UCLA’s Applied Linguistics program will be hosting this year’s American Pragamatics conference (AMPRA) from October 17-19. Our own Jesse Harris is also on the organizing committee.

Jesse will also be giving two talks:

Preferences for focus particle placement: Two experiments. (with Katy Carlson)

Biscuit conditionals as indirect offers. (with Danielle Holstein)



New Language Processing Lab slowly takes shape

Jesse Harris’s new Language Processing Lab is finally taking physical shape. Construction began at the start of September is due to finish by the end of October (we hope). Meanwhile, here are some “before” pictures. Additionally, while without a physical home, the lab has already got a web home. Find out more about the work of Jesse’s lab here:

IMG_1922 IMG_1921
Construction begins….



The walls are filled in!



Keating gives colloquium at Michigan

Pat Keating was the UM Linguistics colloquium speaker on Oct. 3. Her talk, “Linguistic Voice Quality”, was based on joint work with a number of colleagues and former students who have participated in UCLA “Voice Science Consortium” projects.


Welcome new faculty!

The department welcomes one new assistant professor and 3 lecturers this academic year. Read about them below:

Jesse Harris (Ph.D. UMass, Asst. Prof):

My primary research is in language processing, which incorporates methods from cognitive science and psychology to investigate how language users develop a sufficiently rich linguistic meaning during online comprehension. Specific research areas include: semantic processing, interpretation of ellipsis, metonymy and type coercion, lexical access and representation, eye movements during reading, prosody and information structure, and establishing perspectival information in text. Be sure to stop by 2224 Campbell to visit the lab!

I also work in formal semantics and pragmatics, with interests in perspectival terms, free relative structures, domain restriction, and discourse particles. This work often incorporates experimental components, including corpus distributions, as well.

When I’m not working, I’m probably getting wildly lost in LA or annoying my neighbors with my very amateur mandolin-playing.

Vrinda Chidambaram (Ph.D. Princeton, Lecturer):

I am from Alexandria, Virginia. Got my A.B. from Cornell, Ph.D. from Princeton. I like to work on the syntax of relative clauses and resumptive pronouns and am particularly fond of South Slavic languages. I love to teach. I grew up singing south Indian classical (Carnatic) music, but got interested more recently in the choral folk music of Caucasus Georgia. I have started several Georgian choirs: one in Princeton, one in Slovenia, and one here at UCLA. My sister calls me “the Johnny Appleseed of Georgian choirs”, which is not really very flattering, because I understand that Johnny Appleseed was actually quite deranged. For one year, I worked as a jazz singer in a lounge; it was not nearly as fun as it sounds.

Hannah Sarvasy (Ph.D. James Cook University, Australia, Lecturer):

My work focuses on Papuan descriptive and comparative linguistics, and I have also done fieldwork on Tashelhit Berber and Kim and Bom (Atlantic). I am happy to share knots, solar power setup, and bush survival skills with anyone interested!

Brian Smith (ABD UMass, Lecturer):

(reproduced from Brian’s website:

My main research interests are phonologically-conditioned allomorphy and ineffability. I also work on variation, metrical stress, and French schwa.

I’m weeks away from earning my linguistics PhD from UMass Amherst. Before UMass, I attended Rutgers University in NJ, where I studied French and Linguistics.

My non-academic interests include classic films, graphic novels, and art, both traditional and digital. I come from South Jersey, specifically the Jersey Shore, where people say things like “jimmies”, “shoobies”, “hoagies”, and “water ice”.


Welcome new graduate students!

The department welcomes a large class of 14 incoming graduate students this year! Read more about them below!

Maayan Abenina-Adar (M.A. McGill):

Research interests: (Morpho-)Syntax, Tagalog

Daniela Culinovic (M.A. Hawai’i):

Research interests: Syntax, semantics, language acquisition

Greg DeFehr (B.A., M.A. CSU Fresno):

Research interests: Phonology, phonetics, and language documentation (have for the time being focused on Native California Indian languages).
My hobbies/interests are quickly abandoning new hobbies/interests for even newer hobbies/interests. Also movies, video/tabletop games, and the internet

Scott Gaines (B.A. Missouri):

Research interests: I am interested in typology, morpho-syntax, especially in Native American languages, and in child acquisition of complex morpho-syntactic phenomena.

Megan Gotowski (M.A. UNC-Chapel Hill):

Research interests: Syntax, semantics, language acquisition

Yoo Kyung Kang (B.A. UCLA):

Research interests: Phonetics, intonation, language acquisition
Hobbies: I spent part of my life in Guam, I really love summer and spending time at the beach (snorkeling, scuba diving, tanning, etc).

Isabelle Lin (M.A., ENS/LCSP):

Research interests: I am generally interested in tone languages, second language acquisition and modeling speech recognition, but I expect to find more interests soon!
Hobbies: I like to draw and craft when I have time!

Iara Mantenuto (M.A. Syracuse):

Research interests: Morphosyntax, fieldwork
Hobbies: Yoga, reading, movies, hiking and photography

Brice Roberts (B.A. Reed):

Research interests: Phonetics/Phonology of Chinese languages, tone
Fun facts: I’m pretty double-jointed and I worked in a remote car motor factory for a while.

Megan Risdal (M.A. NC State):

Research interests: Phonetics, Phonology, language variation/change
Hobbies: Watching sci-fi & horror movies, enjoying craft beer and good food
Fun fact: “I’m from Minnesota and my favourite vowel is /æ/”

Adam Royer (B.A. OSU):

Research interests: Phonetics, psycholinguistics, and prosody.
Hobbies include photography, writing, and drawing. Basically just art making.

Deborah Wong (B.A. UCL, M.A. Cantab):

Research interests: Syntax (locality, ellipsis, binding) but is looking forward to exploring more stuff like field work, computational linguistics and phonetics/phonology
As for fun facts, I do ballet and watch lots of ballets. I like karaoke as well but I can’t sing to save my life.

Meng Yang (M.A. Ottawa):

Research interests: Phonology, fieldwork

Viiu Wichman (B.A. Michigan State):

Research interests: Syntax



Summer Happenings III: Fieldwork

A number of department members were out in the field this summer. Here are some field reports:

Sozen Ozkan writes:

This summer, I started working on Turoyo which is a North-western Neo-Aramaic language spoken in Tur-Abdin area of Mardin in Eastern Turkey. Ktobhonoyo is the written language of the Syriac community in Turkey and Turoyo still remains to be a spoken vernacular of the area with a population of 3000 speakers.  I was in contact with several native speakers and conducted elicitation sessions for six weeks. I gathered data mainly on the tense and agreement system of the language.

Ann Bailey collected data from bilinguals in Valencia, Spain and the Basque country.  Here are some of the picturesque views from the Basque country:

20140703_161200 basque1

Margit Bowler recently left for the field in Central Australia, where she’ll be continuing her work on Warlpiri in Yuendumu.

Summer Happeings II: Publications & Awards

Graf awarded the Beth Prize!

In August, Thomas Graf (Ph.D. 2012, now at Stony Brook) was awarded the Beth Prize for best dissertation in Logic, Language and Linguistics for 2013, which includes a cash prize and publication offer. Read more about the Beth Prize here:

Congratulations Thomas!

 New NSF grant for Keating and colleagues

(repost from department’s news feed)

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).

Congratulations Pat and colleagues!

UCLA Working Papers 18 published

Carson Schutze writes: UCLAWPL 18 was published (on the web and now also as a hardback book). You can find the publication here:

This work was in memory of Sarah Van Wagenen.

Susie Curtiss has a new paper in press!

Monika Połczyńska, Susan Curtiss, Partricia Walshaw, Prahba Siddarth, Chris Benjamin, Brian Moseley, Celia Vigil, Michael Jones, Dawn Eliashiv & Susan Bookheimer (in press). Grammar tests increase the ability to lateralize language function in the Wada test.

Morgan Tfelt awarded Undergraduate Research Scholars Program Scholarship

Undergraduate, Morgan Tfelt, has been awarded an Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP) scholarship to work with Megha Sundara for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Congratulations Morgan!