Workshop on Language, Cognition, and Computation (2014-2015)


The Workshop on Language, Cognition, and Computation is an interdisciplinary forum for students and faculty whose work concerns the intersection of these topics, with a particular emphasis on language learning and language change.


The question of how language is learned enjoys a privileged position within the cognitive sciences, by virtue of its centrality to the "cognitive revolution", which required that any scientific account of language be able to account not just for linguistic structure, but for the learnability of language as well. The challenge was this: while almost all children learn their native language perfectly, the linguistic input to which they are exposed has been argued to be inadequate for that purpose. By this reasoning, children must bring to the language-learning task some strong prior knowledge or bias, such that learning can succeed given impoverished input. The exact shape of this bias has been an object of much research and debate.

A similarly fundamental question is how and why languages change from one generation to another, despite the fact that each generation seems to accurately and rapidly acquire the language of its surroundings. The question of how long-term change can result from iterations of an accurate short-term learning process is at some level an investigation of the consequences of hypothesized biases in how humans learn language. As such it has attracted the attention of linguists, psychologists, and computer scientists, each of whom bring complementary perspectives and methodologies. Our workshop this year aims to bring these groups together to advance research on language learning and language change both questions through interdisciplinary discussion.

Interested graduate students from any department are especially invited to participate. If you have research you would like to present, please contact Jackson Lee to set things up.


Confirmed Non-local Invited Speakers

Iris Berent (Northeastern University), Fall 2014

Sarah Ebling (University of Zurich), Winter 2015

Marie-Catherine de Marneffe (The Ohio State University), Winter 2015

Andrea D. Sims (The Ohio State University), Spring 2015


Unless otherwise specified, the workshop meets on Fridays at 3:30pm in spring 2015 (venue: Rosenwald 011, map: Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance are asked to contact Jackson Lee in advance.

Fall Quarter, 2014

Oct 24 (Friday)
Venue: STU 104
Speaker: Lilia Rissman (Psychology, University of Chicago)
Discrete and gradient influences on event participant representation: evidence from instrumental verbs
Oct 27 (Monday)
Venue: STU 104
Speaker: Iris Berent (Psychology, Northeastern University)
The phonological mind
Nov 21 (Friday)
Venue: STU 104
Speaker: Mike Pham (Linguistics, University of Chicago)
Constructing a paradigmatic model of word truncation using successor and predecessor frequencies
Dec 5 (Friday)
Venue: STU 104
Speaker: Tasos Chatzikonstantinou (Linguistics, University of Chicago)
Spatial Quantifiers

Winter Quarter, 2015

Jan 23 (Friday)
Time: 2pm
Venue: STU 102
Speaker: Jordan Fenlon (Linguistics, University of Chicago)
Do directional verbs in sign languages mark agreement?
Jan 30 (Friday)
Time: 2pm
Venue: STU 102
Speaker: Laura Horton (Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago)
Linguistic Context and Phonological Contrast: Phonology in Emerging Sign Systems
Feb 6 (Friday)
Time: 2pm
Venue: STU 102
Speaker: Marie-Catherine de Marneffe (Linguistics, The Ohio State University)
Did it happen? The pragmatic complexity of veridicality assessment
Feb 20 (Friday)
Time: 2pm
Venue: STU 102
Speaker: Sarah Ebling (Institute of Computational Linguistics, University of Zurich)
Automatic processing of Swiss German Sign Language

Spring Quarter, 2015

April 17 (Friday)
Time: 3:30pm
Venue: RO 011
Speaker: Asia Pietraszko (Linguistics, University of Chicago)
The morphology of compound tenses in Ndebele
May 1 (Friday)
Time: 3:30pm
Venue: RO 011
Speaker: Andrea D. Sims (The Ohio State University)
Defectiveness as allomorphy: A view from the idiosyncratic fringes of inflection
June 9 (Tuesday)
Time: 12pm
Venue: RO 011
Speaker: Adam Singerman (Linguistics, University of Chicago)
Epiphenomenal Ergativity in Tupari


Jackson Lee, Student Coordinator
Diane Brentari, Faculty Sponsor
Susan Goldin-Meadow, Faculty Sponsor
Ming Xiang, Faculty Sponsor


Past years

2013–2014, 2012–2013, 2011–2012, 2010–2011, 2008–2009, 2007–2008

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