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.

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! 

Show more

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!

Show more

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.

Jun
15
2019

AGM and lecture on English grammar in honour of Lord Quirk

Oblique predicative constructions in English
Prof. Bas Aarts (UCL)

The AGM of PhilSoc will be held in Murray Edwards College, Cambridge (CB3 0DF, Buckingham House Seminar Room), on Saturday 15 June at 4.15 (tea from 3.45, Buckingham House Foyer), followed by a lecture in honour of Lord Quirk. The lecture will be given by Prof. Bas Aarts (UCL) on ‘Oblique predicative constructions in English’.

All welcome (including guests).

May
10
2019

Anna Morpurgo Davies Lecture

Why language learning opens the mind: old prejudices, trendy myths, and new research
Prof. Antonella Sorace (Edinburgh)

This year's Anna Morpurgo Davies Lecture will take place on Friday 10 May at the British Academy (London). Prof. Antonella Sorace, University of Edinburgh, will speak on 'Why language learning opens the mind: old prejudices, trendy myths, and new research'. The lecture will take place at 4.15 with a drinks reception afterwards. For an abstract of the lecture, please click below or see the British Academy website. Please book your free ticket here.

Mar
09
2019

March 2019

Dialectology in the 21st century: new insights in Ancient Greek and Swiss German
Prof. Rudolf Wachter (Basel)

The next meeting of PhilSoc will take place on Saturday 9 March 2019 at Wolfson College, Oxford. Prof. Rudolf Wachter (Basel) will speak on 'Dialectology in the 21st century: new insights in Ancient Greek and Swiss German'. The meeting will take place at 4.15 in the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium. Tea will be served from 3.45 in the Wolfson Café.

Prior to the ordinary meeting, the Society is hosting an Early Career Researcher Forum on Friday and Saturday (8 & 9 March) at Wolfson College. More information about this event can be found on the PhilSoc blog.

Mar
08
2019

Early Career Researcher Forum


Late-stage doctoral students and early career researchers present their work in 20-minute presentations

Feb
15
2019

February 2019

Function of vowel length in language: phonological, grammatical and pragmatic consequences
Prof. Larry Hyman (Berkeley)

The next meeting of PhilSoc will take place on Friday 15 February 2019 at SOAS University of London. Prof. Larry Hyman (University of California, Berkeley) will speak on 'Functions of Vowel Length in Language: Phonological, Grammatical, & Pragmatic Consequences'. The meeting will take place at 4.15 in the Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), Main SOAS building. Tea will be served from 3.45.

1 2 3 4 ... 13