29 May 2015

Naomi Francis wins Student Paper Award at CLA 2014

It is a pleasure to announce that Naomi Francis (MA 2014, currently at MIT) received
the Student Paper Award for 2014 from the Canadian Linguistic Association for her
talk  entitled "This predicate is tasty: Predicates of personal taste, faultless
disagreement, and the ideal judge.” 

Naomi's talk addressed problems in the semantics and pragmatics of statements such
as "This cake is tasty,” proposing that the truth of such assertions is evaluated
with reference to a notional 'ideal judge' and showing how this proposal can account
for, among other things, the fact that two speakers may disagree about the truth of
such a statement without either of them being objectively wrong.

The judges were impressed by the depth and sophistication of the content, by the
clear and engaging presentation style, and by the excellent responses to the many
comments and questions that the talk inspired.

Leslie Saxon, President of the Canadian Linguistic Association, in writing about the
award, says that she heard the talk and it really was fantastic. 

Congratulations, Naomi!

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26 May 2015

Our space, highlighted

Faculty member Diane Massam points out that our department premises, which we moved into back the end of the 2009 calendar, is being highlighted on the site of the architectural firm Süperkul.
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In memoriam: Barron Brainerd (1928-2015)

Barron Brainerd (1928-2015), who died last Tuesday, was a member of the Linguistics department from its inception as a Centre in 1964 until he retired in 1989. He was also professor in the Mathematics department. The courses he taught for us were in mathematical linguistics, and he had a lively interest in the syntax of number systems. Barron was born in New York City. He had degrees in Mathematics from MIT and Michigan. He came to the University in 1957 and became a Canadian citizen two years later. He was a member of the interdepartmental group that lobbied to get a Linguistics program, and he was always a staunch supporter of our initiatives. Barron had a patrician bearing, always neatly turned out. His interest in linguistics developed out of a lifelong curiosity about languages, and he loved working through dictionaries and grammars. RIP.

Marshall Chasin adds: Professor Brainerd was my undergraduate advisor in the Mathematics and Linguistics program. I think now that course of study would be called cognitive linguistics (?) but probably had more math back then. I once attended a seminar class where he wrote an equation on the board, then stared at the board for about 30 minutes without moving, and then started talking as if there was no delay. I worked for him during the summer of 1979 doing statistical analysis for him about quantifying Shakespeare's plays.

(Post courtesy of Jack Chambers.)
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Research Groups: Week of May 25-29

Wednesday, May 27 - 10 AM to 12:00 PM in SS 2111
Syntax/Semantics Group
Practice talks for CLA. Yining Nie: "Tense and modality in French verbal morphology." Keffyalew Gebregziabher: "A split analysis of Tigrinya nominal possessive constructions."

Friday, May 29 - 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM in SS 560A
Psycholinguistics Group
Speaker: Begum Ozdemir.

Friday, May 29 - 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM in SS 560A
Practice talks for various conferences. Iryna Osadcha: "The lexical stress in East Slavic." Elan Dresher: "Contrastive feature hierarchies in diachronic phonology." Print Page

25 May 2015

12th Annual Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium at Harvard

Several of our undergrads presented at this year's Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium at Harvard University on April 25 and 26:

Sneha George, Rachel Soo, and Yaruna Cooblal (all BA):
Voicing contrast in Tagalog and English stops: A look at the native-heritage dichotomy

Sherry Hucklebridge (BA 2015/incoming MA student):
Syntax-dependent prosodic effects in poetic meter
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20 May 2015

Guest speaker: Anne-Michelle Tessier (University of Alberta)

Anne-Michelle Tessier from the University of Alberta - a phonologist whose interests pertain to constraints, acquisition, and experimentation - will be visiting us and giving a talk on Monday, May 25 at 5:10 PM: "Lexical avoidance and grammatical complexity in phonological acquisition":

This talk is about the phenomenon of lexical avoidance in children’s early linguistic development, whereby a child avoids producing words which contain some complex (or marked?) phonological structure (as discussed in Ferguson and Farwell, 1975; Menn 1976, 1983; Schwarz and Leonard, 1982, Schwartz et al, 1987; Storkel 2004, 2006; Adam and Bat-El, 2009; interalia). This research’s basic question is to what extent a child’s developing grammar is responsible for lexical avoidance, and more specifically what kinds of linguistic complexity can drive this avoidance. The increase in complexity I will focus on is the transition from one word to two word utterances – which might be either driven or delayed by a child’s phonology – and I will assess the nature of lexical avoidance related to this transition in two case studies: one taken from Donahue (1986), and another in a novel corpus analysis. The central claim will be that phonological grammar is indeed crucial to explaining the kinds of lexical avoidance which are attested and unattested, illustrated using OT constraint interaction to yield typologically-reasonable patterns, and I will discuss some of the predictions, implications and open questions that emerge from this approach. Print Page

2014-15 Department Prizes

For several years now, our department has offered a Dresher Phonology Prize, and this year we have inaugurated the Elizabeth Cowper Syntax Prize. These awards are for the most outstanding papers in graduate phonology and syntax course over the course of the academic year.

Department Chair Keren Rice has announced the winners of these prizes for 2014-15:

B. Elan Dresher Phonology Prize: Yining Nie (MA)

Elizabeth Cowper Syntax Prize: Anna Seltner (MA)

Congratulations to both Yining and Anna for their outstanding work! The choices were not easy to make, and we would like to congratulate all of the others in the graduate phonology and syntax classes as well on their work.

Yining will be presenting her paper at the CRC Phonetics/Phonology workshop on June 8; details of this workshop will be available soon.

Congratulations to the prize winners on behalf of Keren and our whole department! Print Page

19 May 2015

Research Groups: Week of May 18-22

Wednesday, May 20 - 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM in SS2111
Syntax/Semantics Group
Practice talks for CLA-ACL 2015. Annick Morin: "Où en est tu?: A cross-linguistic approach to Quebec French polar interrogatives." Julianne Doner: "Not [uD]: Redefining the EPP requirement."

Friday, May 22 - 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM in SS560A
Language Variation and Change Group
Practice talks for CLA-ACL 2015 and/or ICAME and/or ICLaVE, including Emilie LeBlanc and Selena Phillips-Boyle: "Discourse markers well and ben in Chiac." Print Page

18 May 2015

Canadian Linguistic Association 2015

This year's annual meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association will be held at the University of Ottawa from May 30 to June 1. People from our department taking part include many undergraduates, grad students, postdocs, faculty, and alumni!

Current department members involved in presentations and/or posters are as follows:

Kazuya Bamba (MA 2014/incoming Ph.D. student):
"D feature and impersonal SE: A new perspective on Romance impersonal constructions."

Susana Béjar (faculty), Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty), Jessica Mathie (Ph.D.), and Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D.):
"Number matching in small clauses: Can we agree on Concord?"

Bronwyn Bjorkman (postdoc) and Elizabeth Cowper (faculty):
"Where there is, and why."

Laura Colantoni (faculty), Gabrielle Klassen (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Matthew J. Patience (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Malina Radu (MA, Spanish and Portuguese), and Olga Tararova (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese):
"Production of redundant and primary prosodic cues to sentence type by L1 Spanish and Mandarin learners of English."

Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007), Bronwyn Bjorkman (postdoc), Rebecca Tollan (Ph.D.) and Neil Banerjee (BA):
"There’s no future in Old English."

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.):
"Not [uD]: Redefining the EPP requirement."

Mélanie Elliott (Ph.D., French) and Mihaela Pirvulescu (faculty):
"The acquisition of direct object clitics in the Spanish of bilingual Spanish-French children."

Keffyalew Gebregziabher (postdoc):
"A split analysis of Tigrinya nominal possessive constructions."

Julie Goncharov (Ph.D.):
"Please, trim your replies! A hybrid fragment answer in Russian."

Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Yaruna Cooblal (BA), Sneha George (BA), Rachel Soo (BA), and Jestine Abella (BA):
"The effect of lexical stress on the phonetic realization of voicing contrast in Tagalog: Native and Heritage comparison."

Kyumin Kim (Ph.D. 2011) and colleague Paul B. Melchin (University of Ottawa):
"Pluralizer as a nP modifier: Evidence from Korean -tul."

Diane Massam (faculty), Kazuya Bamba (MA 2014/incoming Ph.D. student), and Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.):
"The universal null pronoun in instructional contexts and beyond."

Annick Morin (Ph.D.):
"Où en est tu? A cross-linguistic approach to Quebec French polar interrogatives"

Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.):
"Non-ergative case splits: A view from Finnish."

Yining Nie (MA):
"Tense and modality in French verbal morphology."

Iryna Osadcha (Ph.D.):
"The lexical stress in East Slavic."

Maida Percival (MA 2014/incoming Ph.D. student):
"Shifting GEN in harmonic serialism: Evidence from Halkomelem."

Jessamyn Schertz (postdoc), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), and colleague Sungwhoo Han (Inha):
"The role of acoustic evidence in resolving phonological ambiguity."

Maksym Shkvorets (BA 2015/incoming MA student):
"The loss of reflexive possessive pronouns in heritage Ukrainian."

Jim Smith (Ph.D.):
"Sociophonetic variation of Northern Ontario English vowels: Canadian Shift in two non-urban communities."

Nicholas Welch (postdoc):
"Light verbs as copulas with additional arguments."

Alumni who are involved are:

Wladyslaw Cichocki (Ph.D. 1986, now at the University of New Brunswick) is presenting a poster with colleague Yves Perreault (Université de Moncton):
"Differences between read and spontaneous speech: An application of rhythm metrics to a New Brunswick variety of Acadian French."

Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université de Québec à Montréal):
"Distinguishing Inuit verb-like adjectives from genuine stative intransitive verbs

Emilie LeBlanc (MA 2014, now at York University) and colleague Selena Phillips-Boyle (York University):
"Discourse markers well and ben in Chiac."

Beth MacLeod (Ph.D. 2012, now at Carleton University) is presenting a poster:
"Quantifying the perceptual salience of the differences between two dialects of Spanish."

Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland) with colleagues Paul DeDecker (Memorial University of Newfoundland) and Rosanna Pierson (Memorial University of Newfoundland):
"Losing light /l/: An acoustic and articulatory investigation of Newfoundland English."

Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland) with colleague Daiho Kitaoka (University of Ottawa):
"Evidence for the mora: Analysis of a Japanese reversing game."

Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at the University of British Columbia):
"Perceptual motivations of sibilant harmony."

Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba) with colleague Carrie Gillon (Arizona State University):
"Reanalyzing Michif 'determiners'."

Marina Sherkina-Lieber (Ph.D. 2011) with colleague Kumiko Murasugi (Carleton University):
"Noun incorporation and case in heritage Inuktitut."

Former visiting student Michael Wagner (McGill University) is part of a poster presentation with colleagues Junko Shimoyama (McGill University), Alex Drummond (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), and Bernhard Schwarz (McGill University):
"A no-source puzzle for clausal ellipsis in right dislocation, sluicing and fragments." Print Page

Guest speaker: Richard Kayne (New York University)

Pioneering syntactician Richard Kayne (New York University) will be visiting our department and giving a talk at 3 PM on Wednesday, May 27 in SS1078: "English for as a wh-phrase." Print Page