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Kuroda Prize to Ed Keenan


BOX keenan edward

The Association for Computational Linguistics has awarded the 2015 S.-Y. Kuroda Prize to Prof. Edward Keenan.  Here is the full citation from their website:

Edward Keenan's academic career has been driven by a strong determination to contribute to formal models and studies of natural language. His 1985 book (with Faltz) “Boolean Semantics for Natural Language” established a whole new field. His extensive work on generalized quantifiers has inspired generations of academics working on this topic; as of this year, his 1986 article (with Stavi) “A Semantic Characterization of Natural Language Determiners” has been cited more than 600 times. His contributions to the interactions of mathematical logic with linguistics and to formal models of syntax are widely acknowledged. In awarding the S.-Y. Kuroda Prize to Edward Keenan, the Association acknowledges his enduring and irreplaceable contributions to mathematical linguistics.

Congratulations, Ed!

 
Semantics search: job talks this Winter

This Winter Quarter we will hold a series of candidate visits for our ladder faculty opening in Semantics. We have high hopes of recruiting a really outstanding professor and the short-list appears very strong.

The department community and our friends in other departments are welcome to attend the job talks, which will be posted on this site.

 
Russell Schuh (1941-2016)

Picture of Russell Schuh

Distinguished Professor of Linguistics Russell Schuh passed away on November 8, 2016. Russ was a beloved colleague and outstanding member of our department in teaching, research, and service. He was an outstanding field linguist, specializing in the Chadic languages of Northern Nigeria, and undertook many field expeditions to Nigeria that led to multiple books and journal articles, documenting languages hitherto hardly studied. His theoretical work opened new insights into the typology of tone rules, and his work on sung metrics broke new ground by its close examination of quantitative meter in living languages.  His extensive website documents much of this work. Russell was an educational innovator, teaching our large Linguistics 1 course for many years, ultimately bringing it on line. Russ also invented new courses for our program and devised important teaching materials both for Hausa and Linguistics instruction. He served as a devoted Chair of two departments:  Linguistics in the 1990's, and later as the last chair of Applied Linguistics.

We will remember Russ for his acute abilities in both scholarship and administration, his great kindness and generosity, and for the very high standards he set himself.

A commemorative webpage has been set up for posting of memories and pictures. Material for this page may be sent to Bruce Hayes at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The department is planning a commemorative gathering during Winter Quarter 2017. To be on the mailing list for this please send a message to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

RussSchuhInDailyBruin

This photo is from the UCLA Daily Bruin, which admired Russ's sartorial prowess in his public appearances as a teacher of Linguistics 1.

 

 
Three LSA Fellows on UCLA Linguistics faculty

With the election of Prof. Pat Keating as a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America, the UCLA Linguistics Department now has three Fellows.  The three (Ed Keenan, Bruce Hayes, and Pat Keating) posed for a picture.

 

KeatingKeenanHayes

 
Harold Torrence to join the department in Fall 2015

The Linguistics Department is delighted that Harold Torrence will be joining the faculty as of July 2015. Prof. Torrence specializes in the syntax and morphology of African and Native American languages. (For more, see http://www.people.ku.edu/~torrence/.) Among other courses, he will be teaching Field Methods at UCLA.

 

Picture of Harold Torrence

 
Undergraduate enrollment growth continues

As of 12/9/16, the total enrollment in the twelve majors offered by the Linguistics Department is 519. This is up by about 10% over the previous year. Thanks to Ale Garcia for the data.

 

 
New department administration takes office 1/1/17

We welcome a new crew of faculty who will be running the Linguistics Department starting on New Year's Day.

Anoop Mahajan and Tim Stowell will be serving as Co-Chairs.

Nina Hyams will be the Director of Graduate Studies.

Jessica Rett has been serving since the start of Fall Quarter as Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Current Chair Bruce Hayes and Director of Graduate Studies Sun-Ah Jun will be returning to full-time teaching and research, and wish their successors the very best as they take up their duties.

 
A Remembrance Event for Russ Schuh

We will have a public event to honor the memory of Prof. Russ Schuh, co-sponsored by the UCLA Humanities Division.  This will be on Friday, March 10, starting at 4 p.m. in Royce Hall. The organizers are Carson Schütze of UCLA and Vrinda Chidambaram of UC Riverside.  To receive notification emails please send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 
UCLA Linguistics to host CUSP

UCLA is hosting CUSP 7 this year, on Friday, Nov. 7 and Saturday, Nov. 8 (location TBA). CUSP (http://linguistics.ucla.edu/people/grads/lwinans/cusp7/) -- California Universities Semantics and Pragmatics -- is an interdisciplinary conference presenting work by local students and faculty spanning the fields of Linguistics and Philosophy. CUSP began at UCLA in 2009 and has quickly developed into a great forum for discussion and collaboration on semantics and related topics. Admission is open to affiliates of the department; please contact Jessica Rett ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) if you're interested in attending the dinner.

 
Memorial festschrift for Sarah Van Wagenen

Our beloved graduate student and colleague Sarah Van Wagenen, who died of cancer last spring, has been posthumously honored by a memorial festschrift volume, edited by Linnaea Stockall and our own Prof. Carson Schutze. Sarah was able to see the content and format of this volume before she passed away.

Carson writes: "Linnaea Stockall and I (co-editors) are pleased to announce that volume 18 of UCLA Working Papers in Linguistics, entitled "Connectedness: Papers by and for Sarah VanWagenen", has been published at http://www.linguistics.ucla.edu/faciliti/wpl/issues/wpl18/wpl18.html

It is also available as a hardcover book:  to order, visit http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cschutzeatucladotedu.

 

 
Jobs for our Ph.D. graduates

This is a sketch announcement and everyone is invited to send me additions and corrections.

Robyn Orfitelli (Ph.D. 2012, currently at U. of Iowa) will be taking up a tenure-track position at the University of Sheffield, UK, starting in the Fall.

Laura McPherson (Ph.D. 2014) has started at a tenure-track position at Dartmouth College.

Laura Kalin (Ph.D. 2014) will be taking a postdoctoral position at the University of Connecticut.

Byron Ahn (Ph.D. 2014) will be taking a Visiting Assistant Professor position at Boston University.

Benjamin George (Ph.D. 2011, currently at Yale) will be taking up a tenure-track position in the Department of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, starting this Fall.

Grace Kuo (Ph.D. 2013) will be taking up an Assistant Professor position at Concordia University.

Craig Sailor (Ph.D. 2014) has been working for several months in a postdoctoral scholar appointment at the University of Groningen.

Heather Burnett (Ph.D. 2012) has started a 2 year position as a CNRS researcher on the ANR (i.e. French NSF) funded project: "Syntactic Microvariation in the Romance Languages of France" at the Université de Toulouse 2-Jean Jaurès.

Congratulations to all!

--Bruce Hayes ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

 

 

 
New NSF grant for Keating and colleagues

A new UCLA project by the self-styled “Voice Science Consortium” - Abeer Alwan (Electrical Engineering), Jody Kreiman (Head & Neck Surgery) and Pat Keating - has been awarded $200,000 for the year beginning August 1. The project, “Variance and Invariance in Voice Quality” aims to better understand how voices vary both within and between people. The primary research question of the project is this: Under normal daily life variability, how often does a person sound less like him- or herself and more like someone else? A database of 200 UCLA undergraduates, performing a variety of speech tasks across multiple recording sessions, will be collected in the Phonetics Lab. An acoustic “voice profile” for each speaker will be calculated, and an overall space across all the speakers derived. The location and variability of each speaker’s voice relative to all the other speakers will allow predictions about how confusable different voices should be. Initial work on the project has already begun, with help from Henry Tehrani (department engineer), Anya Mancillas (department lab coordinator) and Brenda Garcia (undergraduate research assistant).

 
Jonathan Bobaljik gives minicourse

Jonathan Bobaljik of the University of Connecticut gave a mini-course (5 lectures) in Spring Quarter on Distributed Morphology.  Here is the abstract for the course.

In this mini-course, we will look into the types of evidence that bear on current debates about the internal structure of words, and the relationship of morphology to other components of grammar (especially, but not only, syntax). We examine the central tenets of the framework of Distributed Morphology, namely arguments for hierarchical (syntactic) structure within complex words (syntax-all-the-way-down), and that this structure is abstract, independent of the phonological pieces that realize the structure (Late insertion). A central area of investigation concerns (apparent) mismatches, for example where the syntactic structure and morphological structure appear to differ, or where a form varies for context in ways that are not phonologically predictable (allomorphy). This leads to discussion of how complex the mapping from syntax to morpho(phonology) needs to be, how additional formal devices are to be constrained, and where the trade-offs may be found, enriching one component or the other in favour of a more straightforward mapping.

Evidence will be drawn from cross-linguistic surveys of morphological patterns, espeically those that stand as contenders for universal generalizations, including (time permitting) suppletion in adjectival morphology (Bobaljik 2012 Universals in Comparative Morphology); locative morphology (Radkevich 2010); and the expression of person and case morphology (Caha 2009), and other features that appear to participate in 'markedness' hierarchies.

Bobaljik016 lg

 
Linguistics sponsors World Voice Day at UCLA

The idea of a "World Voice Day" sounded a bit silly to me when I first heard it, but in fact here at UCLA the World Voice Day events were extremely informative demonstrations of the science of the human voice. The Day was organized by Prof. Pat Keating, with collaborations from her colleagues in Electrical Engineering, Head and Neck Surgery, and Musicology.  Visitors to the exhibits, spread across campus, had their vibrato rate and extent measured, placing them in the historical perspective of Western vibrato production (since Snow White's Disney days:  slower and wider).  The demonstration by Electrical Engineering participants featured an extraordinary iPhone app that accurately measured participants' height based on calculations made of the acoustics of their voice.  Surrounding the science demos were actual celebrations of the human voice, provided by Linguistics Lecturer Vrinda Chidambarum leading her mostly linguist colleagues in the UCLA Georgian Chorus, singing traditional songs of the Caucasus region.

For full coverage of this event with pictures, please see the entry on our department blog.

More links:

The UCLA Daily Bruin's coverage of World Voice Day

The web page for the UCLA World Voice Day project

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Jesse Harris to join the Linguistics faculty
Jesse Harris

As of 7/1/14 Prof. Jesse Harris will be joining our faculty as an Assistant Professor of Linguistics.  He will be with us full-time starting this coming academic year (2014-2015), and will be teaching a regular load of courses.

Jesse received his Ph.D. in 2012 from the University of Masschusetts-Amherst, where his dissertation advisers were Lynn Frazier and Chris Potts.  Since 2012 he has been on the faculty at Pomona College in Claremont, CA.  Jesse's primary research specialization is experimental linguistics, emphasizing laboratory studies that bear on central issues of theory in semantics and syntax. 

With generous financial support from our Deans, the Linguistics Department will shortly begin construction of laboratory space on the second floor of Campbell Hall to support Jesse's teaching and research.  Current plans are for eye-tracking facilities, a soundbooth, and other facilities.

We are delighted that Jesse will be joining us, and offer him a warm welcome to the department.

 
Sun-Ah Jun publishes huge compendium on intonation

Professor Sun-Ah Jun has cemented her reputation as one of the world's leading intonation experts with her massive (600 page) edited volume Prosodic Typology II:  The Phonology of Intonation and Phrasing, just out with Oxford University Press. This is the second book in a series, and covers the systems of intonation and phrasing in Catalan, Bengali, Tamil, Georgian, Mongolian, West Greenlandic, Dalabon, Jamaican Creole, Papiamentu, nonstandard Dutch dialects, Lebanese and Egyptian Arabic, Basque, and nonstandard Japanese dialects. There are also chapters on methodology and typology. A substantial part of the book is by Sun-Ah herself, who wrote or co-wrote three chapters.

Congratulations, Sun-Ah!

The book:

JunBook

The author:

SunAhJunBeingInterviewedInKorea

 
New books written in our department

Congratulations to four newly published authors in our department!

Professors Hilda Koopman, Dominique Sportiche, and Edward Stabler have published their long-awaited syntactic theory textbook An Introduction to Syntactic Analysis and Theory.  It is published by Wiley-Blackwell.

KoopmanEtAlBook

Graduate student Laura McPherson has completed her 600-page reference grammar, entitled A Grammar of Tommo So.  Tommo So is spoken in Mali. Laura took several field trips there to research this language, which was previously almost entirely unstudied. 

McPhersonBook

 

 
We are recruiting a new professor

The UCLA Linguistics Department is searching for a new professor.  Our search committees are in place and we anticipate a series of job talks in January and February of 2014.  We have one faculty position, but in interest of finding the strongest possible candidate we are searching in two areas at once:  Experimental Linguistics, as related to formal syntax and/or semantics, and Fieldwork.  The job announcements are given below.  Inquiries about these positions may be directed to the search committee chairs:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (experimental linguistics) and This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (fieldwork).

Please note:  these positions were posted on the Linguist List with additional fields added by their staff:  Language Documentation, Anthropological Linguistics, Syntax, and Semantics. These categories are not accurate, but we have been unable to persuade the Linguist List staff to remove them.


Fieldwork job description

The UCLA Department of Linguistics seeks to fill a faculty position (Assistant Professor or tenured Associate Professor level) starting July 1, 2014, for a linguist specializing in fieldwork. The successful candidate is expected to have a strong record of accomplishment in, and commitment to, fieldwork as attested by publications and other evidence. The ideal candidate will be both strong in linguistic theory and analysis and expert in modern methods of field data collection, organization, and storage. (S)he will be expected to apply for external grant support. Course load (normally four per year) will frequently include our department’s two-course graduate sequence in Field Methods, as well as other graduate and undergraduate courses and supervision of Ph.D. candidates. The Department will support the new faculty member with start-up funds and administrative help; junior faculty receive course releases. Salary will be commensurate with education and experience.

Ph.D. is required before date of hire. Applications should be submitted using the UCLA academic job application site at https://recruit.apo.ucla.edu/apply/JPF00103, position number JPF00103. Applicants should provide a brief cover letter, curriculum vitae, description of research, description of teaching philosophy, course evaluations or other material bearing on teaching record, and a link to a web site from which their publications and other writings may be downloaded in electronic form. Applicants should also request for three letters of recommendation to be uploaded to the application site. Review of applications will begin December 15, 2013; final application deadline is January 1, 2014. Members of the Search Committee will be conducting preliminary interviews at the Linguistic Society of America in Minneapolis and online. For further information please consult the Search Committee Chair, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For technical issues involving the application site, please contact the department’s Personnel Officer, Jael Cosico, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. The University undertakes affirmative action to assure equal employment opportunity for underrepresented minorities and women, for persons with disabilities , and for covered veterans. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply, including minorities and women.


 Experimental Linguistics job description

The UCLA Department of Linguistics seeks to fill a faculty position (Assistant Professor or tenured Associate Professor level) starting July 1, 2014, for an experimental linguist. The successful candidate will engage in research and publication in experimental work related to formal syntax, formal semantics, or both. (S)he will be expected to apply for external grant support. Course load (normally four per year) will include graduate and undergraduate courses, as well as graduate student advising. The Department will support the new faculty member with start-up funds, lab space, and administrative help; junior faculty receive course releases. Salary will be commensurate with education and experience.

Ph.D. is required before date of hire. Applications should be submitted using the UCLA academic job application site at the application URL below, position number JPF00104. Applicants should provide a brief cover letter, curriculum vitae, description of research, description of teaching philosophy, course evaluations or other material bearing on teaching record, and a link to a web site from which their publications and other writings may be downloaded in electronic form. Applicants should also request for three letters of recommendation to be uploaded to the application site. Review of applications will begin December 15, 2013; final application deadline is January 1, 2014. Members of the Search Committee will be conducting preliminary interviews at the Linguistic Society of America in Minneapolis and online. For further information please consult the Search Committee Chair, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For technical issues involving the application site, please contact the department’s Personnel Officer, Jael Cosico, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. The University undertakes affirmative action to assure equal employment opportunity for underrepresented minorities and women, for persons with disabilities , and for covered veterans. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply, including minorities and women.

 
UCLA Linguists at the 2013 LSA Linguistic Institute

The department was well-represented at the month-long Institute in Ann Arbor this past summer. Three courses were taught by current department members: “Quantitative and Computational Phonology” by Bruce Hayes, “Articulatory Phonetics” by Pat Keating, and “Language Typology” by Ed Keenan and Laura Kalin. Three more courses were taught by department alums: “Introduction to Morphophonology” by Adam Albright (PhD 2002), “Linguistic Diversity and Language Change” by Lyle Campbell (PhD 1971), who was also the Institute’s Hermann and Klara H. Collitz Professor, and “Agreement and Word Order in Minimalist Syntax” by Vicki Carstens (PhD 1991).

 

Other current members and alums participated in some of the many workshops hosted by the Institute: Marjorie Chan (postdoc 1985-1987), Adam Chong , Robert Daland, Christina Kim (MA 2006), Kuniko Nielsen (PhD 2008), and Amy Schafer (postdoc 1998-2001).

 
Recent staff changes

As can be seen at http://www.linguistics.ucla.edu/people/staff-.html, many people have recently assumed new roles in the department. First, as noted in earlier posts to this blog, Bruce Hayes and Sun-Ah Jun have become department Chair and DGS/Vice-chair, respectively; second, Jael Cosico has become our Academic Personnel Officer, and Ale Garcia has taken over for her as Department Coordinator in the front office; third, Jessika Herrera has replaced Matt Swanson as our SAO for undergraduates (Matt having left for a master’s program in England); and finally, Anya Mancillas has replaced Robyn Orfitelli as the Language Lab coordinator (Robyn having taken a visiting position at the University of Iowa, as noted in an earlier post). We wish the best to all, both those who have left and those taking over for them!

(September 5, 2013)

 
Grand Exodus of Unwanted Furniture

Many thanks to Department Coordinator Alejandra Garcia and her crew (Anais Munoz, Martin Granados and Ricardo Ayala) for their hard work -- organizational as well as physical -- in making possible the removal of a great deal of excess furniture from our department today.  Things are looking roomier, and nicer, already.  The exiled furniture is going not to a landfill but to a charitable organization.

 

(8/29/2013)

 
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