University of Oxford     2014 Annual Meeting of the
Linguistics Association of Great Britain

The Queen's College, University of Oxford, 1-5 September 2014

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Workshop on Semantics | Workshop on Learning Biases | Summer School

LAGB Summer School 2014

Monday 1 September 2014

This new addition to the LAGB Annual Meeting programme will provide postgraduate students with the opportunity to attend masterclasses in linguistics, receive training opportunities, meet linguists and socialise with other postgraduate students from across the UK. The one-day LAGB Summer School will take place on 1 September 2014. This event is co-organised by the LAGB Committee and the LAGB Student Committee.

The summer school will be held at The Queens College, University of Oxford from 9.30 - 17.45 in Lecture Room B and will be followed by a social event for Student members organised by the LAGB Student Committee.

Masterclasses at the LAGB Summer School 2014

Gradient phonotactics
Adam Albright (MIT)

Native speakers have a wealth of detailed knowledge about the relative acceptability of different phonological strings as potential words of their language (‘phonotactic well-formedness’); e.g., English ‘plake’ [pleɪk] and ‘breen’ [bɹin] are judged better than ‘mesp’ [mɛsp] or ‘smow’ [smoʊ], which in turn are better than ‘snung’ [snʌŋ] and ‘bzick’ [bzɪk].

In this class, we will review experimental evidence that speakers have such gradient phonotactic knowledge, and discuss several recent constraint-based models of how it this knowledge acquired and generalized probabilistically to novel strings. The most successful models use a combination of prior/innate knowledge and learned knowledge to infer a phonotactic grammar from the set of attested words. Prior knowledge includes phonological representations, which determine what features the learner can examine and what types of restrictions it may consider. It also includes biases for certain restrictions over others. In some cases, these biases mirror phonetic asymmetries, and in other cases, they may be purely phonological. In the models considered here, learned knowledge consists of information about the relative probability of different strings in the lexicon, although in principle other types of evidence may also be relevant (variation, alternations, etc.). Finally, we will consider how knowledge about the acceptability of local substrings, such as the [#m] and [sp#] in ‘mesp’ is combined to yield judgments about entire words. We will contrast three ways of assessing acceptability: multiplication of probabilities across the word (as in n-gram models), thresholding based on the least acceptable substring (as in Optimality Theory), and summed constraint violations (as in Harmonic Grammar/maximum entropy models).

Phonology in the brain
Aditi Lahiri (University of Oxford)

No word is ever pronounced in the same way by even the same speaker. Speech perception and psycholinguistic models of word recognition considerably vary in their assumptions about how phonological shapes of words are represented in the mental lexicon, how much detail is stored, and how the speech signal is mapped on to the lexicon. The material in the class will include a wide range of experimental evidence about phonological representation and phonological processing. A number of techniques will be critically evaluated in the light of phonological issues that one may wish to examine experimentally. Different models of representation and process will also be discussed, including classic phoneme based approaches as well as exemplar based models and feature based models like FUL.

Working at the syntax-semantics interface: the variety of embedded clauses
Angelika Kratzer (UMass, Amherst)

The syntactic shape of a sentential complement has a systematic influence on the meaning of embedding constructions. Sentences (1) to (8) are representative examples:

(1)            I saw her jump over the fence.
(2)            I saw that she jumped over the fence.
(3)            I can’t see her jumping over the fence.
(4)            I saw how she jumped over the fence.
(5)            I saw who jumped over the fence.
(6)            She was seen to enter the corral.
(7)            She was seen to have entered the corral.
(8)            She was seen to have enough power and strength to do such things.

In the best of all possible worlds, the meaning differences illustrated in (1) to (8) can be derived from the meanings of the complements, and the meanings of the complements can be derived from the semantic properties of smaller or larger segments of the verbal projection spine. Is that our world? Recent work in syntax, semantics, and the syntax-semantics interface has given us new tools for genuinely new answers to this very old question.  The class will give an overview of what those tools are and will give students a first introduction to the repertoire of building blocks that create the typology of embedded clauses. In addition to the lecture itself, students will be given a Dropbox folder of relevant resources to guide their own work. 

Professional Development Workshop: Publishing in Academia

A panel event for early career researchers on building up a publication record. Four short presentations on various aspects of publishing will be followed by a Q&A session with the presenters. The presentations include: the Research Excellence Framework/REF (Kersti Börjars, Manchester), Open Access publishing (George Walkden, Manchester), book publishing (Julia Steer, Oxford University Press) and publishing in journals (David Adger, QMUL).


Attendance at the LAGB Summer School 2014 is free for student members of the association, who can register for attendance at the following link using their LAGB login details.

Registration for the LAGB Annual Meeting 2014 (Student Members)

Please note that registration closes on 18th August. Only registered student members will be permitted to attend.

Members can also attend for a fee of £45.00, while non-members can register for a fee of £55.00. Fees include the cost of the room hire, materials, lunch and refreshments.

Registration for the LAGB Annual Meeting 2014 (Members)

Registration for the LAGB Annual Meeting 2014 (Non-members)


09.30 - 09.45 Registration

09.45 - 11.15 Masterclass 1: Adam Albright (MIT) – Gradient phonotactics

11.15 - 11.45 Break

11.45 - 13.15 Masterclass 2: Aditi Lahiri (Oxford) – Phonology in the brain

13.15 - 14.15 Lunch

14.15 - 15.45 Workshop on academic publishing: Kersti Börjars (Manchester) on the REF, George Walkden (Manchester) on Open Access, and Julia Steer (Oxford University Press) on the publisher's perspective

15.45 - 16.15 Break

16.15 - 17.45 Masterclass 3: Angelika Kratzer (UMass) - Working at the syntax-semantics interface: the variety of embedded clauses

17.45 onwards Social event, organised by the LAGB Student Committee

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