Previous Seasons Meetings

PhilSoc welcomes proposals for papers to be read at meetings. Proposals should be forwarded to the Honorary Secretary (contact details on the Contact page). Papers may be on any topic falling within the scope of PhilSoc's interests, but speakers are asked to bear in mind that the audience will represent a wide range of linguistic interests, and papers should therefore be accessible to non-specialists.

Nov
20
2020

November 2020

Workshop on Approaches to lexical variation (organised by University of Sussex)
Postgraduate researchers

Presentations by postgraduate researchers Rhys Sandow (Sussex), Sandra Young (Brighton), and Mary Edward (Brighton), followed by round table discussion, chaired by Dr Justyna Robinson

Oct
23
2020

October 2020

A modular perspective on consonant alternations Finnish and Amuzgo stem formation
Dr Yuni Kim (Essex)

The next meeting of PhilSoc will be held remotely using Zoom. It will take place on Friday 23 October 2020 at 4.15pm (BST). Dr Yuni Kim (Essex) will speak on ‘A modular perspective on consonant alternations in Finnish and Amuzgo stem formation’. We will inform you about registration details closer to the talk.

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This paper examines the division of labour between phonology and morphology in the stem allomorphy of two typologically different languages, Amuzgo (Oto-Manguean) and Finnish (Uralic). Both exhibit complex systems of stem-consonant alternations that, depending on the specific consonant and/or lexical item involved, run the gamut from phonologically transparent to apparently arbitrary in identical morphological contexts. By factoring out productive phonological processes, we can establish a lexical continuum from single underlying stems, to stem allomorphs connected by unproductive phonological rules, to stem-allomorph sets whose relationships cannot be mapped by conventional formal operations of phonology. For Amuzgo noun plurals, the identification of purely phonological processes reduces the patterns to a core of n- prefixation plus the alternations ? ~ k and ts/t?/w ~ Ø. I discuss the extent to which these quasi-phonological alternations can be understood theoretically in terms of abstract scales (Mortensen 2006). In Finnish verbs, there are many classes of exceptions (some surface, some deeper) to the basic phonological conditions on consonant gradation, along with parallels to other stem alternations that fall outside the gradation system. For these cases, I adopt the stratal framework of Bermúdez-Otero (2012, 2013), in particular the twin mechanisms of stem storage and lexical redundancy rules, to capture generalizations without placing disproportionate burden on either the phonology or the lexicon.

Jun
13
2020

The President’s lecture and AGM

Converging evidence for morpho-phonological pertinacity: diachrony and experimental psycholinguistics
Prof. Aditi Lahiri

The AGM of PhilSoc will be held remotely on Saturday 13 June at 4.00 p.m. BST, replacing the planned event at Newnham College (Cambridge). It will conclude with the President’s Lecture at 5.00 p.m. BST, scheduled as a separate remote event. Prof. Aditi Lahiri will speak on ‘Converging evidence for morpho-phonological pertinacity: diachrony and experimental psycholinguistics’. All welcome (including guests). Please register here.

Remote meeting

May
01
2020

May 2020

Modelling the development of the morphologically hybrid nature of the Bantu Final Vowels
Prof. Jeff Good (University of Buffalo)

The next meeting of PhilSoc, originally scheduled at SOAS University of London, will be held remotely using Zoom. It will take place on Friday 1 May 2020 at 4pm (BST). Prof. Jeff Good (University of Buffalo) will speak on ‘Modelling the development of the morphologically hybrid nature of the Bantu Final Vowels.
To register, please sign up here.  You will need to have Zoom on your device and will be sent a link before the meeting.

Remote meeting

Apr
27
2020

Public event jointly organised with the British Academy

The historical development of the Welsh language from the Middle Ages to the present

This public event jointly organised with the British Academy has been cancelled as a result of the current public health situation.

Mar
07
2020

March 2020

Analogical change and paradigmatic irregularities in Gascon
Prof. Louise Esher (CNRS, Toulouse)

The next meeting of PhilSoc will take place on Saturday 7 March 2020 at Somerville College, Oxford. Prof. Louise Esher (CNRS, Toulouse) will speak on 'Analogical change and paradigmatic irregularities in Gascon'. The meeting will take place in the Flora Anderson Hall at 4.15. Tea will be served in the Brittain Williams Room from 3.45. All welcome!

Feb
07
2020

February 2020 (London)

What predicts productivity? Theory meets individuals
Prof. Hendrik De Smet (Leuven)

The next meeting of PhilSoc will take place on Friday 7 February 2020 at SOAS University of London. Prof. Hendrik De Smet (Leuven) will speak on 'What predicts productivity? Theory meets individuals '. For an abstract of the talk, please see below.
The meeting will take place at 4.15 in the Brunei Gallery Building (opposite the Main Building) in Room B103. Tea will be served from 3.45.
All welcome! 

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What predicts productivity? Theory meets individuals 

Because they involve individual-level cognitive processes, psychological explanations of linguistic phenomena are in principle testable against individual behaviour. The present study draws on patterns of individual variation in corpus data to test explanations of productivity. Linguistic patterns are predicted to become more productive with higher type frequencies and lower token frequencies. This is because the formation of abstract mental representations is encouraged by varied types but counteracted by automation of high-frequency types. The predictions are tested for English -ly and -ness-derivation, as used by 698 individual journalists in the New York Times Annotated Corpus and 171 members of Parliament in the Hansard Corpus. Linear regression is used to model individual variation in productivity, in relation to type and token frequency, as well as several other predictor variables. While the expected effects are observed, there is also robust evidence of an interaction effect between type and token frequency, indicating that productivity is highest for patterns with many types and not-too-infrequent tokens. This fits best with a view of entrenchment as both a conservative and creative force in language. Further, some variation remains irreducibly individual and is not explained by currently known predictors of productivity.

Jan
10
2020

January 2020 (London)

Sound change and analogy in morphological paradigms: Why automated inference is on the horizon
Prof. Erich Round (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena; University of Queensland)

The next meeting of PhilSoc will take place on Friday 10 January 2020 at SOAS University of London. Prof. Erich Round (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena; University of Queensland) will speak on 'Sound change and analogy in morphological paradigms: Why automated inference is on the horizon'. For an abstract of the talk, please see below.
The meeting will take place at 4.15 in the Brunei Gallery Building (opposite the Main Building) in Room B103. Tea will be served from 3.45.
All welcome!

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The comparative method is one of the greatest methodological achievements in the history of linguistics. And yet, despite its relatively precise formulation, we do not have an automated implementation of it, and consequently we face a very long wait to know more about the inferable history of language families around the globe. One may well ask why. As it happens, in a mathematical PhD thesis from 2010, Alexandre Bouchard-Côté demonstrated why, by showing that even the inference of sound change was computationally infeasible. Bouchard-Côté pointed to two impediments: (1) a factorial explosion in the difficulty of the computational task, and (2) a paucity of evidence when the data consists of a short list of basic vocabulary. However, recent progress in computational statistics provides reason to believe that impediment (1) may be overcome for at least some models of linguistic change. Impediment (2) might be alleviated by allowing the algorithms to look at richer sources of data (as we humans do), such as inflectional paradigms. And so, in this talk I discuss the prospects for trying to automate a core aspect of the comparative method: the inference of sound change and analogy in paradigms, with an emphasis on analogy. I discuss what is already known about analogy; what it might entail to model that knowledge explicitly; the role to be played by mathematical models of language change; and what research questions the exercise might realistically help us to ask.

Nov
15
2019

November 2019 (Glasgow)

The Sociolinguistics of Scotland
Chair: Prof. Jennifer Smith (University of Glasgow)

The next meeting of PhilSoc will take place at the University of Glasgow on Friday 15 November. Postgraduate researchers E. Jamieson (Edinburgh)Eleanor Smith (Dundee) and Julia Moreno (Glasgow) will make presentations on The Socio­linguis­tics of Scotland, followed by a round table discussion chaired by Prof. Jennifer Smith (University of Glasgow). The meeting will take place in the Sir Alexander Stone Building, 16 University Gardens (Room 204), at 4.15. Refreshments will be served from 3.45. 

Oct
18
2019

Next meeting & presentation of the RH Robins Prize

Ancient Greek enclitics: some new light from ancient grammarians
Prof. Philomen Probert (Oxford)

The next meeting of PhilSoc will take place on Friday 18 October 2019 at SOAS University of London. Prof. Philomen Probert (Oxford) will speak on 'Ancient Greek enclitics: some new light from ancient grammarians'. The meeting will take place at 4.15 in T108 at 21-22 Russell Square (on the actual square, not the Main SOAS Building).

At the start of the meeting, the 10th RH Robins Prize will be presented to the joint winners Mari Aigro (Tartu) and Laura Arnold (Edinburgh).
Tea will be served from 3.45.

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