June 28, 2022

Reunited at DiGS 23!!

From right to left: Erin Hall, Ana Pérez-Leroux, Ailis Cournane  
The Diachronic Generative Syntax (DiGS) conference, held at NYU,  took place June 8-10.  DiGS 23 had a special workshop on "Child learners in syntactic change: Theory and methods"! This workshop hosted presentations and discussions on topics combining theoretical syntax, child language acquisition, variationist sociolinguistics and computational modelling of language change.

Erin Hall (PhD Alum 2020, now assistant professor at California State University, San Bernardino) and Ana Pérez-Leroux (Faculty) presented their work entitled "Children take steps toward cyclic and non-cyclic diachronic changes". The pair examine the role of child language acquisition in systematic, cyclic processes of grammaticalization, and non-cyclic changes in progress. They propose that there are 2 different processes involved in child language acquisition.

Not only did this workshop allow for Hall and Pérez-Leroux to share their amazing work, but they also got to reunite with Ailis Cournane! Cournane is a PhD alum, class of 2015, and is now an assistant professor at NYU! 

Overall, UofT faculty and alum had a successful time at DiGS 23! 

June 22, 2022

UofT Publications in the Canadian Journal of Linguistics !

We are pleased to share that there are TWO UofT publications in the Canadian Journal of Linguistics

Cassandra Chapman (former Postdoctoral Fellow) and Keir Moulton (Faculty) have recently published "Second chances in antecedent retrieval: The processing of reflexives in two types of reconstruction environments." Here they investigate the phenomenon where reflexives in wh-predicate fronting constructions launch a search that is not structurally guided. They ask whether non-structurally guided retrievals of this sort result in comprehenders ever commit to ungrammatical antecedents. 

A great read for those interested in psycholinguistics! 

Elizabeth Cowper (Faculty Emirita) and Daniel Currie Hall (alum, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, N.S) have their paper "Morphosemantic features in Universal Grammar: What we can learn from Marshallese pronouns and demonstratives" published as well! They analyze Marshallese pronouns and demonstratives. Cowper and Currie Hall argue that both privative and binary morphosemantic features are necessary, and that these two types coexist in a single domain. 

A can't-miss paper for all our morphologists and semantics! 

June 17, 2022

Featured Article: Non-Auditory Effects of Environmental Noise

Marshall Chasin's (Faculty) paper "Non-Auditory Effects of Environmental Noises" is the Featured Story in Canadian Audiologist, the official publication of the Canadian Academy of Audiology! Chasin's work stands out as the study of non-auditory effects of everyday environmental noises (e.g sleep disruptions and annoyances) that are not typically considered in audiology. 

Chasin examines reviews done by the World Health Organization on the effects of non-auditory noise on stress and cardiovascular effects, sleep disruption patterns, cognition, adverse birth outcome issues and general annoyance. His paper summarizes and delineates the difficulties in researching non-auditory effects of everyday noises and provides insight into the conclusions from the WHO's general recommendation for dealing with non-auditory environmental noises. 

This is an interesting read for all our audiologists, phoneticians and psycholinguists!

June 16, 2022

Undergrad Award Recipient 🎓🎉

Huge congratulations to Gianna Francesca Giovio Canavesi (now UTM undergrad alum) for graduating and receiving two esteemed awards! 

She is the recipient of the UofT Excellence Award for her work on "Production and Perception of Keiyo Vowels,"a research project supervised by Dr. Avery Ozburn. She also received the Outstanding Program Performance Award in Language Studies at UTM! 

Congrats Gianna! Your hard work has paid off and we are excited to see the amazing things you'll accomplish as you pursue your Masters in Speech-Language Pathology! 

June 15, 2022

Podcast on Computational Linguistics!

You have all probably binge-listened to the Gender in Language Podcasts from the JAL355 class, and we will we now share ANOTHER amazing listen from within the department! 

Frederick Gietz (PhD Candidate) was a guest on the Learn Real Good Podcast, a science-comedy podcast! His episode, "Teaching Semantics to Computers with Frederick Gietz" talks about teaching computers how to use verbs in the many complex ways humans do. As Gietz uses semantic and psychological theories to better understand language processing, he made for an excellent and engaging podcast guest! 

We highly recommend listening to his episode on your next daily walk! 

June 13, 2022

Associate Professor Keir Moulton!


We offer big CONGRATULATIONS Keir,  
who has been awarded Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor in our Department. 
He will now have time to perfect his risotto and other culinary undertakings.

June 9, 2022

Graduation Tea 🫖🎓🎉

All undergrad linguists spend years working towards the goal of attending the Graduation Tea! This year, members of the graduating class joined faculty members on Wonder where they reminisced on their undergrad years and chatted about future plans! We are pleased to hear many are continuing their studies in linguistics at various institutions around the world! 

Congrats to all students who are graduating this year! We cannot wait to hear about all the amazing things you'll do in the future! 


June 8, 2022

Ba-TOM 1!

The First Toronto-Montreal Bantu Colloquium (Ba-TOM) was hosted (IN PERSON!) on our Scarborough Campus from May 27th -28th! 

Students from the Winter Semester Field Method courses at the University of Toronto and at McGill's linguistics department presented their final papers at Ba-Tom 1. 

Here we have almost all the UofT presenters! 

Check out the program to see how many UofT names you can recognize!

This was an amazing event and the department is excited to see Ba-TOM continue in the years to come! 

June 7, 2022

Workshop: Semantics of NPs, DPs, and Modality!

On June 9th the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese are co-organizing this workshop:

Semantics of NPs, DPs, and Modality

Thursday June 9, 2022 NFC, Victoria College VC102

Registration: https://uoft.me/semantics

Professor Roberta Pires de Oliveira, a specialist on modality and bare nominals in Brazilian Portuguese, is the invited speaker and will be sharing their work on Semantics, Language Variation and Experiments! 

Students working on related topics will also be presenting their work during the workshop! Student Talks include: 

  • Sophie Harrington: "More than a mood": Uniting structure and interpretation through prominalized complements 
  • Crystal Chen (PhD Student): That Kind-of demonstrative: A Semantic Analysis of English Demonstratives 
  • Samuel Jambrović: Names, articles, and unique individuals 
  • Ohanna Severo: The syntactic properties of bare nouns in a Spanish-Portuguese contact situation
  •  Gregory Antono (PhD Student), Daphna Heller (Faculty) and Craig Chambers  (cross-appointed with the Department of Psychology): Linearizing classifiers, numerals, and nouns in the noun phrase. Does artificial language learning reflect cognitive biases? 
If you'd like to attend this intriguing workshop, please register in advance! 


10:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Sophie Harrington
"More than a mood": Uniting
structure and interpretation through pronominalized complements

11:00 – 12:00 p.m.
Roberta Pires de Oliveira (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina/CNPq PQ-1C) Invited talk: Bare arguments and kinds: The case of Brazilian Portuguese

12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Crystal Chen
Kind-of demonstrative: A Semantic Analysis of English Demonstratives

2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Samuel Jambrović
Names, articles, and unique individuals

2:30 – 2:45 pm Coffee break

2:45 – 3:15 p.m.
Ohanna Severo
Investigating bare nouns in Spanish-Portuguese bilinguals

3:15 – 3:45
Gregory Antono, Daphna Heller, Craig Chambers
Linearizing classifiers, numerals, and nouns in the noun phrase. Does artificial language learning reflect cognitive biases?

3:45 – 4:00 p.m. Closing remarks 

June 6, 2022

Cantonese "lazy pronunciation" gets another round

This may sound a bit familiar, but...

Brian Diep (undergrad), Justin Leung (PhD student) and Naomi Nagy (faculty) are presenting about variation in heritage and homeland Cantonese at another conference this weekend: 

第五屆粵語語言學論壇 The Fifth Forum on Cantonese Linguistics (FoCaL-5)

 The talk is at 10am Saturday, 4 June (Hong Kong time!!!):

邊啲人[naːn23]啲? (n-/l-) in Cantonese in Hong Kong and Toronto

This will present some further developments since the talk at WICL last weekend.
Here is Justin, happy to have finished that talk:

Two other WICL talks also reported on findings from the HLVC Project:

Katrina Kechun Li, Christopher Bryant & Li Nguyen (University of Cambridge)

Tonal aspects of Cantonese-English code-switching in HLVC corpus


Holman Tse (Asst. Professor at St. Catherine University, previously a visiting student in our Department):

Is there cross-linguistic influence of English /u/ on Toronto Cantonese high round vowels? 

(Sorry, not good shots of Holman, but here's his slides.)


June 2, 2022

New Publication: Licensing Unergative Objects in Ergative Languages: The View from Polynesian

Rebecca Tollan (University of Delaware) and Diane Massam (Emerita Faculty) have published "Licensing Unergative Objects in Ergative Languages: The View from Polynesian" in Syntax

They examine how objects of unergative verbs are case licensed when they are present, focusing on a contrast between Samoan and Niuean, two related Polynesian languages. Their comparative analysis highlights the salients of considering unergative constructions when determining the underlying syntax of any given case system. 

Tollan, R., & Massam, D. Licensing unergative objects in ergative languages: The view from Polynesian. Syntax.

June 1, 2022

Daphna & Breanna at the 2nd Experiments in Linguistic Meaning Conference!

The 2nd Experiments in Linguistic Meaning (ELM) Conference was hosted by the University of Pennsylvania from May 18-20 2022. 

Si On Yoo, Breanna Pratley (former MA student now at UMass) and Daphna Heller  (Faculty) presented their work on "Referential domains, priming and the effect of invisible objects".  This study examines whether unmentioned earlier objects can also be part of the referential domain and whether earlier and current objects are part of a single referential domain.

For those who did not attend, be sure to check out their abstract!

May 31, 2022

End of Term Party! 🥳

The Department graciously hosted the End of Term Party at the Madison Avenue Pub (a UofT Classic)! The afternoon was full of food, drinks, laughter and LOTS of sunshine! ☀️ 🍻

It was an amazing event and it was wonderful to connect face-to-face! 

We would like to thank all the staff who helped to organize the party!

Nathan Sanders was happy to be there....We promise! 

Everyone was soaking up the sun ☀️

One 1/2 of the group enjoying each other's company

The other 1/2 of the group! 

A SLUGS selfie!

May 30, 2022

UofT @ CLA Annual Conference!

The Canadian Linguistic Association will be hosting their Annual Conference from June 1st - 4th! It will be held virtually via Zoom and Discord. There will be a strong UofT presence this year! See below for the list of presenters for each day! 

 June 1st: 

  • Samuel Akinbo (University of Minnesota) & Avery Ozburn (Faculty). Rounding harmony and loanword epenthesis in Yoruba
  • Justin R. Leung (PhD Student). Given the sack, yet promoted: passivizable V-IO-DO constructions in Cantonese
  • Pedro Mateo Pedro (Faculty). Acquisition of directionals in Q’anjob’al
  • Martin Renard (PhD Student). The Implications of Idiomatic Noun Incorporation Expressions for L2 Kanien’kéha Revitalization
  • Julianne Doner (University of Toronto) Deriving Endpoints from Containment Relations in Niuean 
  • Crystal Chen (PhD Student). That Kind-of Demonstrative: A Semantic Analysis of English Demonstratives
  • Nadia Takhtaganova (PhD Student). Post-Verbal PP Complements in Huasteca Nahuatl
  • Bruno Andreotti  (PhD Student). Modelling Figurative Meaning using Expectations of Normality
June 2nd: 
Elizabeth Cowper (Faculty) is the 2022 Recipient of the National Achievement Award, and will be ending the day with a plenary talk!

Poster Presentations (June 2nd): 
June 3rd:
Poster Presentations June 3rd
  • Samantha Jackson (Postdoctoral Fellow). What I say or how I say it? Ethnoracial accents and hiring decisions in Toronto
  • Rukayat Olawale (University of Toronto) Une étude perceptive de l’influence du contexte pragmatique sur l’expression du vocatif en yoruba
To attend, registration is required in advance. 

Best of luck to all presenters! 

May 27, 2022

Live conferences are back - Naomi presented in Lisbon


The first Heritage Languages around the World conference brought together practitioners and linguists from sociolinguistics, formal linguistics, psycholinguistics, and language documentation to share knowledge about heritage languages through diverse lenses.

(L-to-R) Invited speakers Peter Austin, Sílvia Melo-Pfeifer, Jason Rothman, Organizer Ana Lúcia Santos, Invited speaker Naomi Nagy (UofT), Organizers Cristina Flores and Luis Amaral. (Photo by Anabela Rato.)

Other University of Toronto presenters include Anabela Rato & Vanina Machado (Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese), and Mona El Samaty (OISE).

The Humanities Building, Universidade de Lisboa

Naomi's talk:

“Promoting linguistic and cultural diversity through Heritage Language Sociolinguistics”

Naomi gets into her talk. (Photo by Anabela Rato)

May 26, 2022

The Workshop on Innovations in Cantonese Linguistics!!

 The 6th Workshop on Innovations in Cantonese Linguistics (WICL) is a biennial conference that focuses on new advances in Cantonese linguistics, such as innovation in methodologies, tools, and or computing software. This year it will be held virtually by Ohio State University on May 27th - May 28th 2022. 

Justin Leung (Graduate Student),  Brian Diep (Undergraduate Student) and Naomi Nagy (Faculty) will be presenting their work on " 'Lazy pronunciation' in Toronto Heritage Cantonese: The case of (n-/l-)"! They will be presenting on May 27th. Their abstract can be found below! 

The event is free of change but registration is required. We encourage all to attend! 

'Lazy pronunciation' in Toronto Heritage Cantonese: The case of (n-/l-)

In Hong Kong Cantonese, there is a group of sound changes in progress colloquially known as 懶音 ‘lazy pronunciation’. A well-known example is the alternation between syllable-initial /n/ and /l/, which is often characterized as a merger of /n/ to /l/ (Zee 1999; To et al. 2015; i.a.), e.g., pronouncing 南 /naːm²¹/ ‘south’ like 藍 /laːm²¹/ ‘blue’. While this merger is sometimes reported to be complete or near-completion (Zee 1999; To et al. 2015), some variation is observed, with age and gender suggested as important factors conditioning variant choice (Ng 2017; Liang 2018), as well as an expectation that heritage speakers may differ from homeland speakers. For example, Cantonese-English bilinguals in Vancouver are found to differentiate /n/ and /l/ in English but merge the two phonemes in Cantonese (Soo et al. 2021). However, little work has teased apart the linguistic and social factors that contribute to this variation. We investigated the factors that contribute to variation and compare the realization of /n-/ and /l-/ in heritage speakers in Toronto and homeland speakers in Hong Kong. If there is influence from English, which differentiates /n/ and /l/, we expect heritage speakers to have less [l] for /n-/ and [n] for /l-/. However, if heritage speakers amplify the change (due to less pressure to conform to a standard, less exposure to homeland speech, or categorical perception as /l/), we would expect them to have greater (perhaps categorical) usage of [l]. We analyzed spontaneous spoken data from sociolinguistic interviews (14 speakers) in Cantonese from the Heritage Language Documentation corpus (Nagy 2011). The corpus includes homeland speakers in Hong Kong and three generations of heritage speakers in Toronto. Tokens of syllables with /n-/ or /l-/ as the onset were extracted and coded impressionistically (and cross-checked) for the variable (n-/l-) and linguistic factors (vowel backness, vowel height, vowel length, tone, previous segment). We also considered the social factors of generation, ethnic orientation and gender of the speakers. The tokens were classified as underlyingly /n-/ or /l-/ based on 19th-century sources (from 粵音資料集叢 https://jyut.net), and these were accordingly analyzed in separate mixed-effects logistic regression models. 504 tokens were extracted (418 /n-/, 86 /l-/) after excluding characters categorically realized as [l]. For the /n-/ tokens, there is more retention of [n] after a previous (coda) nasal, conditioning by the tone and following vowel, as well as significant differences by generation, gender and ethnic orientation. Although generation is significant, there is no monotonic relationship suggesting an advance of the change across heritage generations. In contrast, for the /l-/ tokens, a nasal coda in the preceding syllable significantly favoured realization as [n], and there was no other conditioning. That is, in both datasets, there is a preference to produce [n] after a nasal. The results also confirm one finding in the literature, that /l-/ is less likely to surface as [n] than the other way around, but do not provide any evidence of a different pattern between heritage and homeland speakers. 


Liang, Y. 2018. 再探討香港粵語聲母 /n-/、/l-/ 不分. Current Research in Chinese Linguistics 97(1): 101–110. 

Nagy, N. 2011. A multilingual corpus to explore geographic variation. Rassegna Italiana di Linguistica Applicata 43(1–2): 65–84. 

Ng, C. L. C. 2017. Merger of the syllable-initial [n-] and [l-] in Hong Kong Cantonese. Outstanding Academic Papers by Students. http://dspace.cityu.edu.hk/handle/2031/100. 

Soo, R., Johnson, K. A., & Babel, M. 2021. Sound change in spontaneous bilingual speech. Proceedings of Interspeech 2021, 421–425. 

To, C. K. S., McLeod, S., & Cheung, P. S. P. 2015. Phonetic variations and sound changes in Hong Kong Cantonese. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics 29(5): 333–353. 

Zee, E. 1999. Change and variation in the syllable-initial and syllable-final consonants in Hong Kong Cantonese. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 27(1): 120–167.

May 24, 2022

The Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Semantics Workshop 2022!!

The Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Semantics Workshop (TOM 14) will be hosted this year by the Department of Cognitive Science at Carleton University! The workshop will take place on May 28th 2022 on Zoom. The event is free to attend and we encourage all our semanticist to join! 

Crystal Chen (PhD Student) and Michela Ippolito (Faculty) will be presenting their work on "Exclamatives Interrogatives"

Dr. Ai Taniguchi (UTM Faculty) will also be presenting at TOM! She will be sharing her work on "Semantics and Pragmatics in a Justice-Centered Introductory Linguistics Textbook: Reflection from Updating an Open Educational Resource"

Publication: Children's Comprehension of NP Embedding by Hall & Pérez-Leroux!

Erin Hall (California State University, San Bernardino) and Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux (Faculty) have published  "Children's Comprehension of NP Embedding" in Glossa: a journal of general linguistics

They used a colour task to examine children's comprehension of sentences containing complex NPs, comparing PP modifiers to coordinated NPs, where both referents are accessible.  They propose that error patterns for comitative prepositions can be explained by the assumption that children's errors align with the direction of systematic language change. 

Be sure to read the whole paper to learn more!

Hall, E. & Pérez-Leroux, A. T., (2022) “Children’s comprehension of NP embedding”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 7(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/glossa.5816

May 22, 2022

Cherry Blossoms on Campus!

The cherry blossom trees were in peak bloom earlier this month! If you didn't get a chance to see them, we got you covered! Here are the beautiful trees that surrounded Robarts library. Let us know if you were able to check them out in person this year! 


May 15, 2022

CoLang Award Recipient!

Congratulations Martin Renard (PhD Student)! He is one of this year's recipients of the LSA's prestigious fellowship to participate in CoLang! The Linguistic Society of America sponsors The Institute on Collaborative Language Research (aka CoLang), a summer training institute where linguists gain hands-on experiences in the best practices for language documentation, descriptive linguistics and language revitalization.  

Martin is a 1st year PhD student and is interested in Indigenous language revitalization and collaborative linguistic research.  He has mostly worked on the endangered Northern Iroquoian Language Kanien'kéha (also known as Mohawk). 

Congratulations Renard!! We are excited to hear about your experience and are eager to see you put your new skills to work!