USC Ling Weekly Digest 10/08

USC linguists have just returned from presenting at AMP 2018 in San Diego: Hayeon Jang presented “Articulatory-based subfeatural representations: tongue-tip perturbation made by high vowels”; Charlie O’Hara and alumn Caitlin Smith presented “Computational Complexity and Sour-Grapes-Like Patterns”; Charlie O’Hara also presented “The Sweet Spot Effect: Rare Phonotactic Patterns Require Specific Lexical Frequencies”; Reed Blaylock presented “Lingual egressive airstream harmony in beatboxing” (joint work with Nimisha Patil, Timothy Greer, and Shrikanth Narayanan); and alumn Brian Hsu (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) presented “Predicting exceptional prosodification effects in Gradient Harmonic Grammar.” Here are some pictures:


This week, in the Linguistics department…

Monday 10/08 at 3:30pm in the Conference Room: Masha Polinsky (University of Maryland) will kick-off our colloquium series with  “On the right periphery.”

Wednesday 10/10 at 10am in the Conference Room: Psycholinguistics Lab meeting! Madhumanti Datta presents “The interaction of distributional and semantic information in learning verb alternation patterns – A novel verb learning study.”

Also Wednesday 10/10, at 12pm in the Conference Room: PhonLunch! Mairym Llorens and Reed Blaylock will be presenting.





USC Ling Weekly Digest 10/01

Miran Oh was selected as the Student Council representative for the Technical Committee on Speech Communication of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA)!. Student representatives at ASA serve as a conduit for information for students, promoting the interests of students in the Society. This position begins November, 2018 and will last until Fall, 2020. Congrats Miran!

Elsi Kaiser gave an invited talk at a workshop at Harvard on logophoricity and anaphoricity entitled “Crosslinguistic investigations of (anti-) logophoricity: Perspectival effects within and across clauses” (Sep 22-23).


In anticipation of our first colloquium speaker of the year, we are still looking for someone to help with pick-up on Saturday Oct 6th – please contact Hayeon Jang and Sarah Harper for more information.


This week, in the linguistics department:

Monday (10/01) at 3:30pm in the Conference Room: Syntax+! Sarah Lee is going to give a talk titled “The Interpretation of the Comparison Class in Degree Predication inside Relative Clauses.”

Wednesday (10/03) at 12pm in the Conference Room: PhonLunch! Miran Oh and Sarah Harper will be presenting.

For more information on our weekly fun run, contact Jesse Storbeck.

USC Ling Weekly Digest 09/24

This week, in the Linguistics department:

Wednesday 09/26 at 10am in the Conference Room: Psycholing Lab Meeting! Brooke Kidner will present “Belching as a speech object: Examining idiolects from pop culture.

Also on Wednesday, at 12pm in the Conference Room: PhonLunch! Charlie O’Hara presents “The Sweet Spot Effect: Rare Phonotactic Patterns Require Specific Lexical Frequencies” and “Computational Complexity and Sour-Grapes-Like Patterns” (joint work with alumn Caitlin Smith), Hayeun Jang presents “Articulatory-based subfeatural representations: tongue-tip perturbation made by high vowels” and Reed Blaylock presents “Lingual egressive airstream harmony in beatboxing” (practice presentations for the Annual Meeting on Phonology 2018).

Friday: our weekly department run will be on Friday due to the football game on Thursday! For more info please contact Jesse Storbeck.


At this year’s AMLAP in Berlin, Germany (Sep 6-8), Sarah Lee presented “Processing Inferred Result States in Discourse (with Elsi Kaiser), Ana Besserman presented “Discourse Inert? Implicit Objects Can Be as Accessible and Persistent as Overt Ones” (with Elsi Kaiser) and alumn Monica Do presented “Effects of Syntactic and Semantic Structure on Production Planning” (with Elsi Kaiser).


This past weekend we had our Welcome Back Picnic! Thanks so much to our event organizer Brooke Kidner for putting it together! Here are some pics:

Welcome Linguistics grad students!

Many apologies for the delay:

We are finally so happy to officially introduce the new Linguistics graduate students: Jessie Johnson, who came to USC in 2018 Spring, and the new Linguistics cohort of Fall 2018! Welcome! 

Jessie Johnson


Hey everyone!

I’m Jessie and I’m originally from the Northeast, but I have moved over 50 times in my life! I am technically a first-year, but I transferred to USC from UC Merced’s Cognitive and Information Science program last semester.

After getting my BA at Central Connecticut State University in 2013, I worked for a few years before coming to graduate school. As a part of my BA, I completed linguistics coursework at Kyung Hee University in Seoul from 2011-2012. I taught Chinese and Vietnamese pilots in Phoenix, Arizona. I was motivated to research tone while finding ways to capitalize on my students’ tone/pitch intuitions in teaching English intonational cues. I completed my MA in General and Applied Linguistics at the Australian National University in 2017. My thesis was on the tonology of a previously undocumented variety of Tamang, for which I completed fieldwork in Nepal.

My research interests include syllable structure, and the prosodic consequences of the disruption of a syllable’s organization, stemming from my work on such topics.

Aside from linguistics, I enjoy history from all places and cultures, though I particularly enjoy British history (and its overlap with North American and Australasian settlement) from 1615-mid-20th century, as well as the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. It should come as no surprise then, that time travel is my favorite TV show trope.

Ian Rigby


Hi, my name is Ian Rigby, and I was born and raised in San Diego. In 2017, I earned my B.A. in Psychology from UCLA where I spent most of my undergraduate career working in language processing, language development, and neurobiology research labs. I am a psycholinguist working on sentence processing with interests in pragmatics and cognitive semantics. Before starting at USC, I worked as the lab manager for the Language Development and Processing Lab at the University of Washington. I loved Seattle and would happily gab about it anytime.

Outside of academia, I spend a good deal of time hiking, kayaking, and trying every donut shop that I can find (Seattle is best for the first two, but LA trumps on the third). I am looking forward to starting my studies at USC, and to finally be on the winning side during a USC vs. UCLA rivalry game.

Chloé Gfeller


Hi, I’m Chloé Gfeller, from France! I studied at Université Paris-Diderot. I majored in linguistics and English studies for undergrad, and I specialized in phonetics and phonology during my MA. My thesis was a phonetic study of positional allophony in ejective stops, and of how the position of an ejective in a word may affect the tension of the vocal folds during its production. When I’m not paying attention to how people pronounce things, I enjoy dancing (especially contemporary dance), and traveling.

Luis Miguel Toquero

LuismiMy name is Luis Miguel Toquero, but everyone calls me Luismi. I am Spanish and I was a born in a small town in Castilla called La Pedraja. I did my undergraduate in English at the Universidad de Valladolid (Valladolid, Spain). Then in 2016 I moved to West Virginia to do a Master’s Degree in Linguistics and Spanish at West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) where I was also a TA for basic and intermediate Spanish. My MA thesis is about the semantics of NN compounds in Spanish but I don’t know if that is something that can be pursued forward. That said, my research interests are undetermined yet. But I guess I am more of a (potential) syntactical or semanticist than phonologist or phonetician. I would definitely like to learn more about quantifiers and their scope and the syntax-semantics interface.

Apart from linguistics, I really like playing and watching soccer (I am a big FC Barcelona fan!). Also, I love watching movies and tv series and talking about them with some else afterwards. My favorite show is Twin Peaks (and yes including the third season!). Other than that, I am always looking for a space in my schedule to travel and spend time with my girlfriend. I am very happy to be here and be part of the USC linguistics community!

Sung Hah Hwang


Hi, my name is Sung Hah Hwang (황성하). I graduated with B.A. in English and minor in psychology from the University of Nevada Reno. After that, I went back to my home country, South Korea, and worked for about a year as an English teacher until I decided to pursue further education. Then I graduated with a M.A. in English Linguistics in Korea University where I went through a major paradigm shift in life after I met my former advisor, Hosung Nam, and some exceptional colleagues. My primary interests lie in the fields of speech sciences including phonetics, speech production, and Articulatory Phonology and of machine learning, especially in automatic speech recognition and natural language processing. A growing hobby of mine is web development using a popular Javascript framework, Angular 6. I always find joy in learning new technologies and also in buying them on impulse. I am happy to be joining you at USC!

Peifen Chen


Hi! My name is Peifen Chen. I came from Nanyang, a small but historical city in the middle of China. I got my Bachelor’s degree in Tongji University in Shanghai, with major in Chinese Language and Literature. From that time, I have developed huge interests in languages. Then I did my Master’s degree in the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the program of Chinese Linguistics and Language Acquisition. I also worked for two years as a Mandarin Teacher in Hong Kong after graduate.

I am very excited to start my new research journey here at USC, my interest is in Syntax and Language Acquisition. However, I would also love to explore new areas in Psycholinguistics, and Phonetics. I feel people here at USC are all very welcoming and friendly, and I am hoping to meet you all in the following days.

USC Ling Weekly Digest 09/17

This week, in the Linguistics department:

Monday 09/17 at 3:30pm in the Conference Room: Syntax+! Tommy Lee is going to present joint work with Hok-Yuen Wong entitled “Epistemic Indefinites and Reportative Indefinites in Cantonese.”

Wednesday 09/19 at 10am in the Conference Room: Psycholing Lab Meeting! Cindy Chiang and Yijing Lu present “Representational complexity and locality effects in long-distance dependencies.”

Also on Wednesday, at 12pm in the Conference Room: PhonLunch! Stephanie Shih will present “Catching phonology in the Pokeverse: Cross-linguistics comparisons in sound symbolism.”

Fridays we have our department run around 4pm – if you are interested ask Jesse Storbeck for more information!

And this Saturday 09/22 we will have our Welcome Back picnic, 12pm at the Griffith Park Zoo Picnic Area! Contact Brooke Kidner for more details.

Weekly Digest 08/27 and Summer Summary

Hello, everybody!

This week, in the Linguistics department…

Monday 08/27 at 12pm in the Conference Room: Welcome back lunch!

Wednesday 08/29 at 10am in the Conference Room: Psycholing Lab Meeting! Sarah Lee and Ana Besserman will do a practice presentation of their AMLAP posters, “Processing inferred result states in discourse” and “Discourse inert? Implicit objects are as accessible and persistent as overt objects”.

Also on Wednesday, at 12pm in the Conference Room: PhonLunch! Professional Development: a primer (for all) to the academic job market.

================  Summer Summary  ==================

And here’s a summary of news and updates you might have missed over the summer:

Sarah Harper gave a talk titled “Quantifying labial, palatal and pharyngeal contributions to rhotic F3 lowering” (with Louis Goldstein and Shri Narayanan) at LabPhon16 in Lisbon, Portugal in late June, for which she received an IPA Student Award. 

Sarah Lee gave a talk titled “Effects of Discourse Context in Processing the Ambiguity of Result Attainment” (joint work with Elsi Kaiser) at AMBIGO: Workshop on Ambiguity-Theory, Development, and Processing, held at the University of Göttingen on 4–6 July 2018.

Silvia Kim, Jina Song and Brooke Kidner all attended the STEP (Spring Training in Experimental Psycholinguistics, May 14-18) workshop at the University of Alberta’s Centre for Comparative Psycholinguistics. 


Brooke Kidner also attended the Lakota Summer Institute at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation (May 28-June 8)


Jessie Johnson and Brooke Kidner attended the USC Graduate School’s Fellowship Writing Bootcamp this August 1-10. 

Roumyana Pancheva taught a class at the Crete summer school on  “The Person Case Constraint and related person-sensitive phenomena: phi-agreement, clitics, and the encoding of point of view” together with Elena Anagnostopoulou (July 1).

Roumi and Alexis Wellwood taught at the 30th European Summer School in Language Logic and Information (ESSLLI) in Sofia on “Non-canonical comparatives: syntax, semantics and psycholinguistics” (August 1).

Here are beautiful pictures of Sofia, Rethymno and Chania:

Andrew Simpson gave a talk as invited speaker on May 15h  at the Workshop on Head-Final Languages in Konstanz, Germany: “Analyzing head-finality: domains, language types, and patterns of change”.

Edward Finegan gave a keynote address titled “Legal Interpretation via Corpora:
Are Judges Failing Lexicography 101?” at the 18th International Euralex Congress, meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia (July 1)

Sarah Bunin Benor is one of the editors of the soon-to-be-published Languages in Jewish Communities, Past and Present Ed.. by Hary, Benjamin/Bunin Benor, Sarah, Series: Contributions to the Sociology of Language. Congratulations, Sarah!

Weekly Digest 04/30

Professor Shri Narayanan, who is jointly appointed in the Department of Linguistics, has won the 2018 Viterbi School of Engineering Senior Research Award. Congratulations, Shri!!

USC alumni were well represented at WCCFL at UCLA this past weekend, with presentations by Heather Goad (McGill), Brian Hsu (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and Saurov Syed (University of Auckland)! Guilherme D. Garcia & Heather Goad presented “Can you have stress without feet”; Brian Hsu presented “Scalar constraints and gradient symbolic representations generate exceptional prosodification effects without exceptional prosody”, and Brian Hsu & Saurov Syed presented “Variation in the co-occurrence of indexical elements: Evidence for split indexical projections in DPs.” Here’s Brian presenting:


USC was also well represented at the recent Southern California Undergraduate Linguistics Conference (SCULC), held on April 14 at UCLA! Catherine Wang gave a talk titled: “Effects of Adjective Syntax on Subjectivity Perception in News Discourse” and Mary Coates gave a poster titled “Bimoraicity of /R/ in Standard German.”

Mary Coates, who is a graduating senior, was recently selected as a recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award in Germany next year! Congrats Mary!!

And last week, Ana Besserman gave a talk at the Chicago Linguistics Society (CLS 54) titled “The discourse status of existential implicit arguments: Investigating referent accessibility through sluicing.” Here are a few pics of gorgeous Chicago:

* * *

Monday (04/30) at 3:30pm in the Conference Room: Syntax+! Guest speaker Ivona Kucerova (McMaster University) will give a talk titled “Associative constructions: An argument for Distributed Semantics.”

Thursday (05/03) at 11am in the Conference Room:  Psycholing lab meetingMadhumanti Datta, Betul Erbasi and Sarah Lee will present “Bridging References from Events and Entities in online Sentence Comprehension.”

On Thursday we will also have our end of semester party!!! Please RSVP on the link our wonderful event organizers Miran and Sarah sent out earlier this month.