May 20, 2019

REP course in Brazil

Octavia Andrade-Dixon (BA), Greg Antono (BA), Guilherme Teruya (BA), Rildo Dias (faculty, Universidade Estadual de Roraima), Suzi Lima (faculty), Carlos Borges (faculty, Universidade Estadual de Roraima), and Isabella Coutinho (faculty, Universidade Estadual de Roraima)

Suzi Lima (faculty) is currently leading a REP (Research Excursion Program) course, 'Brazilian Indigenous Languages: Documentation, Language Maintenance, and Revitalization', in Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil. The enrolled undergraduate students are receiving hands-on training in language documentation (working on indigenous languages of Roraima) and collaborative research under the direction of Suzi and colleagues at the Universidade Estadual de Roraima (UERR). Check out their blog to learn more about their adventures!

May 19, 2019

27th Manchester Phonology Meeting

The 27th Manchester Phonology Meeting is taking place at the University of Manchester, England, from May 23 through 25. Current department members and alumni presenting are:

Elan Dresher (faculty) and Iryna Osadcha (Ph.D. 2018):
"Mobile lexical parentheses in metrical grids."

Aleksei Nazarov (faculty):
"Formalizing the connection between opaque and exceptionful generalizations."

Heather Yawney (Ph.D.):
"Derived environment effect of the velar and uvular voicing restriction in Kazakh."

Nicholas Rolle (MA 2010, now at Princeton University):
"The scope of dominant grammatical tone in Izon."

Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst):
"Slave coalescence as gradual coda reduction."

There is also an associated pedagogy workshop, 'Teaching Phonology: The State of the Art', taking place on the 22nd. Christina Bjorndahl (MA 2008, now at Carnegie Mellon University) and colleague Mark Gibson (Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona) are presenting "Laboratory phonology in the classroom."

May 18, 2019

Congratulations, Barend!

Congratulations to Barend Beekhuizen (faculty), who is the recipient of a Connaught New Researcher Award for 2019-2020 from the U of T's Connaught Fund!

May 17, 2019


The tenth annual Southern California Undergraduate Linguistics Conference (SCULC 10) is taking place at the University of California, Los Angeles, on May 18. Several of our undergraduates will be presenting!

Kristen Wing Yan Wong (BA):
"Sound symbolism of gender in Cantonese first names."

Andrea Michelle Leung (BA):
"The effect of visual integration of pitch contour in Mandarin tone perception."

Stephanie Deschamps (BA) and Shanthos Thirunavukkarasu (BA):
"Cross-modal noise compensation in audiovisual words."

May 16, 2019

Parameters Workshop in Honour of Lisa Travis

The Department of Linguistics at McGill University is holding a workshop on May 17 and 18 on the theme of syntactic parameters in order to celebrate faculty member Lisa Travis, who is retiring at the end of this academic year.

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.) is presenting:
"How to organize parameters: Accounting for alternations in EPP type

Yining Nie (MA 2015, now at New York University) is also presenting:
"Applicatives and the parameters of promotion."

May 15, 2019

Chicago Linguistic Society 2019

The 55th annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society is meeting at the University of Chicago from May 16 through 18.

Aleksei Nazarov (faculty) and Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) are both part of a large group project with their University of Massachusetts, Amherst colleagues Brandon Prickett, Kaden Holladay, Rajesh Bhatt, Gaja Jarosz, Kyle Johnson, and Joe Pater: "Learning syntactic parameters gradually and without triggers."

May 14, 2019

Research Groups: Week of May 13-17

Wednesday, May 15, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
1. Julianne Doner (Ph.D.): "How to organize parameters: Accounting for alternations in EPP type."
2. Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) and Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.): "Hybrid alignment in Laki agreement."

May 10, 2019


The 50th meeting of the Associação Brasileira de Linguística (ABRALIN 50) took place from May 2 through 9 in Maceió, Brazil. Suzi Lima (faculty) gave a talk: "Oficinas de linguística em comunidades indígenas e pesquisa colaborativa" at the special session 'Languages and peoples threatened: Political impacts of linguistic work' organized by Bruna Franchetto (UFRJ/Museu Nacional). She also co-organized the session 'Complex structures in Brazilian languages' along with Tonjes Veenstra (ZAS). (Photos, video, and captions courtesy of Suzi.)

Participants in the symposium 'Complex structures in Brazilian languages'.

Participants in the symposium 'Languages and peoples threatened: Political impacts of linguistic work'.

Brazilian languages specialists: Kris Stenzel (UFRJ), Ana Vilacy Galucio (Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi), Suzi Lima (faculty), Mara Santos (UNIFAP), Bruna Franchetto (UFRJ/Museu Nacional), Denny Moore (Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi), and Luciana Storto (USP).

Suzi celebrated her birthday with her colleagues in Brazil and reports that she had a fabulous time!

May 9, 2019


The 24th Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Languages of the Americas is taking place from May 9 through 11 at the University of Maryland. We are represented by presentations by one faculty member and a number of alumni, all on different indigenous languages of North and South America.

Guillaume Thomas (faculty):
"Switch-reference and discourse anaphora."

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba)
"The Algonquian inverse: What’s voice got to do with it?"

Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University)
"Cayuga and Contiguity Theory: The role of default agreement."

Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst):
"Associative plural in two Northern Dene languages."

Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at the University of Chicago):
"The morphosyntax of participle-incorporating existentials in Inuktitut."

May 8, 2019

U of T Science Rendezvous 2019

We're very happy to be returning to the annual U of T Science Rendezvous, which this year is taking place on Saturday, May 11 on St. George Street between Harbord and College. Celebrated in dozens of places across the country at once, Science Rendezvous is an all-day science festival for people of all ages, aimed at generating enthusiasm for science and promoting university enrollment in related subjects. We will once again have a booth: come check out what your mouth is doing when you're speaking, learn words from dozens of languages spoken in Canada, and maybe even take home a personalized souvenir!

May 7, 2019


Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW) 42 is taking place from May 7 through 11 at the University of Oslo in Norway. Several current and previous graduate students are presenting posters:

Jessica Denniss (Ph.D.):
"Ngarinyman resultatives."

Paulina Lyskawa (MA 2015, now at the University of Maryland) and colleague Rodrigo Ranero (University of Maryland):
"A Mayan diagnostic for the unergative vs. unaccusative distinction."

Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2011, now at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia):
"Varieties of structural objects and multiple licensing."

Monica and colleague Patricia Schneider-Zioga (CSU Fullerton):
"Partitive case and abstract licensing: Sociative causation in Kinande."

May 6, 2019

Research Groups: Week of May 6-10

Wednesday, May 8, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.): "Definiteness in Laki: Its contributions to DP structure."

May 5, 2019

Guest speaker: Dan Jurafsky (Stanford University)

The Vector Institute Machine Learning Advances and Applications Seminar series is pleased to welcome Dan Jurafsky (Stanford University), who works on language processing, computational linguistics, and language in specific contexts. His talk, "'Does this vehicle belong to you?': Computational extraction of social meaning from language", will be taking place on Thursday, May 9, from 12 PM to 2 PM, in room 1160 of the Bahen Centre.

Police body-worn cameras have the potential to play an important role in understanding and improving police-community relations. In this talk I describe a series of studies conducted by our large interdisciplinary team at Stanford that use speech and natural language processing on body-camera recordings to model the interactions between police officers and community members in traffic stops. We draw on linguistic models of dialogue structure and of interpersonal relations like respect to automatically quantify aspects of the interaction from the text and audio. I describe the differences we find in the language directed toward black versus white community members, and offer suggestions for how these findings can be used to help improve the relations between police officers and the communities they serve. I'll also cover a number of our results on using computational methods to uncover historical societal biases, and detect framing, agenda-setting and political polarization in the media. Together, these studies highlight how natural language processing can help us interpret latent social content behind the words we use.

May 4, 2019

New paper: Denis, Gardner, Brook, and Tagliamonte (2019)

Derek Denis (faculty), Matt Hunt Gardner (Ph.D. 2017, now at St. Mary's University), Marisa Brook (faculty), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) have a new paper out in Language Variation and Change, 31(1): "Peaks and arrowheads of vernacular reorganization."

A key component of Labov's (2001:411) socially motivated projection model of language change is the hypothesis that adolescents and preadolescents undergo a process of vernacular reorganization, which leads to a "seamless" progression of changes in progress. Between the ages of approximately five and 17, children and adolescents increase the "frequency, extent, scope, or specificity" of changes in progress along the community trajectory (Labov 2007:346). Evidence of advancement via vernacular reorganization during this life stage has come from peaks in the apparent-time trajectory of a change around the age of 17 (e.g., Labov 2001, Tagliamonte and D'Arcy 2009). However, such peaks do not rule out the alternative explanations of retrograde change or age-grading. This paper presents both apparent time and real-time evidence for vernacular reorganization. We observe the arrowhead formation – a counterpart of the adolescent peak – for quotative be like in a trend study of adolescents and young adults in Toronto, Canada. Our results rule out the alternative explanations for previously observed adolescent peaks.

May 3, 2019

Congratulations, Naomi!

Congratulations to Naomi Nagy (faculty), who has been promoted to Full Professor! Well-deserved after a decade of enthusiastic teaching/mentorship and high-powered research into heritage languages of Toronto and more!

May 2, 2019

Guest speaker: Jenny Saffran (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

The Department of Psychology at the Mississauga campus is pleased to welcome Jenny Saffran (University of Wisconsin, Madison), who is renowned for her extensive work on L1 acquisition, as  well as the broader relationships between language, cognition, and music. Her talk, "Acquiring and predicting structure via statistical learning," will be taking place on Monday, May 6, from 12 PM to 2 PM in DV 3130.

May 1, 2019

Congratulations, Elaine!

Congratulations to Elaine Gold (faculty), who has been selected as this year's recipient of the National Achievement Award from the Canadian Linguistic Association! The award will be presented to Elaine on Sunday, June 2, at this year's CLA meeting in Vancouver, B.C. Elaine will also be giving a plenary talk about her work. CLA President Wladyslaw Cichocki describes Elaine's accomplishments as follows:

Dr. Elaine Gold has demonstrated exceptional effectiveness in communication and knowledge transfer about language and linguistics. Her work with the Canadian Language Museum has reached communities across Canada, both within and beyond the university context. Dr. Gold holds an MA in the History of Art and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Toronto. Until her retirement in 2017, she held teaching positions at Queen’s University and at the University of Toronto, where she served as Undergraduate Coordinator and Lecturer in Linguistics. Her teaching covered a wide range of topics, and her scholarly output has contributed a distinctly Canadian focus in areas such as sociolinguistics, aspect and loanwords in Yiddish, Indigenous Englishes, and Canadian English. She has made notable contributions to the now-flourishing research area of Canadian 'eh' and to the study of aspect in Bungi, a Scots English/Cree creole that arose during the fur trade. Dr. Gold’s most important contribution to linguistics in the public realm has been as founder, in 2011, and executive director of the Canadian Language Museum (CLM) ( This unique institution has achieved a great deal for the outreach of linguistics into communities across Canada. In her work, Dr. Gold has been able to identify areas of research on languages in Canada that are of relevance to the wider public, to select researchers active in these areas, to oversee the development of itinerant museum exhibits on the relevant topics, and to manage their circulation across the country. Dr. Gold routinely recruits and mentors students from the University of Toronto’s Master of Museum Studies program, who create and curate each exhibit as part of their graduating-year Exhibitions course. The CLM’s exhibits showcase and celebrate the diversity of Canadian English, of French in Canada as well as the many Indigenous and heritage languages spoken in Canada. The latest exhibit, Beyond Words: Dictionaries and Indigenous Languages, is occasioned by the United Nations’ proclamation of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The CLM travelling exhibits have had extensive geographic coverage, criss-crossing the country from Victoria to St. John’s. These exhibits have been displayed on nearly 100 occasions to date in diverse venues, including universities, schools, public libraries, community centres, government buildings, museums, historic sites, even hospitals. Museum exhibits have been featured at academic conferences and at large international events, for instance as part of the Aboriginal Pavilion at the 2015 Pan American Games and at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (Toronto, 2017). In 2016, Dr. Gold’s vision and advocacy resulted in the establishment of a permanent home and exhibit space for the Museum at the Glendon Gallery (Glendon Campus of York University, Toronto). Beyond this permanent location, the CLM continues to function as a virtual museum with a substantive social media presence. In 2018, it launched its first digital (web-based) exhibit, Échos de la mosaïque/Messages from the Mosaic, and produced an original documentary, Two Row Wampum: Preserving Indigenous Languages in Toronto, that can be viewed on the CLM website. In summary, Dr. Gold has set a stellar example of what it means to be a 'public scholar' in our discipline. Her work on the CLM has reached non-academic audiences, and it has engaged the general public around issues of language and linguistics in a manner that is accessible and informative. The Canadian Linguistic Association is delighted to recognize this great service by awarding Dr. Gold our National Achievement Award for 2019.

April 30, 2019

New paper: Steele, Colantoni, and Kochetov (2019)

Jeffrey Steele (faculty, Department of French), Laura Colantoni (faculty, Department of Spanish and Portuguese), and Alexei Kochetov (faculty) have a paper out in the Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 49(1): "Gradient assimilation in French cross-word /n/+velar stop sequences."

Articulatory studies have revealed cross-linguistic variation in the realization of cross-word nasal+stop sequences. Whereas languages such as Italian and Spanish show largely categorical regressive place assimilation (Kochetov and Colantoni 2011, Celata et al. 2013), English and German alveolar nasals are often characterized by gradient assimilation, modulated by the degree of overlap with the following gesture (Barry 1991, Ellis and Hardcastle 2002, Jaeger and Hoole 2011). The lack of comparable instrumental studies for French may be due to the common assumption that the language lacks nasal place assimilation in general. We investigate here the production of French /n/+/k ɡ/ sequences via electropalatography. Four female speakers of European and Quebecois French wearing custom 62-electrode acrylic palates read the sentences C'est une bonne casquette ‘That's a good cap’ and C'est une bonne galette ‘That's a good tart/cookie’ alongside comparable control sentences involving /n/+/t d/ sequences. For each sequence, assimilation type was determined both qualitatively via visual inspection of the linguopalatal profiles and quantitatively using two contact indices. None of the /n/-tokens exhibited either categorical assimilation (i.e. [ŋk]) or lack of assimilation (i.e. [n(ə)k]). Rather, an intermediate pattern was attested with the nasal involving overlapped coronal and velar gestures ([nn͡ŋ]) and continuous retraction of the constriction. The degree of overlap varied among speakers, extending up to half of the nasal interval. Overall, these French patterns are strikingly different from the categorical processes reported for other Romance languages, yet similar to the gradient assimilation attested in Germanic languages. We conclude by discussing possible sources of these differences.

April 29, 2019

Research Groups: Week of April 29-May 3

Tuesday, April 30, 3:00 PM-4:30 PM in SS 1078
Phonology Research Group
Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland): "Restricted structure preservation in Stratal Optimality Theory."
This talk investigates the role of structure preservation within the framework of Stratal Optimality Theory (e.g. Kiparsky 2000) through an analysis of German dorsal fricative assimilation. The principle of structure preservation (e.g. Kiparsky 1985) prohibits the creation of allophones during the course of operations in the lexical phonology. Although structure preservation has largely been rejected within Optimality Theory, previous work has shown that processes which are both neutralizing and non-structure-preserving result in a ranking paradox in a single, parallel OT evaluation (e.g. Krämer 2006). This has been presented as an argument that such processes must apply at the word or phrase level in a Stratal model of OT (Bermúdez-Otero 2007, Mackenzie 2016). The lexical phonology literature, however, includes numerous cases of purely allophonic processes that appear to apply early in the lexical phonology (e.g. Harris 1990). This talk considers German dorsal fricative assimilation as one such case. In German, [x] and [ç] are in complementary distribution with [x] occurring after back vowels and [ç] occurring elsewhere. The back variant of the fricative does not occur when a morpheme boundary intervenes between the fricative and a preceding back vowel, resulting in well-known surface contrasts such as [kuxən] 'cake', [ku-çən] 'little cow'. These data have been argued to provide a counterexample to structure preservation as they require the allophonic process to occur early in the lexical phonology (e.g. Hall 1989). If assimilation is motivated by constraints which penalize marked feature sequences, a ranking paradox similar to that demonstrated in analyses of neutralizing and non-structure-preserving processes arises. Instead, this talk argues that purely allophonic processes occurring at the earliest lexical level are motivated by constraints which require rich output specifications. This approach is integrated with a model of contrastive specifications in which a hierarchy of featural faithfulness constraints maps the rich base to contrastively specified outputs (e.g. Dresher 2009).

April 28, 2019

Sali in the Trinity College Alumni Magazine

The Trinity Alumni Magazine has a new feature on Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and her 2016 book Teen Talk: The Language of Adolescents. Check it out here!