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. This talk explores how perspectives from tree grammars can provide insight into our understanding of prosodic representations, including different ways in which tones can enter the grammar.
Magda Oiry has been selected as a UMass ADVANCE Faculty Fellow for the 2021-22 academic year. Fellows provide feedback on ADVANCE programs, liaise with their units, and communicate the importance of faculty equity work across campus.
The Franklin Institute Symposium “The Past, Present and Future of Formal Semantics”, in honor of Barbara Partee being awarded the 2021 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, was held on April 19th. Videos of the entire symposium are now available, including talks by Barbara, Gennaro Chierchia and Pauline Jakobson in the Part 1 video, and Florian Schwartz, Seth Cable and Christopher Potts in Part 2. (Thank you to Charles Yang for sharing the videos). Abstracts for the talks are available here.
The Shoestring, a local web-based publication, put out the first edition of its Covid Tracker on Friday March 12th. Put together by Joe Pater, it provides weekly totals of new cases and per capita rates classified by the CDC metric for all the towns and cities in Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin counties based on MassDPH data. It will be updated every Friday by noon.
UMass Linguistics was ranked #2 for the third year in a row in the QS 2020 world rankings, again beneath only MIT. Number 3 this year went to the University of Edinburgh, replacing the University of Maryland from 2019, who in turn replaced Harvard from 2018.
The Graduate Linguistics Students Association is now making many of its older publications available through UMass Amherst library’s open access ScholarWorks platform. This is a great resource – NELS proceedings up until 2002, University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers up until 2007, and Semantics of Under-Represented Languages in the Americas to 2003. Huge thanks to Andrew Lamont and Tom Maxfield for their work on this project, as well as Erin Jerome of the UMass library.
Joe Pater, Michael Stein and Susan Voss have written a “white paper” to show that the number of tests in the 5 Colleges is 90% of the number of tests in Hampshire County, and that this may be having have a dramatic effect on state-reported positivity rates for local communities. The paper was covered in an article in the Hampshire Gazette.
Max Nelson, Joe Pater and Brandon Prickett presented “Representations in neural network learning of phonology” in the UCLA colloquium series Friday October 9th. The abstract is below, and the slides can be found here.
Abstract. The question of what representations are needed for learning of phonological generalizations in neural networks (NNs) was a central issue in the applications of NNs to learning of English past tense morphophonology in Rumelhart and McClelland (1986) and in following work of that era. It can be addressed anew given subsequent developments in NN technology. In this talk we will present computational experiments bearing on three specific questions:
Are variables needed for phonological assimilation and dissimilation?
Are variables needed to model learning experiments involving reduplication (e.g. Marcus et al. 1999)?
What kind of architecture is necessary for the full range of natural language reduplication?