Category Archives: Fieldwork

Kimberly Johnson Accepts Full Time Position at Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program

Please join us in congratulating alum Kimberly Johnson, who has just accepted a full time position as the Lead Transcriptionist for the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program.

Starting this May, Kimberly will be working alongside Dr. Samantha Cornelius and Dr. Juliet Morgan, to advance the documentation of the Chickasaw language, including the development of a searchable database of Chickasaw.

Congratulations, Kimberly!

Kimberly Johnson in Natural Language Semantics

A paper by our own Kimberly Johnson appears in the newest issue of Natural Language Semantics. Based upon her recent doctoral dissertation, “Time and Evidence in the Graded Tense System of Mvskoke (Creek)“, provides a detailed description and analysis of the evidential meaning of tense & aspect morphology in the Mvskoke language. The abstract is copied below.

Congratulations, Kimberly!

Abstract: “In recent years, much attention has been given to the puzzling relationship between tense and evidence type found in languages where a single morpheme appears to encode both reference to time and to the evidential source for the assertion. In natural language, tense has long been understood as serving to locate the time at which the proposition expressed by the sentence holds. The two main theories of evidentials both agree that these morphemes serve to identify the type of evidence the speaker has for their assertion. In languages with evidential-tense morphology, these two categories of meaning are intertwined in ways that are unexpected given our understanding of both phenomena. Specifically, these evidential-tense morphemes appear to encode reference to a time that is linked to the situation in which the speaker gains evidence for their assertion. Two competing approaches have emerged in the literature as to whether these evidential-tense morphemes make crucial reference to the time evidence was acquired (Lee 2013; Smirnova 2013) or to the time and place of the speaker with respect to the event (Faller 2004; Chung 2007). This paper examines the temporal and evidential properties of the Mvskoke (or Creek) graded past tense system and finds novel support for the view in which evidential-tenses encode Evidence Acquisition Time (EAT). Mvskoke is shown to have three evidential-tenses which form part of its graded tense system, comprising recent, middle, and distant past. The main proposal is a formalization of EAT as a moment of belief-state change, i.e., the moment the speaker comes to believe the proposition. It is shown that Mvskoke’s evidential-tenses are compatible with a range of evidence types, and this distribution is explained through interactions with viewpoint aspect.”

Paper by Kimberly Johnson Published in Natural Language Semantics

Kimberly Johnson’s paper “Time and evidence in the graded tense system of Mvskoke (Creek)”  has just been published in Natural Language Semantics. Based upon portions of her recently defended dissertation, this paper explores the direct and indirect evidence inferences associated with four past tenses in Mvskoke (Creek), an indigenous language spoken in Oklahoma. Access the full text of her article here:

Kimberly Johnson Successfully Defends Dissertation

We’re delighted to share the news that Kimberly Johnson has successfully defended her dissertation, “On the Semantics of Verbal and Nominal Tense in Mvskoke (Creek)”.

The defense, which took place on Friday March 11th, was held remotely. Noteworthy among the participants were her two committee members from outside of UMass, Daniel Altshuler (University of Oxford) and Jack Martin (College of William and Mary). The other members of her committee are Ana Arregui and Seth Cable (Chair).

Dr. Johnson’s dissertation concerns the semantics of graded, evidential, and nominal tenses in Mvskoke (Creek), an endangered Muskogean language of North America. It is the first in-depth formal and empirical treatment of this system, and greatly advances our understanding of both verbal and nominal tenses across languages.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Kimberly Johnson!

A screenshot of Dr. Kimberly Johnson with her committee members, classmates, and the UMass Dissertation Fish (held by Seth Cable).

Living Languages – new journal from UMass

The first international, multilingual journal entirely dedicated to indigenous and minoritized language revitalization and sustainability was launched at UMass last month. LIVING LANGUAGES – LENGUAS VIVAS – LÍNGUAS VIVAS is an open access journal hosted by ScholarWorks@UMassAmherst The journal’s first volume can be found here: 

The editors-in-chief are our colleague Luiz Amaral (Spanish and Portuguese Studies) and Gabriela Pérez Báez, and the editorial board includes Michael Becker. The journal’s three launch events took place February 21, International Mother Language Day, 2022 being the first year of the International Indigenous Languages Decade (2022-2032).  You can watch the events on YouTube using the following links:

Farinella, Yu, Brugos, Green present on African American English intonation at NWAV49

2nd year graduate student Alessa Farinella presented joint work with faculty members Kristine Yu and Lisa Green and collaborator Alejna Brugos (Boston University) at the annual sociolinguistics conference New Ways of Analyzing Variation 49 on October 21, 2021, hosted by UT Austin. Alessa pre-recorded the talk, entitled Biases from MAE-ToBI intonational transcription conventions in the intonational analysis of African American English, which you can watch at the departmental YouTube Channel or from the embedded link directly below.

This material was based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant BCS-2042939. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Katia Vostrikova Joins University of Göttingen

We’re delighted to share the news that Ekaterina Vostrikova (PhD, 2019) will be joining the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in July as a DAAD scholar, and will then in September begin a three-year position there as a post-doctoral researcher. Katia’s post-doc position is funded by a DFG project grant titled ‘A Crosslinguistic Investigation Into Phrasal and Clausal Exceptive-Additive Constructions’, and will be supervised by Clemens Steiner-Mayr.

In addition, Katia’s paper “Conditional Analysis of Clausal Exceptives” has just appeared in the newest issue of Natural Langauge Semantics (NaLS 29:2 159-227).

Congratulations, Katia!

Franklin Institute Symposium in Honor of Barbara Partee (April 19th)

We are extremely happy to announce that, in honor of Professor Barbara Partee receiving the 2021 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, the Franklin Institute and the University of Pennsylvania are organizing a special symposium honoring her and her legacy in the field.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this symposium will be held remotely, and can be viewed publicly over Zoom. It will take place on Monday, April 19th, from 9:45AM to 3PM (EST), and will feature presentations by:

  • Barbara Partee (UMass Amherst)
  • Gennaro Chierchia (Harvard University)
  • Pauline Jacobson (Brown University)
  • Florian Schwarz (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Seth Cable (UMass Amherst)
  • Christopher Potts (Stanford University)

The website for the symposium, which includes the full program (with abstracts) as well as the Zoom link for the remote presentations, can be found at the link below:

Again, this event is entirely public, and all are welcome (and encouraged) to attend.

Mantla and Saxon colloquium Friday October 16

Rosa Mantla (Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency, Behchokǫ̀, NWT) and Leslie Saxon (University of Victoria) will present “Community and linguistics: What they mean to us” in the Linguistics colloquium series at 3:30 Friday October 16. An abstract follows. All are welcome!

Register here:

We have collaborated for over three decades in work supported by our organizations. For both of us our focus has included research, documentation, and promotion of the Tłı̨chǫ language, tied in in different ways with other responsibilities of our employment. After introducing ourselves, we will speak about how we have worked with each other on projects that are outside the specific expertise of one of us. Rosa’s role as Tłı̨chǫ language and culture consultant with the Education branch of the Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency (TCSA), and Leslie’s as a linguistics professor at the University of Victoria (UVic) have shaped the content and approaches we have taken in our collaboration. We will take turns describing one or two of our projects and give our perspective on the importance of our collaboration to the project’s success. The other person will then reply on what the project meant to her. We hope to learn something about our collaborative process and share that with our audience.

UMass Linguists at Sinn und Bedeutung (SuB) 2020!

This year’s remote meeting of Sinn und Bedeutung features presentations by a wide variety of current and former students and faculty from UMass Amherst.

During the main session of the conference, Ana Arregui will be giving one of the three invited talks, titled “The case of ‘every’ in the scope of ‘might’.”

The main session will also feature talks by the following UMass-affiliated persons:

Due to the conference being held remotely, these talks will not take place at a particular time, but instead will be recorded and publicly posted. There will, however, be synchronous Q&A sessions for these talks. For more information on how to participate in this year’s remote version of SuB, please go to the link below:

In addition to the main session above, there will also be two other special sessions, one on Gesture and Natural Language Semantics, and another on Semantic Fieldwork and Fieldwork Methodology. UMass linguists are particularly well represented in the second session.

This special session will also include a roundtable discussion of methodology in linguistic fieldwork, organized by our own Jeremy Pasquereau. The participants will include the following UMass-affiliated individuals:

  • Jeremy Pasquereau
  • Seth Cable
  • Suzi Lima
  • Lisa Matthewson

For more information on how to participate in the special session on Semantic Fieldwork, please see the link below:

Finally, the conference will feature as a special live event a series of interviews relating to the History of Formal Semantics. These interviews will (of course) include ones with our own illustrious emeritae faculty, Barbara Partee and Angelika Kratzer. Angelika will be interviewed by Daniel Rothschild, while Barbara will be interviewed by Jeff Pelletier.

It’s definitely an incredible program this year! Again, for more information on how to view these talks and events, please see the links above!