04 September 2015

Summer 2015 (and beyond) updates from Faculty and Students

Welcome back from summer break, everyone! The Fall 2015 semester is already off to a great start. Many people in the USC Linguistics community had a busy Spring and Summer 2015, so we'll share their updates here.

Sierra Chinn-Liu
A recent graduate of the Linguistics BA program at USC, Sierra was recently accepted to UCLA's very prestigious Law School. Congratulations, Sierra!

Sandy Disner
Professor Disner was interviewed by USA Today in June for a story about the National Spelling Bee and the value of spelling in the age of spell-check.

Professor Disner was also a discussant in the "Session on Forensic Phonetics and Speaker Characteristics" presented by Professor Francis Nolan of Cambridge University at the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences in Glasgow, Scotland in August.

Hajime Hoji

Professor Hoji is back at USC after his time off, and he has exciting news. He has finished writing a book on his research, Language Faculty Science, and it will be published soon. Follow the link to order your copy from Amazon.

Roumyana Pancheva
Professor Pancheva was an invited speaker at the workshop "Gradability, Scale Structure and Vagueness: Experimental Perspectives" in Madrid in May. Her talk was on "Cardinality Comparison and Plurality: The Processing of Comparative Illusions." She has also provided some lovely pictures (below) from her sightseeing in Madrid.
Parque del Retiro in Madrid, Spain
Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain
In July, Professor Pancheva taught a class on Quantifier Raising at the St. Petersburg Institute of Linguistics, Cognition, and Culture (NYI) at St. Petersburg State University in Russia.


Lastly, Professor Pancheva gave a workshop on "Patterns and Models of Semantic Change" during the 22nd International Conference on Historical Linguistics in Naples.

Saurov Syed
Graduate student Saurov spent much of the Spring 2015 semester traveling to present at conferences.  First up, he presented a talk called "Decomposing Definiteness: arguments for a split D-Domain in Bangla" at WCCFL 33, hosted by Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.
Saurov presenting at WCCFL 33 in March

Then, Saurov gave a poster presentation entitled "Is there a lexical distinction between lower and higher numerals in Bangla?" at FASAL 5, hosted by Yale University. 

Finally, Saurov presented a talk called "Definiteness in terms of Identifiablity and Inclusiveness: Splitting the D-domain in Bangla"  at CLS 51 hosted by the University of Chicago.


Congratulations to all of our students and faculty on an extremely productive spring and summer. We're looking forward to all of the updates that Fall 2015 will bring!

26 August 2015

Welcome to the new cohort!

We are so happy to introduce the new cohort of Linguistics graduate students at USC: Welcome, class of 2020!


Betül Erbaşı


Hi! My name is Betul (with a high front round vowel in Turkish). I am from Turkey and so far I have spent all of my life there. I had my BA in Foreign Language Education and MA in Linguistics, both from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.  My main linguistic interest lies in the interfaces of prosody with other parts of Language, especially syntax. To that end, my MA thesis focused on prosodic and morpho-syntactic structure (and their interaction) of a reduplication case in Turkish. I am also interested in other sub-fields of linguistics that relate to sound, such as phonology and phonetics. Actually, phonology and phonetics were what drew me into linguistics as a field in the first place, besides historical linguistics. So, I still love them all!
What do I love other than languages? Watching films is becoming more and more of a passion for me (which is why I think I made the right decision by coming to LA!). I also like walking, exercising (not professionally, though), listening to music. Lately, I do not know why but I have started liking cooking. In real life, I like combining the things I like doing. For example, I often exercise or even cook while watching films! For me, this brings more joy to these activities and saves time! This is the first time I will be living in a foreign country for such a long time and I am really curious what kind of experiences I will have. From what I have seen so far at USC and LA in general, it seems that wounderful times are awaiting me! Glad to be at USC and LA!




Tanner Sorensen





My name is Tanner Sorensen and I am from Omaha, Nebraska. I was an undergrad at the University of Nebraska from 2010 to 2013 before I did the MSc Linguistics at the University of Potsdam from 2013 to 2015. 
I am wrapping up three research projects right now. First, my thesis with Adamantios Gafos analyzed the primitive units of speech production as dynamical systems. I presented this work at the Second Workshop on Dynamical Modeling at the University of Cologne. A second project involved assessing the influence of two tongue movements on one another when they are produced in overlapping time intervals but with different functional segments of the tongue. This work was presented at the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences in Glasgow. Third, I did some work with Shravan Vasishth for the 2nd Bayesian Young Statisticians Meeting in Vienna which resulted in a tutorial on linear mixed effects models in the Bayesian setting. I'm looking forward to getting started at USC, learning some new things, and taking my work in some new directions. 






Yifan Yang


My name is Yifan Yang (I think I have to reverse the order of my names in order to indicate Yifan is my first name), and I believe my name is much easier for you to pronounce than other Chinese names. I was born in a small city in North China, and have got a Bachelor of Arts in Tianjin and an MA in linguistics in Shanghai (by the way, Tianjinese is quite famous for its complicated tone sandhi pattern, but I think I am a successful Tianjinese learner!). As for my field of study, I mainly focus on phonology, especially Chinese segmental phonology. Previously, I worked on a special phenomenon called ‘rime change’. This phenomenon exclusively exists on the boundary of Shanxi Plateau and North China Plain, which was my birthplace, and it has phonetic, phonological, morphological and even sociolinguistic significance. I am now quite excited about joining this program of linguistics. I hope I could move further on this topic and I am also looking forward to doing more research on other varieties of Chinese, including Mandarin. I used to be a violin player but have not played it for quite a long time (that is a pity). I also enjoy running. Hope I could finish a half marathon and then a full marathon in the future! Nice to meet you all!




Jesse Storbeck




Hello! I'm Jesse, originally of the western Philadelphia suburbs. I graduated from Yale University in 2011 with a double major in linguistics and classics. My focus as an undergrad was on the development of the ancient Indo-European languages, with particular attention to the morphological systems of Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit. After I graduated, I worked as an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea and later as a paralegal at a criminal defense law firm in New York City. After a few years outside of academia, I decided that I wanted to go back to school in linguistics and, in particular, that I wanted to work in a more experimental/quantitative subfield than Indo-European studies. I'm currently most interested in first language acquisition and psycholinguistics, with a focus on morphology and syntax. When I'm not working, I love being outdoors. I'm especially fond of hiking and road cycling. I'm working on becoming a better bicycle mechanic and considering participating in some amateur racing... if I can get myself in shape. In addition, I recently adopted a cat, so I spend a good bit of time hanging out with her. Her name is Lucinda (after the song by Tom Waits), and she is a six-year-old medium-haired tortoiseshell. I'm really excited to be joining a department as talented and welcoming as USC's!





Sarah Harper





My name is Sarah, and I grew up in southeastern Michigan (although I’m originally from New York, which is why I have weird diphthongs). I graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Linguistics and Spanish in 2014, and then spent a year working as an English teacher at an elementary school in northern Spain.
Research-wise, my focus is on phonetics and (laboratory) phonology. Right now I'm particularly interested in phonetic gradiency and variation, and in non-native speech production. My undergraduate honors thesis examined patterns of phonetic influence in third language acquisition through an acoustic study on voiced stop production by Portuguese learners; I'm currently working on a follow-up to that study that additionally looks at L3 effects on the L2. Outside of linguistics, I enjoy cooking and baking, singing, going for epically long walks and drinking lots and lots of coffee.



30 April 2015

Recent USC Linguistics News

Hello everyone-

We are really pleased to report some great news from one of our USC Linguistics alumna:
Michal Temkin Martínez (PhD, 2010) was recently promoted to the rank of Associate Professor, with tenure, at Boise State University.


Way to go Michal!


But wait, there is more-

Check out this video, posted earlier this week on the Dornsife homepage, which features undergraduate Linguistics alumna Evangeline Alva and Dr. Khalil Iskarous discussing the documentation of an endangered language in Taiwan.

21 November 2014

USC Presence @ 2nd Conference of the American Pragmatics Association on October 17 and 18


Professor Elsi Kaiser and graduate student Aninha Vianna (Ana) presented their work at the 2nd conference of the American Pragmatics Association (AMPRA), held October 17-19 at UCLA. Elsi presented "Richness of the Paradigm: Crosslinguistic Investigations of Reference Resolution" and Ana presented her work "There was... something new! Discourse-based Predictions During Language Comprehension", developed from her MA thesis at SDSU. Congratulations to both of them! Some pics below (courtesy of Ana).

 Ana presenting her work.
Elsi presenting her work (she looks small in the pic, but you can still tell it's her :))

The OIS Language Learning Workshop

On November 20th, professor Elsi Kaiser, along with many of our graduate students, put together the Language Learning Workshop at the Parkside Performance Cafe at the University Park Campus  This was an initiative of the Office of the International Students as part of their International Education Week, and the goal was to give students the chance to learn key phrases (eg. Hello, goodbye, what's your name?) in as many different languages as possible. 

The graduate students that participated, and the respective languages they represented, were the following: Thomas Borer (German), Sierra Chinn-Liu (Hawaiian Pidgin), Bharati Dash (Hindi), Alfredo Garcia-Pardo (Spanish), Peter Guekguezian (Western Armenian), Chorong Kang (Korean), Maury Lander-Portnoy (Hebrew), Aninha Vianna aka Anna (Brazilian Portuguese), Xin Zhao (Mandarin Chinese) and Margil (Tagalog). Last, but not least, professor Elsi Kaiser represented her native language Finnish, and she also put together a great workshop by bringing volunteers together, taking care of the handouts and chairing the workshop to ensure it was a complete success, as it was. Thank you to everybody and let's try to do it again!

Below are some pictures of the event, courtesy of Ana.

 Since she took them, I thought Ana should come first in the battery of pics.
  Maury speaking (beginner) Hebrew to Alfredo and a non-linguistics participant.
  Ulli chairing her super crowded German table.
  An overview of the venue.
  Interested in learning Bangla? Go to Saurov's table!
  A busy table, where Western Armenian, Finnish, Hindi and Korean are being learned at the same time :)
 If you want to learn the language with the most native speakers, go to Xin!