Unimodal Bilingualism in Sign Language

We’ve come a long way since experts advised against children learning two languages in childhood. Now the new frontier is people who learn two different sign languages, and how that affects their development. Also, we talked about some other interesting things because tangents are fun. Click for slides and feel free to email Dr. Chen Pichler if you have questions!

Continue reading Unimodal Bilingualism in Sign Language


Sounds! There are lots of them. English uses some of them.

You can find all of them in the International Phonetic Alphabet. We classify them based on how you say them (shape of the mouth, location of the mouth, use of vocal cords, etc). For more information, see slides and look at the alphabet!


History of Linguistics

Linguistics has a long and storied history…that mostly consists of people in other fields doing language-y stuff. But then Chomsky appeared! Because Chomsky. See the slides or read the notes below for details. Also, check out these links:

Finding patterns in language: http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/

Recurrent neural nets are weirdly and awesomely effective: http://karpathy.github.io/2015/05/21/rnn-effectiveness/

Continue reading History of Linguistics

Agreement and Memory (Christopher Hammerly, 5/11)

Agreement is weird. Agreement in English is especially weird, because we can’t seem to make up our minds about whether we want it or not (the answer is no, guys, come on, it’s not that hard). Making up our minds seems to be a common problem, though, especially when it comes to sentences like “The key to the cabinets is behind the sofa”. Chris Hammerly talks about why this sentence in particular is so often misconjugated.

Continue reading Agreement and Memory (Christopher Hammerly, 5/11)

Attitude Verbs (Valentine Hacquard, 5/4)

When children are learning words, they acquire new words by noticing how words are used. This is all well and good, but when people use words like “think”, “want”, or “believe”, it can be hard for a kid to figure out a concrete relationships. While “want” is easy for kids, “believe” takes a long time to acquire. Researchers used to believe this has to do with when kids acquire the ideas (they believed kids took longer to understand different people had different beliefs), but new studies suggest otherwise. Read the slides or the notes below for more information.

Continue reading Attitude Verbs (Valentine Hacquard, 5/4)

Dynamic semantics (Brian Morris & Mr. Rose, 4/13 & 4/27)

Semantics is the study of “what does that sentence even mean actually?”. Human languages aren’t great at being specific, so linguistics try to write the meaning of sentences in precise first order logic. But when those darn donkey sentences start messing everything up, we need something more…dynamic. Read lecture notes below or the slides for details (part 1 and part 2).

Continue reading Dynamic semantics (Brian Morris & Mr. Rose, 4/13 & 4/27)