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Linguistics Colloquium, Cory Holland: Shifting or Shifted? The State of California Vowels (March 12, 273 Kerr, 4:10—5:00)

Linguistics Colloquium

Thursday, March 12, 2015 

273 Kerr, 4:10—5:00


Shifting or Shifted? The State of California Vowels

Cory Holland, Colorado State University


Studies of vowel variation and change have found that the California vowel space is, or at least has been, changing, with the change termed the “California Vowel Shift” (CVS). However, very few studies focus on regions other than the urban coastal cities or on the type of heterogeneous communities that are typical of much of California. This study extends the investigation of the CVS beyond urban coastal California, as well as to speakers outside of the supposed prototypical – white English-monolingual – participant in the CVS. A lack of evidence for change in apparent time in the majority of vowel features implicated in the CVS suggests that the California vowel space may be reaching a point of stability. Also, speakers from ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds are found to participate in the CVS in substantially similar ways, calling into question assumptions about the necessity of homogeneity in the formation of a dialect community.

Daniel Moglen awarded Provost Fellowship for 2015-2016

Congratulations to Daniel Moglen, a 5th year PhD candidate in Linguistics, who has been awarded the Provost Fellowship for the 2015-2016 academic year.  His dissertation research focuses on the writing development of international graduate students at UC Davis.  In particular, the study will analyze grammatical complexity, vocabulary usage, and errors as students progress through the critical first year of graduate school.  Results from this project will provide a clearer picture about how international students are socialized into their respective academic departments, and will be helpful with regards to designing resources that cater to the needs of international graduate students.

Kristen Greer wins the 2015 Allen G. Marr Distinguished Dissertation Award

Kristen Greer wins the 2015 Allen G. Marr Distinguished Dissertation Award

Kristen Greer

The Allen G. Marr Prize is a $500 annual prize awarded by the Office of Graduate Studies to a doctoral student in honor of superior dissertation work. Kristen Greer is the 2015 award recipient for her dissertation, A General Theory of Quantification, which was co-supervised by Patrick Farrell (Linguistics) and Robert May (Philosophy, Linguistics). The award will be presented at the Graduate Commencement Ceremony in June and will make Kristen the campus's nominee for the CGS/ProQuest award consisting of an honorarium of $2,000 and a certificate of citation.

Congratulations to Michelle Cohn, recipient of the 2015 Lapointe Award.

Congratulations to Michelle Cohn, recipient of the 2015 Lapointe Award.

Congratulations to Michele Cohn for winning the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award.

Congratulations to Michele Cohn for winning the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award. 

Serena Williams' paper "(Dis)citizenship Constructed in Same-Sex Wedding Narratives" has been accepted for publication in Language & Communication.

Serena Williams' paper "(Dis)citizenship Constructed in Same-Sex Wedding Narratives" has been accepted for publication in Language & Communication. 

Justin Spence awarded NSF grant to help preserve the Hupa language

Justin Spence has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Documenting Endangered Languages program to document and preserve the Hupa language. For more information, click here.


Upcoming Talks by UC Davis Linguists


NWAV 44, Toronto, October 22-25, 2015

Robert Bayley and Dan Villarreal, “Deep in the hear(t) of Texas: Coronal stop deletion in a rural south Texas community”

Dan Villarreal, “Wh[ʉ] is a V[ɑ]lley girl? Assessing dialect recognition with resynthesized matched guises”


LSA, Washington, DC, January 7-10, 2016

Raúl Aranovich, “Morphologically conditioned ‘do-support’ in Shona”

Renee Kemp,  “Loanwords and phonetic category shift in L2 learners”

Kevin King, “Intensifiers and image schemas: Schema type determines intensifier type”

Lewis Lawyer, “Voice, valency, and the fluidity of transitivity in Patwin”

Dan Villarreal, “C[ɑ]lifornia perceivin’: A matched-guise study of the California Vowel Shift”

Alan Wong, “Indefinite markers, Grammaticalization and language contact phenomena in Chinese”


Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americas, Washington, DC, January 7-10, 2016

Lewis Lawyer, “Layers in Patwin: Double case marking and the Miwok substrate”

Justin Spence, “Voice onset time in Northern California: Lake Miwok and Miwok substrate”





New Book by Wilbur Benware

Wilbur Benware, Emritus Professor and historical linguist, has a new book out titled 'Zur Betonung geographischer Namen im deutschsprachigen Europa. 

Colloquium by Dr. Jia Xu, Monday Nov. 16th 10 am-12 pm

Dr. Jia Xu will be giving a talk in the Linguistics Department on Monday November 16th from 10 am-12 pm, in Kerr Hall, Room 273. 


Title: Better bootstrapsbetter accuracy: in theory, in practice, in translation.


Bagging (Breiman, 96) and its variants is one of the most popular methods in aggregating classifiers and regressors. Its original analysis assumes that the bootstraps are built from an unlimited, independent source of samples. In the real world this analysis fails because there is a limited number of training samples. We analyze the effect of intersections between bootstraps to train different base predictors, which shows that the real-world bagging behaves very differently than its ideal analog (Breiman, 96) Most importantly,we provide an alternative subsampling method called design-bagging based on a new construction of combinatorial designs. We prove that this is universally better than bagging. Our analytical results are backed up by experiments on general classification and regression settings, and significantly improved all machine translation systems we used in the NIST-15 C-E competition.

Colloquium by Dr. Joanna Nykiel, Monday Nov. 30, 10am-12pm

Dr. Joanna Nykiel, Assistant Professor at the University of Silesia will be giving a talk November 30th, 10-12 in 273 Kerr Hall. The title and abstract are below. 


Ellipsis alternation: synchronic variation and lessons for cross-linguistic variation


In this talk, I explore the nature of constraints on the alternation between two kinds of stranded phrases (remnants) that can be used under ellipsis. One kind repeats the preposition present in the antecedent clauses (A: I’m here for the audition. B: For which audition?) and the other kind omits it (A: I’m here for the audition. B: Which audition?). I begin with the Preposition Stranding Generalization of Merchant (2001), which frames this alternation in syntactic terms by connecting its availability to the availability of underlying sentential sources that allow both preposition pied-piping and preposition stranding. Cross-linguistic research has already shown that the Preposition Stranding Generalization is too strong. Drawing on English corpus data, I offer reasons why this is so. I provide evidence that the patterns the Preposition Stranding Generalization captures don’t reflect categorical grammaticality (and hence syntax-relevant information), but rather performance-based preferences. I discuss four constraints operating on English remnants that follow from the architecture of sentence production: (1) semantic and syntactic content of the remnant’s correlate, (2) structural priming, (3) semantic dependencies between lexical categories, and (4) whether or not the antecedent is elliptical. Statistical analysis of the data reveals that (3) is the strongest of these constraints in English. I first explore the implications of these findings for our understanding of the cross-linguistic availability of remnants with and without prepositions, and then I discuss the extent to which the findings provide support for the relationship between competence and performance, as articulated by Hawkins (2004).

Professor Almerindo Ojeda Recognized for his work with Colonial Art

Professor Almerindo Ojeda has been recognized for his Project on the Engraved Sources of Spanish Colonial Art (PESSCA), which seeks to investigate the indigenous worldview reflected in colonial works of art. See the full story on the ISS newsletter linked below. 

Vai Ramanathan and Emily Fuerherm have co-edited a new volume entitled 'Refugee resettlement in the United States: language, policy, pedagogy'.

Vai Ramanathan and Emily Fuerherm have co-edited a new volume entitled 'Refugee resettlement in the United States: language, policy, pedagogy'.

New Class for Spring Quarter: Introduction to Hearing

Prof. Santiago Barreda is offering a new class in the spring quarter, Linguistics 105: Topics in Language and Linguistics. The class is an introduction to the psychology of hearing, and the function of the human auditory system. Topics will include: physiology of the auditory system, processes such as pitch and loudness perception, speech perception, music perception, and hearing impairment. The course will also provide a basic introduction to the characteristics, production and recording/processing of sound. This course assumes no background in acoustics or psychoacoustics, and will cover topics useful for those interested in Speech Pathology, Audiology, and Speech and Hearing Sciences, among other fields. The textbook used will by "The Sense of Hearing" by Christopher J. Plack (2nd Edition).

Congratulations to William Dyer for winning the Most Innovative Paper award at the UC Davis Symposium on Language Research.

Congratulations to William Dyer for winning the Most Innovative Paper award at the UC Davis Symposium on Language Research.

LDC Corpora Available on the SSDS Dataverse

Several Linguistic Data Consortium (LDC) corpora have been added to the Social Science Data Service (SSDS) Dataverse and are available to the campus community. Eleven corpora are included so far, and more will be available soon. Follow the link below for more information. 


LDC Corpora on the SSDS Dataverse. 


Congratulations to Renee Kemp for being awarded the Provost's Dissertation Year Fellowship.

Congratulations to Renee Kemp. a 4th year PhD candidate in Linguistics, who has been awarded the Provost's Dissertation Year Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year.  Her dissertation research investigates lexical and phonological acquisition in second language learners using experimental methods in speech perception and production.  Results from this project will inform our understanding of how second language learners access lexical items in their second language as well as how native speakers alter their speech to accommodate second language learners.

UC Davis Symposium on Language Research Friday May 20th

The Third Annual UC Davis Symposium on Language Research is Friday May 20th. This symposium showcases current investigations on language being completed at California universities. For more information please see: Symposium on Language Research


Congratulations to Ryan Redmond, recipient of the 2016 Lapointe Award

Congratulations to Ryan Redmond, recipient of the 2016 Lapointe Award.

Congratulations to Zion Mengesha for winning the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Congratulations to Zion Mengesha for winning the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for her honors thesis "Teachers' Language Attitudes Toward African American Vernacular English in California Public Schools". Zion also received the outstanding senior award for Linguistics.

Linguistics Students Awarded Fulbright Grants

The UCD News Services, Office of Graduate Studies, and Financial Aid Scholarships Office are pleased to announce the winners of the 2016-17 Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Four recent undergraduates, including Linguistics students Natalie Boyd and Rebekah Solomon were awarded the grant. See more at:


Linguistics year-end celebration, June 9th 11:30-2, at the Putah Creek Lodge

June 9th is our year-end celebration and this year it will be at Putah Creek Lodge. All faculty and students in the department are invited.

UC Davis to Host 2019 Linguistic Institute

The LSA's 2019 Linguistic Institute will take place at the University of California, Davis. The Linguistics Department at UC Davis will serve as the lead organizer for the Institute, with faculty members Raul Aranovich and Georgia Zellou serving as co-directors.

The department invites applicants for a Tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Psycholinguistics/Neurolinguistics.

The Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Davis invites applicants for a Tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Psycholinguistics/Neurolinguistics. 

The candidate is expected to develop a research program in psycholinguistics/neurolinguistics that uses quantitative approaches (e.g. experimental, clinical, modeling, etc.) to investigate language use in real-world contexts. S/he should have expertise in research methodologies that reveal insights about the biological basis of language. Specific areas of interest include (but are not limited to) perceptual linguistic adaptation, speech recognition, dynamic models of language interaction, lexical planning and language production, language dissolution and rehabilitation, multilingualism, first/second language acquisition, signed language, lexical meaning and semantic interpretation. 

Strong background in linguistics is required. The successful candidate should be able to work collaboratively in a department that attends to traditional areas of linguistic research (e.g. Phonetics, Morphological and Syntactic Theory, Language Typology and Sociolinguistics). UC Davis boasts an active group of renowned Language Science Faculty, many of whom have expertise in sentence processing  (see here). We seek a candidate that will expand their research scope by adding expertise in additional research areas. 

The appointee will be required to teach undergraduate and graduate level courses in general topics in linguistics, and in areas of specialization. Mentoring of undergraduate students interested in clinical applications of linguistics, supervision of graduate students, involvement in curricular development, and performance of university service are expected. 

A Ph.D. in Linguistics, or a closely related field, such as Psychology, Cognitive Science must be completed by the beginning of instruction. 

Applicants should submit: curriculum vitae, a cover letter that clearly states research and teaching interests and background, official graduate transcripts, one writing sample (publication, submitted manuscript, or dissertation chapter), a summary or abstract of the Ph.D. dissertation, and three letters of recommendation through the online application system found at the application URL below. This recruitment is conducted at the assistant rank. The resulting hire will be at the assistant rank, regardless of the proposed appointee’s qualifications. 

The position will remain open until filled. Applications received by October 16, 2016 will receive full initial consideration. 

The University of California, Davis, is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer with a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of diversity among its faculty and staff. 

Application Deadline: 16-Oct-2016 (Open until filled)

Web Address for Applications: 
Contact Information: Angus Chang       Email: 


Congratulations to Emily Moline for winning the LSA's Student Abstract Award Competition.

Congratulations to Emily Moline for winning the LSA's Student Abstract Award competition this year for her abstract “Emergent Adult L1 Literacy: Theorizing Findings from a Case Study”.

Upcoming Talks in Linguistics, Oct. 26th and Nov. 1

October 262:10-3:00, 912 Sproul

Prof. Eric Russell Webb

“Homophobia as linguistic ecology: Deconstructing anti-LGBT discourse”

 For more information see:

November 13:30-5:00

Prof. Rajend Mesthrie, University of Cape Town, South Africa

“Gender and substrate erasure amongst young, black, middle-class South African English speakers”

Abstract: This paper analyses the acquisition of a prestige variety of English in post-apartheid South Africa. New economic opportunities have seen the rapid growth of a black middle-class, with its children study at elite schools previously reserved for whites. The paper documents the differences amongst younger black peoples’ English from the L2 of their parents’ generation, using as variables schwa as a full vowel, and neutralizations of vowel length. The main acoustic analysis is of schwa in initial, final, and medial positions (where there are 5 further subtypes). The first difference concerns social class, consequent upon a bifurcation of young Black people according to type of schooling (elite or not). The second difference is that there is a consistent gender effect among young people, in contrast to the previous generation’s English. The finding that young women are in the lead in acquiring the prestige variety is triangulated with supporting evidence.

New Grant Awarded to Prof. Robert Bayley and Prof. Jamal Abedi

Robert Bayley (Linguistics) and Jamal Abedi (Education) have received a Lyle Spencer Research Award from the Spencer Foundation for a four-year million-dollar project, “Distinguishing Low Proficiency English Language Learners from Students with Disabilities: Developing a Valid Classification System for all English Language Learners.” In addition to examining data from across the nation, Abedi and Bayley will conduct intensive field tests on a battery of assessments in four states: California, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The ultimate goal of the research is to ensure that ELLs with and without disabilities are fairly assessed so that they can receive the educational services they need.

Almerindo Ojeda to deliver a series of invited lectures

Professor Almerindo Ojeda has been invited to deliver a ten-lecture course at the International M.A. Program in Spanish and Spanish Linguistics at the University of Oviedo, in Asturias, Spain. The course will be on the semantics of number (singular, plural, collective and mass reference), a topic which Almerindo has researched for many years.

Congratulations to PhD student Crystal Richardson

Congratulations to PhD student Crystal Richardson, who has been awarded a Mellon Public Scholars Fellowship by the UC Davis Humanities Institute to support her work on revitalization of the Karuk language of California. Here is a link to the official announcement of the 2017-18 Fellows:

A second printing of Professor Ojeda's book just came out

A second printing of Almerindo Ojeda's book "A Computational Introduction to Linguistics: Describing Language in Plain Prolog " just came out. Congratulations Almerindo!

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