December 12, 2016

Congratulations, Dr. Krekoski!

On December 7th, Ross Krekoski successfully defended his thesis entitled "Contrast and Complexity in Chinese Tonal Systems". His committee was comprised of Elan Dresher (advisor), Yoonjung Kang, Keren Rice, Michael Barrie, Peter Jurgec, and Jie Zhang (external). Congratulations, Ross!

December 8, 2016

Keren Rice featured in U of T News, Nick Welch featured in The Varsity

Two recent articles featuring department members!

First, U of T News has a story on Aboriginal languages where they interview Keren Rice (faculty) on her research, the state of Aboriginal languages in Canada, and the prospects for language revitalization: "Truth and reconciliation live here: At U of T, Indigenous languages speak for themselves"

Second, The Varsity has an article on the new movie Arrival that's about a linguist who tries to figure out an alien language. They interview Nick Welch (faculty), who explains some positives and negatives about the movie's portrayal of linguistics: "Linguistic armament: Deciphering the science of Arrival". This follows a recent piece where U of T News talked to Nick as well as Shayna Gardiner (Ph.D.) about the movie.

November 28, 2016

U of T linguists interviewed about Arrival!

In all the buzz about the new sci-fi film Arrival, U of T News interviewed Nicholas Welch (faculty) and Shayna Gardiner (PhD) about the linguistics in the movie! You can read their thoughts here.

November 24, 2016

NWAV45 at Simon Fraser University, November 3–6

NWAV45 had some great UofT representation this year! Earlier this month, a number of UofT sociolinguists flew to Vancouver to attend the conference. NWAV this year was co-organized by Alexandra D’Arcy (UofT alum, Ph.D. 2005) of UVic and Panayiotis Pappas of Simon Fraser University. Here are some photos from the trip:

The UofT crew from left to right: Jack Chambers, Marisa Brook, Ruth Maddeaux, Paulina Lyskawa, Darcie Blainey, Brianne Süss, Lex Konnelly, Naomi Nagy, Sali Tagliamonte, Sam Lo, Erin Hall, and Melanie Röthlisberger.
Gillian Sankoff listens attentively as Sali opens her talk wtih Suzanne Evans-Wagner.
Shayna intrigues the crowd.
A pod of UofT researchers in the wild!

Melanie shows off the ICE cube.


Presentations by UofT folks included:

Sali Tagliamonte (faculty) and Suzanne Evans-Wagner: “Vernacular stability: Comparative evidence from two lifespan studies.” 

Darcie Blainey (post-doc): “Staying true to your roots: Language stability through late adulthood amidst language shift.” 

Marisa Brook (Ph.D. 2016, now an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University): “A two-tiered change in Canadian English: The emergence of a streamlined evidential system.

Jack Chambers (faculty): “Cracking the code: Wedgies and lexical respectability.” and “Cognitive styles and language variation.”

Derek Denis (Ph.D. 2015, now a post-doc at the University of Victoria): “Pathways to homogeneity in Canadian English.”

Aaron Dinkin (faculty): “It’s no problem to be polite: Change in apparent time in responses to thanks.”

Erin Hall (Ph.D.): “Static and dynamic analyses of Canadian Raising in Toronto and Vancouver.”

Shayna Gardiner (Ph.D.): “The Dhutmose Letters: Lifespan change in Ancient Egypt?”

Shayna Gardiner (Ph.D.) & Naomi Nagy (faculty): “Stable variation and the role of continuous factor groups: A meta-analysis.” 

Sam Lo (undergraduate) and Naomi Nagy (faculty): “Variable use of Heritage Cantonese classifiers.”

Paulina Lyskawa (MA 2015): “Converging vs. competing phonology: Does coe-switching play a predictable role?”

Gloria Mellesmoen (MA 2016, now Ph.D. a thet University of British Columbia): “A vague phonological contrast: /eɪg/ as a distinguishing element of BC English.”

Naomi Nagy (faculty): “Cross-cultural approaches: Comparing heritage languages in Toronto.”

Melanie Röthlisberger (visiting researcher from Universiteit Leuven): “Is indiginization in probabilistic constraints a sign of different grammars? Insights from syntactic variation in New Englishes.” 

Brianne Süss, M.A. 2016: “Style-shifting over the lifespan: Evidence from a Canadian icon.”

November 18, 2016

Interview with recent hire Jessamyn Schertz

Our blog is doing a series of interviews with recent hires to the department, and first up is Jessamyn Schertz, who's been hired as an Assistant Professor at UTM / St. George. Most recently she was working in a postdoc position at UTSC with Yoonjung Kang, and we're very happy to have her continue on in her new position. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Arizona in 2014, and her website is here.

We've also created a new post label called "interview" for this and other interviews in the future.

How would you introduce your research to someone who isn't familiar with linguistics?

I study the fine-grained details of how we pronounce and perceive the various sounds of speech. The “same” sounds can vary across languages (for example, French and English both have “p” sounds, but they are pronounced slightly differently) and even individuals with the same language background will have slightly different definitions of the same sound. The way we produce and perceive sounds is shaped by many factors, including our language background, social characteristics that we ascribe to ourselves and other talkers, the specific communicative situation, and general cognitive processes that may differ across individuals. In my work, I try to tease apart how these different factors interact with one another in 1) by recording speakers and doing acoustic analysis of their speech, and 2) by developing experiments to “map” listeners’ perception of sounds. 

How would you introduce your research to a fellow linguist?

It really depends on the linguist. As an introduction, probably pretty much the same way as above, actually!

What kinds of data collection (e.g. elicitation, experiments, oral texts, conversations) do you use in your research?

My work is mostly experimental, although I am interested in doing more corpus work as well.

Is there any research topic, area, or method you haven't explored very much but that you'd like to work with at some point?

I have recently been thinking more about the influence on social factors on speech perception. I’m hoping to take advantage of the rich social and linguistic diversity in Toronto to explore how linguistic and social factors shape perception and production. 

What courses do you most enjoy teaching?

I don’t have a favorite, but I do enjoy different aspects of teaching different levels. General introductory courses are always fun because students have no idea what to expect: most have never heard of linguistics, and their assumptions about what it is tend not to match up with the actual course content. On the other hand, the intellectual stimulation of working with advanced undergraduate and graduate students is both exciting and motivating for my own thinking.

What kind of graduate student research projects would you like to be involved in, either as a supervisor, second reader, etc.? (areas and methods)

Along with my primary areas of speech perception and production, I am looking forward to being involved in student projects that stretch my interests: students with primary interests in other subfields who are interested in doing experimental work, as well as projects looking at the relationship between linguistic systems in bilinguals and second-language learners.

What's your favourite thing about Toronto as a city?

I love Toronto! I will try to limit myself to two favorite things. First, I love walking around in all of the different neighborhoods and the opportunity to get groceries from all over the world. Second, there is a fantastic community of amateur musicians in Toronto - the best I have ever found. 

Since your main appointment is at UTM, what involvement are you going to have with the St. George department?

Right now, I’m helping to lead the Junior Forum, a professional development course for new graduate students. It’s fun to be involved at the beginning stages of people’s careers. I’ll be teaching grad courses about once a year, and looking forward to serving on thesis/GP/dissertation committees. I’ll also be continuing my involvement with the Phonetics/Phonology and Psycholinguistics groups, as well as research collaborations with my colleagues across the three campuses.

November 17, 2016

FLAUT lecture by Marshall Chasin (November 16th, 2016)

Friends of Linguistics At the University of Toronto (FLAUT) recently held a talk by Marshall Chasin titled "Clatter, Music and Hearing Loss". Here's a picture from the event.

Left to right: Yves Roberge, Marshall Chasin, Colin Swift (representative of the New College alumni association), Guillaume Thomas, and Jack Chambers. (Picture courtesy of Jennifer McCallum.)

November 11, 2016

Ph.D. convocation (November 2016)

Here are some pictures from the recent Ph.D. convocation that included graduates from our department.
Left to right: Mercedeh Mohaghegh, Yu-Leng Lin, Keren Rice (faculty), Safieh Moghaddam, Diane Massam (faculty), and Marisa Brook. (Picture from Diane Massam.)

There was a reception in the department that included wug cookies! (Picture from Keren Rice.)

November 2, 2016

Mo-MOT 1 at Carleton, November 18th to 20th

Mo-MOT 1, the First Annual Morphology in Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto Workshop, is being held later this month at Carleton University in Ottawa. The program is available here. Presenters from UofT include:

Ilia Nicoll (Ph.D.) “The Provacative Feature Deletion Model:  Morphological consequences of a syntactic model of agreement alternations”

Ross Godfrey (Ph.D.) “Process morphology and nonconcatenative allomorphy”

Elizabeth Cowper (faculty) & Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.) “The feature geometry of non-binary gender: Implications of singular definite specific they.”

Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University) “Two issues in the morphology of Iroquoian verbal prefixes”

Bronwyn Bjorkman (postdoc 2012-2015, now at Queen's University) “The inherent puzzle of modal subjects”

Alana Johns (faculty) is also the invited speaker on Saturday.



Rear, L-R: Mike Barrie (PhD 2006, now at Sogang U, Seoul), Elizabeth Cowper, Kumiko Murasugi (former undergrad, now at Carleton U), Andrew Peters (York U, currently taking courses at U of T), Lex Konnelly (MA 2016, current PhD student), Alana Johns
Front, L-R: Ross Godfrey (PhD), Bronwyn Bjorkman (former SSHRC & Banting postdoc, now at Queen's), Gavin Bembridge (York PhD)

October 28, 2016

Pumpkin carving night 2016

The Linguistics Graduate Course Union (LGCU) recently held a pumpkin carving night, its first one since 2010. Below is the result. Thanks to Keren Rice for the photo!


October 25, 2016

U of T linguists at USC!

U of T linguists presented their research last weekend at the 2016 Annual Meeting on Phonology, held October 21-23, 2016 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Yoonjung Kang & Jessamyn Schertz: The role of perceived L2 category in cross-language perception and implications for loanword adaptation

Michael Becker (Stony Brook University) & Peter Jurgec: Inconspicuous unfaithfulness in Slovenian

October 20, 2016

Throwback: old department branding

Courtesy of Jack Chambers, we have an old department letterhead (from around 1981) that shows an attempt at branding for our department. It was created by an (at the time) new office of the university that was charged with branding the various departments of the university.


October 19, 2016

Naomi Nagy guest lecture at NYU

Naomi kicked off the 2016-2017 NYU Linguistics Colloquium series with a guest lecture , "Cross-cultural sociolinguistic surprises in Toronto Talk," sharing some recent findings from the Heritage Language Variation and Change Project. The perk of talking about Heritage Languages? Being wined and dined by local linguists at Japanese, Chinese, Italian (and another)—2 of these because she works on 2 Italian varieties!—and Ukrainian venues, all in a 2-day stretch. Oh, and mustn’t forget the Mah Ze Dahr Bakery, with Pakistani roots. Its Urdu names means "the taste essence of food, its flavor and magic that make it delicious."

Bonus: catching up with new NYU prof Dr. Ailis Cournane, a recent grad of our department.
NYU may be the only linguistics department with its own doorman!

Ryan DeCaire on CTV about revitalizing indigenous languages

Ryan DeCaire, who was recently hired in a cross-appointment between the Centre for Indigenous Studies and the Department of Linguistics, was recently interviewed by CTV's Your Morning on language revitalization. The UofT news write-up about it is here, and the actual interview is available from CTV here.

October 18, 2016

2016 Inuit Studies Conference at Memorial University

The 2016 Inuit Studies Conference was held at Memorial University on October 7th-10th. Presentations of interest for our department:

Alana Johns (faculty): "Unikkâk: The Story of a Story"

Alana Johns (faculty) and Rita Andersen: "Phrases from Nunatsiavummiut"

Julien Carrier (Ph.D.): "Sociolinguistic study on the loss of ergativity in Inuktitut across Eastern Canada"

Zoe McKenzie (Ph.D.): "Multi-Functionality of the Optative Mood (in Inuktitut)"

Douglas Wharram & Ilia Nicoll (Ph.D.): "A tripartite classification of intransitive incorporating verbs in Inuktitut"

Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at University of Quebec at Montreal): "Incorporated nouns in Inuktitut as in situ objects"

Marina Sherkina-Lieber (Ph.D. 2011, now at York University): "Inuit who understand Inuktitut but who do not speak it: What do they know and what do they lack?"

October 17, 2016

Group photo at NELS 47

Some past and present members of our department at UMass Amherst for NELS 47 were able to meet up for a picture!
(L-R): Yining Nie (MA 2015, now at NYU), Michela Ippolito (faculty), Kenji Oda (Ph.D. 2012, now at Syracuse), Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University), Clarissa Forbes (Ph.D.), Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at MIT)

October 14, 2016

Talks by Bob Ladd and John Esling this week

This week was a busy and exciting P-side week in the department, with visits and guest talks by both Bob Ladd (University of Edinburgh) and John Esling (University of Victoria, emeritus). On Tuesday, Bob Ladd presented "Lexical Allophones", a discussion of marginal phonological contrasts, subject to both phonological conditioning and lexical effects. On Thursday, John Esling presented "The Effect of the Laryngeal Articulator on Vowel Quality", showing some excellent MRI images of different laryngeal states and their effects on tongue shape and cavity sizes. The abstracts for both talks are below.


The Phonetics Brigade
(L-R: Alexei Kochetov, John Esling, Jessamyn Schertz)

October 10, 2016

Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics: Alumni Issue (Vol. 37)

Volume 37 of TWPL (Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics) has recently been released. This is a special issue made up of submissions from alumni of our department, to celebrate the recent revival of TWPL (after the six year hiatus between Volume 34 and Volume 35). The submissions for this issue span four different subfields: phonology, syntax, language acquisition, and language variation and change. The alumni issue itself can be found on the TWPL site here, and past issues of TWPL can be found on the archive here. Good work, TWPL team!

October 6, 2016

LGCU Welcome Workshop

The 8th annual Welcome Workshop of the Linguistics Graduate Course Union (LGCU) will take place this Friday, October 7, in Sidney Smith Hall, Room 1083. Our new graduate students will be presenting their research, so please stop by and have a look!

The schedule is below.

1:00-1:10 Coffee & welcome
1:10-1:35 Lexical variation in syntactic profiles: New insights from world Englishes (Melanie Röthlisberger)
1:35-2:00 Frequency of use and lexical change: A case study of Latin and Spanish (Fiona Wilson)
2:00-2:25 Hooking up: Defining and using an ambiguous term in the college bubble (Savannah Meslin)
2:25-2:40 BREAK
2:40-3:05 The dark side of the loon or Joyeux No-dark-ël (Luke Zhou)
3:05-3:30 Enriching sociolinguistic categories: Evidence from variation within the adjective phrase (Lex Konnelly)
3:30-3:55 ‘It’s new, it’s wicked, it’s awesome’: Using adjectives to pinpoint the actuation of linguistic change (Katharina Pabst)
3:55-4:20 The interpretation of pronouns in proxy counterfactuals (Heather Stephens)
4:20-4:35 BREAK
4:35-5:00 De and Chinese morpho-syntax (Cater Chen)
5:00-5:25 Restrictive relativized constituents and verbal predicates in Krio: An investigation of the accessibility hierarchy (Brea Lutton)
5:25-5:50 Relexification of Haitian Creole with French (Sarah Newman)

Fieldwork group meeting at 12:30

The Fieldwork Research Group will be meeting from 12:30-1:30 tomorrow (Friday, 7 October) not 1:00-2:00, in order to allow people more time to attend the Welcome Workshop.

October 4, 2016

NELS 47

The 47th annual meeting of the North East Linguistics Society is being held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from October 16th to 18th. The program is available here. Of interest:

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba): "Person dissimilation in the derivation of agreement alternations"

Yining Nie (MA 2015, now at New York University): "Why is there NOM-NOM but no ERG-ERG?"

Michela Ippolito (Faculty): "Indefinite Pronouns"

Clarissa Forbes (Ph.D.): "Aggressively ergative agreement in Gitksan"

October 1, 2016

Sali Interviewed for Her New Book on Teenager Language

Sali Tagliamonte (faculty) was recently interviewed for her new book Teen Talk: The Language of Adolescents on specific features of teenager speech in English (including "like" and "stuff", and online writing conventions) as well as the role of teenager speech in language change more broadly. The interview can be found here on New Books Network.

September 29, 2016

Phonology and psycholinguistics research group meetings

The first official meeting of the Phonology Research Group is this Friday, September 30, from 9:30 to 11:00 am in SS560A.  The speaker is Suyeon Yun, our new postdoc this year.

The Psycholinguistics Research Group will be meeting on October 7,  from 9:30 to 11:00 am in SS560A. The speaker is Jessamyn Schertz of the Department of Language Studies at UTM.

September 26, 2016

RCM highlights Susana & Abdel-Khalig's daughter!

The Royal Conservatory of Music is using this photograph of an inspired young violinist in its publicity materials, and it is easy to see why. Though the musician is unidentified, we know that it is Dalila, daughter of Susana Bejar (Linguistics Faculty) and Abdel-Khalig Ali (PhD graduate and Faculty in U of T's Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations).



Congratulations to Dalila, Susana and Abdel-Khalig for this stealth media appearance!

September 23, 2016

A conversation with Alana Johns

by Sali Tagliamonte

 Alana Johns is retiring at the end of 2016-2017, marking a 20 year sojourn at the University of Toronto and a lifetime of linguistic research on Inuktitut and especially within Inuit communities in Labrador. Although Alana is retiring from the Department of Linguistics, she will continue to do research. Her plan is to devote herself full time to five SSHRC research projects, including one to collect, transcribe and analyze oral stories and conversations working with Inuit research assistants who will ensure that the materials are made available to Inuit communities. I spoke to Alana on August 26th about this important milestone in her life.

Early days of discovering linguistics

Alana was at Carleton University in Ottawa in the 1970’s. Like most people she didn’t know Linguistics existed. “I was very interested in languages, learning about them, learning to speak them. When I hit upon Linguistics, it seemed to be very attractive because it involved languages and it involved analysis. And I really liked complex words right from the very beginning.”
Things got really exciting for Alana when she became a graduate student at the University of Ottawa. She was asked by Doug Walker to supervise a summer student project on Ojibwe and she got to do fieldwork to her heart’s content and ended up doing her MA on the topic.
At the time, the University of Ottawa had just started a new PhD program and Alana was among one of the first students to enter the program.  She says, “we were a motley crew.” Sitting in on a graduate course on morphology with John Jensen, the students were going through Marantz’s thesis  that had just come out (Marantz, Alec. 1978. On the Nature of Grammatical Relations. Ph.D. thesis, MIT.) and Alana knew enough about Inuktitut by that time to think that his ideas about ergativity couldn’t entirely be right. However, to argue against his analysis she needed critical Greenlandic data, but fortunately she didn’t have to go to Greenland. She found a language consultant in Montreal. Alana demonstrated that what Marantz had proposed “did not go through entirely”. Moreover, reading the thesis was good training in constructing analyses as a foundation for future research.
Alana was hired by Memorial University in St John’s to do research on Labrador dialects of Inuktitut. During her time there she would go up to communities in Labrador in the summer to teach Linguistics, Inuktitut language and do research. In 1996, she was lucky enough to get a position at the University of Toronto. She was very excited by the challenge of a busy, strong institution but the thing that struck her the most when she first arrived was the quality of the graduate students. “I would like people to consider that one of the first times I taught morpho-syntax, in that class, was Milan Rezac, Susana Bejar and Daniel Currie Hall. You know we tell the graduate students that they learn from each other, but we’re learning from them a lot too!”

Advances in understanding Polysynthesis

Alana’s career has focused on trying to understand the complex morphology of Inuktitut as a polysynthetic language. “One of the things we always thought about was what rules will give you these complex words. The rules that we had already thought about for English wouldn’t give you the complex words. You could see they were related but they weren’t exactly the same. If you take an English sentence and you just cram it all into one word, that doesn’t give you a polysynthetic word. So, then how do you get it?”
Alana developed the idea that all the verbs that are involved in noun incorporation were not regular verbs; they were light verbs. There were no verbs like ‘tickle’ or ‘brush’ or ‘smash’. They were all verbs like ‘get’ or ‘have’ or ‘be’.
Then Richard Compton and Christine Pitman came up with the idea that maybe the complex verb was a phase, a specific limited domain in syntax. You take an English sentence and take out anything that’s an NP and then take everything you have left and smoosh it together. “I never wanted to eat apples.” If you took out ‘apples’, ‘never wanted to eat’ would be the verb. It was a very pretty idea.”
“My current interest is to try and look at it from the perspective of agreement. It may be that instead of agreement it involves clitic pronouns. I want to see if I can do a formal treatment of it. However the collection of data to do this work coincides with what the community wants. The majority of written Inuktitut that is available in communities is a translation from English sources. Very few of the written materials were originally composed in Inuktitut. I think there should be natural written materials of the language for native speakers.”
Alana goes on to explain that, “Inuit don’t tell stories. Their accounts are either true accounts of what they saw in their lifetime or traditional stories, true accounts of things they didn’t witness. So, there is no story idea. There is no sense of fiction. People don’t make things up. It’s almost like they are on the stand all the time.” She muses that if Inuit start writing in their own language they might come up with a whole new genre.

What has it been like working on Inuktitut and what would you like people to know about it?

There’s always two sides [Alana Johns: two things about Inuktitut]. On the Linguistics side I would like people to know that the language has these complex words that seem very very different from English. But the more you look at it, the more you realize it’s got a lot of similarities to English, you just have to turn it upside down. If you turn something and invert it, it’s not like it’s randomly related to the other thing. In fact Inuktitut complex words are ordered the inverse to English. So, if you wanted to say “I want to drink some tea” you would start with “tea” and “drink”, then “want”, then “I”. So, there’s all these relationships that make you see that it’s similar to English. It’s the opposite order but it’s the same order.
From the other part of my research, which is always more on the community side, I’ve always wanted people to realize how interesting indigenous languages are and then of course the whole issue of people trying to keep them healthy in the modern framework.
The writing issue is also important. You go all across the Arctic. You might go into a cultural centre and you’ll see a bank of tapes “Oral Inuktitut” and then you see another bank of paper, “English Translation”. But what you don’t have is the bank of paper, “Inuktitut Transcription”. That’s the missing piece. And I think it’s a rich piece that needs to be increased and brought into a position of strength, as a tool within the community.

What is the project you will be doing in your retirement?

Together with Sipila Tuglavina, the Language Co-ordinator in Labrador, we’re going to make a written description of how the Inuktitut writing system works and make it public. Then, the plan is to have workshops teaching people how to use it. At the same time we’ll collect written data. The whole idea is to strengthen knowledge of the Inuktitut writing system. At the same time, I can teach a bit of Linguistics, which is very useful to sort out controversies about language. A healthy Linguistics perspective is extremely useful and we will teach the Linguistics that is useful in that context.
Another current project is to produce a phrase book on Inuktitut. It will be marketed to the Inuit themselves but the book may also be used by other people. The kinds of phrases that will be in the book are ones that people can use in everyday conversations. Phrases such as “that tastes good”, or Aso! (which means “so” or “really!”).

What did you enjoy about working in the Department of Linguistics?

I enjoyed being Graduate Coordinator because the students were very good and it’s an opportunity to fix a few things. I enjoyed teaching because you learn so much from teaching and it’s so nice to see students developing.

What will you miss the most?

I’m hoping I won’t miss anything! But if I think of it in terms of what will I look back fondly on, it would be the research projects with the graduate students.
I remember one time we were in Baker Lake. I was with Midori Hayashi and Conor Cook and Richard Compton and we were invited us to go out ice fishing. This was June in Baker Lake. You had to go out on skidoos all day. Richard and I thought, “no!” But Connor and Midori agreed to go. You had to take a boat from the shore across the melted water to the ice where you got on the skidoo. It was cold and it was blowing. They looked a little miserable, but off they went. Richard and I went back to the house and drank tea and read Linguistics and everything. So, we were kind of smug. They came back at 11pm that night and they were so happy. They brought back char that they’d caught. Midori was admiring the spots on the belly of the char. Conor cooked up the char. He’s a wonderful cook. So, Richard and I actually went out the second time because we realized that we’d really missed out on a really wonderful experience. [This is an abbreviated version of the actual story: Alana Johns, fishing story]


I have a lot of nice memories!

September 21, 2016

Slavic Linguistic Society Conference at U of T!

This coming weekend, a number of University of Toronto linguists will present at the 11th annual meeting of the Slavic Linguistic Society, hosted by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Toronto. It will be in Carr Hall and Alumni Hall Friday, 23 September to Sunday, 25 September.

ELAN DRESHER (Faculty)  & DANIEL HALL (PhD grad, now at St. Mary’s)
Halle’s ‘Sound Patterns of Russian’: The Road Not Taken

ALEXEI KOCHETOV (Faculty)
An acoustic comparison of Russian & English sibilant fricatives

IRYNA OSADCHA (PhD)
Shifting through history: Lexical stress in East Slavic

JOANNA CHOCIEJ (PhD)
Exceptionality and conspiracy in Polish vowel-zero alternations

PHIL HOWSON (PhD)
A preliminary ultrasound analysis of liquids in Upper Sorbian

JULIE GONCHAROV (PhD grad, now at Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
What can silent elements tell us about grammar?

MARINA SHERKINA- LIEBER (PhD grad, now at Carleton)
Acquisition of Russian embedded yes-no questions by monolinguals and heritage speakers

PAULINE LYSKAWA (MA grad, now at UMD), VALERIYA MORDVINOVA (undergrad UofT, HLVC RA) & NAOMI NAGY (Faculty)
Case Marking Variation in heritage Slavic Languages in Toronto

September 20, 2016

Michelle Troberg honoured for TA mentorship!

The LGCU decided last year to present an annual award to a faculty member who showed excellence and dedication in the mentoring of teaching assistants. Linguistics faculty of any rank, from sessionals to emeriti, are eligible.
This year, Michelle Troberg (UTM) received the award. Elaine Gold and Eri Takahashi received honourable mentions.

The award includes a certificate as well as either a pub night with the grad students sponsored by the LGCU or a gift certificate.

Congratulations, Michelle!

Canadian Language Museum now open!


The Canadian Language Museum officially opened on 19 September, in its permanent location in Glendon College, with speeches by Elaine Gold (Director of the Museum), the Principal of Glendon College, Donald Ipperciel, Maya Chacaby (Glendon College's Course Director of Linguistics and Languages), María Constanza Guzmán (Director of the Centre for Research on Language and Culture Contact), Amos Key Jr. (Assistant Professor at U of T's Centre for Indigenous Studies), and Roberto Dante Martella of Language & Linguine.
 We hope all U of T linguists will pay a visit before long to congratulate Elaine and her team on their new home!

September 18, 2016

The Undergraduate Awards 2016: Honours for UofT Undergrads

The Undergraduate Awards (UA) is an awards program recognizing research and original work done by undergraduates in the sciences, humanities, business and creative arts. It received 5,514 submissions for 2016, and those ranked in the top 10% of their category were deemed "Highly Commended Entrants". Among those receiving that honour in the category of Languages & Linguistics includes UofT students: Leah Brainin, who submitted her paper written in Meg Grant's class this spring, and Anneliese Mills. See a full list for Highly Commended 2016 here. Congratulations both of you!

September 14, 2016

Dan Milway's response to a Scientific American article on Universal Grammar

Dan Milway (Ph.D.) recently wrote a response to a popular science article in Scientific American that presented a grim view of Chomsky's idea of Universal Grammar in linguistics. Dan's response, "Don’t believe the rumours. Universal Grammar is alive and well." (available here), makes reference to some of the research going on in this department. The original article, "Evidence Rebuts Chomsky's Theory of Language Learning" by Paul Ibbotson and Michael Tomasello, is available here.

September 13, 2016

Congratulations, Yu-Leng!

Yu-Leng Lin successfully defended her thesis, "Sonority Effects and Learning Biases on Nasal Harmony", on September 12th, 2016. The committee was comprised of Keren Rice (supervisor), Alexei Kochetov, Yoon Jung Kang, Peter Jurgec, Philip Monahan, and external examiner Gunnar Hansson (University of British Columbia). Congratulations, Dr. Lin!


Yu-Leng and her committee (L-R: Gunnar Hansson, Peter Jurgec, Philip Monahan, Yu-Leng Lin, Keren Rice, Yoon Jung Kang, and Alexei Kochetov)

September 9, 2016

Congratulations Safi!

Safieh Moghaddam successfully defended her thesis, "Split Ergativity in Davani", on September 8th, 2016. The committee was comprised of Diane Massam (supervisor), Arsalan Kahnemuyipour and Yves Roberge (thesis committee members), Susana Bejar, and Michela Ippolito. The external examiner was Dr. Martha McGinnis-Archibald (University of Victoria). Congratulations, Dr. Moghaddam!

September 6, 2016

Research Groups: Welcome, 2016-17

Our department has six lively research groups that meet every second Friday during the academic year. Graduate students are expected to attend at least one group. New graduate students in particular take note, because our research groups are a great way for you to meet people in the Toronto linguistics community working in and around your sub-field, to get friendly feedback on your own work, and to learn about new research that other people are working on. Meeting dates can be found on the calendar on the department homepage, and through the year, a weekly announcement about research-group meetings will appear on this blog.

Psycholinguistics Group
The University of Toronto Psycholinguistics Group is primarily interested in the investigation of how language is acquired, processed and produced. Faculty, post-docs and graduate students from a number of unique disciplines contribute, and their work reflects research topics across all levels of linguistic analysis. Different investigative approaches and techniques are brought to bear on these issues, including behavioural discrimination experiments, eye tracking, brain imaging and explicit judgment tasks - to name but a few. In addition to members of the Department of Linguistics, the group includes integral tri-campus participation from the Departments of Psychology, Computer Science, Spanish and Portuguese, and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). For more information, please get in touch with Daphna (daphna.heller AT utoronto.ca).

Phonetics/Phonology Group
The Phonetics/Phonology Research Group (or just Phon Group for short) is a place for anyone working on the P-side to present work in progress or do dry runs of upcoming talks. We've had presentations on everything from pure theoretical phonology to descriptive phonetics to experimental work in production and perception. This is a very informal setting, and a great place to get feedback on an upcoming talk, research that's still in a rough state, or data you've been working through. We also try to have a few discussion sessions each year, usually going through a recent phonetics/phonology paper of interest but sometimes a more general conversation about methodology or issues in phonetic and phonological research. If you'd like to be added to the mailing list, please contact Radu (radu.craioveanu AT utoronto.ca).

Fieldwork Group
Fieldwork Group is a project dedicated to the discussion of linguistic fieldwork and field methodology. We have a mixed bag of activities including hearing informal presentations about particular methods, problems, or data; discussing papers on methodology; and holding the occasional workshop on a practical technique. Expect to discuss both theoretical and practical considerations about work in the field and elicitation technique, relative to different subfields and different language situations (i.e. endangered, indigenous, understudied, or none of the above). We welcome different levels of experience and history with fieldwork, as long as you have an interest! Contact Clarissa (c.forbes AT mail.utoronto.ca) to be added to the mailing list.

Language Variation and Change Group
The LVC Group is centred on research in variationist sociolinguistics and overlapping subfields (e.g. dialectology, historical linguistics, language and society). Meetings typically consist of presentations from members, visiting scholars, and guest speakers; work in progress is encouraged! From time to time we read a major paper, host a software workshop, or talk about a noteworthy line of research. Anyone with an interest in variationist research is welcome at our meetings. If you'd like to be added to the mailing list, email Lex (a.konnelly AT mail.utoronto.ca) and/or Sali (sali.tagliamonte AT utoronto.ca).

Semantics Group
The Semantics Research Group usually features presentations from members and guests on research in semantics and pragmatics. Work in progress is encouraged. Occasionally we read a paper, prepare for a guest speaker, and/or organize practice talks in preparation for conference presentations. Everyone who is interested in semantics or would like to learn more about it is welcome to attend the meetings. To be added to the mailing list, please contact Angelika (angelika.kiss AT mail.utoronto.ca).

Syntax Group
The Syntax Project provides linguists from the University of Toronto and beyond with the opportunity to share their work on issues in syntax, morphology, and semantics. During a typical meeting, a participant presents on their ongoing research, but we welcome practice runs for conferences, discussion sessions on new work in the field, and suggestions as well! If you’d like to present or join the mailing list, please contact Heather (heather.yawney AT mail.utoronto.ca).

September 3, 2016

Sali on intensifiers in The Paris Review

The Paris Review has a great interview with Sali Tagliamonte: "Truly trending: An interview on intensifiers". The author wanted to learn more about the current use of truly as an intensifier. In the interview, Sali describes the rise and fall of successive intensifiers in the history of English. It's swiþe/full/well/right/really/truly worth a read!

August 30, 2016

Congratulations, Mercedeh!

Mercedeh Mohaghegh successfully defended her thesis, "Connected Speech Processes and Lexical Access in Real-Time Comprehension", on Wednesday, August 24th. The committee was comprised of Craig Chambers (supervisor), Philip Monahan, Yoonjung Kang, Elizabeth Johnson, Laura Colantoni, and external examiner Benjamin Tucker (University of Alberta). Congratulations, Dr. Mohaghegh!

August 25, 2016

Dog Days V Syntax Workshop

The 5th annual Dog Days summer workshop on syntax, semantics, and morphology was held on August 17th in the department. The schedule was as follows.

Bronwyn Bjorkman (postdoc 2012-2015, now at Queen's University): "Building imperfect counterfactuals"

Maayan Abenina-Adar (BA 2012, now at UCLA) & Nikos Angelopoulos (UCLA): "On root modality and thematic relations in Tagalogand English"

Gavin Bembridge (York University): "On free variation: Spanish perfect tenses and DM"

Cassandra Chapman & Ivona Kučerová (McMaster): "Two base-generated positions of why: Evidence from English why-questions"

María Cristina Cuervo (faculty) & Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.): "Syntactic restrictions on Hungarian noun incorporation"

Kaz Bamba (Ph.D.): "On the restriction of noun-verb incorporation in Japanese"

Barend Beekhuizen (postdoc at UofT Computer Science): "Carving up the world: semantic typology and cognition"

Sherry Hucklebridge (MA): "Relational and partitive inalienable possession in Slave"

Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University): "Noun incorporation and instability"

Dan Milway (Ph.D.): "Subjects of adjuncts and labeling"

Andrew Peters (York University): "A Distributed Morphology approach to bilingual syntax"

Rebecca Tollan (Ph.D.): "Asymmetric displacement asymmetries: ergative versus accusative case"

Monica Irimia (Ph.D 2011, now at University of York, soon to be at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia): "When differential marking is obligatory: Equality comparatives and ellipsis"

Michela Ippolito (faculty): "Indefinite pronouns"

Julie Goncharov (Ph.D. 2016, soon to be at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem): "Advantages of silence"

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

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba): "Deriving agreement asymmetries from pronominal structure"

This workshop was presented with the support of Alana Johns, Keren Rice, the Department of Linguistics (U of T), SSHRC #435-2015-1987, SSHRC #435-2013-1756

August 23, 2016

Congratulations, Julie!

Congratulations to Julie Goncharov (Ph.D. 2016), who has accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, related to the 'Landscape of n-words' project led by Luka Crnic, Ivy Sichel, and Hedde Zeijlstra. The position starts on October 1st. All our best, Julie with this new adventure!

August 21, 2016

Congratulations, Monica!

Congratulations to Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2011), who has accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor in Linguistics (research stream, syntax) at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. She goes to this from her current position as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of York, England. Best wishes for your new adventures, Monica!

August 16, 2016

Congratulations, Marisa!

Marisa Brook successfully defended her thesis, "Syntactic categories informing variationist analysis: The case of English copy-raising", on Tuesday, August 16. The committee was comprised of Sali A. Tagliamonte (supervisor), Diane Massam, Jack Chambers, Naomi Nagy, Aaron Dinkin, and external examiner Belén Méndez-Naya (University of Santiago de Compostela). Congratulations, Dr. Brook!

August 10, 2016

Sali Tagliamonte among those named LSA Fellows for 2017

Congratulations to Sali, who was recently announced by the Linguistic Society of America as one of only six LSA Fellows for 2017 (announcement here). This distinction, awarded each year since 2006, is intended to recognize "distinguished contributions to the discipline". See here for a past list of LSA Fellows, which includes from our department B. Elan Dresher (2011) and Keren Rice (2009).

August 4, 2016

Michael Iannozzi featured in Western News

Michael Iannozzi (BA 2014), who is now a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario (while still being involved with Elaine Gold's Canadian Language Museum), has been featured in an article on Western News (available here).

He is currently working on a research project investigating the speech of Southwestern Ontario, which he notes is often inaccurately lumped in with the speech of Toronto. With dozens of interviews completed so far, he hopes to create a digital archive of recordings, artifacts, and photos.

August 3, 2016

Jill's farewell lunch

Jill Given-King, the Department’s Graduate Assistant since 2011, celebrated her retirement in a farewell lunch with faculty and staff at the Faculty Club. Enjoy your very well earned time with family, friends and freedom, Jill! We will all miss your great knowledge and ability, sense of humour, unflappable poise, and unfailing courtesy.
Jill is about to break into the celebratory dessert!
Left to right: Jill Given-King, Sali Tagliamonte, Elizabeth Cowper.

July 27, 2016

New issue of The Canadian Journal of Linguistics; Elizabeth Cowper taking over as editor

The July 2016 issue of The Canadian Journal of Linguistics / La revue canadienne de linguistique (which is now available through Cambridge University Press here) has been released. With this issue, Elizabeth Cowper (professor emeritus) starts her three-year term as editor. Other U of T involvement in the issue includes the squib "Confronting the European Portuguese central vowel distinction" from Christopher Spahr (Ph.D. 2015).

July 26, 2016

Alex Motut featured in U of T News: Innovations in teaching

Alex Motut (Ph.D.) and her instruction of LIN204 (English Grammar) were recently featured in U of T News' "Innovations in teaching" series, in an article available here.

LIN204, which the article notes is one of the most popular course offerings of our department, has an enrollment mostly of students in disciplines other than linguistics—putting Alex in the position of providing the first (and possibly last) substantial taste of our field to a large number of students.

With this opportunity she introduces them to fundamental principles of how linguists approach language (descriptively rather than prescriptively), and encourages them to think like linguists by asking them to reflect on why sentences like "I went to the bank" sound fine even if the listener isn't familiar with the particular bank being referred to.

The article also highlights her incorporation of non-standard and innovative uses of English into the course, including "man" as a "street pronoun" that is flexible when it comes to person, number, and gender (as seen in the example "it's her personality man's looking at"), a usage that U of T alumnus Derek Denis (now at the University of Victoria) is currently working on in his research.

July 19, 2016

Report from LabPhon 15

The UofT linguistics community was well represented at LabPhon 15, which recently took place (July 13-16, 2016) at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. A full list of our involvement (with all co-authors) is available here.

Group photo with most of our attendees. Back row: Chris Neufeld (UofT B.A., currently at University of Maryland), Phil Howson (Ph.D.), Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.), Avery Ozburn (UofT M.A., currently at UBC), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Jessamyn Schertz (post-doc, soon to be faculty). Front row: Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D.), Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.), Mercedeh Mohaghegh (Ph.D.), Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, currently at Ritsumeikan University).
Alexei Kochetov giving his talk on the acquisition of nasal place assimilation in English.

Phil Howson giving his poster on an ultrasound study of tap palatalization in Japanese.
Na-Young Ryu and Yoonjung Kang giving their poster on the adaptation of Mandarin loan-words in Korean by Heritage Korean speakers in China.
Jessamyn Schertz (on the right) giving her poster on the use of talker information (specifically dialect) in speech perception.
Mercedeh Mohaghegh giving her poster on the perception of place assimilation in English.
Patrick Murphy giving his poster on the perception of affrication in Canadian French.
Ruth Maddeaux giving her poster on the learning of statistical patterns and awareness of universal patterns in Irish.

Libe Slope. The campus was beautiful!

Libe Slope.

View from the Stewart Avenue Bridge towards Lake Cayuga. Ithaca is full of gorges, including in and around the Cornell campus.

View from lookout at the Physical Sciences Building.

July 17, 2016

Goodbyes and hellos for 2016-17

The 2016-17 academic year is nearly upon us, and there is quite a bit of coming-and-going happening!

Farewell to:
  • Elaine Gold (faculty), who has decided to retire to dedicate her time to the Canadian Language Museum!
  • Meg Grant (faculty), who is finishing an 18-month contract-limited term appointment in our department and starting a postdoctoral position at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
  • Jill Given-King (staff), our unflappable administrative assistant, who has been keeping the department running smoothly for the last five years. Jill is retiring at the end of July 2016.
  • Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at Universität Mannheim), who is taking up a tenure-track position at New York University.
  • Marisa Brook (Ph.D.), who is beginning a one-year faculty position at Michigan State University.
  • ...and those about to complete our MA program. Four of our current MA students are staying on for our Ph.D. program, but we bid farewell to the others!
Welcome back to:
  • Susana Béjar (faculty), moving into a full-time position as an Assistant Professor.
  • Jessamyn Schertz (faculty), completing a postdoctoral fellowship and joining our Mississauga campus as an Assistant Professor (tenure-track).
  • Nicholas Welch (faculty), completing a postdoctoral fellowship and joining our St. George campus as an Assistant Professor (contract-limited).
  • Daphna Heller (faculty), returning from an 18-month leave.
Welcome to:
  • Blair Armstrong (faculty), our new psycholinguist at the Scarborough campus.
  • Ryan DeCaire (faculty), a new Assistant Professor co-appointed by the Department of Linguistics and the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives.
  • Amos Key (faculty), a new Assistant Professor co-appointed by the Department of Linguistics and the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives.
  • Jennifer McCallum (staff), our new Graduate Administrator.
  • Deem Waham (staff), our new Undergraduate Administrator.
  • ...and 18 students starting graduate programs in the Department of Linguistics: 8 in the Ph.D. program and 10 in the MA.

July 14, 2016

Fieldwork and exchange in Slovenia

In the last weeks of June, three undergraduate students in our department and Peter Jurgec (faculty) visited Slovenia to present ongoing research on Slovenian and to do fieldwork on two dialects of Slovenian, sponsored by a grant from the Germany/Europe Fund to Peter Jurgec.

The participants organized the Ljubljana-Toronto Workshop, featuring presentations by U of T students Zhiyao (Vivian) Che (Velar Palatalization in Slovenian), Fernanda Lara Peralta (Interaction of vowel deletion and final devoicing in Šmartno Slovenian), Mia Sara Misic (Nasal harmony in Mostec Slovenian), and Peter Jurgec (Stress shift in Slovenian).

The students had a chance to experience fieldwork firsthand. In Mostec, we examined nasal harmony using a dual-chamber nasalance mask, instrumentally confirming thus far the first case of nasal harmony in a Slavic language. In Šmartno, we looked at nominal paradigms, filling the gaps in the existing data, using elicitation.

Here is what the students said about the trip:

"I feel homesick for Slovenia and not even Toronto. It was really a lot of fun learning how to operate the nasometer on participants and handle the data. I had a wonderful time […] doing such cool fieldwork."

"I loved being able to practically apply so much of what I had learned on campus to our fieldwork in Slovenia. The participants were wonderful people to work with and I really enjoyed analyzing their data and finding exactly what we were looking for (especially the nasal harmony!). I also greatly appreciated having the chance to give a presentation at the University of Ljubljana and valued the presentations they gave on Slovenian stress and dialectology."

Researchers from Ljubljana will be visiting our department in February 2017.

Slovenian and Toronto students in picturesque Ljubljana.

A student and a Slovenian linguist, Professor Karmen Kenda Jež, with
a speaker of Mostec, a dialect of Slovenian with nasal harmony.

The Toronto team (Zhiyao Che, Fernanda Lara Peralta, Mia Sara Misic, and Professor Jurgec)
in front of the village of Šmartno [ˈʃmaɾtno], as seen above the sign.

Elicitation in Šmartno. 

July 8, 2016

LabPhon 15 (July 13-16)

The 15th Conference in Laboratory Phonology (LabPhon 15) is taking place at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York from July 13 to 16. The theme is 'Speech dynamics and phonological representation'.

Alexei Kochetov (faculty) is presenting a talk along with three colleagues from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich: Marianne Pouplier, Stefania Marin, and Conceicao Cunha: "Probing the interaction of dynamic stability with grammar: Evidence from Russian."

Faculty members Laura Colantoni, Alexei Kochetov, and Jeffrey Steele are presenting:
"L1 influence on L2 assimilation: An EPG study of English /n/+stop sequences."

Many current department members and alumni are presenting posters. In particular, there are several being presented by teams comprised of a graduate student and at least one faculty member!

Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.), Philip Monahan (faculty) and Meg Grant (faculty):
"The perceptual effects of phonotactic rareness and partial allophony in Canadian French."

Jessamyn Schertz (postdoc), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), and colleague Sungwoo Han (Inha University):
"How much does the talker matter? Depends who's listening: Age-related variability in the use of social information in speech perception."

Helen Buckler (postdoc) and Elizabeth Johnson (faculty):
"Building a proto-lexicon: Does input variability matter?"

Mercedeh Mohaghegh (Ph.D.) and Craig Chambers (faculty):
"The effect of phonological context on the perception of strong place assimilation in nasal and stop consonants."

Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.) and Yoonjung Kang (faculty):
"The limits of inductive learning: The case of Modern Irish mutation."

Phil Howson (Ph.D.) and Philip Monahan (faculty):
"Adaptive dispersion: a perceptual motivation for sound change."

Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D.), Yoonjung Kang (faculty) and colleage Sungwoo Han (Inha University):
"The adaptation of Mandarin falling diphthongs in Heritage Korean in China: The interaction of linguistic and sociolinguistic factors."

Alexei Kochetov (faculty), with Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich colleagues Stefania Marin and Marianne Pouplier:
"Sonority profile and temporal organization of clusters: Evidence from Russian."

Kiranpreet Nara (Ph.D.):
"An acoustic study of Punjabi tone and stress (Doabi dialect)."

Phil Howson (Ph.D.), with University of British Columbia colleagues Noriko Yamane, Masaki Noguchi, and Bryan Gick:
"When dynamics conflict: Flap dynamics and palatalization in Japanese."

Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, now at Ritsumeikan University) and Hyun Kyung Hwang (National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics)
"Downstep in Japanese revisited: Lexical category matters."

Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at the University of British Columbia):
"Investigating the perceptual hypocorrection hypothesis with sibilant harmony."

Rachel Walker (MA 1993, now at the University of Southern California), with colleagues Michael Proctor (Macquarie University), Caitlin Smith (University of Southern California), and Ewald Enzinger (Macquarie University):
"Asymmetries in English liquid production and vowel interactions."

Sharon Rose (BA 1990, now at the University of California, San Diego) with University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana colleagues Zainab Hermes, Mao-Jing Fu, Ryan Shosted, and Brad Sutton:
"Representations of place and airstream mechanism: A real-time MRI study of Tigrinya ejectives."

Former visiting student Michael Wagner (now at McGill University), with McGill colleagues Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron and Meghan Clayards:
"Locality and variability in cross-word alternations: A production planning account."

July 5, 2016

Elaine and Michela in Italy


Elaine Gold (faculty) visited Milan recently for an international conference on language museums. She met up with fellow faculty member Michela Ippolito, who grew up here, and they met alongside the canals!

July 4, 2016

Departmental members at CoLang 2016

This year's Institute on Collaborative Language Research (CoLang) is being held at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, throughout the month of July. This intense month will expose participants to practical techniques in linguistic fieldwork and language revitalization.

In this photo, faculty member Keren Rice and Ph.D. students Maida Percival and Clarissa Forbes at CoLang. Word has it that they are enjoying the Alaskan summer under the midnight sun!


June 29, 2016

Report from Sociolinguistics Symposium 21

(Photo courtesy of Naomi Nagy.)

Along with 1200 of her closest sociolinguistics colleagues, faculty member Naomi Nagy attended SS21 in Murcia, Spain. She gave a talk about the (non-)correlation of linguistic attitudes, ethnolinguistic vitality and variable linguistic patterns in Toronto's heritage languages as part of a panel on attitudes and prestige in heritage languages.

NWAV organizers: take note of this for the future. Think about organizing a conference somewhere where you can count on being able to serve all receptions and coffee breaks outside in the sunshine!

June 27, 2016

18th Diachronic Generative Syntax Conference (DiGS)

The eighteenth Diachronic Generative Syntax Conference (DiGS) is being held in Ghent, Belgium, from June 29 to July 1.

Former postdoc Heather Burnett (now at CNRS, France) and faculty member Sali A. Tagliamonte are presenting:
"Using cross-linguistic evidence to ground morphosyntactic change: No/not...any variation in the history of English."

Former postdoc Gabriela Alboiu (now at York University) and colleague Virginia Hill (University of New Brunswick):
"Cliticization of AUX and the shift from SVO to VSO in the history of Romanian."

June 26, 2016

Visit from Lauren Eby Clemens (SUNY Albany)


SUNY Albany faculty member Lauren Eby Clemens visited our department recently in order to attend Rebecca Tollanʻs thesis proposal (as a committee member), give a talk, and work with Diane and Becky. Above are Lauren, Diane, and Becky after working feverishly on Polynesian syntax in the Theory Lab. (Photo courtesy of Diane.)

June 23, 2016

Congratulations, Neil and Malina!

We are delighted to be able to say that University of Toronto students have been awarded both the Best Student Talk and Best Student Poster awards by the Canadian Linguistic Association/Association canadienne de linguistique, following the 2016 annual conference held in Calgary, Alberta, in late May.

The recipient of the Best Student Talk award is Neil Banerjee (BA), who has just finished his undergraduate degree in our department and will be beginning his Ph.D. studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this autumn. The judges' comments were as follows:

In his talk ["Of monsters and modals"], Banerjee focused on distributional differences between epistemic possibility and necessity modals in English and Kinyarwanda (with regard to temporal shift and modal base's shift from the speaker to another individual). He argued that epistemic modals involve a context-index split, proposing that under attitude verbs the context is overwritten with an index (due to a 'monstrous' operator selected by an attitude verb). His proposal predicts that, cross-linguistically, modals are expected to behave differently in matrix clauses, under attitude verbs and in the consequent of a counterfactual conditional. The judges emphasized Banerjee's strong command of complex theoretical ideas, his effectiveness in linking the data to the formal tools used in his analysis, and the ease in how he handled the question-and-answer period. The judges were also impressed by the breadth of his analysis, which sets the ground for further study of epistemic modals in a cross-linguistic perspective.

The Best Student Poster award has gone to Spanish and Portuguese Ph.D. student Malina Radu:

Radu’s poster ["Conditioned variability in the realization of Romanian rhotics"] presented a phonetic analysis of Romanian rhotics, with the aim of identifying possible sources of their variability (word-internal position, register and word type). On the basis of results from two production tasks with 10 native speakers of Romanian, Radu observed different realizations of rhotics extending beyond those previously attested, namely tap and trill variants. The judges unanimously noted that she was extremely comfortable talking about the motivation and implications of her analysis, even if this information was not on the poster. In fact, Radu’s research is part of a larger project that examines the acquisition of Spanish by Romanian speakers and the realization of rhotics in both languages. She very clearly had a sense of this larger research program and of how her poster presentation fits in. Finally, she was open to suggestions and ideas, and she was able to answer questions that went beyond what was shown on the poster.

Congratulations to both for their outstanding work!

June 20, 2016

Research Groups: June 20-24

Thursday, June 23 - 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM in SS1086
Syntax/Semantics Group
Lauren Eby Clemens (SUNY Albany): "Phonological phrasing in Rutooro and the problem of relative clauses."

June 19, 2016

Sociolinguistics Symposium 21

The 21st Sociolinguistics Symposium is taking place at the Universidad de Murcia in Spain from June 15 to 18.

Naomi Nagy (faculty) is presenting "Contact effects and attitude in Toronto's heritage languages."

Emilie LeBlanc (MA 2014, now at York University) is presenting "C'est right addictive, comme super addicting: Diachronic changes in the use of intensifiers in Chiac."

Former visiting scholar Véronique Lacoste (University of Freiburg) and colleague Mirjam Eiswirth (University of Edinburgh) are presenting "English among Haitians in Toronto: Phonetic variation in an expanding community."

June 12, 2016

CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop

The annual CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop hosted by our department will be taking place on Thursday, June 16, from 8:45 AM to 5:00 PM, in Wordsworth College room 121. The program comprises talks by departmental members of every sort from undergraduate to faculty to alumni, and is as follows:

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM
Peter Jurgec (faculty): "Coronal alternations in Slovenian."

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Joanna Chociej (Ph.D.): "Are all grammaticality judgments created equal?"

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Paul Arsenault (Ph.D. 2012, now at Tyndale University College): "Retroflexion in South Asia: Typological patterns and areal distributions."

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Break

10:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Ross Krekoski (Ph.D.): "Complexity and reanalysis in Chinese tonal systems."

11:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Yoonjung Kang (faculty): "Paradigm uniformity in Heritage Korean."

11:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Keren Rice (faculty) "Why inconsistent allophony: Pressure for paradigm uniformity in Fort Good Hope Dene."

12:15 PM - 1:45 PM
Lunch in the department lounge

1:45 - 2:15 PM
Mary Aksim (MA): "Perceiving the Canadian Vowel Shift: The L effect."

2:15 PM - 2:45 PM
Darcie Blainey (postdoc): "A phonetic sketch of Louisiana French schwa."

2:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Gloria Mellesmoen (MA): "Are BAGELS in the BAG? /ei/ in British Columbia English."

3:15 PM - 3:30 PM
Break

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Gabriel So (BA): "Consonant harmony in Harmonic Serialism."

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Heather Yawney (Ph.D.): "Irregular stress on the right foot to be faithful: The case of Turkish adverbials with -en."

4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
B. Elan Dresher (faculty) and Aditi Lahiri (University of Oxford): "Latinate suffi xes and the directionality of English stress."

Thanks to the organizing committee - Peter Avery (Ph.D. 1996, now at York University), Peter Jurgec (faculty), Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Keren Rice (faculty), and Jessamyn Schertz (postdoc) - for all of their hard work!

June 11, 2016

Research Groups: June 13-17

Tuesday, June 14 - 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM in SS 2116
Psycholinguistics Group
Cassandra Chapman (McMaster University): Presentation on recent research involving eye-movements and reconstruction effects in 'how many' questions.

Thursday, June 16 - 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM in SS1086
Syntax/Semantics Group
Margot Vivanco (Universidad Complutense de Madrid): "Ø-marked Spanish anticausatives and the scalar nature of change of state events."

June 8, 2016

24th Manchester Phonology Meeting

The 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting took place between May 26 and 28. U of T graduates in particular were prominently featured!

Christina Bjorndahl (MA 2008, now at Cornell University):
"The typology of voiced spirants and the emergence of [sonorant]."

B. Elan Dresher (faculty) and colleague Aditi Lahiri (Oxford University):
"Latinate suffixes and the directionality of English stress."

William J. Idsardi (BA 1988, now at the University of Maryland):
"Categorization, evidence, and phonology."

Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland) and colleague Joe Argentino (Memorial University of Newfoundland):
"Parallel patterns between language games and serial music."

Sharon Rose (BA 1990, now at the University of California, San Diego):
"How phonology and typology are shaped: Lessons from fieldwork."

June 6, 2016

Research Groups: Week of June 6-10

Thursday, June 9 - 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM in SS 1086
Syntax/Semantics Group
Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D.): "Featural account for the ordering of object markers in Kinyarwanda."

June 4, 2016

Report from CLA-ACL


The 2016 meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association/Association canadienne de linguistique was held in Calgary from May 28 to 30. Above are some of the many attendees with links to our department: Bettina Spreng (Ph.D. 2012, now at the University of Saskatchewan), Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université du Québec à Montréal), Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba), Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.), Carrie Dyck (Ph.D. 1995, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland), Elaine Gold (faculty), and Diane Massam (faculty).

June 3, 2016

Report from Complexity in Acquisition Workshop

The Complexity in Acquisition Workshop took place at New College and University College from May 24 to 26. Researchers and teams from the University of Toronto, Goethe University, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Cambridge University presented their latest research on acquisition of recursion across languages. It was a great event! In this photo, you can find special guests Ian Roberts (third from back on left), Petra Schulz (back on right), and Tom Roeper (second back on right), as well as hosts Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (back on left), and Yves Roberge (third back on right), along with several members of the teams. Thanks to photographer Alex Lowles for her artistic touch!

June 2, 2016

LIN398 adventurers in Kapuskasing

Every year, faculty member Sali A. Tagliamonte applies for funding for a LIN398 course in order to take undergraduate students on a research excursion trip to Northern Ontario and teach the methods and practises of fieldwork in variationist sociolinguistics. This year's field trip is well underway, and the students have been hard at work!

Why is LIN398 so worthwhile?

Well, the short answer is because it's fun. The more important reason is because the immense hinterland of Ontario presents a sociolinguistic goldmine of untapped regional variation. The research coming out of my laboratory on Ontario dialects is not only an enterprise of language documentation, it is also leading to innovative contributions to sociolinguistics. LIN398 is an invaluable adjunct to these enterprises. Moreover, it offers the ideal training ground for students. An add-on benefit is the incredibly positive community outreach and engagement that is forged in the process. In the research excursion, we collect oral histories from people born and raised in whatever community we go to and then produce a book and DVD of stories that we return to the library, museum or other community organizations.

Where are you this year?

We are Kapuskasing, Ontario, a small city on the most northerly point of Highway 11. It took us two days to get here. From Toronto, it is 850 kilometers due north. Kap (as it is called by locals) is a minority English-speaking community where two-thirds of the population are francophone. This presents a unique language-contact situation.


 Which students are with you this year?

Cedric Ludlow, John Lubanski, Jennifer McNeillie, and Lisa Walkey.



What are they doing right now?

They are very busy conducting sociolinguistic interviews with people born and raised in the community and asking them questions that bring local culture, lore and language to the surface in narratives of personal experience. So far we have discovered an incredible wealth of traditions, experiences, and many heartwarming tales. As of yesterday morning the students had collected 55 interviews!