Linguistics TALK on campus: Rebecca Cover

Linguistics will shortly be interviewing a candidate for a two-year half-time teaching appointment in the department, starting next year. The candidate’s name is Rebecca Cover (PhD, UC Berkeley), and she works on African languages, language documentation, tense/aspect/mood, and the syntax-semantics interface. If the interview process is successful, Rebecca will join the department for the next two years (2011-12 and 2012-13), during which time she’ll teach 3 courses per year, and potentially advise senior theses. This will increase the number of linguistics faculty at Reed from 3 to 3.5. (Note that this is unrelated to the possible job search for next year. More about that later…)

Rebecca will be at Reed on Monday, February 28th. During her visit, she will have lunch with students and give a talk in the afternoon (4:30-6:00, room TBA). I encourage all of you to come to the talk and/or the lunch so that you can meet her and give the interview committee her feedback.

Here is the title and (tentative) abstract for Rebecca’s talk:

From data to theory and back again: Documentation, description, and Badiaranke aspect

In this talk I argue for the interdependence of good language documentation and description on the one hand, and good linguistic theory on the other, using aspect in Badiaranke (Atlantic, Niger-Congo) as a case study. Throughout, I discuss the methodology used to obtain the data and arrive at an analysis.  I present fieldwork data on the two major aspects in Badiaranke, perfective and imperfective, and argue that mainstream treatments of aspectual semantics fail to account for the Badiaranke data. I propose an alternative account of perfective and imperfective aspect in the language, on which the semantics of Badiaranke aspect is inextricably intertwined with modality. I show that from both an intuitive standpoint and a formal standpoint, this approach explains the surprising patterns in the Badiaranke data. Finally, I consider the ramifications of the data and analysis for both language documentation and linguistic analysis.

Please mark the date in your calendar and come to the talk if you can. Rebecca assures me that it will be accessible for people who have not studied formal semantics.

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