April 28, 2017

Ryan DeCaire in UofT Magazine

Ryan DeCaire, assistant professor in the Centre for Indigenous Studies and Department of Linguistics, was profiled on language revitalization in UofT Magazine. See the article here: "Lost Words: Dozens of Indigenous languages in Canada are in danger of disappearing. What will it take to save them?"

April 27, 2017

Alex Motut: new coordinator of the WIT program

Alex Motut (Ph.D.) has been hired by UofT for a one-year position as an Assistant Professor (Teaching Stream) in the area of Writing Instruction, where she will be the coordinator of the WIT program. She's taking this position after being involved with WIT as the Lead Writing TA for our department (not to mention her other pedagogical experience being involved in e.g. the Teaching Assistants' Training Program, etc.).

WIT (Writing Instruction for TAs) is an initiative within the Faculty of Arts and Science with the goal of ensuring that, in addition to learning the material of a course, students develop their writing skills so they can properly express their knowledge of the material. (This is tailored toward each field, so that students in Chemistry learn how to write lab reports, etc.) As the name suggests, WIT focuses on the role of teaching assistants in improving students' writing skills.

Congrats, Alex!

April 26, 2017

Reminder: Linguistics Event #2 for Canada 150 (Fri, April 28, 2017)

This Friday afternoon (Apr. 28) we offer Toronto Language Tapestry: Exploring Heritage Languages.

It’s the second of a 3-part series featuring languages spoken in and around Toronto, sponsored by the Department of Linguistics and Canada’s Sesquicentennial Initiatives Fund, University of Toronto.

Friday, April 28, 2017, 12pm-5pm
Woodsworth College, Room 126, 119 St. George Street   
Cocktail reception in the LIN lounge after.

April 25, 2017

Pictures from TOM 10 (2017)

Thanks to Guillaume Thomas for these pictures from the dinner party from the 10th Toronto Ottawa Montreal workshop in semantics (TOM10), recently held here at UofT.

April 24, 2017

Read Between the Signs: 150 Years of Language in Toronto (Canadian Language Museum exhibit opening)

Read Between the Signs:
150 Years of Language in Toronto

Toronto's diverse languages shape our city's streets. These languages are part of the landscape, visible in storefronts, building facades, and street signs. They can reflect, and sometimes even obscure, the communities that live and work in this city. In presenting a visual history of Toronto's languages, this exhibition makes use of historical and archival photos.

Wednesday May 3, 2017
6pm - 8pm

Canadian Language Museum
Glendon Gallery, Glendon College
2275 Bayview Avenue
Toronto M4N 3M6
Click here for the Canadian Language Museum's website.

April 22, 2017

Fieldwork Group guest speaker: Dagmar Jung (University of Zurich) - April 26, 2017

This talk in Fieldwork Group is set for Wednesday, April 26th (2017) at 3pm in Sidney Smith 1084. A reception is being held after.

Transcription as family affair – representing variation in the Dene language acquisition study

Dagmar Jung, University of Zurich

The Dene Sųlıné language acquisition study (DESLAS) started in 2015 in Northern Saskatchewan (Canada) to document children’s language learning (between 2 and 4 years of age). The longitudinal study aims to have at least 4 children 4 hours per month recorded. The recordings are usually done by the mother or a relative of the child at home. We aim at a natural setting, i.e. oftentimes the family will set up the camera in the evening in the living room with several family members present.

Due to difficulties in the field we had to start and stop with different families several times, leading to a much larger corpus than initially envisioned. In order to transcribe the recordings (as of January 2017 446 sessions with about 380 hours of recordings) without access to previous linguistic documentation of this variety, some of the families that record also started to transcribe using ELAN. The transcription process started to reveal a wealth of speaker knowledge regarding intra-generational as well as inter-generational language varieties. The question of the depth of their representation in ELAN/Toolbox is still being tested. In this talk I will present data discussed by the transcribers that lead to representational problems for the linguist.

April 21, 2017

TOM 2017 at UofT

The 10th Toronto Ottawa Montreal workshop in semantics (TOM10) is being held here at the University of Toronto on April 22nd, 2017. See the website here. Talks and posters from UofT:

Frederick Gietz (Ph.D.): Aspectual particles and conversational implicature

Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.): Since when-questions operating on the common ground

Filipe Kobayashi (Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese): On the interpretation of modal auxiliaries below progressive aspect

Michela Ippolito (faculty), Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), and Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D.): The Semantics of Object Marking in Kinyarwanda

April 20, 2017

Jack Chambers on the Maple Leafs in the Washington Post

With the Washington Capitals currently playing the Leafs in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals, some people at the Washington Post were wondering why the Maple Leafs aren't the Maple Leaves. Jack Chambers filled them in: The less-than-thrilling reason the Toronto Maple Leafs are not the Maple Leaves

April 19, 2017

Report from visiting scholar Sarah Loriato

Sarah Loriato, who visited us from the University of Bergamo, Italy, has given us a few words on her time here, which she called a "wonderful experience".
From 26 February until 25 March 2017, the Linguistic Department allowed me to perform my research under the supervision of Professor Naomi Nagy, who coordinates the Heritage Language Variation and Change Project (HLVC). Besides learning how to design and carry out my research project in the sociolinguistic subfield of quantitative variation, I attended LIN1256 – the Language Contact, Corpora & Analysis course and participated in many events that took place in the Department of Linguistics during this time. It was an honor to have visited the Department of Linguistics under the supervision of Professor Nagy and be surrounded by such a variety of highly intellectual and interesting individuals. In a month I learned more than I could ever have imagined about heritage languages and quantitative analysis of sociolinguistics data and I greatly appreciate the opportunity that was offered to me.

April 17, 2017

Becky Tollan running an experiment in Niue

Becky Tollan is running an experimental study on processing of questions in the Niue language. Here she is on Niue Island with Lynsey Talagi.

April 14, 2017

Rebecca Tollan and Diane Massam in Niue

Rebecca Tollan and Diane Massam send greetings from the Niue Language conference in Mutalau, Niue. Fakaalofa lahi atu!

April 13, 2017

Linguistics Event #2 for Canada 150

The Department of Linguistics is hosting three events in celebration of Canada's Sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation this year in 2017.

The second one, "Toronto Language Tapestry: Exploring Heritage Languages", is being held on Friday, April 28th. Click here for the website, or see below for the schedule and poster.

Canadian Language Museum Exhibit, French in Canada
Posters on language maintenance and attitudes
1:00Welcome & Introduction
Dr. Naomi Nagy, University of Toronto
1:05Schwa in Ontario French
Dr. Darcie Blainey, University of Toronto & Dr. François Poiré, Western University
1:30The bilingual experience of Spanish heritage children in the Nation's Capital
Dr. Joanne Markle LaMontagne, University of Toronto
2:00Perception of Cantonese tone
Rachel Soo & Dr. Phil Monahan, University of Toronto
2:30Coffee and Tea Break
3:00Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto Student Showcase

  • Cantonese Tone, Sam Lo & Katherine Sung
  • Cantonese Consonants, Ziwen Tracy Tan
  • Polish Case and Code-switching, Paulina Łyskawa
  • 4:00Discussion with Audience, Reception to follow

    April 12, 2017

    Some new publications (April 2017)

    We've had four recent publications that include the following authors from our department (faculty, unless otherwise stated): Diane Massam, Alexei Kochetov, Yoonjung Kang, Aaron Dinkin, Sali Tagliamonte, and Alexandra D’Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria).

    Diane Massam: "Extra be: The syntax of shared shell-noun constructions in English" (Language, 93 (1), March 2017)
    This article examines the syntax of extra be constructions, common in nonprescriptive English and often considered a curiosity, such as: The problem is, is that she hates apples. It has been claimed that there are many different types of extra be constructions, with the two main types being double be and single be, but this article argues that these distinctions are largely superficial. The article reviews previous accounts, presents the complex data, and categorizes most cases of extra be into one unified syntactic construction, the shared shell-noun construction. It is argued that such constructions are syntactically fairly ordinary biclausal specificational copular sentences, consisting of a setup clause and a resolution clause, which share an argument. A second construction is also proposed for one subset of examples, the linking focus be construction, where be lexicalizes a left-peripheral focus head.
    Alexei Kochetov & Yoonjung Kang: "Supralaryngeal implementation of length and laryngeal contrasts in Japanese and Korean" (Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 62(1), March/mars 2017)
    This article investigates supralaryngeal characteristics of Japanese and Korean length and laryngeal contrasts in stops and affricates. Electropalatography data collected from five Japanese and five Korean speakers revealed similar differences among the consonants in the degree of linguopalatal contact and duration of the closure. Japanese (voiceless) geminate and Korean fortis obstruents were most constricted and had the longest duration (although considerably longer in Japanese). Japanese voiced and Korean lenis obstruents were least constricted and had the shortest duration. Japanese voiceless (singleton) and Korean aspirated obstruents showed intermediate degree of contact and duration. Both stops and affricates showed a positive correlation between degree of contact and duration. The results show that the two very different sets of phonological contrasts are implemented similarly at the supralaryngeal level. These cross-language similarities and cross-category differences are proposed to result from the application of independently-motivated phonetic enhancement rules to distinct phonological representations of laryngeal/length contrasts in the two languages.
    Aaron Dinkin: "Variant-centered variation and the like conspiracy" (Linguistic Variation, 16)
    The conventional methodology of variationist linguistics foregrounds the variable as the object of study: each variant is situated in the envelope of variation against the other variants it competes with. This paper argues that it is necessary to look beyond the context of the alternations a variant participates in in order to get a full picture of the factors affecting variation. The multi-functional variant like is used as a case study to illustrate the value of a variant-centered analysis: the fact that several distinct variables are all simultaneously changing toward the variant like suggests that a variant can be targeted for change across multiple variables, parallelling Campbell-Kibler (2011)’s model of the variant as the carrier of sociolinguistic meaning. It is conjectured that the set of changes toward like can be explained as a top-down discursive change targeting like as an indicator of vague literality, a function it retains in multiple distinct variable contexts.
    Sali A. Tagliamonte, Alexandra D’Arcy, and Celeste Rodríguez Louro: "Outliers, impact, and rationalization in linguistic change" (Language, 92 (4), December 2016)
    Quotative be like is a rapid global innovation, yet no evidence pinpoints when it arose, under what circumstances, or the consequences of its emergence. Using a data set spanning four cities and two hemispheres, we document systemic regularity across time and space. The results force us to confront three issues: the uniformitarian principle, the criterion of face-to-face contact in the diffusion of language change, and the nature of language as a complex adaptive system. Be like is an outlier, it has had a major impact on the linguistic system, and it can only be rationalized by hindsight, demonstrating the possibility of significant random events outside the predictable structures and processes in language. We conclude by suggesting that be like is a (linguistic) black swan event (Taleb 2010).

    April 11, 2017

    Deem at Plan Your Program Expo

    Undergraduate Secretary Deem Waham was recently talking about our department's program offerings at the Plan Your Program Expo, an event for first year undergraduate students to shop around, talk to people from different departments, and decide on program(s) of study.

    April 10, 2017

    FLAUT lecture by Suzi Lima (March 29th, 2017)

    Friends of Linguistics At the University of Toronto (FLAUT) recently held a talk by Suzi Lima (Assistant professor, University of Toronto/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) entitled: "Language maintenance and revitalization in Brazil". Abstract below, and then pictures!

    Brazil is a multilingual country: approximately 160 Brazilian Indigenous Languages are currently spoken in Brazil (Rodrigues 2001), and for around 55% of them, comprehensive language documentation is not available (cf. Moore, Galucio and Gabas 2008). Language documentation has become a critical tool for language maintenance (through bilingual education) and revitalization strategies across the country. Many Brazilian indigenous peoples are currently involved in language revitalization projects that are based on previous language documentation efforts. This is the case for instance with the Guató, Pataxó, Puruborá and Umutina peoples; in all these cases, indigenous peoples are reconstructing their ancestral languages using materials produced in previous documentation projects (Franchetto, Nonato, Camargo 2014). In this talk, I will give an overview of language maintenance and revitalization projects in progress in Brazil.

    Radu Craioveanu (Ph.D.) and Guillaume Thomas (faculty)

    Naomi Francis (MA 2014, now at MIT), Ross Godfrey (Ph.D.), and Dan Milway (Ph.D.)

    Radu Craioveanu, Jessica Mathie (Ph.D.), and Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D.)

    Suzi Lima (Dept. Spanish & Portuguese, and speaker for the event)

    April 7, 2017

    CUNY 2017 at MIT (March 29th to April 1st, 2017)

    The 30th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology between March 29th and April 1st, 2017. There were two posters from our department:

    Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.): Complement coercion in the Canadian English "be done NP" construction

    Daphna Heller (faculty) and Danielle Moed (MA, 2014): On the Relation of Linguistic forms, Memory and Attention: the Case of Modification

    And there was a poster from psychology at UTM:

    Raheleh Saryazdi, Daniel DeSantis, Craig Chambers and Elizabeth Johnson: Investigating attributional models of disfluency processing with a YOYO paradigm: Younger and Older listeners’ reactions to Younger and Older talkers’ disfluencies

    Here are some pictures from the conference, and of Boston.

    Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.)

    Raheleh Saryazdi & Craig Chambers (Psychology, UTM)

    Foreground: Daphna Heller (faculty)
    Statue in front of Bunker Hill Monument

    Old State House

    Acorn Street


    Graffiti Alley (Cambridge)

    Harvard Museum of Natural History

    View of Downtown Boston (from Skywalk Observatory)

    View of Back Bay and Boston Common (from Skywalk Observatory)

    April 6, 2017

    MOTH 2017 at McMaster

    The 5th Annual Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton Workshop On Syntax (MOTH 5) is being held on April 8th, 2017 at McMaster University in Hamilton. Susana Béjar (faculty) is the invited speaker, and many members of our department are giving regular talks and posters. See the page here for the full schedule. (On April 7th, there is a Cognitive Science of Language research day that will be of interest to many as well.)

    Fulang Chen (MA): Chinese truck-drivers in Distributed Morphology

    Zoe McKenzie (Ph.D.): An Analysis of Negative Imperatives in Labrador Inuttut

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

    Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D.): Severing the PCC from its “Repair”

    Emilia Melara (Ph.D.): This, that, and the other, it: Propositional anaphora in Toronto English

    Virgilio Partida Peñalva (Ph.D.): On the positioning of Serbian/Croatian clitics. A DM approach

    Julianne Doner (Ph.D.): The Purpose of the Inflectional Domain is Anchoring

    April 5, 2017

    Congratulations, Dr. Morin!

    Congratulations to Annick Morin, who recently defended her thesis entitled "Questioning Particles: A Cross-Linguistic Approach to Quebec French Polar Interrogatives"! Annick was supervised by Yves Roberge, and her committee consisted of Susana Béjar, Diane Massam, Anne-Marie Brousseau, Guillaume Thomas, and external examiner Raffaella Zanuttini (Yale).
    Tug and Annick

    Susana Bejar, Diane Massam, Yves Roberge, Raffaella Zanuttini, Annick, Tug, and Guillaume Thomas. (Not pictured: Anne-Marie Brousseau)