The NSF in 2020: The future of the Social, Behavioral,and Economic Sciences

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The NSF/SBE released its executive summary of 252 short white papers on the future of the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. Among other things, the report identifies four focus areas (population change; sources of disparities; communication, language, and linguistics; and technology, new media, and social network) and three properties of future research (data-intensive, multidisciplinary, and collaborative). But read for yourself. The report summarizes what the community (authors that submitted white papers) had to say about what works well and what needs to be improved in terms of the processes that are currently employed by the NSF to distribute its funding. On p. 24 an onward, you can read a summary of the many many linguistic white papers that seem to have been submitted (see p. 39 for a summary of which disciplines the white papers came from). On p.29 an onward the report lays out possible scenarios as to how the NSF might change in order to get to the outlined vision.


Google scholar now provides detailed citation report

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This might be of interest to some of you: Google Scholar now allows you to correct links or citations to your work. It also provides a complete summary of all your citations, by article, by year, etc. It’s a functionality similar to, but it let’s you remove wrong links to your work (e.g. to old prepublished manuscripts).

The interface is rather convenient since it allows you to import all references from scholar, which is almost 95% correct. Overall, it’s actually much more convenient than (though I’d say it serves a slightly different purpose). It also generates a list of all your co-authors and other schnick-schnack ;). Check it out. Sweet.

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New Paper on Phonetic Variation over Time

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Max Bane (UChicago, LING), Morgan Sonderegger (UChicago, CS) and I just finished a proceedings paper about our work on phonetic variation. We tracked the VOT distributions of 4 contestants in the reality TV show Big Brother (Season 9, UK) over 3 months and obtained preliminary results showing that social perturbations can potentially explain non-linearities in phonetic parameters over time. Below is a link to our paper. We would be extremely grateful for feedback.

Bane, Max, Peter Graff and Morgan Sonderegger. 2010. Longitudinal Phonetic Variation in a Closed System.

If you would like to hear more about our project, come hear us talk at the LSA in Pittsburgh:

Session 21: Social Factors in Variation
Room: Benedum
Time: Friday, January 7th, 2011 at 9AM

Two nice resources to find the language of your choice

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I was just reading Haspelmath’s post on the CyberLingBlog in reply to a summary of a recent talk by Newmeyer. Most of you probable know the World Atlas of Languages, which allows you to browse through language and linguistic properties, view their distributions over beautiful maps, and contains nice introductory articles to many typological features. It’s very well structured and gives you references for each language, too. Here’s a link to a page on a specific language, Polish.

There is another database that I didn’t know about which let’s you browse or search a (as of yet rather small set of) languages for morpho-syntactic properties: Syntactic Structures of the World’s Languages. Properties are defined in a pragmatic and manageable way. For example, SVO is defines allowing that order in a “neutral” context. The definition also makes clear that SVO can be “yes”, while other word order features are “yes”, too.

It seems that you can even contribute to this database by entering your own data (though maybe you need to apply?), including examples with glosses. Looks interesting. The usual caveats apply, but great that someone is trying! Aside of this project I remember only one similar project that someone at the University of Vienna started while I was an undergrad …  but as far as I remember that never reached critical mass.

If anybody knows of similar databases out there, feel free to post them below. Or even better: contribute to the CyberLingBlog. Everybody is invited.

New support group for the Upstate region

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Ok, we may have named in a haste, but maybe it’s still useful: We’ve created an email list that can be used to announce stats and machine learning workshops of interest to language researchers, psycholinguists, etc. in the Upstate area (Rochester, Cornell, Buffalo, etc.). Feel free to join, it’s very low traffic:

Getting started in Mexico: Contacts & Pilots on Mayan

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As some of you know, we’ve been planning to study certain aspect of language production in Mayan for some time now. Well, planning has been followed by flying, and now we (Elisabeth Norcliffe, Stanford University, and I) are here and ready to run our first studies!

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Center for Computation and the Brain, University of Rochester

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The new website for the Center of Computation and the Brain is now online. Have a look at what aspect in computation, the brain, and the modeling of human behavior researchers at Rochester are interested in.