Archive for the ‘Stanford’ Category

respite space / area, area of respite

June 23, 2022

It’s Midsummer Eve, the day before St. John’s Day and Midsummer Night, on which we can dream about reveling with the fairies. High summer, fiercely hot — I’ve been poleaxed by the heat for several days and trying to write this before today’s shimmer fells me once again — and Stanford (the edge of which is, like, six blocks from the Palo Alto house I’m writing this in) is in day 3 of a PG&E power outage crisis (my electric power is supplied by Palo Alto Utilities, which has so far coped with the heat demands and the occasional small fire, though it all seems distressingly tenuous to me).

Stanford has shut down everything it could and told staff and faculty to stay away if at all possible. But there are all those students in university housing, which is without power for cooling, for lighting, for charging electronic equipment, for opening (keycard-controlled) doors. For them, the university has provided places — spaces or areas — that have emergency power sources and can provide temporary relief in the form of cooling, lighting, and charging. What to call such places?

Stanford’s solution was expressions using the noun respiterespite space, respite area, area of respite — which were new turns of phrase for me, though they probably have a history I’m ignorant of. They have the advantage of being general (cooling station, which has been used in other public heat-crisis emergencies, covers only one of the students’ needs), but not so general that it’s uninformative (as, say, emergency area would be), and not, at least yet, associated specifically with the excretion of bodily wastes (as expressions with the nouns rest, comfort, and relief have become). (Not that excretion is irrelevant in a power outage; the lighting supplied in respite areas lets people see what they’re doing in bathrooms / toilets there, and that’s a very good thing. Meanwhile, back at the dark stifling dorms: flashlights.)


The Stanford Dragfest

May 25, 2022

From the Stanford Events Calendar for 5/20: at 7 p.m. on Wilbur Field:

(#1) The poster

The announcement:


An address from the former Adjunct Professor

April 22, 2022

On the Stanford Linguistics weekly newsletter, the Sesquipedalian, this morning (timestamped 7:36 am):

Artifact of the Month: Zwicky’s Linguistics Quilt
In the spirit of reminiscence, this month we bring you former Adjunct Professor Arnold Zwicky’s linguistics-themed quilt, composed of 12 t-shirts from different linguistics events…

(The quilt, and its component parts, can be viewed in my 12/11/19 posting “The linguistics quilt”.)

My Monty-Python-dense response (which the Sesqui might or might not choose to print, but you, my readers, can see it here):


Yo Day 2: OY/YO at Stanford

January 6, 2020

(Continuing the Yo! theme for today, following “King/Saint Melchior”. I note that these postings have absolutely nothing to do with the Star Wars character Yoda.)

From Stanford News, the piece “Saying hello to OY/YO at Cantor Arts Center: Deborah Kass’ bold sculpture welcomes guests from its new home at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center” by Beth Giudicessi on 12/30/19 (mailed out today when the university reopened after the holiday break):

(#1) From the YO viewpoint

Cantor Arts Center hopes its newest sculpture, OY/YO by artist Deborah Kass, acts as an extension of the museum’s new vision to present art and ideas in contemporary and inclusive ways. The piece was installed Dec. 20 and is now on view to the public.


Yo Day 1: King/Saint Melchior

January 6, 2020

The 6th of January, generally known as Epiphany, but this year in my house it’s Yo Day. For the Three Kings (especially Saint Melchior) who came to Bethlehem with their gifts, saying (I translate freely), “Yo, baby Jesus! We got some stuff for you!” For Deborah Kass’ statue OY/YO, a version of which was recently installed on the Stanford campus (as announced in today’s Stanford News). And for two raunchy shots of verse inspired by today’s Daily Jocks ad: the supremely unsubtle “Yo, Faggot!” and “Yo, Fucker!”.

One at a time, one at a time. This one is about the old guy with the gold.


A new address

September 22, 2019

noun address: 1 the particulars of the place where someone lives or an organization is situated: they exchanged addresses and agreed to keep in touch. … (NOAD, with some degree of vagueness)

No, not for me, for my department, and in fact for the whole university. From the Stanford Report on 9/18/19:


Serra Mall will be renamed Jane Stanford Way and become the university’s official address on Oct. 7, honoring the university’s co-founder and implementing a proposal that came out of a review of campus historical names.


On this day in 2019

June 16, 2019

At least seven occasions of significance to me today: three fixed to the date June 16th, plus four movable occasions that happen to take place on this Sunday this year. There will be a section in the middle with seriously raunchy material from gay porn that some will want to avoid; I’ll provide a warning when this stuff is imminent.


Semantics of compounds

May 28, 2019

The semantics of English modifier + head nominal composites — but especially of N + N compounds — is a recurrent topic on this blog; the array of semantic relationships exemplified in the data here is enormous, and might give the impression that things are just chaotic, though I’ve tried to pull out frequent patterns that dominate the data. One way to approach the matter in more nuanced fashion is to search for preferences for certain kinds of interpretations according to the semantics of the component elements.

And now, just appeared, we have “Systematicity in the semantics of noun compounds: The role of artifacts vs. natural kinds” by Beth Levin, Lelia Montague Glass, and Dan Jurafsky, in the De Gruyter journal Linguistics. Published online 5/16/19; I’ve found no volume, issue, and page numbers for the print version, but this is the DOI, and Lelia now reports that a pdf is freely available here. The abstract:


get ’em, stop it, gimme

May 4, 2019

Among the everyday examples of a phenomenon subjected to analysis in an awesome new paper by Joan Bresnan, “On Weak Object Pronouns in English”, which she will present at the Lexical Functional Grammar conference this July in Canberra (LFG2019, 8-10 July, sponsored by the ARC’s [Australian Research Council] Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, program on-line here).

Joan’s paper is a demonstration of what can be done with serious resources — really big databases, serious statistical tools, complex analytic tools — in investigating  very ordinary, but intricately structured, phenomena, and in how you might try to integrate the approaches of usage-based frameworks with those of formal grammar.

For me the paper has a special resonance, because the analysis develops some ideas of mine in a little note from 1986 that appeared only in a working papers volume and has mostly gone unnoticed since then: “The Unaccented Pronoun Constraint in English” (OSU Working Papers in Linguistics 32.100-113, 1986).


Stanford SemFest 20 schedule

February 25, 2019

(with links to abstracts)

For enthusiasts of semantics/pragmatics in all their variety; the public is welcome

All sessions take place in the Barwise Room, CSLI (Panama St. at Campus Dr.)

Friday March 15, 2019

9:00-9:30: Coffee and welcome

9:30-10:00 John Beavers & Andrew Koontz-Garboden, “Two Types of Roots for Internally Caused Change-of-State Verbs”

10:00-10:30 Shiao Wei Tham, “Structural and Contextual Factors in Result Interpretations of Mandarin Locative Compounds”

10:30-11:00 Helena Aparicio, Roger Levy & Elizabeth Coppock, “How to Find the rabbit in the big(ger) box: Reasoning About Contextual Parameters for Gradable Adjectives Under Embedding”

11:00-11:30 BREAK

11:30-12:00 Gregory Scontras, Asya Achimova, Christian Stegemann & Martin Butz, “The Added Informativity of Ambiguous Language”

12:00-12:30 Eric Acton & Heather Burnett, “Markedness, ‘Truth’, and Rationality in Social Meaning Games”

12:30-2:00 LUNCH (and mentoring event w/lunch for grad students and some participants)

2:00-2:30 Arnold Zwicky,“A Natural History of Snowclones”

2:30-3:00 Tatiana Nikitina, “Semantic Maps in a Typologist’s Toolbox: The Challenge of Semi-lexical Networks”

3:00-3:30 BREAK

3:30-4:00 Sunwoo Jeong & James Collins, “Updating Alternatives in Pragmatic Competition”

4:00-4:30 Sebastian Schuster & Judith Degen, “Adaption to Variable Use of Expressions of Uncertainty”

4:30-4:45 BREAK

4:45-5:30 David Beaver, TBA

5:30 Drinks
6:00 Dinner (provided)
7:00-9:00 Party/band

Saturday, March 16, 2019

9:30-10:00 Coffee/breakfast

10:00-10:30 Ashwini Deo, “Identifying the Strongest True Alternative: Marathi =c and its Counterparts”

10:30-11:00 Stefan Kaufmann, “Worlds Are Not Enough”

11:00-11:30 BREAK

11:30-12:00 Sven Lauer & Prerna Nadathur, “Sufficiency Causatives”

12:00-12:30 Yingying Wang & Frank Veltman, “Varieties of Modal Predicates and their Semantic Interpretation”

12:30-1:45 LUNCH (provided)

1:45-2:15 Lelia Glass, “Experimental Evidence that Verbs Describing Routines Facilitate Implicit Objects”

2:15-2:45 Itamar Francez, “Markedness and the Morphosemantics of Number”

2:45-3:00 BREAK

3:00-3:30 Ciyang Qing, “Zero or Minimum Degree? Rethinking Minimum-standard Gradable Adjectives”

3:30-4:00 Judith Tonhauser & Judith Degen, “An Empirical Challenge to the Categorical Notion of Factivity”

4:00 Closing remarks