January 22, 2020

Chalkboard throwback #2: Everywug (Spring 2014)

Photo by Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D. 2019). Collaborative art by, inter alia, Naomi Francis (faculty), Maida Percival (Ph.D.), Marisa Brook (faculty), and Radu Craioveanu (Ph.D.).

​Spot the cross-country skiing wug, programmer wug, hockey wug, farmer wug, Canadian wug, graduating wug, Easter egg wug, librarian wug, photographic negative wug, umbrella-hat wug, knitter wug, left-handed wug, golf wug, skateboarder wug, gardener wug, dragon wug without wings, leiderhosen wug, phonetician wug, winter wug, mutant wug, downhill skiing wug, Santa wug, underwater wug, Doctor Who wug, ballerina wug, guitar wug, alligator wug, medieval wug, tipsy wug, math-nerd wug, royal monarch wug, angel wug, arrow'd wug, Wuglo, jazz wug, Victorian-gentleman wug, dragon wug with wings, wug on fire, wug on a brick wall, chef wug, fairy wug, Harry Potter wug, bunny wug, hiker wug, jousting wug, business wug, prisoner wug, birthday wug, traveller wug, hula-hoop wug, and more - as well as a number of wugs whose features correspond to underspecified contrasts.

For bonus points: wugs aside, without peeking, whose birthday was it?

January 21, 2020

Research Groups: Week of January 20-24

Thursday, January 23, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM, location TBA
Morphology Reading Group
Ross Godfrey (Ph.D.) leading a group discussion of: Chandlee, Jane (2017). Computational locality in morphological maps. Morphology, 27, 599–641.

Friday, January 24, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group
Jade Lei Yu (Ph.D., Department of Computer Science) and John Xu (Ph.D., Department of Computer Science), making two presentations: "How nouns surface as verbs: A generative framework for word class conversion" and "Prototype theory and meaning change in the semantic field of emotion."

Friday, January 24, 1:15 PM - 2:45 PM in SS 560A
Semantics Research Group
Heather Stephens (Ph.D.): "Yeah, no, that was implied: Targeting non-asserted propositions with propositional anaphors."

Most contemporary treatments of polarity particles agree that these expressions are in some sense anaphoric to propositions (e.g., Krifka 2015, Roelofsen and Farkas 2015). When two particles of opposing polarity are used in a single response, as in (1), several questions arise, including: exactly which propositions are the particles picking up? How can such responses be modelled? I will provide some thoughts in response to these questions, using the framework laid out by Roelofsen and Farkas (2015) as the point of departure:

(1) Dorothy: [We’ve got] to do this shopping Peter.
Peter: Yeah, no it’s alright nanna, we’ve got 5 minutes. (Burridge and Florey 2002).

January 20, 2020

Department gathering in support of the Iranian community

We will be holding a gathering at 4 PM today in the department lounge in support of the Iranians and Iranian-Canadians among us in the wake of the loss of Ukraine International Airlines PS752. Everyone will be welcome to say a few words.

January 18, 2020

Suzi in BBC News

Suzi Lima (faculty) is one of several linguists interviewed in the BBC about how minority languages handle specialized scientific/technical vocabulary that originated in majority languages.

January 17, 2020

Visiting scholars: Robert Grošelj and Tamara Mikolič Južnič (University of Ljubljana)

Peter Jurgec's Erasmus+ Mobility Grant from the EU Commission has allowed for a two-year period of research and teaching exchange. In conjunction with this, we are delighted to welcome two visiting linguists: Robert Grošelj and Tamara Mikolič Južnič, both Assistant Professors in the Department of Translation at the University of Ljubljana. Between them, they will be giving eight talks, as follows. All current departmental members and friends are welcome!

1. Monday, January 20, from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM in OISE 5230: "A contrastive look at linguistic gender categories: Slovene and Italian names of public offices" (Robert Grošelj):

The contrastive lecture on the representation of linguistic gender categories – grammatical, lexical, referential and social gender – in Slovene and Italian will focus on personal nouns denoting selected public offices such as Slovene minister, ministrica ‘minister-male, minister-female’, župan, županja ‘mayor-male, mayor-female’ and the synonymous Italian il ministro, la ministra, il sindaco, la sindaca (sindachessa). Both languages have grammatically and lexically feminine and masculine personal nouns; referential gender of masculine nouns is wider, as they can refer to male, male and/or female referents, in Italian also exclusively to female referents. The agreement is controlled mainly by grammatical (and the corresponding lexical) gender, although in some cases (cf. gender exclusive categories) the agreement can be triggered also by referential gender. The selected public offices could be held by women only in the 1940s; the men are still the predominant holders of these offices (judges being the exception) which indicates their male social gender.

2. Monday, January 20, from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM in OISE 5230: "Connectors in spoken and written discourse in the multimodal corpus EPTIC" (Tamara Mikolič Južnič):

With its multimodal and multilingual design, the EPTIC corpus fosters a range of different research perspectives, involving interpreting and translation and different types of comparisons of the different combinations of subcorpora. It consists of original speeches from the European Parliament, their written verbatim reports, their Slovene interpretations and the translations of the verbatim reports. The initial research on EPTIC-SI, the Slovene component of EPTIC, has focused on interpreted discourse in contrast with the corresponding translations and the corresponding source texts. In this lecture, the aim is to expand this research paradigm, by using data from EPTIC-SI and contrasting it with a corpus of spoken Slovene (GOS) and a corpus of written Slovene (KRES), to shed light on the differences between the spoken and the written varieties of Slovene. The aim is to explore the differences in frequency in the two corpora, the differences between interpreted and freely spoken texts and the differences between translations and original texts in the target language.

3. Tuesday, January 21, from 12 PM to 1 PM in the department lounge (with pizza and pop provided): "Nominalization in Italian and Slovene: A systemic functional linguistics view" (Tamara Mikolič Južnič):

The lecture focuses on a contrastive analysis of nominalization in Italian and Slovene within the framework of systemic functional grammar as described by M.A.K. Halliday and his colleagues. Nominalization is viewed as a type of grammatical metaphor whereby processes which are congruently realized by verbs are metaphorically realized by nouns expressing the same process as those verbs. The frequency of nominalization varies greatly among languages as well as among genres within a language, and may cause problems when two languages interact, e.g. in translation, especially when one of the two languages seems less prone to use this kind of grammatical metaphor than the other. In the present study, an analysis is carried out of a 2.5 million token parallel corpus of Italian source texts and their Slovene translations, particularly with regard to the different translation equivalents that may appear in the translated texts, which is partly dependent of the type of process involved.

4. Wednesday, January 22, from 12 PM to 1 PM in the department lounge (with pizza and pop provided): "Vojvodina Rusyn language: A short presentation of a South Slavic microlanguage and its phoneme inventory" (Robert Grošelj):

The main aim of the lecture will be the presentation of Vojvodina Rusyn as a specific South Slavic (literary) microlanguage. The introductory part of the lecture will focus on the concept of Slavic (literary) microlanguage, introduced and developed by the Russian-Estonian linguist A. Duličenko; the analysis of the concept will take into account its defining characteristics, geographical classification and sociolinguistic parameters (name, vernacular base, time period of the literary tradition, script, time period of codification, functional status). The following part will be dedicated to the presentation of Vojvodina Rusyn, a South Slavic microlanguage spoken in Vojvodina (Serbia); the analysis will focus on Vojvodina Rusyn history, language system, literary production, standardisation and contemporary sociolinguistic issues. In the last part of the lecture, the Vojvodina Rusyn phoneme inventory will be briefly analysed.

5. Wednesday, January 22, 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM in OISE 5230: "A corpus study of pronominal subjects in translated and non-translated texts" (Tamara Mikolič Južnič):

Pronominal subject use constitutes a potential challenge in translation because of cross-linguistic differences: while the subject must be expressed in non-null subject languages, this is not necessary in null subject languages. The aim of the lecture is twofold: first, to show that the type of source language influences the frequency of personal pronouns in translation, and second, to establish whether translations into a null subject language differ from comparable target language originals in terms of pronominal subject use. The study is based on the analysis of a 625,000-word corpus comprising original and translated popular science texts in Slovene and the corresponding source texts in English and Italian. The results confirm that pronominal subjects are more frequent in translations from English, a non-null subject language; furthermore, they are more frequent in translations than in comparable originals. Atypical cohesive patterns are identified in translations and possible reasons for their presence are explored.

6. Wednesday, January 22, 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM in OISE 5230: "Italian pronunciation in dictionaries for young learners" (Robert Grošelj):

The aim of the lecture will be the representation of Italian pronunciation features in dictionaries for Slovene young learners. The analysis will include five categories of phonetic-phonological features, important for pronunciation learning: pronunciation guides, phonetic transcription, phonemes, consonant length and accent. The representation of these features in a dictionary for young learners should be clear and coherent, in some cases (especially in dictionaries for the youngest users) accompanied by audio pronunciations. After a brief presentation of foreign language/second language pronunciation teaching and learning and the role dictionaries play in it, the Italian pronunciation in Slovene dictionaries for young learners will be analysed. The dictionaries analysed are incomplete with regard to the presentation of pronunciation features: most of them do not include audio recordings; phonological transcriptions of the entries and pronunciation guides – when a dictionary includes them – are incomplete; some dictionaries do not include any useful information about Italian pronunciation which limits the possibility of their use.

7. Thursday, January 23, 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM in room 418 of the Faculty of Social Work: "Structural gaps and how to bridge them – the case of the nominalized infinitive" (Tamara Mikolič Južnič):

The lecture will present a textual shift that was observed in a comparison between the Italian nominalized infinitive and its Slovene translations. The nominalized infinitive essentially allows a process to be worded as a nominal structure, while (at least partly) retaining its verbal nature; in the framework of systemic functional grammar, it is explained as a type of grammatical metaphor, i.e. nominalization. The absence of a parallel structure in the grammar of Slovene requires the translator to look for other means of expression. A corpus analysis, carried out with the aid of a parallel corpus which comprises both literary and non-literary Italian texts and their Slovene translations, shows that the dual (nominal and verbal) nature of the nominalized infinitive is reflected in two main types of translation equivalents and several minor ones. It is argued that the strategies displayed in the choice of these translation equivalents can be viewed as instances of obligatory explicitation, either norm-governed or strategic. Thus the main goals of the paper are to identify the textual shifts and strategies found in the parallel corpus and to see whether they can be explained as manifestations of explicitation.

8. Thursday, January 23, 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM in room 418 of the Faculty of Social Work: "The supine and the supine clause in South Slavic languages" (Robert Grošelj):

The topic of the lecture will be the evolution of the supine (a nonfinite verb form used after verbs of movement, indicating their goal) and the supine clause in South Slavic languages. The analysis of the historical and contemporary language situations shows a gradual loss of the supine from the South-East toward the North-West. The supine, still present in Old Church Slavonic, has been completely replaced by the analytic da-clause in Bulgarian and Macedonian, and by the infinitive in Štokavian (in most dialects) and Čakavian. On the other hand, the supine is still preserved in Kajkavian and Slovenian, although the situation varies diachronically and diatopically (e.g. in some dialects it has merged with the infinitive). The lecture will present, in addition, a number of clause types (the final finite clause, the infinitive clause, the za ‘for’ + infinitive construction) that replaced the supine clause or still compete with it in South Slavic languages.

January 16, 2020

Research Groups: Friday, January 17

Note the irregular times and/or places for group meetings this week (and for most of the rest of the semester).

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in SS 560A
Phonology Group

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in BA 2139
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Discovery day: group discussion of ideas and insights!

1:15 PM - 2:45 PM in SS 560A
Fieldwork Group
Breanna Pratley (MA) leading a discussion of: Woodward, James (2018). Endangered sign languages: An introduction. In Kenneth L. Rehg and Lyle Campbell (eds.), The Oxford handbook of endangered languages, 167–202. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

January 15, 2020

Guest speaker: Christopher Hammerly (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Our department is pleased to welcome Christopher Hammerly, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research focuses on psycholinguistics and morphosyntax, and he has a particular interest in Ojibwe/Anishinaabemowin in accordance with his own heritage. He will be giving a talk, "Number representation and memory in agreement processing," in SS 560A at 3:00 PM on Friday, January 17.

Agreement attraction occurs when there is a disruption in the regular pattern of number agreement between the subject and the verb due to the presence of a number mismatching distractor noun. For example, many studies have shown that more plural verb forms are produced in the mismatch sentences in (1a) compared to the match baseline in (1b), despite the subject being singular in both cases.

(1a) The key to the cabinets... (mismatch)
(1b) The key to the cabinet... (match)

Over the nearly 30 years that this phenomenon has been investigated, different theories have emerged to capture these effects in sentence production versus comprehension. Production errors have been explained by an encoding account (e.g. Marking andMorphing), where the number of the singular subject is misrepresented as plural in memory. Comprehension errors have been explained by a retrieval error (e.g. as implemented in ACT-R), where the attractor is mistakenly computed as the controller of agreement.

In this talk, I argue for a unified processing source for agreement attraction by extending the encoding account to comprehension. This extension is based on two key findings. First, that agreement attraction in comprehension can be observed in both grammatical and ungrammatical sentences. This is predicted under current encoding accounts, but not memory retrieval accounts, and stands in contrast to previous experimental results that found attraction only in ungrammatical sentences. Second, I show that the size of agreement attraction effects is a function of syntactic distance between the attractor noun and the subject, a result directly predicted by current encoding theories.

January 14, 2020

Congratulations, Karlien!

Congratulations to Karlien Franco (postdoc), who has accepted a postdoc position at the University of Leuven in Belgium. As of February 10, she will be working on the project 'Nephological Semantics' under the direction of Dirk Geeraerts. The endeavour will be using computational techniques to help ascertain where the boundaries are around sociolinguistic variables; Karlien's contributions will be focusing on the crossroads of lexical semantics and sociolinguistic variation.

We'll miss you, Karlien, but this opportunity is so well-earned. All the best, and keep in touch!

January 13, 2020

Newcomers for the beginning of 2020

Two colleagues have joined us at the beginning of the new semester:

Naomi Francis (MA 2014), who completed her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in September and is now joining our faculty as a Sessional Lecturer in semantics.

Fahimeh Khodaverdi (Allameh Tabataba'i University), a visiting Ph.D. student from Iran working with Yoonjung Kang on sound change and the phonetics-phonology interface.


January 12, 2020

Report from LSA 2020 and so on

The 94th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, from January 2 through 5, and alongside them the annual meetings of seven 'sister societies' as usual. More than two dozen current U of T linguists and alumni were involved, including all of these folks!

Volunteers: Samuel Jambrović (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese), Greg Antono (MA), and Rosie Owen (BA). (Photo courtesy of Greg.)

Presenters: Tim Gadanidis (Ph.D.), Karlien Franco (postdoc), Lauren Bigelow (Ph.D.), and Dan Milway (Ph.D. 2019). (Photo courtesy of Dan.)

 Alumni: Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University), Derek Denis (faculty, and also Ph.D. 2015), Dan Milway (Ph.D. 2019), and Kenji Oda (Ph.D. 2012, now at Syracuse University).

January 8, 2020

Chalkboard throwback #1: *OT (Spring 2011)

In which Optimality Theory is not the optimal candidate (origin obscure).

January 7, 2020

Research Groups: Friday, January 10

Note that since Fridays are going to be very busy in our department throughout the semester, our research group schedule will be decidedly irregular.

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM in SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group
Ella Rabinovich (postdoc, Department of Computer Science): "Say anything: Automatic semantic infelicity detection in L2 English indefinite pronouns."

Computational research on error detection in second language speakers has mainly addressed clear grammatical anomalies typical to learners at the beginner-to-intermediate level. We focus instead on acquisition of subtle semantic nuances of English indefinite pronouns by non-native speakers at varying levels of proficiency. We first lay out theoretical, linguistically motivated hypotheses, and supporting empirical evidence, on the nature of the challenges posed by indefinite pronouns to English learners. We then suggest and evaluate an automatic approach for detection of atypical usage patterns, demonstrating that deep learning architectures are promising for this task involving nuanced semantic anomalies.

11:45 AM - 1:15 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
Yadira Álvarez López (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese): "From meteorology to linguistics: Re-examining precipitation verbs in English (and beyond)."

December 29, 2019

LSA et al. 2020

The Linguistic Society of American's 94th Annual Meeting is taking place in New Orleans from January 2nd through 5th. Alongside it are the annual meetings of a number of 'sister societies'. Current U of T linguists and alumni taking part are:

Linguistic Society of America

Karlien Franco (postdoc) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"Lexicalization in grammatical change? The simple past/present perfect alternation in Canadian English."

Keren Rice (faculty) is both a discussant and a speaker on a symposium about language documentation:
"A brief introduction to DEL: Reflections on the intellectual merit of language documentation."

Daniel Milway (Ph.D. 2019):
"A workspace-based analysis of adjuncts."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) with Alicia Parrish (New York University):
"Acquisition of quantity-related inferences in 4- and 5-year-olds."

Ailís also has a poster with Vishal Sunil Arvindam (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Maxime Tulling (New York University):
"Do 2-year-olds understand epistemic maybe? Maybe!"

Bettina Spreng (Ph.D. 2012, now at the University of Saskatchewan) has a poster:
"v-Asp Feature Inheritance: Some insights from Inuktitut and Swabian (Alemannic)."

Fulang Chen (MA 2017, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
"Split partitivity in Mandarin: A diagnostic for argument-gap dependencies."

Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at the University of California, San Diego):
"Deriving ergativity from object shift across Eskimo-Aleut."

Michelle also has a talk with Ksenia Ershova (Stanford University):
"Dependent case in syntactically ergative languages: Evidence from Inuit and West Circassian."

Neil Banerjee (BA 2016, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology):
"Ellipsis as Obliteration: Evidence from Bengali negative allomorphy."

Nicholas Rolle (MA 2010, now at Princeton University) with Emily Clem (University of California, San Diego) and Virginia Dawson (University of California, Berkeley):
"Altruistic inversion and doubling in Tiwa morphology."

Recent faculty member Nicholas LaCara:
"Synthetic compounding in Distributed Morphology with phrasal movement."

American Dialect Society

Karlien Franco (postdoc) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"How to gain a new guy in 10 decades: A study of lexical variation in Ontario dialects."

Derek Denis (faculty), Chantel Briana Campbell (BA), Eloisa Cervantes (BA), Keturah Mainye (BA), Michelle Sun (BA), Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.) and colleague Jeanne F. Nicole Dingle (University of British Columbia):
"Ideologies and social meanings around Multicultural Toronto English."

Lauren Bigelow (Ph.D.) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"Where have all the articles gone? Bare nominals in Marmora and Lake, Ontario."

Emily Blamire (Ph.D.) and Marisa Brook (faculty):
"Very quick reversal: Rapid real-time change in Canadian English intensifiers."

Naomi Nagy (faculty) and James Walker (BA 1989, now at La Trobe University) with Michol Hoffman (York University) and Ronald Beline Mendes (University of São Paulo):
"Sounds of the city: Perceptions of ethnically marked speech in Toronto."

Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.):
"Uh, that’s a little rude: Implicit judgments of um and uh in instant messaging."

Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba) has a poster with Sky Onosson (University of Manitoba):
"Ethnolinguistic vowel differentiation in Manitoba."

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) has a poster:
"On being a caregiver and a community member in the midst of language change."

Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americans (SSILA)

Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University)
"The prosody of anger and surprise in Cayuga."

Patricia A. Shaw (Ph.D. 1976, now at the University of British Columbia) and Severn Cullis-Suzuki (University of British Columbia):
"Xaayda kil intonation patterns: Empowering language learners to 'sing' like their elders."

Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst):
"Bare nouns and negation in Tłı̨chǫ Yatıì relative clauses."

Paulina Lyskawa (MA 2015, now at the University of Maryland) with Christopher Baron (Massachussetts Institute of Technology) and Rodrigo Ranero (University of Maryland):
"Narcissistic allomorphy in Santiago Tz'utujil."

American Name Society

Kate Brennan (Ph.D., Centre for Comparative Literature):
"Semantic relations and personal names in literature: Naming as authority."

North American Research Network in Historical Sociolinguistics (NARNiHS)

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) is part of a panel with Joseph Salmons (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Rik Vosters (Vrije Universiteit Brussel):
"Historical sociolinguistics: Lineage and leading edge."

Society for Computation in Linguistics (SCiL)

Ella Rabinovich (postdoc, Department of Computer Science) is part of a poster with Maria Ryskina (Carnegie Mellon University), Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick (University of California, San Diego), David Mortensen (Carnegie Mellon University), and Yulia Tsvetkov (Carnegie Mellon University):
"Where new words are born: Distributional semantic analysis of neologisms and their semantic neighbourhoods."

Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics

James Walker (BA 1989, now at La Trobe University):
"Complements of the Eastern Caribbean."

December 26, 2019

Chris on CBC News

In conjunction with the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages for 2019, the CBC has profiled our own Chris Harvey (Ph.D.) and the extensive work that he has been doing for digital typography of Indigenous languages of Canada.

December 20, 2019

Alex in Arts & Science News

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) is profiled this week in the Arts & Science newsletter with a focus on her well-underway Kids Talk project, which follows young children from the age of three well into elementary school and explores when variation appears and what it looks like.

December 19, 2019

Update from Naomi

Naomi Nagy (faculty) has recently brought the holiday spirit into her sabbatical research activities through two talks! One was at the University of Maine on December 4: "How a linguist thinks about chocolate." The other, at the University of Duisberg-Essen on November 14, was: "Intergenerational change in Toronto's heritage languages?" It was part of a special lecture series, as follows:

December 13, 2019

Workshop on Speech and Attitude Reports in Brazilian Languages

Following their organization of the workshop on Complex Structures in Brazilian Languages at ABRALIN in May, Suzi Lima (faculty), Tonjes Veenstra (Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft), and Hein van der Voort (Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi) joined forces on a second workshop: Speech and Attitude Reports in Brazilian Languages.

Suzi herself presented:
"Quotatives in Yudja."

Guillaume Thomas (faculty) presented:
"The landscape of attitude reports in Mbya."

A talk on quotatives in Ye'kwana and Taurepang included two of the undergraduates students from the U of T who took part in Suzi's REP course over the summer - Octavia Andrade-Dixon and Guilherme Akio Teruya - as well as Suzi and the local professor who helped organize the REP course, Isabella Coutinho Costa.

(Thanks to Suzi for the photos!)

Suzi and Tonjes

Most of the workshop presenters!

December 10, 2019

Some year-end milestones!

At the end of 2019, we have much to celebrate - even on top of conferences, publications, workshops, awards, new jobs, graduations, guest speakers, birthdays, outreach, and the U.N. International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Notably, six of our Ph.D. students presented successful thesis proposals this semester (Kaz Bamba, Emily Blamire, Frederick Gietz, Kiranpreet Nara, Fiona Wilson, and Heather Yawney) - spanning phonetics, phonology, syntax, language variation, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, and language documentation. Congratulations to all!

We also have a couple of ten-year anniversaries to mark. For one thing, it has now been a decade since our relocation! We spent the week of December 14-18, 2009 moving from the sixth floor of Robarts Library to the fourth floor of Sidney Smith Hall. Given the choice between a classroom and a lounge in Sidney Smith Hall, we opted for a lounge - which has since become the central crossroads and gathering-place of the department. It has served not only as workshop venue, reception area, and lunchroom, but also a veritable incubator of friendships and research collaborations (sometimes both at once). Attesting to its value, graduate students talking to prospective students sometimes single out the lounge as a major advantage of our department.

This blog is also now ten years old, having been established in the second half of 2009. It has since been through several editing teams and underwent a visual overhaul in the autumn of 2015, but has been chronicling department life for a decade. Here's hoping this ultimately proves to have been just one decade of many!

December 9, 2019

Multiple new publications in CJL

This month's issue of the Canadian Journal of Linguistics - 64(4) - is a collection of papers from the Manitoba Workshop on Person in September 2017. The introduction is by organizers Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba) and Jila Ghomeshi (Ph.D. 1996, now at the University of Manitoba). Several of the papers are also by current departmental members and alumni:

Bronwyn M. Bjorkman (former postdoc, now at Queen's University), Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007, now at St. Mary's Unversity), and Andrew Peters (Ph.D.) have a paper: "Person and deixis in Heiltsuk pronouns."

Harbour (2016) argues for a parsimonious universal set of features for grammatical person distinctions, and suggests (ch. 7) that the same features may also form the basis for systems of deixis. We apply this proposal to an analysis of Heiltsuk, a Wakashan language with a particularly rich set of person-based deictic contrasts (Rath 1981). Heiltsuk demonstratives and third-person pronominal enclitics distinguish proximal-to-speaker, proximal-to-addressee, and distal (in addition to an orthogonal visibility contrast). There are no forms marking proximity to third persons (e.g., ‘near them’) or identifying the location of discourse participants (e.g., ‘you near me’ vs. ‘you over there’), nor does the deictic system make use of the clusivity contrast that appears in the pronoun paradigm (e.g., ‘this near you and me’ vs. ‘this near me and others’). We account for the pattern by implementing Harbour's spatial element χ as a function that yields proximity to its first- or second-person argument.

Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université du Québec à Montréal): "Person complementarity and (pseudo) Person Case Constraint effects: Evidence from Inuktitut."

This paper examines the nature of person complementarity in Eastern Canadian Inuktitut (Eskimo-Aleut), arguing that despite its apparent patterning as a Person Case Constraint (PCC) effect, it is not due to the presence of a defective intervener blocking person agreement with a lower argument, as is often the case in other languages. Instead, the observed effect is caused by a defective or missing person probe on C that cannot value local person features on absolutive arguments. Given the use of the PCC as a diagnostic for differentiating clitics and agreement, this result has implications for the proper identification of φ-marking in Inuktitut.

Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D. 2019): "Dissociating the Person Case Constraint from its 'repair'."

In French ditransitive sentences, certain person combinations of the two internal arguments cannot be expressed with two co-occurring clitics (a phenomenon referred to as the Person Case Constraint or PCC). To fill the interpretational gap created by this restriction, there is an alternative construction characterized as a 'repair', where the goal is realized as an independent phrase. The fact that the double-clitic construction and the repair construction are in complementary distribution led to a proposal of an interface algorithm that provides a way to repair a non-convergent structure. This article proposes an alternative account of the PCC, and claims that the complementarity between the PCC and its repair is instead accidental and is an artefact of the feature structure of arguments. The proposed account explains the unavailability of certain clitic combinations and some repairs independently, without resorting to a trans-derivational device like the previously proposed algorithm.

December 5, 2019

New linguistics videos created by LIN101 students!

This semester, our teaching team for LIN101: Introduction to Linguistics: Sound Patterns (consisting of faculty member Peter Jurgec and fourteen TAs) had the students do small independent research projects of various types. Among the video projects, there were three standout submissions - which we are thrilled to share with the wider community!

Music and Language
Phonology of Elvish