Aaron Dinkin's web site

I still haven't really gotten around to making a web page yet. But I've produced enough stuff by now that I ought to have it accessible somewhere, so here it is. Note the general sparseness of my html design. You have no idea how long it took me to figure out how to get that picture over there.

I spent four years as a visiting assistant professor in the Swarthmore College linguistics department and the coordinator of the phonetics lab. I'm now teaching in the linguistics department at the University of Toronto.

I pronounce caught the same as cot. (My dialect has other features as well.)

papers|puzzles|poems|plays|people

Papers

My main research interest is the interaction of abstract phonological structure with the direction of phonetic and phonological change, and how that interaction is manifested in dialect variation. I recently graduated from the Linguistics department at U.Penn; the title of my dissertation is Dialect Boundaries and Phonological Change in Upstate New York. (If you don't feel like reading the whole dissertation, this handout hits most of the main points; or you could just read the abstract.)

Here's a selection of my research (you can also read my full CV):

  • "A Phonological Variable in a Textual Medium: (ing) in Online Chat". Talk presented at CVC 8, Kingston, Ont., June 2014. Handout (PDF).
  • "Two Types of Dialect Features and Two Types of Dialect Boundaries". Plenary address presented at TULCON 7, Toronto, March 2014. Handout (PDF).
  • "Linguistic and Non-Linguistic Regions in Perceptual Dialectology". Poster (PDF) presented at NWAV 42, Pittsburgh, October 2013. Handout (PDF), revised to fix a typo present in the version handed out at NWAV.
  • "Changing Roles of Regional Boundaries and Isoglosses". Talk presented at the American Dialect Society annual meeting, Boston, January 2013. Handout (PDF).
  • "Cooperstown, New York as a Site of New-Dialect Formation". Talk presented at NWAV 41, Bloomington, Ind., October 2012. Handout (PDF).
  • "What's Really Happening to Short A Before L in Philadelphia?". Talk (with William Labov and Ingrid Rosenfelder) presented at NWAV 40, Washington, D.C., October 2011. Handout (PDF). Paper (PDF) published in American Speech 88.1:7–31.
  • "Toward a Unified Theory of Chain Shifting". Talk presended at Methods 14, London, Ont., August 2011, and at NWAV 40, Washington, D.C., October 2011. Handout (PDF). Paper (PDF) published in Nevalainen & Traugott (2012), Oxford Handbook on the history of English, 748–760.
  • "Nasal Short-a Systems vs. the Northern Cities Shift". Talk presented at NWAV 39, San Antonio, Tex., November 2010. Handout (PDF). Paper published in Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 17.2, 71–80.
  • "The Present-Day Dialectological Status of the Hudson Valley". Talk presented at the International Linguistic Association's 55th annual conference, New Paltz, N.Y., April 2010. Handout (PDF).
  • "Phonological Transfer as a Forerunner of Merger in Upstate New York". Talk presented at the American Dialect Society annual meeting, Baltimore, January 2010. Handout (PDF).
  • Co-author with Michael Friesner on: "Transmission or Diffusion?: NYC-like Short A in Southeast Florida and the Hudson Valley". Talk presented at NWAV 38, Ottawa, October 2009. Handout (PDF).
  • "An Eleméntàry Linguistic Definition of Upstate New York" (with Keelan Evanini). Talk presented at NWAV 38, Ottawa, October 2009. Handout (PDF). Paper published in Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 16.2, 36–45.
  • "Weakening Resistance: Progress Toward the Low Back Merger in New York State". Talk presented at NWAV 37, Houston, November 2008. Handout (PDF). Working paper published in Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 15.2, 60–69. Full paper published in Language Variation and Change 23.3:315–345.
  • "Fading In and Out of the Inland North". Talk presented at Methods XIII, Leeds, August 2008. Handout (PDF).
  • "Settlement Patterns and the Eastern Boundary of the Northern Cities Shift". Talk presented at the American Dialect Society annual meeting, Chicago, January 2008. Handout (PDF). Paper (PDF) published in the Journal of Linguistic Geography.
  • "Bridging the Gap: Dialect Boundaries and Regional Allegiance in Upstate New York" (with William Labov). Talk presented at Penn Linguistics Colloquium 31, Philadelphia, February 2007. Handout (PDF).
  • "The Real Effect of Word Frequency on Phonetic Variation". Talk presented at Penn Linguistics Colloquium 31, Philadelphia, February 2007. Handout (PDF). Paper (PDF) printed in Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 14.1 (2008), 97–106.
  • "Unnatural Classes and Phonological Generalization in Dialect Formation". Talk presented at NWAV 35, Columbus, Ohio, November 2006. Handout (PDF).
  • "An Experimental Study on the Interpretability of Ostensible Subject-Control Promise". Talk presented at the LSA Summer Meeting, East Lansing, Mich., June 2006. Handout (PDF).
  • "'Sporadic' Syncope and Latin Phonology's Wicked Stepmother". Talk presented at Penn Linguistics Colloquium 30, Philadelphia, February 2006. Abstract (PDF).
  • Co-author to Michael Friesner on: "Russian Immigrants in Philadelphia as English Speakers and Philadelphians". Talk presented at NWAV 34, New York, October 2005. Handout (PDF). Paper printed as "The Acquisition of Native and Local Phonology by Russian Immigrants in Philadelphia" in Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 12.2 (2006), 91–104.
  • "Marry-Merry-Mary Merger in New England: Further Analysis". Talk presented at Methods XII, Moncton, N.B., August 2005. Handout (PDF).
  • "Mary, Darling, Make Me Merry; Say You'll Marry Me: Tense-Lax Neutralization in the Linguistic Atlas of New England". Poster presented at NWAV 33, Ann Arbor, Mich., October 2004. Paper (PDF) printed in Penn Working Papers in Linguistics 11.2 (2005), 73–90.

    My Erdős number is 4: Erdős & Chvátal (1972); Chvatal & Sankoff (1975); Sankoff & Labov (1979); Labov, Baranowski, & Dinkin (2010).


    Puzzles

    I was a member of the organizing teams for the 2006 and 2011 MIT Mystery Hunts, and have occasionally contributed puzzles to other events as well. The full list of puzzles I've written or co-written is available here. Contributions (as author or co-author) of which I'm particularly proud include the following:

    Poems

    I occasionally write double-dactyls. One time I made people write double-dactyls.

    Plays

    In grad school I did way more on-campus theatre than any grad student legitimately has time for (mostly with the Underground Shakespeare Company and Penn Players). Shows I've been in at Penn include, but are not limited to:
  • 12 Angry Men, the Penn Theatre Arts Council's Small Fall show
  • The Tempest with Underground Shakespeare
  • You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown with Stimulus Children's Theater
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream with Underground Shakespeare
  • King Lear with Underground Shakespeare
  • Into the Woods with the Penn Law School Light Opera Company
  • Metamorphoses with iNtuitons
  • Lady in the Dark with the Penn Theatre Arts Program
  • Annie Get Your Gun with Penn Players
  • The Real Inspector Hound, a Small Fall show
  • Reckless with Penn Players
  • The Merchant of Venice with Underground Shakespeare
  • Elsinore! with iNtuitons

    Prior to Penn, I music-directed Songs for a New World at MIT and vocal-directed Les Phys, my roommate Peter's masterpiece, at Harvard. Before that, I was music director of the Harvard Noteables, sine quibus non.

    If you want a more detailed list of shows I've done, look here.


    Sarah|Becca|Jeff|Ben|Melanie|Cendri|Rebecca|Steven|Priscilla|David|Jennifer|some others

    me: dinkin@ling.upenn.edu
    my office: Sidney Smith Hall 4077, University of Toronto