Celebrating Tom Wasow: A Festschrift

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At this year’s CUNY Sentence Processing Conference, Emily Bender and Jennifer Arnold presented a Festschrift celebrating Thomas Wasow. Here’s what the publisher’s site (CSLI) says (picture taken from the publisher’s website, which is hopefully ok; see the book for copyrights):

This book is a collection of papers on language processing, usage, and grammar, written in honor of Tom Wasow to commemorate his career on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Tom is a professor of linguistics and philosophy. But more accurately, he is a renaissance academic, having done work that connects with many different disciplines, including formal linguistics, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, and philosophy. Appropriately, this book reflects the diversity of Tom’s research and interests, including topics from multiple branches of linguistics and human information processing. These papers are written with minimal background assumed, so they can be used as teaching materials for beginning scholars. As such, this volume is a tribute to what is perhaps Tom’s most lasting contribution to the field—the mentorship and inspiration he provided to his students and collaborators, many of whom have contributed to this volume.

The book contains introductory and overview articles on a variety of topics in cognitive science from Emily M. Bender, Dan Flickinger, Stephan Oepen, Ash Asudeh, Peter Sells, Amy Perfors, James Paul Gee, John R. Rickford, T. Florian Jaeger, Jennifer E. Arnold, Harry J. Tily, Neal Snider, John A. Hawkins, and Susanne Riehemann.

My own contribution deals with the decision processes involved in conducting corpus-based research on language production. I present a case study on reducible passive subject-extracted relative clauses in written British English (a president (who is) adored by his people would have no need to …). Similar to the work on relativizer and complementizer mention, I find that speakers show a preference to use the full form (with who is in the previous example) when the relative clause is less predictable. The main point of the paper, however, is to provide researchers interested in corpus-based research with some rule of thumbs and decision criteria that help them to start their first project.

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