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Director weekly highlights 5 Nov

Jane Simpson, Outreach

Date: 5 November 2021

Nick Evans is really, truly (choose your favourite intensifier… see Martin Schweinberger’s new book) on long service leave, overseas and no ANU e-mail for the next three months. He’s taking his well-deserved leave at what we hope will be a relatively quiet period. 

It’s been a sad fortnight for CoEDLers, as the Vale section shows. We are a community, and every loss hurts. This ‘human network’ that CoEDL has established is very important. Nick Evans’ parting words at last Friday’s brief CoEDL Executive were to emphasise this. During the last 20 months of COVID-induced isolation, he has worked enormously hard to keep this network connected electronically, through these updates, Zooms, phone calls and emails. Keeping this going in his absence is tough, but we’re sharing the load by giving part of the introduction over to CoEDL alumni, ECRs and HDR students, beginning with the View from Pennsylvania, which you’ll find at the end of this introduction. 

Yesterday, 4th November, was World Digital Preservation Day, supported by the Digital Preservation Coalition. I like their summary — “digital preservation isn’t an app, it’s a commitment, and the failure to make the commitment is perhaps the biggest barrier we face" — and I love their really helpful resources for thinking about the workflow and 'business plan' for big digitisation projects. Theirs was among the interesting presentations at a workshop ‘Common problems, shared solutions’ organised by AIATSIS and the National Film and Sound archive this week. And related good news is that the Language Data Commons has reached another phase in its funding cycle. 

In other research news, check out the program for the Australian Linguistics Society annual conference (7-9 December, being run online, by La Trobe University). There is a wealth of fascinating papers, with several dozen CoEDL people presenting. ALS is preceded by the Fifth Language Variation and Change - Australia Workshop (LVC-A5, 6-7 Dec), and followed by the bound-to-be-fabulous CoEDL Summer Masterclasses, run jointly by ALS and CoEDL (10-11 December). At the masterclasses, you’ll be able to learn about some of the latest research coming out of CoEDL and learn how to use some of the cutting-edge tools that CoEDL researchers have been using and, in some cases, developing. You can register for both at the same place.  

And now... the first of our CoEDL Community reflections. It’s by Martin Ho Kwan Ip who began his CoEDL connection as a PhD student in Anne Cutler’s group at WSU, graduating in 2019 with the thesis “Universal and language-specific processing : the case of prosody”. Recently, he and his co-author Anna Papafragou presented a paper Listeners evaluate native and non-native speakers differently (but not in the way you think) at the Cognitive Science Society (USA). It's a fascinating description of an experiment and its findings that monolingual English speakers actually give some leeway to non-native speakers. Congratulations to the authors on winning the Cognitive Science Society's inaugural Diversity & Social Inequality Award for this paper. 

Jane Simpson
Deputy Director


The view from Pennsylvania!  

“I'm 2 years into a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Integrated Language Sciences and Technology Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m working on several different projects, many of which are inspired by the things that I learned when I was Anne Cutler's graduate student at CoEDL. In the Department of Psychology, I'm working with John Trueswell (Trueswell-Gleitman Language Learning Lab) to examine the possible origins of prosodic processing in word learning. For example, we are conducting cross-language eyetracking experiments to compare how listeners across languages use prosodic cues to focus, to learn and to remember focused words and their contextual alternatives. In the Department of Linguistics, I'm working with Jianjing Kuang (Penn Phonetics Laboratory) to look at the role of "top-down" prosodic focus vs. "bottom-up" prosodic phrasing cues in sentence disambiguation. Many of these ideas were conceived from my research experience as a student when I first learned from my advisor about the importance of direct cross-linguistic experimentation. I'm also working with Anna Papafragou (Language Cognition Lab) to examine how listeners use speech cues (e.g., native vs. foreign accents) to form social impressions of other people (e.g., how trustworthy or polite they are). For example, we found that monolingual English listeners are more likely to forgive foreign accented speakers and view them to be less untrustworthy than native speakers, particularly in deception contexts where they do not disclose important information (i.e., are being underinformative). I find these findings interesting because it shows us that we can really incorporate theories of language use (e.g., informativeness principle) and speech processing with theories of intergroup relations to see how social groups that are so often a target of prejudice (i.e., foreigners) could nonetheless gain unexpected social benefits in certain communication contexts. Of course, I am enjoying my time as a postdoc here in the US, but I'm very grateful (and also now feel a little nostalgic) that I had the chance to be a CoEDL student, to witness the different collaborations, and during CoEDL fests, had the chance to meet other fellow students and professors like Nick Evans and Janet Wiles, getting to talk to all of them at a personal level, and learn from them about different areas of language science!" 




We extend our deep sympathy to all our CoEDL family grieving loved ones lost recently. 

The funeral service for Cathy Bow will be held at 3pm Australian Central Time on Monday 8th November 2021. Celebrate the life of Cathy in person at the Casuarina Uniting Church or join the live stream here. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to organisations Cathy supported: 

Contact John Mansfield to join a gathering in Melbourne and Alex Marley to join a Canberra gathering. 

Tributes have continued to flow for Cathy Bow - most recently from AIATSIS and from her colleagues in the NT Department of Education. The Australian Linguistic Society, among others are honouring Cathy's legacy by donating to the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages - (via the CDU Foundation). 

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University