Welcome to ULAB: Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain.
The student run UK organisation for students of linguistics and related fields.

ULAB2015 at York St John University

April 17-18-19

ULAB 2015 is officially the biggest ULAB ever. Thanks to all the hardworking people on both executive and local committees, they have pulled together to create a conference over twice as big as ULAB 2014. The conference itself has undergone some changes too, this is in order to keep ULAB growing. This year has seen the inclusion of workshops and a postgraduate panel, it also has plenary speakers from across the country in different fields in order to maximise our reach across the spectrum of linguistics. You can never please everyone but we will try out best to please as many people as possible! We have also invited colleges from across the UK to visit ULAB on Friday and Sunday in order to inspire the next set of undergraduate linguists.

ULAB 2015 will also have free conference t-shirts, a free conference bag,  free conference stationery and a customary ULAB 2015 USB card, free of course. In keeping with previous ULAB conferences, we will all go for dinner on Saturday evening, this year COSMOs was chosen as the restaurant, this was because it is an all-you-can-eat high-quality world buffet, so there really is something for everyone (it also caters for 90 people, which many places don’t in York!). Not in keeping with previous ULAB conferences, this year will have part of the AGM on Saturday. During this AGM we will vote for the next committee and the next host institution for ULAB 2016. The reasoning behind this is so that on Saturday evening and on Sunday there can be an official handover between ULAB 2015 and ULAB 2016 which, we hope, will encourage further growth of ULAB as a whole.

Finally, we would like to thank you. The people who make ULAB possible, the people who are willing to showcase their own valuable research at an international conference, without you, the presenters and the delegates, ULAB would not be possible. We know that ULAB 2015 will be unforgettable, and that’s down to both ULAB and you.

ULAB 2015 Invited speakers

Dr Derek Bousfield (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Title & Abstract TBC

Prof. Peter French (University of York)

Title & Abstract TBC

Dr Diane Nelson (University of Leeds)

The problem with convergence, or whose grammar is it anyway?

For many linguists, research in syntactic theory is about uncovering the principles of an innate Universal Grammar, using native speaker intuition as a window into unconscious grammatical knowledge (competence). According to this view, communities of native speakers of the same language ought to converge on the same set of grammaticality judgements, and from this evidence linguists can draw conclusions about the underlying structure of all languages. Many influential articles have been published based on the intuitions of a very small number of people, sometimes just the linguist author and a couple of colleagues. However, when researchers collect data from larger groups of speakers, the picture gets very complicated very quickly: presented with the same sentences for grammaticality or acceptability judgements, there is often huge variation among speakers of the “same” language. In this talk I will review some of the evidence for this variation, which has been linked to experimental methodology, speaker education, literacy and socio-economic background. I will explore some of the possible explanations for speaker variation and its consequences for linguistic theory; if there is no convergence, does that mean there is no Universal Grammar?

Prof. Paul Drew (Loughborough University)

What went wrong? Two case studies of communication breakdowns in conversation

Communication in conversation, as in all forms of interaction, relies on mutual intelligibility between participants; a conversational breakdown occurs when participants come to recognise that they do not understand one another, or no longer understand one another – that is when there is some breach in mutual intelligibility or intersubjectivity. One question that arises in such cases is, how did the breach in mutual intelligibility – the breakdown in understanding – occur? I will explore two cases in which participants run into difficulties when they realise that there’s been some breakdown in communication between them, one in a telephone call to a copy shop, the other in an interaction between someone with autism and her speech therapist. I will explore particularly how these breakdowns occurred (something like, what generated the problem in each case).



York St John University

General information

ULAB is a conference for linguistics, you do not have to present to be a delegate but you will still have to register. To present at ULAB you will have to submit an abstract, however if you’re not keen on presenting your paper, you are welcome to take part in the poster session. There will be a poster display throughout the two days so people can look at them during the breaks. You can also take part if you are presenting your paper, since we will probably have simultaneous sessions going on, some people might not be able to come to your talk and it would be nice for them to be able see a poster about it.

The conference contains other elements besides papers: there will also be an AGM (annual general meeting) to elect the new national committee of ULAB, to ratify the new constitution, and to select the next venue. If you wish your university to host ULAB 2016, you will be given a chance at the AGM to make a proposal and it will be voted on by everyone present. Apart from the formal parts of the conference, there will also be a meet and greet, a meal, other chances to socialise and explore the city.

Further information will be available closer to the conference, if you have any questions, please contact us.