05 December 2013

USC presence at Phonology 2013

This year, Phonology 2013 was held at UMass Amherst, in Amherst, Massachusetts from November 8-10, 2013. The conference was an opportunity to present unpublished work in all areas of phonology, with invited speakers, oral and poster presentations, and a tutorials workshop. 

Two USC graduate students, Peter Guekguezian and Brian Hsu, presented posters at the conference:

Locality Requirements in Reduplication: SyllableProximity-BR.
Peter Guekguezian

Unifying Phonotactics and Derived Environment Blocking through Prosodic Constraint Indexation
Brian Hsu

Peter presenting his poster at Phonology 2013
Brian presenting his poster at Phonology 2013
Congratulations to both of our USC presenters! Both Brian and Peter made special note of how enjoyable the conference was! 

28 November 2013

Barbara Tomaszewicz receives a grant for a 3-year project

Barbara and researchers from the Center for General and Comparative Linguistics at the University of Wrocław have received a grant from the Polish National Science Center (NCN OPUS 5 - HS2) for their 3 year project "Psycholinguistic investigations into number and quantification in natural language", encompassing 3 projects  (PI: Joanna Błaszczak, Co-PIs: Dorota Klimek-Jankowska, Barbara Tomaszewicz). Barbara is the project leader for "Lexical properties of quantifiers revealed in auditory and visual processing".

Congratulations to Barbara for this impressive achievement, and best of luck in what will undoubtedly be a fruitful project.

23 November 2013

Recent Tea Time Festivities

Many thanks to graduate students Alif Silpachai and Jessica Harmon, department staff Brandon Washington and Frankie Hayduk, and several other dedicated students and staff for carrying on the department's Tea Time tradition! Two recent tea time celebrations are highlighted below:

Tea Time: Halloween Edition
Halloween is a favorite departmental holiday, and this year we enjoyed a multitude of treats, including Jessica's pumpkin cookies, and a box of Halloween sweets from Frankie. In addition, the jack-o-lantern drawing was held, and 4 lucky students each won a $25 gift card to Amazon.com. Congratulations Arunima, Chorong, David, and Peter!

Samantha holds the jack-o-lantern while Frankie draws names

Jessica reads the names of contest winners
Arunima with her Amazon gift card
Chorong with her Amazon gift card

Spooky halloween treats
Tea Time: Cubby Decoration Contest Winners Edition
Our annual cubby decoration contest had several entrants into each of our three categories: Prettiest, Funniest, and Coolest.

Congratulations to our cubby decoration contest winners: Ulli (Coolest), Thomas(Funniest) and Samantha(Prettiest).  Enjoy reigning over tea time for one more year! Pictures follow:

Coolest Cubby, by Ulli
Funniest Cubby, by Thomas
Prettiest Cubby, by Samantha
Cubby Decoration Contest Winners at the coronation ceremony. From L to R: Ulli, Samantha, & Thomas

Thanks to all who've been a part of Tea Time!

14 November 2013

Andrew Simpson gives invited talk

Linguistics Department Chair Andrew Simpson recently gave an invited talk at the International Workshop on Chinese Numeral Classifiers at Zhejiang University on October 17, 2013.

The workshop focused on understanding the semantics, structure, and pragmatics of numeral classifiers as a reflection of mind.

Congratulations to Professor Simpson!

Conference Poster

05 November 2013

A Warm Welcome to Brandon Washington, New Student Advisor

Brandon is the new Student Advisor for USC's Linguistics Department, and we're positively thrilled to have him.

Brandon graduated from USC in 2001 with a degree in English and a focus in American literature. Since then he's tried a few different jobs, like coaching football at Harvard-Westlake and controlling our fates from the USC Admissions department. As a result, the man has some incredible stories--if you haven't talked to him yet, make sure you take five minutes to hear how Ashton Kutcher used his fame to help Brandon's team win football games.

Though he loved his time as a student here, Brandon recognizes that it's not easy to navigate classes, extra-curriculars, and networking. A good education needs good advising, and that's precisely what he intends to give us. If you need help with anything--from registration to networking and job-hunting--he's the guy to talk to.

We're incredibly lucky to have Brandon with us, and we look forward to getting to know him better.

03 November 2013

Fall 2013 Welcome Back Picnic

The traditional 'Welcome/Welcome Back' picnic was hosted by GSIL on September 7, 2013 at Elysian Park. Being a linguist is hard work, but, as these pictures show, we do *occasionally* take some time for fun! Thanks to all who helped by setting up, bringing food and supplies, and cleaning up. We're looking forward to next year's picnic!

Some of the wonderful spread provided by the many talented chefs in the USC Linguistics department

First year grad students Reed and Mai enjoying the picnic

Great turn-out this year!

Grad students (from l-r) Caitlin, Brian, and Jesse chat on the grass

Students, professors, and friends enjoying a game of Apples to Apples

Beautiful scenery in Solano Canyon picnic area

A panoramic shot of the festivities

07 October 2013

Upcoming Event: Humpty Dumpty and the Law

Please join Undergraduate Students in Linguistics and Graduate Students in Linguistics for our first joint event! Dr. Bethany Dumas will present an informative lecture on the connections between linguistics and the law.

Dinner is provided. Please e-mail usil@usc.edu to RSVP. The event will take place on Thursday, October 17th, 2013, at 6pm in Tutor Campus Center, Rm. 332.

04 October 2013

Mythili's talk at SuB

On the 13th of September, Mythili presented a talk at the Sinn und Bedeutung conference, which was held in the Basque Country. The talk was entitled "The grammatical life of property concepts in Malayalam". She has provided this link to a video of her talk for us to enjoy.

Congratulations, Mythili, on a job well done! Thanks for sharing your work.

03 October 2013

Roumyana Pancheva gives talk at TbiLLC

Professor Roumyana Pancheva was an invited speaker at the Workshop on Aspect held as part of the 10th Tbilisi Symposium on Language, Logic and Computation. It is a biannual international conference and this year it took place in Gudauri, a beautiful mountain resort in Georgia, on Sept 23-27th. The title of professor Pancheva's talk was: "Crosslinguistic variation in the perfect from the perspective of the PTS theory". Congratulations Roumi!

30 September 2013

Summer update from Undergrad Linguistics Student Evi Alva

Evi Alva, who is currently a senior in USC's undergraduate linguistics program and a research assistant in Dr. Elsi Kaiser's Language Processing Lab, spent her summer in the Amazon forest of Brazil, in a town called São Gabriel da Cachoeira. There, she worked with University of Rochester professor/field linguist Wilson da Silva on documenting the language Desano.

Desano is spoken by only 200-300 individuals in Colombia and Brazil, making it an endangered language. Desano has been endangered due to language policies in Brazil, which recognize Portuguese as the one official language. Evi's focus was on adding to the database of the Desano translation dictionary (to English, Spanish, and Portuguese) and documenting Desano through photographs and interviews with native speakers about the flora, fauna, food and other topics of their environment. Evi also helped in recording data, transcribing and interviewing the native Desano speakers, and collecting data on their cultural views.

Thanks for sharing your impressive summer work with us, Evi!

Evi working with Desano speakers

19 September 2013

USC at AMLaP 2013

The main European psycholinguistics conference, AMLaP; Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP), was held at Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France this year from Sept 2-4. USC had several representatives attending the conference this year:

Effects of syntactic flexibility on Korean production: Cross-linguistic Asymmetries
Heeju Hwang & Elsi Kaiser (talk)

Auditory and Articulatory Interference on Rhyme Judgments
Dasha Henderer & Elsi Kaiser (poster)

Perspective-taking Effects on Pronoun Interpretation
Elsi Kaiser & Emily Fedele (poster)

Causality in Vision and Language
Elsi Kaiser, David Cheng-Huan Li & Iris Chuoying Ouyang (poster)

Some photographs follow:

Professor Elsi Kaiser presents a poster to attendees
Dasha Henderer with her poster 
Heeju Hwang outside the conference
Sunset at Marseille's Vieux Port (old harbor)
Congratulations to all who presented at the conference!

17 September 2013

Barbara Tomaszewicz's Summer Update

Graduate student Barbara Tomaszewicz had a very productive summer in Europe between teaching, giving talks, and even finding some time for a vacation. She has shared some details and photos with SCROLL:

In June and July, Barbara was working with the members of the Center for General and Comparative Linguistics at the University of Wrocław. 
The lab at Wrocław
In June she was invited to give a talk at the University of Tuebingen, entitled 
Superlative Ambiguities and Focus

Scenic street in Tuebingen
Also in June, Barbara taught a short course at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, entitled "Comparatives, Superlatives and Focus Association."

Street scene in Brno
In July, she had a week of vacation in Portugal. 

Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal
In August, Barbara co-chaired the Logic and Language Student Session at the European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information (ESSLLI) at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Thanks to Barbara for the summer update, and welcome back to Los Angeles! 

14 September 2013

Professor Guerzoni at the International Congress on Linguistics

Professor Elena Guerzoni attended the 19th International Congress of Linguistics, held this year from July 21 - 27 at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Her presentation was called:

Whether or Not Anything but Not Whether Anything or Not
Elena Guerzoni and Yael Shavrit (UCLA)

Congratulations to Professor Guerzoni on her presentation!

12 September 2013

Professor Pancheva at NYI Summer School

Over the summer, USC Linguistics Professor Roumi Pancheva taught at the NYI Summer School. Classes took place from July 15 to Aug 2 at the St. Petersburg State University in St. Petersburg, Russia. Professor Pancheva taught several classes, including Conditionals (with Rajesh Bhatt of UMass and Sabine Iatridou of MIT), Implicit Arguments (with Rajesh Bhatt of UMass), and Aspect (with Sabine Iatridou of MIT and Sergei Tatevosov of Moscow State University). The summer school brings together faculty and students from all over the world, and aims to give opportunities to study outside of traditional discipline areas.

Following the summer school, Professor Pancheva visited Moscow. She has also provided us with some wonderful pictures of her time in Russia:

A sculpture in the courtyard at St. Petersburg State University
Professor Pancheva in front of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg
Outside the Palace Square and Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Professor Pancheva at the iconic St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square
Thanks for sharing your summer activities, Professor Pancheva!

11 September 2013

Congratulations to Sarah Benor

Professor Sarah Benor, adjunct associate professor at the USC Linguistics department, and professor at the Hebrew Union College, has recently been appointed to the position of interim director of the Hebrew Union College Louchheim School for Judaic Studies at USC.

Professor Benor has also been speaking about her book, Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism, at the Library of Congress, the University of Minnesota, Oxford University, and the University of Antwerp. 

Congratulations to Professor Benor on her new appointment and the success of her book!

05 September 2013

Congratulations to Hagit Borer

Professor Hagit Borer, formerly of the USC Linguistics department and now of the Queen Mary University of London, has been named as a member of the 2014 class of fellows of the Linguistic Society of America. This honor recognizes LSA members who have made distinguished contributions to the field of linguistics.

Many congratulations to Professor Borer!

03 September 2013

USC at the 2013 Linguistic Institute

The 2013 Linguistic Institute, sponsored by the Linguistic Society of America and the University of Michigan Department of Linguistics, was held from June 24 to July 19, 2013 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The theme of this year's institute was "Universality and Variability."

Several USC students, faculty and alumni were a part of this year's institute:

  • Professor Khalil Iskarous taught the Articulatory Phonology course
  • Graduate Students Thomas Borer, Samantha Gordon (awarded a fellowship to attend by the LSA), Mairym Llorens, and Ulrike Steindl (awarded a fellowship to attend by the LSA) attended
  • Graduate Alumna Jelena Krivokapić attended
  • Undergraduate alumni Sagan Blue and Joseph Henderer attended

In addition to class, workshop, and conference attendance, participants enjoyed several group outings, a 4th of July picnic, lectures from the likes of Anne Charity Hudley, Keren Rice, Janet Pierrehumbert, Daniel Everett, Lyle Campbell, and Noam Chomsky, and more. 

A selection of pictures follow:
Thomas Borer and Ulli Steindl enjoying Michigan kayaking
Professor Khalil Iskarous enjoying the Fourth of July picnic
The crowd at Noam Chomsky's forum lecture

Photo credits: András Bárány and Mairym Llorens

01 September 2013

Welcome to our new students!

It is with great pleasure that we welcome our new graduate students to the department. We attach a picture and a short description of each one, so that everyone can start getting to know them a bit better.

Jesse Bisogni

Hi, I’m Jesse. Moving to Los Angeles is my first true West Coast experience, and I’m very excited to become an Angeleno and explore all the city has to offer. Prior to LA, I lived in Washington, D.C. for eight years during which time I finished my undergraduate degree in French and linguistics at Georgetown University and worked for the U.S. Government as a language researcher. My hobbies include running, hiking and bicycling which I’ll be able to enjoy year-round in Southern California.

At USC, I hope to pursue my interests in speech production and machine learning and expand my knowledge of computational research and analysis methods. I also would like to explore other areas of linguistics and related interdisciplinary fields while collaborating with my fellow graduate students.

 Reed Blaylock

I’ve lived all around the country, but my home is Ann Arbor, MI. I attended the University of Michigan in my undergraduate years, receiving a B.A. in Linguistics with a minor in Latin. My focus has been in phonetics, especially speech perception, and my senior thesis explored the nature of the glottal stop as a default epenthetic segment. Before coming to USC, I spent two years in the work force: one year as a speech data analyst for Google, and another as a sales associate with T-Mobile. In that time, I also cultivated my skills as a web developer and general programmer. In my spare time, I sing, ballroom dance, and pretend to be a drummer.

Mairym Llorens

Hello, my name is Mairym but lots of people call me Mai. I am from Puerto Rico.

While turning a Biological Anthropology minor into a major at SUNY Albany, a professor suggested I check out Linguistics, another track offered at the same department. I got hooked, and finished both tracks of the BA in Anthropology. After that I went home and got certified by the National Association for Interpretation and the National Parks Service and worked for five years as a nature interpreter and historical guide. My offices were the Caribbean National Rain Forest, both the smallest and most biodiverse ecosystem in the US Federal Forest system, the Bosque Xerotífico de Guánica and the National Historic Site in Old San Juan, the oldest city in the US and its territories. I loved these jobs. But the complex ethology of human and non-human animals, my daily bread, got me itching to continue the journey into our species' mental life and its distinctive property, language. Hence the MA in Cognitive Science and Language from the U. of Barcelona. And now, here!

I am passionate about natural history and philosophy. In Linguistics, I am most interested in the nature and characterization of phonological content and its development. I am also curious about the development of other mental representations, such as morality and personal identity. To relax, I play piano, walk, read and interact with my dogs. To stimulate, I do digital signal processing to create electronic music (pictured here) and read other things. The most stimulating thing I know of is conversing with people, and that's already begun with you guys. I am very grateful to be here.

Charlie O'Hara

I grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago; Barrington, IL. It's a chill enough spot, Smash Mouth played at my high school, but it was during my freshman year at Oberlin College so I didn't get to go. At Oberlin, I majored in math and had as linguistics-heavy of a course load as you can have at a school without a linguistics department. I did a bit of work with Klamath, a Plains Penutian language that was spoken in Oregon, focusing on aspect and verbal morphology. I've also studied Latin, Greek, Arabic, Swahili, and Japanese. I may head down a semantic road here, but we'll see. I'm also pretty into music, I've played in bands with some consistency for the past ten years. At Oberlin, I worked as a DJ and staff member at the campus radio station, and I am interested in continuing that at USC. I'm also very into comedy podcasts, and I've been making my own for the past 5 years. I'm also super into the LA improv scene, and have been to probably like 6-7 improv shows in my 15ish days here so far. Between college and now, I worked IT for about six months, performed stand-up regularly for another six, and got into baking bagels.

28 August 2013

Congratulations to Del Amo Fellowship Recipients

Graduate students Mythili Menon and Sergio Robles-Puente are both recent recipients of the Del Amo Fellowship for travel to Spain.

Mythili will give a talk at Sinn und Bedeutung 18, which will be held at the University of the Basque Country from September 11-13, 2013. The talk will be called:

The Grammatical Life of Property Concepts in Malayalam
Mythili Menon & Roumyana Pancheva

Sergio presented a poster at Phonetics and Phonology in Iberia 2013, which was held at the University of Lisbon from June 25 - 26, 2013. The poster was called:

The Rhythmic and Intonational Properties of Spanish/English Bilinguals in California
Sergio Robles-Puente

Congratulations to both of our Del Amo fellowship Recipients!

19 August 2013

USC presence at the 21st International Congress on Acoustics

The 21st International Congress on Acoustics, combining the 165th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the 52nd meeting of the Canadian Acoustical Association, was held in Montréal, Quebec, Canada from June 2 - 7, 2013 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.

The congress was an opportunity for people from a number of different fields and backgrounds to present recent work in acoustics. 

USC had several representatives in attendance and presenting posters at the ICA (unless otherwise noted, authors are from the USC Linguistics department):

On instantaneous vocal tract length estimation from formant frequencies
Adam Lammert (SAIL) and Shrikanth Narayanan (SAIL)

The use of mixed effects models in quantifying the dynamics of speech
Khalil Iskarous

An examination of the articulatory characteristics of prominence in function and content words using real-time magnetic resonance imaging
Zhaojun Yang (Elecrtical Engineering), Vikram Ramanarayanan (Electrical Engineering), Dani Byrd, and Shri Narayanan (Elecrtical Engineering)

Prosodic characteristics of two focus types in emphatic context in Thai
Alif Silpachai

Downstep Exceptions in Ibibio
Afton Coombs

Articulatory overlap in English syllables with postvocalic / ɹ/
Rachel Walker and Michael Proctor (University of Western Sydney)

Pharyngeal constriction in English diphthong production
Fang-Ying Hsieh, Louis Goldstein, Dani Byrd, and Shrikanth Narayanan (Electrical Engineering)

Does articulatory setting provide some mechanical advantage for speech motor action?
Vikram Ramanarayanan (Electrical Engineering), Adam Lammert (Electrical Engineering), Louis Goldstein, and Shrikanth Narayanan (Electrical Engineering)

On distinguishing articulatory configurations and articulatory tasks: Tamil retroflex consonants
Caitlin Smith, Michael Proctor (University of Western Sydney), Khalil Iskarous, Louis Goldstein, and Shrikanth Narayanan (Electrical Engineering)

Effects of prosodic strengthening and lexical boundary on /s/-stop sequences in English
Cynthia Lee

A comparative cross-linguistic study of vocal tract shaping in sibilant fricatives in English, Serbian and Mandarin using real-time magnetic resonance imaging
Li Hsuan Lu (Electrical Engineering), Adam Lammert (Electrical Engineering), Vikram Ramanarayanan (Electrical Engineering), and Shrikanth Narayanan (Electrical Engineering)

Developmental aspects of American English diphthong trajectories in the formant space
Sungbok Lee (Electrical Engineering), Alexandros Potamianos (Technical University of Crete), and Shrikanth Narayanan (Electrical Engineering)

Prosodic effects on speech gestures: A shape analysis based on functional data analysis
Christine Mooshammer, Lasse Bombien (Ludwig Maximilian University), Jelena Krivokapic (University of Michigan, USC Alumna 2007)

Towards a model of intonational phonology of Turkish: Neutral intonation
Canan Ipek and Sun-ah Jun (UCLA)

Cynthia Lee (second from left) discusses her poster with a conference attendee 

Afton Coombs (right) discusses her poster with Rachel Walker (left) and Li Hsuan Lu, a USC Electrical Engineering undergraduate student (center)

Alif Silpachai with his ICA poster

 Congratulations to all who attended and presented posters!

14 August 2013

Congratulations to Cynthia Lee!

Congratulations to second-year graduate student Cynthia Lee on winning second place -- and a cash prize! -- for Best Student Paper in Speech Communication at the 21st International Congress on Acoustics. Her paper is titled:

"Effects of Prosodic Strengthening and Lexical Boundary on /s/-stop Sequences in English"

Great job, Cynthia!

Cynthia with her poster at the ICA.

02 August 2013

Congratulations to Joyce Perez

Joyce Perez
Joyce Perez, the Linguistics Department's longtime Student Services Advisor, has recently stepped down from her post in the Linguistics Department to accept a new position with USC's Keck School of Medicine. 

Joyce has guided countless linguistics students from their acceptance into the program through commencement, and her presence -- not to mention her personality, patience, ability, and enthusiasm -- will be greatly missed by everyone in the Department. 

As a token of GSIL's appreciation for all of her dedication, Joyce was presented with a customized cooler, which we hope she will enjoy at future Trojans football tailgating events and games.
Joyce's custom GSIL/Trojans cooler
We wish Joyce continued success in her new position with the Keck School. Congratulations and best of luck, Joyce!

09 July 2013

Congratulations to Jelena Krivokapic

USC alumna Jelena Krivokapic (Ph.D. 2007) is taking up a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Michigan in Fall 2013. Jelena was previously an Assistant Professor and Director of the Phonetics Laboratory at Yale University. Congratulations to Jelena!

31 May 2013

Rachel Walker gives invited talk

Professor Rachel Walker gave an invited talk on May 24, 2013 at the 21st Manchester Phonology Meeting. Her talk is titled:

Consonant harmony and vowel harmony: Comparisons in typology and sources for nonlocality.

The talk was presented as a part of the special session on harmony in phonology.

Congratulations, Professor Walker!

14 May 2013

Congratulations to Katy McKinney-Bock

Double congratulations to Katy McKinney-Bock! Katy has accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor position in the Department of Linguistics at Reed College, and she has also successfully defended her dissertation. Katy's dissertation is called:

"Building Phrase Structure from Items and Contexts"
Katy McKinney-Bock

Many congratulations to Katy on both accounts!

Here are some snaps from Katy's defense celebration!

11 May 2013

USC at FASL 22

There were three USC presentations at the Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics 22 (FASL 22) conference at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, May 3-5, 2013.

Barbara Tomaszewicz gave a talk on Comparison of Degrees or of Individuals? Focus Effects in Superlatives in Polish.

Khalil Iskarous had a joint presentation with Darya Kavitskaya on Slavic palatalization: phonetic instantiation vs. phonological representation.

Roumi Pancheva gave an invited talk titled On the missing proportional reading of Slavic most.

08 May 2013

Congratulations to Mary Byram Washburn

Congratulations to graduate student and soon-to-be PhD Mary Byram Washburn! She has successfully completed her dissertation defense! Her dissertation is entitled:

Narrowing the Focus: Experimental Studies on Exhaustivity and Contrast.

 Many congratulations to Mary!

Here is a pic of Mary with Prof. Elsi Kaiser