Welcome Dunstan Brown

The morphological systems group is excited to be hosting Dunstan Brown, from University of York, for a two month visit to OSU. He is here to work with Andrea on a project modeling Greek nominal stress in DATR, and to talk all things defectiveness. (Check out his and Neil Bermel‘s “Feast and Famine” grant project on defectiveness and overbaundance!) And it is a great opportunity for our local community of morphologists to talk with Dunstan about his/their research: morphology and its interface to syntax, computational linguistics, Slavic languages, Network Morphology, Canonical Typology, inflectional complexity — so many points of shared interest!

Dunstan will be giving a colloquium talk in the department on October 29.

Welcome, Dunstan!

Welcome Maria Copot

We’re excited to be hosting Maria Copot for a three month visit to OSU Linguistics! Maria is a PhD student from the Laboratoire de linguistique formelle at Université de Paris, working in the area of quantitative and experimental morphology. She’s here to develop collaborations, share her research, and learn about the research happening locally. Welcome, Maria!

Morphological Systems Group organizes AIMM5


Screenshot of AIMM5 GatherTown spaceScreenshot of AIMM5 poster session in GatherTown

We got to welcome more than 160 morphologists from around the world to OSU (virtually) for the 5th American International Morphology Meeting (AIMM5) last weekend. It was four busy but exciting days of stimulating talks and interesting discussion. (Check out this picture of one of the poster sessions that took place in Gather.Town!) We hope that everyone enjoyed the conference. We certainly did!

It was also an opportunity to show off some of the morphological research happening here at OSU. The program included five presentations from our group:

  • Martha Booker Johnson and Andrea D. Sims, “Using word vectors to investigate semantic transparency cross-linguistically”
  • Kyle Maycock and Andrea D. Sims, “Albanian second-position clitics as edge inflection: Evidence from cumulative exponence in the noun phrase”
  • Connor Rouillier, “The effect of event structure on subject-verb agreement in Najdi Arabic”
  • Noah Diewald, “Wao Terero lexical suffixes: Realization at the lexical semantic-discourse interface”
  • Micha Elsner and Andrea D. Sims, “Analogical modeling of morphology for L1 effects in language contact”

There were also presentations from OSU “friends of the morphology lab” Brian Joseph, Shuan Karim, and John Grinstead (with colleagues).

We look forward to AIMM6, to be held at the University of California, San Diego in 2023!

AIMM5 program

The program for the 5th American International Morphology Meeting (August 26-29, 2021) is now available. Check it out on the conference website. The program features invited keynote talks by Dunstan Brown (University of York), Gabriela Caballero (University of California, San Diego), Laura Kalin (Princeton University), and Ryan Lepic (Gallaudet University), as well as 36 regular talks and 24 posters.

Student grant and fellowship awards

Morphology group members have been racking up grants and fellowships this month!

Noah Diewald was awarded a Jacobs Research Fund grant and also a grant from the Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research for his dissertation work on Wao Terero (Ecuador) classifiers systems. He also received a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship from the University of Wisconsin for study of Kichwa (Ecuador).

Connor Rouillier was awarded a Summer Graduate Research Award from the Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences at OSU. He will be mentored by Nikole Patson on his project Delimiting the Boundary between Object File Representation and Ensemble Representation of Plural Objects and Its Interaction with Morphological Form, part of his larger project on individuation as a morphosemantic properties of dialectal Arabic nouns and verbs.

Kyle Maycock defends B.A. thesis

Congratulations to Kyle Maycock, who successfully defended his B.A. thesis, A Formal Analysis of Inflectional Marking in the Albanian Noun Phrase! It is exciting stuff that he hopes to present at the upcoming American International Morphology Meeting.

Thesis abstract: The Albanian noun phrase marks four morphosyntactic properties: number, gender, case, and definiteness. Every lexical word in the phrase mark number and gender, but only the first lexical word in the phrase—either a noun or an adjective—marks case and definiteness. Number and gender are straightforwardly morphological, but the placement of case and definiteness is dependent upon the syntax. In this way, this exponent is a clitic. The Albanian clitic is especially informative about the morphology-syntax interface because of its “special” (Zwicky 1977) placement after the first lexical word, or second position (2P), and its cumulative exponence. There are many models of 2P clitic placement that treat 2P clitics as phrasal affixes, notably Halpern (1995) and Anderson (2005), but the Albanian clitic’s cumulative exponence poses a problem for these models due to its noncanonical nature. In this thesis, I develop an analysis of the clitic using Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (Pollard and Sag 1994) that accounts for the clitic as edge inflection, rather than treating it as phrasal affixation. The clitic’s cumulative exponence results in two paradigms for lexemes depending on their location within the phrase; when the word is in first position, it marks a larger set of properties than when it is in subsequent positions. This poses a problem to morphology, as it suggests morphology is privy to syntactic placement. In this thesis, I develop an analysis using Paradigm Function Morphology that allows morphology to remain blind to phrasal position.

Grace LeFevre defends B.A. thesis

Congratulations to Grace LeFevre, who successfully defended her honors B.A. thesis, Quantifying Paradigm Shape in Spanish Verbs! The thesis was co-advised by Micha Elsner and Andrea Sims. A paper based on the thesis has already been published in the 4th Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics.

Abstract: This thesis computationally models “paradigm shape,” a type of morphological structure that I define by the implicative relations holding among the forms in an inflectional system. Since implicative structure binds the forms in an inflectional system together (Wurzel, 1989), paradigm shape reflects the predictable ways that allomorphs occur in parallel paradigm cells across inflection classes in some languages. Maiden (2005)’s analysis of how certain Romance verbs changed over time in order to conform to existing paradigm shapes highlights the significance of this structure as a historical and cognitive organizing principle. However, paradigm shape has not been computationally formalized in a gradient or replicable way. Using information-theoretic entropy as defined by Shannon (1948), I develop a method to quantify paradigm shape and I apply it to Spanish verbs as a test case. The method bridges the gap between formal work on the organization of the stem space (e.g. Maiden, 2005; Boye and Cabredo Hofherr, 2006) and computational work on quantifying predictability in inflectional systems (e.g. Ackerman and Malouf, 2013; Stump and Finkel, 2015). In doing so, it jointly models the distributions of stems and affixes to compute sets of values that characterize the shapes of Spanish verb classes. Comparison of these values across classes captures partial parallelism between them, enabling identification of both allomorphic and distributional class structures (Baerman et al., 2017). These results with Spanish verbs highlight that my method provides a computational means of capturing multiple aspects of inflection class structure in a way that is replicable and extendable to other languages. Potential directions for future work include testing the limits of the method’s usefulness on known morphologically difficult systems and applying the method to other Romance languages at various stages of historical development.


We’re excited to announce the 5th American International Morphology Meeting, which will be hosted virtually by OSU Linguistics, August 26th-29th. Check out the details on the conference website.