Undergraduate Clubs

  • The Linguists Club at Princeton
    Founded in 2007, the Linguistics Club is a student group interested in the study of language. The current membership is around seventy undergraduates, ranging from freshmen to seniors. The club aims to 1) foster a sense of community among those interested in linguistics and 2) increase the visibility of linguistics at Princeton.
  • American Sign Language Club
    The Princeton University American Sign Language Club aims to promote and encourage, amongst its members and the Princeton University Community at large:
    Sign Language Club Logo
    • Mastery and understanding of the art of communicating in American Sign Language. 
    • Heightened awareness of the Deaf community, culture, and history. 
    • Increased understanding and interaction between the Deaf and Hearing communities. 
    • Advocacy for Deaf accessibility on campus. 

The Linguists Club at Princeton

Linguistics Club

The club holds meetings twice monthly to work on problem sets, discuss relevant new articles, and meet with Linguistics faculty. In addition to the regular meetings, the club hosts outside speakers, in an effort to bring current linguistic research to the students.

Academic Year 2015-16 Meetings.  All meetings are held at 2:00pm in 209 Scheide Caldwell House.

  • October ,“The Shape of Linguistics”
  • October 25, Open Forum
  • November 15, “Language at Work – and Other Adventures,” Prof. Keith Devlin, Stanford University 
  • November 22, Open Forum
  • December 6, "TP-internal focus in Spanish and dialectal variation: the case of Focalizing Ser," Professor Catalina Méndez Vallejo
  • December 13, Open Forum
  • January 10
  • January 17
  • January 24
  • February 7, is Dora Demszky's Fall JP. Dora's work lies at the fascinating intersection of syntax, morphology, and semantics, and considers the function of noun-incorporation in Hungarian, in which - well, I'll just let you read the abstract:

    "Noun incorporation in Hungarian has been described as the phenomenon where the verb forms a prosodic and semantic unit with its preverbal nominal argument – i.e. the object, location, direction, result or recipient of the action. This process is of special interest since it allows for the productive formation of new words, describing complex actions, ranging from ‘theatre-going’ to ‘by-the-river-standing’. The incorporated noun may be a bare singular (a noun with no determiners), bare plural or locative/directional definite phrase. Previous analyses of incorporation, however, have overlooked either bare plurals or definite locative/directional definite phrases. I propose a new (or rather, modified) definition in order to account for the heterogeneity of the phenomenon. First, I show that the syntactic position occupied by all incorporated nouns can be explained by the history of Hungarian syntax, which shifted from Subject Object Verb to Verb Subject Object order.!

    Second, I show, contrary to many claims, that the shared semantic feature of all incorporated nominals is nonspecificity – i.e. referring to something/someone not yet introduced in the discourse – rather than non-referentiality – not referring to anything/anyone in the outside world. Since, while non-referentiality only pertains to bare singulars, nonspecificity pertains to bare plurals and locative/directional definite phrases as well. In conclusion, the new definition seeks to extend the formerly proposed definitions by accounting for both incorporated bare plurals and locative/directional nouns in addition to bare singulars – the focus of previous research."
  • February 21,  ! Yiwei Luo '17 will be presenting her Fall JP on the grammaticalization of "have to" in English - a topic representing the intriguing intersection of semantics, syntax, phonology, and language change.

    "Modern English HAVE TO in the sentence “I have to leave” is a grammaticalized form of possessive "have", meeting grammaticalization criteria such as phonological reduction ([hæftu]), opaque semantics (the meaning of possession is irretrievable), and paradigmatic fixedness (*“I was having to leave”). However, the semantic development of this construction extends beyond the change from possession to modal necessity as past work (van der Gaaf 1931, Brinton 1991, Fischer 1994) has been limited to. The examples below illustrate additional meanings of possibility, advisability, and epistemic necessity (in the order given):

    (1)  a. I won’t be bored because I have a book to read for the trip back home.
          b. I have a book to read for class, but it’s not strictly necessary.
          c. He has to be joking.

    Another problem that needs accounting for are cases where grammaticalization has not occurred, compare (2a) to (2b) below:

    (2)  a. I have work to do.
             ‘I need to do work.’
          b. I have money to spend.
            *‘I need to spend money.’

    This paper proposes a series of diachronic developments to account for the synchronic variation that is present, with the coexistence of two orders (have + obj. + inf., have + inf. + obj.) that map onto the spectrum of meanings ranging from possession to epistemic necessity. The structure is as follows: I will first give an overview of previous work on the grammaticalization of HAVE TO and point out a few problems with past theories. I will then introduce the framework of gradient grammaticalization in which my proposed changes operate, before arguing for the changes themselves (semantic bleaching, syntactic reanalysis, phonological reduction, and subjectification). I will show that the discrete processes (reanalysis and reduction) applied to HAVE TO give rise to the disjoint categories of possession, deontic necessity, and epistemic necessity, while the continuous processes (bleaching and subjectification) applied to HAVE TO give rise to its gradient semantics within each category."

Academic Year 2014-15 Meetings. 

  • October 19, 2014 - 
  • November 9, 2014 - experiences last summer in a Field Methods course, Ryan Budnick 
  • November 23, 2014 - Universal Grammar: What is it, Does it Exist, and Why do we Care? 
  • December 7, 2014 - Princeton ASL Club, Colin Lualdi 
  • February 8, 2015 - Syllable Weight in Kashmiri, Ryan Budnick 
  • February 22, 2015 - "Sounds Like Swearing: Sound Symbolism and the Phonetics of Swearwords,"  Kelly Rafey 
  • March 1, 2015 
  • March 29, 2015 - Rule learning and language acquisition, Nick Tippenhauer and The intonation pattern of uptalk, Ronan O'Brien 
  • April 12, 2015  - Why does historical linguistics have a totally different vocabulary from "normal" linguistics?  Naomi Lee
  • April 26, 2015  - Linguistics: What comes next? 

Academic Year 2013-14 Meetings

  • September 22 - "What is linguistics?" by David Abugaber '14
  • October 6 - "Speed-learning Lojban, a constructed language" by Paul Rapoport '15
  • October 22 - "Computational linguistics, sentiment analysis, and stock market predictions" by Michael Lachanski '15
  • November 24 - "Spanish sociolinguistics" by Professor Dunia Catalina Mendez Vallejo
  • December 8 - "Psycholinguistics research round-up" by David Abugaber '14
  • February 9 - "Speed-Learning Swedish" by Nik Engbom GS
  • February 23 - "An Introduction to Spectrogram Reading"  by David Abugaber '14
  • March 7 - "Language policy and the homogenization of language in Singapore" by Dr. Ying Ying Tan
  • March 30 - "The politics of language in post-conflict Rwanda" by Dr.David Kiwuwa
  • April 20 - "Online crowd-sourced translation" by Mengyi Xu '14
  • 4/27, 5/11 - Topics TBD

For more information or to be included on the mailing list please contact Ryan Budnick '16 (president).