The Circle is a weekly forum dedicated to discussion of the descriptive, experimental, and theoretical study of syntax and semantics, featuring presentations of ongoing research by members of the Berkeley Linguistics Department and other departments, as well as discussion of previously published works.


Fridays, 3:00-4:30pm


1303 Dwinelle Hall


Virginia Dawson

Erik Hans Maier


University of California, Berkeley
Department of Linguistics


2 september
Jed Pizarro-Guevara (UC Santa Cruz)
Tagalog voice/agreement morphology and its role in processing filler-gap dependencies

The present study investigates the role of Tagalog voice/agreement morphology (VAM) in real-time sentence processing. Because VAM packages information about the subject's thematic relation and structural position, I hypothesize that it can sharpen the comprehenders' predictions by allowing them to project the structure of vP and thus to guide their interpretation of incoming linguistic material. Using a Stops-Making-Sense task, I tested whether verbs inflected with VAM (i.e., verbs with -um- or -in-) were linked to their arguments any faster than controls without visible inflection (i.e., verbs in the iterative or recent perfective aspect). Results indicated that verbs inflected with -um- facilitated the comprehension of agent wh-questions, but verbs inflected with -in- did not facilitate the comprehension of patient wh-questions. Despite this apparent asymmetry, I maintain that VAM does permit comprehenders to predictively extend their syntactic representations. However, whether it immediately feeds interpretation is mediated by other factors, such as the availability of alternative parses. I conjecture that the syntax of argument wh-questions in Tagalog affects the time-course of parsing, such that they are interpreted less “actively” than comparable constructions in English.


9 september
Round Robin

The summer is over and the Round Robin is returning to roost. Come join us for an informal discussion where any and all can have up to 5-10 minutes to tell us about their summer elicitation or research, ask questions, present new ideas, preliminary analyses, or interesting data, and get valuable answers, feedback, and commiseration from your colleagues. Names will be drawn from a hat to ensure the turns are random.

16 september
No Meeting

23 september
Filippa Lindahl (University of Gothenburg)
Topic TBA

30 september
Lelia Glass (Stanford)
Topic TBA

7 october
NELS Practice Talks

14 october

21 october

28 october
Emily Clem (UC Berkeley)
Topic TBA

4 november

11 november
No Meeting (Veteran's Day)

18 november

25 november
No Meeting (Thanksgiving)

2 december

9 december
No Meeting (RRR Week)

16 december
No Meeting (Finals)


26 august
No Meeting