Author Archives: Brian Dillon

Hammerly in Cognition

Christopher Hammerly (2020) has published a paper with Brian Dillon and Adrian Staub entitled ‘Person-based prominence guides incremental interpretation: Evidence from obviation in Ojibwe‘ in Cognition. Using visual world eye-tracking with first speakers of Border Lakes Ojibwe, Chris discovered that Border Lakes Ojibwe speakers preferentially interpret proximate nouns as agents in real-time processing, even in situations of temporary ambiguity. He interprets these findings as a reflection of a cross-linguistically observed pressure to align more prominent personhood categories with more prominent thematic roles. Congratulations, Chris!

UMass Linguists to ELM

The second annual Experiments in Linguistic Meaning (ELM) conference is taking place May 18-20, 2022. ELM was founded and organized by UMass alumnus Florian Schwarz and Anna Papafragou (UPenn) as a venue for showcasing experimental work on the study of linguistic meaning, including core issues in semantics and pragmatics, their interface with extralinguistic cognition, and issues of real-time processing and language acquisition. The goal of the ELM conference is to build a vibrant, interdisciplinary community of researchers focused on linguistic meaning. ELM will have both an in-person and a virtual component.

UMass linguists past and present are well represented in the schedule, with a range of talks and posters:

Adina Camelia Bleotu, Anton Benz & Roxana-Mihaela Pǎtrunjel: “You must worry! The interpretation of “mustn’t” varies with context and verb complement.

Andrea Beltrama & Florian Schwarz: “Social identity and charity: when less precise speakers are held to stricter standards

Hisao Kurokami, Daniel Goodhue, Valentine Hacquard & Jeffrey Lidz: “4-year-olds’ interpretation of additive too in question comprehension

Aynat Rubinstein, Valentina Pyatkin, Shoval Sadde, Reut Tsarfaty & Paul Portner: “Machine classification of modal meanings: An empirical study and some consequences

Christopher Davis & Sunwoo Jeong: “To honor or not to honor: Korean honorifics with mixed status conjoined subjects

Si On Yoon, Breanna Pratley & Daphna Heller: “Referential domains, priming and the effect of invisible objects

Alexander Göbel & Michael Wagner: “On a concessive reading of the rise-fall-rise contour: contextual and semantic factors

Alexander Göbel & Florian Schwarz: “Comparing Global and Local Accommodation: Rating and Response Time Data

Jesse Harris: “The enduring effects of default focus in let alone ellipsis: Evidence from pupillometry

Alexandros Kalomoiros & Florian Schwarz: “To parse or not to parse: symmetric filtering in negated conjunctions

John Duff, Adrian Brasoveanu & Amanda Rysling: “Task effects on the processing of predicate ambiguity: Distributivity in the Maze

Pizarro-Guevara awarded NSF SBE Postdoctoral Fellowship

Jed Sam Pizarro-Guevara has been awarded an NSF SBE Postdoctoral Fellowship to carry out research on the processing of reflexive pronouns in Tagalog. Jed’s research takes a field psycholinguistics approach, blending aspects of fieldwork and experimental psycholinguistics. Over the course of his project, Jed will work with scholars at UMass and at the University of the Philippines Diliman to study the real-time processing and comprehension of reflexive pronouns in Tagalog using the visual world paradigm, both at UMass and on site in the Phillippines. Congratulations, Jed!

Momma gives colloquium at UT Austin

On Friday April 8th, Professor Shota Momma is giving an invited talk at the University of Texas, Austin’s Psychology Language Processing Speaker Series. The title of his presentation is “Generating Complex Structures in Speaking.” The abstract for his presentation and information about how the talk can be accessed may be found here.

Zhao presents at Sixth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Linguistics Symposium

Graduating senior Fengyue (Lisa) Zhao, class of 2022, is presenting at the Sixth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Linguistics Symposium on April 9th. Zhao will give a talk entitled “Probabilistic listener: A case of reflexive ambiguity resolution in Mandarin Chinese,” which is based on her honors thesis work using the probabilistic Rational Speech Acts model to model pronoun interpretation in Mandarin Chinese. Congratulations, Lisa!

Bhatia in JML

Sakshi Bhatia (2019) has published an article entitled ‘Processing agreement in Hindi: When agreement feeds attraction’ (with co-author Brian Dillon) in the Journal of Memory and Language. In this article, Sakshi explores how Hindi speakers compute agreement in real time by exploring the distribution of errors they make in a 2AFC sentence completion task. Congratulations, Sakshi!

You can access a free copy of the article here until May 6th, 2022!

UMass Linguists at the Human Sentence Processing conference @ UCSC!

UMass linguists past and present are well represented at this week’s Human Sentence Processing conference (formerly the CUNY conference), hosted virtually by the University of California Santa Cruz (with our own Amanda Rysling as a co-organizer!). If you’d like to attend virtually, go here: registration is free for the virtual event! There is also a satellite conference being hosted by UMD that many UMass linguists are descending upon.

UMass psycholinguists past and present are well represented at HSP this year!

Mara Breen is giving an invited plenary presentation entitled ‘Prosodic processing in poetry’. Congratulations Mara!

UMass psycholinguists and alumni are also giving a number of platform presentations, including:

  • Producing long-distance dependencies in English and Japanese by Mari Kugemoto and Shota Momma
  • SPR mega-benchmark shows surprisal tracks construction- but not item-level difficulty by Kuan-Jung Huang, Suhas Arehalli, Mari Kugemoto, Christian Muxica, Grusha Prasad, Brian Dillon, Tal Linzen
  • Anti-local anaphors in Telugu are subject to local antecedent interference by Vishal Arvindam and Matt Wagers
  • Properties of L1 experiential marking asymmetrically modulate the acquisition of Ever and Any in Chinese and Korean L2 speakers of English by Nino Grillo, Kook-Hee Gil, Heather Marsden, Nina Radkevich, Shayne Sloggett, George Tsoulas, Norman Yeo

And additionally, UMass psycholinguists and alumni are presenting an incredible array of work in synchronous and asynchronous poster sessions, including:

  • Active Cataphor Resolution Skips Some Positions by Dave Kush and Brian Dillon
  • Between you and me: Use ERP decoding when between-participants variation is high by Moshe Poliak, Anthony Yacovone, and Jesse Snedeker
  • C-command effects in binding third-person reflexives and pronoun in Turkish by Özge Bakay and Brian Dillon
  • Clozing in on Predictions: Cloze Responses Reflect Various Underlying Processes by Jon Burnsky and Adrian Staub
  • Dynamic encoding of agreement features and its effects on interference by Maayan Keshev, Mandy Cartner, Anissa Neal, Aya Meltzer-Asscher and Brian Dillon
  • How to (dis-)agree with intonation: asymmetric valence of the rise-fall-rise contour by Alex Göbel and Michael Wagner
  • Interference effects in Tagalog reflexive processing by Jed Sam Pizarro-Guevara, Glenn Huerto and Brian Dillon
  • “It’s alive!”: Animacy-based structural expectations rapidly update with context by Stephanie Rich, Lalitha Balachandran, John Duff, Matthew Kogan, Maya Wax Cavallaro, Nicholas Van Handel, and Matt Wagers
  • Let them eat ceke: an EEG study of form-based prediction in rich naturalistic contexts by Anthony Yacovone, Briony Waite, Tanya Levari, and Jesse Snedeker
  • Look Away! An Object is Coming by Jon Burnsky, Maayan Keshev, Mariam Asatryan, Barbora Hlachova, Kyle Johnson, and Brian Dillon
  • Processing and interpreting anaphoricity and logophoricity: A long-distance reflexive in Vietnamese by Linh Le Nhat Pham, Thuy Thanh Tuong Bui and Alexander Göbel
  • Revisiting animacy effects in the recall of English voice and ditransitive alternations by Christopher Hammerly
  • Semantic role parsing in intransitives: EEG insights from Basque by Arrate Isasi-Isasmendi, Sebastian Sauppe, Caroline Andrews, Itziar Laka, Martin Meyer and Balthasar Bickel
  • Social identity and charity: when less precise speakers are held to stricter standards by Andrea Beltrama and Florian Schwarz
  • Syntactic Surprisal from Neural Language Models tracks Garden Path Effects by Suhas Arehalli, Brian Dillon and Tal Linzen
  • Syntax guides verb planning in sentence production: evidence from tough constructions by Shota Momma
  • Turkish speakers show object over subject preference when processing [OV]S vs. [SV]O orders by Duygu Göksu, Brian Dillon and Shota Momma
  • Two ways to compose think and that: priming evidence for a model of FG-dependency by Shota Momma
  • Use/Mention ambiguities in comprehension: Evidence from agreement attraction by John Duff and Matt Wagers
  • Webcams as windows to the mind: comparing web-based eye-tracking methods by Margaret Kandel, Anthony Yacovone, Mieke Slim and Jesse Snedeker
  • When the SRC/ORC asymmetry emerges and breaks down in Tagalog relative clauses by Jed Sam Pizarro-Guevara, and Brian Dillon

UMass triple header: Jarosz, Yu, and Dillon give colloquia

UMass faculty are on the move this week, giving colloquia around the world!

Gaja Jarosz is giving a colloquium talk at the MIT Department of Linguistics on December 3rd at 3:30PM. Her talk is entitled ‘Learning Hidden Phonological Generalizations ‘. More information on the talk can be found here.

Kristine Yu is giving a colloquium talk at the Rutgers Department of Linguistics on December 3rd, at 3:00PM. Her talk is entitled ‘Building phonological trees.’ More information on the talk, including details on how to register for the Zoom event, can be found here.

Brian Dillon is giving a colloquium talk at the Tel Aviv University Department of Linguistics on December 2nd at 9:15AM. His talk is entitled ‘Grammatical constraints on reference: The view from comprehension.’ More information on the talk can be found here.

Abstracts are found below!

Learning Hidden Phonological Generalizations, Gaja Jarosz: Language acquisition proceeds on the basis of incomplete, ambiguous linguistic input, and one source of this ambiguity is hidden phonological structure. Due to recent developments in computational modeling of phonological learning, there now exist numerous approaches for learning of various kinds of hidden phonological structure from incomplete, unlabeled, and noisy data. These computational models make it possible to connect the full representational richness of phonological theory with noisy, ambiguous corpus data representative of language learners’ linguistic experience to make detailed and experimentally testable predictions about language learning and generalization. In this talk, I briefly review these computational developments and then discuss two ongoing projects that utilize these mutually-informing connections between computation, phonological theory, and experimental data to test hypotheses about the abstract representations that underlie phonological knowledge.

Building phonological trees, Kristine Yu: Computational perspectives from string grammars have richly informed our understanding of phonological patterns in natural language in the past decade. However, a prevailing theoretical assumption of phonologists since the 1980s has been that phonological patterns and processes are computed on trees built with prosodic constituents such as syllables, feet, and prosodic words. Moreover, multiple dependencies in prosodic structures, such as multiple association of a tone to a higher-level prosodic node in addition to a tone bearing unit such as a mora or syllable, have been broadly assumed in intonational phonology without much comment. We revisit these concepts and show that multiple bottom up tree transducers provide a natural representation for multiple tonal association as well as multiple dependencies in prosodic structures in general, including prosodically-conditioned segmental allophony.

Grammatical constraints on reference: The view from comprehension, Brian Dillon: Experimental research has consistently shown that the grammatical knowledge reflected in (e.g.) the Binding Theory guides real-time pronoun interpretation. Evidence for this conclusion comes from a range of experimental evidence that comprehenders selectively activate grammatically-licit antecedents when processing pronouns and anaphors. But what are the mechanisms by which comprehenders arrive at these grammatically constrained interpretations? And what is the relationship that these mechanisms bear to offline grammatical knowledge? Psycholinguistic studies of pronoun interpretation emphasize the fact that pronoun interpretation is a mixture of bottom-up and top-down processes (e.g. Rohde & Kehler, 2019). In this talk I aim to show that this perspective offers a useful framework for thinking about how structural constraints on coreference enter into the real-time comprehension of pronouns and anaphors. Using Principle B effects as a test case in a range of languages, I will survey a number of experimental studies done with our research group here at UMass and collaborators at the University of Toronto that illustrate how top-down and bottom-up pronoun resolution processes jointly contribute to disjoint reference phenomena in pronoun interpretation. 

Mirrazi to UCLA

Zahra Mirrazi has accepted a Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali post-doctoral fellowship to continue her research at the Department of Linguistics at UCLA. Starting September 2022, she will join the department there, working with Yael Sharvit and Ethan Poole. Congratulations Zahra! تبریک!

Dillon, Hutton, and Longman present at Creative Commons Global Summit

Brian Dillon (Linguistics), Sara Hutton (UMass Libraries), and Carly Longman (BA Linguistics, 2021) presented their work on scientific communication in linguistics at the Creative Commons Global Summit on Tuesday 9/21. Their session was entitled ‘Language in the Public Sphere: Teaching Linguistics Concepts to Community Members with Open Student Scholarship,’ and focused on a collaboration between Sarah Hutton and LINGUIST305 in Spring 2021 to develop a novel, Open Education Resource-oriented approach to scholarship and scientific communication in LINGUIST305. The session discussed the approach taken in LINGUIST305, and featured published open scholarship by Carly Longman, a recent graduate of the BA program, on revitalization efforts on the Wichita language.