April 27 Open Office Hour: Intellectual Property and Commercialization

What: Words in the World Open Office Hour — Bradley McLean — Intellectual Property and Commercialization
When: April  27, 12:00 – 1:00 pm Eastern Time (GMT -4)

We are delighted to introduce Season 2 of our Words in the World Open Office Hours: Building Bridges. This season will highlight the diverse range of spheres to which language researchers can bring their skills and knowledge.

Bradley McLean, Associate Director of Innovation & Commercialization at Brock University, will kick off the new season on April 27 at 12pm (EST, GMT-4). He will provide an overview of intellectual property (patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, industrial designs) and present a model for commercialization that can be applied to your research, whether it has commercial applications or not. The presentation will include examples of resources available to assist you with intellectual property, commercialization, and bridging with industry/community for collaborations, and will be followed by a Q&A session.

Bradley McLean leads the Innovation & Commercialization team in the Office of Research Services at Brock University where he and his group support commercialization of Brock research, facilitate partnerships, and connect industry members or community groups with Brock researchers, and is an integral part of the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Niagara. Brad completed a PhD in Biotechnology at the Michael Smith Laboratory at UBC and worked for a decade in the biotechnology industry before being recruited to join Brock University’s commercialization team.

The meeting will be held using Zoom. Please note that the meeting is password protected and will require a simple pre-registration to receive the login information. To be added to the mailing list and receive this information, sign up at http://wordsintheworld.ca/home/open-office-hours/sign-up-for-open-office-hours/.

Cognitive Science of Language lecture series: Dr. Marco Marelli (Jan. 25, 2021)

Who: Marco Marelli (University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy) www.marcomarelli.net

What: Compositional effects in the processing of compound words: A computational perspective grounded in linguistic and visual experience

When: Monday January 25, 2021; 2:30-4:20 pm EST

Where: Zoom

Registration: https://mcmaster.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAlduyqrzMqG9HnqMOA1s0NZLhGj-bf2xtU 

McMaster’s Department of Linguistics and Languages invites you to the next talk in the Cognitive Science of Language lecture series. The lecture will be delivered online by Dr. Marco Marelli. Dr. Marelli is an associate professor of General Psychology at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy. His work focuses on the psychology of language, and in particular on the impact of semantics on word processing and the interface between language and the conceptual system. His more recent research projects combine methods from experimental psychology and computational modelling and are dedicated to compositionality (at the level of both phrases and morphologically complex words) and the interplay between linguistic, emotional and perceptual experience in conceptual processes. He is an associate editor of Behavior Research Methods and a consulting editor of Morphology. 

The talk is free but participants must register. Registration link can be found here:  https://mcmaster.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAlduyqrzMqG9HnqMOA1s0NZLhGj-bf2xtU

Please make sure to register in advance. For logistic reasons the registration for this event will only be reviewed until 2pm on the event date.  


Since the seminal LSA proposal (Landauer & Dumais, 1997) distributional semantics has provided efficient data-driven models of the human semantic system, representing word meaning through vectors recording lexical co-occurrences in large text corpora. However, these approaches generate static descriptions of the semantic system, falling short of capturing the highly dynamical interactions occurring at the meaning level during language processing. 

In the present work, I discuss the CAOSS model (Compounding as Abstract Operations in Semantic Space), a first step in this direction that moves from distributional semantics to capture the meaning of compound words (Marelli et al., 2017). 

In CAOSS, word meanings are represented as vectors encoding lexical co-occurrences in a reference corpus (e.g., the meaning of “snow” will be based on how often “snow” appears with the other words), according to the tenets of distributional semantics. A compositional procedure is induced as a weighted sum: given two vectors (constituent words) u and v, their composed representation (the compound) can be computed as c=M*u+H*v, where M and H are weight matrices estimated from corpus examples. The matrices are trained using least squares regression, having the vectors of the constituents as independent words (“car” and “wash”,  “rail” and ”way”) as inputs and the vectors of example compounds (“carwash”, “railway”) as outputs, so that the similarity between M*u+H*v and c is maximized. In other words, the matrices are defined in order to recreate the compound examples as accurately as possible. Once the two weight matrices are estimated, they can be applied to any word pair in order to obtain meaning representations for untrained word combinations (e.g., “snow building”). 

In a series of behavioral experiments, model predictions were tested against psycholinguistic data. CAOSS is shown to mirror evidence related to the processing of novel compounds (Marelli et al., 2017; Günther & Marelli, 2020), and in particular the impact of relational information (Gagné, 2001; Gagné & Shoben, 2007) as well as the “morpheme interference effect” (Crepaldi et al., 2010). Moreover, CAOSS also provides a central contribution to the understanding of semantic transparency in familiar compounds: CAOSS estimates are shown to best characterize the transparency impact in word processing (Günther & Marelli, 2019). Finally, I discuss how CAOSS is not to be considered a “disembodied model”, since one can easily ground it in perception by feeding it images together with text data (Günther et al., 2020). 

The model simulations indicate that compositionality-related phenomena are reflected in language statistics. Human speakers are able to learn these aspects from language experience and automatically apply them to the processing of any word combination. The present model is flexible enough to emulate this procedure, predicting sensible relational similarities for novel compounds and correctly capturing the contribution to semantic transparency provided by compositional operations. The model is also shown to generalize to other kind of data, being able to capture the contribution of perceptual experience in the internal dynamics of compound-word processing. Such evidence directly links linguistic composition to conceptual combination, speaking for the possible role of general-level learning procedures at the foundations of both phenomena. 

CCPTalks: Individual differences in the production and perception of prosodic boundaries in American English

CCPTalks is a new series presented by the Centre for Comparative Psycholinguistics at the University of Alberta. Join us for their first presentation, featuring Dr. Jiseung Kim (Alberta), on January 22, 2021!

Title: Individual differences in the production and perception of prosodic boundaries in American English

Date: Friday, January 22, 2021

Time: 9:00am MST (GMT-7)

Location: Zoom (contact ccpling@ualberta.ca for link)

I present the findings of my dissertation which investigated the hypothesis that individuals vary in their production and perception of prosodic boundaries, and that the properties they use to signal prosodic contrasts are closely related to the properties used to perceive those contrasts. A group of native speakers of American English participated in an acoustic study and subsequently an eye-tracking study that examined production and perception of three acoustic properties related to Intonational Phrase (IP) boundary: pause, pitch reset, and phrase-final lengthening. The results showed individual differences to a substantial degree, and offered limited evidence of a production-perception relation: a trend was observed in which individuals with longer pause durations.

WoW Holiday Newsletter 2020

Greetings from the Canadian Leadership Team

Dear Friends,

We wish you and yours very happy holidays!

It has been a year filled with the unexpected.  In this context, we have worked, as a community, to advance knowledge, to support the development of new researchers, and to engage in important dialogue.  As we move to 2021, we are looking to build upon the success of the Words in the World Open Office Hours series and upon the success of the first Words in the World International Conference that took place just a couple of months ago. This conference featured 115 oral presentations and over 300 registrants from 17 countries. 

In the coming year we will also be working hard to build upon our public engagement in order to support our communities. This year, we have certainly seen how language can shape our sense of the present and the future. As language researchers, we have an important role to play building the knowledge that is crucial to the success and safety of societies and communities.

In this context, we wish you a very happy Christmas season and a fantastic 2021 filled with funhappiness, and enjoyment.

Gary Libben, Lori Buchanan, Gonia Jarema, Juhani Järvikivi, Eva Kehayia, Victor Kuperman, and Sid Segalowitz

P.S.  Italicized words in the last sentence comprise the six most highly rated English words reported by Warriner, Kuperman & Brysbaert (2014).

Words in the World Conversations

We are delighted to announce a new video series called Words in the World Conversations. This series of video interviews begins with Psycholinguists across the Words in the World network. The first interviews are with Prof. Wolfgang Dressler (Professor Emeritus, University of Vienna), Dr. Loraine Obler (Distinguished Professor, City University of New York) (planned release date: January 15, 2021), and Dr. Mark Aronoff (Distinguished Professor, Stonybrook University). These video interviews can be found on the Words in the World website at http://wordsintheworld.ca/research/videos/.

WoW in the News

In our summer newsletter, we announced the launch of the WritLarge app (https://akkyro.shinyapps.io/writlarge/) by Dr. Aki-Juhani Kyröläinen and Dr. Victor Kuperman (McMaster University). WritLarge is a web-based application designed to facilitate social mobility and relieve social isolation of older individuals through story-telling, writing, and sharing.

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has recently published an article on the WritLarge app that discusses loneliness among seniors during Southern Ontario’s ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. You can read the article at this link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/senior-loneliness-study-covid-19-mcmaster-1.5821971.

Call for Participation

We are excited to announce an opportunity for collaboration in a project called ENRO (English Reading Online). This project is led by Dr. Victor Kuperman (Words in the World Co-Principal Investigator, McMaster University) and Dr. Noam Siegelman (Words in the World Collaborator, Haskins Laboratories). “The idea is to conduct online tests of English reading comprehension and its component skills in university student pools across multiple English and non-English speaking countries. A detailed questionnaire will also collect demographic and detailed language background information about participants. The end result will be a publicly available and continuously updated resource with data on English reading behavior and component skills (spelling, vocabulary, listening comprehension, decoding, and others), and a detailed record of individual language proficiency and background.”

You can read more about this opportunity at this link: http://wordsintheworld.ca/2020/12/10/call-for-participation-english-reading-online-enro/.

Upcoming Initiatives

Season 2 of Words in the World Open Office Hours

We are very pleased with the interest and participation generated in the 2020 season of Words in the World Open Office Hours. We’re looking forward to a second season of events, beginning in the new year! Details will be sent out via the Open Office Hours mailing list. If you’re not on the mailing list and would like to be, please let us know at this link: http://wordsintheworld.ca/home/open-office-hours/sign-up-for-open-office-hours/.  If there are topics or hosts that you would like to see on the 2021 Open Office Hours schedule, drop a note in our suggestion box at this link: http://wordsintheworld.ca/home/open-office-hours/suggestion-box/.

Handbook of Training and Mentorship – Call for Contributions

At our recent Words in the World International Conference 2020, Dr. Lori Buchanan hosted a discussion on a new opportunity for Words in the World Trainees and Collaborators. As a follow-up to that discussion, we are asking for expressions of interest (EOI) regarding chapters for a book/on-line resource that will focus on networked training.  If you are interested in contributing to this project, please send your EOI or questions to Dr. Lori Buchanan (buchanan@uwindsor.ca), Dr. Juhani Järvikivi (jarvikiv@ualberta.ca), or the grant at wordsintheworldgrant@gmail.com.


Spring Training in Experimental Psycholinguistics (STEP) returns in 2021. A series of babySTEP tutorials, starting in January 2021, will lead the way to the main event organized in May (dates TBA). All STEP2021 events will take place online. For further information and developments, see http://ccp.artsrn.ualberta.ca

Announcement: MSc & PhD positions at McMaster University

The Cognitive Science of Language program at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) is now welcoming applications at the MSc and PhD levels for the academic year 2021–2022. All applications received before or on January 31st, 2021, will be considered.

Based in the Department of Linguistics and Languages, the graduate program is interdisciplinary, including faculty from Humanities, Science, and Health Sciences. The program has a strong research orientation with expertise in cognitive science, corpus linguistics, neurolinguistics, phonetics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and theoretical linguistics.  The program introduces students to the issues in those fields that form the nexus of, linguistics, cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience, and trains them in the research methods employed to study them. More information about the program can be found at https://academiccalendars.romcmaster.ca/preview_entity.php?catoid=42&ent_oid=5791&returnto=8769, about the department at https://linguistics.humanities.mcmaster.ca and about the application procedure at https://gs.mcmaster.ca/academic-services/how-apply.

It is a good idea to get in touch with a potential thesis supervisor in advance. Supervisors can be found at https://linguistics.humanities.mcmaster.ca/people/faculty/. Many of them are affiliated with the Centre for Advanced Research in Experimental and Applied Linguistics (ARiEAL) that lists their most recent research interests at https://arieal.mcmaster.ca/discover-arieal/arieal-team

Announcement: Doctoral Candidate position – English Linguistics, Language Acquisition, Language Processing

Full time doctoral position at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, 3 year term, to start as soon as possible. The deadline for application is August 31, 2020. The official job announcement can be found here: https://uol.de/stellen/?stelle=67489.

The cluster of excellence Hearing4all and Prof. Dr. Marcel Schlechtweg at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg invite applications for a 3-year doctoral position. Candidates with an interest in contributing to the cluster’s first research thread, auditory processing deficits throughout the lifespan, and who are interested in extending that research to include connections with phonetics, phonology, and/or morphology, are particularly welcome.


  • Degree in psycholinguistics, linguistics, or a related discipline
  • Ability to perform excellent scientific work
  • Expertise in psycholinguistics and the following core areas of linguistics: Phonetics, phonology, and/or morphology
  • High working knowledge of English

Desirable competencies:

  • Experience in experimental linguistics and/or psycholinguistics and experimental software (e.g., reaction-time (Eprime), production (Praat), eye-tracking, ERP studies)
  • Experience in statistical analysis
  • Expertise in further core areas of linguistics (e.g., syntax, semantics, pragmatics)

The complete job announcement and application guidelines can be found here: https://uol.de/stellen/?stelle=67489


Message from the Director

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you all are keeping safe and well.

So much has changed in the months since our last Words in the World Newsletter. At the same time, I am struck by how periods such as these bring out the importance of community and our shared values. It is clear that in order to support the advancement of the next generation of research leaders, we need to prioritize opportunities for creativity, creating new knowledge, and translating that knowledge to serve the needs of our communities.

Certainly, the past months have highlighted the centrality of communication, our need to work together, and our need to train for the unexpected. It has been a pleasure for me to learn from others during our Open Office Hours, and to see the innovative new applications such as WritLarge developed in the Network. I am very excited to hear about the new work of trainees at our upcoming Words in the World Online Conference. I warmly invite you to encourage trainees within your institutions to submit an abstract at the beginning of August so that they can share their developing work at the online conference in October.

With very best wishes,
Gary Libben 

Good news and opportunities from across the network

Across our network we’ve all experienced, at minimum, a great upheaval of 2020 research plans. All of our in-person training and conference events have been postponed. This includes the 12th International Meeting on the Mental Lexicon which has been rescheduled to October 12-15, 2021. However, we have been encouraged to hear about how our colleagues have quickly adapted to a rapidly changing environment.Open Office Hours

We’re humbled by the response we’ve received from our colleagues regarding our Open Office Hour activities. So far we’ve hosted 8 events with colleagues participating live from more than 15 countries! We are pleased to announce that the next Open Office Hour, Incorporating Neuropsychological Tests into Experimental Research, will be held on July 28 at 12 p.m. EST (GMT -4). For more information, visit http://wordsintheworld.ca/home/open-office-hours/.

If you are interested in hosting an Open Office Hour, we would be happy to hear from you!

WritLarge App Announcement

The Reading Lab at McMaster University is happy to announce the launch of WritLarge (https://akkyro.shinyapps.io/writlarge/).This web-based application is designed to facilitate social mobility and relieve social isolation of older individuals through story-telling, writing, and sharing. This tool will provide older adults with a virtual community and an outlet to voice their experiences and engage with other community members. WritLarge also serves as a research tool for documenting and analyzing experiences and testimonies of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. Feel free to try out the WritLarge app, spread the word about it and send us your feedback. For questions and comments contact Aki-Juhani Kyröläinen (akkyro@gmail.com) or Victor Kuperman (vickup@mcmaster.ca).

Postdoctoral Opportunity Announcement

The Language and Communication Research Lab/McGill University and Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital-Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and the Mental Lexicon Lab/CRIUGM and University of Montreal are offering a joint postdoctoral position for 1 year, with a possibility of a 1-year extension. The application deadline is August 1, 2020.

Prospective candidates are expected to conduct psycholinguistic and/or neurolinguistic original research not only in the lab, but also in real world environments. The postdoctoral fellow is expected to actively contribute to ongoing Words in the World research in the two labs and to be involved in lab and research centre activities across the two sites.  Primary tasks include conceptualizing, designing, and conducting research projects, and preparing findings for publication.

For more information about the position and how to apply, view the full job posting on the Words in the World website: postdoctoral research position.

Words in the World International Conference 2020

We are looking forward to the virtual Words in the World (WoW) International Conference! This conference will offer a venue for the communication of ideas, intellectual exchange, and networking for trainees and others across the network.

This conference will take place online October 16-18, 2020 and will include scholarly presentations as well as discussion panels. The conference will strive to create presentation opportunities for trainees (e.g., undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, recent graduates and others). We encourage students and postdoctoral fellows from all over the world to present their in-progress or completed work at this conference and engage in conversations with their colleagues on academic and non-academic topics. Papers can, of course, include a mix of trainees and faculty members as authors.

Submissions are currently open. Read the full call for submissions here and the abstract guidelines here.

Questions? You can contact the organizing committee at wordsintheworldconference@gmail.com.

For more information about upcoming opportunities for involvement across the Words in the World network, visit our website at: http://wordsintheworld.ca/announcements-updates/.

Update on Mental Lexicon 2020 & New Words in the World Conference

Dear friends and colleagues,

In view of the COVID-19 related restrictions on public gatherings and travel, we have implemented several changes to the planning and organization of the Twelfth International Meeting on the Mental Lexicon. With these changes, we aim to both ensure the safety and well-being of our colleagues and to enable the continuous and vibrant exchange of ideas. We would like to announce a few updates regarding upcoming conference plans

1. The in-person Mental Lexicon conference is rescheduled for October 12th-15th, 2021 (one year after the original date). It will take place in the same venue, the Queen’s Landing Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. We will announce a new deadline for abstract submission in the Fall of 2020, giving you ample time for the preparation and submission of your contributions to the conference. Please monitor this website (https://mentallexicon.artsrn.ualberta.ca/) for further updates on the Mental Lexicon conference. We will be in touch with those of you who have already submitted your abstracts.

2. We recognize that current restrictions on research activities and the cancellation of many training events have affected students particularly strongly. To offer a venue for the communication of ideas, intellectual exchange, and networking for trainees, we are announcing a new virtual Words in the World (WoW) International Conference. This conference will take place online October 16-18, 2020 and will include scholarly presentations as well as discussion panels. The conference will strive to create presentation opportunities for trainees (e.g., undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, recent graduates and others). We encourage students and postdoctoral fellows from all over the world to present their in-progress or completed work at this conference and engage in conversations with their colleagues on academic and non-academic topics. Papers presented can, of course, include a mix of trainees and faculty members.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is August 9, 2020. Decisions of the Scientific Committee will be announced no later than September 1, 2020. All further information about the WoW International Conference will be made available here at http://wordsintheworld.ca/. Details on the format of abstracts and a link for abstract submission will be made available by June 10, 2020. Please spread the word and show your commitment to continuous progress of science and education by supporting this new initiative for trainees!

Open Office Hours – May 12, 2020

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our Open Office Hour series!

Our next Words in the World Open Office Hour will take place on Tuesday, May 12, at 12pm (Eastern Time, GMT -4). Jordan Gallant (Brock  University) will share his expertise using Gitlab and PsychoPy3 in collaborative remote research. Here is his summary:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced our research activities out of the lab and into online virtual environments. Not only has this changed the research methods available to us, but it has also fundamentally changed the way the that we work together. However, this office hour is here to say that this change need not be for the worse. Collaborative remote work can offer distinct advantages when paired with the right technology to support it. In this Open Office Hour I will discuss the merits of using online project development platforms such as Gitlab for collaborative research projects. Specifically, I will look at how PsychoPy3 and Gitlab can support the collaborative construction and administering of online experiments. In the process, I hope to instill a sense that, rather than being a quick fix for temporary problems, this is a paradigm worth carrying into the post-COVID future.

Accompanying video tutorials: YouTube

Open Office Hours are delivered using Zoom. Passwords are sent out via email in advance of Open Office Hours. If you would like to join the Open Office Hour mailing list, please sign up here: Open Office Hours Sign-Up Form.

Mental Lexicon 2020 Update

If you are interested in attending the next Mental Lexicon Conference, currently scheduled for October 2020, please be advised that the organizing committee has updated their conference information.

As the present time, no changes or new decisions have been made to the timing of the conference, but organizers are prepared to make alternative arrangements as required to maintain the health and safety of our community.

The deadline for abstracts has been changed to June 1, 2020. Further extensions may take place, as necessary. 

Full information is available at the conference website: https://mentallexicon.artsrn.ualberta.ca/