November 29, 2023

UofT Linguistics @ Fall Campus Day

UofT Linguistics had a wonderful time at Fall Campus Day on Saturday, Nov 18, 2023. Here are photos from the event showing our SLUGS representatives busy discussing linguistics and promoting our undergraduate program to high school students and first year students. Our trivia questions and attractive prizes of samosas, tote bags, buttons, chips and candy drew an impressive crowd!

(Thanks to Kai Herzog-Hara for the report and Photos)

November 24, 2023

New paper by Prof. Barend Beekhuizen and Colleagues in Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory

A new paper on the cross-linguistic variation of word meanings has been published in the journal of Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory by Prof. Barend Beekhuizen, Maya Blumenthal (MA Alumni), Lee Jiang (PhD Student), and colleagues! The paper is entitled 'Truth be told: a corpus-based study of the cross-linguistic colexification of representational and (inter)subjective meanings'.

We've included the abstract below:

The study of crosslinguistic variation in word meaning often focuses on representational and concrete meanings. We argue other kinds of word meanings (e.g., abstract and (inter)subjective meanings) can be fruitfully studied in translation corpora, and present a quantitative procedure for doing so. We focus on the cross-linguistic patterns for lemmas pertaining to truth and reality (English true and real), as these abstract meanings been found to frequently colexify with particular (inter)subjective meanings. Applying our method to a corpus of translated subtitles of TED talks, we show that (1) the abstract-representational meanings are colexified in patterned ways, that, however, are more complex than previously observed (some languages not splitting a ‘true’-like from ‘real’-like terms; many languages displaying further splits of representational meanings); (2) some non-representational meanings strongly colexify with representational meanings of ‘truth’ and ‘reality’, while others also often colexify with other fields.

Beekhuizen, B., Blumenthal, M., Jiang, L., Pyrtchenkov, A. & Savevska, J. (2023). Truth be told: a corpus-based study of the cross-linguistic colexification of representational and (inter)subjective meanings. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory.

November 22, 2023

First UofT Linguist celebrates 100th birthday

Happy 100th Birthday, Jack!

Jack Chew celebrated his 100th birthday on Friday, November 18, 2023, at a steakhouse on King St. He was a founding member of the Centre for Linguistic Studies, precursor of the Linguistics department, and the first professor at the University of Toronto to teach the introductory course, LIN 100. 

A member of the Linguistics section of the Anthropology Department and a proud polyglot, he taught a course on Languages of the World, among others. His Columbia Ph.D thesis, published by Mouton, on Japanese honorifics, was one of the first studies that used the term “generative.”

Thanks to J.K. (Jack) Chambers for this nice photo and report. 

November 20, 2023

Undergraduate Awards 2022-2023

 We are pleased to announce the winners of 4 Undergraduate Awards in Linguistics for 2022-23:

  • The Chambers Award is awarded to Wilson Sy.
  • The McNab Award is awarded to Tony (Juntao) Hu.
  • The Rogers Award is awarded to Patrick Joseph Kinchsular.
  • The Gold Award is awarded to Lucy Meanwell.
Congratulations to all these students for their incredible academic achievements!

November 16, 2023

Grad Convocation 2023!

November 6 & 7, 2023, we were delighted to celebrate the receipt of graduate degrees by so many of our PhD students.

Thanks to Kelly (right), Camille, Kai and Mary for making our lounge beautiful and welcoming!

Newly minted PhDs - Congrats to these Doctors!
  • Jessica Denniss
  • Radu Craioveanu
  • Frederick Gietz
  • Andrei Munteanu
  • Pocholo Umbal

    New MAs - Congratulations!
    • Samira Ghanbarnejadnaeini
    • Nicholas Haggarty
    • Lee Jiang
    • Shabri Kapoor
    • Jack Mahlmann
    • Anujin Munkhbat
    • Mikayla Oliver
    • Julia Petrosov
    • Mikenzie Sandy
    • Haili Su
    • Katherine Sung
    • Yixin Wang

    Keir toasts the MAs

    Pomp & Circumstance for the Hood-ees

    Guillaume, Naomi & Derek bask in reflected glory.

    Cake and more cake
    MAs and friends

    Jess hooded by Elizabeth

    Radu hooded by Nathan

    Pocholo hooded by Naomi
    Pocholo hooded!
    Pocholo celebrates in front of (Con Hall and) the CN Tower

    Myrto sports a matching purse

    Plus our own Elizabeth Cowper weighed in on an important part of the ceremony!

    November 14, 2023

    Anujin & Sable at Altaic Formal Linguistics, Mongola

    Toronto Linguistics was well represented recently at the Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL 17) at the National University of Mongolia, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Sept 27-29. Anujin and Sable presented their own work, as well as their joint work. And a UofT alum - Mike Barrie - was there too.  

    Anujin Munkhbat (University of Toronto)
    Tense, Aspect, and Evidentiality in Khalkha Mongolian

    Anujin Munkhbat (University of Toronto), Sable Peters (University of Toronto)
    Selection and Directedness in Mongolian Causatives

    Sable Peters (University of Toronto)
    The External Syntax of Mongolian Converbs

    Michael Barrie (Alumnus, now at Sogang University)
    Contiguity, PNI, and DOM

    Michael Barrie, Sable Peters, Anujin Munkhbat


    November 1, 2023

    Barend weighs in on "The practical magic of the ‘girl’ prefix"

     For a Globe & Mail article about changing language (and Gen Z trends), Asst. Prof Barend Beekhuizen weighed in with his linguistic expertise. Check out a fun story and find his quote here: 

    October 30, 2023

    Marshall Chasin featured in Giants of Audiology

    We are proud to announce that Marshall Chasin, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Linguistics, has been featured in Giants of Audiology, a segment of

    Marshall received a BA in Mathematics and Linguistics from the University of Toronto, and a Doctorate in Audiology from the Arizona School of Health Sciences. Throughout his career, he has published over 200 articles and 8 books. He is now Associate Professor at Western University and also teaches students at his alma mater (in our Department). 

    Navigate to the video below to learn more about Marshall's life and career.

    Also, for those interested in the intersection between music, culture, and mathematics, Marshall has appeared in another short segment detailing his work on technology. It's being exhibited at Munich airport for Oktoberfest 2023. Check out the fun acoustics in the video below!

    October 26, 2023

    MoMOT @ UofT

    Last weekend UofT hosted the 7th annual Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto Morphology Meeting (MoMOT). This meeting was organized by members of the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.  The two-day event welcomed some new and familiar faces as they presented their work on a range of topics in morphology in front of an audience of linguists from across Canada. 

    The keynote speakers this year were:

    Ivana Kučerová (McMaster) who presented her work on The syntax of gender features: The morphologist’s guide to feature-bundling traps


    James Crippen (McGill) who presented his work entitled Verb morphology in Tlingit is ordinary syntax

    Other presenters included both current and former UofT students (see list of presenters below). Be sure to ask them about their work when you see them!

    Martin Renard (PhD Student). Two Types of Noun Incorporation in Kanien’kéha: A Categorization Analysis

    Samuel Jambrović (PhD Candidate). Capturing the third-person gap in Spanish pronoun-noun constructions

    Will Oxford (Alumni). When a 1 > 2 hierarchy is actually a 2 > 1 hierarchy

    Patrick Kinschular (Undergrad). Morphological Alternation in Kinyarwanda External Possession Constructions

    Liam Donohue (PhD Candidate). Perfect Readings in the Absence of Perfect Morphology

    Big thanks to the organizers, volunteers, presenters, and attendees for making this meeting a success!

    October 17, 2023

    Laura Griffin wins NWAV Prize

     Laura Griffin joins of UofT linguists* being recongized by the


    "This is a prize for the best student presentation that treats variation in languages that have been missing from or are less frequently represented at NWAV."  (NWAV51 website)

    Laura won this for her HLVC talk, 

    "They’re j/u/st about the same!: Vowel Shift in Heritage and Homeland Seoul Korean."

    Laura describes her reaction, Naomi looks on proudly.

    Holman Tse, a member of the Stueber Prize Committee, joins in for a photo.

    Along with talks by Yoonjung Kang and her colleagues, Laura helped bring the number of talks about Korean up to 3 at this NWAV, contributing to the diversity of languages at this NWAV [see purple Korean slice in graph].

    *Previous UofT winners and runners-up:

    Justin Leung, NWAV49
    Chris LeGerme, NWAV49
    Robert Prazeres, NWAV48

    October 10, 2023

    NWAV51 in NYC!

    U of T linguists have a strong presence at 

    NWAV51 (New Ways of Analyzing Variation), 

    North America's premier sociolinguistics conference, this year!

    Beekhuizen, Woolford: Intensifiers never go out of style: quantifying style and its effects on lexical variation

    Franco, Tagliamonte: Getting socialized: Variation and change in the passive in Canada

    Hachimi, Small: Stylized performance of prepositions: a potential innovation in comedy talent show (withdrawn)

    Kang, Gao, Yun, Ryu: An apparent-time study of Daejeon Korean stop laryngeal contrasts

    Kang, Yun, Ryu: VOT merger in progress and speech rate accommodation in perception: a case study of Daejeon Korean  

    Sali Tagliamonte: The ‘1984’ of linguistic change: A sociolinguistic shock point in the late 20th century.

    Kaleigh Woolford: Taking center stage: Measuring variation and change across the center and periphery of lexical fields  

    Mechelle Wu: The floating bubble: Linguistic innovations of the highly mobile Third-Culture Kids (TCKs)

    And from the HLVC Project: 

    Griffin, L. /o/! They’re j/u/st about the same!:  

      Vowel Shift in Heritage and Homeland Seoul Korean

    Leung, J. Setting {straight} the record {straight}: Acceptability of alternative word orders in resultatives by heritage Cantonese speakers

    Nagy, N. Extending variationist approaches to more languages: Problems & Possibilities

    Petrosov, Nagy. (Heritage) Russian case-marking: Variation and paths of change

    Tse, H. AM/P~OM/P merger in Hong Kong vs. Toronto Cantonese: An under-documented homeland sound change in a heritage language context

    Umbal, P. Stability in the face of contact: Evidence from Heritage Tagalog /u/


    Prior department members:  

    Carrier, J.: Split ergativity and loss of rich verbal agreement 

    Muthukumarasamy and Narayan: Exploring variation in heritage Tamil retroflex perception and production 

    Neuhausen, M.: “My safe word will be[ʍ]iskey!” – An acoustic approach to the whine-wine split  

    Pabst, K.: Northern Maine as a transition zone: Evidence from rhoticity in Southern Aroostook County English


    That's a a lot of sociolinguistics on October 13-15, 2023!

    September 18, 2023

    Welcome to a new postdoc!


    Mojgan Osmani received her PhD from Tarbiat Modares University in 2019. Her doctoral dissertation is entitled ‘The Study of Phases in the Structure of Kurdish Sentences’. Her primary areas of research interest are case and agreement systems, in particular ergativity. Dr. Osmani has just started working as a University of Toronto Mississauga Postdoctoral Fellow in Humanities under the supervision of Professor Arsalan Kahnemuyipour. She is based in the Department of Language Studies at UTM, but also spends time at the Department of Linguistics, UTSG. Her postdoctoral work is focused on the syntax of clitics in Iranian languages, especially central Kurdish (Sanandaji). Her research dataset has recently been expanded to include additional Iranian languages. The variation found in the distribution of clitics in Iranian languages, despite lots of syntactic similarities otherwise, makes them a perfect test case for a microparametric study. Dr. Osmani has also joined the Syntax of Nominal Linkers project (PI: Arsalan Kahnemuyipour).

    September 13, 2023

    Welcome Party 2023

    Linguists gathered again at the Madison Avenue Pub to celebrate the start of a new school year and the end of the first week. Lots to talk about after the Campus Kick-off Research Fair.

    Ewen and Samuel discuss and enjoy the sun.

    MA Forum gets their discussions going, too. Calvin, Will R. and Louie face the camera.

    Naomi and Keir try out speechifying as the incoming Department Chair and Grad Chair.

    Guest speaker Thomas Kettig, York U Sociolinguist, shares some of his Hawaiian style, after a great lecture about Hawaiian sociophonetics.

    Members of the LVC group gather for a photo (L to R):

    Incoming grad chair Keir and outgoing grad chair Arsalan and the  take a moment to relax and enjoy the party.
    Suzi, Pedro and Samuel A. advertise great beer for us.

    Youp enjoys pub fair.

    May 3, 2023

    Sali wins CLA National Achievement Award 2023


     Congratulations Sali!

    La Dre Sali Tagliamonte   [English version below]

    La professeure Sali Tagliamonte (PhD U. d’Ottawa, 1991; MA U. d’Ottawa 1983; BA (Hons) U. de Toronto, 1981), directrice du département de linguistique de l'Université de Toronto, est une spécialiste mondialement reconnue de la sociolinguistique variationniste. Sa solide réputation mondiale repose sur plusieurs aspects, notamment son développement astucieux de la théorie sociolinguistique, son adoption essentielle de la méthodologie sociolinguistique qui a changé la discipline et l'impact de ces contributions sur la description dans le domaine. En effet, son leadership scientifique au Canada et dans le monde, manifesté par des contributions pionnières substantielles et distinguées au cours des trois dernières décennies, une communication efficace des résultats de la recherche grâce au mentorat universitaire et à la sensibilisation du public, et des initiatives extraordinaires de renforcement de la communauté linguistique, ont élargi les frontières de la recherche et grandement enrichi le domaine de la sociolinguistique variationniste.

    Certaines de ses contributions les plus importantes sont les suivantes: elle a publié des livres universitaires innovateurs, des manuels scolaires révolutionnaires et une chronique authentique engageante et importante de l'émergence de ce sous-domaine linguistique du pionnier William Labov (1927-) et de ses contemporains. Ces travaux constituent à eux seuls une œuvre inhabituelle dans un domaine où les articles dans des revues internationales sont la norme. En effet, Cambridge University Press, le principal éditeur de travaux dans ce domaine, s'est engagé à recevoir d'elle deux autres livres. La professeure Tagliamonte a également initié et dirigé des avancées dans les méthodes statistiques et quantitatives pour étudier la variation et le changement de la langue; elle a dirigé plusieurs projets de collecte de données sociolinguistiques, inégalés en taille et en portée; ses archives VSLX Lab, contenant une profondeur temporelle inégalée de locuteurs couvrant les années de naissance de 1879 à 2011, et plus de 16,3 millions de mots de plus de 1,400 personnes, ont adopté, numérisé et transcrit un certain nombre d'enregistrements dialectologiques et d'histoire orale représentant les premiers stades de l'anglais en Ontario. En tant qu'enseignante remarquablement performante et innovante, elle a spécifiquement conçu des pratiques pour intégrer l'apprentissage et transmettre l'enthousiasme et l'importance de la recherche à ses étudiants, en commençant par les étudiants de premier cycle et en continuant jusqu'aux boursiers postdoctoraux. Enfin, grâce à des processus concurrentiels, elle a obtenu plus de deux millions de dollars en soutien financier fédéral pour aider à fournir ces contributions exceptionnelles.

    L'excellence en recherche de la professeure Tagliamonte a été reconnue par ses collègues nationaux et internationaux. En 2013, un jury composé de ses pairs l'a élue membre de la Société royale du Canada - la plus haute distinction pouvant être obtenue par un universitaire canadien. Cette même année, en compétition avec des collègues de toutes les disciplines, elle a également remporté l'une des six prestigieuses bourses nationales de recherche Killam. En mai 2017, elle a obtenu une chaire de recherche du Canada très convoitée, 1 sur 142 à l'échelle nationale; 1 sur 45 en Ontario; et 1 sur 28 à l'Université de Toronto, et a été élue, encore une fois par un jury composé de ses pairs, comme membre de la Linguistic Association of America (fondée en 1924) en reconnaissance de ses contributions distinguées.

    L'Association canadienne de linguistique est ravie de reconnaître la Dre Tagliamonte en lui décernant le Prix national d'excellence 2023.

    Dr. Sali Tagliamonte

    Professor Sali Tagliamonte (PhD U. of Ottawa, 1991; MA U. of Ottawa 1983; BA (Hons) U. of Toronto, 1981), Chair of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto, is an acknowledged world-leading scholar of variationist sociolinguistics. Her sterling global reputation rests upon several foundations including her astute development of theory, her pivotal embrace of discipline-changing methodology, and the impact of these contributions on description in the field. Indeed, her scholarly leadership in Canada and beyond, manifested through substantial and distinguished pioneering contributions across three decades, effective communication of research findings through academic mentoring and public outreach, and extraordinary linguistic community-building initiatives, have extended research boundaries and greatly enriched the field of variationist sociolinguistics.
    Some of her most significant contributions include the following: she has published ground-breaking academic books, field-changing text books, and an engaging and important authentic chronicle of the emergence of this linguistic subfield from pioneer William Labov (1927- ) and his contemporaries onward. These alone constitute an unusual body of work in a field where journal articles are the norm. Indeed, Cambridge University Press, the leading publisher of work in this field, has contracted to receive two more books from her. Professor Tagliamonte has also initiated and led advances in statistical and quantitative methods for studying language variation and change; she spearheaded multiple sociolinguistic data collection projects, unmatched in size and scope; her VSLX Lab archives, containing an unparalleled time depth of speakers spanning birth years from 1879–2011, and over 16.3 million words from over 1,400 individuals, have adopted, digitized and transcribed a number of dialectological and oral history recordings representing earlier stages of English in Ontario. As a remarkably successful and innovative teacher, she has specifically designed practices to embed learning and convey the excitement and importance of research to her students, beginning with undergraduates and continuing through to post-doctoral fellows. Finally, through competitive processes, she secured over two million dollars in federal funding support to help deliver these outstanding contributions.

    Professor Tagliamonte’s research excellence has been recognized by her national and international colleagues. In 2013, a jury of her peers elected her as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada - the highest honour achievable by a Canadian academic. That same year, competing against colleagues across all disciplines, she also won one of only six prestigious national Killam Research Fellowships. In May, 2017, she secured a coveted Canada Research Chair, 1 of 142 nationally; 1of 45 in Ontario; and 1 of 28 at the University of Toronto, and was elected, again by a jury of her peers, as a Fellow to the Linguistic Association of America (est. 1924) in recognition of her distinguished contributions.
    The Canadian Linguistic Association is delighted to recognize Dr. Tagliamonte by awarding her the 2023 National Achievement Award.

    March 27, 2023

    Undergrad Graduation Lunch!! 🎓🍽️🎉

    Graduating from university is a significant accomplishment that deserves celebration, and what better way to do so than with a graduation lunch? Recently, the Department of Linguistics hosted a luncheon to honour the hard work and achievements of their undergrads who will be graduating this term! 

    In the comfort of the Linguistics Lounge, students and faculty members reflected on their time in the department and chatted about up-and-coming plans! Between the amazing company and the delicious food, the event was a hit!! 

    Huge thank you to the staff and faculty members who took the time to organize and attend the lunch! We are very proud of our graduating students and are excited to see what lies ahead for them! 

    Can you guess some of the next steps our undergrads will be taking??  

    March 16, 2023

    Is Nathan Sanders actually using games to teach linguistics?

    Who here took LIN228/229 with Nathan Sanders (Faculty) and LOVED the games he created to help students learn? Who here has no clue what we are talking about but wants to hear more? 

    If you said yes, you're in luck as Sanders will be giving an online talk to the Linguistics and Language Development Student Association at San José State University on this very topic! This will be taking place March 20th at 6:00pm EST. Please register to get the Zoom link.

    Read over his abstract to understand why this will be such an exciting talk! 🤩

    "Using Learning Games for Phonetics and Phonology"

    Research shows that students perform better in courses when they take part in active learning, which involves activities or discussions in class that engage them in the process of learning, rather than traditional lectures that require them to passively listen (Hake 1998, Freeman et al. 2014, Michael 2006). However, many instructors may still be reluctant to introduce active learning into their courses for various reasons (Henderson and Dancy 2007, Deslauriers et al. 2019). Educational games have long been known to be useful ways to reap the benefits of active learning, by increasing student engagement, participation, and ultimately, performance (Cruickshank and Telfer 1980, Lepper and Cordova 1992, Sugar and Takacs 1999, Massey et al. 2005, Ritzo and Robinson 2006). Furthermore, games can be easy to implement in the classroom, sometimes requiring little more than pencil and paper or minimal adaptation of existing games, alleviating some of the difficulties instructors have with introducing active learning. Phonetics and phonology are particularly well-suited for adaptation to games, especially matching games, because they involve multidimensional structures allowing for many different ways of dividing up important concepts into meaningful groups of matching elements (the IPA, phonological features, etc.). In this talk, I present a few examples of educational games I have used in my courses for phonetics and phonology content, with discussion of the design principles that underlie the games to help other instructors understand how best to design and adapt their own games.

    This talk is based on some of his work done with Danielle Daidone (University of North Carolina Wilmington).  Be sure to check out the full paper as well!