May 31, 2010

CLA 2010

This year's CLA Conference was held at Concordia University in Montreal from May 29-31, and our department had a very strong presence!

The following members of the department gave talks:

Rashid Al-Balushi

The licensing of structural case in Standard Arabic

Ailis Cournane

A cline of subject clitic doubling: Grammaticalization in small steps

Elizabeth Cowper

Where auxiliary verbs come from

Yoonjung Kang and Seung-Joon Park

Variation of consonant-final nouns in heritage Korean in Toronto

Loredana Andreea Kosa

Sibilant harmony: Investigating the connection between typology and learnability

Diane Massam

On the status of inversion in an inverse language

Alexandra Motut

A puzzle for the syntax and semantics of depictives

Kenji Oda

Dependent verbal morphology in Modern Irish: A distributed morphology approach

Will Oxford

Same, other, and different: A first look at the microsyntax of identity adjectives

Yves Roberge and Nelleke Strik

L'omission Wh: théorie et acquisition

Michelle St-Amour

On being definitely unique in Inuktitut

Nelleke Strik

French wh-questions in child L2 acquisition

And the following members of the department presented posters:

Elizabeth Cowper and Daniel Hall

Structures for possession in Upper Sorbian and Czech

Liisa Duncan

Consonant gradation in Finnish dialects

Julie Goncharov

'Definite' adjectives in Slavic

Maria Kyriakaki

What Greek DETs do: The restrictive DP

Annick Morin

Diachrony and synchrony of /l/ gemination in Québec French

Ana Pérez-Leroux and Yadira Alvarez

How to BE in Spanish: The acquisition of copula and existential constructions by Spanish speaking children

Last but not least, Naomi Nagy was a panelist in a round-table discussion entitled "Corpora: Heritage and Preservation."

Congrats to all who participated!

(If anyone has inadvertently been omitted from this lengthy list, please contact the blog committee at to let us know.)

May 24, 2010

41st Annual Conference on African Linguistics

The University of Toronto and York University recently co-hosted the 41st Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL2010), on May 6-8th. Plenary speakers were Prof. Sammy Beban Chumbow (Université Yaoundé I, Cameroon), Prof. Salikoko Mufwene (University of Chicago), and Prof. Sharon Rose (University of California at San Diego). These talks touched upon a number of key issues related to African language description, analysis, history, status, and preservation, tying well with the theme of the conference “African Languages in Contact”.

There were over 80 talks presented from researchers at institutions throughout the world including North America, Europe, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Sudan, and others. Five parallel sessions were needed at times at the conference to accommodate the great number of participants!

Talks were presented covering numerous aspects of formal linguistic theory and language studies, including sessions centered around Phonology, Tonology, Phonetics, Syntax, Semantics, Acquisition, Language Variation, Language Policy, Language Contact, and others.

University of Toronto linguistics graduate students Isaac Gould, Safieh Moghaddam, and Nicholas Rolle each presented a paper at the conference in distinct syntax sessions. Isaac presented on the absentive marker and Safieh presented on focus constructions, both in Lamnso’ [Bantoid: Cameroon], while Nicholas presented on morphosyntactic aspects of personal pronouns in Esan [Edoid: Nigeria]. All three of these talks come from continued work on these languages stemming from past Field Methods courses taught by University Professor Keren Rice.

The conference ended with a bang, held at the hall of the Eritrean Canadian Association of Toronto. There, the participants feasted on a great variety of foods from East and West Africa, sipped on Ethiopian beer, all to the tunes of a great Zimbabwean band Asaansi (sp?), whose name in Shona means “Waves”. The night was capped by lots of dancing, both by the band and by the participants. You can see more of the festivities here:

Our linguistics students Derek Denis, Nicholas Rolle, and Isaac Gould

Co-organizer Peter Avery

Wonderful African food

The great Zimbabwean band

Plenary Speaker Sharon Rose

Plenary Speaker Sammy Beban Chumbow

Co-organizer Bruce Connell

Women in traditional Nigerian garments

Profs. James Essegbey and Salikoko Mufwene

The conference was organized by Peter Avery, Parth Bhatt, Bruce Connell, Juvenal Ndayiragije, Emmanuel Nikiema, Keren Rice, and Nicholas Rolle, with the help of volunteers too numerous to mention here in full.

May 20, 2010

Lecture by Elan, May 27

Everyone is invited to attend a lecture on Thursday May 27 that will be given by Prof. Dresher in the Department lounge. His topic is "Dating the Hebrew Bible: Can Linguistics Help?". Here is a short description of the talk:

Despite years of scholarship going back to the Renaissance, dating the books of the Hebrew Bible remains a controversial enterprise. Professor Dresher will discuss contemporary methods in historical linguistics and sociolinguistics that can be used to evaluate the relative age of the language in the Bible's many books.

The event runs from 7-9 pm and will include a reception and a question period. Please RSVP to William Forrest <>, so that we know how much food to buy!

The event is co-sponsored by flaut (Friends of Linguistics at the University
of Toronto) and Spring Reunion 2010.

May 13, 2010

Naomi went to Hamburg

Naomi recently spent a week in Hamburg, Germany, discussing research projects in the domain of urban multilingualism with the Linguistic Diversity Management research group at the University of Hamburg.

It was her first time in Germany, and she was delighted to find an abundance of chocolate, as well as common interest in systematic approaches to understanding contact-induced language change.

May 1, 2010

Spring has arrived on campus

Alana has sent along this lovely photo of the cherry trees blossoming by Ed Burstynsky's memorial bench outside Robarts. (Click on the image to see it full-size.)

It's the little things in life

Of all the things you'd expect to find on a linguistics blog, a faucet is pretty low on the list --

-- but regular users of our departmental lounge will understand just how heartwarming the preceding photo is!

41st Annual Conference on African Linguistics

The University of Toronto and York University, Glendon Campus are hosting the 41st Annual Conference on African Linguistics 2010.

The conference will take place from Thursday, May 6 to Saturday, May 8. May 6 and 7 are in Sidney Smith Hall, University of Toronto, while May 8 is at the Glendon Campus.

Registration begins on Wednesday, May 5, at 5:00pm, in the linguistics lounge on the 4th floor of Sidney Smith Hall.

Visit the conference website for full details.