2017 Linguistics Retirement Celebration

Professor Emerita Judith Aissen emceeing the 2017 celebration

The celebration honoring the retirement of Sandy Chung, Bill Ladusaw, and Armin Mester was held on Sunday, June 10, 2017 at the Cowell College Provost's House with many department faculty, staff, students, and friends in attendance. Professor Emerita Judith Aissen emceed the event with her characteristic wit, introducing the remarks of the retirees' colleagues and former students.

Judith Aissen:

Good afternoon and welcome, faculty, staff, students, friends and family, to this event which simultaneously marks, celebrates, and mourns the official retirement of three of our colleagues — Bill Ladusaw, Sandy Chung, and Armin Mester. We could not have had a more beautiful day for this event. Regrettably Bill is not with us today — his mother passed away several days ago and he and Ken are with Bill's family in Kentucky. We will go on though as originally planned.

I'm Judith Aissen. I joined the department in 1983 and retired after 27 years in 2010. Donka always calls me a "poster child for retirement," and I can speak with some authority at least about that phase of life. But before I get to that I want to start by observing that Sandy, Bill, and Armin make up an extremely distinguished group of linguists. They have each made enduring and significant contributions to our field, contributions which have changed the way we think about the nature of language. The work of all three is of the very highest caliber and the work of each of them has set in motion new and rich research agendas for other scholars. Thus, as part of marking the new relation that Bill, Sandy, and Armin have to the university, this is a fitting time to honor their intellectual accomplishments.

As far as the make-up of our faculty is concerned, we are at a kind of tipping point. There have been two great waves of faculty hiring in our department since its founding in 1966 by Bill Shipley: one which took place essentially in the 1980s (1980-1992) (starting with Jorge and ending with Jaye) and a second which began in 2005 with Pranav and has just ended with the hire of Ryan Bennett and Amanda Rysling. Remarkably, between 1992 and 2005, the faculty remained entirely stable, with no additions and no separations. Up to the present moment, the older faculty, those hired in the first wave have been in the majority, but with the three retirements we are marking today and with the arrival of Ryan and Amanda next month, that balance will shift, with the second wave of faculty outnumbering the first by 8 to 5. I hope we can all agree that this is a good thing — a sign that the department is thriving and vigorous. It is also important to recognize that this healthy state is not an accident; these things don't just happen. The series of new hires that were made since 2005 required foresight and planning. All the faculty have played an active role in this, but Junko especially deserves a lot of credit. As early as 2000, she saw that just as there had been a wave of hiring in the 80s, there would be wave of retirements coming up and she began to push us to think about an orderly planning process for the future.

* * *

What about retirement? it goes without saying that you become far freer to do what you want; lots of time opens up for things that were impossible before (taking art classes, working in the garden, spending time with family, whatever); you can go to the movies on a school night or have friends over for dinner. At the same time, the prospect of being cut loose from work and colleagues poses a dilemma for many people — how to fill that time and how to replace the collegial networks that are no longer in place.

As academics, we are extraordinarily fortunate in that retirement does not mean, or need not mean, what it means in many other professions — it doesn't entail severing ties with colleagues, or with students, or with academic work. Quite the contrary, retirement can free up time to do exactly the things that brought us to the university in the first place — reading, writing, doing fieldwork, teaching (maybe in different contexts), carrying out research in a far less constrained way. We can retain our ties to the research side of the department, participating in reading groups, being members of QE and dissertation committees, possibly teaching in a limited way.

And while the university may ask us to clear out our offices, it encourages emeriti faculty to maintain our connections to the campus. We keep our email accounts, our websites, and our library privileges. The university provides a complementary "A" parking permit as well as a half-price membership at the Wellness Center.

This all seems to me pretty much a win-win situation both for the faculty member and for the department. As academic retirees, we get all the benefits of retirement with very few of the drawbacks. For the department it opens up the opportunity to bring on board a new, usually younger, faculty member while at the same time retaining its ties to those who have retired.

To close these introduction, I congratulate Armin, Bill, and Sandy for retiring at a moment in their careers when they are energetic and active. Speaking for everyone here, I hope that the next phase of your lives will be rich and fulfilling, whatever direction that takes.

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The format for today's event is the following. We will honor each of our colleagues in turn, in the order in which they came to UCSC: first Bill, then Sandy, and lastly Armin. For each of them, we will hear first from a colleague who knows them as a research collaborator and then from someone who speaks from the perspective of a former student.

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Bill Ladusaw
Bill Ladusaw

First Bill Ladusaw. When Bill came to UCSC in 1984, he raised the number of faculty from four to five, joining Bill Shipley, Jorge Hankamer, Geoff Pullum, and myself. The department was heavy with syntacticians, and Bill's arrival was an initial step in diversifying the faculty beyond syntax. Our vision included the development of a graduate program and that was not going to happen with only Amerindianists and syntacticians. Speaking for myself, I was delighted to have Bill as a new colleague — I knew him already as a friend (and furthermore, it meant I didn't have to teach Semantics 1 anymore).

UCSC has been extremely fortunate to have had Bill on its faculty. He has served in various administrative capacities: Provost of Cowell College, Dean of Undergraduate Education, Dean of Humanities, and Interim Dean of the Arts. It would be hard to overstate his good sense, and judiciousness. I want to recount one event involving Bill that I witnessed: we were in a campus-wide Faculty Senate meeting with a new Chancellor and an aggrieved student interrupted the meeting and demanded the floor. It was very awkward and what happened is that Bill stepped in. He approached the student, spoke quietly to him, and was able to defuse the situation. In an increasingly polarized campus, Bill's presence will be missed.

Within our field, Bill has been extremely influential, both by virtue of his own work and that of his students (we'll hear more about that shortly). Bill has a mind which I believe can be described as pellucid — the capacity to see clearly to the heart of a matter, stripping away everything that is contingent or irrelevant. Anyone who has ever discussed their work with Bill knows what I am talking about. Bill's own contributions include his seminal work in negation and negative polarity; the relation between judgement types and predicate types; his work with Sandy on semantic incorporation; and, with Sandy and Jim, on sluicing. I'm going to turn the floor over to Jim to speak further about Bill.

Jim McCloskey:

Bill and I first encountered each other and became friends as graduate students in Austin in the second half of the 1970s — when we worked for and with Lauri Karttunen, Stanley Peters, and Hans Kamp (who was a regular visitor at the time). It was a very exciting time to be there and to be working. As strands of work from the fields of philosophy and logic — from Montague's work, in particular — began to affect the field and change fundamentally the way that linguists thought about meaning in natural language. Suddenly, and maybe for the first time, a science of meaning seemed to be possible and philosophers and logicians like David Lewis, Bas van Fraasen, Max Cresswell, and others came through; there was a sense in the air of new possibilities opening.

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Bill was better prepared than most at the time to take advantage of these opportunities and push in new directions. That was in part because he came to Austin from Kentucky with a degree in linguistics but also a strong minor in computer science — something that was more unusual at the time than it has since become. But more important than that, he was able to make much of these new opportunities and possibilities because from the start he had the ability to see far and to see deep, to perceive patterns and regularities where others could see only a welter of apparently contradictory facts and observations, see below the surface of things and not to be distracted by technicalities.

The dissertation he wrote in that environment is emblematic of those gifts and is of course still widely read 40 years later. Barbara Partee has always said that Bill's dissertation was the first and most important demonstration that new modes, new kinds of explanation were possible within that emerging framework — modes of understanding that would have been undiscoverable in its absence. In it he showed that complex distributional patterns could yield to elegant explanation if one paid close attention to the entailment relations that they participated in.

Among the regular visitors to Austin in those years was Jorge Hankamer and it was that fact which in part led ultimately to Bill's coming to Santa Cruz. That didn't happen right away though; first there was an appointment at the University of Iowa which Bill took up immediately after earning the PhD. It was in Ames that he and Ken met for the first time and formed the relation that endures to this day. And when Bill moved to Los Angeles to take up a formative visiting appointment at UCLA in 1981, Ken moved with him. And it was there in 1981 that he formed two friendships that would turn out to be crucial both personally and professionally — with Sandy Chung and with Ed Keenan. With Ed especially Bill has always shared a deep intellectual empathy; and in the case of Sandy, although neither of them could have known it in 1981, they were to be partners in many joint adventures, and to be colleagues, collaborators and coauthors.

It was a couple of years later (in 1984) that he joined the Board of Studies in Linguistics here at Santa Cruz. In the period of rapid growth and renewal initiated by Jorge when he moved here from Cambridge, Bill was the third to be hired, after Judith Aissen and Geoff Pullum. And we (in the department and on the campus) have had the benefits of his gifts ever since — as researcher, as teacher, as mentor, as colleague and finally as administrator and academic leader. Others will be talking about his gifts as a mentor and teacher. As a researcher he has continued to make contributions of central importance to issues that are also of central importance – negation and negative polarity always (witness the famous SALT paper "Expressing Negation"), on quantification and the semantics of complex nominals, on judgment and judgment-types, on ellipsis and much more. He has always been a great collaborator and the joint work that he did with me and Sandy on ellipsis in the middle 1990s was (for me at least) a joy to be a part of. That collaboration continued and continues. And then there was a new collaboration — in the joint work with Sandy on modes of composition, which resulted in the important 2004 monograph from MIT press (Restriction and Saturation), in a 2007 paper in Natural Language Semantics, and in a more recent paper finished and submitted just a couple of days ago. What runs through all of this work is a deep intelligence — an ability to see below the surface of things and discern patterns that are invisible to most observers. There is an impatience with merely technical solutions to hard problems and there is especially a large, expansive, undogmatic and ambitious view of what the field could and should be about. You see the breadth and depth of that ambition especially in the long and hard struggle with the issue of judgment types — Brentano's "thetic" and "categorical" judgments.

There's a paper of Bill's from 1988 which is not as well known as I think it ought to be, but which demonstrates all of these qualities and more besides: on "levels" and "strata" in linguistic theory. This is not a paper on semantics but rather about the architecture of linguistic theory. And in that paper he brings a rationality and calm to debates that had become overheated and clouded by sloganeering — by what were better seen as terminological disputes than disagreements of substance. And it is those gifts that also came to the fore as he gradually moved into higher and higher levels of academic leadership and responsibility — the ability to see far, to see deep, to see ahead, to always be rational, and to see past small and temporary disputes. I remember him calling a meeting in the LCR — it must have been sometime in the early or middle 1990s — in which he warned all of his colleagues that there was this thing called the "world wide web" just on the horizon, that it was about to change all of our lives, and that we had better be prepared for it. That was the meeting at which I learned what a URL was.

And through all of the various roles that he has taken on over the years, every one of them demanding — Chair of the Department, Provost of Cowell College, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Dean of Humanities, Dean of the Arts, his ongoing work with WASC — the accreditation body for universities in California, Hawaii, and most of the Pacific — he has brought a mix of rationality and selflessness that is sadly rare. And to the daunting challenges he has faced in those positions he has brought both a deep intelligence and a deep empathy — the ability to look at the world from behind the eyes of the person you are working with or in apparent conflict with. The university will miss those gifts. But as linguists and as Bill's colleagues and friends we can continue to look forward to the many benefits that they bring to those who are fortunate enough to know him and to work with him.

Bill worked with a number of graduate students who have become prominent, including Chris Barker (from our inaugural PhD class) and Louise McNally (from our second graduate cohort). We had hoped that one of them could be present here today, but both are in Europe. They've sent a joint letter, though, which I am going to read.

Chris Barker (PhD, 1991) and Louise McNally (PhD, 1992):

Bill has made hugely important contributions to the field of semantics. But as the first two of Bill's PhD students, rather than talking about linguistic theory, we want to concentrate on his contributions as an advisor and as a mentor.

Besides ourselves, almost all of Bill's other advisees and coadvisees are now full professors: Ted Fernald, Chris Kennedy, Jason Merchant. Michael Johnston is a senior scientist in industry. Chris Potts, who was not officially Bill's advisee but arguably channeled Bill's thinking as much as the rest of us, was very recently promoted a full professor. Bill also now has on the order of 30 grand-students. This collective employs all kinds of representation languages, uses fieldwork and experimental and computational methods, and works on all kinds of linguistic data.

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How did Bill manage to produce such a diverse and successful group of students? We'd like to propose three explanatory factors:

  • First, Bill always carefully assessed the strengths, weaknesses, and interests of each of his advisees. Rather than trying to make us all fit a particular mold or to create a school of thought, as is unfortunately all too common in linguistics, his goal was to help each of us develop in whatever way we were most likely to be most successful.
  • Second, the level of understanding he aspires to achieve when he confronts a topic of research considerably surpasses what is typical even for an academic. This depth of reflection set a high standard, making us better scholars than we would otherwise have been.
  • Third, Bill is very highly respected by other semanticists. We both have had the following experience many times over the years: we meet a well-known figure in the field, they learn that Bill was our advisor, and their face lights up. "Oh!" they say, and what they mean is: "Now I'm going to take you seriously."

And Bill has made us better advisors in our own right. Here are some of Bill's wise sayings that we have made our own:

  • Good ideas are cheap; the hard part is working them out.
  • When you argue against another researcher's analysis, you need to argue against the best possible version of that account.
  • Every great example sentence is great for many reasons.
  • [On including a bit of formalism in a general talk:] It's good to show a glint of steel beneath the velvet glove.
  • You need to be more critical of your own work than any referee could possibly be.

After internalizing standards this high, it's a wonder any of us ever published anything!

Finally, we'd like to comment on a different aspect of Bill's career: his long record of service in administration. We have often heard our semanticist colleagues lament that the time Bill devoted to administration diminished his contributions to semantic theory. However, in recent years both of us have become involved in administration (as Vice Dean for the College of Arts and Science at NYU and as Vice Rector at Pompeu Fabra University). As a result, we understand and appreciate the profound value of Bill's insight, judgment, diplomacy, and commitment in an area where these qualities are too often lacking. His example and occasional mentoring has helped us in this part of our work as well. Without contributions like Bill's, life would be much harder for those same complaining semanticist colleagues.

We thank Bill for his inspiring service to scholarship, as a theorist, as a teacher, as a mentor, and as an administrator.

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Sandy Chung
Sandy Chung

Sandy Chung arrived in 1987, strengthening the syntax group and adding Austronesian as a language area. Sandy came as a senior faculty member (she had been 12 or 13 years at UCSD before that), and she brought with her a level of experience which helped us move from a small and promising department to a full-sized, highly professional one. She brought her own brand of intellectual rigor, a deep commitment to teaching, and a kind of toughness, a capacity to say "no", which sometimes made us squirm but which almost always, in hindsight, led to a better functioning unit.

The hallmarks of Sandy's work, the sources of its impact and influence, have been evident since the very beginning of her career: its empirical and analytical depth, the insistence that the complexity of linguistic data be acknowledged rather than swept under the rug; and the deep skepticism that leads her always to question received wisdom, an impulse that leads her away from facile explanation.

Sandy has never been one to take the easy road and has stretched beyond her comfort zone both in teaching and in research. She volunteered to teach a number of courses which were, for various reasons, especially challenging. Notable among these was Philosophy 9 (Introduction to Logic), which she taught for the Philosophy Department for several years. She also designed and regularly taught Poetry and Language, a course which has persisted in the curriculum. As evidence of the symbiotic relation between teaching and research, it is likely that the preparation Sandy did to teach Logic later made it possible for her to extend her research to the nature of semantic composition and to sluicing, topics at the syntax-semantics interface.

Sandy served twice as Chair of Linguistics and once as Chair of Philosophy. The honors she has received include her election to President of the LSA in 2011 and to Faculty Research Lecturer at UCSC earlier this year. She has served on many advisory committees on this campus, and for other universities, foundations and organizations, both in the US and abroad.

In recent years, Sandy has collaborated with Matt Wagers on a series of experiments which probe language processing in Chamorro. To talk about Sandy as colleague and researcher, we have asked Matt Wagers to say a few words.

Matt Wagers:

Sandy and I began working together sometime in the fall of 2010. The preceding decade had witnessed the gathering steam of experimental syntax, a push to change the field's data-gathering practices. At the 2008 LSA Annual Meeting — where I interviewed for my job at UC Santa Cruz — Sandy delivered a (somewhat in)famous address that raised questions about how totalizing the experimental syntax ethos might be. In particular, could it disadvantage the investigation of languages whose size and cultural practices were not obviously amenable to laboratory-style experimentation? Would their insights be minimized? In my first years at Santa Cruz, Sandy was still working mostly in administration. But when she returned to full-time teaching duty, we began our joint project on Chamorro psycholinguistics to try and provide answers to some of those questions. The project was begun, perhaps, in the spirit of a dare — one of Sandy's frequently productive intellectual gambits — but in retrospect, I think we both knew that something big could come out of it.

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What followed was, for me, an intensely satisfying period of intellectual activity and personal growth. It is easy, but also accurate, to attribute this to the energy and spirit Sandy brought to the endeavor. In our first several trips out to the Marianas, I witnessed in Sandy an enviable and satisfying combination of scientific acumen with very human warmth and kindness. By acumen, I refer to Sandy's remarkable ability to see the best path forward among a morass of options, an ability perhaps underwritten by a kind of tension in her thinking between analytic playfulness and sanity. By warmth, I refer to her perceptive, communitarian outlook. In academia, it is easy to become predominantly inwardly oriented and to not listen to the people by whom we are nurtured and to whom we have a responsibility. In the field that attitude is untenable; and in the academic department or university committee or classroom, just as unproductive.

Perhaps the single most valuable gift to emerge from our collaboration is simply the time spent together: listening to the stories, and their retellings, of her life as a child in the Bay Area; her start as a young linguist; those whose influence had mattered to her and why; episodes in the development of our department, etc. Apart from being showcases for Sandy's great sense of humor, they are also blueprints for how one can grow into a life of balance and honest achievement. I remain deeply grateful to Sandy for all she has shared with me just as I remain buoyed by excitement for what we have yet to discover.

Sandy's PhD students include Geraldine Legendre (Johns Hopkins), Cheryl Black (SIL), and Boris Harizanov (Stanford). We are very happy to have Vera Gribanova here today to speak about Sandy from the perspective of former student and junior colleague. Vera received her PhD from this department in 2010. She is currently Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University.

Vera Gribanova (PhD, 2010):

I first came to know Sandy as a graduate student in this department in the mid-2000s. It was a peculiarity of my first year that Sandy did not teach in the introductory syntax sequence that year, being otherwise occupied with administrative duties on this campus. This had the result that my first exposure to Sandy was via watching her ask questions at various talks. Anyone who has ever experienced a Sandy question at a talk or seen this take place know that it involves a deep and penetrating level of engagement with the theoretical and empirical details of an analysis. This of course had the consequence that I was intimidated, and scared of interacting with her: How could I ever be able to engage that deeply and seriously with linguistic theory? This of course fell away as I came to know and deeply appreciate Sandy's perspective and insight as a linguist and as a human being.

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Sandy started her career as a linguist with undergraduate work at Harvard on Maori, Samoan, and Tongan, later working on the comparative syntax of Polynesian for her dissertation, also at Harvard. Much of her work since 1977 — 40 incredible years of dedication to date — has been on Chamorro. She has made major contributions in a range of important areas, including wh-agreement and successive cyclicity, identity conditions on ellipsis licensing, verb first word order, and many others. With Bill, she has leveraged her knowledge of Chamorro and Maori to build arguments about the nature of semantic composition (one among many examples of her work at the grammatical interfaces).

Both her research and her mentorship of students share a core set of commitments and principles which might, to a UCSC student, seem apparent, but are actually hard fought and won. At the core of her approach is a commitment to whole language description, which means fusing thoughtful philological work with theoretical rigor and acuity. It means sticking close to the idea that analyses should be consistent with one's broad and deep view of the nature of the language at hand and its particular properties. She has, by example and by explicit instruction, led generations of students to aspire to exactly this kind of linguistic analysis.

As an advisor, Sandy's contributions are important and enduring. She holds her students to high standards, and is always game to think creatively about analyses and their consequences (even if she does not agree). Her style of questioning seems to have given birth to its own sui generis cult of personality, as evidenced in the title of her recent Festschrift, Asking the Right Questions. Sandy's approach, in her work and her advising, is honest, clear, and strong. She sticks to her principles in both empirical and theoretical inquiry, and in doing so has demonstrated that it's possible to make the best kind of progress with this approach, all while reaching for deeper insight.

By way of closing: I mentioned to a colleague that I'd be here today. She said, "please make sure to use the words 'formidable presence.'" That pretty much sums it up.

And John Moore, initial PhD class of 1991, who could not be with us today has sent us the following about Sandy.

John Moore (PhD, 1991):

I graduated from UCSC with a BA in linguistics in 1979 — this was shortly before Jorge Hankamer was hired to rebuild a department (then a board of studies) that had just narrowly missed being disestablished by a new chancellor. We were a small, but enthusiastic group of students and I assumed I would go on to graduate school. Somehow that didn't happen as planned — I spent the next several years in the computer industry and playing guitar in Spain. However, one weekend in 1985, I stopped by UCSC Linguistics to see what was going on. I found, again, an extremely committed group of undergraduates and learned that a new PhD program was likely to begin the next academic year; this rekindled the idea of graduate study. I met with Bill Shipley, who had been a mentor, and Jorge, whose search committee I had served on. I decided to stay on the west coast and applied to three UC programs — UCSC, UCLA, and UC San Diego. Jorge, in his deadpan, but convincing way, suggested I need not consider UC San Diego because UCSC had just recruited their best syntactician.

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The next year Mitzi Morris, Chris Barker, and I began as UCSC Linguistics' pioneer PhD class. One of our first classes took place in Kresge College. Sandy Chung — then on loan from UC San Diego (Jorge had exaggerated a bit) — taught our introduction to Government and Binding Theory. I immediately realized that I was in the presence of brilliance. Sandy had a disarming self-effacing quality that sometimes obscured a core of incredible intellectual depth (I say "sometimes" because this depth, while sometimes below the surface, often emerged in full force). She had (and has) a passion for syntactic analysis and seeks the perfect balance between theoretical sophistication and respect for data.

Over the next four and a half years I was extremely fortunate to be trained by a syntactic dream team; one that included Jim McCloskey and that was co-chaired by Sandy and Judith Aissen. Sandy and the others always pushed me to my limits, always demanded excellence, but did so with respect and affection. Even though I was far from being a colleague, they treated me like one. I remember the copious comments Sandy wrote on everything I produced, including multiple dissertation drafts. This level of commitment was well beyond what I have observed elsewhere.

I credit Sandy and others at UCSC with preparing me to meet the rigors of academia. They served as role models in research, teaching, graduate training, and academic politics. Throughout the 25 years I have been at UC San Diego, I have used their examples as I negotiated the three legs of the academic stool. I have been fortunate to have inherited the "Santa Cruz" method of inductive instruction, to have done my best to emulate the eclectic, yet rigorous, approaches to research, and to attempt to channel the political acumen that has been the hallmark of UCSC Linguistics.

Congratulations Sandy on a stellar career that has guided the careers of so many of us — some now approaching retirement age ourselves. I wish you the very best — I suspect you may be more selective in your commitments, but I doubt you will be slowing much.

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Armin Mester
Armin Mester

Armin Mester came to our department in 1989 from the University of Texas. He brought the number of phonologists to two (Junko had been hired several years earlier — and I have to say that I was very happy when Junko came, because it meant that I didn't have to teach Phonology 1 anymore), part of our plan to develop a full-fledged program in theoretical linguistics. Armin and Junko have collaborated on an extraordinary body of work on Japanese morphophonology, making them the leading figures in that field today. But their work would never have had the impact that it has had if it were only about Japanese morphophonology. While the work is deeply rooted in a large range of subtle and intriguing facts, the analysis of those facts has always been in the service of larger theoretical claims about the organization of phonology, particularly prosody, and its relation to morphology and syntax. The work is thus characterized by empirical depth, analytical elegance, theoretical sharpness, and, I have to add, beautiful writing. Before turning the floor over to Jaye, I want to say something about Armin as faculty colleague.

In addition to his central role in the phonology curriculum, Armin has been one of the chief instructors for Introduction to Linguistics, Language Change, Structure of Japanese, and Poetry and Language. Armin has taught Intro, one of our largest courses, every year for the last 5 years (as well as numerous times before that), with enrollments up near 300. This is major service to the department. When I think of Armin, I think of his humor, his wit, and his irony — qualities which were often mentioned by students in their evaluations as having made classes more fun and more interesting, qualities which made it a lot easier for them to get to an 8am Intro to linguistics class. Outside linguistics, Armin has served multiple times on CAP, the Committee on Academic Personnel. This is one of the most important senate committees as it is the highest faculty body which recommends on hires and promotion. Effective service on CAP requires members with genuinely broad intellectual interests combined with both rigor and generosity and Armin has those qualities in abundance.

I'll ask Jaye now to speak about Armin from his perspective as collaborator and colleague.

Jaye Padgett:

It's well known that Armin and Junko have done most of their work together. Junko, I'm sorry, but today is about Armin, and so I'll be attributing everything to him. Actually, a collaboration as close and fruitful as Armin and Junko's reminds me of Lennon and McCartney. In this metaphor, I only hope that I'm at least George. Not Ringo.

I felt lucky to get this job in 1992, because Armin was here and already a luminary. Already Armin had really seminal articles to his name. The famous Linguistic Inquiry paper on compound voicing in Japanese was written while Armin was still in graduate school. And there is that beautiful article published in Language in 1989, about Japanese palatalization and underspecification. In those days there was a fascinating dialog going on in the field about underspecification. Underspecification isn't talked about much today, but this dialog was really about how the contrastiveness and markedness of features shapes a language's phonology. This is a question that remains as important today as ever. Armin's article defined one prominent point of view: that contrastiveness within the language is what matters. I used that Language article in classes for decades.

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That article showed qualities typical of Armin's work. First, it clarified the theoretical issues. When I say "clarified" I mean not only that it put known issues clearly, something Armin does outstandingly, but that it made clear what the issues were — essentially helping to define a research agenda for the field. Second, it provided a beautiful empirical case study based on a deep understanding of the language. Armin has often joked about how well he fits in this department, since he works on understudied languages like German and Japanese. Joke taken. But his work really is of a piece with the department, advancing theory at the highest level based on empirical analyses of specific languages that are scrupulously authoritative. His paper on the trochee in Latin, published in 1994 in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, is another early example.

As I think about these general qualities of his work, I see another way in which the Beatles reference is right. Like most people, I believe the members of the Beatles did their very best work together, and not when they had separated. Maybe this was a matter of competition among them. I like to see it in a more positive way: around greatness we are inspired to be the best we can be too. If I had not had Armin as a colleague to look up to, I'm sure that my own work, and career, would not have been as good or interesting. I want to thank him for that.

Armin was an early adopter of Optimality Theory. Shortly after I arrived at UC Santa Cruz, Armin, Junko, and I were asked to review the famous Prince and Smolensky and McCarthy and Prince 1991 manuscripts for publication. We wrote the review in the summer, sometimes contemplating the details in the jacuzzi on the deck of their house. I don't know about Armin, but I view this as a watershed moment in my career, because we really had to learn Optimality Theory (OT) inside and out. Armin immediately began to apply its insights about constraint ranking and violability to problems that seemed intractable. In doing so, Armin defined a new role for himself as a leading thinker in OT, a role he has maintained for his career. Over the years this work led to new insights in underspecification theory again, in derivational opacity, in constraint conjunction and the Obligatory Contour Principle, in all areas of prosody, especially above the word level, and in the "core-periphery" structure of the lexicon and how constraint ranking illuminates it. Here I'll focus on prosody and on the lexicon, addressing two of his most longstanding and influential research programs.

In Armin's work on the core-periphery structure of the lexicon, focusing particularly on Japanese, he defined and developed an entirely new area of phonology. At the heart of this program is the idea that a language's vocabulary is organized into a hierarchy of "strata of foreignness" that are in a subset-superset relationship. This claim, captured by means of articulated faithfulness constraints and constraint ranking, amounts to a much more restrictive and interesting theory of lexical strata, one whose implicational predictions are borne out in Japanese and other languages. This work has been pioneering.

His work in the area of prosody has been so wide-ranging and sustained that is difficult to sum up, and impossible to do justice to. Armin has repeatedly combined the insights of constraint ranking and violability with insights specific to prosody, bringing a level of sophistication and nuance to our understanding of prosody that have been rarely matched by anyone. His insights about "weak layering" were an early example of this. His much more recent work on recursion in prosody can be seen as complementary to this, violating expectations of strict layering "in the opposite direction," as it were. With this work (and along with Selkirk and Ito) he has again defined a new research agenda in phonology, one that provides more elegant generalizations about prosody, along with a simplification of the inventory of prosodic categories. (An example of the latter: arguing for the elimination of the "major phrase"-"minor phrase" category distinction in Japanese.) His dedication to theoretical elegance guides again his very recent work on the "perfect prosodic word" (a notion so appealing as to make the name doubly apt) in analyses of Danish stød and Japanese unaccentedness.

Armin's retirement is a loss to us, but not in every way. I am very pleased to be able to announce to everyone here that he has been appointed Research Professor of Linguistics. I couldn't be happier to know that he will continue to be my colleague.

Armin, congratulations.

Armin's former students include Adam Ussishkin (Arizona), Kazutaka Kúrisu (Kobe College), and Aaron Kaplan (Utah), as well as students from a number of universities other than UCSC. We're delighted to have Rachel Walker here to speak about Armin as teacher and mentor. Rachel received her PhD from this department in 1998 and moved directly to a faculty position at the University of Southern California. She has been full professor there since 2012.

Rachel Walker (PhD, 1998)

I first met Armin one score and four years ago! It was at a recruitment open house, and the party was held on the lovely deck of Armin and Junko's house, which I think was quite new for them back then. It's amazing to be back here again after I have had all these years in a career in phonology that Armin had a major hand in shaping.

Armin was the advisor for my phonology QP and he provided extensive input as a member of my dissertation committee. During my studies at UCSC, I learned some themes of Armin's work at that time that have continued to capture my imagination. These themes include the prosodic structure of words, understanding markedness and the conditions under which it is combinative in a word, the role of licensing in phonological structure, providing a lens on how long-standing puzzles in phonology show evidence of conspiracy and optimization.

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Armin's ideas were very exciting and influential in shaping new insights in phonology in the early days of OT, when I was here, but they are still very much shaping phonological theory today.

Most of all, as a student I was struck by how Armin's work consistently accomplished broad explanations of phonological patterns using very simple ideas and structures. This deeply influenced my approach to research both as a student and now. When I was a new graduate student, I rather thought that complexity would be more scholarly than simplicity, but Armin helped me to see otherwise.

If memory serves me correctly, the first course I took with Armin was Phonology B, which dealt with metrical structure. I remember seeing sketches of foot parsing fly across the chalkboard, and it was especially thrilling when Armin put his arm on his head in thinking about an answer to a question, because that indicated that the question was so deep and interesting that it required arm-to-head contact to ponder it.

My phonology QP was on prominence-driven stress, which drew inspiration from ideas about licensing and optimization that were developed in Armin's work. I recall that an exciting highlight of that QP research was when it was accepted for presentation at NELS at MIT.

This conference was all the more exciting because there were also presentations by other students and faculty from Santa Cruz, namely Jason Merchant, Chris Kennedy, and Jim McCloskey. I remember being on stage at that conference at the same time as Chomsky, though it was only because he was sitting there while prizes were being handed out, and my name was drawn for a free conference T-shirt. Nevertheless, Armin helped to bring me to that signature moment in my student career.

Over the longer term, the discussions I had with Armin in the course of writing my QP sparked a long term interest in syllable prominence that ultimately led to my book on the influence of syllable prominence in vowel patterns in language, which was published by Cambridge a few years ago and helped me to get promoted to full professor, so I am very grateful to him for that.

Wrapping up, over the course of Armin's career, I've been continually impressed by how productive and inventive he is in his research. Armin continues to be a model to me of how to use concepts of minimal complexity to maximal effect. My reference to the terms minimal and maximal here is not accidental. Armin and Junko's more recent work on minimal and maximal prosodic categories has given rise to an industry of new work on solving problems in the structure of prosodic words and higher levels of prosody. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I served on a committee for a dissertation on the phonology-syntax interface that centers on the concept of recursion, which their theory makes possible.

So I hope that retirement for Armin does not mean an end to his research but rather frees him up from other responsibilities to continue to bring inspiring and creative ideas to the field.

* * *

This closes this part of our celebration. Before turning the floor over to Ashley Hardisty, I suggest that we raise a glass to Bill (in Kentucky) and to Sandy and Armin here and congratulate them on their accomplishments up to this point and wish them well in their future endeavors.

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