Workshop on Language, Cognition, and Computation (2008-2009)


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 Morgan Sonderegger to set things up.


Confirmed Non-local Invited Speakers

See below for the scheduled dates of their talks.


The workshop meets on Fridays, 3-4 times per month, at 3:30 in the Karen Landahl Center (basement of Social Science). Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Morgan Sonderegger in advance.

Fall Quarter, 2008

10/17 Speaker: Matt Carlson (Psych, U. Chicago): Gradient well-formedness and the timecourse of processing of novel derivations in Spanish
10/24 No Meeting: Kie Zuraw colloquium at Northwestern.
10/31 Speaker: Diane Brentari (Speech Sci, Purdue): Segmentation of prosodic units in sign language
11/7 Speaker: Janet Pierrehumbert (Ling, Northwestern):Sustaining linguistic complexity
11/21 Cancelled
11/28 No Meeting: Thanksgiving
12/5 Speaker: Steven Small (Neuro/Psych, U. Chicago): The biology of face-to-face communication: Action enderstanding and language

Winter Quarter, 2009

1/9 No Meeting: LSA 2009 Annual meeting
1/16 Speaker: Daniel Margoliash (Bio/Psych, U. Chicago): Towards a neuroethology of language
1/23 Speaker: Max Bane (Ling, U. Chicago): Grammatical correlates of cross-linguistic attestation and frequency: quantity-insensitive stress systems
1/30 Speaker: Katherine Kinzler (Psych, U. Chicago): The native language of social cognition
2/6 Speaker: Hannah Rohde (Ling, Northwestern): You can guess where this talk is going: Discourse-driven expectations in sentence processing
2/13 Speaker: Sravana Reddy (CS, U. Chicago): Unsupervised part-of-speech tagging using hierarchical distributional cues
2/20 Speaker: Karen Livescu (CS, TTI Chicago): A historical overview of automatic speech recognition, and new directions in pronunciation modeling
2/27 Speaker: Robert Daland (Ling, Northwestern): Modeling language variation
3/6 Speaker: Marie Coppola (Psych, U. Chicago): Insights from language creation: What homesign systems tell us about language acquisition, genesis, and evolution
3/20 No Meeting: Joan Bresnan colloquium at Northwestern.
3/27 Spring Break

Spring Quarter, 2009

4/3 Speaker: Adam Albright (Ling, MIT): Why are cumulative markedness effects so rare?
4/10 Speaker: Adam Baker (Ling, U. Chicago): Vowel interactions in harmony and non-harmony languages
4/17 No Meeting: Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS 45)
4/24 Speaker: James Kirby (Ling, U. Chicago): The influence of dialect experience on tonal perception
5/1 Speaker: Jessica Maye (Comm Sci Disord, Northwestern): You are what you eat: How language experience shapes speech perception.
5/8 Speaker: Florian Jaeger (Brain Cog Sci/CS, Rochester): Efficient language use: The role of redundancy in production
5/15 Speaker: Shannon Heald (Psych, U. Chicago): Vowel variability within and between days
5/22 Speaker: Michael C. Frank (Brain Cog Sci, MIT): Numerical cognition in the absence (or temporary unavailability) of language for number
6/5 Speaker: Kristine Yu (Ling, UCLA): The sound of ergativity: morphosyntax-prosody mapping in Samoan
6/11 Speaker: Morgan Sonderegger (CS, U. Chicago): Rhyme graphs, sound change, and similarity


Morgan Sonderegger, Student Coordinator morgan at cs dot uchicago dot edu
Jason Riggle, Faculty Sponsor jriggle at uchicago dot edu
Alan Yu, Faculty Sponsor aclyu at uchicago dot edu
Partha Niyogi, Faculty Sponsor niyogi at cs dot uchicago dot edu


Last year's CAS Workshop on Language and Cognition page

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