From: Pauline Jacobson <pauline_jacobsonbrown.edu>
Subject: 1st Annual Minicourses in Language and Linguistics
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1st Annual Minicourses in Language and Linguistics
Date: 18-May-2009 - 22-May-2009
Location: Providence, RI, USA
Contact: Pauline Jacobson
Contact Email: pauline_jacobsonbrown.edu
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories; Phonology; Psycholinguistics; Syntax
Brown University Mini-courses in Language and Linguistics: 2009
Mini-courses; May 18-22, 2009
Sonja Kotz, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences:
'Neural Correlates of Syntax: Facts(?) and Crossroads '
Bruce Hayes, UCLA: 'Embedding Grammar in a Quantitative Framework: Some Case
Studies from Phonology and Metrics'
A Two Minicourse Series
May 18 - May 22
MacMillan, Room 115
Attendance is free and open to the public.
10 a.m. - 12 a.m.
(Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences)
Neural Correlates of Syntax: Facts(?) and Crossroads
(I) From Linguistic Models to Neural Models of Syntactic Processing
(II) ERPS and What They Tell Us about Syntactic Processing
(III) FMRI/PET and What It Tells Us about Syntactic Processing
(IV) Syntactic Processing Evidence in Special Populations (Bilinguals; Patients)
(V) Syntax at a Cross Road: What We Can Learn From Patient Data
Monday-Friday: 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Bruce Hayes (UCLA)
Embedding Grammar in a Quantitative Framework: Some Case Studies
from Phonology & Metrics
An important research result of recent years is the discovery that speakers know
much more about their language than classical generative grammars give them
credit for. In particular, they possess detailed quantitative knowledge of the
patterning of their language. This finding emerged as linguists tried shifting
their research technique, from hand examination of isolated forms thought
representative, to machine-aided searching of corpora.
Zuraw (2000), inspecting a Tagalog corpus for the well-known phonological rule
of Nasal Substitution (/?p ?b ?t ?d ?k ?g/ ? [m m n n ? ?]) found that the rule
is riddled with ''exceptions''; i.e. words to which it does not apply. Yet the
exceptions are statistically structured: in the aggregate, the rule applies
more often when C2 is voiceless (/ptk/ > /bdg/), and also when it has a fronter
place of articulation (/pb/ > /td/ > /kg/).
These patterns are shown to be part of native speaker's knowledge by
experiments: in a ''wug'' test with novel stems, speakers behave
probabilistically in a way that matches the lexical quantitative pattern.
Classical generativist accounts, with their strict division into rules and
exceptions, have no purchase on such patterns. Results similar to Zuraw's have
been obtained by several research groups, working in morphology and syntax as
well as in phonology.
Such results lead some to suppose that linguistic theory has to be completely
reinvented--replaced perhaps, by some kind of analogical system. To me, a more
sensible strategy is to retain generative linguistics but make it more powerful
by embedding the crucial elements of grammars (rules and constraints) into an
appropriate quantitative framework. There is a good clue that this approach is
the right one: constraints that influence quantitative patterning in one
language often turn out be exceptionless in another. For instance, the ban on
voiceless consonants after nasals, which plays a quantitative role in Tagalog,
is absolutely respected in the Yamato vocabulary stratum of Japanese. In sum:
variation in language is patterned, and existing concepts of linguistic theory
can be adapted to the characterization of such patterns.
The content of this mini-course will be a survey of how we might go about doing
this. Possible quantitative frameworks to be examined will include stochastic
optimality theory, maximum entropy, noisy harmonic grammar, and others. The
empirical examples will largely be drawn from areas where I've done some work:
English irregular past tenses, Hungarian vowel harmony, phonotactics, and the
metrics of sung and written poetry. I will take a ''consumer's view'' of the
quantitative models, showing what they can and cannot do in service to the
empirical research program. Throughout, I will keep an eye on the question of
whether constraints have a basis in Universal Grammar, or whether they are
For information on travel and visiting Brown:
Local accomodations information can be found at:
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