LSA 2018 Annual Meeting

Salt Lake City at night

What an amazing conference! I presented several papers and participated in the Five Minute Linguist competition, which was incredibly fun. (I highly recommend submitting your own work at future meetings.) Since my presentations tend to get buried on this page, I thought I would assemble links in a convenient place:

Ackerman & Yoshida: Detecting elusive judgments with binary decisions
(part of the organized session “Understanding Judgment Data in Syntax and Semantics: Insights from Experimental Methodologies”)

This study explores the relationship between judgments reported by linguists in published articles and judgments reported by experimental participants in the lab. In this study, two cases in English are investigated in which formal syntactic explanations have not been consistently confirmed in formal experimental studies: the apparent production-comprehension split in the distribution of resumptive pronouns in island contexts, and the amnestying effect of an additional wh-word on violations of the Superiority Condition. By employing a binary forced-choice methodology which mimics acceptability judgements of the formal syntax literature (unlike a scalar rating methodology), the authors confirm that resumptive pronoun and superiority phenomena are consistent with the predictions made by the formal syntax literature in some environments.

Ackerman & Drake: The cat stalked ?wilily around the house: Morphological dissimilation in deadjectival adverbs (poster)

The adverbial suffix –ly and the adjectival suffix –ly‚ typically do not combine (e.g., *ghost+ly‚+ly; ‘in a ghostlike manner’). However, phonologically similar strings are attested when one /li/ string is part of the word stem (jollily, compared to: ?smellily, *lovelily). Does morphological structure modulate the acceptability of these words independently from the impact of phonological or usage-based constraints? In two experiments, jolly-type stems are rated more acceptable than smell- and love-type stems, which did not significantly differ from each other. A combination of phonological constraints and increased morphological complexity can account for the observed pattern.

Ackerman, Riches & Wallenberg: Coreference dependency formation is modulated by experience with variation in human gender

What knowledge is accessed and checked during gendered coreference dependency formation? English encodes information about gender in pronouns and names, and coreference dependency formation relies on antecedent gender of matching that of the anaphor. However, human gender is not binary, and nonbinary genders are increasing in visibility. We investigate whether nonstandard coreference dependencies are processed differentially across the population. We find higher acceptability among people with regular contact with transgender/nonbinary communities, particularly younger speakers. We suggest experience with gender variation influences speakers’ mental representations of gender and these nuanced representations are what is accessed during gendered coreference dependency formation.

Hejná, Cochrane, Ackerman & Wallenberg: A bio-social account of hormonal effects on sound change from below

Analyses of sex/gender on language change are historically restricted to social factors, often confounding sex and gender and assuming that man/woman categories are explanatory. This literature has noted and replicated a pattern of women leading sound change from below the level of consciousness, but why this pattern should arise remains unclear. We present a model whereby social and biological factors interact and affect language change; consequently, the observed sex/gender effect is epiphenomenal. Furthermore, we empirically show that a continuous biological factor (prenatal exposure to androgens) has a continuous effect on the duration of pre-aspiration in Tyneside English.

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