The long steps up to Po Klaung Garai. Photo credit: Dylan A. Calhoun.

About


(As of March 2017), I am a fourth-year graduate student in linguistics at UC Berkeley, advised by Peter Jenks.
I am a syntactician (specializing in information structure) and a sociolinguist, working on Eastern Cham, an Austronesian language spoken in Vietnam.
Here's a link to my relatively redundant Academia.edu page.

CV


Download my CV here. (pdf, 1,827kb)

Projects


Chamic syntax and information structure
My central research concerns the interface between information structure and syntax. Do information structure features like [topic] and [focus] belong in the syntax, or can topic and focus-movement be explained otherwise (i.e. through prosodic constraints)? Following the work of Luis Lopez and Asher & Lascarides' Segmented Discourse Representation Theory, I'm working to redirect this debate to frame topic and focus in terms of discourse relations.
"Subpart of focus fronting is discourse subordination" (2017) [WCCFL abstract (pdf, 805kb)]
"Clause-final particles and focus in Eastern Cham" (2017) [LSA handout (pdf, 150kb)]
"Clefts and Anti-Superiority in Moken" (2016) [paper in JSEALS with Peter Jenks]
"Multiple fronting restrictions in Eastern Cham: An [ID]-feature account" (2016) [LSA handout (pdf, 140kb)]
"Topic, focus, and wh-phrases in Cham (and Moken)" (2015) [ISSLAC2 presentation (pdf, 428kb)]

Eastern Cham variation
Variation in Eastern Cham can tell us a lot about the influence that writing systems and language contact can have. The Cham script is the oldest attested of any Austronesian language, and every Eastern Cham speaker is now bilingual with Vietnamese. Inspired by the work of Marc Brunelle, I have been using variationist sociolinguistic techniques to assess variation and how Cham script and Vietnamese influence the modern language.
"Covariance of syntactic and phonological contact effects in Eastern Cham" (2016) [NWAV 45 presentation (pdf, 1,511kb)]
"Triglossia in Eastern Cham" (2016) [NWAV-AP4 presentation]

Internet slang
Sure, you can say "because reasons", but can you say "unless reasons"? Justin Bland, Matthias Raess, and I are investigating the English "because-noun" construction using data from Twitter, Reddit, and Wikipedia, based on a class from the 2015 LSA Institute with Sravana Reddy. In 2012, I examined "abbrevs" like "totes" and "adorbs".
"Because formality: The conjunction-noun construction in online text corpora" (2016) [ADS poster (pdf, 906kb)]
"A Frequency-Based Analysis of the Modern -s Register-Marking Suffix" (2012) [LSA poster (pdf, 1.16mb)]

New England dialectology
Did you know that the New England dialect is disappearing across the region? As an undergraduate, I became involved in a New England dialectology project with James N. Stanford, Nathan Severance, and Thomas Leddy-Cecere. We have studied dialect shift, particularly in New Hampshire, showing that the traditional New England dialect is being lost in favor of a supra-regional American English norm.
"Farewell to the founders: Dramatic changes between eastern and western New England" (2012) [paper in American Speech]
"Multiple vectors of unidirectional dialect change in Eastern New England" (2014) [paper in Language Variation & Change (academia.edu)]
"146 years of 'Canadian Raising' in New Hampshire" (2014) [ADS presentation (academia.edu)]

Aymara morphosyntax
Following a Field Methods class on the Aymara language (Aymaran: Peru, Bolivia) with Lev Michael, Spencer Lamoureux and I have continued to work on the mysterious accusative case, which is said to be marked by vowel deletion.
"Does Aymara have subtractive case morphology?" (2016) [LSA poster (pdf, 795kb)]

Tibeto-Burman deictics
My undergraduate thesis under David A. Peterson detailed an interesting system of clause-level deictics found across the Kuki-Chin branch of Tibeto-Burman languages.
"Deictics and related phenomena in Kuki-Chin" (2013) [paper for ICSTLL (academia.edu)]
"The Kuki-Chin deictic complex: examining interconnected reference systems" (2013) [LSA presentation (pdf, 1.95mb)]

Variation in Maori possessives
The well-known Polynesian A/O possession system is being levelled in Maori (Austronesian: New Zealand). In 2011, I conducted fieldwork on Maori in Auckland and later presented these results.
"A/O possession in Modern Maori" (2011) [manuscript (pdf, 860kb)

Media coverage


Occasionally, my research gets media coverage. Here are some links to coverage of my New England dialectology and Internet slang research.
Internet slang: 2014 NPR interview, Newspaper interview
New England dialectology: Radio Boston interview, Boston Globe interview, New York Times interview

Origami 'artichoke', designed and folded by Kenny Baclawski.

Personal


My father and namesake is a professor of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University.
I grew up in Waltham, Massachusetts, attending the oldest school in continuous existence in North America, and Dartmouth College.
As a child, I had interests in palindromes, origami (see, picture), Minesweeper, and tennis.
In college, I was a playwright, performed stand-up comedy, and wrote comedy for the same magazine as Dr. Seuss and Robert Reich.

Contact


By email: kbaclawski@berkeley.edu
By mail: 1203 Dwinelle Hall, Berkeley CA 94720


Last updated: July 14, 2016