Linguistics Seminar: "On the architecture of the left periphery in early Celtic and related matters"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Lexmark Room
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While in verb-initial Old Irish, topicalization was achieved via left dislocation and focalization was achieved through clefting, the older Continental Celtic languages achieved such pragmatic information structuring through movement into the left periphery of the clause (though the right edge of the clause could also be a target for such purpose).  This paper commences with an inspection of relative clause syntax in Continental Celtic while outlining what we can tell about other movement mechanisms in the clause and then goes on to explore the architecture of the left periphery in these languages.  This exploration provides some insight into the prehistoric development of verb-initial clausal configuration in Insular Celtic.  Some comparative attention is also paid to the architecture of the left periphery in other Indo-European languages and it is found that the Continental Celtic languages have a role to play in determining the degree of articulation to be reconstructed for the left periphery of proto-Indo-European itself.

New Faculty 2014: Meet Andrew Byrd

The Linguistics Program is excited to welcome Assistant Professor Andrew Byrd to its faculty!

This podcast is part of a series highlighting the new faculty members who joined the College of Arts and Sciences in the fall 2014 semester.


This podcast was produced by Casey Hibbard.


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New Faculty 2014: Meet Andrew Byrd by UK College of Arts & Sciences is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

New Faculty 2014: Meet Jennifer Cramer

The Linguistics Program is excited to welcome Assistant Professor Jennifer Cramer to its faculty!

This podcast is part of a series highlighting the new faculty members who joined the College of Arts and Sciences in the fall 2014 semester.


This podcast was produced by Casey Hibbard.


Creative Commons License
New Faculty 2014: Jennifer Cramer by UK College of Arts & Sciences is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Compressed Course: "An Introduction to Text Mining and Textual Data Analysis for the Humanities and Social Sciences"

Monday, October 13, 2014 - 6:00pm to Friday, October 17, 2014 - 8:30pm
Dickey Hall (multiple classrooms)

A special 1-credit opportunity to discover text mining and textual data analysis.

Across many disciplines, interest is increasing in the use of computational text analysis in the service of answering questions in the humanities and the social sciences. Media scientists analyze social media in order to predict corporate crises, political scientists and economists look for indicators of mood and sentiment in platform speeches and economic forecasts, literary scholars analyze the distribution of motifs in large numbers of texts in different literary epochs, and social historians and sociolinguists look for networks and connections among the people, places, and times related to the documents they study.

Following the distinction between "digitized" vs. "digital" scholarship, computers not only assist the work of researchers (digitized scholarship) but also transform the basis of the scholarship: they foster research that would have not been possible without digitization and increasing computing power (digital scholarship). Mapping emotions by mining huge numbers of books, or searching all Latin texts from Antiquity for paraphrases of Plato, are only two examples of investigations documenting the innovative potential of digital research. This transformation makes it necessary to reflect on the new relationship of scholars to their objects of investigation and to discuss the new ways researchers handle textual "data".

In this course we will familiarize ourselves with the concepts, debates, and selected tools within text-based digital scholarship and discuss the repercussions on the way we perceive and construct our objects of research.

Public Lecture: "Terrorist Spotting for Beginners: Mass surveillance through language"

Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Center Theater (Old Student Center)

Mass surveillance is only possible with the help of smart computer algorithms. Whenever text data is monitored by machines, methods from computational linguistics come into play. The main goal is to automatically filter and identify content that points to certain attitudes or behavioral dispositions viewed as a threat to security. When monitoring online data, the task is even more complicated.  Since people are not usually required to provide their real identity in cyberspace, the tracing of identities through language features ("writeprint") is another challenge for computational linguistics at the service of the intelligence apparatus. Surveillance through language relies on the idea of the expressive function of language: Whenever we utter something, we do not just say something about the world to someone else, we also reveal something about ourselves.

In my talk I will give a critical account of some of the linguistic methods used to automatically attribute identities such as "extremist", "endangerer", or "potential terrorist" on the basis of text analysis. Starting with an overview of the political, legal, and technical framework of state surveillance measures in Germany, I will discuss core concepts of the surveillance discourse and present examples of how linguistic knowledge can be used to assign identities for the purpose of control. In doing so, I hope to foster a discussion on the logic of surveillance in western democracies and the responsibility of the sciences and humanities.

Book It - Recent Publications From the Department of English

It was an excellent summer for the Department of English as six faculty members published books in highly-regarded presses.

Time Well Spent: Eli Edwards

English Professor Armando Prats said something that stuck in Elijah Edwards' head, "We are, in great measure, the living expression of our influences." It's a powerful sentiment that recent English graduate Edwards reflects in his own story.

English in Russian Academia



Elena Lawrick, ESL Director Reading Area Community College "English in Russian Academia"

University of Kentucky Year of Russia February 13, 2013



A Mistake on the Edge of Time: Rusty Barrett on the Mayan Calendar

Most of us heard that the world was going to possibly end on December 21st, 2012, and that it was predicted by the traditional Mayan calendar. In this podcast, Rusty Barrett, a linguist and scholar of Mayan culture and history, explains the superstitions and misunderstandings surrounding December 21st, and a little bit about how the Mayan calendar works.

SPOILER ALERT: The day after our interview, Barrett recieved an email from a Mayan organization (Grupos de Mujeres y Hombres por la Paz) in Guatemala, selling calendars for 2013 to raise money. This doesn't bode well for all those end-of-the-world prophecies.

This podcast was produced by Cheyenne Hohman


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

>>More feature content with Rusty Barrett and his expertise on Mayan culture: 

By Sarah Geegan

Rusty Barrett, professor in the UK Department of English and Linguistics Program, studied Mayan hieroglyphic writing and Mayan linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Ph.D. in 1999. His doctoral dissertation was a grammar of Sipakapense, a previously undescribed Mayan language. Barrett has taught Mayan writing and Mayan linguistics at UK and is co-director of an intensive K'iche' Maya language program, taught in alternate summers in Guatemala. Barrett is currently working on a book manuscript about language revitalization in Maya communities in Guatemala.
Barrett weighed in on how the Mayan calendar works, discussed his research with the Mayan population, and shared his observations of the Maya's reactions to the idea that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012.
Q: How does the Mayan calendar work, and is it really ending?
A: So, there are two Mayan calendars: one is a lunar calendar that is 260 days, which has a lot of religious and cultural importance for the Maya, and that is the one that the Maya really pay the most attention to. The other one is the long calendar — the one that counts days forward from Aug. 4, 3114 B.C. However, they talk about time before that date as well.
Earlier archeologists and anthropologists thought there were only 13 baktuns (a baktun is a 400 year cycle in the Mayan calendar) in the calendar, but that's really not the case. There are actually 20 baktuns in a cycle in the long calendar, but there really is no ending when you reach the 20th baktun. There's a cycle above that and another cycle above that.
Saying that the Mayan calendar ends is sort of like saying that when our calendar gets to 9999 that it ends. Well, all you do is add a 1. The Mayan calendar is the same, but their math is a base-20 system, so when you get to 20 you just move up a unit.
This is really more like a millennium for the Maya, except it's much longer than a millennium: since the cycle started in 3000 B.C., it's a 5,126 year cycle. It isn't the case that it actually ends; Mayanists have known that for quite some time, and the Maya have never assumed that it ends.
Q: Where do the theories about the end of the world originate?
The entire idea of the Apocalypse is a European idea that was introduced to the Maya during the Colonial period, and occasionally you'll find things that Maya wrote during that period that talk about an end of the world, but they're all heavily influenced by Christianity. So the end of the world is not an idea that exists in Mayan culture.
In the 1960s, when the archaeologists still sort of thought that there were only 13 baktuns, there was a lot of popular press about the idea of ancient aliens. The idea that the Maya built things because extraterrestrials came and built it for them became popular. The whole notion that extraterrestrials built Mayan communities is very offensive to the Maya and sort of suggests that somehow they weren't capable of the great achievements they made themselves. 
Ever since I started studying the Maya I have sort of known about what some people call "Mayanism," just this weird sort of religion that has developed over wrong ideas of the Maya.  Anytime you have a group that has had a high point in their culture that is gone, it’s sort of like the mystery of Atlantis; people tend to exoticize it and add stranger and stranger ideas to it until you get these sort of weird cult-like ideas about what they might have believed and what they might have prophesized.
Q: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about the Mayan calendar and the Maya in general?
A: One of the biggest misconceptions is that the calendar has an end date and that that's Friday, the 21st or Sunday the 23rd. The other misconception is that the Maya sort of all disappeared and died. There are actually about 6 million Maya living today in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, and the majority of the population in Guatemala is Maya. The languages that I study and work with are all spoken in Guatemala, and one of the main languages I work on, K'iche', has over a million speakers.
So there are still Maya here, and the 21st of December is an important day to them because it's an important ending of one cycle and moving on to another, but they don't believe it's the end of time or the end of the world or anything like that.
For the Maya, that day is seen as sort of an important change in the calendar and a time to reflect and think about positive things related to Mayan culture, so for the Maya it's the beginning of a new cycle particularly one of Maya independence. In Guatemala there was a civil war from 1960 to 1996 that involved an attempted genocide of the Maya, and more than 200,000 Maya were killed. So for today's Maya, the ending of the 13th baktun represents sort of a new dawn of the end of violence against the Maya and the revival of Mayan culture.
Q: From your experience with the Maya, how have you seen them react to the idea that their calendar predicts the end of the world?
A: The Maya that I work with in Guatemala have been extremely irritated with how this moment in their calendar is being represented, particularly in the U.S. and Europe. It's something they see as entirely positive and that would only really have significance within their culture, and after seeing people outside saying that it's this horrible, negative thing and movies like 2012 about the end of the world, they find it extremely frustrating.
So my Maya friends on Facebook are always posting angry messages like, "Did you see this, I can't believe this," or "why do they keep saying this? Why don't they stop?" So yes, it is really kind of strange that it has come to a point where people just assume that there's an end of time and the Maya predicted something negative to happen, which is not the case at all.
Q: It’s obvious that you have a lot of passion and respect for this culture. What can you say about that?
A: I spend a lot of time living with the Maya. In a lot of the villages where I do my research, it's not like there is a motel you can go to stay in, so I've lived with people and become very close with them. I have lots and lots of friends who are Maya and people that I have worked with for 20 years, so having spent that much time with them and learning about their culture, it's hard not to have respect because it is a vast and really interesting and amazing culture.

El 2012 estuvo lleno de supersticiones del fin del mundo. Todo esto fue a raíz del calendario Maya, el cual tenía un fin este pasado 21 de diciembre. En esta entrevista, Rusty Barrett, lingüista y académico sobre la cultura Maya, nos explica cómo funciona el calendario Maya y las supersticiones y equivocaciones que muchos hicieron basadas en la fecha del 21 de diciembre.

AVISO: El día después de este entrevista, Barrett recibió un correo de parte de la organización Maya en Guatemala—Grupos de Mujeres y Hombres por la Paz—que estaba vendiendo calendarios del 2013 como método para recaudar fondos. Un poco de contradicción entre la venta de calendarios y la profecía no creen.

Este podcast fue producido por Cheyenne Hohman.


Contenido Extra con Rusty Barrett y su conocimiento de la cultura Maya:

Por: Sarah Geegan

Rusty Barrett es un profesor en el departamento de Ingles y Lingüística aquí en UK. Barrett obtuvo un doctorado en 1999 en jeroglíficos Mayas y  en lingüística Maya en la Universidad de Texas en Austin. La tesis de su doctorado trata sobre la gramática Sipakapense, un dialecto Maya no antes identificado. Barrett ha presidido clases en lingüística y escritura Maya aquí en UK y también es co-director de un programa extensivo que enseña durante el semestre del verano el dialecto Maya K’iche’ en Guatemala. Actualmente, Barrett está trabajando en un manuscrito sobre la revitalización del lenguaje en las comunidades Mayas en Guatemala.

En esta entrevista, Barrett nos comparte sus pensamientos sobre el calendario Maya y como éste funciona. También nos comenta sobre sus varios estudios e investigaciones de la cultura Maya y sobre las observaciones que hizo en cuanto a la reacción de los Mayas del fin del mundo.

P: ¿Cómo funciona el calendario Maya y ha llegado este a su fin?

R: Para empezar, hay dos calendarios Maya: uno de ellos y al que más importancia le dan, es un calendario lunar que consiste en 260 días y tiene muchos elementos Mayas religiosos y culturales. El otro calendario funciona al contar los días hacia a delante desde el 4 de agosto de 3114 B.C. Aunque este segundo calendario habla sobre las fechas por venir, también se hace mención sobre algunas fechas pasadas.

Arqueólogos y antropólogos solían pensar que solo existían 13 baktúnes (un baktún son 400 años en el calendario Maya) en el calendario; sin embargo, éste no es el caso. Realmente existen 20 baktúnes en el ciclo largo del calendario; cuando éste llega a su fin lo que sucede es que un nuevo ciclo comienza.

Decir que el calendario Maya llegará a su fin es como decir que nuestro calendario acabará cuando llegue al año 9999. Lo que se hace en ese caso es simplemente agregar 1. El calendario Maya en este sentido es igual que el nuestro, solo hay que agregar una unidad. La matemática Maya funciona en una escala de 20s, lo cual significa que se le puede agregar un número, lo único es que este será una unidad completa en vez de un 1.

Para los Mayas, esto es mas como un Siglo, sólo que más largo del que nosotros conocemos ya que el ciclo actual empezó en 3000 B.C., lo que significa que es un ciclo que consiste de 5,126 años. En resumen, no es que el calendario realmente termine, muchos académicos Mayas sabemos esto desde hace un tiempo, y los Mayas nunca asumieron que el mundo iba a acabar.

P: ¿De dónde se originaron las teorías del fin del mundo?

R: La noción de un Apocalypto es una noción Europea que fue introducida a los Mayas durante los tiempos coloniales. Se han encontrado algunas escrituras Mayas que hablan sobre el fin del mundo, pero todas éstas escrituras fueron influenciadas por ideas Cristianas. La idea del fin del mundo no existe como tal en la cultura Maya.

En los años 60s, cuando los arqueólogos todavía creían que solo habían 13 baktúnes, la idea de que extraterrestres vinieron a la tierra y construyeron las pirámides Mayas se volvió muy popular. Sin embargo, está idea ofende de sobremanera a los Mayas ya que implica que ellos no fueron los que hicieron todos los logros que se les atribuye hoy en día.

Desde el comienzo de mis estudios Mayas me he dado cuenta que hay una idea muy equivocada sobre la religión Maya. Muchas culturas, como la Maya, que han tenido un auge internacional tienen la desventaja que muchos buscan hacerlas más misteriosas e interesantes. Por esto mismo, varias personas han atribuido características exóticas e ideas extrañas y peligrosas a la cultura Maya, lo cual ha conllevado a varias teorías erróneas sobre cultos Mayas y profecías que éstos pudieron haber hecho.

P: ¿Cuáles son algunas de las concepciones equivocadas sobre los Mayas y su calendario?

R: Una de las ideas más equivocadas es que el calendario tiene una fecha límite—ya sea el viernes 21 o domingo 23 de diciembre del 2012. Otra equivocación es que muchos creen que los Mayas desaparecieron y murieron; hoy en día hay alrededor de 6 millones de Mayas viviendo en México, Belice y Guatemala. La mayor parte de la populación de Guatemala tiene alguna descendencia Maya. Los dialectos que he estudiado y que he incorporado en mi trabajo son hablados en Guatemala al día de hoy. Uno de estos dialectos es el K’iche’, y éste es utilizado en Guatemala por más de un millón de personas.

Veamos entonces, todavía existen los Mayas y el 21 de diciembre es una fecha importante para ellos no porque se acaba el mundo, sino porque marca el inicio de un nuevo ciclo.


Este día simboliza para los Mayas un nuevo comienzo; es un tiempo para reflexionar y pensar en los aspectos positivos de la cultura Maya y todo lo que esta incorpora. Es más, este nuevo ciclo será para los Mayas uno marcado por independencia. La Guerra Civil de Guatemala duró desde 1960 hasta 1996, y esta incluyo intentos de genocidio en contra de los Mayas. Más de 200,000 Mayas fueron asesinados durante estos años. Para los Mayas, el fin del 13avo baktún es el fin de la violencia en contra de los Mayas y es el renacimiento de su cultura.


P: En tus experiencias con los Maya, ¿Cuáles han sido sus reacciones en cuanto a la idea del fin del mundo basada en su calendario?


R: Los Mayas con los que yo he trabajado en Guatemala están molestos e irritados por como este momento en su calendario está siendo representado, especialmente por Estados Unidos y Europa. Para ellos este momento en el calendario es algo positivo y que debería de tener un significado para su propia cultura; el ver que otras culturas están basando cosas negativas de su calendario y se están dejando influenciar por eso los frustra bastante.


Tengo amigos Mayas en Facebook que suelen mandarme mensajes como “¿Viste esto ahora? No lo puedo creer. ¿Por qué dicen esto? ¿Por qué no paran?” Para ellos es muy extraño el nivel al que han llegado varios por asumir que el mundo se acaba y que los Mayas son los que predijeron este acontecimiento. Todo esto es mentira.


P: Tu pasión y respeto hacia la cultura Maya es obvia, ¿Qué tienes que decir tu a respecto?


R: He tenido la oportunidad de vivir con los Mayas en sus comunidades ya que en donde he conducido mis investigaciones no son lugares donde uno va a encontrar hoteles. Esto ha llevado a que me una a ellos y los entienda de una manera que no muchos han tenido el privilegio. He hecho bastantes amigos Maya y con muchos de ellos he trabajado por más de 20 años. Después de tanto tiempo y de varias experiencias compartidas, es difícil no tenerles respeto ya que la cultura Maya es muy interesante y tienen muchas cualidades para admirar.




The Cambridge Handbook of Morphology: Andrew Hippisley and Gregory Stump

More than thirty of the world's leading morphologists are contributing to a book that will be out in spring of 2014 - and they're working together with the help of an online collaboration tool developed by the Hive. Professors Andrew Hippisley and Greg Stump are currently compiling and editing the upcoming Cambridge Handbook of Morphology. In this podcast, Hippisley and Stump describe the book, and how and why they are putting it together. 

This podcast was produced by Cheyenne Hohman.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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