Coppola | Best Paper in Language Award

A paper co-authored by Marie Coppola, “The noun-verb distinction in established and emergent sign systems” (Language 95, no. 2 (2019): 230-267), has won this year’s Best Paper in Language Award.

Congratulations to Marie and her co-authors: Natasha Abner, Molly Flaherty, Katelyn Stangl, Diane Brentari, and Susan Goldin-Meadow!

Abstract: In a number of signed languages, the distinction between nouns and verbs is evident in the morphophonology of the signs themselves. Here we use a novel elicitation paradigm to investigate the systematicity, emergence, and development of the noun-verb distinction (qua objects vs. actions) in an established sign language, American Sign Language (ASL), an emerging sign language, Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL), and in the precursor to NSL, Nicaraguan homesigns. We show that a distinction between nouns and verbs is marked (by utterance position and movement size) and thus present in all groups–even homesigners, who have invented their systems without a conventional language model. However, there is also evidence of emerging crosslinguistic variation in whether a base hand is used to mark the noun-verb contrast. Finally, variation in how movement repetition and base hand are used across Nicaraguan groups offers insight into the pressures that influence the development of a linguistic system. Specifically, early signers of NSL use movement repetition and base hand in ways similar to homesigners but different from signers who entered the NSL community more recently, suggesting that intergenerational transmission to new learners (not just sharing a language with a community) plays a key role in the development of these devices. These results bear not only on the importance of the noun-verb distinction in human communication, but also on how this distinction emerges and develops in a new (sign) language.



Sprouse | C.L. Baker Award

Jon Sprouse has been announced as the recipient of the LSA’s inaugural C.L. Baker Award, which is awarded to mid-career linguists honoring excellence for scholarship in syntax. Congratulations Jon!

The citation to accompany the award reads as follows: “Jon Sprouse is an experimental syntactician whose work is characterized by imagination, innovation, care, and respect for the facts. He has made methodological contributions of central importance, enabling syntacticians to base their theoretical work on a much more secure empirical foundation. He has also made contributions of central importance to some of the core issues in syntax and linguistic theory more broadly – concerning the nature of island-hood and (in collaboration with Lisa Pearl) the theory of learnability.”

Further information on the award can be found here.

UConn Linguists at NELS

A number of UConn linguists will be presenting at the jubilean Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (NELS 50), held at MIT from October 25th – 27th, 2019.

There will be talks by:

  • Paula Fenger and Gísli Rúnar Harðarson (PhD 2017, now at University of Iceland). One classy number: Linking morphemes in Dutch and German
  • Magdalena Kaufmann and Stefan Kaufmann. Talking about sources
  • Christos Christopoulos and Stanislao Zompì. Strong Case Containment is too strong: two arguments from defaults

… and a poster presentation by:

  • Renato Lacerda. Configurational Information Structure: Evidence from Brazilian Portuguese

UConn Linguists at JK

The 27th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference (JK27) will take place this year at Sogang University in Seoul on October 18-20, 2019. It will feature a number of presentations by UConn linguists, including an invited talk by:

  • Keiko Murasugi. The parallel route the Japanese- and Korean-acquiring children take to attain the adult grammar: An implication for the Minimalist Theory

… and posters by:

  • Shin Fukuda and Jon Sprouse. Islandhood of Japanese Complex NPs and the Factorial Definition of Island Effects
  • Yuya Noguchi and Shun Ihara. What sluicing tells about imperatives
  • Koji Shimamura (Ritsumeikan University, PhD UConn 2018). Neo-Davidsonian Event Semantics, Scrambling and Argument Ellipsis
  • Yuta Tatsumi. A semantic condition on pronominalization

Visitor | Nick Huang

Nick Huang is here as a visiting researcher, supported by a two-year fellowship from the National University of Singapore. At UConn, he will be working with Jon Sprouse. Nick received his PhD from the University of Maryland earlier this year. His interests are in cross-linguistic variation and learning, and he has worked on topics such as locality, modality, and linguistic illusions. 

UConn Linguists at TISLR

A large contingent of UConn linguists is presenting their work at the 13th conference on Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research (TISLR13), which is being held at the University of Hamburg, Germany on 26th-28th September 2019.

Talks will be given by:

  • Emily Carrigan and Marie Coppola. Iconic’ number signs do not hasten acquisition of number knowledge
  • Deanna Gagne, Ann Senghas and Marie Coppola. The influence of same-age peers on language emergence

… and posters will be presented by:

  • Diane Brentari, Rabia Ergin, Ann Senghas and Marie Coppola. How quickly does phonology emerge in a “village” vs. “community” sign language?
  • Shengyun Gu. Phonological processes in Shanghai Sign Language
  • Shuyan Wang. Adjectives or relative clauses? A new perspective on adjectives in American Sign Language
  • Deborah Chen Pichler. (PhD 2001, now at Gallaudet University). Effect of minimal sign language instruction on hearing learner’s constituent order
  • Diane Lillo-Martin and Deborah Chen Pichler. ASL pronoun acquisition: Implications for pronominal theory
  • Julie Hochgesang, Donovan Catt, Deborah Chen Pichler, Corina Goodwin, Carmelina Kennedy, Lee Prunier, Doreen Simons, and Diane Lillo-Martin. Sign language acquisition, annotation, archiving and sharing: The SLAAASh project status report
  • Matthew Hall (Postdoc 2013-17, now at Temple University) and Stephanie De Anda. Language access profiles: A better way to characterize DHH children’s early communicative input
  • Matthew Hall and Sheila Dills. Against communication mode
  • Elena Koulidobrova (PhD 2012, now at CCSU) and Leyla Zidani-Eroglu. A few arguments for isomorphic sluicing in ASL 

UConn Linguists at GALA

UConn Linguistics will be represented at the 14th Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition conference (GALA 14), held on 12–14 September 2019 in Milano, Italy, by the following presentations:

  • Shuyan Wang, Yasuhito Kido and William Snyder. Acquisition of English Adjectival Resultatives: Support for the Compounding Parameter
  • Shuyan Wang. Scope and Scalar Implicatures in Children’s Mandarin: The Role of Working Memory (poster)
  • Yoshiki Fujiwara and Hiroyuki Shimada. Child Language and Logic: A View from Elided Conjunction in Japanese
  • Karina Bertolino. Testing children’s knowledge of restrictions in a partial nullsubject language