The Language Acquisition Lab

A Conference in Honor of Ken Wexler!

April 29 - May 1, 2016


To send a message of congratulations to Ken, please click the "Add Your Own!" button and complete the form. Your message will be displayed on this page shortly.

Anjum P Saleemi, UoL
Hey Ken! Has been a long while. At any rate, congratulations! I'm glad a truly distinguished scientist's career is being celebrated. Further, I'm proud that once upon a time I was part of your team at the Tute. That does bring back a lot of fond memories, making me feel nostalgically sad, in fact; for instance, myself trying to work late, and walking back and forth between E-20 (was this our building number?) and the Muddy in the Walker Memorial building, and so much more! Hope you're fine, and intellectually as restlessly active as ever.
Anna Gavarró, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Dear Ken, I'm sorry this message will arrive after the celebration, but even if late I didn't want to miss the opportunity to thank you for all your work. I hope you won't truly retire.
Ayaka Sugawara, Mie University/MIT
Dear Ken, Congratulations on your retirement! I feel so super lucky to be one of your students, TAs, and coworkers. I am so sorry that I cannot make it to the event — I wish I was still in Boston, and I wish Japan was much closer to the east coast!! I am sending all my very best wishes for the great success of the event. I still remember the excitement when I received a warm long email from you for the first time in reply to an inquiry to have a meeting during the Open House as a prospective. You were away during the Open House, so we couldn't meet then but I am so glad that I came to MIT and was able to work with you. I had not expected that I would work extensively on acquisition when I entered MIT — The independent study I took with you and Irene in my first year was so phenomenal that I started learning how to actually design, run and analyze an experiment. I learn a lot from working with you on various joint projects and on TA-ing your classes. I enjoy so much working with you. You are always so encouraging and helpful! I will probably be bugging you after your retirement but I hope you will let me learn a bit more from you. I hope you will enjoy the conference!! Best, -Ayaka
Barbara Landau, Johns Hopkins University
Dear Ken, I'm so sorry I won't be able to attend this celebratory conference, but wanted to send congratulations and best wishes to you. Thank you for all you have done for our field over the years! With respect and admiration, Barbara
Barry Schein, USC
Dear Ken, Mazel tov! on your retirement. There was no cognitive science for me until I learned about it cruising Orange County with you or in fireside chats with Billie Holiday in the background in Turtle Rock, where you also promised to teach me to play the piano from fake books. Well? Love, Barry
Charles Yang, Penn
Dear Ken, my warmest regards on this occasion of celebration. It was a privilege to have studied with you: in fact, your class was what set me off to do language acquisition myself. Many thanks for leading the field forward, with rigor, energy, and passion. Best, Charles
Christiana Christodoulou, MIT/University of Cyprus
Dear Ken, it has been an absolute privilege and a great honour to collaborate with you all these years. Thank you for being such a wonderful mentor. I still remember receiving your email accepting to serve as my post-doctoral mentor and reading it three times to make sure I read it right! Your persistence, endless questions and challenges both on a theoretical and analytical level during our long meetings did not only help me gain a global perspective on data analysis, but always challenged me to find and give better, more widely applicable analyses! Your work on language acquisition has been a great source of inspiration for my work (as well as many others) on both typical and atypical populations. Congratulations on your retirement and invaluable contributions to the field! I look forward to continue working with you on our new projects. Wish my warmest wishes, Christiana
Diane Lillo-Martin, University of Connecticut
Congratulations, Ken - on your retirement and on the amazingly long list of accomplishments you have achieved and the many ways you have affected the field, from posing interesting new hypotheses, to highly influential papers, and to training the future movers and shakers. Thanks for all, from the large and general to the individual support I have also felt. ENJOY your next phase of life!
Eric Reuland, Utrecht University
Dear Ken, I started being inspired by your work when back in the eighties I came across your work on the identifiability of classes of transformational grammars, and most particularly by your demonstration - still not sufficiently appreciated in some quarters - that neither enriching the data nor narrowing the window will help much in explaining language acquisition. To put it succinctly for this occasion: more is less and less doesn't help. This inspiration continued through your work on binding domains, the Delay of Principle B, and your contributions to fascinating work on language and genetic disorders. In all those areas you made truly lasting contribution. I am very grateful for your enthusiasm in welcoming my students when they wanted to do an internship in your lab. Whenever I visited MIT we had always great conversations, I trust we can stay in touch after your retirement. I wish you a very memorable conference, and much inspiring work after your offficial retirement. Have a great day! All the best, Eric
Heejeong Ko, Seoul National University
Dear Ken, Congratulations on your retirement! I feel extremely lucky to have taken your inspiring lectures at MIT and worked with you as your student and collaborator after my graduation. I deeply appreciate your generous support, warm encouragement, and insightful comments on my projects in syntax and language acquisition. Each and every meeting with you has been extremely helpful for me to develop my small ideas into serious research questions and hypotheses. I truly learned a lot by working with you. I believe that your teaching and research have been a major source of inspiration for me to pursue my research questions in linguistics. I would like to express my most sincere gratitude and respect to you for everything that you taught me and for your contribution to the field. With all the best wishes, Heejeong
Hyeonjin Lee, Yeungnam University, Korea
Dear Ken Congratulations on your retirement! You’ve worked really hard and you deserve the very best retirement. I really want to join the event in your honor, but I am sorry I can’t make it. I want to tell you how much I appreciate your support during my graduate years. It would not have been able to successfully end up without your help. I hope you could have a happy and healthy retirement.
Jenny Ganger, University of Pittsburgh
Ken, It seems only yesterday that children were studied by us and exciting data appeared. Thank you for your mentoring and guidance. Thank you also for your groundbreaking contributions to this field. Your work embodies the notion that language acquisition is not merely an application of linguistic theory, but also part and parcel of its development. I am sorry to miss this occasion. I wish you a wonderful celebration and fulfilling retirement. I am certain your intellectual contributions will continue for a long time to come. --Jenny
Jeremy Hartman, UMass Amherst
Dear Ken, congratulations on your retirement! Some of my fondest memories of MIT are of meeting with you and pondering ideas that you first got me thinking about. What a source of inspiration your work has been for me and many, many others. Enjoy California! -Jeremy
MANORANJAN NASKAR, jadavpur university
as a global student I am am proud to have a Scholar like you.I hope my India also be rich in knowledge by yours.
Maria Polinsky,
Dear Ken, congratulations on this remarkable event! You have been an inspiration to so many, and the field owes you an enormous debt of gratitude for all the probing questions you have asked and discoveries you have made!
Maria Teresa Guasti, University of Milano-Bicocca- DEPt. Psychology
Dear Ken, I am sorry but I won't be able to attend the great conference in your honour. You have been an important source of inspiration for my work and for my switch to language acquisition. I remember with great pleasure my months at MIT and all the conversations we had over the years. Congratulations and thank for everything you have shared with me and for your great contribution to the field. Teresa
Marie Coppola, University of Connecticut
Dear Ken, Congratulations on your retirement, and on your many contributions to the field. I learned a lot from you in the classroom and in many years of CogLunches, and your ideas continue to shape my thinking about how language grows.
Melanie Soderstrom, University of Manitoba
Congratulations on your well-earned retirement Ken! I'm sorry I can't make the event, but I hope you know how much the experiences I had in your lab were instrumental in putting me on a career studying language development. I am grateful for how supportive of me you were during those undergraduate years and well beyond.
Noam Chomsky, MIT
One of my favorites of Ken's many memorable contributions is devoted to what he calls "Lenneberg's dream" -- that careful empirical research will demonstrate the growth character of language development, as in biology generally. Ken's contributions to bringing this dream to fruition are incomparable. Congratulations -- and thanks -- for all that you have done, and for what is surely coming down the road.
Robyn Orfitelli, University of Sheffield
Ken, I am deeply sorry that I am not on the right continent to attend this conference. You were the very first mentor I had in Linguistics, and the way you approach acquisition continues to influence me to this day. Your work has inspired - and challenged - all of us in the field for many years, and will continue to do so for many more. I hope this conference is a wonderful celebration, and congratulations on your retirement!
Seth Cable, University of Massachusetts Amerst
Dear Ken, Congratulations on your retirement! Your course in language acquisition was a major highlight of my graduate school years, and I’ll always remember it fondly. I will always deeply appreciate the support and encouragement you gave me on my project for that class, which has long served me as a model for how teachers can and should mentor students... even those who are only ‘dabbling’ in their subarea ; ). Best wishes for the coming years!!
Spyridoula Varlokosta, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Dear Ken, I am very sorry I will not be able to attend the conference organized in your honor. I take this opportunity to tell you that you have been a great source of inspiration for my work on language acquisition and genetic disorders. I will never forget your enthusiasm, encouragement, and support all these past years I have been in the field. Congratulations on your retirement and best wishes for the coming years!!
Taylor Roberts, George Brown College
Dear Ken: Congratulations on your retirement! You were very encouraging to me as a student, which I appreciated very much. You combined wonderful research and teaching and I have fond memories of you. You set a fine example that I try to emulate. All the best in your next phase of life! Taylor Roberts Toronto, Canada
Thomas Hun-tak Lee, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Dear Ken, belated congratulations on your retirement! My deepest gratitude for your mentoring over the years, and your encouragement to persist in one’s observations even when those may not accord with the received wisdom of the time. I can remember how enlightened i was when first reading your early studies of learnability, among the most elegant in formal grammar to my mind, really the kind of revelation described in ‘On first reading Chapman’s Homer’. From very early on, you’ve shown us with insight, clarity and force how child language can stimulate linguistic theory, and many of us in China have been following steadfastly, and with increasing conviction, this path you’ve blazed. Thanks also for all your support for our generative endeavors in East Asia! Wish you great health and happiness and continued productivity in your retirement years! Thomas
Vina Tsakali, University of Crete
Dear Ken, congratulations on your (official) retirement! I am so grateful to have met you both as a linguist and as a person; you contribution to the field has been a never-ceasing inspiration and your teaching methods an all-time-classic compass for doing research, while your enthusiasm, your broadmindedness and your generosity make me feel extremely fortunate for having met a unique human being as a mentor. Thank you for making all my days at MIT unforgettable, for being constantly helpful and stimulating and for making research on language acquisition such a captivating enterprise! I am deeply sorry for not being able to attend the event, but I am pretty confident this is only the beginning of a ‘celebration era’ with even more of your linguistic fascinating fascination to spring. Wish you a wonderful celebration!

The organizers gratefully acknowledge assistance from MIT's Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences and School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

background photo by Sebastián Pamos

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