PhonLunch: Elango Kumaran, TBA
  • Tuesday 10/18, 9:30am @ Psycholing Lab: Linh Pham, TBA