July 27, 2016

New issue of The Canadian Journal of Linguistics; Elizabeth Cowper taking over as editor

The July 2016 issue of The Canadian Journal of Linguistics / La revue canadienne de linguistique (which is now available through Cambridge University Press here) has been released. With this issue, Elizabeth Cowper (professor emeritus) starts her three-year term as editor. Other U of T involvement in the issue includes the squib "Confronting the European Portuguese central vowel distinction" from Christopher Spahr (Ph.D. 2015).

July 26, 2016

Alex Motut featured in U of T News: Innovations in teaching

Alex Motut (Ph.D.) and her instruction of LIN204 (English Grammar) were recently featured in U of T News' "Innovations in teaching" series, in an article available here.

LIN204, which the article notes is one of the most popular course offerings of our department, has an enrollment mostly of students in disciplines other than linguistics—putting Alex in the position of providing the first (and possibly last) substantial taste of our field to a large number of students.

With this opportunity she introduces them to fundamental principles of how linguists approach language (descriptively rather than prescriptively), and encourages them to think like linguists by asking them to reflect on why sentences like "I went to the bank" sound fine even if the listener isn't familiar with the particular bank being referred to.

The article also highlights her incorporation of non-standard and innovative uses of English into the course, including "man" as a "street pronoun" that is flexible when it comes to person, number, and gender (as seen in the example "it's her personality man's looking at"), a usage that U of T alumnus Derek Denis (now at the University of Victoria) is currently working on in his research.

July 19, 2016

Report from LabPhon 15

The UofT linguistics community was well represented at LabPhon 15, which recently took place (July 13-16, 2016) at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. A full list of our involvement (with all co-authors) is available here.

Group photo with most of our attendees. Back row: Chris Neufeld (UofT B.A., currently at University of Maryland), Phil Howson (Ph.D.), Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.), Avery Ozburn (UofT M.A., currently at UBC), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Jessamyn Schertz (post-doc, soon to be faculty). Front row: Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D.), Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.), Mercedeh Mohaghegh (Ph.D.), Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, currently at Ritsumeikan University).
Alexei Kochetov giving his talk on the acquisition of nasal place assimilation in English.

Phil Howson giving his poster on an ultrasound study of tap palatalization in Japanese.
Na-Young Ryu and Yoonjung Kang giving their poster on the adaptation of Mandarin loan-words in Korean by Heritage Korean speakers in China.
Jessamyn Schertz (on the right) giving her poster on the use of talker information (specifically dialect) in speech perception.
Mercedeh Mohaghegh giving her poster on the perception of place assimilation in English.
Patrick Murphy giving his poster on the perception of affrication in Canadian French.
Ruth Maddeaux giving her poster on the learning of statistical patterns and awareness of universal patterns in Irish.

Libe Slope. The campus was beautiful!

Libe Slope.

View from the Stewart Avenue Bridge towards Lake Cayuga. Ithaca is full of gorges, including in and around the Cornell campus.

View from lookout at the Physical Sciences Building.

July 17, 2016

Goodbyes and hellos for 2016-17

The 2016-17 academic year is nearly upon us, and there is quite a bit of coming-and-going happening!

Farewell to:
  • Elaine Gold (faculty), who has decided to retire to dedicate her time to the Canadian Language Museum!
  • Meg Grant (faculty), who is finishing an 18-month contract-limited term appointment in our department and starting a postdoctoral position at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
  • Jill Given-King (staff), our unflappable administrative assistant, who has been keeping the department running smoothly for the last five years. Jill is retiring at the end of July 2016.
  • Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at Universität Mannheim), who is taking up a tenure-track position at New York University.
  • Marisa Brook (Ph.D.), who is beginning a one-year faculty position at Michigan State University.
  • ...and those about to complete our MA program. Four of our current MA students are staying on for our Ph.D. program, but we bid farewell to the others!
Welcome back to:
  • Susana Béjar (faculty), moving into a full-time position as an Assistant Professor.
  • Jessamyn Schertz (faculty), completing a postdoctoral fellowship and joining our Mississauga campus as an Assistant Professor (tenure-track).
  • Nicholas Welch (faculty), completing a postdoctoral fellowship and joining our St. George campus as an Assistant Professor (contract-limited).
  • Daphna Heller (faculty), returning from an 18-month leave.
Welcome to:
  • Blair Armstrong (faculty), our new psycholinguist at the Scarborough campus.
  • Ryan DeCaire (faculty), a new Assistant Professor co-appointed by the Department of Linguistics and the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives.
  • Amos Key (faculty), a new Assistant Professor co-appointed by the Department of Linguistics and the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives.
  • Jennifer McCallum (staff), our new Graduate Administrator.
  • ...and 18 students starting graduate programs in the Department of Linguistics: 8 in the Ph.D. program and 10 in the MA.

July 14, 2016

Fieldwork and exchange in Slovenia

In the last weeks of June, three undergraduate students in our department and Peter Jurgec (faculty) visited Slovenia to present ongoing research on Slovenian and to do fieldwork on two dialects of Slovenian, sponsored by a grant from the Germany/Europe Fund to Peter Jurgec.

The participants organized the Ljubljana-Toronto Workshop, featuring presentations by U of T students Zhiyao (Vivian) Che (Velar Palatalization in Slovenian), Fernanda Lara Peralta (Interaction of vowel deletion and final devoicing in Šmartno Slovenian), Mia Sara Misic (Nasal harmony in Mostec Slovenian), and Peter Jurgec (Stress shift in Slovenian).

The students had a chance to experience fieldwork firsthand. In Mostec, we examined nasal harmony using a dual-chamber nasalance mask, instrumentally confirming thus far the first case of nasal harmony in a Slavic language. In Šmartno, we looked at nominal paradigms, filling the gaps in the existing data, using elicitation.

Here is what the students said about the trip:

"I feel homesick for Slovenia and not even Toronto. It was really a lot of fun learning how to operate the nasometer on participants and handle the data. I had a wonderful time […] doing such cool fieldwork."

"I loved being able to practically apply so much of what I had learned on campus to our fieldwork in Slovenia. The participants were wonderful people to work with and I really enjoyed analyzing their data and finding exactly what we were looking for (especially the nasal harmony!). I also greatly appreciated having the chance to give a presentation at the University of Ljubljana and valued the presentations they gave on Slovenian stress and dialectology."

Researchers from Ljubljana will be visiting our department in February 2017.

Slovenian and Toronto students in picturesque Ljubljana.

A student and a Slovenian linguist, Professor Karmen Kenda Jež, with
a speaker of Mostec, a dialect of Slovenian with nasal harmony.

The Toronto team (Zhiyao Che, Fernanda Lara Peralta, Mia Sara Misic, and Professor Jurgec)
in front of the village of Šmartno [ˈʃmaɾtno], as seen above the sign.

Elicitation in Šmartno. 

July 8, 2016

LabPhon 15 (July 13-16)

The 15th Conference in Laboratory Phonology (LabPhon 15) is taking place at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York from July 13 to 16. The theme is 'Speech dynamics and phonological representation'.

Alexei Kochetov (faculty) is presenting a talk along with three colleagues from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich: Marianne Pouplier, Stefania Marin, and Conceicao Cunha: "Probing the interaction of dynamic stability with grammar: Evidence from Russian."

Faculty members Laura Colantoni, Alexei Kochetov, and Jeffrey Steele are presenting:
"L1 influence on L2 assimilation: An EPG study of English /n/+stop sequences."

Many current department members and alumni are presenting posters. In particular, there are several being presented by teams comprised of a graduate student and at least one faculty member!

Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.), Philip Monahan (faculty) and Meg Grant (faculty):
"The perceptual effects of phonotactic rareness and partial allophony in Canadian French."

Jessamyn Schertz (postdoc), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), and colleague Sungwoo Han (Inha University):
"How much does the talker matter? Depends who's listening: Age-related variability in the use of social information in speech perception."

Helen Buckler (postdoc) and Elizabeth Johnson (faculty):
"Building a proto-lexicon: Does input variability matter?"

Mercedeh Mohaghegh (Ph.D.) and Craig Chambers (faculty):
"The effect of phonological context on the perception of strong place assimilation in nasal and stop consonants."

Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.) and Yoonjung Kang (faculty):
"The limits of inductive learning: The case of Modern Irish mutation."

Phil Howson (Ph.D.) and Philip Monahan (faculty):
"Adaptive dispersion: a perceptual motivation for sound change."

Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D.), Yoonjung Kang (faculty) and colleage Sungwoo Han (Inha University):
"The adaptation of Mandarin falling diphthongs in Heritage Korean in China: The interaction of linguistic and sociolinguistic factors."

Alexei Kochetov (faculty), with Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich colleagues Stefania Marin and Marianne Pouplier:
"Sonority profile and temporal organization of clusters: Evidence from Russian."

Kiranpreet Nara (Ph.D.):
"An acoustic study of Punjabi tone and stress (Doabi dialect)."

Phil Howson (Ph.D.), with University of British Columbia colleagues Noriko Yamane, Masaki Noguchi, and Bryan Gick:
"When dynamics conflict: Flap dynamics and palatalization in Japanese."

Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, now at Ritsumeikan University) and Hyun Kyung Hwang (National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics)
"Downstep in Japanese revisited: Lexical category matters."

Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at the University of British Columbia):
"Investigating the perceptual hypocorrection hypothesis with sibilant harmony."

Rachel Walker (MA 1993, now at the University of Southern California), with colleagues Michael Proctor (Macquarie University), Caitlin Smith (University of Southern California), and Ewald Enzinger (Macquarie University):
"Asymmetries in English liquid production and vowel interactions."

Sharon Rose (BA 1990, now at the University of California, San Diego) with University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana colleagues Zainab Hermes, Mao-Jing Fu, Ryan Shosted, and Brad Sutton:
"Representations of place and airstream mechanism: A real-time MRI study of Tigrinya ejectives."

Former visiting student Michael Wagner (now at McGill University), with McGill colleagues Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron and Meghan Clayards:
"Locality and variability in cross-word alternations: A production planning account."

July 5, 2016

Elaine and Michela in Italy


Elaine Gold (faculty) visited Milan recently for an international conference on language museums. She met up with fellow faculty member Michela Ippolito, who grew up here, and they met alongside the canals!

July 4, 2016

Departmental members at CoLang 2016

This year's Institute on Collaborative Language Research (CoLang) is being held at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, throughout the month of July. This intense month will expose participants to practical techniques in linguistic fieldwork and language revitalization.

In this photo, faculty member Keren Rice and Ph.D. students Maida Percival and Clarissa Forbes at CoLang. Word has it that they are enjoying the Alaskan summer under the midnight sun!


June 29, 2016

Report from Sociolinguistics Symposium 21

(Photo courtesy of Naomi Nagy.)

Along with 1200 of her closest sociolinguistics colleagues, faculty member Naomi Nagy attended SS21 in Murcia, Spain. She gave a talk about the (non-)correlation of linguistic attitudes, ethnolinguistic vitality and variable linguistic patterns in Toronto's heritage languages as part of a panel on attitudes and prestige in heritage languages.

NWAV organizers: take note of this for the future. Think about organizing a conference somewhere where you can count on being able to serve all receptions and coffee breaks outside in the sunshine!

June 27, 2016

18th Diachronic Generative Syntax Conference (DiGS)

The eighteenth Diachronic Generative Syntax Conference (DiGS) is being held in Ghent, Belgium, from June 29 to July 1.

Former postdoc Heather Burnett (now at CNRS, France) and faculty member Sali A. Tagliamonte are presenting:
"Using cross-linguistic evidence to ground morphosyntactic change: No/not...any variation in the history of English."

Former postdoc Gabriela Alboiu (now at York University) and colleague Virginia Hill (University of New Brunswick):
"Cliticization of AUX and the shift from SVO to VSO in the history of Romanian."

June 26, 2016

Visit from Lauren Eby Clemens (SUNY Albany)


SUNY Albany faculty member Lauren Eby Clemens visited our department recently in order to attend Rebecca Tollanʻs thesis proposal (as a committee member), give a talk, and work with Diane and Becky. Above are Lauren, Diane, and Becky after working feverishly on Polynesian syntax in the Theory Lab. (Photo courtesy of Diane.)

June 23, 2016

Congratulations, Neil and Malina!

We are delighted to be able to say that University of Toronto students have been awarded both the Best Student Talk and Best Student Poster awards by the Canadian Linguistic Association/Association canadienne de linguistique, following the 2016 annual conference held in Calgary, Alberta, in late May.

The recipient of the Best Student Talk award is Neil Banerjee (BA), who has just finished his undergraduate degree in our department and will be beginning his Ph.D. studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this autumn. The judges' comments were as follows:

In his talk ["Of monsters and modals"], Banerjee focused on distributional differences between epistemic possibility and necessity modals in English and Kinyarwanda (with regard to temporal shift and modal base's shift from the speaker to another individual). He argued that epistemic modals involve a context-index split, proposing that under attitude verbs the context is overwritten with an index (due to a 'monstrous' operator selected by an attitude verb). His proposal predicts that, cross-linguistically, modals are expected to behave differently in matrix clauses, under attitude verbs and in the consequent of a counterfactual conditional. The judges emphasized Banerjee's strong command of complex theoretical ideas, his effectiveness in linking the data to the formal tools used in his analysis, and the ease in how he handled the question-and-answer period. The judges were also impressed by the breadth of his analysis, which sets the ground for further study of epistemic modals in a cross-linguistic perspective.

The Best Student Poster award has gone to Spanish and Portuguese Ph.D. student Malina Radu:

Radu’s poster ["Conditioned variability in the realization of Romanian rhotics"] presented a phonetic analysis of Romanian rhotics, with the aim of identifying possible sources of their variability (word-internal position, register and word type). On the basis of results from two production tasks with 10 native speakers of Romanian, Radu observed different realizations of rhotics extending beyond those previously attested, namely tap and trill variants. The judges unanimously noted that she was extremely comfortable talking about the motivation and implications of her analysis, even if this information was not on the poster. In fact, Radu’s research is part of a larger project that examines the acquisition of Spanish by Romanian speakers and the realization of rhotics in both languages. She very clearly had a sense of this larger research program and of how her poster presentation fits in. Finally, she was open to suggestions and ideas, and she was able to answer questions that went beyond what was shown on the poster.

Congratulations to both for their outstanding work!

June 20, 2016

Research Groups: June 20-24

Thursday, June 23 - 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM in SS1086
Syntax/Semantics Group
Lauren Eby Clemens (SUNY Albany): "Phonological phrasing in Rutooro and the problem of relative clauses."

June 19, 2016

Sociolinguistics Symposium 21

The 21st Sociolinguistics Symposium is taking place at the Universidad de Murcia in Spain from June 15 to 18.

Naomi Nagy (faculty) is presenting "Contact effects and attitude in Toronto's heritage languages."

Emilie LeBlanc (MA 2014, now at York University) is presenting "C'est right addictive, comme super addicting: Diachronic changes in the use of intensifiers in Chiac."

Former visiting scholar Véronique Lacoste (University of Freiburg) and colleague Mirjam Eiswirth (University of Edinburgh) are presenting "English among Haitians in Toronto: Phonetic variation in an expanding community."

June 12, 2016

CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop

The annual CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop hosted by our department will be taking place on Thursday, June 16, from 8:45 AM to 5:00 PM, in Wordsworth College room 121. The program comprises talks by departmental members of every sort from undergraduate to faculty to alumni, and is as follows:

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM
Peter Jurgec (faculty): "Coronal alternations in Slovenian."

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Joanna Chociej (Ph.D.): "Are all grammaticality judgments created equal?"

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Paul Arsenault (Ph.D. 2012, now at Tyndale University College): "Retroflexion in South Asia: Typological patterns and areal distributions."

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Break

10:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Ross Krekoski (Ph.D.): "Complexity and reanalysis in Chinese tonal systems."

11:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Yoonjung Kang (faculty): "Paradigm uniformity in Heritage Korean."

11:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Keren Rice (faculty) "Why inconsistent allophony: Pressure for paradigm uniformity in Fort Good Hope Dene."

12:15 PM - 1:45 PM
Lunch in the department lounge

1:45 - 2:15 PM
Mary Aksim (MA): "Perceiving the Canadian Vowel Shift: The L effect."

2:15 PM - 2:45 PM
Darcie Blainey (postdoc): "A phonetic sketch of Louisiana French schwa."

2:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Gloria Mellesmoen (MA): "Are BAGELS in the BAG? /ei/ in British Columbia English."

3:15 PM - 3:30 PM
Break

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Gabriel So (BA): "Consonant harmony in Harmonic Serialism."

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Heather Yawney (Ph.D.): "Irregular stress on the right foot to be faithful: The case of Turkish adverbials with -en."

4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
B. Elan Dresher (faculty) and Aditi Lahiri (University of Oxford): "Latinate suffi xes and the directionality of English stress."

Thanks to the organizing committee - Peter Avery (Ph.D. 1996, now at York University), Peter Jurgec (faculty), Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Keren Rice (faculty), and Jessamyn Schertz (postdoc) - for all of their hard work!

June 11, 2016

Research Groups: June 13-17

Tuesday, June 14 - 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM in SS 2116
Psycholinguistics Group
Cassandra Chapman (McMaster University): Presentation on recent research involving eye-movements and reconstruction effects in 'how many' questions.

Thursday, June 16 - 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM in SS1086
Syntax/Semantics Group
Margot Vivanco (Universidad Complutense de Madrid): "Ø-marked Spanish anticausatives and the scalar nature of change of state events."

June 8, 2016

24th Manchester Phonology Meeting

The 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting took place between May 26 and 28. U of T graduates in particular were prominently featured!

Christina Bjorndahl (MA 2008, now at Cornell University):
"The typology of voiced spirants and the emergence of [sonorant]."

B. Elan Dresher (faculty) and colleague Aditi Lahiri (Oxford University):
"Latinate suffixes and the directionality of English stress."

William J. Idsardi (BA 1988, now at the University of Maryland):
"Categorization, evidence, and phonology."

Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland) and colleague Joe Argentino (Memorial University of Newfoundland):
"Parallel patterns between language games and serial music."

Sharon Rose (BA 1990, now at the University of California, San Diego):
"How phonology and typology are shaped: Lessons from fieldwork."

June 6, 2016

Research Groups: Week of June 6-10

Thursday, June 9 - 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM in SS 1086
Syntax/Semantics Group
Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D.): "Featural account for the ordering of object markers in Kinyarwanda."

June 4, 2016

Report from CLA-ACL


The 2016 meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association/Association canadienne de linguistique was held in Calgary from May 28 to 30. Above are some of the many attendees with links to our department: Bettina Spreng (Ph.D. 2012, now at the University of Saskatchewan), Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université du Québec à Montréal), Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba), Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.), Carrie Dyck (Ph.D. 1995, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland), Elaine Gold (faculty), and Diane Massam (faculty).

June 3, 2016

Report from Complexity in Acquisition Workshop

The Complexity in Acquisition Workshop took place at New College and University College from May 24 to 26. Researchers and teams from the University of Toronto, Goethe University, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Cambridge University presented their latest research on acquisition of recursion across languages. It was a great event! In this photo, you can find special guests Ian Roberts (third from back on left), Petra Schulz (back on right), and Tom Roeper (second back on right), as well as hosts Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (back on left), and Yves Roberge (third back on right), along with several members of the teams. Thanks to photographer Alex Lowles for her artistic touch!