May 31, 2015


Derek Denis (Ph.D. 2015) and Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) are meeting in Vancouver this week to present a joint paper at Studies in the History of the English Language 9, occurring on June 4-7: "Input, homogeneity, and stuff (like that)."

Derek will be starting a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship with Alex at UVic in September, so their collaborative work is sure to continue to be productive!

Guest speaker: Paula Fikkert (Radboud University Nijmegen)

We are very pleased to welcome Paula Fikkert, a phonologist and acquisitionist from Radboud University Nijmegen. Her research is about phonological representations and the role they play in both perception and production throughout the process of first language acquisition.

She will be giving a talk at 2:30 PM on Tuesday, June 2 (the location is to be announced: watch this space for an update): "Is the devil in the detail? Abstract and detailed representations in perception and production."

Children learn to recognize words fast and reliably despite noise and variation in the input. They do this by extracting relevant phonetic features from the input and matching these onto phonological representations of words stored in the mind. How they learn to do this? Over the last four decades we have learned that infants are amazingly good at phonetic learning. However, our understanding of what happens when children construct their mental lexicon, which requires phonological learning, is as yet poor.

Phonological learning involves the construction of invariant phonological representations of words that are both abstract enough to allow fast recognition and handle phonetic, phonological and morphological variation automatically, and detailed enough to keep lexical items distinct. Moreover, these same phonological representations are used to initiate articulation for production. 
In this talk I will argue that a comprehensive theory of phonological acquisition should take both perception and production into account, as well as learning and development. I will present a large set of production and perception data addressing the nature of place and manner of articulation as well as laryngeal features. For each set of features asymmetries in children’s perception and production are attested. However, the asymmetries do not allow for one straightforward explanation, and are motivated differently for each set. I will discuss the consequences for a model of phonological acquisition. Most data will come from Dutch, but data from other languages, including German, English and Japanese, will be presented as well.

May 30, 2015

Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop

The CRC-Sponsored CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop will be taking place on Monday, June 8, 2015, in Woodsworth College room 119. Coffee will be available starting at 8:45 AM, and the talks will begin at 9:00.

The workshop has been organised by Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, now at Ritsumeikan University), Peter Jurgec (faculty), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Keren Rice (faculty), and Jessamyn Schertz (postdoc).

Departmental members and alumni taking part in the workshop are:

Peter Avery (Ph.D. 1996, now at York University):
Is there a tone-voice interaction in Dholuo transitive-antipassive alternations?

Jack Chambers (faculty) and Erin Hall (Ph.D.):
The Melky Way

4:15 Frederick Gietz (MA/incoming Ph.D. student), Peter Jurgec (faculty), and Maida Percival (MA 2014/incoming Ph.D. student):
Shifting in Harmonic Serialism

Erin Hall (Ph.D.):
Canadian Raising in young Toronto speakers

Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, now at Ritsumeikan University, UofT Linguistics)
(Non)incomplete neutralization in voiced obstruents in Japanese

Phil Howson (Ph.D.):
The acoustic pro file of a natural class: the rhotics

Alexei Kochetov (Ph.D.) and colleague N. Sreedevi (All India Institute of Speech
and Hearing):
An ultrasound and acoustic investigation of Kannada a ffricates

Yining Nie (MA):
Contrast and preservation in derived environment effects (B. Elan Dresher Phonology Prize Talk)

Iryna Osadcha (Ph.D.):
Lexical stress in Proto-Slavic: from pitch accent to stress accent

Maida Percival (MA 2014/incoming Ph.D. student):
A cross-linguistic comparison of laryngeal stop contrasts in Dene

Jessamyn Schertz (postdoc) and Yoonjung Kang (faculty):
Cross-language perception tasks: the role of acoustics vs. experience

Jim Smith (Ph.D.):
Sociophonetic variation of Northern Ontario English vowels: Canadian Shift in two non-urban communities

May 29, 2015

Congratulations, Naomi!

It is a pleasure to announce that Naomi Francis (MA 2014, now at MIT) received the Student Paper Award for 2014 from the Canadian Linguistic Association for her talk, entitled "This predicate is tasty: Predicates of personal taste, faultless disagreement, and the ideal judge.”

Naomi's talk addressed problems in the semantics and pragmatics of statements such as "This cake is tasty,” proposing that the truth of such assertions is evaluated with reference to a notional 'ideal judge' and showing how this proposal can account for, among other things, the fact that two speakers may disagree about the truth of such a statement without either of them being objectively wrong.

The judges were impressed by the depth and sophistication of the content, by the clear and engaging presentation style, and by the excellent responses to the many comments and questions that the talk inspired.

Leslie Saxon, president of the Canadian Linguistic Association, in writing about the award, says that she heard the talk and it really was fantastic.

Congratulations, Naomi!

(Post courtesy of Keren Rice.)

May 26, 2015

Our space, highlighted

Faculty member Diane Massam points out that our department premises, which we moved into back the end of the 2009 calendar, is being highlighted on the site of the architectural firm Süperkul.

In memoriam: Barron Brainerd (1928-2015)

Barron Brainerd (1928-2015), who died last Tuesday, was a member of the Linguistics department from its inception as a Centre in 1964 until he retired in 1989. He was also professor in the Mathematics department. The courses he taught for us were in mathematical linguistics, and he had a lively interest in the syntax of number systems. Barron was born in New York City. He had degrees in Mathematics from MIT and Michigan. He came to the University in 1957 and became a Canadian citizen two years later. He was a member of the interdepartmental group that lobbied to get a Linguistics program, and he was always a staunch supporter of our initiatives. Barron had a patrician bearing, always neatly turned out. His interest in linguistics developed out of a lifelong curiosity about languages, and he loved working through dictionaries and grammars. RIP.

Marshall Chasin adds: Professor Brainerd was my undergraduate advisor in the Mathematics and Linguistics program. I think now that course of study would be called cognitive linguistics (?) but probably had more math back then. I once attended a seminar class where he wrote an equation on the board, then stared at the board for about 30 minutes without moving, and then started talking as if there was no delay. I worked for him during the summer of 1979 doing statistical analysis for him about quantifying Shakespeare's plays.

(Post courtesy of Jack Chambers.)

Research Groups: Week of May 25-29

Wednesday, May 27 - 10 AM to 12:00 PM in SS 2111
Syntax/Semantics Group
Practice talks for CLA. Yining Nie: "Tense and modality in French verbal morphology." Keffyalew Gebregziabher: "A split analysis of Tigrinya nominal possessive constructions."

Friday, May 29 - 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM in SS 560A
Psycholinguistics Group
Speaker: Begum Ozdemir.

Friday, May 29 - 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM in SS 560A
Practice talks for various conferences. Iryna Osadcha: "The lexical stress in East Slavic." Elan Dresher: "Contrastive feature hierarchies in diachronic phonology."

May 25, 2015

12th Annual Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium at Harvard

Several of our undergrads presented at this year's Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium at Harvard University on April 25 and 26:

Sneha George, Rachel Soo, and Yaruna Cooblal (all BA):
Voicing contrast in Tagalog and English stops: A look at the native-heritage dichotomy

Sherry Hucklebridge (BA 2015/incoming MA student):
Syntax-dependent prosodic effects in poetic meter

May 20, 2015

Guest speaker: Anne-Michelle Tessier (University of Alberta)

Anne-Michelle Tessier from the University of Alberta - a phonologist whose interests pertain to constraints, acquisition, and experimentation - will be visiting us and giving a talk on Monday, May 25 at 5:10 PM: "Lexical avoidance and grammatical complexity in phonological acquisition":

This talk is about the phenomenon of lexical avoidance in children’s early linguistic development, whereby a child avoids producing words which contain some complex (or marked?) phonological structure (as discussed in Ferguson and Farwell, 1975; Menn 1976, 1983; Schwarz and Leonard, 1982, Schwartz et al, 1987; Storkel 2004, 2006; Adam and Bat-El, 2009; interalia). This research’s basic question is to what extent a child’s developing grammar is responsible for lexical avoidance, and more specifically what kinds of linguistic complexity can drive this avoidance. The increase in complexity I will focus on is the transition from one word to two word utterances – which might be either driven or delayed by a child’s phonology – and I will assess the nature of lexical avoidance related to this transition in two case studies: one taken from Donahue (1986), and another in a novel corpus analysis. The central claim will be that phonological grammar is indeed crucial to explaining the kinds of lexical avoidance which are attested and unattested, illustrated using OT constraint interaction to yield typologically-reasonable patterns, and I will discuss some of the predictions, implications and open questions that emerge from this approach.

2014-15 Department Prizes

For several years now, our department has offered a Dresher Phonology Prize, and this year we have inaugurated the Elizabeth Cowper Syntax Prize. These awards are for the most outstanding papers in graduate phonology and syntax course over the course of the academic year.

Department Chair Keren Rice has announced the winners of these prizes for 2014-15:

B. Elan Dresher Phonology Prize: Yining Nie (MA)

Elizabeth Cowper Syntax Prize: Anna Seltner (MA)

Congratulations to both Yining and Anna for their outstanding work! The choices were not easy to make, and we would like to congratulate all of the others in the graduate phonology and syntax classes as well on their work.

Yining will be presenting her paper at the CRC Phonetics/Phonology workshop on June 8; details of this workshop will be available soon.

Congratulations to the prize winners on behalf of Keren and our whole department!

May 19, 2015

Research Groups: Week of May 18-22

Wednesday, May 20 - 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM in SS2111
Syntax/Semantics Group
Practice talks for CLA-ACL 2015. Annick Morin: "Où en est tu?: A cross-linguistic approach to Quebec French polar interrogatives." Julianne Doner: "Not [uD]: Redefining the EPP requirement."

Friday, May 22 - 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM in SS560A
Language Variation and Change Group
Practice talks for CLA-ACL 2015 and/or ICAME and/or ICLaVE, including Emilie LeBlanc and Selena Phillips-Boyle: "Discourse markers well and ben in Chiac."

May 18, 2015

Canadian Linguistic Association 2015

This year's annual meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association will be held at the University of Ottawa from May 30 to June 1. People from our department taking part include many undergraduates, grad students, postdocs, faculty, and alumni!

Current department members involved in presentations and/or posters are as follows:

Kazuya Bamba (MA 2014/incoming Ph.D. student):
"D feature and impersonal SE: A new perspective on Romance impersonal constructions."

Susana Béjar (faculty), Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty), Jessica Mathie (Ph.D.), and Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D.):
"Number matching in small clauses: Can we agree on Concord?"

Bronwyn Bjorkman (postdoc) and Elizabeth Cowper (faculty):
"Where there is, and why."

Laura Colantoni (faculty), Gabrielle Klassen (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Matthew J. Patience (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Malina Radu (MA, Spanish and Portuguese), and Olga Tararova (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese):
"Production of redundant and primary prosodic cues to sentence type by L1 Spanish and Mandarin learners of English."

Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007), Bronwyn Bjorkman (postdoc), Rebecca Tollan (Ph.D.) and Neil Banerjee (BA):
"There’s no future in Old English."

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.):
"Not [uD]: Redefining the EPP requirement."

Mélanie Elliott (Ph.D., French) and Mihaela Pirvulescu (faculty):
"The acquisition of direct object clitics in the Spanish of bilingual Spanish-French children."

Keffyalew Gebregziabher (postdoc):
"A split analysis of Tigrinya nominal possessive constructions."

Julie Goncharov (Ph.D.):
"Please, trim your replies! A hybrid fragment answer in Russian."

Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Yaruna Cooblal (BA), Sneha George (BA), Rachel Soo (BA), and Jestine Abella (BA):
"The effect of lexical stress on the phonetic realization of voicing contrast in Tagalog: Native and Heritage comparison."

Kyumin Kim (Ph.D. 2011) and colleague Paul B. Melchin (University of Ottawa):
"Pluralizer as a nP modifier: Evidence from Korean -tul."

Diane Massam (faculty), Kazuya Bamba (MA 2014/incoming Ph.D. student), and Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.):
"The universal null pronoun in instructional contexts and beyond."

Mercedeh Mohaghegh (Ph.D.) and colleague Yasaman Rafat (University of Western Ontario):
"Geminate consonant production across three generations of Farsi-Engish-speaking Iranian-Canadian bilinguals."

Annick Morin (Ph.D.):
"Où en est tu? A cross-linguistic approach to Quebec French polar interrogatives."

Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.):
"Non-ergative case splits: A view from Finnish."

Yining Nie (MA):
"Tense and modality in French verbal morphology."

Iryna Osadcha (Ph.D.):
"The lexical stress in East Slavic."

Maida Percival (MA 2014/incoming Ph.D. student):
"Shifting GEN in harmonic serialism: Evidence from Halkomelem."

Jessamyn Schertz (postdoc), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), and colleague Sungwhoo Han (Inha):
"The role of acoustic evidence in resolving phonological ambiguity."

Maksym Shkvorets (BA 2015/incoming MA student):
"The loss of reflexive possessive pronouns in heritage Ukrainian."

Jim Smith (Ph.D.):
"Sociophonetic variation of Northern Ontario English vowels: Canadian Shift in two non-urban communities."

Nicholas Welch (postdoc):
"Light verbs as copulas with additional arguments."

Alumni who are involved are:

Wladyslaw Cichocki (Ph.D. 1986, now at the University of New Brunswick) is presenting a poster with colleague Yves Perreault (Université de Moncton):
"Differences between read and spontaneous speech: An application of rhythm metrics to a New Brunswick variety of Acadian French."

Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université de Québec à Montréal):
"Distinguishing Inuit verb-like adjectives from genuine stative intransitive verbs

Emilie LeBlanc (MA 2014, now at York University) and colleague Selena Phillips-Boyle (York University):
"Discourse markers well and ben in Chiac."

Beth MacLeod (Ph.D. 2012, now at Carleton University) is presenting a poster:
"Quantifying the perceptual salience of the differences between two dialects of Spanish."

Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland) with colleagues Paul DeDecker (Memorial University of Newfoundland) and Rosanna Pierson (Memorial University of Newfoundland):
"Losing light /l/: An acoustic and articulatory investigation of Newfoundland English."

Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland) with colleague Daiho Kitaoka (University of Ottawa):
"Evidence for the mora: Analysis of a Japanese reversing game."

Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at the University of British Columbia):
"Perceptual motivations of sibilant harmony."

Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba) with colleague Carrie Gillon (Arizona State University):
"Reanalyzing Michif 'determiners'."

Marina Sherkina-Lieber (Ph.D. 2011) with colleague Kumiko Murasugi (Carleton University):
"Noun incorporation and case in heritage Inuktitut."

Former visiting student Michael Wagner (McGill University) is part of a poster presentation with colleagues Junko Shimoyama (McGill University), Alex Drummond (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), and Bernhard Schwarz (McGill University):
"A no-source puzzle for clausal ellipsis in right dislocation, sluicing and fragments."

Guest speaker: Richard Kayne (New York University)

Pioneering syntactician Richard Kayne (New York University) will be visiting our department and giving a talk at 3 PM on Wednesday, May 27 in SS1078: "English for as a wh-phrase."

May 15, 2015

Congratulations, Yves!

Professor Yves Roberge has been reappointed as Principal of New College. There is a nice write-up about him here.

Congratulations, Yves!

May 14, 2015

flʌut talk: Alana Johns

Friends of Linguistics at the University of Toronto (flʌut) presents a talk by Alana Johns (Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Aboriginal Studies Program): "Fieldwork with the Inuit Language: Resources and Challenges."

The presentation will take place on Thursday, May 28, from 7 PM to 9 PM, in the department lounge. It will be followed by an informal discussion and a reception.

Students, alumni, faculty, and friends are all welcome! Please RSVP to our department administrator, Jill Given-King.


The 36th annual meeting of the ICAME (International Computer Archive of Modern English) research group is meeting in Trier, Germany, from the 27th to the 31st of May.

Claire Childs (former visiting student), Chris Harvey (Ph.D.), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) are co-presenting a paper with colleague Karen Corrigan (University of Newcastle): "Tracking a change in progress: Any- and no- negation in spoken corpora of British and Canadian English."

Sali and Marisa Brook (Ph.D.) are presenting "Let's try and/to figure this out! Using spoken vernacular corpora to inform explanation."

Sali and Bridget Jankowski (Ph.D. 2013) are presenting "A lost Canadian dialect: The Ottawa Valley, 1975-2013."

Former visiting professor Ranjan Sen (University of Sheffield) is part of a project with colleagues Nuria Yáñez-Bouza (Universidade de Vigo), Joan C. Beal (University of Sheffield), and Christine Wallis (Newcastle University): "The 18th-century English phonology database: The phonology of lexical sets in 18th-century English."


The eighth annual International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE) is taking place from the 27th to the 29th of May in Leipzig, Germany. Two faculty sociolinguists will be giving talks.

Naomi Nagy is presenting two talks: "Communities-based research", and "Cross-dialect vs. cross-linguistic contact in Southern Italy."

Anne-José Villeneuve is co-presenting a talk with colleague Julie Auger (Indiana University): "Morphosyntactic convergence between French and Picard in Vimeu, France."

May 11, 2015

Research Groups: Week of May 11-15

Wednesday, May 13 - 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM in SS 2128
Syntax/Semantics Group
Amer Ahmed: "On Agreement affixes, incorporated pronouns, and clitics in Standard Arabic."

Verbal affixes, which index the subject in Standard Arabic (SA) are almost unanimously treated as pure agreement affixes in the generative literature (cf. Ouhala 1994, Benmamoun 2000, Mohammad 2000, Aoun, Benmamoun and Choueiri 2010, Soltan 2007, Al-Balushi 2011 among many others). Using a number of diagnostics, it is shown that verbal affixes which index the subject are functionally ambiguous in that they exhibit some of the properties of pure agreement affixes and some other properties of incorporated pronouns. The study therefore lends support to the functional ambiguity hypothesis of subject verbal affixes in SA, which is proposed in Fassi Fehri (1990, 1993). The study uses the framework known as Distributed Morphology (DM) (Halle and Marantz 1993) to show that Fassi Fehri’s (1990, 1993) characterization of the morphological realization of some of these affixes is not accurate. The study also uses other diagnostics to claim that object verbal affixes are better treated as clitics rather than incorporated pronouns, as is proposed in Fassi Fehri (1990, 1993). 

Elizabeth Cowper, Bronwyn Bjorkman, Daniel Currie Hall, Rebecca Tollan, and Neil Banerjee: "There's no future in Old English."

Friday, May 15 - 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM in SS 560A
Psycholinguistics Group
Sara Pearsell, presenting joint work with Aravind Namasivayam and Pascal Van Lieshout of Speech-Language Pathology: "Linguistic-cognitive dual-task influence on speech motor stability and automaticity."


This year's meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association is being held at McGill on May 21-24.

Catherine Macdonald (Ph.D. 2014) and Diane Massam (faculty) are presenting "Microparametric variation in the Tongic DP: The lingering determiner effect."

Maayan Abenina-Adar (BA 2012, now at UCLA) is presenting "Tagalog resultatives."

May 1, 2015

Complexity and Recursion in Acquisition Workshop

A workshop on the topic of Complexity and Recursion in Acquisition will be held on Thursday the 14th from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM in University College room 256.

Laura Colantoni (faculty):
"Prosodic phrasing of ambiguous sentences: A cross-linguistic comparison."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D.):
"The complexity of must: Aspect and the structures of epistemics."

Melanie Elliot (Ph.D., French) and Mihaela Pirvulescu (faculty, French): "Bilingual effects in the bilingual acquisition of Spanish: The delay of object clitics."

Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty), Susana Béjar (faculty), and Diane Massam (faculty) with colleague Anny Castilla-Earls (SUNY Fredonia):
"Acquisition of varieties of recursion."

Ana-Teresa and Anny are also co-presenting "Transfer effects in recursive noun phrases."

Ana-Teresa, along with Erin Pettibone (MA, Spanish and Portuguese) and Gabrielle Klassen (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese): "Transfer effects in recursive noun phrases."

Research Groups: Week of May 4-8

Wednesday, May 6 - 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM in SS 2111
Syntax/Semantics Group
Julie Goncharov: "Samyj in fragment answers."

Friday, May 8 - 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM in SS 560A
Language Variation and Change Group
Julien Carrier: "A diachronic study of the Inuktitut transitive alternation in the multidialectical commnity of Resolute Bay." Also, an editing session for NWAV abstracts.