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2018 Fall Grad Seminars 


LIN 650.S01 Computational Morphology

Course Description

Morphology is the study of words, word formation, and word analysis. This course is about computational morphology, which is the study of these topics from a computational perspective.

One of the most influential approaches today, and the one that drives much of the software on laptops and smartphones, is based on finite-state technology. Much of the course is dedicated to understanding how this technology works, to understanding how it relates to linguistic theories of morphology, and to becoming a proficient user of this technology for morphological analysis.

Course Objectives

The goal of this course is to become familiar with both the theory and the practice of computational methods of morphological analysis and recognition. In particular we study weighted finite-state transducers and the composition operation, which generalizes many morphological processes including concatenation, truncation, root-and-pattern morphology and others. We pay special attention to irregular morphology and exceptions. Students will learn to use the grammar libraries Thrax and Pynini that are part of the openFST toolkit

In addition to these core topics, depending on the students' interests, additional topics covered include higher-level logical and DATR-like descriptions of morphology and the machine learning of morphology.

Course website


LIN 650.S02 Artificial languages

Experimental work has the potential to expand the observed range of human linguistic behavior, potentially adjudicating between competing theories about the cognitive machinery that generates and regulates our phonology and morphology. Artificial language experiments aim to expose linguistic biases that cannot be easily observed in existing languages; but do they tell us anything specifically about Universal Grammar, or do they merely expand our understanding of the human mind? We will try to get closer to the answer this semester.
Recommended background reading: Becker et al. (2012)


LIN 651 Syntax Seminar

"Islands, Edges, and Phases"

In this seminar we will look at issues involving three (related) topics in syntactic theory: islands, edges, and phases. The first of these will involve going back a bit into the syntactic literature to cover early discussion of islandhood, including subjacency and barriers, and then look at how some island effects are (or are not) covered under minimalism.
Edges and phases will then be discussed with respect to issues of successive cyclic movement, tucking-in, phasehood, dynamic phase theory, and relevant aspects of cartography.

Requirements: weekly readings, discussions, occasional short written responses, and a research paper (which can be joint work with others in the class)

Auditors (and folk taking it for less than 3 credits) are welcome. In order of priority, auditors are expected to (i) come to class (ii) do the primary readings (iii) do the short writing assignments (iv) be part of at least joint research project.

• Chomsky, Noam (1986) Barriers
• Adger, D., de Cat, C., and Tsoulas, G.(eds) (2004) Peripheries: syntactic edges and their effects.
• Numerous recent articles on syntactic movement