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!