NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 2000
In this issue:
Dear friends of the Linguistics Department,
Welcome to another academic year! It's shaping up to be a great one for
us. We have two new faculty members (Marie Hélène
Côté and Tom Purnellan
interview with Tom appears below and one with Marie
Hélène will follow in the next issue), we have lots of talks
scheduled (by, for example, Mark Aronoff, not
to mention four already given by Tonjes Veenstra,
Mark Louden, Keren Rice,
and Hooi Ling Soh), the LSO continues
to be active (see below), and we even managed to finagle a teensy
new meeting room up here on the 11th floor of Van Hise. Wowluxury!
(Okay, so it's a utility room with a sinkthat's luxury for us.)
One project that we're working on might be of interest to our alumni.
Last fall I applied for a grant to do an assessment of the Linguistics
major, and I got a bit of funding to work on revisions to the major. I've
hired a first-year graduate student, Ryan Hanke,
as a Project Assistant, and we're working on several thingslike
looking at what other Linguistics departments do in their majors; considering
whether to maintain Linguistics 101 and 301 as they are, or make changes;
revamping our course evaluations; and eventually sending out questionnaires
to find out what those who have gone through our program think about it.
This, of course, is where you will come in. I hope that if and when you
receive something from us, you'll be willing to give us some input on
what you thought could be improved about our major. I'll keep you posted
on this topic.
Have a great holiday season!
Monica Macaulay, Chair
News and Notes
- Dr. Kychul Sung from Seoul University is
a Visiting Scholar in the department this year. Professor Sung is an
expert on Korean grammar, and our many Korean graduate students are
finding him an invaluable resource.
- Graduate student Jina Lee did fieldwork
in Mongolia last summer, while Linguistics major Clare Cook went to
Papua New Guinea and worked on the language Bamu.
- Congratulations to Laura Smith for winning
a French-Felton award for inspirational teaching as a TA!
Faculty Profiles: Thomas Purnell
Professor Purnell received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from
the University of Delaware in 1998. Although he begins his tenure-track
appointment in the department in the Fall of 2000, he is not a newcomer,
having been here as a Visiting Assistant Professor since the Spring of
1998. Professor Purnell recently agreed to be interviewed by one of our
graduate students, Jason Roberts.
JR: We're taking a new approach to presenting faculty members in the
newsletter, with students interviewing faculty. You're the first brave
soul to submit to this. Are you nervous?
TP: Yes. I might be the last one, too.
JR: What are your "Jeopardy" dream categories?
TP: I would say "Small Towns Between Richmond and New York City,"
that's one. The other would be "Hit Songs from Obscure Rock Bands
in the 1970s and 80s." Something along those lines, I would do well
JR: And a linguistic topic?
TP: It would probably be things that have to do with stress and tone,
JR: So how did you get into the field?
TP: Through ESL, screaming and kicking. (laughter) After I graduated
with my undergraduate degree in English Literature I thought I was going
to do literature. I didn't want to do linguistics and I really didn't
want to do ESL. But then I sent out grad school applications and one of
them happened to be the ESL Program at George Mason, and that's the one
I ended up going to
things just worked out better to go there. I
remember the first day, sitting in phonology class, and even though I
stuck it out with the ESL stuff, which I really enjoy, I felt myself being
more drawn to a lot of the theoretical phonology.
JR: The "Wisconsin Idea" is the philosophy that the members
of the academic community should find applications for [their] work beyond
the confines of the university. Your work with John Baugh has been an
excellent example of this. Would you talk briefly about that work and
the future of the project?
TP: That was something else that I kind of fell into-getting to know
John at Swarthmore. I was a grad student; he was a visiting faculty member.
He gave me all this data to look at and work on phonetically. I realized
at that stage-it was one of those moments of epiphany-that you can do
linguistics and make it really matter to people, to their lives. What
John is interested in is housing discrimination based on someone's speech.
One thing I was interested in was, what are the low level cues that could
be triggering discrimination? So if someone speaks, or let's say uses
syntax that is Standard American English but still has phonetic residue
of African American English, they could still not get a house.
John is a tridialectal speaker of AAVE, Chicano English, and Standard
American English, and he had recorded these phrases "Hello, I'm calling
about the apartment you have advertised in the paper," which came
out of his own experience with discrimination. So I took the word "hello"
from the three dialects, and played them to my Linguistics 101 students.
The word "hello," which was the first word, is pragmatically
a very important word in phone conversations, and at the same time it
has no syntax, really no phonology. Yet there has to be something there
because the students were able to make the judgments at a much better
than chance level-they were 80%, 90% right in their responses. So what
we found from that was that people are making very fast judgments about
people's speech, or that they are able to. What we would like to do is
to open that up and look at bidialectal and monodialectal speakers, and
see if the characteristics are there. Ideally the fair housing commission
could use this for making sure that their testers had these characteristics,
that in a court of law would stand up.
JR: I'm going to put you on the spot somewhat: what do you think is the
future of non-constraint-based theories of phonology?
TP: (laughter) I think it's going to be around, in the same way that
there are other theories in other sub-fields of linguistics, where you
find certain schools that have latched onto it, and I think you are going
to continue to see certain schools continue pushing OT. I think what's
going to happen in the immediate future is that people are going to start
talking about properties of phonology, and trying to do it in less theoretical
terms. On the one hand people have to talk about OT to get published;
on the other hand they may not personally agree with it. So I think you
are going to find a move away from, or maybe an ambivalence towards notation,
which I think is not necessarily the best approach. I think that notation
is important, but I think that you are going to find people becoming weaker
in that area. I think that schools will continue to teach OT, but that
it will be like other theories, just another in a long line of theories.
JR: We have three phonologists in the Linguistics department now, and
there are others in other departments [too]. What do you see as the contributions
that Wisconsin phonologists will make to the field as a whole?
TP: Well, I think one advantage of Wisconsin is actually the phonetics
side of soundswith the people in Communicative Disorders, Psychologycombining
that with the theoretical work we're doing. I think probably what you
are going to see is that our niche is going to become this marriage of
phonetics and phonology. I think that we are going to have a real strength
in that area, where people have practical phonology, or applied phonetics,
or theoretical phonetics. We're going to do well with competing because
we have a lot of resources already here to begin with, like the microbeam
lab, and if we bring a sound phonological theory to some of these phonetic
data I think that's going to be a real feather in our cap for Wisconsin.
JR: You can sometimes be found in your office or in the phonetics lab
rocking one of your twins in one arm, rocking another in a carrier on
the floor with your foot, and typing on your keyboard, or working on a
piece of recording equipment with your free hand. How long until you turn
the recording equipment onto your twins?
TP: Soon actually, I think. (laughter) They're doing some interesting
things and I may do it soon. But, I find myself being more of a father
and just enjoying hearing their sounds and interacting rather than saying
"Oh, there's a sound. Say it again," and going to get the tape
player. I'm more apt to just sit there and try to respond, make babbling
noises back-I'm more apt to do that than recording.
Retirement News: Professor Manindra Verma
On April 27th, 2000, the departments of Linguistics and South Asian Studies
honored Professor Manindra Verma with a dinner at the University Club
on the occasion of his retirement from the UW. Professor Verma received
his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Michigan in 1965, and
began his appointment at Madison that year. During his long and illustrious
career he chaired both departments (several times over), and was Director
of the Center for South Asia. He published ten books and numerous articles,
and in 1989 received a Vilas Award for outstanding scholarly achievement.
The Linguistics department is grateful for all that he has done for us,
and looks forward to a long continuing relationship with him in his new
role as Emeritus Professor.
Congratulations to our graduates:
Wing-Yip (Winston) Szeto
Luis Fernando Tejedo-Herrero
August, Jackie Drummy celebrated twenty years
with the department. We shocked her with a surprise party after the new
graduate student orientation. (Yes, we managed to fool the Woman Who Knows
Everything.) As anyone who has ever been part of this department knows,
we could not function without Jackie at the helm. We are deeply grateful
to her for her continuing work for this department. And Jackie, about
retirement? DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!!
Abdulrahman Almansour presented "A Segmental
Analysis of Prenasalization" at the 10th Southeast Asian Linguistics
Conference here at the UW. Becky Roeder presented
"Do ESL Students Need Critical Thinking Skills to Achieve? A Microethnographic
Investigation in a U.S. Secondary School" with Christina Higgins
and Mary Thompson at the Second Language Research Forum (SLRF), also here
at the UW. "Studies on Phonological Opacity" by Mun-Seon
Shin appeared in Chung-Ang English Review. Laura
Smith gave "Acquisition of /r/ and /l/ by Learners of English:
Evidence for Production and Perception as Two Distinct Processes in SLA,"
also at SLRF. And "Wh-Scrambling and QP-Scrambling," by Gwangrak
Son appeared in the proceedings of the 2000 West Coast Conference
on Linguistics (WECOL).
DARE: Frederic Gomes Cassidy
October 10, 1907-June 14, 2000
By Joan Houston Hall
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Frederic G. Cassidy,
Chief Editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English. At age 92,
Fred was energetic, purposeful, and mentally acute up until the moment
of a stroke on May 11. He had been working on DARE since 1963, and it
was his great hope that he would live to see the last volume published.
But he was also a realist and recognized that statistics were not on his
side. He had complete confidence in the abilities and dedication of his
staff, and trusted us to finish the job. We shall do it in his honor.
Three volumes of DARE have been published by Harvard University Press:
I (introduction & ABC), 1985; II (DBH), 1991; III (IBO) 1996. IV (PBSm-)
is scheduled for 2002, with V (SnBZ) anticipated in 2007. A final volume,
with bibliography, maps, indexes, supplements, and the Data Summary (all
of the responses to fieldwork questions) will follow.
DARE's web site
provides more information about the project and also invites your help:
it includes several lists of words for which we'd like additional evidence
or explanations. If these are part of your regional vocabulary, please
let us know!
By Marianne Milligan
The Linguistics Students Organization (LSO) continues to be active in
the department. Student representatives are present at all open faculty
meetings, and were part of last year's Phonology Search Committee. Last
year, the LSO sponsored a talk by Matt Pearson
(UCLA) and co-sponsored talks by Morris Halle
(MIT) and John Archibald (UCalgary). This semester,
we have co-sponsored talks by Hooi Ling Soh
(U of MN), Keren Rice (UToronto), and Mark
Louden (UW). We have also started a working papers volume, titled
LSO Working Papers in Linguistics. The first volume contains articles
by the following students: Zaharia Pilus, Laura
Catherine Smith, Yookang Kim, Philipp
Strazny, Cathlin Davis, and Sky
Lee. (The second volume will be published in Spring 2001.) The
first volume is available for purchase; print out and mail in a copy of
the order form. Copies of a previous working
papers volume from 1996 are also available. In addition, we accept and
appreciate donations to the LSO, which can be sent to the same address.
We thank the following alumni and other friends for their
generous donations to the Department of Linguistics:
Carrie Anne Estill
Nancy Carmen Jacobson
Alice E. Mathis
Margaret A. Naeser
Donna H. Riddel
Your (tax-deductible) gift does make a difference
to us! Donations can be made out to the University of Wisconsin Foundation,
specifying Linguistics Department Fund #12540435, and sent to:
University of WI Foundation
1848 University Avenue
P.O. Box 8660
Madison, WI 53708-8860
attn: David Simon
MADISON TALKS is a newsletter published twice a year by
the Department of Linguistics at UW-Madison.
This issue edited by Monica
Send address changes and corrections to Jackie