October 18, 2018

Derek in The Medium

Derek Denis (faculty) was recently interviewed for the student publication The Medium on the Mississauga campus: "Seeing Scrabble through a linguistic lens."

Guest speaker: Olga Fernández-Soriano (Universidad autónoma de Madrid)

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is pleased to welcome faculty member Olga Fernández-Soriano from the Universidad autónoma de Madrid: "Non-matching split interrogatives and focus extension in Spanish." It will be taking place on Monday, October 22, from 3 to 5 PM in VC 102.

October 17, 2018

New paper: Brook, Jankowski, Konnelly, and Tagliamonte (2018)

Marisa Brook (faculty), Bridget L. Jankowski (staff; Ph.D. 2013), Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) have a paper out in the Journal of Sociolinguistics, 22(4): "'I don't come off as timid anymore': Real‐time change in early adulthood against the backdrop of the community."

The period from ages 18 to 25 is sometimes called ‘emerging adulthood’ (Arnett 2000, 2004) since it has come to be characterized by major life transitions. Linguistically, this means that lifespan change in the individual (Sankoff 2004, 2018) might be particularly likely during these years (Labov 2001: 447; Bigham 2012: 533; Kohn 2014: 20). Addressing a need for more real‐time sociolinguistic research on early adulthood, we employ data from a panel study of a single speaker, ‘Clara’ (b. 1986), interviewed every 12 to 18 months between the ages of 16 and 30 (Tagliamonte 2005, 2012: 274–276). We examine four linguistic variables that differ according to level of the grammar and social salience in Clara's community (Toronto, Canada). For each variable, Clara's rates of the variants shift to match those of subsequent age cohorts in the community around her as she gets older and joins the workforce. These findings attest to emerging adulthood as a sociolinguistically formative period. More generally, they emphasize the inseparability of individuals and their linguistic surroundings.

October 14, 2018

Research Groups: Week of October 15-19

Wednesday, October 17, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Bissell Building 113
Morphology Reading Group
Ross Godfrey (Ph.D.) will be leading a paper discussion: Trommer, Jochen. A postsyntactic morphome cookbook. In Siddiqi, Daniel, and Harley, Heidi (eds.), Morphological metatheory, 59-94. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Friday, October 19, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Phonology Research Group

Friday, October 19, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Semantics Research Group
Group discussion of two background readings for the upcoming master-class on presuppositions at the Jackman Humanities Institute to be led by Philippe Schlenker (École normale supérieure/New York University) on November 2. The first of these is: Schlenker, P. (2011). Presupposition projection: Two theories of local contexts, Part I. Language and Linguistics Compass, 5(12), 848-857. The second one is: Schlenker, P. (to appear). Iconic presuppositions.

October 13, 2018


New Ways of Analyzing Variation 47 is being held at New York University from October 18 to 21. Our present roster of sociolinguists/acquisitionists and alumni are all over the program. In addition, Ph.D. student Pocholo Umbal was selected as one of the winners of the NWAV 47 Student Travel Award. Congratulations!

Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.), Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.), Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.), Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.), Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) are giving a talk with Nicole Hildebrand-Edgar (York University):
"Stance, style, and semantics: Operationalizing insights from semantic-pragmatics to account
for linguistic variation."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) and Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty):
"Internal bias feeds incrementation: Experimental evidence from must in child Toronto English."

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"What’s age got to do with it? Problematizing the temporal dimension for linguistic explanation."

Marisa Brook (faculty):
"As if and as though in earlier spoken Canadian English: Register and the onset of change."

Erin Hall (Ph.D.) and Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.):
"/u/-fronting and /æ/-raising in Toronto families."

Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.):
"What's the 'uh' for?: Pragmatic specialization of uh and um in instant messaging."

Naomi Nagy (faculty), with colleagues Rosalba Nodari (Schuola Normale Superiore) and Chiara Celata (Schuola Normale Superiore):
"Internal versus contact-induced variability: Phonetic but not phonological fidelity in Heritage Italian VOT."

Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), with Irina Presnyakova (Simon Fraser University) and Panayiotis Pappas (Simon Fraser University):
"Allophones of /æ/ in four ethnic groups of Vancouver, B.C."

Naomi Nagy (faculty) is part of a talk with colleagues Miriam Meyerhoff (Victoria University of Wellington), Richard Arnold (Victoria University of Wellington), Danielle Barth (Australian National University), Michael Dunn (Uppsala University), Simon Greenhill (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History), Steffen Klaere (Wilfred Laurier University) Nancy Niedzielski (Rice University), James Walker (La Trobe University), Russell Gray (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History), and Evan Hazenberg (University of Sussex):
"New approaches to scaling up: Tracking variation from individual to group and to language."

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria):
"Linguists be like, 'Where did it come from?'"

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) is part of a workshop with Michol Hoffman (York University), James Stanford (Dartmouth College), Christina Tortora (City University of New York), and
James Walker (La Trobe University):
"Methodological and pedagogical issues for undergraduate researchers in large corpus projects."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) is conducting a workshop with Vishal Arvindam (New York University):
"Eye-tracking for LVC research."

Marisa Brook (faculty) and Emily Blamire (Ph.D.) are presenting a poster:
"The analysis of awesomeØ: Rule-governed nonstandardness at the edge of the grammar."

Matt Hunt Gardner (Ph.D. 2017, now at St. Mary's University) is also presenting a poster:
"I’ll tell you, this study is going to explore future temporal reference in Cape Breton."

Former visiting scholar Holman Tse (University of Pittsburgh) is presenting a talk on his research conducted in accordance with the Heritage Language Variation and Change Project:
The vowels in 'pig' vs. 'tofu': A contact-induced merger in Toronto Heritage Cantonese?"

Heather Burnett (postdoc 2015, now at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique) is co-presenting a talk with Julie Auger (Indiana University):
"What about mie? Methodologies for investigating negation in Picard."

Current visiting scholar Jonathan Kasstan (Queen Mary University of London) is also presenting a talk:
"Maintaining style in language death."

October 12, 2018

Report from AMP6

A lively bunch of department members and alumni assembled at the Annual Meeting on Phonology at the University of California, San Diego from October 5 through 7. Thanks to faculty member Peter Jurgec for the photo!

Nicholas Rolle (MA 2010, now at the University of California, Berkeley), Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland), Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at the University of British Columbia), Rachel Walker (MA 1993, now at the University of Southern California), Peter Jurgec (faculty), Sharon Rose (BA 1990, now at the University of California, San Diego), Aleksei Nazarov (faculty), and Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, now at Seikei University).

October 10, 2018

10th Annual LGCU Welcome Workshop

The tenth LGCU Welcome Workshop is being held on Friday, October 12, in SS 560A. This yearly event is a way of introducing new graduate students and their prior research to the LGCU and the department community.

Sadaf Rahmanian (MA):
"Does misspelling words matter?"

Lauren Bigelow (MA):
"[ej] and [ow] ungliding in Northern Ontario."

Liam Donohue (MA):
"Tense-aspect interaction in Georgian verbs."

Bruno Andreotti (Ph.D.)
"Aspectual, volitional and agentive properties of control marking in Comox-Sliammon."

Koorosh Ariyaee (Ph.D.)
"Phonological blocking factors of pre-nasal vowel raising in Tehrani Persian."

Lisa Sullivan (Ph.D.)
"Phonological conditioning of –ian /–iən/ and –an /–ən/ place name suffixes."

All department members are welcome. A reception will follow in the lounge.

Undergrad Welcome Tea and award winners

On Thursday, September 27, we held a Welcome Tea for undergraduates interested in linguistics. This was a chance for newcomers, intermediate/senior linguistics undergrads, grad students, and faculty in the department to get to know each other. At the event, we also announced this year's winners of four undergraduate awards:

Elaine Gold Award for Outstanding Achievement
Christina Suk-Yan Duong

Henry Rogers Award and Memorial Scholarship
Crystal Hai Ying Chen                                             

Jack Chambers Undergrad Scholarship in Linguistics
Anissa Elizabeth Baird                                                         

McNab Scholarship in Linguistics
Hannah Green

Congratulations to all four, and welcome to everyone!

October 9, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, October 12

Please note the extra meeting of the Language Variation and Change Research Group this week.

Friday, October 5, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group
Megan Parker (MA 2018): "Open doors and closed laptops: Overspecifying state information in the production of referring expressions".

Friday, October 5, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in Robarts 14190
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Practise talks for NWAV 47, part 2 of 2: Tim Gadanidis (Ph.D.); Marisa Brook (faculty) and Emily Blamire (Ph.D.); Tim Gadanidis (Ph.D.), Nicole Hildebrand-Edgar (York University), Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.), Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.), Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.), Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), and Sali Tagliamonte (faculty).

Friday, October 5, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Dan Milway (Ph.D.): "A proposal for a label-based theory of the syntax-semantics interface"
In recent work, Chomsky (2013; 2015) has argued that syntactic labelling/projection is performed at the syntax-semantics interface, and is required for proper interpretation by the Conceptual-Intentional system. In this talk I discuss the implications of this line of argumentation and propose an extension to Chomsky's Label Theory. According to this extension, the label of a complex constituent determines how it composes. I further argue that this proposal could be more theoretically attractive than our current semantic-type-based theory of composition (Heim and Kratzer 1998; Montague 1970).

Friday, October 5, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Fieldwork Group
Group paper discussion: Bar-el, Leora (2015). Documenting and classifying aspectual classes across languages. In Bochnak, M. Ryan, and Matthewson, Lisa (eds), Methodologies in semantic fieldwork, 75-109. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

October 4, 2018


The 6th Annual Meeting on Phonology (AMP 6) is being held from October 5-7 at the University of California, San Diego. We are being represented by faculty member Peter Jurgec and several recent undergraduate alumni.

Peter and George Steel (BA 2016) are presenting a demonstration:
"PhonoApps: Learning phonology online."

Peter, Rachel Evangeline Chiong (BA 2018), Andrea Macanović (BA 2018), and Peter Weiss (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
"True transparency and limited blocking in Slovenian palatalization consonant harmony."

October 3, 2018

Happy administrative birthdays!

We are fortunate to have a pair of wonderful, hard-working, enthusiastic, well-organised administrators at the front of our department office: Jennifer McCallum (our Graduate Administrator) and Deem Waham (our Undergraduate Administrator). Among other ways in which these two work in sync and with enviable efficiency is that they share a birthday. This year, we had a little gathering to celebrate our vibrant front-desk staff for everything they do. Thanks to Emily Blamire (Ph.D.) for special efforts in arranging the festivities and to Emily Clare (Ph.D.) for taking the photo.

Happy birthday to both from all of us!

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.), Nick LaCara (faculty), Naomi Nagy (faculty), Marisa Brook (faculty), Jennifer and Deem and Deem's husband Tobias, Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty), Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D.), and Emily Blamire (Ph.D.).

October 2, 2018

Research Groups: Week of October 1-5

Monday, October 2, 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM, PT266
Computational Linguistics Group, Department of Computer Science
Ella Rabinovich (postdoc, Department of Computer Science): "A computational approach to the study of bilingualism."
The goal of this talk is to propose and evaluate an approach for bridging the gap between two related areas of research on bilingualism: translation studies and second language acquisition. I investigate the characteristics of language production that is influenced by the existence of another linguistic system - language that is produced by a variety of multilinguals, including learners, advanced non-native speakers and translators. I ask whether these language varieties are subject to unified principles, governed by phenomena that stem from the co-existence of multiple linguistic systems in a bilingual brain. By applying a range of computational methodologies, I highlight factors that account for the commonalities and the distinctions between various crosslingual languages varieties. Major features of bilingualism, including grammatical, cognitive, and social aspects, have been extensively studied by scholars for over half a century. Crucially, much of this research has been conducted with small, carefully-curated datasets or in a laboratory experimental setup. I will show that the availability of large and diverse datasets of productions of non-native speakers stimulates new opportunities for pursuing the emerging direction of computational investigation of bilingualism, thereby tying empirical results with well-established theoretical foundations.

Wednesday, October 3, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Bissell Building 113
Morphology Reading Group
Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.) will be leading a paper discussion: Stump, Gregory (forthcoming). Paradigm Function Morphology: Assumptions and innovations. In Aronoff, Mark (ed.), The Oxford research encyclopedia of linguistics. Oxford University Press.

Friday, October 5, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Practise talks for NWAV 47, part 1 of 2: Naomi Nagy (faculty); Marisa Brook (faculty); Erin Hall (Ph.D.) and Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.).

Friday, October 5, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Phonology Research Group

Friday, October 5, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Semantics Research Group
Bruno Andreotti (Ph.D.): "Interpreting derived stative predicates: Evidence from ʔayʔajuθəm."
This presentation explores the semantic properties of a verb affix which marks stative aspect in ʔayʔajuθəm. Also known as Comox-Sliammon, ʔayʔajuθəm is a critically endangered Central Salish language spoken on the central west coast of British Columbia, Canada. The talk explores the different possible readings of this affix against what has been reported for similar morphemes in other languages. It is proposed that the different possible readings of a stativized predicate in ʔayʔajuθəm arise out of pragmatics, requiring no semantic or syntactic ambiguity, as has been proposed in previous analyses. In essence, the analysis states that derived stative predicates denote the contextually most informative and least superfluous of the states causally associated with the predicate, evaluated against a set of Questions Under Discussion. This analysis may also be applicable to adjectival participles in English.

October 1, 2018


The 49th meeting of the North East Linguistics Society is being held at Cornell University on October 5-7. On the program, we will be represented by five alumni across several theoretical subfields:

Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007, now at St. Mary's University) and Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at UBC):
"When is derived [i] transparent? A subtractive approach to Uyghur vowel harmony."

Naomi Francis (MA 2014, now at MIT)
"Imperatives under even."

Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at the University of Chicago):
"Lexical case as an anaphor agreement effect: The view from Inuktitut."

Julie Legate (MA 1997, now at the University of Pennsylvania) and colleague Milena Šereikaitė (University of Pennsylvania) have a poster:
"Lithuanian evidentials and passives of evidentials."

September 30, 2018

Workshop on the Syntax of Polynesian Languages

On June 8 and June 9, the department celebrated Diane Massam's retirement (and 28 years as a faculty member here) by hosting a Workshop on the Syntax of Polynesian Languages. This event may have been the first ever international meeting on the syntax of this language family. Polynesianists came from far and wide, as did many of Diane's former students and other colleagues. The phenomenal program was followed by a celebratory banquet.

At the workshop.

Vera Hohaus (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen) answering questions.

Diane with keynote speaker Yuko Otsuka (Sophia University) and two (of several) bouquets that arrived throughout the workshop.

The banquet room.

Diane with with surprise attendee Kyle Johnson (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

A special pudding.

Diane with Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D.), Jack Chambers (faculty), Keren Rice (faculty), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), and Alexei Kochetov (faculty).

With Sandy Chung (University of California, Santa Cruz), Yuko Otsuka (Sophia University), Heidi Quinn (University of Canterbury) and Eric Potsdam (University of Florida).

With Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Jennifer McCallum (staff), and Jila Ghomeshi (Ph.D. 1996, now at the University of Manitoba).

With David Medeiros (California State University, Northridge), Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba), Drew Hancock-Teed (BA alumnus), Rebecca Tollan (Ph.D.), James Collins (University of Hawaiʻi), and Jens Hopperdietzel (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).

September 28, 2018

Our appearance on Jeopardy!

Via a bit of synecdoche, our department was featured in a clue on Jeopardy! earlier this week.

(Photo by Erin Hall.)

The observation in question belongs to faculty member J. K. Chambers and comes from a 2017 interview in the Washington Post.

Our department has a large number of Jeopardy! enthusiasts and this is at least our third encounter with the show in the last few years. Earlier in 2018, alumna Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) was also featured in a clue on Jeopardy! - one pertaining to her 2017 book Discourse-Pragmatic Variation in Context: Eight Hundred Years of LIKE, an expansion of her U of T doctoral dissertation. About two years before, a subset of our sociolinguists got to cross paths with Alex Trebek in person. However, please note that whether there is a sociolinguistics-Jeopardy! conspiracy occurring behind the scenes is not a matter we are in a position to address publicly.

September 27, 2018

Congratulations, Nick!

Congratulations to recent postdoc and faculty member Nick Welch, who has just started a position as an Assistant Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Wonderful news, Nick! All the best, and keep in touch!

September 26, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, September 28

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, Wilson Hall 523
Psycholinguistics Group
Katharina Rohlfing (University of Paderborn): "Collaborative and multimodal endeavour of language learning."
So far in the research, the problem of learning a word was presented mostly in an intrapersonal way: a child has to map a word onto a concept. In this presentation, I will present an alternative to this approach: word learning is not only a matter of the learner. Instead, it is a joint and collaborative endeavor. Consequently, words are used for specific action goals – especially in early development. This view affords not only a change of theoretically conceptualizing word learning but also a change of methods. Departing from the theory summarized in Rohlfing et al. (2016) under the conception of Pragmatic Frames, I will exemplify the methodological challenge on turn-taking, which – so far – was investigated mostly as unimodal but should be considered as a multimodal phenomenon. Analyzing a corpus of mother-child dyads applying Cross Recurrence Quantification Analysis and frequent pattern mining, solutions to the assessment of human sequential behavior will be presented with respect to the questions of (i) how multimodal turn-taking spreads across different modalities and (ii) how it is co-constructed with a partner.

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Nicholas LaCara (faculty): "Modal complement anaphora and the distribution of parenthetical gaps."
English as-parentheticals can contain gaps where verb phrases normally appear. I have argued previously that these gaps are the result of VP ellipsis (VPE) in the parenthetical. In this talk, I look outside of English to see whether other putatively elliptical operations can create gaps in as-parentheticals, concentrating on Modal Complement Anaphora (MCA) in Romance. The results of this investigation seem to show that gaps can occur only where MCA can delete material, but it is not always possible to use MCA in a parenthetical. That is, MCA may not occur as freely as VPE does in English. I do not yet know why.

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Fieldwork Group
Brief, informal presentations about fieldwork expeditions that group members went on this past summer.

September 25, 2018

New paper: Ozburn and Kochetov (2018)

Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at UBC) and Alexei Kochetov (faculty) have a paper out in Phonology, 35(3): "Ejective harmony in Lezgian."

This paper contributes to the typology of laryngeal harmony by analysing an unusual case of long-distance laryngeal co-occurrence restrictions and alternations in Lezgian. This pattern, previously unmentioned in the phonological literature, is the first known case of alternations involving ejective harmony. In Lezgian, local processes mask the interaction of ejectives and plain voiceless stops. This is robustly supported by our dictionary analysis, which reveals a ban on the co-occurrence of ejectives and plain voiceless stops within the foot. Both harmony alternations and static co-occurrence restrictions are sensitive to foot structure, unlike previous cases of consonant harmony. Harmony also interacts opaquely with vowel syncope, and certain co-occurrences of plain and ejective stops are resolved with dissimilation rather than harmony, showing a conspiracy to avoid co-occurrences. We demonstrate an account within the Agreement by Correspondence framework and discuss implications for the typology and analysis of consonant harmony.

September 18, 2018

A milestone for the HLVC project!

On Friday, September 14, former visiting scholar Holman Tse (University of Pittsburgh) successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, "Beyond the monolingual core and out into the wild: A variationist study of early bilingualism and sound change in Toronto Heritage Cantonese". His project - the first dissertation to be based on data from the Heritage Language Variation and Change project - is a landmark! Naomi Nagy (faculty) served on Holman's committee along with University of Pittsburgh faculty members Scott Kiesling (supervisor), Shelome Gooden, and Alan Juffs.

Congratulations to Dr. Tse and to everyone who has been working on HLVC!

(Photos provided by Naomi Nagy.)

Naomi and Holman.

Most of a committee! Scott, Holman, Shelome, and Naomi.

September 17, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, September 21

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Laura Hare (Ph.D. 2018, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations): "Gendered speech: A sociolinguistic study of conversations between men and women in biblical narrative."
In this study, I conduct a quantitative sociolinguistic analysis of a range of different linguistic variables from different levels of grammar, including syntax and vocabulary, that are used by men and women in mixed-gender conversations in the Hebrew Bible. The results of this analysis demonstrate that Hebrew as a written language presents a sociolinguistic world with consistent patterns of linguistic variation, including consistent patterns of gender-based variation. Because the biblical authors use adherence to and deviation from the expected patterns of speech as a way of expressing character traits and indicating unusual situations, an understanding of how linguistic variation functions in the Hebrew Bible provides deeper insight into the text.

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Phonology Research Group
Radu Craioveanu's thesis proposal: "The larynx revisited: The realization, timing, and perception of laryngeal features."

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Semantics Research Group
Paper discussion led by Andrew Peters (Ph.D.).
We will discuss two recent papers by Anand and Toosarvandani on their bicontextual semantics for the English present tense, as well as extensions in the study of temporal sequencing. A discussion on competing approaches for handling temporal inferences in discourse will serve to background Anand and Toosarvandani's account of the 'historical' and 'play-by-play' present. Their approach employs Sharvit's (2004) context of assessment to unify both canonical and non-canonical uses of the English simple present, to explain how narrative backshifting arises and why it is unavailable in the historical present, as well as how the historical present can 'anchor' the past perfect, while canonical and play-by-play uses cannot. I will present discussions from two of Anand and Toosarvandani's papers which are to appear in Sinn und Bedeutung, 21 & 22 as well as from their course at the North American Summer School on Logic, Language, and Information in June 2018.