Workshop on Language, Cognition, and Computation (2011-2012)


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 Jonathan Keane to set things up.


Confirmed Non-local Invited Speakers

See below for the scheduled dates of their talks.


The workshop meets on Fridays, twice per month, at 3:00, usually (but not always) in the Karen Landahl Center (basement of Social Science). Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Jonathan Keane in advance.

Fall Quarter, 2011

14 Oct Speaker: Kyle Gorman (Linguistics, U. Penn)
On phonotactic gaps
21 Oct Speaker: Sravana Reddy (CS, U. Chicago)
Unsupervised Learning of Pronunciations
28 Oct Speaker: Andrea Beltrama (Linguistics, U. Chicago)
Adjective scales and scalar implicatures
4 Nov Speaker: Morgan Sonderegger (CS, U. Chicago)
21 Nov Speaker: Ming Xiang (Linguistics, U. Chicago)

Winter Quarter, 2012

27 Jan Speaker: Sara Finley (Psychology, Elmhurst College)
Representational constraints on the structure of words: An artificial grammar approach
31 Jan Speaker: Morgan Sonderegger (CS and Linguistics, U. Chicago)
Longitudinal phonetic and phonological dynamics on reality television
10 Feb Speaker: Bob McMurray (Psychology, U. Iowa)
Speech perception, hard alone but easy with a team: The graded, incremental, lexical, interactive and developmental nature of speech
9 Mar Speaker: Dea Hunsicker (Psychology, U. Chicago)
The Development of Elaboration With and Without a Language Model

Spring Quarter, 2012

6 Apr Speaker: Molly Flaherty (Psychology, U. Chicago)
The Emergence of Spatial Verb Agreement in Nicaraguan Sign Language
13 Apr Speaker: Richard Sproat (Center for Spoken Language
Understanding, Oregon Health & Science University)
Applications of Lexicographic Semirings in Speech and Language Processing
7 May
Speaker: Max Bane (Linguistics, U. Chicago)
Counting stress grammars
11 May
1:00 pm
Speaker: Andries Coetzee (Linguistics, U. Michigan)
Pre-linguistic and linguistic stages in perceptual processing
18 May Speaker: Girogio Magri (CNRS, University of Paris)
1 Jun Speakers: E. Allyn Smith (Linguistics, Northwestern U.),
Kathleen Currie Hall (Linguistics, CUNY),
Benjamin Munson (Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, U. Minnesota)
Investigating sociophonetic meaning


Jonathan Keane, Student Coordinator
Jason Riggle, Faculty Sponsor
Ming Xiang, Faculty Sponsor
Alan Yu, Faculty Sponsor


Last year's CAS Workshop on Language and Cognition page

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