Two meetings this week: 5/1 at 3:45 & 5/4 at 1:00

We have two meetings of Modalities of Language this week!

Tuesday, 5/1 we will meet at our regular time from 3:45-5:00 in Harper Memorial 150. We will feature lightning talks from students. If you are interested in sharing your current research or ideas for future research, let us know!

Friday, 5/4 we will meet at a special time from 1:00-2:30, location TBD. Dan Yurovksy (UChicago) will join us. See below for details on his talk.

Children gesture when speech is slow to come

Human conversation is marked by alternation–partners taking turns speaking and listening. Consequently, language production happens under time pressure; speakers who cannot get their message out quickly enough lose their turn. When adults struggle to retrieve the words they want to say, they can choose alternatives. But children just beginning to learn language may solve this problem with gesture. If young children’s production systems reflect a sensitivity to communicative pressure, they should use deictic gesture to refer when they cannot retrieve a lexical label quickly enough. We confirm this prediction in a longitudinal corpus of naturalistic parent-child interactions, showing that the frequency and recency of a word in children’s input predict the probability that they will refer to its referent with gesture, even for words they know.

Upcoming dates:
5/8 – Laura Horton (UChicago)
5/15 – Costas Nakassis (UChicago)

Thursday, 3/1 at 9:30: Emre Hakgüder

Emre Hakgüder (UChicago) will be presenting in Rosenwald 215 at 9:30am on Thursday, 3/1. See below for details:

Word order and intonation in embedded polar interrogatives in TiD

Recursion is considered a universal property of Language. Different structures of the grammar can be embedded within different positions that serve different grammatical purposes. In this study I explore polar interrogatives embedded as the complement of a verb in TiD (Turkish Sign Language). I specifically look at word order in the embedded and matrix contexts, and also study the non-manual marking found in both environments. Sign languages sometimes rely on non-manual markers to mark certain structures and the manual component may not be used altogether for that purpose. Complementizers are one such component commonly found in spoken languages that sign languages tend to express non-manually. With this study I aim to reveal the differences and similarities found among embedded polar interrogatives, wh-interrogatives and declaratives, and the crucial role non-manual markers and the absence of complementizers play in distinguishing these structures as well as the non-manual component’s relevance to semantics.

Thursday, February 1 at 9:30: Pamela Perniss

Pamela Perniss (University of Brighton) will be visiting on February 1. Her talk will take place in Rosenwald 329 (note the room change). Please see below for details.

Talking about space with space: Insights from cross-linguistic comparison and development

Sign languages use the hands and the space in front of the body for linguistic encoding. For spatial relationships, e.g. cup on table, this affords the direct and iconic expression of a real-world relationship in the signing space: one hand, curved to represent the shape of a cup, is placed on top of the other hand, flat to represent the shape of a table. Such analogical representation of spatial relations seems straightforward. Indeed, these direct mapping affordances of the visual modality have been assumed to give rise to a high degree of similarity between sign languages in the spatial domain. However, the use of space to talk about space poses a number of challenges. For example, how are more complex spatial scenes represented in space, when the mapping between referents and articulators is no longer straightforward? How are viewpoint-dependent spatial relationships, e.g. cup to left of table, represented? Signing interlocutors are canonically positioned face-to-face; for viewpoint-dependent relationships, this means that what a signer places on the left of signing space (e.g. a cup) is seen by the addressee as being on the right. In this talk, I explore encoding in the spatial domain in the visual modality. I offer cross-linguistic comparison of locative expression, as well as insights from children learning to sign on the effects of modality on encoding of spatial relations and on the interplay of spatial semantics and conceptual representation.

Winter 2018 schedule

Below is the schedule of talks for Winter 2018. All talks will be Thursday, 9:30 AM in Rosenwald 215, unless otherwise noted.

Week 3, 1/18: Kat Montemurro, The emergence of serial verb constructions in Nicaraguan Sign Language (University of Chicago)

Week 5, 2/1: Pamela Perniss, Talking about space with space: Insights from cross-linguistic comparison and development (University of Brighton) Rosenwald 329 (note room change)

Week 8, 2/19 (Monday, 4:00-5:30): Amber Martin (Hunter College)

Week 9, 3/1: Emre Hakgüder (University of Chicago)