Day: December 7, 2010

Grinking #2

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My sabbatical it’s nearing its end (shiver). So, there’s much to catch up on. HLP Lab has once again grown and shrunk, leading to grinking report #2 (cf. #1):

First a farewell to the lost ones:

  • Austin Frank has graduated with an absolutely wonderful thesis (work with Mike Tanenhaus and Dick Aslin) on perturbation. In his studies, Austin manipulates what participants think they are saying by changing the first formants of the acoustic signal produced by them up or down within about 14msecs to play it back to them over head sets, thereby creating the misleading perception of having mispronounced the word (the ‘perturbation’). I won’t go into the gory technical challenges Austin had to overcome to run these studies. His thesis work provides evidence that (a) speakers adapt their pronunciation partly based on auditory feedback about their own production, (b) these adaptations are pretty rapid, (c) they are sensitive to the structure of the phonological lexicon. For example, speakers are less likely to shift their production into a corner of the phonological space that is already occupied by other words in the language …. (yeah, cool, right?). He’s currently holding a post-doc position at Haskins and UConn, working with Jim Magnuson.

and a welcome to the newbies:

  • Esteban Buz has joined us from Johns Hopkins where worked with Robert Frank and Kerry LeDoux. It seems he has chosen some questions on functional explanations to language change as his first research topic, which he will explore using iterative learning studies. In particular, he’s interested in how changes over time are, in part, a reflection of acquisition and processing biases.
  • David Kleinschmidt has joined the lab after a year at Maryland. He did is undergraduate at Williams College with stints at Emory and the University of Maine. He’s interested in computational modeling and speech perception, and specifically in developing models of how phonetic categories are learned and deployed that are plausible from linguistic, computational, neural, and developmental perspectives.  Dave’s also working with Dick Aslin and Alex Pouget.

Special session at the LSA meeting in da’Burgh

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You are ever so cordially invited to attend the following awesome-to-be workshop at the LSA 2011:

Empirically Examining Parsimony and Redundancy

in Usage-Based Models

Organized Session at 2011 Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting


Please see (#50)

Main Session:
When: Saturday, 1/08, 2-3:30pm (1.5 jam-packed hours of mindless fun)
Where: Grand Ballroom 4, Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA

Poster Session
When: Sunday, 1/09, 9-12am (the journey continues)
Where: Grand Ballroom Foyer, Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA


R. Harald Baayen (University of Alberta)
Joan Bresnan (Stanford University)
Walter Daelemans (University of Antwerp)
Bruce Derwing (University of Alberta)
Daniel Gildea (University of Rochester)
Matthew Goldrick (Northwestern University)
Peter Hendrix (University of Alberta)
Gerard Kempen (Max Planck Institute)
Victor Kuperman (McMaster University)
Yongeun Lee (Chung Ang University)
Gary Libben (University of Calgary)
Marco Marelli (University of Alberta)
Petar Milin (University of Alberta)
Timothy John O’Donnell (Harvard University)
Gabriel Recchia (Indiana University)
Antoine Tremblay (IWK Health Center)
Benjamin V. Tucker (University of Alberta)
Antal van den Bosch (Tilburg University/University of Antwerp)
Christ Westbury (University of Alberta)


Neal Snider (Nuance Communications, Inc.)
Daniel Wiechmann (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena)
Elma Kerz (RWTH-Universität Aachen)
T. Florian Jaeger (University of Rochester)


Recent years have seen a growing interest in usage-based (UB) theories of language, which assume that language use plays a causal role in the development of linguistic systems over historical time. A central assumption of the UB-framework is the idea that shapes of grammars are closely connected to principles of human cognitive processing (Bybee 2006, Givon 1991, Hawkins 2004). UB-accounts strongly gravitate towards sign- or construction-based theories of language, viz. theories that are committed to the belief that linguistic knowledge is best conceived of as an assembly of symbolic structures (e.g. Goldberg 2006, Langacker 2008, Sag et al. 2003). These constructionist accounts share (1) the postulation of a single representational format of all linguistic knowledge and (2) claim a strong commitment to psychological plausibility of mechanisms for the learning, storage, and retrieval of linguistic units. They do, however, exhibit a considerable degree of variation with respect to their architectural and mechanistic details (cf. Croft & Cruse 2004). Read the rest of this entry »