POSTPONED: 20 March 2020 - Opening of the Final Round of the UK Linguistics Olympiad 2020

The Opening of the Final Round of the UK Linguistics Olympiad 2020 has been postponed for a later date to be determined. The events we had prepared for the Opening Evening, including the Twilight Session for teachers, the talk by Alex Bellos and the round table on Linguistics & Mathematics have been put on hold and hopefully we will be able to enjoy them later on in the Fall. 

The UKLO final itself took place last week at participants' homes, through a sophisticated system that included online invigilators. A squad is now ready to represent the UK when the International Olympiad can be safely celebrated.


The UK Linguistics Olympiad (UKLO) is a competition for any school-age student where participants see data from one of the world's 7,000 languages and need to crack the code. The winners of the regional hubs are coming to Greenwich (20-22 March) to compete for the finalist position and represent the UK at the International Linguistics Olympiad in July 20-24th, at the University of Applied Sciences in Ventspils, Latvia.

At the opening of this occasion we will be joined by Alex Bellos, author of the bestselling popular maths books Alex's Adventures in Numberland and Alex Through the Looking-Glass. He is the Guardian's maths and puzzles blogger, a regular science presenter on BBC Radio 4, a supporter of UKLO and is currently preparing a book on linguistics puzzles. There will also be a round table discussion all about the relations between language and mathematics.

Programme for the evening:

18:30: Welcome to the second round of the 10th edition of the UK Linguistics Olympiad (UKLO)

19:00: Curiosities of Counting, Alex Bellos

19:45: Round Table on Maths and Language Analysis with:

  • María J Arche, (Linguist, University of Greenwich)
  • Alex Bellos (Mathematician)
  • Paul Gleister (Mathematician, University of Reading, Former Chair of the Joint Mathematical Council of the UK (JMC)
  • Vera Hohaus (Linguist, The University of Manchester)
  • Richard Hudson (Linguist, UCL and BA Fellow, UKLO chair)
  • Tony Mann (Mathematician, University of Greenwich)
  • Luisa Martí (Linguist, Queen Mary University of London)
  • Neil Saunders (Mathematician, University of Greenwich)
  • Neil Sheldon (Statistician, UKLO Vice-Chair)
  • Graeme Trousdale (Linguist, UKLO Vice-Chair, UKLO trainer)

Past events 

26 February 2020 - CREL Seminar, Syntax and Semantics in Mathematics and Mathematics Education

Speaker: Dr Neil Saunders, Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Sciences

Venue: King William Building, KW002, 6-7pm

Abstract: This will be an expository talk into what language, syntax and semantics mean to a research mathematician, and will also explore these concepts from an educational point of view. Following Easdown (2006), we will provide a variety of examples of 'enlightening errors' in mathematical/logical reasoning, committed by students and seasoned researchers alike that reveal the perennial tension between syntax and semantics in mathematics. As Easdown argues, a heightened awareness of this tension and its possible resolution in certain scenarios may lead to better student experiences in their mathematical learning, enabling more robust and creative thinking. No prior mathematical knowledge will be required for this talk, which is aimed to promote interdisciplinary discussion and possible research collaborations in the CREL spirit.

22 January 2020 - CREL Seminar, What can "semantic" associations tell us about sexism? 

Speaker: Dr Yang Ye, School of Human Sciences 

Venue: Queen Anne Court, QA075, 6pm 

Abstract: In the last few decades, one of the most significant developments in social psychology is the emergence and popularization of so-called "implicit" measures (e.g., the implicit association test, the evaluative priming task). Such measures provide indirect assessment of psychological constructs such as attitudes and stereotypes, using tasks (e.g., reaction-time based) that seem to be irrelevant to the construct assessed. They are in sharp contrast to traditional self-report measures, which are often criticized to be prone to the influence of respondent's self-presentational motivation. In this talk, Dr Yang Ye will present research on the semantic misattribution procedure and talk about what it is, where it comes from, and how to apply this procedure to the assessment of implicit gender stereotyping at the individual level. He will present empirical evidence on the psychometrics properties and construct validity for this measure.

11 December 2019 - CREL Seminar, Miscommunications and the Language of New Media

Speakers: Dr Maria Korolkova & Prof Steve Kennedy, School of Design

Venue: King William 302, 6pm 

At this CREL talk, Dr Maria Korolkova and Prof Steve Kennedy from the School of Design will share their research on miscommunications as an emerging field in media theory. They will be discussing their chapters from the forthcoming book Miscommunications: Errors, Mistakes and the Media (edited by Maria Korolkova and Timothy Barker, under contract with Bloomsbury Academics).

The Force of Falsity
Maria Korolkova

What happens when communication breaks down? How can we understand our place in a world that seems dominated by misleading information? Is it the condition for miscommunication, mistakes and errors that is characteristic of digital culture in general? And if mistakes and errors have a certain power, what stands behind it? To address these questions, my talk will be focusing on some philosophical, linguistic and media theoretical inquiries that address contemporary culture as a terrain of miscommunication.

The Guardians of the Possible
Steve Kennedy

In his book Rome: The First Book of Foundations, Michel Serres describes the fervent activity of termites as they construct their improbable towers. Whilst this activity demonstrates a degree of order, Serres also postulates an element of deviance and anomie. The intention of this talk is to argue for an approach that designs complexity back into the system. It will challenge the received wisdom, prevalent in western thought, that reason serves to bring a coherent and universal order to chaos when in effect it imposes certain very specific patterns on a world no longer conducive to such an ordering.

20 November 2019 - CREL Seminar, Spelling as statistical learning: evidence from learning experiments with 7-year-old children 

Speaker: Dr Anna Samara, Faculty of Education and Health 

Venue: King William 002, at 18:00, followed by informal wine reception

Abstract: Learning to spell is a vital yet understudied part of literacy development. It is also a challenging task: In inconsistent orthographies such as English and French, only few words can be spelled accurately by mapping phonemes (sounds) to their highest frequency graphemes (letters); most vowel sounds have, in fact, multiple spellings. In English, for example, /ε/ is most commonly spelled with the letter e (as in bed), but it can also be spelled with the letters ai (said), ea (head), ie (friend), and eo (leopard). How do children learn such inconsistent sound-letter correspondences? In this talk, I will present data from typically developing children that suggest that learners use the same domain-general statistical learning device believed to operate in spoken language (Saffran et al. 1996) to extract some untaught probabilistic spelling 'rules'
. Five learning experiments with artificial lexicons probe precisely what patterns young spellers can learn, and under what circumstances, to shed light on underlying learning mechanisms. Implications for theories of literacy development and broad educational implications are discussed.

24 October 2019 - Discussion Series: Persistent issues in Language Analysis, the individual/stage-level contrast

Venue: Hamilton House, 15 Park Vista, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LZ

9:30-10:20Professor Gennaro Chierchia, Harvard University
How generic are I-Level predicates? Remarks on Magri's 2009 proposal
10:20-11:00Professor Giorgio Magri, French National Centre for Scientific Research
11:00-11:30Coffee break
11:30-12:20Dr María J. Arche, University of Greenwich and
Professor Timothy Stowell, University of California Los Angeles
Dispositional adjectives: characterizing and episodic predication
12:20-13:00Dr Víctor Acedo-Matellán, University of Oxford
13:00-14:00Lunch break
14:00-14:50Dr Matthew Husband, University of Oxford
Decomposing States
14:50-15:30Dr Vera Hohaus, University of Manchester
15:30-16:00Coffee Break
16:00-16:50Professor Molly Diesing, Cornell University
Stage and Individual Level Predicates at the Syntax and Semantics Interface
16:50-17.30Professor Louise Mc Nally, University Pompeu Fabra
17:30-18:00Open Discussion
Where in the grammar does the IL/SL distinction reside?
19:00Dinner at the Old Brewery

22 October 2019 - CPD Workshop 'Exploratory Practice: Teachers and learners working together to understand their classroom lives 

3 & 4 October 2019 - Tenselessness 2; Universidade Nova de Lisboa, organised by Centro de Linguística da Universidade de Lisboa (CLUL) & CREL

2 October 2019 - Professor Li Yang Research Paper Talk

11 September 2019 - Bayesian data analysis, School of Maths & Computing & CREL

15 July 2019 - Linguistics workshop; International Academy of Greenwich

1 July 2019 - Raising Aspirations Day

27 June 2019 - Syntax of Tense 2

1 May 2019 - CREL Launch