Category Archives: computational

Friday, April 14th at 3:30 PM: Lev Michael (UC Berkeley)

Please join us for a talk by visiting speaker Lev Michael of the University of California Berkeley. The talk will be Friday, April 14th at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 011. Refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you there!

“Lexical homology in computational phylogenetics: A comparative Tupí-Guaraní”

Lev Michael
UC Berkeley

Ross Burkholder @ LVC & LCC on Friday, November 13th

Friday, November 13th @ 3:00 PM in Rosenwald 301

Language use in MOBA Gaming Communities

Ross Burkholder
University of Chicago

In this talk I discuss a recent project investigating language use in Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games, focusing in particular on language use in the community surrounding the game DOTA 2. During the course of this talk I hope to describe, compare, and highlight specific areas of language use in MOBAs.

Describe: What kind of language is being used in-game?
– How do variables effect individuals language use?
– How has language use changed over time?

Compare: How does the register used in MOBA games compare to…
– Other MOBAs?
– Other online gaming communities?
– Other computer mediated language?

Highlight: How does the multilingual nature of the community effect language use?
– What strategies are used when no mutual language is available?
– How are responses to multilingualism framed and formed?

In order to answer these questions, this study makes use of a small (but growing) corpus of game replay files, looking at various frequencies, concordances, and collocations. As this project is in the beginning phases, there will be more emphasis during the talk on the formulation of research questions, and the methodologies used in order to answer them, than on the presentation of results. Discussion of all aspects of this project is strongly encouraged.

27 May: Rebekah Baglini (UChicago)

Friday, May 27 @ 3pm, Karen Landahl Center for Linguistics Research

“Modeling variation and change in radoppiamento sintattico


The external sandhi phenomenon of raddoppiamento sintattico (RS) in Italian has been a prominent topic in phonology for decades. While the existing theoretical literature treats RS as a regular phonological process, recent research has found that there is considerable variation in the realization of RS in two different domains: across dialects, due to diachronic change (Loporcaro 1996, 1997, 2001), and within dialectics, due to phonetic conditioning factors (Campos-Astorkiza 2004; Hajek et al. 2007; Stevens et al. 2002; Stevens and Hajek 2004, 2005, 2006).     This talk seeks to a) demonstrate that these two sources of variation are in fact interrelated, and that any analysis of one without the other is necessarily incomplete; and b) propose a new constraint-based analysis in which the phonology is crucially conditioned by phonetic factors.  Specifically, I argue that a model of partially ordered constraints (Anttila 1997, Anttila and Cho 1998) successfully predicts variation in individual grammars while simultaneously capturing the attested path of diachronic sound change between grammars.  To account for the facts concerning variation in the phonetic implementation of RS, I argue that the constraints themselves can be formulated as contextual markedness constraints based on the availability of perceptual cues, in the spirit of Licensing-by-Cue (Steriade 1997).    Thus, without sacrificing theoretical simplicity, this model is able to capture the empirical facts about RS far more successfully than prior analyses.

04 March: Lisa Pearl (UC Irvine)

Friday, March 04 @ 3 pm, Harper 148

Looking Beyond: What Indirect Evidence Can Tell Us About Universal Grammar


One of the most controversial claims in linguistics is that children learning their native language face an induction problem: the data in their input are insufficient to identify the correct language knowledge as rapidly as children do. If this is true, then children must bring some helpful learning biases to the language acquisition problem – and the nature of these biases is often debated. For example: Are they innate or derived? Are they domain-specific or domain-general? Are they about what to learn or how to learn? Induction problems are often used to motivate innate, domain-specific knowledge about language (sometimes called Universal Grammar), but there are clearly other kinds of learning biases that might be used. In this talk, I look at the case study of English anaphoric one, an induction problem that has received considerable recent attention, particularly in the computational modeling literature. I will consider whether indirect evidence leveraged by a probabilistic learner from a broader data set could be effective, and what this tells us about the nature of the necessary learning biases. By doing so, I will be able to offer a concrete proposal about the content of Universal Grammar (for this linguistic phenomenon) as well as shed light on the acquisition trajectory for anaphoric one.

05 Nov: Sravana Reddy

SRAVANA REDDY (Computer Science, University of Chicago)

Friday, November 5 @ 3:00pm, Karen Landahl Center

Co-sponsored with the Workshop on Language, Computation and Cognition

“Decoding the Voynich Manuscript”

Abstract: The Voynich manuscript is a medieval illustrated folio written in an undeciphered script. I will present some results about the linguistic properties of the text.