20 April 2015

Research Groups: Friday, April 24

Note that there are no meetings of the phonology or the Syntax-Semantics Squib Section this week.

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Language Variation and Change Group
Discussion of ongoing preparations for NWAV 44 in October.

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18 April 2015

Upcoming research group meetings

Note that there were no meetings of research groups on Friday the 17th; for most of our groups, things are winding down at this time of the year.

The Syntax/Semantics Squib Section and Fieldwork Group will resume in the autumn.

The Phonetics/Phonology Group may meet very occasionally over the summer: watch for announcements.

The Language Variation and Change Group will be meeting as usual on April 24, May 8, and May 22, and then adjourn for the summer.

The Psycholinguistics Group will be meeting as usual on May 1, 15, and 29, and then also adjourn for the summer.

Summer meetings of the Syntax/Semantics Group will take place each week at 10 AM on Wednesday, beginning on May 6. Watch for individual meeting announcements that will include the location(s).

This post will be updated if any of the above details change. Print Page

SESDEF Colloquium 2015

The Société des études supérieures du Départment d'Études Françaises (SESDEF) (French Department Society for Graduate Studies) is holding its annual colloquium on Thursday the 30th of April and Friday the 1st of May, with the theme of "Traces d'une rencontre: Langues en contact" (Imprints of an encounter: Languages in contact). The conference - to be held mostly in French - will be taking place in the Coop Room in Brennan Hall, and touch upon issues in sociolinguistics and language acquisition. Print Page

New interview with Richard Compton

Alumnus Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université de Québec à Montréal) did an interview with Nunatsiaq News this week on the subject of Inuktitut, language endangerment, and Richard's field methods class at UQÀM. Keep up the great work, Richard! Print Page

16 April 2015

Workshop on Contrast in Syntax

Next weekend is the Contrast in Syntax workshop in honour of Elizabeth Cowper, who retired in June after 38 years at the University of Toronto. A detailed schedule can be found here. The workshop will open with a reception at Trinity College from 5 to 7 PM on Thursday the 23rd. Talks will include those by fourteen of Elizabeth's former students and advisees, as well as a plenary poster session, and presentations by current students:


Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University) with Gabriela Albiou (postdoc 2002-03, now at York University):
"Aspect, mood and tense in Onondaga: A feature geometric approach."

Andrew Carnie (BA 1991, now at the University of Arizona):
"The syntax and semantics of aspectual contrasts in Scottish Gaelic."

Lisa Cheng (MA 1986, now at Leiden University)
"Contrasting Cantonese and Mandarin VP domain."

Jila Ghomeshi (MA 1990/Ph.D. 1996, now at the University of Manitoba) and Diane Massam (MA 1980, now at the University of Toronto):
"A number of puzzles."

Daniel Currie Hall (MA 1998/Ph.D. 2007, now at St. Mary's University):
"Contrast and case: A phonologically-inspired look at a quintessentially syntactic phenomenon."

Päivi Koskinen (MA 1992/Ph.D. 1998, now at Kwantlen Polytechnic University):
"Ideophones in Finnish grammar."

Julie Legate (MA 1997, now at the University of Pennsylvania):
"Contrasting impersonals and grammatical object passives."

Martha McGinnis (MA 1993, now at the University of Victoria):
"Cross-linguistic contrasts in the syntax of nominalizations."

Kenji Oda (MA 2002/Ph.D. 2012, now at Syracuse University):
"Contrasting analyses of adjective fronting in Irish."

Nick Pendar (MA 2000, Ph.D. 2005):
"Text categorization with linguistically motivated contrastive features."

Elizabeth Ritter (undergraduate student 1979-80, now at Ben Gurion University):
"Selection for [m] in Blackfoot: Consequences for event structure."

Leslie Saxon (MA 1979, now at the University of Victoria):
"Contrasting complementizers."

Carson Schütze (MA 1991, now at UCLA):
"Did we really need to add AGREE, or could Spec-Head agreement have done the job?"


Rashid Al-Balushi (Ph.D. 2011, now at Sultan Qaboos University):
"Agreement got a new job!"

Gabriela Alboiu (postdoc 2002-03, now at York University) with Virginia Hill (University of New Brunswick):
"Finite contrasts: Gerunds versus indicatives in Old Romanian."

Radu Craioveanu (current Ph.D. student):
"Unifying Finnish aspectual case marking."

Keffyalew Gebregziabher (current postdoc):
"Contrasting (double) clitics and agreement markers: Amharic and Tigrinya pronominal affixes."

Jianxun Liu (University of Victoria):
"The tense feature and finiteness of a purposive construction in Mandarin."

Bethany Lochbiler (University of Edinburgh) and Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba):
"The person-animacy connection."

Emilia Melara (current Ph.D. student):
"Past embedded clauses in English and Japanese."

Alex Motut (current Ph.D. student):
"Remote Agree: Core operations and remote dependencies in binding, control."

Ileana Paul (University of Western Ontario):
"The features of proper determiners in Malagasy dialects." Print Page

15 April 2015

Public lecture: Charles Yang (University of Pennsylvania)

The Department of Linguistics and the Cognitive Science Program are co-hosting a public lecture by Charles Yang, an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. Charles' interests include language acquisition, cognitive science, morphosyntax, and computational models. His talk at the U of T will be taking place on Monday, April 27, in University College room 161: "Why are there no asleep cats? Children, language and Big Data." Print Page

14 April 2015

LIN1205 poster session

Meg Grant's Experimental Design students are going to be presenting their work in a small poster session in the department lounge on Friday the 17th from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM. There will also be light refreshments. We hope you’ll be able to stop by! Print Page

11 April 2015


The sixth North American GALANA (Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition) conference was held at the University of Maryland, College Park, from February 19th to 21st.

Ph.D. student Ailís Cournane presented a poster: "Modal errors as evidence for child-driven diachronic V-to-INFL reanalysis."

Alumna Lyn Tieu (MA 2008, now at l'École Normale Supérieure) was part of a presentation with colleagues Kadir Gökgöz (University of Connecticut), Ksenia Bogomolets (University of Connecticut), Jeffrey Palmer (Gallaudet University) and Diane Lillo-Martin (University of Connecticut/Haskins Laboratories): "Contrastive focus in children acquiring English and ASL: Cues of prominence." Print Page

10 April 2015

Guest speaker: Meghan Armstrong (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is hosting a guest talk by Meghan Armstrong, an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Meghan's research interests include language acquisition, pragmatics, intonation, Puerto Rican Spanish, and African-American Vernacular English. She will be giving a talk at Victoria College 212 on Friday, April 17, at 2 PM: "Intonation and belief states in adult and child speech: The state of the art."

This talk synthesizes recent research on how speakers are able to convey their mental states through intonation, in addition to how children learn to do so. Not only do speakers convey information about phrasing, sentence type and focus through intonation, but they are also able to convey information about their belief states (Ward & Hirschberg, 1985).  In fact, speakers are often able to mark a sentence for utterance type and belief state at the same time (Armstrong, in press; Armstrong & Prieto, in press). This has been documented especially for the case of polar, or yes-no questions (Escandell-Vidal, 1998; Armstrong, in press). The idea that speakers may mark sentences for both sentence type and epistemic states through an intonational morpheme is perhaps unsurprising since the same phenomenon is observed in many languages through particles. Oftentimes sentence-final particles (SFPs) specifically mark an utterance as a question (sentence-type marking), while at the same time giving the hearer information about the speaker’s epistemic stance towards propositional content (belief state intonation). This is the case for languages such as Lao, or Tzetzal, for example (Enfield et al., 2013). Often times intonationists are tempted to assume that contour choice for polar questions is based on coarse-grained dichotomies such as information-seeking vs. confirmation-seeking questions, or neutral versus biased questions. While it is of course possible that contour choice for polar questions is based on these types of dichotomies in some languages, we should not expect this to be the case for every language. This is clear for the case of SFPs in the languages that have them – cross-linguistic study of SFPs shows that the way in which the semantic space is carved for SFPs varies from language to language. Therefore, the type of information about speaker belief states that is grammaticalized from language to language varies. The case of intonation seems to be no different. Drawing from recent experimental work in Romance and American English, I show that languages and dialects are indeed able to convey different types of belief state information through intonational morphemes. I will discuss ways of improving our methodology to better understand how speakers carve their semantic spaces intonationally. Finally, I will discuss how these facts have implications for L1 acquisition of intonation, proposing that a “meaning-based” component will be crucial as researchers work towards a theory of intonational development. Print Page

08 April 2015

Research Groups: Friday, April 10

Note that there is no Phonetics/Phonology group meeting tomorrow.

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Language Variation and Change Group
Matt Hunt Gardner's thesis proposal. Title: "Grammatical variation and change in industrial Cape Breton." Committee: Sali A. Tagliamonte (chair), Jack Chambers, and Aaron Dinkin. Ph.D. students and members of the graduate faculty are expected to be present if possible. All other members of the department (and/or the LVC group) are welcome to attend. Please aim to arrive by 9:30 AM sharp.

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Syntax/Semantics Squib Section
Extended meeting to accommodate guest speaker Lauren Eby Clemens: "The possibilities and limitations of using prosodic phrasing as a diagnostic for syntactic structure: A look at Chol and Niuean." Print Page