Mapping Irreality in Göttingen

I went to Göttingen last week to talk about modality, which is turning into a pleasant tradition. In my talk, I outlined the typological debate on the irrealis distinction, introduced the tripartite branching-time model that I think will help us the relevant cross-linguistic variation, and discussed how the same approach also sheds new light on some long-standing questions about the nature of modality, counterfactuality and epistemic necessity. You can find the slides here.

Complexity at the POS level

There was an interesting small workshop in Torun in April on Measuring Linguistic Complexity. When the call came out, I had just finished a preliminary overview on the previous literature on the topic and was ready to get cracking, so I got together with Vera Demberg to test our hypothesis that focussing on POS tags rather than the token-level annotations would give us more reliable results on syntactic flexibility. Our results are in the proceedings.

Perspectives on Low-Resource Languages and Language Varieties

Internet penetration world map from wikimediaMy colleague Stefania Degaetano-Ortlieb and I, with generous support from Elke Teich, organised a workshop last week. We invited researchers from a variety of backgrounds, spanning language documentation, typology, language acquisition, computational linguistics and historical linguistics. We were very happy with the inspiring talks and vibrant discussions about challenges and solutions, which I am sure will continue beyond the small event we had.

Last talk of 2017, at the MPI for the Science of Human History

2017 was a year full of talks, so don’t be surprised if you won’t see me on the circuit as much during 2018. The last talk of that year was at the MPI in Jena, where I talked about some of the things you’ll see if you compare languages based on corpus data that you’re likely to miss if you look at grammatical descriptions. I had some incredibly inspiring conversations and hope to visit more often (maybe even in 2018).

Bibtex bibliographies selected by keywords, with customised keyword separators

This is a very specialised problem, but since I just found the solution, I wanted to briefly document this for myself. I usually use natbib, but for the preparation of reading lists, sorted by topic, I wanted to try biblatex. Creating a list of references selected by a keyword is not a problem at all.

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Starting in Saarbrücken: Information density, complexity and cross-linguistic variation

It’s October already and I have just received my appointment as a guest professor in the SFB (special research unit) on Information density in Saarbrücken. I will teach a class on “Cross-linguistic variation in structural complexity” and I’m excited to learn more about information density and possible applications of existing hypotheses and tools to typological comparison.