Workshop on Language, Cognition, and Computation (2012-2013)


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 15:00, 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, 2012

22 Oct
Monday 15:30
Classics 110
Speaker: Carol Padden (Communication, UCSD)
From gesture to new sign language
25 Oct
Thursday, 15:00
Kent 120
Speaker: Peter Jurgec (Meertens Institute)
Licensed Alignment
9 Nov Speaker: Carissa Abrego-Collier (Linguistics, uChicago)
Who cares about gender? Modeling gender mismatch in 3 Spanish-speaking populations
26 Nov
Monday 15:00
Social Sciences 122
Speaker: Karen Emmorey (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, SDSU)
The psycholinguistic and neural consequences of bimodal bilingualism

Winter Quarter, 2013

22 Feb Speaker: Jackson Lee (Linguistics, uChicago)
Automatic morphological alignment and clustering
1 Mar Speaker: Natasha Abner (Pyschology, uChicago)
Predicative Origins of POSSessive Constructions in American Sign Language
13 Mar
Wednesday, 11:00
Harper 135
Speaker: Leah Geer (Linguistics, uTexas, Austin)
Fingerspelling in ASL: Examining Age of Acquisition Effects
15 Mar Speaker: Christina Kim (Linguistics, uChicago)

Spring Quarter, 2013

5 Apr
Harper 130
Speaker: Annie Gagliardi (Linguistics, Harvard)
Modeling children's generalizations in the acquisition of word meanings and word classes
8 Apr
Wieboldt 408
Speaker: Erin Franklin (Slavic, uChicago)
3 May Apr
Harper 130
Speaker: Whit Tabor (Psychology, uConn; Haskins)
Dynamical Systems and the Genesis of Language Form: A Coordination-Focused Experimental Semiotics Approach
10 May
Harper 130
Speaker: Miriam Novack (Psychology, uChicago)
From action to abstraction: differential effects of action and gesture on learning and transfer
24 May Speaker: Neon Brooks (Psychology, uChicago)
Investigating the Mechanisms of Gesture's Influence on Thought
31 May
Harper 140
Speaker: Martha Tyrone (CSD, LIU; Haskins)
Location and Signing Space in ASL
4 Jun
Harper 140
Speaker: Naomi Feldman (Linguistics, UMD)
A Probabilistic Approach to Phonetic Learning and Perception
7 Jun Speaker: Gallagher Flinn (Linguistics, uChicago)
Mutual Information and Phonological Structure in Mongolian


Jonathan Keane, Student Coordinator
Diane Brentari, Faculty Sponsor
Susan Goldin-Meadow, Faculty Sponsor
Ming Xiang, Faculty Sponsor


Past years

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

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