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Fall 2020 Reading Groups

Dates & Times to be announced shortly
September 8, 2020
  • Computational Linguistics Reading Group (CLRG) meets to read and discuss current research in Computational Linguistics and Natural Language Processing and to occasionally get hands on experience with the latest NLP tools and libraries.  Many semesters the group explores a specific topic in depth. This fall we plan to continue our exploration of deep neural networks, focusing on word embeddings, particularly contextualized word embeddings, such as BERT, and their applications. 


  • Fieldwork Reading Group: Linguists scientifically study human language data, and as is the case with any science, the quality of the data is extremely important for accurate results. In the Fieldwork Reading Group, we will study both strategies in collecting robust natural language data through fieldwork as well as research in methodology and theory for analysing and processing collected data. There are many hats a fieldworker needs to don, and there are several components to a successful fieldwork experience (connecting and working with consultants, formulating a wide array of tasks specifically suited to the type of desired data, using multimedia data collection techniques, administering tasks correctly, interpreting the data, running robust follow-up sessions for quality control, storing and managing the data, proper use of equipment , etc.). In addition to papers focussed on fieldwork and methodology, we will also tackle theoretical readings, so as to learn the skills of making effective theory-oriented tasks that crucially puts predictions of influential theories to test, thereby making both empirical and theoretical contributions to the field. Beyond reading papers together, students working on projects at any stage that incorporate fieldwork can use this venue to present their work in an informal setting and get feedback on all aspects of methods and theory. This group is meant to facilitate a thriving community of fieldworkers in the Institute of Linguistics, across many different linguistic subfields, language families and research topics. 


  • Linguistics and Social Justice Reading Group: This reading group explores the intersection of linguistics and social justice, with the aim of expanding our understanding of our roles as academics in either perpetuating or dismantling linguistic injustices--and injustices within the field of linguistics. In particular, this semester will focus on the treatment of race and ethnicity in linguistics as a discipline and in the language practices of society at large. We will read papers primarily from the field of sociolinguistics, but will also read about and discuss the interaction of these sociolinguistic concepts with linguistic theory, field work, pedagogy, etc. We will aim to connect these readings directly to our own practices as linguists whenever possible.


  • Syntax and Semantics Reading Group (SRG) has the longest history in the current Institute of Linguistics reading groups. Our group attempts to create an environment for community members who have interests in syntactic and semantic theories.  We read and discuss selected theoretical papers/articles based on our members’ preferences. The main structure of an SRG meeting is to have one (or two) volunteers to lead the discussion of an article to help us navigate effectively. We also serve as a venue for practice talks and student presentations. Here we select some example paper topics that we have read before:


Factivity, Belief, and Discourse (Anand & Hacquard 2014)

Explaining DPs vs. CPs without syntax (Elliott 2016)

A verb raising analysis of the Ojibwe VOS/VSO alternation (Hammerly 2019)

How to Say Ought in Foreign: The Composition of Weak Necessity Modals (von Fintel & Iatridou 2008)

Like/Type, Say, and C (Saito 2017)