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Brooklyn College Linguistics Program
Events of interest (and generally free)

in the metro area


The Sociolinguistics Lunch Lecture Series sponsored by the CUNY Graduate Center's Linguistics and Anthropology Programs presents John Victor Singler (NYU) on "Extra, extra! How “Brooklynese” emerged as the term for NYC vernacular."

When: November 10, 2017, 2-4 pm
Where: The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, Room 7395


HULLS 7 Hunter Undergraduate Linguistics and Language Studies Conference presents keynote speaker Jonathan Rosa (Stanford University) on "From Bad Hombres to Bilingual Education: A Raciolinguistic Perspective on the Analysis of Language and Society" and numerous student papers.

When: May 5, 2017, 2:30-9:00 pm
Where: Hunter West 1242 (Lex and E 69 St)


The Sociolinguistics Lunch Lecture Series sponsored by the CUNY Graduate Center's Linguistics Program presents Jillian Cavanaugh (Brooklyn College and GC) on "Labelling Authenticity, or How I Almost Got Arrested in an Italian Supermarket."

When: March 31, 2017, 2-4 pm
Where: The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, Room 8203


The NYU Center for History, Media, and Culture presents Hillary Parsons Dick (Arcadia University) on "Good Gringas and Shameless White Trash: Discourse, Womanhood, and Race in a Mexican Migrant Community."

When: March 30, 2017, 5-6:30 pm
Where: Silver Center, Room 300, 100 Washington Square East


The CUNY Graduate Center presents three Soros Lectures on Esperanto in Spring 2017

The Einstein Language: Finding and Losing Gloro
2/10/2017, 4-6:00 pm
The Graduate Center, Room 9205
Speaker: Michael Gordin

Conversations in the Socialist Future: Esperantist Delegations to the Early Soviet Union
3/10/2017, 4-6:00 pm
The Graduate Center, Room 9205
Speaker: Brigid O'Keffe

Is Esperanto Dangerous? 
4/27/201, 4-6:00 pm
777 UN Plaza
, Second Floor
Speaker: Ulrich L


The Hunter College Undergraduate Linguistics Association introduces its Mixed Bag Series - The Election Edition: "The Language of the Deal; Trump Speak"

A lecture by Christina Zarkadoolas, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Hunter College,  and Director of the New York Roundtable on Public Health Literacy.

September 28, 2:00 PM
1242 Hunter West, Hunter College


The Brooklyn College Linguistics Club presents "Dialect Matters: Acquisition of Language in African American English-speaking Communities"

A lecture by Lisa Green, Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

May 17, 12:30-2:00 PM
3139 Boylan Hall, Brooklyn College


The Sixth Annual Hunter Linguistics and Language Studies Conference (HULLS 6) presents keynote speakers Rachael Holborn (Cambridge University) on "Is Politeness a Linguistic Phenomenon?" and Jillian Cavanaugh (Brooklyn College) on "Talk as Work: Economic Sociability in Northern Italian Heritage Food Production," as well as numerous student papers.

May 6 (4-8 PM) and May 7 (10-4 PM):
3rd floor, Hunter College, 68 St and Lexington Ave


The Linguistics Program at The CUNY Graduate Center presents Michelle McSweeney (Johnson) who will discuss "Lol! I didn't mean that! Lol as a marker of illocutionary force"

Abstract: In this talk, I take the perspective that lol is a purely pragmatic particle signaling a mismatch between the locutionary force (literal meaning), and the illocutionary force (intended meaning) of a text message. By adopting this perspective, the disparate uses of lol are accounted for and its overwhelming preence in the Txt register is explained. I argue that lol evolved specifically to meet a linguistic need in Txt, that of overtly encoding a pragmatic function that (in face-to-face conversations) is usually encoded non-verbally.

March 8, 6:30 PM:
The Graduate Center Rm 7102 (5th Ave and 42 St)


Hunter College Linguistics Club Speaker Series presents Ignasi Clemente (CUNY Hunter) who will discuss " Overcoming old dualisms: A linguistic anthropological approach to mind-body debates"

Abstract: Based on my ethnographic and situated interactional approach to embodied human communication, I will show how linguistic anthropology has contributed to overcoming reiterations of long standing dichotomies, such as verbal vs. non-verbal, mind vs. body, subjective vs. objective, individual vs. sociocultural, and culture vs. nature.

February 24, 1:30 PM
Hunter West 1242 (Lex and E 69 St)


Translation Poetry Slam
Nuyorican Poets Cafe
236 E 3 St, East Village/Loisada
Sat Nov 7
7-8:30 pm

The battle will play out in an onstage slam, with writers reading from their work in the original language, followed by a translator who reads their interpretation of the text in English. By the end of the night you'll have first-hand experience of how easy it is for words to get lost in translation, and you'll have an all-new appreciation for the unsung heroes of literature - the translators!

Full details at:


The New School presents "Noam Chomsky: On Power and Ideology"

Chomsky, 86, will give a talk relating to the persistent and largely invariant features of U.S. foreign policy — in the words of U.S. planners, “the overall framework of order” — and its intimate relationship with U.S. domestic policy..

Saturday Sept 19 at 7 pm
The New School's John L. Tishman Auditorium, University Center, 63 Fifth Ave
Free event
Further info at: e eventre-registration:


The Albertine Bookstore and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy present "A Conversation with Francois Grosjean"

Dr. Grosjean is a world renowned psycholinguist and specialist on bilingualism. Born in Paris, this prominent scholar became bilingual himself when he was sent to an English boarding school in Switzerland at the age of eight and then moved to the United Kingdom when he was 14. He has published eight books (including the seminal Life with Two Languages) and runs a very successful blog Life as a bilingual on Psychology Today.

Friday May 1 (4-8 pm) and Saturday May 2 (10 am-4 pm)
Albertine Bookstore
972 Fifth Avenue
In English. Free and open to the public. No RSVP necessary.


HULLS 5 Hunter Undergraduate Linguistics and Language Studies Conference

Keynote speakers: Dr. Angela Reyes and Dr. Daniel Harris of Hunter College.

Friday May 1 (4-8 pm) and Saturday May 2 (10 am-4 pm)
Hunter West in the small cafeteria
Lexington and 68th Street, New York


The Ph.D. Program in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences presents Student Research Day.

Invited speaker: Professor Lorraine K. Obler on "Can One Lose a First Language?" Followed by poster presentations by 23 by students from The Graduate Center, City, Queens, Lehman, Brooklyn, LIU, Pace, Molloy, St John's and more.

Friday March 27
10:00-2:00 PM
The Graduate Center
34th Street and 5th Avenue, New York
free admission


The Endangered Language Alliance, Mano a Mano, and Bowery Arts & Science present poetry in indigenous languages of Mexico.

Come hear poems in Nahuatl, Mixtec, Totonac and other indigenous languages read by native speakers and accompanied by music and translations. Followed by a Q & A sessio.

Sunday June 1st
3:30-5:00 PM
at Bowery Poetry
308 Bowery, New York NY (bet. Bleecker & Houston)
free admission

The Brooklyn College Linguistics Program presents "Skyping with Chomsky."

Tuesday March 18
SUBO - Jefferson-Williams room
Brooklyn College

11:00 to 12:45 - screening and discussion of "Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky," a recently released film
12:45 to 1:15 - free buffet
1:15 to 2:00 - a Skype conversation with Noam Chomsky who will answer questions from the audience

for more information contact

The CUNY Graduate Center's Speech Language-Hearing Sciences Doctoral Program presents The 4th Student Research Poster Day

Friday March 28
Rooms 9204-9206,
365 Fifth Avenue at 34 Street, NY

Guest Speaker
Presidential Professor Richard G. Schwartz: Processing Language with a Cochlear Implant

to attend please RSVP


The Multiple Languages and Ethnic Identity Diversity Project at Brooklyn College presents Professor Illan Stavans of Amherst College in a series of events on "Exploring Multiple Languages and Ethnic Identity."

Illan Stavans is an internationally known, award-winning cultural critic, linguist, translator, public speaker, editor, short-story writer, and TV host, whose best-selling work focuses on language, identity, politics, and history. Born in Mexico in 1961 into a Jewish family with roots in Eastern Europe, he was raised in a multilingual environment. He is best known for his research on English, Spanish, Yiddish, Ladino, and, in particular, Spanglish.

All events take place in the Tanger Auditorium at Brooklyn College Library.

Monday, March 31
12:50-2:05 PM - Prof. Ilan Stavans on "Linguistic Diversity: A Socio-linguistic Perspective"
4-5:45 PM - Prof. Ilan Stavans looks at the nature of cultural diversity, its benefits and its dangers for cultural minorities in "What Melting Pot? Multi-culturalism and American Jews: Oy, Are We a Pluribus?"

Tuesday, April 1
11 AM to 12 Noon - Modern Languages Prof. William Childers and Prof. Ilan Stavans discuss contemporary American Spanglish, Don Quixote, and Spanish in "Tweeting at Windmills: Cervantes and Don Quixote in the 21st Century"

Thursday, April 24
12:30 to 2 PM - A session on "Using Jewish Languages: Women and Other Jews" with Prof. Zelda Kahan Newman of Lehman College ("Hasidic Yiddish and What We Can Learn From It"), Prof. Alana Fader of Fordham University) ("Bi-lingualism among Bobover Hasidic Girls"), and Prof. Jane Mushabac of New York City Technical College ("A Turkish Jew's Tale: 'Pasha'")

A Symposium on Haitian Creole Language and Culture
Bronx Community College, CUNY
2155 University Avenue, Bronx, NY 10453

Saturday, October 26, 2013
9 am to 4 pm

Linguistic Rights of Haitian Creole Speakers: Perspectives and Challenges for the 21st Century

Speakers include noted sociolinguists Michel DeGraff, MITand Arthur Spears, CUNY Graduate Center, among others.

Special Art & Cultural Activities for Children
Bazaar of Books, Arts & Crafts
Performances by Kongo and La Troupe Makandal

Please register at:
Certificate of participation will be awarded to all attendees.


The Syntax Supper Series sponsored by the Linguistics Program at the CUNY Graduate Center presents Jonathan Nissenbaum (topic TBA):

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
6:30-8:30 pm
Room 7102
34 St and 5th Ave, Manhattan

The YIVO Institute at the Center for Jewish History presents Isabelle Barriere (Brooklyn College) and Sarah Bunin Benor (Hebrew Union College) who will speak on: Creating Identity: Yiddish Across a Spectrum of Jewish Communities Today

Monday, October 14, 2013
7 pm Receptions will precede and follow the lecture. The first reception will begin at 5:30pm.
15 West 16th Street - NYC
Free admission, but RSVP required: or 212 294 6140

Today, there are approximately half a million Yiddish speakers in the United States. But what role does it play in speakers' lives? How is Yiddish used by Jewish communities today? Isabelle Barrière and Sarah Bunin Benor will discuss the ways in which Hasidim, Modern Orthodox, and liberal Jews use Yiddish both to create a common identity and to establish difference between themselves, non-Jewish society and other Jewish communities.


The Wolfe Institute of Brooklyn College presents a faculty panel discussion with Professors Bayoumi, Patkowski, Perez Rosario, and Viscusi: A Brief Wondrous Discussion of Junot Diaz's The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Language, Fukú, and the Dominican Diaspora.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
12:30 to 2:00 p.m. Reception to Follow.
Jefferson Williams, 4th floor in SUBO

Moustafa Bayoumi is a specialist in post-colonial literature and literary theory whose interests encompass literature, music, history, architecture, and politics; Mark Patkowski is director of the Linguistics Program specializes in applied linguistics and second language acquisition; Vanessa Perez Rosario teaches in the Puerto Rican and Latino Studies department. Her areas of
interest include Latino/as and education, bilingualism, U.S. Latino literature, and Caribbean literature; Robert Viscusi is executive officer of the Wolfe Institute for the Humanities and president of the Italian American Writers Association; he has published critical studies as well as novels and poetry.

The Endangered Language Alliance presents Unheard Of! - live readings of poetry and oral literature both traditional and modern by native speakers with simultaneous projections of texts and translations.

Join them on Sept 29th from 1:00-3:00 pm at Bowery Poetry for the first installment featuring poetry and stories from five local languages of Indonesia as presented by native speakers:
Ngaju Dayak (Kalimantan)
Tontemboan (North Sulawesi)
Betawi (Jakarta)
Aceh (North Sumatra)
Bugis (South Sulawesi)
Purchase tickets ($10) now at:

The Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States (LACUS) is holding its annual conference (LACUS 40) at Brooklyn College this summer.

More than 50 papers will be presented, including the following:

Leszek Berezowski (Invited Speaker)
Professor of English, Wroclaw University, Poland.
Topic: How to View Things with the Indefinite Article

Henryk Kardela (Invited Speaker)
Professor of Linguistics, Maria Curie-Skodowska University, Lublin, Poland.
Topic: Karl Bühler's Semiotic Legacy: Viewpoint in Focus

Robert Vago (Keynote Speaker)
Chair of the Department of Linguistics and Communication Disorders,
Queens College of the City University of New York, Queens, New York, U.S.A.
Topic: Stratal Optimality Theory: A Case Study of Hungarian Inflections

The Local Host and Program Committee Chair is Brooklyn College Linguistics Professor Renison Gonsalves, who also organized a panel on How to Build an Undergraduate Program in Linguistics. The panel participants include BC Linguistics Profs. Barriere, Nissenbaum, and Patkowski, as well as two students, Stacey DeAraujo and James Green, both Officers of the BC Linguistics Club.

The full schedule of events is available online at


The Hunter Undergraduate Linguistics Association (HULA) presents the Third Annual Hunter Undergraduate Linguistics and Language Studies Conference (HULLS 3)

9:00am - 5:00 pm on May 4, 2013
Hunter College, West Building, 3rd fl
68 Street and Lexington Ave.

Sixteen undergraduate speakers from all over the country will share their original research in linguistics: topics range from Pitch and the Perception of Sexual Orientation to Where Have All the Fronted Fathers Gone? Investigating Eastern New England Dialect Changes in Central Maine.

Registration is free! To cover catered breakfast, coffee, lunch, and snacks we suggest a $5.00 donation from students, and $10.00 from all others.


The New York State Association for Bilingual Education (NYSABE), in collaboration with The City College of New York-CUNY, present:

5:00-7:00 p.m. on April 8, 2013
The City College of New York
NAC Building, Room 4/220 B
160 Convent Ave

A Book Panel for "Bilingual Community Education and Multilingualism:Beyond Heritage Languages in a Global City"(Multilingual Matters, 2012), featuring Co-Editors Zeena Zakharia (UMass, Boston) and Bahar Otcu (Mercy College). This event will highlight diverse language and community programs that foster multilingualism across NYC outside of traditional school structures. Participation is free and open to all.


The CUNY Graduate Center presents a conference on "Perception, motor control, and learning: Theory and experiment in bird song."

9:15 am to 4:00 pm on Friday, 15 February 2012
Science Center (Room 4102)
365 Fifth Ave at 34th St.

How do we make sense of complex, dynamic signals? How do we generate intricate sequences of motor actions? How do our innate abilities and learning combine in shaping the answers to these questions? Progress on these broad issues about how the brain works requires accessible, concrete examples, instances of the general problem where we can pass from general theoretical ideas to system-specific predictions, and confront these predictions with quantitative experiments. In the last decade, there has been an increasing appreciation that song birds provide one such accessible example. In this symposium, we will hear from three pairs of theory/experiment collaborators who have taken different approaches to this system, and have made surprising progress on questions that reach across orders of magnitude in time, from milliseconds (in the mechanics of song production) to seconds (in the syntax of song) to weeks (in learning).

Further information available from


The Urban Education program at the CUNY Graduate Center presents internationally renowned sociolinguist Bernard Spolsky on "Migration and language management: The Jewish experience."

3:00 pm on Tuesday 5 February
CUNY Graduate Center, Room 8402
365 Fifth Ave at 34th St.


The CUNY Psycholinguistics supper meeting presents Ann Senghas (Psychology Dept, Barnard College of Columbia) on "Language acquisition as selection in the emergence of Nicaraguan Sign Language."

Tuesday December 12th
6:30 to 8:00 pm on Tuesday 12 December
CUNY Graduate Center, Rm 7102 (7th Floor),
365 Fifth Ave at 34th St.

How do new linguistic elements emerge? How are they changed from the prelinguistic raw materials of their origin? To document the earliest stages of language emergence, we consider the case of Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL). Because NSL arose only 30 years ago, members of different age cohorts today represent a living "fossil record" of the language. I will present examples from a few current studies in progress, including spatial grammar, indexing, and nonmanual gestures. As gestures were coordinated to serve communication needs, linguistic forms and functions were being reshaped, from the time they arose. The patterns of emergence suggest that the emergence of language structure is not a cumulative process, but rather entails proliferation, selection, and reanalysis of forms. Over generations, language is shaped by the process of acquisition. This process is unidirectional and yields increasing complexity over iterations.


THE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY presents "Book Talk: Bilingual Community Education and Multilingualism: beyond Heritage Languages in a Global City" (Eds., O. Garcia, Z. Zakharia, & B. Otcu).

Room 306 Russell Hall
West 120th Street and Broadway
Tuesday 4 December 2012

The book describes the educational contexts of various linguistic communities in NYC, including speakers of Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi,Japanese , Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Native Mexican Languages, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Sub-Saharan African languages, Urdu, and Yiddish. Authors will give presentations, including our own Professor Isabelle Barriere and her doctoral student Marie-Michelle Monereau who will be discussing " Trilingualism of the Haitian Diaspora in NYC: Current and Future Challenges".

For more information about the book, see:


THE INTERNATIONAL LINGUISTIC ASSOCIATION (ILA) presents Ana Celia Zentella from UC San Diego on: "Patrolling Languages and Identities on the US-Mexico Border."

11:00-12:00 on Saturday, October 6, 2012
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Room: L2.82
524 West 59th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019

Despite their envied bilingual and bicultural capital, college students who have spent years living and studying in both San Diego and Tijuana (transfronterizos), struggle with conflicting constructions of language and identity that are the result of rigid national and language borders. In particular, intra-sentential code switching, or Spanglish, is frowned upon, because that way of speaking is identified with el hablar mocho de los pochos ['chopped up Mexican American speech']. Transfronterizo attempts to distinguish themselves from monolinguals on both sides of the border suggest the creation of a "Migra Bilingüe", or language border patrollers, akin to the federal agents who track the undocumented. The hierarchy of authenticity that results among Mexicano-Americanos in an era of heightened English-only fervor parallels the Boricua-Nuyorican pattern in several significant ways.



Friday, May 11, 9:30am-5pm, rooms C201/C202 on the Concourse Level
The Graduate Center, 34th Street and 5th Avenue

Papers include: Class, Education, English Skills and Spanish Confidence as Predictors of Borrowing Among Latin American Immigrants in New York by Rachel Varra and
Building Bridges to Academic Success for Emergent Bilinguals by Elaine Klein

The full program is available on the RISLUS website:

THE CUNY GC LINGUISTICS COLLOQUIUM presents Jennifer Smith on: "'I ø na like the fairies': Community grammars and the acquisition of negation in a Scottish dialect."

Thursday, March 29th, 4:15pm-6pm, Room 6417
The Graduate Center, 34th Street and 5th Avenue

Research over the past two decades in sociolinguistics has demonstrated that complex patterns of variation evident in adult speech are acquired by children from the very earliest stages of language development. In this paper, we analyze negation in 29 preschool children (aged 2;10-4;2) in interaction with their primary caregivers in a rural community in north east Scotland, as in:
1a. I don't want want to read that…
1b. I do na like that story…
1c. I ø na want to go to bed when I'm having my story (Lois aged 3;2)

1a and 1b demonstrate a classic alternation between standard and local form. 1c on the other hand, looks like a form arising from the developmental stages in the acquisition of negation. Analysis of over 1200 contexts in the caregiver/child data reveal the following patterns. First, the children have high rates of (1a), a form almost absent in the adult data. We explain these results in the context of stigmatised forms in caregiverese. Second, the children have much lower rates of do absence (1c) when compared to adult norms. However, despite these differences in rates of use, the categorical constraints on 3rd person singular found in the adult data are mirrored in the child data: the children never have do absence in this context. In contrast, the fully variable contexts show no statistically significant effects in the child data, suggesting that these patterns of use have yet to be acquired.

We appeal to both universal grammar and more usage-based accounts to interpret these results and discuss the ramifications of these findings for theories of language acquisition in the context of variable community grammars.

Wine and cheese reception to follow lecture.



There will be posters by undergraduate students working on different projects, from various CUNY and other NY colleges.

The guest speaker is Professor Barriere, who will be giving a presentation on "Language Acquisition in a Diverse World: Progress and Challenges"; the paper will focus on the intersection of morphology and syntax.

Friday March 23rd 11.30-3pm, room 4201, (snacks served)
The Graduate Center, 34th Street and 5th Avenue


THE "WORKSHOP ON MEANING: LANGUAGE AND SOCIO-CULTURAL PROCESSES" SERIES AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY presents: "Computational Linguistics Analysis of Charismatic Speech:Cross-Cultural and Political Perspectives" by Julia Hirschberg, Professor, Computer Science Department, Columbia University.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
12:15 - 2:15 p.m.
Columbia University, International Affairs Building - Room 801
420 West 118th Street, New York, NY

RSVP with Carmen Morillo at
(light refreshments will be served)

To view a Powerpoint of an earlier stage of this research, visit:
and click on "Charisma in English and Arabic Political Speech", 2007

Sponsored By: ISERP, Columbia Linguistics Society, and Columbia Center for Computational Learning Systems


THE BOWERY POETRY CLUB presents: "Speak for Yourself: An Endangered Language Alliance Party" (Music, Dance, Poetry, Food, Drink)

Saturday, February 11th at 6pm
308 Bowery (bet. Bleecker and Houston)
NY, NY 10012
(entrance on a sliding scale)

A trio of poet, professor, and field linguist have combined forces in the heart of New York City to document, support, and protect one of the most precious stores of cultural, scientific, and creative human knowledge: living languages. The Endangered Language Alliance (ELA, pronounced ay-la) is a new organization whose goal is "is to further the documentation, description, maintenance, and revitalization of threatened and endangered languages, and to educate the public about the causes and consequences of language extinction." In a small office on West 18th Street known as the Urban Fieldstation, endangered languages are being spoken, recorded, and translated before they possibly recede further into the margins.
More about the Endangered Language Alliance at:


Prof. Kate Menken, Queens College, on "Why Are We Losing Bilingual Education Programs in New York City Schools?: Factors in School Administrators' Language Education Policy Decisions"

Saturday, December 10th at 11:00 am
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Conference Room, Department of English (7th Floor)
619 W 54th St, Manhattan

Although educational policies for emergent bilinguals in New York City schools have historically favored the provision of bilingual education over other educational program models, the past decade has borne witness to a dramatic loss of bilingual education programs in city schools. The greatest loss has been to transitional bilingual programs, which in the past had always been the predominant model for bilingual education in city schools. This study examines the factors that determine language education policies adopted by school principals, through qualitative research in New York City schools that have eliminated their bilingual education programs in recent years and replaced them with English as a Second Language programs. Our findings show how school administrators, and particularly principals, negotiate a wide range of often competing demands to ultimately adopt English-only instruction in their schools, even though most have little to no formal preparation in educating emergent bilinguals. Unlike states like California and Arizona, which have explicit anti-bilingual education language policies restricting the use of students' home languages in instruction, restrictive policies in New York are primarily implicit; that said, the data from New York shows how implicit policies are also powerful agents in effecting language change.



Tuesday, October 18th at 7 pm
The Book Culture bookstore on 2915 Broadway at 114th Street, near Columbia University (take the #1 train to 116th St)
646-403-3000; broadway@bookculture

Why do men and women talk so differently? And how do these differences interfere with communication between the sexes? In search of an answer to these and other questions, John Locke takes the reader on a fascinating journey, from human evolution through ancient history to the present, revealing why men speak as they do when attempting to impress or seduce women, and why women adopt a very different way of talking when bonding with each other, or discussing rivals. When men talk to men, Locke argues, they frequently engage in a type of 'dueling', locking verbal horns with their rivals in a way that enables them to compete for the things they need, mainly status and sex. By contrast, much of women's talk sounds more like a verbal 'duet', a harmonious way of achieving their goals by sharing intimate thoughts and feelings in private.

John L. Locke is Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at Lehman College and Professor of Language Science at the CUNY Graduate Center.



May 7, 2011, 9:30 am to 5:15 pm
8th Floor Faculty Dining Room, West Building
Hunter College, 68th Street and Lexington

Several students from the Linguistics Program at Brooklyn College are presenting papers, including:

Ingrid Feeney, Maja Leonardsen Musum (Film Production), and Agnieszka Stypulkowska (Anthropology): "Disco Sticks" and Catcher's Mitts": Gender and Terms for the Genitals among New Yorkers
Victoria Wagnerman: The Formulaic Language Proficiency of Well Educated Non-Native English Speakers
Roy Wells: Common Problems between Japanese and English

Keynotes by Douglas Bigham, San Diego State University ("The Role of Sexuality in the Construction of Gender") and Ben Zimmer, Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus ("The New Rap Language: The Emergence of the Hip-Hop Lexis").



How Possibly Language Evolved
Pete Richerson
Friday April 15, 2011, 12:15-1:45pm, 1141 Ingersoll Hall

Human language is an important part of the cultural adaptation that makes humans an exceedingly successful species. Evolutionary scholars agree that the coevolution between genes and culture has been importance in shaping language, but disagree on the relative roles of these two factors. Why do only humans have language, given that it appears so useful? A plausible answer is that language is part of human cooperation. Why do we have so many languages? A plausible answer is that language diversity functions to limit communication
between people who cannot freely trust one another or where even truthful communications from others would result in maladaptive behavior on the part of listeners.

Refreshments will be provided; Space is limited, please reserve by email to


THE RISLUS (Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society) REPORTS SERIES PRESENTS:

Drs. Arthur Spears and Carole Berotte Joseph, co-editors of the book, The Haitian Creole Language: History, Structure, Use, and Education, in a discussion on "Haitian Creole and Education."

Friday 1 April at 4:15pm, room: 540
The CUNY Graduate Center, 34th Street and Fifth Avenue

Haiti has been much in the news since the earthquake of 2010. Many of the first responders and other parties have now turned their attention in a more focused way to questions of long term, sustained development, which will never gain traction without a sound and fully implemented language in education policy.

Although the Bernard Reform of education in 1987 put Haitian public education on the right track toward inclusion for the great majority of school children in Haiti, who speak no French, the reform has been poorly implemented and remains without unambiguous support from the government and decision-making bodies within Haiti. In the U.S., Haitian Creole-dominant or -monolingual pupils have had their efforts toward literacy thwarted by poor educational language policy and, more recently, the retrenchment of the few programs that existed during the last decades.

Placing Haitian within its sociocultural context and framing remarks in reference to the currently resurgent language and poverty debate, this discussion will review issues, problems, and potential solutions related to Haitian Creole and education.



Wednesday, March 9 at 4pm in 5117 James Hall.

Dr. Diana Van Lancker Sidtis, Professor in the Dept of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at NYU, and Research Scientist at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research

Neurological Perspectives on Formulaic Language

The importance of formulaic language, including speech formulas, pause fillers, proverbs, idioms, expletives, and other unitary expressions known to the native speaker, is now recognized by many branches of the language sciences. Observation of clinical adult subjects with severe aphasia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease lead to a profile of cerebral function underlying processing of novel and formulaic language known as the dual processing model of normal language. The proposal asserts that whereby the left cerebral hemisphere modulates newly created language, formulaic language is highly dependent on a right hemisphere/subcortical circuit. This model predicts that brain damage differentially affects novel and formulaic language competence. The model thus has important implications for evaluation and treatment of communicative disorders following cerebral dysfunction of various origins.



on: Problems of Projection

From its modern origins, generative grammar has been concerned with several fundamental features of language: compositionality, non-contiguous relations (including primarily displacement), ordering, and projection. Over time it was found that compositionality and displacement could be unified under the simplest computational operation (Merge), and that other non-contiguous relations might fall under a general principle of minimal search. On conceptual grounds, one might expect ordering to be a reflex of the sensory-motor system, hence to fall under the externalization of language, though there are empirical arguments to the contrary. That leaves projection, which differs from the others in that it is not virtually a description of the observed facts but is theory-internal. There have been various approaches to projection, from sheer stipulation in phrase structure grammar, to X-bar theory and its descendants, to labeling algorithms.
There are other closely related issues, among them the status of specifiers and factors that enter into movement. The optimal approach would be to reduce labeling to minimal search as a necessary part of the computational system itself. That is the possibility I will explore, along with consequences to which it leads and problems to which it gives rise.


Thursday, February 17th, 4pm-6pm
The Auditorium, Concourse Level
The CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue, New York



Wednesday, February 2nd at 4pm in 5117 James Hall.

Isabelle Barrière, PhD, Communication Arts & Sciences, Brooklyn College

The Nature of Early Linguistic Representations: Evidence from the Acquisition of Subject-Verb Agreement by French-Learning Toddlers

The aim of this study is to contribute to the current debate on the nature of early linguistic representations that has given rise to three different hypotheses:
1. According to the lexicalist or constructivist approach, toddlers are sensitive to specific combinations of lexical items that they frequently hear and the first constructions that they represent reflect frequent associations between specific words and morphemes (e.g. play-ing, swim-s) and they do not possess the abilities to generalize their representations to unfamiliar lexical items;
2. According to the emergentist approach there is a causal (and not only a temporal) relation between lexical and grammatical development that has been attested in a few studies that focus on language production;
3. In contrast, the generative approach assigns a lesser role to the input and proposes that lexical development and grammatical development are independent from each other. Instead hypotheses based on this approach underscore the importance of young children's capacities to form abstract grammatical representations that do not systematically reflect frequencies in the input and that apply to lexical categories (e.g. Nouns, Verbs etc) and not only to familiar lexical items.
The present study tests these hypotheses by focusing on the acquisition of subject-verb agreement- a linguistic principle that exists in many of the world languages. Innovative aspects of the study include a combination of research strategies:
a) The Head Turn Preferential Paradigm and the Intermodal Preferential Paradigm that collect data on young children's preference for and comprehension of constructions that involve the marking of subject- verb agreement;
b) The collection of parental questionnaires on children's lexical and grammatical development (both comprehension and production);
c) The use of dynamic visual stimuli (in the IPLP task) and verbal stimuli that involve verbs that display irregular morphological paradigms and real and pseudo-verbs (in both the Preference and Comprehension tasks).
Experimental data have been collected on more than 100 children between 14 and 30 months.
The specific verbs and the constructions used in the experimental tasks were also the focus of detailed quantitative analyses of the input to which French-learning toddlers are exposed. The analyses of five large corpora that contain 54,000 utterances led to a precise characterization of the input.
The results reveal extremely early preference for grammatical constructions; earlier comprehension of subject verb agreement than studies published on English, Spanish and Xhosa, that generalizes to pseudo-verbs; a weak link between lexical development and performance on the grammatical experimental task; the fact that the results on the experimental tasks do not directly reflect input frequencies.
The results are more compatible with hypotheses that assign grammatical representations to young children that are not tied to their lexical development and to the quantitative properties of the input and enable them to apply them to unfamiliar lexical items, i.e. generative hypotheses rather than lexicalist/constructivist or emergentist hypotheses. Follow-up studies on French and other languages to better understand the principles that underpin the acquisition of subject verb agreement in particular- and grammar in general- will also be discussed.

This study has benefitted from the support of a National Science Foundation grant BCS # 0446954



L. L. Zamenhof, born just over 150 years ago, published the first book on Esperanto in 1887 in Warsaw, and attended a World Congress of Esperanto in Washington exactly 100 years ago. In 1924, Tivadar Soros, father of Paul and George Soros, published his memoir of escape from a Siberian prisoner-of-war camp.
He wrote it in Esperanto.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010: 2:30-5:00 p.m.
The Church Center, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017 (2nd floor)
Entrance on 44th Street between First and Second Avenue
(across the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel)

Free but please RSVP by December 10, 2010 at 212-687-7041 or



Wednesday, Oct 20th at 4pm in 5117 James Hall.

Arthur S. Reber, former Broeklundian Professor Emeritus of Psychology, will present "An Epitaph for Grammar" with the following Abstract:

The study of linguistics and the psychology of language have been dominated for the past forty years by a theoretical vision derived from the theories of Noam Chomsky. This approach is based on a set of presumptions about the formal properties of languages, the process of language acquisition, a particular vision of evolutionary biology, the underlying biological substrates that mediate language and the manner in which linguistic functions interact with other cognitive operations - All of these are wrong. Not just wrong like some messed up sum, but wrong in fundamental ways. I'll explain why.

Dr. Reber has had a long and distinguished career as a cognitive psychologist, renowned for his work in the domains of consciousness, implicit learning, and language. He has published numerous articles and chapters, along with books such as The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology, now in it's 4th edition, and Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge: An Essay on the Cognitive Unconscious.



Wednesday, Oct 13th at 4pm in 5117 James Hall.

Dr. Alex Kranjec presents "Space, Language and Thought" with the following outline:

I will present behavioral data (from RT and decision making tasks) and neural data (lesion and fMRI) speaking to three main ideas:

1. Language may subtly influence perception
2. Spatial representations structure thought in other domains
3. Spatial relations are represented in multiple formats

I may also outline a plan of research to test several claims made by sensorimotor simulation accounts (i.e., "embodiment") for the representation of abstract concepts like time.

Dr. Kranjec is an alumnus of CUNY's Graduate Center and did his doctoral work with Prof. Laraine McDonough at Brooklyn College, which houses the PhD sub-program in Cognition, Brain, and Behavior. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Dept of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania.


Co-Sponsored by the Department of English
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 11 am at John Jay College of Criminal Justice Conference Room, Department of English (7th Floor) 619 West 54th Street (between 11th and 12th Avenues) New York, NY 10019.

Lawrence M. Solan, Brooklyn Law School
Don Forchelli Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Construing Laws: Language or Intent?

Courts are routinely faced with the problem of having to decide whether a law applies in a particular set of circumstances. The decisions become precedent for later cases in common law systems, like those used in the United Kingdom and the United States, but the basic problem is the same across borders and across legal cultures. When close questions arise, it is not always easy to decide how much attention to pay to the language of the law, and how much attention to pay to the intent of the legislature and the overall purpose of the law. Here, legal systems do not all take the same position either.

I will argue in this presentation that whether they acknowledge it or not, courts necessarily focus on the intent of the legislature. Language can be nothing other than evidence of communicative intent, so those courts that believe they are focusing on language are actually focusing on intent. By the same token, those courts that believe they are taking the purpose of the statute more seriously than they are taking the language find themselves routinely using language as the best proxy for the purpose of the law. Thus, wherever one begins the analysis, one ends up being an intentionalist who also cares a great deal about language.

Q & A to follow talk. All are welcome



Interdependent Diversities: The Relationship between Language, Culture, and Ecology
Friday, September 24 (6 – 8 pm)
Saturday, September 25 (10 am – 5 pm)

Each language is a unique key to a community’s world view and culture and plays a central role in transmitting historically-developed knowledge about specific, biologically-diverse environments. There is an increasing awareness and recognition of linguistic, cultural, and biodiversity as inter-related and mutually supporting aspects of the diversity of life. As such, the crises affecting these aspects—from biological extinction to disappearing languages—appear to converge and even drive each other on. Understanding the integrated nature of these crises is essential to working towards solutions.

As part of the UN-declared International Year of Biodiversity, on Friday and Saturday, September 24th and 25th, 2010, Trace Foundation will convene the fifth lecture in its lecture series Minority Languages in Today’s Global Society. In this event, we will examine the relationship between linguistic, cultural, and biological diversity from the perspectives of traditional land use, livelihoods, and medical knowledge.

To register, please download the registration form here and fax or email it to us. You may also call or email us with your name, contact email, telephone, affiliation, and mailing address. Contact:, tel: 212-367-7380 fax: 212-367-7383.

Trace Foundation/Latse Library
132 Perry Street, Suite 2B
New York, NY 10014



Prof. Elana Shohamy speaks on "Testing and Language Minority Students" on Monday, September 13, 4:15 to 6:00PM in Room C203/204/205 at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue (between 34 and 35 St.)

Elana Shohamy is Professor of Language Education in the School of Education at Tel Aviv University (Israel). She is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Power of Tests (2001), Language Policy: Hidden Agendas and New Approaches (2006), Linguistic Landscape in the City (2010), and Language Testing and Assessment (2010). She co-edits the Language Policy book series and the Language Policy journal (Springer). Shohamy was the 2010 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Language Testing Association.