October 15, 2017

Alexei Kochetov and Jessica Yeung in Hawai'i (25th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference)

Alexei Kochetov (faculty) and Jessica Yeung (PhD1) have attended the 25th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and presented the paper:
'Inhibition of Korean palatalization in L2 English: Electropalatographic data', co-authored with Kelly-Ann Blake (MA), Andrei Munteanu (PhD1), Fiona Wilson (PhD2), and Luke Zhou (MA graduate). This paper was based on a term project done as part of LIN1211H1S Advanced Phonetics (Winter 2017) 'The phonetics of bilingual speech'.

October 14, 2017

Field Methods (JAL401H1 F/ LEC 5101) Malagasy Workshop

Field Methods (JAL401H1 F/ LEC 5101), taught by Suzi Lima, is holding a Malagasy Workshop on December 11th (2017). Students in the class will present their research projects on Malagasy, and there will also be talks from invited speakers Ileana Paul (Western University) and Lisa Travis (McGill). The room and schedule are TBA, but click here for the website and call for papers.

October 12, 2017

1st Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Indigenous Languages of Latin America Workshop

The first annual TOMILLA (Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Indigenous Languages of Latin America) Workshop is being held at UofT on November 24th, 2017 (room TBA, see the website for updates). Below are the talks and posters.

Three theses about active-stative languages (Andrés Pablo Salanova, University of Ottawa, & Javier Carol, Universidad de Buenos Aires)

What is the motivation behind allomorphy in the number markers in Wichí (Jimena Terraza, Université du Québec à Montréal, & Lorena Cayré Baito, Universidad Nacional del Nordeste)

The Possessive Analysis: Support for the Nominal Interpretation of Property Words in Tupi-Guarani (Justin Case, University of Ottawa)

Noun Classifiers, (in)definiteness, and pronouns in Chuj (Justin Royer, McGill)

Poster 1: Adjectives in Chuj (Paulina Elias, McGill)

Poster 2: On the count-mass distinction in Nheengatu (Francy Fontes, UFRJ, Cal Janik-Jones, UofT, Suzi Lima UofT/UFRJ)

Poster 3: Language Vitality in Macuxi and Wapichana in Terra Indigena Serra da Lua, Roraima (Vidhya Elango, UofT, & Isabella Coutinho, UERR/UFRJ)

Switch-reference in Yudja (Guillaume Thomas, UofT, & Suzi Lima, UofT/UFRJ)

October 10, 2017

Visit from Gillian Sankoff and Bill Labov

Gillian Sankoff and Bill Labov visited us on Friday (Oct 6, 2017) from the University of Pennsylvania. In the morning they held a discussion with students and faculty in the Language Variation & Change research group, and in the afternoon Gillian gave a talk on lifespan variation.

Sali Tagliamonte (faculty), Gillian Sankoff, Bill Labov, and Jack Chambers (faculty)

Reception after Gillian's talk

October 1, 2017

Team Faetar at UWO

On the way from a class project in LIN 1256: Language Contact, Corpora & Analysis in 2017 to a talk at NWAV 46 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Team Faetar presented its latest research (and some earlier research!) on subject pronouns in Faetar, an endangered variety of Francoprovençal spoken on two mountaintops in southern Italy and a small group of speakers in the GTA. Presenting were:
  • David Heap, Professor of Linguistics at UWO, who started working on Faetar as a grad student at U of T, as part of a project examining dialect atlas data to understand Romance subject pronoun systems.
  • Michael Iannozzi, a PhD student at Western who, as an undergrad linguist at UofT, analyzed variable null subjects in Faetar.
  • Naomi Nagy, Associate professor of linguistics at UofT.
  • Katherina Pabst, PhD student in linguistics at UofT.
  • Fiona Wilson, PhD student in linguistics at UofT.
Not able to be present, but part of the research team for this project were:
  • Lex Konnelly, PhD student in linguistics at UofT.
  • Savannah Meslin, who earned her MA in linguistics at UofT in 2017 and now teaches French at the Canada's National Ballet School
Fiona and Katharina gave a talk entitled, “Transmission of Variation Between Homeland and Heritage Faetar”, as part of the Western Linguistics speaker series.

Team Faetar September 2017: David, Fiona, Katharina, Naomi & Michael at Western

September 29, 2017

2016-2017 Undergraduate Awards

We are pleased to announce the winners of 4 Undergraduate Awards in Linguistics for 2016-17:
  • The Chambers Award is awarded to Katherine Alexandra Sung, Specialist in Linguistics
  • The McNab Award is awarded to Toshiaki Kamifuji, Specialist in Linguistics
  • The Rogers Award is awarded to Yan-Lum Charissa Chan, Major in Linguistics
A new award is added this year, for outstanding achievement in required 200-level courses:
  • The Gold Award is awarded to Jeffrey Wang, Major in Linguistics
There are also two runners-up for this award:
  • Toshiaki Kamifuji, Specialist in Linguistics
  • Calahan Janik-Jones, Specialist in Linguistics
Congratulations to all these students for their academic achievements!

September 25, 2017

Photo from Manitoba Workshop on Person

The Manitoba Workshop on Person was held this past weekend at the University of Manitoba. Here's a picture of UofT people (names below):

Back row, left to right: Betsy Ritter (former postdoc), Will Oxford (PhD 2014, now at U Manitoba), Michael Wagner (former graduate exchange student 1998, now at McGill), Martha McGinnis (BA 1992, MA 1993, now at U Victoria), Diane Massam (faculty), Jila Ghomeshi (PhD 1996, now at U Manitoba), Richard Compton (PhD 2012, now at UQAM)
Front row, left to right: Andrew Peters (PhD), Lex Konnelly (PhD), Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Tomohiro Yokoyama (PhD), Bronwyn Bjorkman (former postdoc, now at Queen's), Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now a PhD student at MIT)

September 24, 2017

Photos from 5th Annual Meeting on Phonology (2017)

The 5th Annual Meeting on Phonology (AMP) was recently held at New York University (click here for list of UofT talks). Here are some pictures from the conference.

Poster by Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Laura Colantoni (Spanish & Portuguese), & Jeffrey Steele (French Dept.)

Talk by Mia Sara Misic (MA), Zhiyao Che, Fernanda Lara Peralta (BA), Karmen Kenda-Jež (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) & Peter Jurgec (faculty)

Poster by Suyeon Yun (UTSC post-doc) & Yoonjung Kang (faculty)

September 20, 2017

Ngumpin-Yapa Workshop (2017, University of Queensland)

The Ngumpin-Yapa Workshop (on the Ngumpin-Yapa subgroup of the Pama-Nyungan language family in Australia) was held at the University of Queensland on August 10th and 11th, 2017. From our department, Jessica Mathie (Ph.D.) presented her paper "Through the looking-glass: Ngarinyman expressions of searching, looking and finding".

Workshop participants

September 17, 2017

Manitoba Workshop on Person 2017

The Manitoba Workshop on Person is being held on September 22 and 23 (2017) at the University of Manitoba. Invited speakers from our department:

Susana Bejar (faculty): Ineffable person in copular complements 

Bronwyn Bjorkman (former post-doc, now at Queen's), Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Daniel Currie Hall (PhD 2007, now at Saint Mary's University), and Andrew Peters (PhD): Person and deixis in Heiltsuk pronouns

Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at MIT): Plural person and associativity (in Inuktitut)

Diane Massam (faculty): Person and null pronouns

And other presentations from our department:

Tomohiro Yokoyama (PhD): The Person Case Constraint: Repairing the notion of “repair”

Lex Konnelly (PhD) and Elizabeth Cowper (faculty): The future is they: The feature geometry of non-binary gender

Richard Compton (PhD 2012, now at UQAM): Inuktitut PCC revisited

Will Oxford (PhD 2014, now at University of Manitoba): Person and the Algonquian inverse

September 14, 2017

5th Annual Meeting on Phonology (2017)

The 5th Annual Meeting on Phonology (AMP) is being held at New York University from September 15 to 17 (2017). Alumna Yining Nie (MA 2015; now PhD NYU) was one of the student organizers of the conference. Presentations from UofT:

Mia Sara Misic (MA), Zhiyao Che, Fernanda Lara Peralta (BA), Karmen Kenda-Jež (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) & Peter Jurgec (faculty): Nasal harmony and nasalization in Mostec Slovenian

Suyeon Yun (UTSC post-doc) & Yoonjung Kang (faculty): Allophonic variation of the word-initial liquid in North and South Korean dialects

Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Laura Colantoni (Spanish & Portuguese), & Jeffrey Steele (French Dept.): Gradient and categorical effects in native and non-native nasal-rhotic coordination

Nicholas Rolle (MA 2010; now PhD at University of California, Berkeley), Transparadigmatic output-output correspondence

Sharon Rose (BA 1990; now Professor and Chair at University of California, San Diego), ATR Harmony: new typological patterns and diagnostics 

September 7, 2017

Corpora in the Classroom

Two increasingly important domains in linguistics are the study of spontaneous speech and the analysis of large corpora of natural language data. Our Linguistics Department has professors and students who do both.

To improve the instructional infrastructure and scaffold undergraduate and graduate class assignments that teach relevant theory and research skills, we have developed a teaching resource called Corpora in the Classroom (https://corpora.chass.utoronto.ca/), on which hundreds of hours of recorded and digitized speech from 9 languages (so far) are archived and meta-data-tagged.

This tool has been used in 7 or 8 sociolingusitics classes over the past 5 years, but we are hoping to expand its utility and use to additional classes/areas. If you'd like to use this tool or contribute data to it, please have a look at the demo pages (https://corpora.chass.utoronto.ca/demo/) and then contact Naomi to discuss. (Sample assignments using this tool for a 1st year course are at http://individual.utoronto.ca/ngn/LIN/courses/TBB199/TBB199.16W_syll.htm, HWs 11 & 13.)

The project has been funded by internal ITIF and CRIF grants, Keren Rice's CRC funds, and SSHRC.

September 1, 2017

SemDial 2017

The 21st Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue (SemDial 2017 – SaarDial) was held August 15-17, 2017 at Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany. From our department, Angelika Kiss (PhD) presented her paper "Meta-conversational since when-questions and the common ground".

August 31, 2017

LVC memes

In case you missed it, this Drake meme was floating around linguistics circles on Facebook. (Caption: "Reading about dialectology is better than reading fiction :P".)

August 28, 2017

Andrei Munteanu, Dresher award winner, presenting at CRC

Andrei Munteanu (MA), winner of the 2016-17 Dresher Phonology Prize for outstanding work in a graduate phonology course, presented his winning work at the 2017 CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop on August 15th: "Co-occurrence restrictions in English: A corpus study". Here's a picture of his talk:

August 23, 2017

Brazilian Indigenous languages research excursion program

(See the course blog here for pictures and updates: https://uoftbrazil.wordpress.com/)

This summer, Suzi Lima (faculty in Spanish & Portuguese, as well as Linguistics) has been teaching a course called "Brazilian Indigenous Languages: documentation, language maintenance and revitalization" in the Spanish & Portuguese department. The first four classes were held at UofT, and the final six classes (starting August 18th) are being held in Brazil, where the students are receiving hands-on training for language documentation projects and collaborative research.

I'd highly recommend checking out the blog link above (or click here); Suzi and her students and colleagues are doing a great job of documenting their progress in Brazil with pictures and updates.

If you're interested in research on Brazilian Indigenous languages but weren't able to join the class and go on this research excursion, check out the Brazilian Indigenous Language research group (https://brazilianlanguagesuoft.wordpress.com/) at UofT.

August 22, 2017

Solar eclipse nerds

Toronto was in the path of the August 2017 eclipse (a partial eclipse for us, at more than 70% coverage of the sun), and a contingent of linguists went outside of Sid Smith to (safely) see it.

(L-to-R): Derek Denis (faculty), Nathan Sanders (faculty), Dan Milway (PhD), Michela Ippolito (faculty), Jennifer McCallum (graduate administrator), Zoe McKenzie (PhD), Savannah Meslin (MA), Luke Zhou (MA), Clarissa Forbes (PhD), Robert Prazeres (PhD)

August 19, 2017

Distinctive featured linguists

From the CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop. (Credit: Naomi Nagy)

August 18, 2017

Association of French Language Studies conference Blue Jays outing

UofT linguistics profs Alexei Kochetov, Jeff Steele and Naomi Nagy attended the Association of French Language Studies conference outing to the Blue Jays-Yankees game on Aug. 10, following 3 full days of interesting talks about French in a wide range of contexts.

August 17, 2017

New volume on ergativity, edited by Diane Massam and colleagues

The Oxford Handbook of Ergativity was recently published. This volume, which was edited by Diane Massam (faculty) alongside colleagues Jessica Coon and Lisa deMena Travis at McGill, includes almost fifty articles on ergativity (from theoretical approaches to case studies to experimental work). Congratulations on this Diane, I know how much work and coordination has gone into this!

Authors featured in this volume include Julie Anne Legate (MA 1997, now at University of Pennsylvania), Alana Johns (faculty, co-authoring with Ivona Kucerova at McMaster), Richard Compton (PhD 2012, now at Université du Québec à Montréal), and Tyler Peterson (visiting assistant professor 2012-2013, now at University of Auckland). Click here for more information, or read the abstract below.

This volume offers theoretical and descriptive perspectives on the issues pertaining to ergativity, a grammatical patterning whereby direct objects are in some way treated like intransitive subjects, to the exclusion of transitive subjects. This pattern differs markedly from nominative/accusative marking whereby transitive and intransitive subjects are treated as one grammatical class, to the exclusion of direct objects. While ergativity is sometimes referred to as a typological characteristic of languages, research on the phenomenon has shown that languages do not fall clearly into one category or the other and that ergative characteristics are not consistent across languages.

Chapters in this volume look at approaches to ergativity within generative, typological, and functional paradigms, as well as approaches to the core morphosyntactic building blocks of an ergative construction; related constructions such as the anti-passive; related properties such as split ergativity and word order; and extensions and permutations of ergativity, including nominalizations and voice systems. The volume also includes results from experimental investigations of ergativity, a relatively new area of research. A wide variety of languages are represented, both in the theoretical chapters and in the 16 case studies that are more descriptive in nature, attesting to both the pervasiveness and diversity of ergative patterns.

August 16, 2017

2017 CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop

The annual CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop hosted by our department took place on Tuesday, August 15th. Here were the presentations:

Jessamyn Schertz (faculty): Listening differently to accented talkers: Use of acoustic and contextual cues in perception of native vs. non-native speech

Na-Young Ryu (PhD): Effects of cross-language acoustic similarity on non-native speakers’ perception of Korean vowels

Rachel Soo (incoming MA) and Philip J. Monahan (faculty): Phonemic perception and lexical access: Evidence for speech factor levels in Cantonese heritage speakers

Julian Bradfield (The University of Edinburgh): The Sound of a Spherical Cow

Karina Kung (BA UTSC), Luan (Jessie) Li (BA UTSC), Connie Ting (incoming MA), Jasmine Yeung (BA UTSC), and Yoonjung Kang (faculty): Compensating for speech rate variation in English stop perception

Rachel Evangeline Chiong (BA), Andrea Macanović (BA), and Peter Jurgec (faculty): Secondary palatalization in Zadrečka Valley Slovenian

Andrei Munteanu (MA): Co-occurrence restrictions in English: A corpus study

Paul Arsenault (PhD 2012, now at Tyndale University College) and Alexei Kochetov (faculty): Retroflex vowel harmony in Kalasha: A preliminary acoustic analysis

Wenxuan Chen (BA) and Peter Jurgec (faculty): Vowel harmony in Slovenian

Nathan Sanders (faculty): Some issues in the perceptual phonetics of sign language: Motion-in-depth and the horizontal-vertical illusion

Mercedeh Mohaghegh (PhD 2016) and Craig Chambers (UTM Psychology faculty): Perceptibility of the place of articulation in nasal and oral stops and recognition of assimilated words

Suyeon Yun (UTSC post-doc): Quantifying sonority contour

Katherine Sung (BA) and Alexei Kochetov (faculty): Allophonic variation in English coronal stops: An EPG corpus study

Deepam Patel (BA), Rosemary Webb (BA), and Peter Jurgec (faculty): The rise and fall of the palatal nasal glide in Slovenian

Suyeon Yun (UTSC post-doc) and Yoonjung Kang (faculty): Allophonic variation of the word-initial liquid in Korean dialects

August 15, 2017

Julie Doner in Probus (International Journal of Romance Linguistics)

Julie Doner (PhD) has had her article "Spanish stress and lexical accent across syntactic categories" published in the August 2017 volume of Probus, International Journal of Romance Linguistics. Congrats, Julie! The abstract is below, and a link to the article is here.

In this paper, I provide an analysis of Spanish stress with the following three characteristics: (a) both verbal and non-verbal stress are accounted for in a single, unified, system, (b) the three-syllable window for stress is accounted for in a principled way, and (c) the stress algorithm has no access to the morphosyntactic structure. I do this by extending Roca’s analysis of variable edge parameters for stress in Spanish non-verbs to verbs, and by arguing that morphemes which mark for only person, number, and gender (φ-features) are outside of the domain of stress because they are prosodic adjuncts.

August 14, 2017

Methods in Dialectology XVI (Tachikawa, Japan)

The Sixteenth International Conference on Methods in Dialectology (METHODS XVI) was held in Japan from August 7th to 11th (2017). Presentations from our department:

Jack Chambers (faculty), Erin Hall (Ph.D. student), Mary Aksim (M.A. 2016, now at the University of Ottawa): Dialect asymmetries in vowel perception

Katharina Pabst (Ph.D. student), Lex Konnelly (Ph.D. student), Melanie Röthlisberger (Ph.D. student at KU Leuven, former visiting student), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty): The individual vs. the community: Evidence from T,D deletion in Canadian English

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty): Into the hinterlands: Probing urban to rural diffusion in intensifier variation (part of the workshop “Beyond the well-known: current foci and issues in research on intensification”)

Thanks to Katharina Pabst for the pictures!

Jack Chambers (faculty) and Dennis Preston (faculty at Oklahoma State University) giving a speech at the conference dinner

Katharina and Mel before their talk

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) giving a talk about intensifiers in Northern Ontario

The U of T related contingent at Methods XVI

August 1, 2017

Dog Days VI Syntax Workshop

The 6th annual Dog Days Summer Workshop on syntax, morphology, and semantics is taking place on Wednesday, August 9th (2017) in SS560A, starting at 9am. It is being presented with the generous support of Susana Béjar, Elizabeth Cowper, Diane Massam, Alana Johns, and Keren Rice and the University of Toronto Linguistics Department. Here are the speakers:

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.): Overtness and the EPP

Bronwyn Byorkman (Queen’s, formerly UofT post-doc), Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007, now at Saint Mary's), and Andrew Peters (Ph.D.): Person and deixis in Heiltsuk pronouns

Neil Banerjee (BA 2016, now at MIT): Something not aspectual in Southern Nambiquara

Virgilio Partida Peñalva (Ph.D.): Split-S in Otomí

Gavin Bembridge (York): Verbal Class and Lexical Diacritics

Alana Johns (faculty): An Agreement/Case Mismatch?

Heather Yawney (Ph.D.): Suspended Affixation within the Inflectional Domain of Turkish Verbs

Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2011, now at University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) and Tova Rapoport (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev): Agreements: Secondary Predication Integration

Bridget Copley (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Paris 8): More have causatives

Bronwyn Bjorkman (Queen’s University, formerly UofT post-doc): Who can they be?

Kenji Oda (Ph.D. 2012, now at Syracuse University): First/last name asymmetry in Japanese proper names

Julie Goncharov (Ph.D. 2016, now at Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Relativization in the Grammar

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at University of Manitoba): Consequences of Caselessness

July 18, 2017

New book by Isaac Gould

Isaac Gould (BA 2009, MA 2010, now at the University of Kansas) has recently had his book Choosing a Grammar: Learning paths and ambiguous evidence in the acquisition of syntax published with John Benjamins Publishing Company. Congratulations, Isaac! Here's the summary from the site:

This book investigates the role that ambiguous evidence can play in the acquisition of syntax. To illustrate this, the book introduces a probabilistic learning model for syntactic parameters that learns a grammar of best fit to the learner’s evidence. The model is then applied to a range of cross-linguistic case studies – in Swiss German, Korean, and English – involving child errors, grammatical variability, and implicit negative evidence. Building on earlier work on language modeling, this book is unique for its focus on ambiguous evidence and its careful attention to the effects of parameters interacting with each other. This allows for a novel and principled account of several acquisition puzzles. With its inter-disciplinary approach, this book will be of broad interest to syntacticians, language acquisitionists, and cognitive scientists of language.

July 17, 2017

July 12, 2017

Welcome back, Derek!

Derek Denis (BA 2008, MA 2009, PhD 2015), who was away as a post-doc at the University of Victoria, has recently returned to UofT take up a tenure-stream position in sociolinguistics at the Mississauga campus. Here's an interview with Derek! Topics:
  1. His research
  2. Toronto for research on variation and change
  3. Being grounded in one institution
  4. Getting a tenure-stream job
  5. Involvement at St. George campus
  6. Supervising and collaborating with graduate students
  7. If linguistics didn't exist...
Questions and answers:

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

All of my research falls under the very large umbrella of trying to understand the what, how, who, and why of language change. I mostly work on Canadian English and primarily use variationist sociolinguistic methods. I'm mostly interested in morphosyntactic and discourse-pragmatic phenomenon such as 'eh' but I've also done sociophonetic research as well.

2. What makes Toronto a compelling place to carry out research on language variation/change?

Toronto is one of the most multicultural and multilingual cities in the world. This is obviously of great benefit for linguists because it means we can almost always find a native speaker of a language locally. It also means that we can study the heritage varieties of these languages outside of a homeland setting, as Naomi has been doing. I’m most interested in understanding the effect that having a population in which more than 50% of people speak a language other than English has on Toronto English. We have a very detailed understanding of ‘old line’, middle class, settler colonial English from Sali’s Toronto English Archive, but there are other things going on in communities that are predominantly composed of first generation Canadians and who predominantly interact with first generation Canadians. In London, Jenny Cheshire, Paul Kerswill and their colleagues have found that in such scenarios a unique kind of multiethnolectal dialect can form. I suspect that we have something like that developing in Toronto and I'd like to try to document it and understand how it came about and where it's going.

3. You've done three degrees at UofT, and now you're back for a job. What are the benefits of being so grounded in one institution? Has it posed any problems or challenges?

The number one benefit of being back at UofT in a faculty position is the amazing students, both graduate students and undergraduate students. I plan to involve students in my research at all stages. I don't think there's anything wrong with doing what I did... everyone is different. I'm exactly where I want to be so my path worked for me. The only challenge I can think of is that I'll have to find something to occupy my Thursday nights since I won't be able to go to pub night anymore!

4. Will having a tenure-stream job change the way that you plan your research, such as the scale or time-frame of research projects that you start?

Having a permanent position and the resources available to tenure-stream faculty will definitely allow me to implement my bigger ideas!

5. Your main appointment is in Mississauga—how will you be involved in St. George?

I’ll be a member of the graduate faculty which will mean I'll occasionally teach graduate courses and can be the supervisor or a committee member on forum papers, GPs, and dissertations.  This year I'll be co-coordinating Junior Forum with Susana as well. I plan to be in Sid Smith most Fridays for research group meetings. I’m always happy to talk to whoever about variation, change, sociolinguistics, stats, and really pretty much anything else people in the department are working on or thinking about!

6. For the graduate students reading this, what kind of projects would you be interested in supervising or collaborating on?

Once my project on Toronto multiethnolects gets underway, there should be lots of opportunities for graduate students to be involved in that project. I'd be happy to supervise any project using variationist sociolinguistic methods including projects on languages other than English and understudied varieties of English worldwide. I'm also interested in supervising or co-supervising historical or experimental work. One of my more recent interests is understanding the role of settler colonialism in the development of Englishes around the world including Canadian English and I'd be more than happy to chat with anyone who's thinking about Settler-Indigenous relationships in terms of language (or otherwise).

7. If linguistics didn't exist, what other academic field or career path would you have liked to explore or go into?

When I was 10, I was a huge fan of the Stargate movie, which made me want to be an (crypto-)Egyptologist. In grade 7, I wrote a report on what educational path I’d need to take to achieve that goal. Funnily enough, I ended up following parts of that path in a lot of ways. What I didn’t get into was physical anthropology and archaeology. I think if I didn’t become a linguist and stayed in academia, I’d have gotten into the study of prehistroical population migrations either from the archaeological or genetic side of things. One thing I love about teaching historical linguistics is that I get think about that kind of stuff. 

If I wasn’t in academia, I would own and operate a small coffee shop and roastery called svartr --- Old Norse for 'black', like how I take my coffee. That’s always been the back-up plan.

July 11, 2017

CLA presentation award winners

Congratulations to our two departmental winners, Julianne Doner and Virgilio Partida Peñalva!

Julie Doner has won the Best Student Paper Award, from the Canadian Linguistics Association in the twenty-minute talk category, for her presentation "Predicate-sensitive EPP", while Virgilio Partida Peñalva has won the Best Student Paper Award in the ten-minute talk category, for his presentation "Stripping in Spanish: Focalized PP remnants". Congratulations to both our winners!

We also congratulate Nicole Hildebrandt-Edgar of York University, who tied with Julie for first place in the 20-minute talk category with her presentation “I don’t know in Toronto and Victoria: Comparing analyses of discourse variation”, and Angélica Hernández Constantin, of Western University who won the Best Poster Presentation Award for her poster ""Différences regionales dans l’utilisation du verbe impersonnel haber de l’ espagnol: Les Caraïbes contre l’ Amérique Latine continentale".

July 5, 2017

Jack Chambers interviewed by CBC News on Canadian Dainty

CBC News interviewed Jack Chambers (faculty) on a quasi-British accent that was once common among the elite in Canada, called Canadian Dainty. Check it out here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/canadian-dainty-accent-canada-day-1.4167610

From the article:
"In the first decades of the 20th century, people who heard their bank manager or their minister speaking with the Canadian Dainty features thought that person is educated and intelligent," he said. "In the second half of the 20th century, when people heard their bank manager, clergymen speaking with a Canadian Dainty accent, they may have been thinking, 'Boy, that sounds pretentious to me.'"

July 4, 2017

A surprise visit!

Junmo Cho (Ph.D. 2000) (Professor, Handong Global University) paid a surprise visit to the department this week (June 28). He is visiting from Korea, with his family. In this photo we see Junmo, his wife Faith, their two sons, Joel and Yega, and their nephew Andrew Chun (in the middle). It was a great surprise to see him (he hasn't changed a bit!), and it brought back lots of great memories. There is also a photo of Junmo with Diane, who supervised his dissertation.

July 3, 2017

Diane Massam's retirement: messages from some former students

Diane Massam is retiring from the Department of Linguistics on July 1st, 2017. She's been a professor here since 1989, working on syntax, especially with Austronesian languages. Rather than a ceremonial write-up detailing her achievements and contributions, let's hear from some of Diane's former students on what she's meant to them.

Päivi Koskinen (MA 1992, PhD 1998, now at Kwantlen Polytechnic University) - website

The 1990’s was the best decade, UofT Linguistics was the best of the 90’s, syntax project was the best of UofT Linguistics, and there would not have been syntax project without Diane (and Elizabeth). Thank you, Diane, for that fabulous decade! Thank you for starting me on the path the right way for an MA about Finnish passives, and my first generals paper on the lexical semantics of those Finnish inchoative verbs. Thank you for being gracious when you returned from your sabbatical in France and Niue to find that in your absence your PhD student had defected. I was privileged to work with a prof with whom we would flip back and forth between functional projections, kids with chickenpox, Finnish participles, gender bending children, and everything under the sun. Cheers for Friday syntax project meetings, garden parties, and That Santa Claus Parade. May you always have cake and flowers on July 24, your Finnish-Finnish Name Day, and for good measure October 16, your Swedish-Finnish Name Day!

Will Oxford (PhD 2014, now at University of Manitoba) - website

Thanks, Diane, for showing me that Algonquian is more like Austronesian than I ever would have thought! Happy retirement!

Kyumin Kim (PhD 2011, now at Cheongju University) - website

I still remember the moment that I first met Diane when I started my PhD back in 2006. When I entered her office for the first time, she asked what city in Korea I am from. Then she took out a map and asked me to point out and talk about the city and how I grew up etc.. She wanted to know about me first rather than what I was interested in for my PhD. So, this is Diane, which I have loved! Best wishes for a very happy retirement, Diane! Thank you for everything you've done for me directly and indirectly. I have been so fortunate to have you in my (PhD) life. You'll be missed, but wish you all the best for the next phase of your life.

With Love!


Jila Ghomeshi (MA 1990, PhD 1996, now at University of Manitoba) - website

I defended my doctoral dissertation in 1995 and Diane Massam was my supervisor. She was a relatively new faculty member in the department and I was her first doctoral student. Under her supervision I felt challenged, in the positive sense, to write the best thesis I could. We became friends through the process and have stayed in touch personally and professionally through our collaborative research. While we continue to find areas of mutual interest in syntax to work on, I think what really keeps us working together is how much we laugh. I am happy to have been asked to write something on the occasion of her retirement from U of T though I have had trouble narrowing down what I want to say about her.

There is her unbridled curiosity for all things linguistic and for the details of daily life. There is her remarkable work ethic that has resulted in a steady flow of journal articles, book chapters, edited volumes, and presentations. There is her remarkable record of graduate supervision. And there is her commitment to service in the form of committee work, organizational roles and leadership at all levels. This commitment extends beyond the department at U of T to the Canadian Linguistic Association. All this can be read from her CV so I will write about two qualities that are less tangible but have made far more of an impression on me.

Diane has a gift for combining rigour and openness in her outlook towards everything. As a syntactician, she is a formalist to her core and yet does not let theory constrain the way she looks at data or the phenomena she works on. As a supervisor, she holds her students to an established framework but not so as to hamper their imagination. As a person, she is deeply ethical without being judgmental. In every realm I can think of, she achieves a balance between equally important but seemingly opposite poles. She has an unerring sense of the middle – the space between extremes that looks like common sense. This brings a steadiness to her and those around her.

Equally inspirational for me has been to see her work-life balance – a clichéd term that makes it sound like a skill to be acquired at a workshop or from a self-help book. It is evident to me that Diane’s balance comes out of the love and commitment that she feels towards both her job and her family. Of course, there is a sense of duty at work that has no necessary counterpart at home so they can never be truly equal. But work, for Diane, includes doing syntax and as I’ve watched her ‘do’ syntax over the years I have imagined it is like the way great writers write – because they have to to be happy. Those of us who find the vocation we love almost as much as we love our families experience ‘balance’ as the pain of tearing ourselves away from one for the other. I have watched her do this a million times.

Diane used to say to me that she wants to be ordinary. I found this shocking as she was (and is) a driven person who has achieved most of the conventional benchmarks of success. It is a radical statement in our pursuit-of-excellence culture. I don’t know if this is still what she wants so at the risk of disappointing her I must say she is the most extraordinary person I know. She is a role model for how to be the very best kind of linguist, professor, colleague, friend, and ordinary person.

Monica-Alexandrina Irimia (MA 2005, PhD 2011, now at University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) - ResearchGate

I have been so fortunate and honoured to have Diane as my M.A. and PhD supervisor. I am not sure I will ever be able to express my gratitude for everything Diane has done for me, from my academic formation to crucial advice on personal matters. Diane is the best mentor a student could ever hope for; her talent and insight as a great linguist are only matched by her kindness, understanding, humanity, never ending  support, encouragement, generosity, and dedication. It is more than fair to say that it would have been impossible for me to become a linguist without Diane’s contribution. Diane has also set a model of a true scholar which I will always value and emulate.


Julie Goncharov (PhD 2016, now at Hebrew University of Jerusalem) - website

“There are no former students”, right?

In my heart, there are a lot of words that I can say to Diane and about Diane from the time prior to my becoming her student and during her supervision. But what is more relevant (for me) now is this experience of being her former student.  The connection never breaks. And this is not only because of occasional (and so delightful) catching-ups, but also because I recognize how many of my choices are sculpted by Diane. Especially, those choices that pertain to moral judgments and scientific standards.  

Here’s one story about respecting others’ scientific territory. I remember Diane once prefixing her talk at the Syntax Group with an acknowledgment that the topic she was going to talk about she had been developing with one of her students. And she added that before taking on the topic again, she emailed the student and asked for permission. Now, when my scientific ship is out there in the ocean, I realize how important this is for a student and an early-career researcher. Surely, the larger your toolbox is and the more experienced you are with using those tools, the faster you can solve a new problem. But to create room for somebody else’s discovery and to respect somebody else’s scientific territory, you need to have wisdom and high standards which make Diane Diane.

Of course, this is only one story from a million! Thank you for everything, Diane!

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (PhD 2004, now at UofT Mississauga) - research profile

Congratulations on your retirement, Diane!

It is really hard for me to imagine U of T syntax without you. You are the reason I am still doing Syntax today. You are and will always be a role model for me both as a syntactician but also for the balance you always struck between your academic and personal life. Since that phone call you made to Iran in summer 1998 to let me know I have been (kind of ☺) admitted to the grad program until today and forever, you will be my mentor. Yes, that means you cannot get away from me. You can run but you can’t hide!

I wish you a great retirement, Diane. I am sure you and Yves have everything planned and will have a fabulous chapter in your lives. You both deserve it. How do we do Syntax without Diane (and Elizabeth and Alana!) at U of T? Well, I will have to resort to you to find a positive way of approaching the problem. During my graduate years and especially when I was writing my thesis, whenever I came across what looked like an insurmountable block in my research and rushed to your office frantically, your reaction would be: That is a good problem. I guess I have another good problem to deal with!

Thank you so much for being who you are, Diane, and wishing you all the very best once again!   

Patrick Murphy (MA 2014, now in UofT PhD) - website

I'm extremely grateful to Diane for being a wonderful mentor on my MA paper. That experience really solidified my desire to continue with research and do a PhD. My research path ended up going in a different direction after my MA (due to a course in speech perception reigniting an old interest), but ergativity is still very cool and hearing it mentioned never fails to capture my attention. I also appreciate the experiences she gave me as a research assistant (for the Oxford Handbook of Ergativity and her Niuean/English recipe null objects project), and I want to point out that she's in general just a fun person to talk to. Thanks for everything!

June 30, 2017

Alana Johns' retirement: messages from some colleagues and former students

On July 1st, 2017, Alana Johns is retiring from the Department of Linguistics. A professor here since 1996, Alana works on morphosyntax, with a focus on Inuktitut. But instead of me telling you about the importance of her contributions to the field and to the people she's worked with, you should hear it from some of her Inuktitut colleagues and former students.

Michelle Yuan (BA 2012, MA 2013, now at MIT) - website

I met Alana in Fall 2009 after enrolling in ABS230—Introduction to Inuktitut, which she co-taught that year with the late Saila Michael. I was in my second year of undergrad and had no idea who Alana was or that I'd end up a linguist in part because of her. Alana has been an amazing advisor and teacher these past eight years, and it has been an honour learning from her. She's also one of the funniest people I've ever met. I'm extremely grateful to have met her, and I think the field of linguistics has been greatly enriched by her work. Happy retirement, Alana!

Michelle and Alana at MA convocation

Joan Dicker (Labrador School Board) - website

Dear Alana
Congratulations on your retirement
Thankyou for all that you did with our Inuktitut language
Thankyou for being my professor in the Linguistics MUN courses that I took
Thank you for giving me good marks hahaa
Thankyou for giving me the opportunity to attend a language conference with you way out to Flaggstaff Arizona even though the first night we shared a room, you kept me up aaaall night with your snoring lol hahaa
Thankyou for bringing me here to Toronto to take part in this very worthwhile Inuktitut language and linguistics workshop and to join you in your retirement party
Nakummesuak Alana Ai..SilakKijaKattanialikKutit uvlu tamât
Ilitagijait Joan Dicker

Alana and the group from Nunatsiavut at the airport for the Inuktitut Language and Linguistics Workshop

Joan and Alana at a Canadian Language Museum exhibit

Richard Compton (MA 2004, PhD 2012, now at l'Université de Québec à Montréal) - website

I’m very lucky to have had Alana as a supervisor. It was her work with Inuktitut speakers that originally got me interested in the language and her bringing me up north at the end of my MA that set me on the course to where I am today. Throughout my MA and my PhD, she was both patient and supportive, always having interesting and insightful questions and comments on my work. I also have fond memories of fieldwork trips with her and other students to both Iqaluit and Baker Lake, as well as a trip to Ulukhaktok that has led to a very fruitful collaboration with an Inuinnaqtun speaker on a dictionary project. From writing letters and reading drafts, to sharing ideas and encouraging me, she was always there for me and her other students.

One particular set of memories that stand out begin with a rainy day in Baker Lake with Alana, Midori, and Conor, when we were invited out ice fishing with a local family. Alana and I had decided to stay in town and work, but we walked down to the shore with Midori and Conor and watched them take a little dingy out to the ice. It was July so the ice was receding and locals were riding their snow machines at full speed to skip over the water between the ice and the shore. As Midori and Conor set off in the cold rain, I distinctly remember a bit of glee on our part that we could go back inside where it was warm and get some more sleep and a hot drink. However, their successful return that night, with two Arctic char in hand, convinced us to join them the next day. We rode by snowmobile over the still mostly frozen lake to a tiny cabin up a hill from the shore. There on the ice, in view of the cabin, but quite a distance away, we fished in pre-drilled holes with fishing jigs made of caribou bone. As Alana rode up the hill to the cabin, leaving Conor and me to fish, I’ll never forget her reminder that arctic wolves would be white and thus blend into the surroundings, so we’d probably never see them coming… Despite her warning, all survived—except a goose the children shot out of the sky, and then proceeded to make honk with chest compressions.

Richard ice-fishing

Alana ice-fishing

Taking a picture of Alana taking a picture

Alana and colleagues at the Inuktitut Language and Linguistics Workshop (May 30-31, 2017)

Catharyn Anderson (Special Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs, Memorial University of Newfoundland)

I first knew of Alana before I ever met her in person.  When I did my first Linguistics courses at Memorial in 1996/97, I had heard her name as someone great who did work on Inuktitut.  As a young Inuk undergraduate student, I was disappointed to learn that she had left Memorial for UofT.  However, after I graduated with my BA, I went back home to Nunatsiavut to work with the Cultural Centre in the area of language revitalization, and I would eventually meet and work with Alana.  She invited me to collaborate with her on a paper for a conference in Quebec City, which was a great learning experience and opportunity for me.  This was the first of many times that we worked together.  I know that Alana developed many strong relationships and friendships with people in Nunatsiavut, and I am happy to include myself amongst those.  Alana, thank you for the work you did on Inuttitut, for your support of community language projects, and your support of the people doing them.  I wish you a very happy retirement, and all the best for the years ahead!  Nakummemagialuk, Catharyn

Julien Carrier (current PhD student)

Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for everything you’ve taught me! You are one of the reasons why I moved to Toronto to do a PhD in linguistics, and your guidance and all your support have been really helpful. May all the years ahead bring you joy and relaxation… and maybe even more time for doing research on Inuktitut! Wishing you all the best! Julien

Bettina Spreng (PhD 2012, now at the University of Saskatchewan) - website

What I appreciate about Alana is how approachable she is. I came to Toronto having read her thesis for my MA in Germany while not having much background in Generative Grammar. I was quite intimidated since I had understood maybe half of it.

She made me feel welcome and one minute into our first meeting, she had made me feel completely comfortable. She is incredibly supportive of her students and that is something that I try to be with my students. Her enthusiasm for her work and her trust in her students is something I admire very much. I will always remember what she said after I came back after taking a break from the program to ask her if she would support me finishing after all. She said "I always knew it!" I don't think I ever told her how much that trust meant to me. So, here it is. Thank you, Alana.

June 29, 2017

More information on Sali's Canada Research Chair

Recently we announced the big news of Sali Tagliamonte (faculty) getting a Canada Research Chair. Here's more information on what she plans to do with this position!

Canada Research Chair in Language Variation and Change
Sali A. Tagliamonte
University of Toronto, Canada

How and why does language change? Canada’s diverse communities offer unique opportunities for understanding variation and change in language. As English becomes a global language, unique local language features are under threat from urbanization and changing economies. By studying language phenomena across Ontario, in communities of various sizes, types and with diverse founders, economies and cultures, this project will gain insights into Canadian dialects. By engaging in comparative analyses with UK dialects back at the root and other varieties around the world, broader generalizations can be made.

Four intersecting theories of linguistic change situate this research program: Labov’s principles of linguistic change (Labov, 1994; 2001; 2010), Labov’s theory of transmission and diffusion of language change (Labov, 2007), Trudgill’s theory of sociolinguistic typology (Trudgill, 2011) and theories of grammatical change (Heine, Claudi & Hünnemeyer, 1991; Hopper & Traugott, 1993; Joseph, 2001; Poplack, 2011). The goal is to synthesize their predictions and offer new interpretations.

On a broad societal level, the results will bring the richness of Canadian dialects into greater public awareness, including unique words and expressions. On a scientific level, the results will reshape our knowledge of linguistic and social impacts on language variation and change, stimulating interdisciplinary research in the social sciences and humanities. A dedicated website (http://ontariodialects.chass.utoronto.ca/) will enable the public to explore the linguistic landscape under study and offer their own observations and experiences for further study.


Heine, Bernd, Claudi, Ulrike & Hünnemeyer, Friederike (1991). Grammaticalization: A conceptual framework. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Hopper, Paul J. & Traugott, Elizabeth Closs (1993). Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Joseph, Brian (2001). Is there such a thing as grammaticalization? . Language Sciences 23: 163-186.

Labov, William (1994). Principles of linguistic change: Volume 1: Internal factors. Cambridge and Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Labov, William (2001). Principles of linguistic change: Volume 2: Social factors. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Labov, William (2007). Transmission and Diffusion. Language 83: 344-387.

Labov, William (2010). Principles of linguistic change: Volume 3: Cognitive and cultural factors. Malden and Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Poplack, Shana (2011). Grammaticalization and linguistic variation. In Heine, B. & Narrog, H. (eds.), Handbook of grammaticalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 209-224.

Trudgill, Peter J. (2011). Sociolinguistic typology: Social determinants of linguistic complexity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

June 27, 2017

Michael Iannozzi in the National Post on Ciociaro in Sarnia and Italy

Michael Iannozzi (BA 2014), now a graduate student at Western, was profiled by the National Post on his research on Ciociaro, a dialect of Italian widely spoken by Italian immigrants in Sarnia. Check it out: http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/the-keepers-of-a-dying-dialect-italian-immigrants-in-sarnia-ont-still-speak-an-ancient-language/

"Because the majority of the people who came from Ciociaria had little education, they didn’t have the opportunity to “lose their dialect,” Iannozzi said. To test the theory, Iannozzi is planning to travel to Italy to interview Ciociaro speakers there, and compare that version of the dialect to the one in Sarnia."

June 26, 2017

Farewell Aaron!

Aaron Dinkin (faculty) is leaving to join the linguistics department at San Diego State University. We'll miss you Aaron, including your habit of walking into the lounge with a pencil behind your ear and letting us in on any interesting or funny thoughts that happened to cross your mind!

Cake! (Credit: Marisa Brook)

(L-R): Savannah Meslin (MA), Brea Lutton (MA), Katharina Pabst (PhD), Naomi Nagy (faculty), Aaron Dinkin (man of the hour), Julie Doner (PhD). (Credit: Marisa Brook)

June 24, 2017

2016-17 Cowper Prize and Dresher Prize winners

Congratulations to Virgilio Partida Penalva (PhD), winner of the 2016-17 Elizabeth Cowper Syntax Prize for outstanding work in a graduate syntax course, and Andrei Munteanu (MA), winner of the 2016-17 Dresher Phonology Prize for outstanding work in a graduate phonology course!

June 23, 2017

Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics Volume 38

A new volume of TWPL has been released! Check it out here: http://twpl.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/twpl/index

Table of Contents:

Ewelina Barski: Nominal case restructuring: A case study on a Polish heritage speaker
Elizabeth Cowper and Vincent DeCaen: Biblical Hebrew: A formal perspective on the left periphery

Patrick Murphy: Complement coercion and aspectual adjectives in Canadian English
Sherry Yong Chen: Movement constraints on the relative order of double topics in Mandarin Chinese
Shay Hucklebridge: Relational and partitive inalienable possession in Slave
Doug Hitch: Vowel spaces and systems
Na-Young Ryu: Perception of Korean contrasts by Mandarin learners: The role of L2 proficiency
Eduard Sviridenko: Features of Russian affricate production by Native English speakers

June 21, 2017

LIN398 to Slovenia for fieldwork and workshop

In July, the students of LIN398 Research Excursion Program will visit Slovenia to conduct fieldwork on nasal harmony, palatalization and vowel harmony with Peter Jurgec (faculty). The trip will also feature a Workshop on Slovenian Phonology. Presentations from UofT:
  • Deepam Patel & Rosemary Webb: Examining nasal harmony in Slovenian
  • Rachel Chiong & Andrea Macanovic: Secondary palatalization in Zadrečka Valley Slovenian
  • Wenxuan Chen: Vowel harmony in Slovenian
  • Peter Jurgec: The phonology of binomials in Slovenian

June 20, 2017

A toast to Alana and Diane

Sali leads a toast to Alana and Diane, both set to retire on July 1 2017. (Photo: Yves Roberge)

June 19, 2017

Congratulations, Naomi!

Naomi Nagy (faculty) got married in Brooklyn, NY on June 9th, 2017. Here's a picture of her with her husband Craig. More pictures are available on Naomi's website here. Congratulations Naomi, we wish you two the best!

(Photo credit: Yves Roberge)

June 14, 2017

Alana shines light on a problem at the Inuktitut Workshop

A cool picture from the Inuktitut Language and Linguistics Workshop (held May 30-31, 2017, in honour of Alana Johns):

A sunbeam catches Alana, allowing her to illuminate the event. (Photo: Diane Massam)

June 12, 2017

Shayna Gardiner's thesis defense party

Thanks to Marisa Brook for these pictures from Shayna Gardiner's thesis defense party!

Lots of people!

Dan and Shayna

Radu and Shayna


More food!

June 5, 2017

Canada Research Chair for Sali Tagliamonte

Sali Tagliamonte (faculty) has been awarded a Canada Research Chair in Language Variation and Change. Congratulations, Sali!

June 4, 2017

Christina Cuervo in the Toronto Star on bilingualism

Christina Cuervo (faculty) has been featured in the Toronto Star on the benefits of bilingualism. Check it out: The health benefits of learning a second language

June 2, 2017

Congratulations, Dr. Gardiner!

Shayna Gardiner successfully defended her thesis "Yours, Mine & Ours: What Ancient Egyptian Possessives Can Tell Us About Language Change and Stable Variation" on Friday, May 19, 2017. On the committee were Naomi Nagy (supervisor), Elizabeth Cowper, Ronald Leprohon, Aaron Dinkin, Sali Tagliamonte, and Ann Taylor (University of York, External Examiner). Congratulations, Dr. Gardiner!

May 26, 2017

U of T News interview with Ailís Cournane

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) was interviewed by U of T News, and puppets are included. Check it out! Title: Linguist Ailís Cournane leads the Child Language Lab at New York University

May 24, 2017

Video interview with Sali Tagliamonte on the Ling Space

Here's a great interview with Sali Tagliamonte (faculty):

Video description on YouTube:

We're really excited to have gotten to interview Sali Tagliamonte at the Linguistic Society of America meeting in January! Dr. Tagliamonte is a full professor at the University of Toronto, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She's written a bunch of books and articles about sociolinguistics, and how languages shift and vary over time. You can find out more about her and her work at http://individual.utoronto.ca/tagliam...

In our interview, we discussed the following topics:
- why it's so important to investigate how teens use language, and what facets of adolescent speech she finds most interesting
- what differences we can find in spoken vs. online language use
- the Toronto English Project, and the changes we see in people's language use over the course of their lives
- how language might look in the future
- how to better inform people about how language variation works
- the role of social media in telling people about linguistics, and in language change

... and more! Thanks again to Dr. Tagliamonte for speaking with us.

May 23, 2017

Talk by Norbert Hornstein (Maryland): June 1st, 2017

Professor Norbert Hornstein of the University of Maryland will give a talk in our dept. on June 1 (10am in SS 2111). The title and abstract are below. Everyone is welcome.


Decomposing Merge: The sources of hierarchical recursion
How’s a Minimalist to understand the notion ‘linguistic universal.’ Not in a Greenbergian sense as an evident surface pattern exemplified in all (or most, or many) of the world’s languages. Not in GB terms as a specification of the structural properties of the Faculty of Language (FL). Rather, ‘UG’ names those characteristics of FL that are proprietary to language. MP’s intellectual conceit is that it is possible to factor the properties of FL into those that are distinctively linguistic and those that are more cognitively and/or computationally generic. The idea is that the set of such specifically linguistic principles (UG) is very small and that in combination with the cogntively and computationally more generic principles it is possible to derive the properties of FL.
One way of implementing the MP research program is to “minimalize” a candidate theory of UG and attempt the decomposition. As I believe that GB was a pretty good broad brush stroke guestimate of what FL might look like, trying to reduce the properties of GB to a more palatable conceptual account is a good way of pursuing the Minimalist Program.
One important feature of GB (indeed of all generative theories since the mid 1950s) is the fact that Gs generate unbounded hierarchically structured syntactic objects, i.e. the fact of hierarchical recursion. One success of MP has been to discover what kind of operation achieves this (Merge) and how we can understand broad properties of Gs as by-products of this system of recursion.
This talk argues that endocentricity is a defining characteristic of syntactic expressions. I understand this to mean that classical X’ theory was roughly correct. In the context of MP, this means that labeling is a key grammatical operation. I want to argue that it is also key to understanding how recursion works in natural language grammars. The approach here contrasts with Chomsky’s recent thinking on the topic in that it treats labels as important for the derivation and not merely important for the mapping of derived structures to the CI interface. For Chomsky, labels titivate hierarchically structured objects generated by Merge. Here, they are instrumental in allowing the derivation of hierarchically structured objects at all.

May 18, 2017

Derek Denis and "eh" on CBC Calgary

Derek Denis (Ph.D. 2015, now at the University of Victoria, soon to be back at UofT) has been interviewed by CBC Calgary: "Origins of 'eh': How 2 little letters came to define Canadians"

Derek Denis, a post-doctorate fellow at the University of Victoria's linguistics department, has been studying the history of "eh" for more than five years. In his research, he has found references to the word going back well before Canadian Confederation 150 years ago.

The earliest use of the word Denis found appeared in an Irish play written in 1773. He believes "eh" travelled to Canada along with the influx in immigration. It jumped the pond and was first documented in the Thomas Chandler Haliburton book, The Clockmaker, written in 1836.

May 11, 2017

WCCFL 35 (2017)

The 35th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics was recently held at the University of Calgary (program here). Three of the four invited speakers have UofT connections:

Neil Banerjee (UofT BA, now at MIT): Trouble with attitudes and the future

Keir Moulton (UofT BA and MA, now at SFU): A Defence of (C-)Command

Elan Dresher (faculty): Contrastive Hierarchy Theory and the Nature of Features

Also from our department, a talk and a poster:

Rebecca Tollan (Ph.D.) & Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba): Voice-less unergatives: Evidence from Algonquian

Julie Goncharov (Ph.D. 2016, now at Hebrew University of Jerusalem) & Monica Irimia (Ph.D 2011, now at University of Modena and Reggio Emilia): Indexical worlds and modal comparatives

Elan Dresher giving his talk (photo by Darin Flynn, University of Calgary: link)

The Canadian Language Museum (photo by Dennis Storoshenko, University of Calgary)

May 10, 2017

Linguistics at UofT Science Rendezvous 2017

Science Rendezvous (an annual all-day nation-wide science festival) is happening on May 13th this year, and our department is participating!

From Inuktitut syllabics to sociolinguistic variables to spectrograms and ultrasounds, our team (Emily Blamire, Vidhya Elango, Ruth Maddeaux, Olivia McManus, and Katharina Pabst, led by faculty member Peter Jurgec) has developed a program to give participants a taste of our field. Check out the website here: https://www.futurelinguist.com/

More information from Peter:
On Saturday, May 13, 2017, for the first time ever, the Linguistics Department at the University of Toronto will be taking part in the 10th annual Science Rendezvous.

Science Rendezvous is an educational outreach event that boasts dozens of exciting exhibits and many fun activities for attendees of all ages. The University of Toronto St George campus will be open to the public throughout the day.

At the Linguistics booth, there will be hands-on activities including ultrasound, spectrogram, a mini-sociolinguistic experiment, an Inuktitut morphology puzzle, immersive videos, wug cookies, and much more! We have an enthusiastic team of linguistics students and volunteers who have worked hard to make all this happen.

You can check out the Linguistic Department’s website for the event at https://www.futurelinguist.com
The University of Toronto Science Rendezvous page with the information about exhibits on campus is here: http://www.sciencerendezvousuoft.ca
The Canada-wide site is at http://www.sciencerendezvous.ca

The event runs from 11 to 4.30, and will take place on and around St George Street between Harbord and College. The Linguistics Booth will be on the main floor of Sidney Smith Hall.

May 9, 2017

Inuktitut Language and Linguistics Workshop: May 30-31, 2017

The department is holding the Inuktitut Language and Linguistics Workshop in honour of Alana Johns on May 30th and 31st, 2017. Information (from the website):

The workshop aims is to promote dialogue between linguists and Inuit community based language specialists, with a special focus on promoting language capacity and linguistic insight through collaboration.


• Shanley Allen (University of Kaiserslautern)
• Julien Carrier (University of Toronto)
• Laura Colantoni (University of Toronto)
• Richard Compton (Université du Québec à Montréal)
• Zoe McKenzie (University of Toronto)
• Kumiko Murasugi (Carleton University)
• Signe Rix Berthelin (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
• Marina Sherkina Lieber (Carleton University)
• Bettina Spreng (University of Saskatchewan)
• Michelle Yuan (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Panel discussions with Inuit community based language specialists

• Michael Cook (Staff, Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit)
• Joan Dicker (Inuktitut educator, Jens Haven Memorial School)
• Christine Nochasak (Inuktitut Program Specialist, Ilisautiliuvik Curriculum Centre)
• Jeela Palluq-Cloutier (Executive Director, Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit )
• Silpa Suarak Silpa Suarak (Language Program Coordinator, Dept. Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Nunatsiavut Government)
• Sarah Townley (former Director of Curriculum Centre, former head of LITP Adult language program)


• Shanley Allen (University of Kaiserslautern)
• Andrea Ceolin (University of Pennsylvania), Guido Cordoni (University of York), Cristina Guardiano (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia), Monica Alexandrina Irimia (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia), Shin-Sook Kim (University of York), Giuseppe Longobardi (University of York), Dimitris Michelioudakis (University of York), Nina Radkevich (University of York).
• Julie Doner (U of Toronto)
• Rosa Mantla (Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Board and University of Victoria), Mary Koyina Richardson(Aurora College), Leslie Saxon (University of Victoria)
• Kumiko Murasugi (Carleton University)
• Ilia Nicoll (University of Toronto)

Workshop on assessing oral proficiency in adult second language learning

• Michael Cook (Staff, Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit)
• Jeela Palluq-Cloutier (Executive Director, Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit)

• Abdel-Khalig Ali (University of Toronto)
• M. Cristina Cuervo (University of Toronto)
• Jeremy Green (Six Nations Polytechnic)