Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Official Launch of the Maryland Language Science Center at the 4th Annual Language Science Day

This year the 4th annual Language Science Day, taking place on September 27th at the Riggs Alumni Center, is featuring the official launch of the Maryland Language Science Center. The launch is scheduled from noon to 1:45 pm at the same location. The Maryland Language Science Center represents a major commitment by the University of Maryland to language science as a strategic priority. The center is a collaborative effort involving language scientists from 16 departments and centers in six colleges across the university. The Center’s efforts will focus on interdisciplinary research and training, with the goal of answering grand challenges in basic science, and solving real-world language problems in education, technology, and health. More information on the center and the event is at

Dustin Chacón - Summer Research in Bangladesh and India

Dustin Chacón (3rd year IGERT student from the Linguistics Department) spent summer 2013 doing research in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Kolkata, India. He worked with Professor Sikder Monoare Murshed and Mashrur Imtiaz at Dhaka University, and with Professor Mina Dan and Shirsho Dasgupta at Calcutta University. Dustin was running a series of experiments investigating how filler-gap dependencies are resolved in Bengali/Bangla, an Indo-Aryan language with more than 200 million speakers. Dustin was investigating the role that word order plays in resolving ambiguous filler-gap dependencies in Bangla, since Bangla has a flexible word order in the relevant respects. He was also investigating dialectal differences between West Bengali Bangla and Bangladeshi Bangla, since pilot data suggested filler-gap dependency resolution preferences varied by dialect.

UMD Language Science Outreach Group at the “CHANGE THE WORLD: Science & Engineering Careers Fair”

On September 27 and 28, 2013 the UMD Language Science Outreach group is participating in an NSF-organized science and engineering careers fair for local teachers, middle and high school students, entitled “CHANGE THE WORLD: Science & Engineering Careers Fair.” The event is tailored to middle and high school students, teachers, and families. NSF is co-sponsoring this important event with Congressman Frank Wolf in northern Virginia at the Dulles Town Center Mall at Dulles Town Circle, Dulles, Virginia 20166 on Friday-Saturday, September 27-28, 2013. The careers fair will showcase exciting science and innovation with the goal of encouraging young people, especially in grades 7-12, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). More than 60 interactive exhibits will engage students, teachers, parents, and the public in activities highlighting the work done by scientists and engineers and their process of discovery: from facial recognition to “smart” bridges; from predicting lava flows to DNA sequencing of strawberries; from investigating crashes to manipulating robots. Members of the 2013 Language Science group attending the event are Alison Shell (Psychology), Chris Heffner (Linguistics), Alix Kowalski (Hearing and Speech Sciences), Rachel Dudley (Linguistics), Yakov Kronrod (Linguistics). Faculty support is offered by Meredith Rowe (Human Development) and Ellen Lau (Linguistics).

New Members Elected for the Language Science Student Executive Committee

This 2013 Language Science student Executive Committee’s members are Chuchu Li (Human Development and Quantitative Methodology), Yuichi Suzuki and Eric Pelzl (Second Language Acquisition), Shota Momma (Linguistics), Mike McCourt (Philosophy), Alison Shell (Psychology), and Katie Leech (Human Development and Quantitative Methodology)

2013 Language Science IGERT Students

The 2013 recipients of the full IGERT student status are Alix Kowalski (Hearing and Speech Sciences), Eric Pelzl (Second Language Acquisition), Michael McCourt (Philosophy), Alvin Grissom (iSchool), Mike Fetters (Linguistics), Alia Biller (Second Language Acquisition), Rachel Dudley (Linguistics), Zoe Schlueter (Linguistics), and Chris Heffner (Linguistics).

Giovanna Morini (HESP) wins an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant

Giovanna Morini (5th year IGERT student from the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences) won an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant to complete her dissertation research entitled “Interactions between Language Experience and Cognitive Abilities in Word Learning and Word Recognition." The PI on the grant is Rochelle Newman (Hearing and Speech Sciences) and the Co-PI is Colin Phillips (Linguistics).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Language Science Outreach: Northwood High School Annual Visit to U-Maryland

Students enrolled in psychology classes at Northwood High School will be visiting campus on February 15, 2013. The students will attend a lecture by Jeff Lidz (LING) after which they are split into groups, and each group attending two lab presentations out of the thirteen available. The thirteen lab presentations are offered by language science students and they range from topics about Animal Communications to Baby Talk. For more information and the event schedule please see:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Winter Storm Daily Digest - 01.17.2013

Dear Winter Storm Participants, Congratulations! You've made it to the final day of Winter Storm!
Events for Friday: 1/18/13 1. Language Analysis Workshop Language Analysis Workshop teams meet to prepare for presentations.
2. Lunch: Special Interest Group Presentations The Special Interest Groups which have been meeting throughout Winter Storm present the results of their explorations.
3. Language Analysis Workshop: Presentations Teams from the Language Analysis Workshop present their results in describing different aspects of the Zazaki language with the aid of a native informant.
4. Closing Colin Phillips leads a session and offers a few closing remarks at the end of Winter Storm 2013.
5. Happy Hour! Everyone is invited to Looney's Pub to celebrate the end of a phenomenal Winter Storm! Please refer to the website for precise scheduling and location information. If there is any feedback you would like to give the Winter Storm Committee please send it to The Winter Storm Committee will circulate a survey, the results of which allow us to better design and execute future Winter Storms; we ask that you please respond to this request when it comes. Thank you for your participation! The Winter Storm Committee

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Winter Storm Daily Digest - 01.16.2013

LOCATION CHANGE: Friday's presentations will now be held in MMH 1304. This is reflected on the website. LOST ITEM: Shevaun set out a pepper grinder with the wonderful lunch she prepared for us today. The pepper grinder has gone missing. If you have any idea about its whereabouts, please contact her at

Events for Thursday: 1/17/13
1. Python Raul Guerra leads a session reviewing the last two weeks of Python material, and introduces new python libraries.

2. Lunch Talk: Carol Espy-Wilson, Electrical Engineering Department Phonetic Features, Articulatory Phonology and Speech Variability: Accurate models of coarticulation and lenition should greatly improve the performance of speech recognition systems. Phonetic recognition in most systems is still poor so that there is still a heavy reliance on language modeling. In this talk, I will discuss speech variability and our efforts to develop recognition paradigms that incorporate phonetic features and articulatory phonology to more accurately perform low-level speech recognition analysis.

3. Special Interest groups SIG teams meet to prepare for Friday's presentations. Please refer to the website for precise scheduling and location information. If there is any information you would like included in a future Winter Storm daily digest, please forward this information to the WS Committee (

Thank you for your participation! The Winter Storm Committee

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winter Storm Daily Digest - 01.15.2013

Please note that changes have been made Wednesday's schedule. The entire week's schedule is viewable on the website. Highlights from Special Interest Groups: From Giovanna Morini, Less Is More SIG "We discussed a paper that relied on different methods (other than the commonly used SRT task) to examine implicit learning and language abilities. Data from this paper suggested that the ability to correctly reproduce auditory or visual sequences is highly correlated with a spoken language measure that assesses sensitivity to word predictability in speech. Given that we are interested in age-related changes associated with working memory and implicit learning, next time we will examine ways in which these types of tasks can be used with children."

From Shota Momma, Working Memory in Sentence Production "Today, we discussed the agreement attraction in production and potential roots of the phenomenon in working memory. Specifically, we compared the encoding-based account and the retrieval-based account, and thought about potential consequences of adapting each model. Also, we discussed the potential model of working memory that is compatible with language production more generally."

Events for Wednesday: 1/16/13
1. Language Analysis Workshop Participants work in specialized groups to continue their investigation of the Zazaki language.
2. Lunch Talk: Ellen Lau, Linguistics Department Predictive facilitation in lexical processing: mechanisms and neural implementations: Although many language researchers now assume an important role for predictive mechanisms in comprehension, it has been surprisingly difficult to show that early contextual facilitation effects--such as the N400 effect in ERP--are due to prediction rather than passive long-term memory processes such as spreading activation. In order to determine which cortical regions contribute to early predictive facilitation, we used a within-subjects multimodal neuroimaging design (EEG-MEG and fMRI) that supplements the high spatial resolution of fMRI with the excellent temporal resolution of EEG-MEG. The results show not only that prediction contributes significantly to the N400 priming effect in ERP, but that the effect of spreading activation is surprisingly small. fMRI and MEG source localization indicate that early effects of predictive facilitation are due to reduced activity in left anterior temporal cortex, a region variously implicated by previous literature in semantic storage and semantic combination. I will argue that together these results provide new evidence for predictive facilitation in lexical processing, and suggest that facilitated conceptual access is an important contributor to the N400 effect.
3. Language Analysis Workshop Groups will have an extra elicitation session with the native speaker. 4. Special Interest Groups Research planning groups meet for the fifth time. Please come prepared! Check the website for individual SIG pages, which contain group agendas and member contact information. If there is any information you would like included in a future Winter Storm daily digest, please forward this information to the WS Committee ( Thank you for your participation! The Winter Storm Committee