November 18, 2014

Research Groups: Friday, November 21

Note that there is no psycholinguistics group this week.

Note also that due to the basement flooding in Sidney Smith Hall, both of the following meetings will be in atypical rooms:

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM in UC 163
Syntax/Semantics Group
Departmental alumnus Carson Schütze (MA 1991, now at UCLA) will be giving a talk: "(How) Can syntacticians' empirical claims be tested with naïve speakers?"

Technology now allows linguists to gather large amounts of judgment data from naïve speakers (of English, at least) quickly and cheaply. But we shouldn’t be naïve about how the data so gathered can be turned into a solid empirical base for (syntactic) theory. Previous work has established some lower bounds on the proportion of data presented in works on theoretical syntax that can be confirmed with samples of naïve speakers, yielding numbers around 93–98%. In this talk I go beyond those important findings and present new experimental data to address the following questions:

1) Are some of the nonconfirmations spurious, in that they reflect something other than naïve speakers' linguistic competence?

2) Can we find general ways of reducing the spurious results, and will that yield a higher proportion of confirmations?

3) In approaching 2), is it useful to try to understand what naïve speakers are doing when asked to provide acceptability judgments?

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM in SS 2112
Fieldwork Group
Ravi Wood on his experiences attending CoLang 2014 (the Institute on Collaborative Language Research) over the summer.

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