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2019 Spring Grad Seminars 


LIN 621 Syntax 2

This course is the continuation of Syntax 1, with emphasis on tracing the development of the generative theory of syntactic knowledge and investigating its empirical consequences and current directions. In the first part of the course particular attention is paid to the A’-system (wh-movement, Quantifier Raising, Logical Form, Long Distance Scrambling, and the Left Periphery). During the second part of the course we will look at the artciles and concepts in syntax which are essential for every working syntactitian: Phase Theory, Linearization, Agree and the Theory of Features, Sideward Movement, etc. We will explore a wide range of syntactic phenomena, accounts proposed for them, and their theoretical implications for the design on the language faculty. A major goal of the course is to teach students to read primary syntactic research literature and to apply theoretical concepts to novel data.


LIN 623 Phonology 2

A study of recent developments in phonological theory, with particular attention to nonlinear models of phonological representation and constraint-based models. Prerequisite: LIN 523.


LIN 627 Computational Semantics

This course explores in a hands-on way, using the programming language Haskell, the question of how a finite device (our mind) could in principle compute these relations between sentences and the world.


  • Basic programming experience comparable to what is covered in LIN 537 (Computational Linguistics 1)
  • Basic knowledge of formal semantics comparable to what is covered in LIN 625 (Semantics 1) 
  • Rudimentary (undergraduate-level) knowledge of syntax.


  • Required: van Eijck, Jan and Christina Unger. 2010: Computational Semantics with Functional Programming. Cambridge University Press
  • Supplementary: Heim, Irene and Angelika Kratzer. 1998. Semantics in Generative Grammar. Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics.


LIN 637 Computational Linguistics 2

An introduction to the theoretical foundation of computational linguistics. The course emphasizes the importance of algorithms, algebra, logic, and formal language theory in the development of new tools and software applications. Empirical phenomena in phonology and syntax are sampled from a variety of languages to motivate and illustrate the use of concepts such as strictly local string languages, tree transducers, and semirings.  Students will develop familiarity with the literature and tools of the field.


LIN 650 Phonetics Seminar: Second language phonetics

In adult second language learners, the second language phonetics is often produced through apparent modification of the L1 system. Seeing how the learner’s sound system changes gives us clues about many aspects of sound structure, including the relative plasticity and stability of categories. This seminar is designed to be accessible to a wide range of students. Activities will include reading of representative papers, tutorials in articulation, aerodynamics, acoustics, and sociophonetics, and hands-on analysis of data of interest to the student. The overall goal for the class is for all students to develop a solid sense of how to read and evaluate work in the field, and to get there through active engagement. Students taking the course for the regular 3 credits will participate regularly and actively, and will complete one individual project which will include written work and a short overview presentation to the class; alternative credit arrangements can be discussed the first week of classes. The exact content of readings, activities and assignments will depend on the interests and strengths of the students.

Current schedule: M 1-4. Schedule may change to some version of a two day a week structure after discussion by all participants.


LIN 651 Syntax Seminar

The seminar will consider syntax-PF interactions, broadly conceived.  Some topics we'll look at are hierarchical representation and linearization, spellout and phases, ellipsis, syntactic copying and reduplication, and intonation.  Particular emphases will be determined by the interests of the participants.

Requirements:  do the reading, participate in discussion, write a couple short pieces and a longer research paper.  Those taking the course for partial credit are welcome and will be asked to do a subset of the work.


LIN 653 Phonology Seminar: Phonological Typology

Much phonological research focuses on the extent and limits of cross-linguistic variation in the mapping of meaning to sound and the question of whether cross-linguistic preferences for certain patterns can be explained by articulatory and/or perceptual factors. We will examine typological generalizations in various areas of phonological theory as well as formal and functional explanations for these generalizations. The specific topics covered will be determined to some extent by student interest, but may include the following: vowel and consonant inventories; syllable structure, including positional restrictions on particular classes of sounds; stress, pitch accent, and tone; phonology-morphology interactions such as reduplication, templatic morphology, and word size restrictions; and intonation systems.

Note: the class is currently scheduled for TTh 5:30-6:50, but may be changed if we can find some other mutually convenient time.