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! 

18 November 2014

Sam receives award for excellence in teaching

Congratulations to our grad student Sam for being named Outstanding TA by the Center for Excellence in Teaching! 

This honor is given to graduate teaching assistants who exhibit consistent excellence in the classroom and symbolize the University's dedication to the education of scholar-teachers. Check out the full list of winners here.

Keep making us proud Sam!

12 November 2014

The Furball Diaries : Furrytail, Ninja and Smoky

We're back– and this time we get to meet all three furry companions of Andrew Simpson, Chair of our USC Linguistics Department. 
Our Chair loves his cats.

 "This is Furrytail, who we found living in a car park behind a Chinese restaurant. He decided to come home with us and changed our lives.  Furrytail lights up our lives with his affection and charm, but also worries us when he goes out adventuring far away after dark.  Born in the wild, he hates being confined, but is so happy to have a home.  He also likes to ride in cars, just like a dog, and accompanies me every night to Starbucks."

"This is Ninja the Magnificent, also known as the Black Knight, Sir Ninja Naughtyfellow, faithful defender of Lord Furrytail, who looked after him lovingly as a kitten.  When any bigger neighborhood cats try to menace Furrytail, Ninja gallops in and sends them running away with his Shaolin-style kungfu skills. Ninja also enjoys shredding paper, in particular any paper with the words ‘midterm’ written on it."

"This is Smoky, who was found as a very small kitten in a park.  Now also known as Sir Smoky Snugglesworth, he loves to snuggle with us at any time of day or night.  After dark, he gingerly follows his braver adopted brothers into all our neighbors’ gardens. However, he is most happy when it’s time to watch TV and sit on a welcoming lap with a very big grin on his face."

27 October 2014

The Furball Diaries : Leo

Hello again everyone, this week let us introduce Leo, Roumi's lovely cat.

"This is Leo Panski. He met us at the South LA pound 10 years ago - he was a tiny 2-month-old kitten then - and insisted we take him home. He is strong-willed, curious yet also cautious, affectionate, playful, and friendly with people, especially small ones, but a menace to other cats. He loves being outside, and always complains when he has to come home at night. When he was younger, he loved to climb trees and chase squirrels, but now he is more mellow. He still loves hiding in boxes."

14 October 2014

On Leave

A number of our esteemed faculty are taking a break from the rigors of teaching and administration so they can focus on their work. In this post, we highlight the goings-on of Hajime Hoji and Khalil Iskarous.

Hajime Hoji

Hajime was at Yokohama, Japan, in September, where he participated in a small workshop on Language Faculty Science. He also gave a talk titled "Language Faculty Science as an Exact Science: An Illustration based on Experimental Considerations" at Kanagawa University, on the 11th of that month.

In February-May of 2015, he will be visiting Kyoto University, Japan, to disseminate the idea of Language Faculty Science in Japan.

In the meantime, his book "Language Faculty Science" is closer and closer to being fully cooked and taken out of the oven for everyone to enjoy! He also intends to write "Introduction to Language Faculty Science" as an experimental follow-up for the former book. If anyone is interested in the content of his book, the "Remarks" board under "Discussion" at his homepage (http://www.gges.org/hoji/) contains some info about it.

Khalil Iskarous

Khalil is taking the traditional fourth-year leave that comes in the middle of the USC's six-year tenure process. The point of this leave is to prepare the dossier for tenure; for Khalil, this neatly coincides with the third year of his NSF grant, which is the year when most writing gets done.

This summer, Khalil and his team took a cinematic trip to Japan, where they collected video footage of octopodes. Khalil hopes that the movement of octopus tentacles (and other octopus behavior) will give us insight about the reciprocal relationship between biomechanics and phonological tasks--and so far, the results are quite promising.

Email Khalil if you'd like to hear more about his work. Ask to see an octopus video; those little guys are incredible.

The Furball Diaries: Caeser and Maia

Welcome back to our ongoing series featuring the pets of USC Linguistics students, faculty and staff. This week we greet the cats of Rachel's household.

"This is Maia. Maia is a rescue cat, adopted about one year ago. She is hard to capture on film, because she is always on the move, except when she’s sleepy. Maia is super-petite, an aerialist, and loves to play with cherry tomatoes. She has no fear, and takes on her big brother, Caesar, without hesitation."

"This is Caesar. Caesar and Maia are rescue siblings (not related, but reared together). He is just over a year old, but a giant among cats. Caesar is usually mellow, but occasionally a wild streak comes out in him.  He is a master of string play and hide and seek. He is very smart, and good at learning new games. He has a special talent for jumps where he bounces sideways off the wall."

07 October 2014

The Furball Diaries: Pearl, Shadow and Grey

This week, we will get to know Afton's feathered friends.

"Pictured are Pearl, Shadow, and Grey, and not pictured are the other four members of their little flock (Pippin, Noodle, Beetle, and Lucky). They enjoy singing, talking, hiding in my hair, stealing shiny objects, and attempting to communicate with the crows that live outside. We've been friends for over 15 years now, and I've seen many of them grow up from egg to adult."

30 September 2014

The Furball Diaries : Pip and Max

Welcome to the first installment of USCLing Pets, the photo series! A proud pet parent from the USC Linguistics department will have their furry loved one featured each week.

Today we will feature Samantha Gordon's four-legged friends, Pip and Max. Sam describes the pictured interaction as either an instance of Pipsqueak using Maxine as a pillow or of Max using Pip as a blanket. We'll let you make up your mind on that one.
"Pipsqueak and Maxine are my cats. They're part of a larger multi-cat household involving a lot of big personalities, but they hold their own. I adopted Pip when she was just a tiny 2-month-old kitten that my friend found under a house. Pip's favorite activities are snuggling in weird positions, chasing the reflection of polished surfaces on walls, getting cat hair on clean laundry, and catching bugs. She got her name because she really does squeak! Max is Pip's younger sister from a different litter. She is the fluffiest cat of the house and she is often mistaken for a show cat because of her good looks. We thought Max was a boy for the first few months we had her because she was too fluffy to tell. Max loves eating yogurt and helps me with my reading by sitting on my book and meowing to get petted. They are both integral figures in my life, and they're always there for me to help me through tough times."

14 September 2014

Welcome to our new students!

It is with great pleasure that we introduce the new cohort of Linguistics graduate students, so that you can all get to know them a bit better. Welcome, class of 2019!

Ana Elisa Besserman 

Hi! My name is Ana Besserman, I'm from Brazil and I'm terribly excited to be joining the USC Linguistics department! While living in Rio de Janeiro, I graduated with a BA in Journalism and another in Portuguese & English (running from one University to the other while doing that turned out to be quite a lot of fun). In 2011, I moved to San Diego to pursue a Linguistics MA at SDSU and ended up having an amazing time yet again. For my thesis, I designed and ran a study on discourse-based predictive processes during language comprehension - which brings me to my linguistics interests: sentence processing, experimental pragmatics, discourse, information status and word order (but truly everything else language-wise fascinates me almost just as much). 
What else? I'm a big fan of "that's what she said" jokes (thanks, Michael Scott). Owls are my favorite creatures, but I'd probably be a beaver if I had to be a non-human animal. I had an awful ketchup addiction when I was 7 years old. If Netflix was a place, it would probably be my favorite one. I particularly enjoy watching anything with vampires, Woody Allen and revenge stories, so basically I'm waiting for the day the three will be combined in one glorious, epic movie. I love food (eating, not cooking), sports (watching, not playing) and games (wining, not losing). 

Bhamati Dash

Hye. I am Bhamati Dash. Since many have asked me this after I came here, it starts with an aspirated bilabial voiced plosive and ends with a dental voiceless one. I am from India. My first language is Hindi, the language predominantly spoken in Northern India. I am from the state of Orissa in India( a state in Eastern India) but never having lived there I am not very good at speaking Odia. I plan to improve on it here! Not because there are so many who speak that language here because there aren't but because my research is in Odia and I cannot stay away from it any longer.
I did my graduation and post graduation from The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. ( same place as Mythili and Saurav).
Currently my interest is tipped towards syntax. I plan to work on Plural Expressions in Classifier languages. But I am hoping to find something new here which will catch my attention so that I could diversify my area of interest.

Really excited to be here.

Hayeun Jang

I’m Hayeun Jang from South Korea. My lovely cats’ names are Luffy and Hancock (I took their names from the Japanese manga ‘Onepiece’). Yes. I’m a cat lover, but unfortunately my husband is allergic to cat’s fur.. T^T So they are living with my parents now.

Nowadays I’m fascinated by articulation and perception of nasals, and I’m interested in the phenomenon named ‘spontaneous nasalization’. So I will focus on P-side linguistics, but I love other subfields of linguistics.

Nice to meet you all, and be friends :)

Maury Lander-Portnoy

My name is Maury and I'm from Baltimore, Maryland.  I went to undergrad at Haverford College in the suburbs of Philadelphia where I graduated with a degree in Linguistics and Languages, which was a linguistics degree with an additional curriculum of 2 foreign languages, which for me were Mandarin and Arabic (My apologies for being a linguist who asking "oh, how many languages do you know?" is a good question: these two joined Hebrew, Spanish, and Latin).  Linguistically, I'm interested in Phonetics, Phonology, Psycholinguistics, and Endangered Language Documentation, with my thesis being a Phonetic sketch of an Endangered language from northeast India called Bugun.

Extralinguistically, last year I took a gap year to first work at the summer camp I attended as a child, then I went to Ireland and Spain to travel and WWOOF (volunteer on small organic farms).  Then I had to come back and help my grandparents move into a retirement community up in Massachusetts (for those of you who didn't travel to the east coast last year, it was absolutely freezing, which is part of the reason why I am so excited about LA's weather!).  After that, I traveled to visit family and stayed for a bit with my parents, who now live in Dallas, TX, before coming here to work for the summer.

For fun, I LOVE cooking (and eating too!), and growing my own produce, although I'm unsure whether I'll get much opportunity to do that in the city (I'll try herbs on my balcony).  I love music, singing (solo or a cappella), and playing the guitar although music is less of a hobby and more of a perpetual state of being, manifested in constant singing and listening to music.  To stay active, I enjoy swimming (another reason I'm excited about LA-year round outdoor swimming), hiking, and occasionally running.  And to stay inactive, I like playing video games and watching movies.

12 September 2014

Congratulations to the Spring Bake-off Winners

A very-belated congratulations goes out to the winners of the Bake-Off held at the end of last semester! We had many entrants who provided delicious treats for this special tea time event.

The dessert spread
Xiaxun won first place for her lemon bars:

Xiaxun, First place winner
Jessica won second place for her lemon cookies:
Jessica, Second place winner
Cynthia won third place for her Chocolate rum cake:
Cynthia, Third place winner
Congratulations to the winners and a big thank you to all the participants!

19 June 2014

Congratulations to Our New BAs and PhDs!

June can mean only one thing -- graduation season! The USC Department of Linguistics graduated 13 undergraduates and 6 graduate students this year. In addition, many grad students defended dissertations in the last few weeks. We proudly congratulate all of the following students on their recent graduation and successful defenses, not to mention their many years of hard work at USC. Congratulations, all, and good luck in your future endeavors!

Undergraduate Students

Evangeline Alva
Won Jeong Cho
Xiaxun Ding
Nelly Escobar
Patience Fetzer
Aaron Fleiss
Megan Harmon
Tyler Isaman
Jessica Lee
Josephine Lim
Annika Linde
Helen Park
Hui Ying

Graduate Students

Xiao He
What 'You' and 'I' Can Say About Ziji: Reference Resolution and Non-structural Constraints
Xiao has accepted a lectureship in Linguistics and Quantitative Methods at the University of Manchester.

David Li
Investigating the Production and Perception of Reduced Speech: A Cross-linguistic Look at Articulatory Coproduction and Compensation for Coarticulation

Ben Parrell
Dynamics of consonant reduction
Ben won a post-doctoral fellowship funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Research Service Award, which he will use to pursue postdoctoral research and additional training at the Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley. Ben has also accepted an Assistant Professorship at the University of Delaware's Linguistics Department beginning in Fall 2015.

Sergio Robles-Puente
Prosody in Contact: Spanish in Los Angeles
Sergio has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Spanish Linguistics at the University of West Virginia.

Barbara Tomaszeswicz
Focus Association in Superlative Expressions
Barbara was also recently awarded a very competitive NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant for her research.

Hector Velasquez
A Reduplicative Analysis of Sentence Modal Adverbs in Spanish
Hector has accepted a teaching position at his alma mater, Universidad Católica de Lima, Perú.

22 April 2014

More Congratulations!

There is even more good news to report from students in the USC Linguistics Department!

Congratulations to Ben Parrell on winning a very competitive post-doctoral fellowship funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Research Service Award. Ben will be pursuing his research and additional training at the Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley. Ben was *also* offered an Assistant Professorship at the University of Delaware's Linguistics Department. He will start at the University of Delaware in fall 2015. Congratulations, Ben!!!

Congratulations to undergraduate student Mary Basily, who has been working with the SPAN research group under the mentorship of graduate student Christina Hagedorn. Her poster, "Characterizing Vowel Production in Post-glossectomy Speech using Realtime MRI", won first place at the USC Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Social Sciences category. Congratulations to Mary and Christina and the rest of the SPAN group.

Mary with her poster

Keep the great news coming, everyone!