Some summer reports

We received some summer reports from LLCC members, both students and faculty, about their busy, productive, and fun summers. Everyone is now, of course, well-rested and ready for all the challenges of the new academic year!

Nofar Cohen & Omri Doron

This summer, we participated in the ESSLLI summer school in Toulouse, France. The school brought linguists, philosophers, logicians and computer scientists together for two weeks of fascinating courses, enticing poster sessions and excessive duck-eating. It was a great privilege to learn from the very best of linguists about their research, for example, Phillippe Schlenker on gestures and sign language semantics, as well as the semantics of primate language and of music; Lucas Champollion on Mereology; Yael Sharvit on tense and aspect, to name but a few. 

Omri Meyraz

During the summer, I participated in the Historical Linguistics summer school at the University of Göttingen. Courses were given by Regine Eckardt, Anthony Kroch, and others. I presented a poster by the name “All the glitters is not gold: emergence of the inverse scope construction.” The poster summarizes the work I have done so far with Edit on negation and universal quantifier interaction from a typological and diachronic perspective.

Aynat Rubinstein

In August I gave a talk on "A corpus of Emergent Modern Hebrew: Linguistic insights" at the Seventeenth World Congress of Jewish Studies here at the Hebrew University. It was a very special and huge event: the program had hundreds, literally!, of parallel sessions in all fields relating to Hebrew and Jewish Studies. 

Earlier in the summer, I received an Erasmus grant to participate in a two week summer university in Digital Humanities in Leipzig. It was a great opportunity to learn about a lot of cool work that is being doing in this area.

Eitan Grossman

This summer I was keynote speaker at a conference on Contact-Driven Multilingual Practices (1-2.6) at the University of Helsinki, where I gave a talk on Connecting the dots between typological distributions and individual speakers in language contact research. I also gave a keynote talk at an adjacent graduate student conference, this time on Speakers and listeners: getting to the roots of language change.

I then came back to Jerusalem for the 3rd annual Usage-Based Linguistics Conference, (3-5.7) organized this year at HUJI by Inbal Arnon, Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, Michal Marmorstein and myself (all HUJI) and Mira Ariel and Dorit Ravid (TAU), with the outstanding assistance of Maya Inbar, one of our HUJI-TAu students. 

Afterwards, I gave two talks at the International Conference for Historical Linguistics in San Antonio, Texas (31.7-4.8). The first presented joint work with Malte Rosemeyer (KU Leuven), on the incipient stages of the grammaticalization of auxiliary verbs. Focusing on 'finish' verbs that develop into perfect/anterior markers, we develop a semantic and pragmatic account of the motivations for change, and articulate the notion of 'overtification,' a diachronic process through which erstwhile inferred meanings become overtly expressed. The second talk presented joint work with Stephane Polis (University of Liege) on the diachrony of affix ordering in Ancient Egyptian-Coptic. We argue that the typologically rare prefixing preference of Coptic has a straightforward diachronic explanation.

In early September, I participated in the 50th annual meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (10-13.9) hosted by the University of Zurich. I gave a joint talk with Dmitry Nikolaev (HUJI) on The distributional typology of sound change in Eurasia, presenting evidence for areal clustering of sound change. Another talk presented joint work with Stephane Polis on the relationship between borrowing of core vocabulary and overall borrowing.

While I was unable to attend this year's EMNLP (Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing) in Copenhagen, Haim Dubossarsky (ELSC, HUJI) and Daphna Weinshall (Computer Science, HUJI) presented our joint work Outta Control: Laws of Semantic Change and Inherent Biases in Word Representation Models,'which uses control conditions to show that putative laws of semantic change identified by distributional semantic models are in fact largely artefactual. This was one of the 6 papers selected as 'outstanding papers.' The talk was live-streamed, and can be found here (minute 52):

I also taught a course on the typology of language contact-induced change in a summer school on lexical typology organized by the Linguistics Department of the Higher School of Economics, which took place at the Voronovo campus.

Finally, I just got back from teaching an intensive mini-course at the University of Helsinki (3-10.1). Titled Targeting language contact for Distributional Typology, it was a theoretical and hands-on introduction to data-heavy typological studies of language contact and their place in the 'what's where why?' version of contemporary linguistic typology. During the course, students participated in data collection and analysis, and learned to build a typological database using low-tech tools.