Linguistics Seminar

Seminars typically take place each Monday from 4-5 PM, either in-person or over Zoom. In-person seminars are normally held in the Lucy Ellis Lounge (LCLB 1080).

Contact Josh Dees for Zoom links and details and if you’d like to be added to the mailing list and receive announcements of new talks every week.

Spring 2024 Schedule
  • 29-Jan: LingSS Talk: Kara Federmeier
    • Talk Title: Connecting and considering: How the brain finds meaning in time
    • Abstract: 

      Humans have the remarkable ability to link perceptual stimuli with long-term memory – i.e., to glean the meaning of those stimuli – in a manner that is persistent and rapid but also flexible and goal-oriented. Work in my laboratory has revealed that in a relatively invariant time window, uncovered through studies using the N400 component of the event-related potential, incoming sensory information naturally induces a graded landscape of activation across semantic memory, creating what might be called "proto-concepts". This process of "connecting" affords the continuous infusion of meaning into human perception. Connecting can be -- but is not always -- followed by a process of further "considering" those activations through a set of more attentionally-demanding comprehension mechanisms. This kind of active comprehension entails selection, augmentation, and transformation of the initial semantic representations. The result is a limited set of more stable bindings that can be arranged in time or space, revised as needed, and brought to awareness. Collectively, these findings reveal the complex relations among sensory processing, attention, memory, and control systems that allow people to both rapidly and flexibly understand one another across the lifespan.

  • 1-Feb (Thursday): LingSS Talk: Adrienne Washington 
    • Talk Title: “A world beyond this one”: Sustaining afro-brasilidade through language, ritual, and culture teaching in northeastern Brazil   
    • Abstract: Theories on the intersections of language and race (raciolinguistics, Alim et al., 2016; Flores & Rosa, 2015) and on the semiotics of race (raciosemiotics, Smalls, 2015, 2020) are positioned well to understand how multiple identities co-craft personhood—that is, how language informs race, ethnoracial formations, and racism, and also how they recursively shape language. Yet such theories have not been regularly applied in exploring the place of religion (along with language and race) in identity co-construction, including intersectional hierarchies and the contestations of such hegemonic power formations by members of multiply marginalized groups.   


  • 19-Feb: Grad Workshop: Dr. Tania Ionin, Ping-Lin Chuang, Aylin Coşkun Kunduz, and Britni Moore
    • Topic: How to apply for research funding


  • 26-Feb: Grad Workshop: Anna Mendoza
    • Topic: Literature Review Reading and Writing


  • 4-Mar: Ling SS Talk: Lin Chen
    • Talk Title: Understanding fundamental processes in skilled reading: Insights from comparisons of first and second languages reading from a multi-methodological approach
    • Abstract: Reading comprehension is a continuous process in which the reader builds and updates a mental representation of the meaning conveyed in text incrementally. This process unfolds word by word, phrase by phrase, and sentence by sentence, occurring in both first (L1) and second language (L2) reading contexts. In this talk, I aim to address two questions: (1) Can we identify the core components of skilled reading in English that generalize across both skilled English native speakers and L2 readers? (2) Does the first language of skilled L2 readers continue to influence their reading of English?  To explore these questions, I will present multiple studies examining the incremental processes in English native speakers and skilled L2 learners who are from a variety of L1 backgrounds (including Spanish, Korean, and Chinese) as they read authentic materials from the New York Times. These studies use a combination of behavioral self-paced reading measures, ERPs, co-registration of eye tracking and EEG, and probabilistic language models (such as probabilistic context-free grammar, and transformer). Findings and the advantages of using multiple experimental methodologies to identify fundamental reading processes beyond specific paradigms will be discussed


  • 18-Mar: LingSS Talk: Tomas Riad
    • Talk Title: Interactions of tone, prosody and morphology in Central Swedish
    • Abstract: Central Swedish and most other varieties of Swedish and Norwegian exhibit a privative tonal contrast which is partly lexical, partly postlexical. The marked member of the contrast is called accent 2 and contains a word tone (H) plus an intonational pitch accent (LH). So-called accent 1 is just the intonational pitch accent (LH). In this talk I look for connections between the postlexical and lexical conditionings of the word tone. The ultimate goal is to better understand the origin and diachronic development of lexical tone in North Germanic varieties. 
  • 25-Mar: LingSS Talk: Seth Cable
    • Talk Title:  Stative Marking in Tlingit: Evidence for the Complexity of States (co-authored with Dr. James Crippen, McGill University & Yukon Native Language Center)
    • Abstract: On the basis of original field data, we show that in the Tlingit language (Na-Dene; Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon), stative predicates are morphologically distinguished on the basis of whether they are ‘K-states’ or ‘D-states’ (Maienborn 2005). While Maienborn's (2005) proposed distinction between 'K-states' and 'D-states' remains highly controversial (Dölling 2005, Higginbotham 2005, Ramchand 2005, Rothstein 2005), we show that the distribution of Tlingit's so-called 'stative prefix' i-/ya- provides independent cross-linguistic support for its grammatical reality. 
  • 1-Apr: Grad Workshop: Elizabeth King
    • Topic:  Scaffolding in the Linguistics Classroom
  • 8-Apr: Workshop: Dr. Jonathan Dunn
    • Topic: Using LLMs for Linguistic Research
  • 15-Apr: LingSS Talk: Dr. Karina Tachihara
    • Talk Title:  Uncovering L2 learning through cognitive mechanisms
    • Abstract: My research investigates how L2 speakers learn how to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable forms in L2 using cognitive mechanisms. I found that learning what not to say is particularly difficult for L2 learners of English and Spanish. However, I also found that repeated exposures without any feedback led learners to identify unconventional sentences as unacceptable, demonstrating that my experimental manipulation, based on a mechanistic understanding of memory representations, led to better language performance in a classroom setting. Additionally, I will present my work investigating how our semantic knowledge shapes the organization of multi-utterance production in L1 English speakers and my plans to extend this work to L2 learners. I bring together theories and blend methodologies from linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science to uncover what makes L2 learning difficult and what can aid or hinder language learning.
  • 29-Apr: LingSS Talk: Amanda Brown
    • Title: The Effects of a Multi-competent Approach in the Teaching L2 English, French, and Arabic

    • Abstract: There is no doubt that language learners need to receive input and produce output in the L2. However, requiring exclusive use of the L2 in classrooms, i.e. full immersion, has been criticized and labeled a 'monolingual' view of pedagogy (Hall & Cook, 2012). Whether to use a multi-competent pedagogical approach, i.e. employ the native or other proficient language in second/foreign language (L2) classrooms, is a question often asked in applied linguistics, and it has been labeled “the most important theoretical and pedagogic question facing both the research and practitioner communities today” (Macaro 2014: 10). In this talk, I outline intervention studies contrasting muti-competent and monolingual approaches to the teaching of L2 English, Arabic and French at different proficiency levels. Collating evidence from twelve second/foreign language classrooms, I show that strategic use of learners’ native or other languages does not hinder acquisition of the L2 and may even yield positive learning outcomes.


For a list of seminars held in previous semesters, please see Past Seminars.