December 7, 2018

Congratulations, Emily!

Emily Clare successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, "Dynamicity in speech perception," on Friday, December 7, 2018. The committee included Jessamyn Schertz (supervisor), Yoonjung Kang, Phil Monahan, Elizabeth Johnson, Nathan Sanders, and external examiner Meghan Clayards (McGill University). Congratulations, Dr. Clare!

Elizabeth, Nathan, Meghan, Emily, Jessamyn, Yoonjung, and Phil. (Photo by Jennifer McCallum.)

December 6, 2018

Workshop: New Perspectives on Mental State Attribution

The Department of Philosophy is hosting a workshop, New Perspectives on Mental State Attribution, early next week. This will be taking place at the Jackman Humanities Building (Room 100) on Monday, December 10, and Tuesday, December 11, from 9 AM to 5 PM both days. The program features a mix of guest speakers giving in-depth presentations. Of particular interest to the linguistics community are the two talks on the Tuesday afternoon, as follows:

2:00 PM to 3:30 PM:
Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten (University of Gothenburg):
"Building attitudes in the grammar."

4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Rachel Dudley (École normale supérieure):
"Pragmatic effects in child's understanding of attitude verbs."

December 5, 2018

Iranian Languages Workshop

Our department has a cluster of scholars keenly interested in the languages of Iran. On top of that, this semester's JAL401: Field Linguistics class taught by Suzi Lima (faculty) collectively investigated Gilaki, an Indo-Iranian language spoken in the northwest of the country. In other to showcase their research, we will be holding a workshop on Iranian languages: Thursday, December 6, from 10 AM through 3 PM in the department lounge. All departmental members are encouraged to attend!

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty):
"Everything I know about Gilaki."

Gregory Antono (BA):
"Allomorphy in Gilaki: An Optimality Theoretic approach."

Crystal Chen (BA):
"Adjectival order in Gilaki."

Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.):
"Definiteness in Laki: its distribution and properties."

Rosie Webb (BA):
"Modifier reduplication in Gilaki."

Kristina Springer (BA):
"The morphophonological analysis of verb affixation in Gilaki."

Jida Jaffan (MA):
"One way and the other: assessing the origins of Arabic and Gilaki loanwords based on the undergone linguistic processes."

Koorosh Ariyaee (Ph.D.):
"Loanword adaptation in Persian."

Liam Donohue (MA):
"Locating objects in space and time: An analysis of temporal-spatial copular constructions in Gilaki."

Breanna Pratley (BA):
"Distribution of active and passive constructions in Gilaki."

December 4, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, December 7

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Group discussion: Lewis, Mark (2018). A critique of the principle of error correction as a theory of social change. Language in Society, 47(3), 325-346. And an overview of the Journal of English Linguistics, 46(3), on practical strategies for opposing linguistic discrimination.

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Nico Baier (McGill University): "Unifying anti-agreement and wh-agreement."
In this talk, I investigate the sensitivity of φ-agreement to features typically associated with Ā-extraction, including those related to wh-questioning, relativization, focus and topicalization. This phenomenon has been referred to as anti-agreement (Ouhalla 1993) or wh-agreement (Chung and Georgopoulos 1988; Georgopoulos 1991; Chung 1994) in the literature. While anti-agreement is commonly held to result from constraints on the Ā-movement of agreeing DPs, I argue that it reduces to an instance of wh-agreement, or the appearance of particular morphological forms in the presence of Ā-features. I develop a unified account of these Ā-sensitive φ-agreement effects in which they arise from the ability of φ-probes to copy both φ-features and Ā-features in the syntax. In the morphological component, partial or total impoverishment may apply to feature bundles containing both φ- and Ā-features, deleting some or all of the φ-features. Impoverishment blocks insertion of an otherwise appropriate, more highly specified agreement exponent.

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Fieldwork Group

December 3, 2018

LIN362 poster session

The students of LIN362: Historical Linguistics, taught by Aleksei Nasarov (faculty), will be presenting their final projects in the form of a poster session in the department lounge on Tuesday, December 4, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. All department members are encouraged to attend!

December 1, 2018

Congratulations, Peter!

Peter Jurgec (faculty) has been awarded an Erasmus+ Mobility Grant, which provides considerable funding for inter-institutional exchange. We will be sending a graduate student from our department to visit Slovenia next autumn; a graduate student from Ljubljana will visit us at the same time. Two of our faculty members will be visiting Slovenia (and vice versa) for a week each sometime in the next two years. We anticipate that the grant will further strengthen our department's interests in Slavic languages from a variety of perspectives and approaches. Congratulations to Peter on the recognition and on opening up this tremendously valuable opportunity for all of us!

November 30, 2018

Congratulations, Arsalan!

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) has been awarded a Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute grant to support his research on the syntax of nominal linkers in Iranian languages. This award recognizes Arsalan's substantial efforts towards the study of Persian culture. Congratulations, Arsalan, on this thoroughly well-deserved honour!

November 29, 2018

Congratulations, Iryna!

Iryna Osadcha successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, "Lexical stress in East Slavic: Variation in space and time," on Thursday, November 29, 2018. On the committee were Elan Dresher (supervisor), Peter Jurgec, Joseph Schallert, Aleksei Nazarov, Keren Rice, and external examiner Christina Bethin (Stony Brook University). Congratulations, Dr. Osadcha!

Christopher Spahr (Ph.D. 2015, now at Tulip Software), Iryna, and Elan;
Iryna, Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), and Aleksei Nazarov (faculty);
Aleksei in front, and Iryna serenading us at her celebration!

November 28, 2018

A Faetar-speaking visitor!

This past weekend, Naomi Nagy (faculty) hosted a speaker of Faetar (a Franco-Provençal language spoken in two small communities in Foggia in south Italy: Faeto and Celle), and used the opportunity to practice her Faetar (photo #1), catch up on Faetar texting practices (photo #2) - not bad for a language with no official writing system! - and compare pizzas in Faeto and Toronto (photo #3). Livia was only 2 the last time Naomi did fieldwork in Faeto.

Telling time with a clock from Faeto: [o fa kase lu kat e mietS]

A text message in Faetar - transcribed in IPA.

Livia e la sua pizza. (Grazie Napoli Centrale!)

November 27, 2018

Guest speaker: Adam Roth Singerman (University of Chicago)

Our department is very pleased to welcome guest speaker Adam Roth Singerman, a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Chicago, where he recently earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Linguistics. His research centers on morphosyntax and typology and Tuparí. On Friday, November 30 at 2:30 PM, in SS 560A he will be presenting "The synchrony and diachrony of Tuparí evidentiality".

Those Tupían languages described as possessing grammaticalized evidentality typically mark the category through freestanding particles located in a predicate peripheral or clause peripheral position (Moore 1984; Gabas Jr. 1999; Seki 2000; Galucio 2011). Tuparí, however, marks evidentiality throug a bound verbal suffix that sits inside of tense morphology and agrees in number with the subject. This suffix, -pnē/-psira, participates in a nuanced set of interactions with the language's set of second position clause typing particles. This talk draws upon original fieldwork to provide a detailed description and analysis of -pnē/-psira. I show that -pnē/-psira presupposes commitment to p on the part of the speaker. This analysis correctly predicts the incompatibility between -pnē/-psira and thoes clause types that express doubt or uncertainty, and it also accounts for how the witnessed/non-witnessed evidential contrast projects out of finite embedded clauses. This talk also puts forth a diachronic hypothesis concerning the origins of -pnē/-psira. A separate suffix, -psē/-pnē/-psira, qualifies as a resultative in the sense of Nedjalkov and Jaxontov (1988) and Nedjalkov (2001). Resultative -psē/-pnē/-psira is partially homophonous with evidential -pnē/-psira but the two morphemes differ from one another according to several syncrhonic diagnostics. I argue that resultative readings ('the pen is lying in a fallen position') were reinterpreted as non-firsthand declaratives ('the pen fell [non-witnessed]'). Tuparí thus instantiates the same resultative to evidential grammaticalization pathway which is known from Eurasia (Tatevosov 2001; Jalava 2014, 2017; Friedman 2018, among others) but which to my knowledge has not previously been described for an indigenous language of the Americas.

November 26, 2018

Research Groups: Week of November 26-30

Note the slight irregularities in the timing this week.

Wednesday, November 28, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Bissell Building 113
Morphology Reading Group
Virgilio Partida Penalva (Ph.D.) leading a discussion of: Harris, James, and Morris Halle (2005). Unexpected plural inflections in Spanish: Reduplication and metathesis. Linguistic Inquiry, 36(2), 195-222.

Friday, November 30, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Psycholinguistics Group
Presentation by guest speaker Michael Tanenhaus (University of Rochester).

Friday, November 30, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Phonology Research Group
Andrei Munteanu (Ph.D.): "Homophony avoidance in Russian nominals: an experimental approach."

Friday, November 30, 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Semantics Research Group
Group discussion: Singerman, Adam Roth (2018). Negation as an exclusively nominal category. Language, 94(2), 432-467.

November 22, 2018

LSA Linguistic Institute 2019

Next's year's Linguistic Institute offered by the Linguistic Society of America is being held at the University of California, Davis, from June 24 through July 19, 2019. Three current departmental members will be teaching classes. Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) is teaching 'Dialectology in the 21st Century'; Marisa Brook (faculty) and Emily Blamire (Ph.D.) are jointly at the helm of 'Topics in Sociolinguistics and Computer-Mediated Communication'. Former postdoc Heather Burnett (now at Centre national de la recherche scientifique) is also leading a class: 'Game-Theoretic Approaches to Sociolinguistic Variation and Change'.

November 20, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, November 23

Note the slightly irregular times and/or places this week.

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group
Daphna Buchsbaum (faculty, Department of Psychology): "Does pragmatic context influence children's use of majority information in object label learning and causal learning?"

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM, SS2110
Syntax Group
Paper discussion led by Andrew Peters (Ph.D.): Lima, Suzi (2018). New perspectives on the count-mass distinction: Understudied languages and psycholinguistics. Language and Linguistics Compass, 2018, e12303.

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Fieldwork Group
Virgilio Partida Penalva (Ph.D.) leading a presentation of the methodology of the MesoSpace group.

November 19, 2018

Invited talk: Suzi Lima (University of Toronto/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)

We are delighted to host a talk by Suzi Lima, currently an Assistant Professor in our department visiting from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Her research encompasses documentation and revitalization, acquisition, semantics/pragmatics, and psycholinguistics. Her talk, "A typology of the count/mass distinction in Brazil and its relevance for count/mass theories," will be taking place on Friday, November 23 at 3:00 PM in SS 560A. A reception will follow in the department lounge.

Since Link's (1983) seminal contribution, much work has explored the semantics of count and mass nouns from both theoretical and experimental perspectives. In this talk, I explore some of the recent advances in this field, drawing particularly from experimental research and descriptions of understudied Brazilian languages, more specifically, Yudja (Juruna family, Tupi Stock). This talk has two main goals. First, I will explore the debate about what can be counted grammatically, that is, how we define atoms and what role extra-linguistic factors may play in this process, focusing on the distinction between natural and semantic atomicity (Rothstein 2010). More specifically, I will show that, in many languages, substance-denoting nouns - predicted to be uncountable in most count/mass theories (cf. Chierchia 1998, 2010) - can interact with the counting system, suggesting that the substance/object distinction might have an impact on what is more likely to be counted, but does not in itself restrict counting. I will also argue that the counting units that we use with object denoting nouns do not always correspond to 'natural atoms'. Second, I will discuss the results of a large-scale project on the count-mass distinction in 17 Brazilian languages, and how the results of this project can contribute to typological research on this topic.

November 18, 2018

Invited talk for Cognitive Science: Michael K. Tanenhaus (University of Rochester/Nanjing Normal University)

The Cognitive Science Program at University College is hosting Michael K. Tanenhaus, who is the Beverly Petterson Bishop and Charles W. Bishop Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Linguistics and the Director for Center for Language Sciences at the University of Rochester, and also Chair Professor at Nanjing Normal University. His extensive research focuses on psycholinguistics and processing. He will be giving a talk, "Real-time spoken language comprehension: A tale of signal and context," on Thursday the 29th in UC 140 starting at 4:30 PM.

November 17, 2018

Congratulations, Elizabeth!

We are thrilled to have learned that cross-appointed faculty member Elizabeth Johnson (psychology, UTM) has been awarded a Canada Research Chair in Spoken Language Acquisition! From her research profile:

Johnson is exploring whether infants whose primary caregivers are late learners of English face different developmental challenges than those whose parents learned English early. She is also examining what factors should be considered when assessing language skills and vocabulary size in infants who receive exposure to multiple varieties of spoken English.

Congratulations, Elizabeth, on this landmark honour!

November 16, 2018

Julie at UTM Linguistics Brown Bag

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.) is the next guest speaker for the Linguistics Brown Bag Lunch series at the Mississauga campus. Her talk, "A 3D typology of the EPP", will be taking place on Monday, November 26, from 11 AM to 12 PM, in room 5128 of the New North Building.

The Extended Projection Principle (EPP) was proposed by Chomsky (1981, 1982) to account for why subjects are obligatory in English clauses. I define the EPP as the obligatory move of some element into the inflectional domain. A variety of EPP types have been identified cross-linguistically: (a) Massam and Smallwood (1997) argue that the EPP in Niuean is checked by VPs; (b) Alexiadou and Anagnostopoulou (1998) argue that the EPP can vary in the size (Xº or XP) of the element that checks it; (c) Davies and Dubinsky (2001) argue for a contrast between D- and V-prominent EPP; and (d) Richards and Biberauer (2005) claim that the EPP pied-pipes the entire vP in some Germanic languages. I argue that the EPP can vary in three dimensions: (a) by having a head (Xº) or a phrase (XP) as a goal, (b) by pied-piping the entire vP or not, and (c) by targeting an argument/nominal (D) or a predicate (Pred). Combining these three dimensions gives us a total of 8 logical types, 7 of which are attested.

Pied-piping No pied-piping
Dº-EPP German
(Richards and Biberauer 2005)
(Alexidou and Anagnostopoulou 1998)
Predº-EPP Irish Inuktitut
(Johns 2007)
DP-EPP Afrikaans
(Richards and Biberauer 2005)
PredP-EPP indistinguishable from no pied-piping Niuean
(Massam 2001)

Some languages exhibit alternations between two EPP types, providing evidence that these different types are equivalent on some level. I will show that intra-linguistic alternations in EPP type target only one dimension of variation at a time. However, where Biberauer (2010) proposes that the various EPP occur independently and can co-occur, as each particular type alternates between presence versus absence, I show that the various EPP types are in complementary distribution. I will also show that these different movements are also united in being somewhat mysterious or unexplained.

November 15, 2018

December 2018 Graduate Speaker Series

Next month's event in the Graduate Speaker Series hosted by the Grad Room (Harbord and Spadina, on the ground floor under the Grad House), focuses on linguistics and features two of our Ph.D. candidates. This will be taking place on Tuesday, December 4, from 6 PM to 7:30 PM. Registration is available here (there is no fee).

Emily Blamire (Ph.D.): "Judging talkers: How speech affects our perceptions of each other."
Humans convey a great deal of information with their speech, far beyond the actual messages we say with our words. Small changes in the sounds of our speech can have large and wide-ranging effects on how we are perceived as people. Humans can not only recognize familiar individuals from just hearing their voices, but we can also make various judgments about a person’s emotional state, gender, and age, and even judge attributes such as attractiveness and personality. Using data from perception experiments, this talk explores which aspects of the speech stream we are listening to when we make some these judgments, as well as how we go about recognizing the voices of people we have had limited exposure to.

Julien Carrier (Ph.D.): "Cultural renewal and language changes in Inuktitut."
Inhabiting the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada and Greenland, the Inuit did not face the same socio-cultural and historical changes that most other Indigenous groups in North America had already experienced until the beginning of the 20thcentury when traders and missionaries began to take an interest in them. In fact, Inuit language varieties are believed to have remained quite similar until 1900 and to have diverged rapidly afterwards following these numerous transformations (cf. Dorais 1993, 2010). Indeed, many studies on the Inuit language report on dialectal distinctions and language changes (e.g., Johns 1999; Carrier 2012; Yuan 2018), but none of them present detailed statistics to support their claims or establish correlations with socio-historical factors. On the other hand, there are sociolinguistic studies that analyze the socio-cultural or historical changes that the Inuit have gone through, like the increasing bilingualism across the Inuit population (cf. Dorais &Sammons 2000; Patrick 2003), but no study has ever made a convincing correlation between them and dialectal distinctions or language changes. My dissertation fills this research gap. In this talk, I present and discuss results of my statistical analysis in North Baffin Inuktitut with natural data across speakers born between 1902 and 1998, and the interaction between some language changes observed in this Inuktitut dialect and different social and linguistic factors. 

November 14, 2018

Congratulations, Nick!

Wonderful news from recent postdoc/faculty member Nick Welch (Memorial University of Newfoundland), who has been awarded a Canada Research Chair in Change, Adaptation and Revitalization of Aboriginal Languages.

Dr. Welch’s research focuses on the syntactic structure of the Indigenous languages of North America, particularly those of the Dene family of languages, as well as the implications for teaching and learning these languages. He also pursues the creation of IT tools for the teaching of endangered languages.

“Almost all Indigenous languages in North America are endangered,” said Dr. Welch, who was a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto before joining Memorial. “More and more kids are growing up monolingual in English. Language is a vital medium for the transmission of culture and when a language disappears, a millennia-old wealth of cultural knowledge goes with it.”

Dr. Welch says his CRC appointment provides him with a unique opportunity to make a large-scale contribution to language preservation efforts. He says he hopes to build a program for training students and community members in skills for language documentation and revitalization, similar to those at universities in Western Canada that are not yet available in the eastern part of the country.

He also says he wants to build large online databases of Innu-aimun and Inuktitut, the Indigenous languages of Labrador, and to create a program to train community linguists and language teachers.

“I intend to recruit interested Indigenous students for undergraduate and graduate work in linguistics,” he said. “My hope is that when I retire, my successor will be a native speaker of Inuttitut or Innu-aimun.”

Congratulations and all the best, Nick! We can attest to this tremendous honour being more than well-earned.

November 13, 2018

Guest speaker: Karin Vivanco (Universidade de São Paulo)

Our department is delighted to welcome Karin Vivanco, a Ph.D. candidate at the Universidade de São Paulo, who works on syntax, psycholinguistics, and indigenous languages of the Amazon. Her talk, "On clausal pied-piping," will be taking place at 10:00 AM in SS 2127.

Since its discovery by Ross (1967), the phenomenon of pied-piping has drawn much attention in the area of syntax. Basically, pied-piping occurs whenever a certain element (usually a WH- phrase) "drags along" additional elements in the presence of some kind of syntactic displacement. Even though it is commonly found with small syntactic constituents such as prepositional and noun phrases, pied-piping may even affect larger constituents such as clauses. This operation, which seems to be rare cross-linguistically, is called clausal piped-piping and has been found in languages like Basque (Urbina 1993, Arregi 2003), Imbabura Quechua (Cole 1982), and Tlingit (Cable 2010). In this talk, I show how a Brazilian language called Karitiana (Tupian family) exploits clausal pied-piping extensively to build long-distance questions like 'What do you think that Mary bought?'. I suggest that rampant nominalization of embedded clauses and a ban against WH- in situ may force widespread clausal pied-piping in Tupian languages. If this proporal is correct, one could explain why some languages resort to clausal-piping while others don't - and this ultimately could shed some light on the nature of pied-piping itself.

November 12, 2018

Congratulations, Vidhya!

Vidhya Elango (BA) is in Dublin, Ireland this week for the Global Undergraduate Summit, taking part from November 12 through 14. This event draws undergraduates from nearly 50 countries and 25 fields of study. Vidhya is in attendance having received a Highly Commended designation for her paper "Syllable structure of French loanwords in Malagasy: An OT perspective," originally written for faculty member Suzi Lima's Field Methods class in the Fall 2017 semester. Congratulations, Vidhya, on this very well-deserved recognition!

November 10, 2018

Research Groups: Week of November 12-16

Tuesday, November 13, 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM, PT266
Computational Linguistics Group, Department of Computer Science
Eric Corlett (Ph.D., Computer Science): "Probability and program complexity for NLP."
Probabilistic models used in NLP often come from general frameworks into which otherwise difficult-to-define tasks can be embedded. The power of these frameworks can lead to situations in which traditional measures of descriptive complexity, such as worst-case running time, can overestimate the cost of running our algorithms. In this talk I look at how practical and theoretical complexities can differ by investigating the Most Probable Sentence problem, which was shown to be NP-complete by Khalil Sima'an in 2002. I show that linguistic entropy can be used to formulate a more natural bound for the running time of this problem, as well as its error of approximation.

Wednesday, November 14, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Bissell Building 113
Morphology Reading Group
Jean-François Juneau (Ph.D.) will be leading a paper discussion of: Kracht, Marcus (2002). Suffixaufnahme. Manuscript, Freie Universität Berlin.

Friday, November 16, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Discovery day: Everyone is encouraged to bring a research issue they've been working on or thinking about to discuss briefly and get some feedback from the group!

Friday, November 16, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Phonology Research Group
Lisa Sullivan (Ph.D.): "Phonology of gender in French and English given names."

Friday, November 16, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Semantics Research Group

November 9, 2018


We are delighted to be hosting this year's Morphology in Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto workshop (MoMOT 3) on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17.

The keynote speaker is Daniel Siddiqi (Carleton University), presenting joint work with Brandon J. Fry (University of Ottawa):
"On root suppletion and the Root Competition Hypothesis."

Other talks are by:

Julien Carrier (Ph.D.):
"Mixed projections in Inuktitut."

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba):
"Three Algonquian metasyncretisms."

Adriana Soto-Corominas (University of Alberta) and David Heap (Ph.D. 1997, now at the University of Western Ontario):
"Clitic substitution as featural underspecification."

Bronwyn Bjorkman (former postdoc, now at Queen's University):
"The logic of morphological 'repairs'."

Rose-Marie Déchaine (UBC), Monique Dufresne (Queen's University), and Charlotte Reinholtz (Queen's University):
"(Ir)realis morphology and clause-typing in the Cree dialect continuum."

Isabelle Boyer (Université du Québec à Montréal):
"Subsyllabic morphemes in Mandarin: Demonstratives zhei and nei."

Andres Salanova (University of Ottawa) and Adam J.R. Tallman (University of Ottawa):
"Two constituent structures or one? A case study of two Amazonian languages."

Justin Case (University of Ottawa):
"Deriving the tripartite differential object marking system of Siona by means of Impoverishment."

Peter Ara Guekguezian (University of Rochester):
"Morphological interaction in Muskogee verbs and phase."

And there will be the following posters:

Jean-François Juneau (Ph.D.):
"Old and Modern Georgian case stacking: A unified mechanism."

Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D.):
"The structure of Urdu ezafe."

Ilia Nicoll (Ph.D.):
"Licensing inflected nominal incorporation in Labrador Inuttitut."

Virgilio Partido Peñalva (Ph.D.):
"The uno strategy in Spanish: A mechanism for gender recoverability."

Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.):
"On interaction of Laki subject agreement enclitics with possessor agreement in VP domain."

George Balabanian (University of Ottawa):
"Morphosyntactic properties in Armenian adpositions."

Kenny Castillo (University of Western Ontario):
"Comparison of the tense-mood-aspect (TMA) systems of Chabacano, Palenquero and Papiamentu."

Evgenii Efremov (University of Western Ontario):
"Word-internal complex phrases in Russian and their implications for the theory of morphology."

William Tran (University of Western Ontario)
"Aspectual and temporal properties of the morphemes vừa and mới in Vietnamese."

Roxana Barbu (Carleton University) and Ida Toivonen (Carleton University):
"Romanian pe-marking: Feature unification and animacy."

Angelica Hernandez (University of Western Ontario):
"Use of pluralized existential haber in the Spanish of Texas."

November 8, 2018

Fall Convocation 2018

MA and Ph.D. convocations were held this week. Congratulations to all our newest graduate alumni! We are so proud of your accomplishments.

Clarissa Forbes
Jim Smith
Phil Howson

Koorosh Ariyaee
Kelly-Ann Blake
Timothy Gadanidis
Isabelle Ladouceur-Séguin
Mia Misic
Megan Parker
Ryan Pidhayny
Lisa Schlegl
Rachel Soo
Lisa Sullivan
Connie Ting

Ryan, Isabelle, Tim, Lisa Sullivan, Megan, and a photo of Koorosh! (Photo courtesy of Koorosh.)

November 5, 2018

Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Cowper (faculty) is the (thoroughly deserving) recipient of a 2018 Arbor Award for outstanding volunteer service to the University of Toronto. Elizabeth is the co-creator of the University Reader Training Program, directed at faculty members who read off the list of graduates at Convocation, which provides extensive instruction in pronouncing names from a wide variety of nationalities and languages such that no students are made to feel unwelcome or misrepresented. Elizabeth's co-readers, Christina Kramer (faculty, Slavic Languages and Literatures) and Michael Patrick Albano (faculty, Music) also received Arbor Awards for this reason this year. Congratulations to all!

November 4, 2018

Invited talk for Philosophy: Craige Roberts (Ohio State University/New York University)

The Department of Philosophy and its group on Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Mind are delighted to welcome Professor Craige Roberts. Now Professor Emerita at Ohio State University and a Visiting Professor at New York University, she is an esteemed scholar who works on formal semantics, pragmatics, and philosophy of language. Her talk, "The character of epistemic modals in natural language: Evidential indexicals", will be taking place on Thursday, November 8, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, in room 418 of the Jackman Humanities Building.

I assume a central thesis about Modal Auxiliaries due to Kratzer, roughly as follows:

THE MODAL BASE PRESUPPOSITION: Natural language expressions that contain a modal       component in their meaning, including all English modal auxiliaries and Epistemic Modal Auxiliaries (EMA)s in particular, presuppose a modal base, a function that draws from context a relevant set of propositions which contribute to a premise-semantics for the modal.

Accepting this thesis for EMAs leaves open (at least) the following two questions about the meaning of English EMAs like must and might:

i. What constraints, if any, are there on the character of the premise set for an EMA?
ii. What is the nature of the relationship between premises and conclusion that is required for truth of the EMA statement?

I argue for at least a partial answer to (i), with two hypotheses about the proper constraints on the modal base for an EMA:

EVIDENTIALITY: The modal base for an EMA is evidential and doxastic, not truly epistemic (i.e., weak, not strong).

INDEXICALITY: EMAs, unlike some other types of modals, are indexical: They are anchored to an agent-at-a-time whose doxastic state is currently under discussion in the context of utterance.

These constraints are modeled as presuppositions triggered by the EMA, restrictions on the modal’s domain. The independently motivated indexical anchoring (a) correctly predicts the contextually limited range of candidates for the anchoring agent of such a modal, as attested in the literature, (b) thereby constrains what body of evidence is understood to be relevant (that of the anchor), and (c) in some cases plays a role in explaining the modal’s scope (not discussed here). The account sheds light on several puzzles, including (d) Yalcin’s (2007) version of Moore’s paradox for embedded epistemic modals, and (e) purported arguments for modal relativism (e.g., Egan, Hawthorne & Weatherson 2005).

November 3, 2018

New paper: Brook (2018)

Marisa Brook (faculty) has a paper out in Language Variation and Change, 30(2), based on her 2016 doctoral dissertation: "Taking it up a level: Copy-raising and cascaded tiers of morphosyntactic change."

This paper uncovers evidence for two linked levels of morphosyntactic change occurring in Canadian English. The more ordinary is a lexical replacement: with finite subordination after seem, the complementizer like has been overtaking all the alternatives (as if, as though, that, and Ø). On top of this, there is a broader syntactic change whereby the entire finite structure (now represented primarily by like) is beginning to catch on at the expense of infinitival subordination after seem. Drawing on complementary evidence from British English and several partial precedents in the historical linguistics literature, I take this correlation to mean that like has reached sufficient rates among the finite strategy to have instigated the second level of change, to the point that it has ramifications for epistemic and evidential marking with the verb seem. I propose that the best model of these trajectories is a set of increasingly large envelopes of variation, one inside the next, and argue that the envelope might itself be an entity susceptible to change over time.

November 2, 2018

50th Anniversary celebrations underway!

The festivities have begun! Check out #TOling50 on Twitter and/or Instagram for photos. A special welcome back to our alumni, our retired/former faculty/postdocs, and all partners in attendance. Note: if you would like a T-shirt, you need to submit an order form. See the registration desk for details.

Thanks to the committee: Jack Chambers (faculty), Radu Craioveanu (Ph.D.), Julianne Doner (Ph.D.), Elaine Gold (faculty), Mary Hsu (staff), Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), Diane Massam (faculty), Keren Rice (faculty), Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (Ph.D.).

And to the designers: Jack Chambers (faculty), Radu Craioveanu (Ph.D.), and Emilia Melara (Ph.D.).

Plus department staff: Mary Hsu, Jennifer McCallum, and Deem Waham.

And our volunteers: Gregory Antono (BA), Kaz Bamba (Ph.D.), Ibrahim El-Rayes (BA), Ariel Gomes (BA), Nathan Leung (BA), Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.), Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D.), Kat Meereboer (BA), Emilia Melara (Ph.D.), Miriam Neuhausen (visiting scholar), Deepam Patel (BA), Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D.), Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.), Akio Teruya (BA), Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), and Jessica Yeung (Ph.D.).

November 1, 2018


The 43rd annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD) is meeting from November 2 through 4.

Suzi Lima (faculty) is presenting a talk:
"Acquisition of conjunctions in recursive and distributive scenarios: A production study in Yudja."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) with Dunja Veselinovic (New York University) also have a talk:
"Doing what you must: Child actuality inferences in modal comprehension."

Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty), Anny Castilla-Earls (University of Houston), María Fernanda Lara Díaz (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and Erin Pettibone (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese) have a poster:
"Recursion follows productivity, not vice versa: The case of Spanish NP recursion."

Ailís and Ana-Teresa are also presenting a poster:
"Leaving obligations behind: Epistemic incrementation in preschool English"

Ailís and colleagues Anouk Dieuleveut (University of Maryland), Annemarie van Dooren (University of Maryland), and Valentine Hacquard (University of Maryland) are presenting a poster as well:
"Learning the force of modals: Sig you guess what sig means?"

October 31, 2018

Nominals at the Interfaces

Happening from November 2 through 4 at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, is Nominals at the Interface: a conference devoted to noun phrases through the lens of various theoretical approaches across subfields, and organized at least in part by alumnus Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University). Two of our Ph.D. students are represented on the program:

Ilia Nicoll (Ph.D.) is presenting a talk:
"Evidential markers in Labrador Inuttitut: Licensing inflected nominal incorporation."

Virgilio Partida Peñalva (Ph.D.) is presenting a poster:
"The UNO strategy in Spanish NP-ellipsis revisited."

Two alumni are presenting as well:

Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University) and Heeryun Jung (Sogang University)
"Aspects of ki-nominalization in Korean."

Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2011, now at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia):
"Varieties of (low) structural objects, licensing and the structure of nominals."

October 30, 2018

Invited talk for Computer Science: Demetres Kostas (University of Toronto)

The Department of Computer Science is hosting a talk by their Ph.D. student Demetres Kostas: "Learning the brain rhythms of speech." This will be taking place on Tuesday, October 30, at 1:30 PM in PT 266.

I present work that uses deep neural networks trained with raw MEG data to predict the age of children performing a verb-generation task, a monosyllable speech-elicitation task, and a multi-syllabic speech-elicitation task. I argue that the network makes these predictions on the grounds of differences in speech development. Previous work has explored using neural networks to classify encephalographic recordings with some success, but they do little to acknowledge the structure of these data, typically relying on some popular contemporary architecture designed for a vaguely related application. Previous such approaches also typically require extensive feature engineering to succeed. I will show that configuring a neural network to mimic the common manual pipeline employed for brain-computer interface classifiers allows them to be trained with raw magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and achieve state-of-the-art accuracies with no hand-engineered features.

October 29, 2018

Website for 50th anniversary now live!

The site for our 50th anniversary festivities is now live. Thanks to webmaster/graphic-designer Radu Craioveanu (Ph.D.) and the rest of the committee for all of their hard work. Check out the program and watch for more vintage photos!

October 28, 2018

Public lecture: Angela D. Friederici (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences)

University College is delighted to be hosting Professor Angela D. Friederici, the Director of the Department of Neuropsychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Bonn in 1976 and over the course of her distinguished career has contributed to than four hundred and fifty journal articles, spanning neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics, language and memory, language acquisition, dyslexia, and more.

On Thursday, November 1 at 4:30 PM in UC 140, she will be giving this year's N. Graham Lecture in Science: "Language in our brain." Faculty, staff, students, and the public are welcome. Registration is not necessary, but seating is available only on a first-come-first-serve basis. Please note that University College building does not currently have a barrier-free entrance, but will be by early 2019.

October 27, 2018

Lex on TVO podcast 'Word Bomb'

Ph.D. student Lex Konnelly is featured in the newly-released sixth episode of TVO's 'Word Bomb' - "the podcast that explodes today's most-talked-about words and brings you stories the dictionary doesn't tell you." Starting at 3:08, Lex discusses both their own experiences and their ongoing research into the singular they pronoun in English and its sociopolitical surroundings: the increasing recognition and acceptance in the Western world that not all human beings fit into a binary gender classification. "When you're referring to somebody else, that's one of the most political things that you can do...pronouns are a very important part of that."

October 26, 2018

Public lecture: Philippe Schlenker (New York University/École normale superieure)

The Jackman Humanities Institute welcomes Philippe Schlenker as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow next week. He is a Global Distinguished Professor at New York University and Director of Research at the Institute Jean-Nicod, Department of Cognitive Studies, École Normale Superieure. He holds two Ph.D.s: one in linguistics from MIT (1999) and one in philosophy from l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (2002). His research interests encompass semantics and pragmatics, philosophy of language, morphosyntax, sign languages, and animal communication. On Tuesday, October 30 from 4 to 6 PM in room 100 of the Jackman Humanities Building, Professor Schlenker will be giving a public lecture: "Meaning in sign, in speech, and in gesture." ASL interpretation will be provided. There is no charge for attendance, and registration is not required.

Contemporary linguistics has established 3 results: 1. Sign languages, used by Deaf communities throughout the word, are full-fledged languages that share typological properties among themselves and also with spoken languages. 2. Sign languages have the same 'logical spine' as spoken languages, but sometimes they make the logical structure of sentences far more explicit than is the case in spoken language. A salient case concerns logical variables, which are covert in spoken language but are realized overtly in sign language by way of positions in signing space. 3. But in addition, sign languages have rich iconic possibilities, including at their logical core. For instance, logical variables can simultaneously function as simplified iconic representations of their denotations. By contrast, iconic possibilities exist but are limited in the spoken modality.

Should we conclude (from 2 and 3) that sign languages are more expressive than spoken languages, since they have the same logical spine but richer iconic possibilities? For the comparison to be complete, one must re-integrate into spoken language semantics the study of co-speech gestures, which have rich iconic capabilities. But we will argue that even when sign language is compared to speech-plus-gestures, sign languages have an entire class of expressive possibilities that spoken languages mostly lack.

October 25, 2018

New dictionary co-edited by Richard Compton

Congratulations to Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université du Québec à Montréal) and co-editor Emily Kudlak on the release of their Kangiryuarmiut Inuinnaqtun: Uqauhiitaa Numiktitirutait Dictionary, newly available from Nunavut Arctic College.

This is the most comprehensive dictionary of any Western Canadian dialect of the Inuit language. It contains over 5,000 Inuinnaqtun entries and subentries with their translations, over 3,000 example sentences, and a large inventory of suffixes.

October 24, 2018

Lex in Lee Airton's new book

Ph.D. student Lex Konnelly, who works on morphosyntax and sociolinguistics (and who is teaching Language and Gender at UTM this semester), was recently interviewed for a new book by faculty member Lee Airton of Queen's University. Airton's book, Gender: Your Guide (Adams Media/Simon and Schuster) outlines approaches to supporting human beings across a range of gender identities given the untenable nature of historical European attempts at equating gender with sex assigned at birth. Lex was interviewed about the singular they pronoun in present-day English.

October 23, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, October 26

Note that there is no Psycholinguistics Group meeting this week.

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Two practise talks for the upcoming Nominals at the Interfaces conference in South Korea: Virgilio Partida Peñalva (Ph.D.) and Ilia Nicoll (Ph.D.).

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Fieldwork Group
Group paper discussion: Soh, Hooi Ling, and Jenny Yi-Chun Kuo (2005). Perfective aspect and accomplishment situations in Mandarin Chinese. In Verkuyl, Henk J., de Swart, Henriette, and van Hout, Angeliek (eds.), Perspectives on aspect, 199-216. Dordrecht: Springer.

October 22, 2018

50th anniversary celebration

Our department is turning fifty years old this year! In recognition of this anniversary, we will be holding a Linguistics at 50 Celebration Event on Friday, November 2 and Saturday, November 3. Events will include retrospectives, performances from house band F-Zero, a Three-Minute Thesis competition, and a banquet. Aside from current departmental members and staff, we welcome alumni, former faculty members, former staff, and old friends of the department. We hope to see you join us for the festivities!

To register to attend, please visit the event page. Please note that the deadline is Wednesday, October 24 (the day after tomorrow).

On social media, the relevant hashtag is #TOling50. Questions and concerns can be directed at

October 21, 2018

Report from NWAV47

New Ways of Analyzing Variation is meeting in New York City this weekend; our department members and alumni are very well-represented! This photo has most if not quite all of them (thanks to Pocholo Umbal for providing the photo).

Back row: Derek Denis (faculty), Marisa Brook (faculty), Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), Aaron Dinkin (former faculty, now at San Diego State University), Miriam Neuhausen (visiting scholar), Tim Gadanidis (Ph.D). Middle row: Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University), Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.), Emily Blamire (Ph.D.), Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.), Naomi Nagy (faculty), Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.), Lauren Bigelow (MA). Front row: Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty), Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria), Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.), and Shayna Gardiner (Ph.D. 2017, now at Receptiviti).

October 19, 2018

Derek in The Medium

Derek Denis (faculty) was recently interviewed for the student publication The Medium on the Mississauga campus: "Seeing Scrabble through a linguistic lens."

October 18, 2018

Guest speaker: Olga Fernández-Soriano (Universidad autónoma de Madrid)

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is pleased to welcome faculty member Olga Fernández-Soriano from the Universidad autónoma de Madrid: "Non-matching split interrogatives and focus extension in Spanish." It will be taking place on Monday, October 22, from 3 to 5 PM in VC 102.

October 17, 2018

New paper: Brook, Jankowski, Konnelly, and Tagliamonte (2018)

Marisa Brook (faculty), Bridget L. Jankowski (staff; Ph.D. 2013), Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) have a paper out in the Journal of Sociolinguistics, 22(4): "'I don't come off as timid anymore': Real‐time change in early adulthood against the backdrop of the community."

The period from ages 18 to 25 is sometimes called ‘emerging adulthood’ (Arnett 2000, 2004) since it has come to be characterized by major life transitions. Linguistically, this means that lifespan change in the individual (Sankoff 2004, 2018) might be particularly likely during these years (Labov 2001: 447; Bigham 2012: 533; Kohn 2014: 20). Addressing a need for more real‐time sociolinguistic research on early adulthood, we employ data from a panel study of a single speaker, ‘Clara’ (b. 1986), interviewed every 12 to 18 months between the ages of 16 and 30 (Tagliamonte 2005, 2012: 274–276). We examine four linguistic variables that differ according to level of the grammar and social salience in Clara's community (Toronto, Canada). For each variable, Clara's rates of the variants shift to match those of subsequent age cohorts in the community around her as she gets older and joins the workforce. These findings attest to emerging adulthood as a sociolinguistically formative period. More generally, they emphasize the inseparability of individuals and their linguistic surroundings.

October 14, 2018

Research Groups: Week of October 15-19

Wednesday, October 17, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Bissell Building 113
Morphology Reading Group
Ross Godfrey (Ph.D.) will be leading a paper discussion: Trommer, Jochen. A postsyntactic morphome cookbook. In Siddiqi, Daniel, and Harley, Heidi (eds.), Morphological metatheory, 59-94. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Friday, October 19, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Phonology Research Group

Friday, October 19, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Semantics Research Group
Group discussion of two background readings for the upcoming master-class on presuppositions at the Jackman Humanities Institute to be led by Philippe Schlenker (École normale supérieure/New York University) on November 2. The first of these is: Schlenker, P. (2011). Presupposition projection: Two theories of local contexts, Part I. Language and Linguistics Compass, 5(12), 848-857. The second one is: Schlenker, P. (to appear). Iconic presuppositions.

October 13, 2018


New Ways of Analyzing Variation 47 is being held at New York University from October 18 to 21. Our present roster of sociolinguists/acquisitionists and alumni are all over the program. In addition, Ph.D. student Pocholo Umbal was selected as one of the winners of the NWAV 47 Student Travel Award. Congratulations!

Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.), Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.), Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.), Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.), Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) are giving a talk with Nicole Hildebrand-Edgar (York University):
"Stance, style, and semantics: Operationalizing insights from semantic-pragmatics to account
for linguistic variation."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) and Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty):
"Internal bias feeds incrementation: Experimental evidence from must in child Toronto English."

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"What’s age got to do with it? Problematizing the temporal dimension for linguistic explanation."

Marisa Brook (faculty):
"As if and as though in earlier spoken Canadian English: Register and the onset of change."

Erin Hall (Ph.D.) and Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.):
"/u/-fronting and /æ/-raising in Toronto families."

Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.):
"What's the 'uh' for?: Pragmatic specialization of uh and um in instant messaging."

Naomi Nagy (faculty), with colleagues Rosalba Nodari (Schuola Normale Superiore) and Chiara Celata (Schuola Normale Superiore):
"Internal versus contact-induced variability: Phonetic but not phonological fidelity in Heritage Italian VOT."

Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), with Irina Presnyakova (Simon Fraser University) and Panayiotis Pappas (Simon Fraser University):
"Allophones of /æ/ in four ethnic groups of Vancouver, B.C."

Naomi Nagy (faculty) is part of a talk with colleagues Miriam Meyerhoff (Victoria University of Wellington), Richard Arnold (Victoria University of Wellington), Danielle Barth (Australian National University), Michael Dunn (Uppsala University), Simon Greenhill (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History), Steffen Klaere (Wilfred Laurier University) Nancy Niedzielski (Rice University), James Walker (La Trobe University), Russell Gray (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History), and Evan Hazenberg (University of Sussex):
"New approaches to scaling up: Tracking variation from individual to group and to language."

Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria):
"Linguists be like, 'Where did it come from?'"

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) is part of a workshop with Michol Hoffman (York University), James Stanford (Dartmouth College), Christina Tortora (City University of New York), and
James Walker (La Trobe University):
"Methodological and pedagogical issues for undergraduate researchers in large corpus projects."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) is conducting a workshop with Vishal Arvindam (New York University):
"Eye-tracking for LVC research."

Marisa Brook (faculty) and Emily Blamire (Ph.D.) are presenting a poster:
"The analysis of awesomeØ: Rule-governed nonstandardness at the edge of the grammar."

Matt Hunt Gardner (Ph.D. 2017, now at St. Mary's University) is also presenting a poster:
"I’ll tell you, this study is going to explore future temporal reference in Cape Breton."

Former visiting scholar Holman Tse (University of Pittsburgh) is presenting a talk on his research conducted in accordance with the Heritage Language Variation and Change Project:
The vowels in 'pig' vs. 'tofu': A contact-induced merger in Toronto Heritage Cantonese?"

Heather Burnett (postdoc 2015, now at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique) is co-presenting a talk with Julie Auger (Indiana University):
"What about mie? Methodologies for investigating negation in Picard."

Current visiting scholar Jonathan Kasstan (Queen Mary University of London) is also presenting a talk:
"Maintaining style in language death."

October 12, 2018

Report from AMP6

A lively bunch of department members and alumni assembled at the Annual Meeting on Phonology at the University of California, San Diego from October 5 through 7. Thanks to faculty member Peter Jurgec for the photo!

Nicholas Rolle (MA 2010, now at the University of California, Berkeley), Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland), Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at the University of British Columbia), Rachel Walker (MA 1993, now at the University of Southern California), Peter Jurgec (faculty), Sharon Rose (BA 1990, now at the University of California, San Diego), Aleksei Nazarov (faculty), and Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, now at Seikei University).

October 11, 2018

10th Annual LGCU Welcome Workshop

The tenth LGCU Welcome Workshop is being held on Friday, October 12, in SS 560A. This yearly event is a way of introducing new graduate students and their prior research to the LGCU and the department community.

Sadaf Rahmanian (MA):
"Does misspelling words matter?"

Lauren Bigelow (MA):
"[ej] and [ow] ungliding in Northern Ontario."

Liam Donohue (MA):
"Tense-aspect interaction in Georgian verbs."

Bruno Andreotti (Ph.D.)
"Aspectual, volitional and agentive properties of control marking in Comox-Sliammon."

Koorosh Ariyaee (Ph.D.)
"Phonological blocking factors of pre-nasal vowel raising in Tehrani Persian."

Lisa Sullivan (Ph.D.)
"Phonological conditioning of –ian /–iən/ and –an /–ən/ place name suffixes."

All department members are welcome. A reception will follow in the lounge.

October 10, 2018

Undergrad Welcome Tea and award winners

On Thursday, September 27, we held a Welcome Tea for undergraduates interested in linguistics. This was a chance for newcomers, intermediate/senior linguistics undergrads, grad students, and faculty in the department to get to know each other. At the event, we also announced this year's winners of four undergraduate awards:

Elaine Gold Award for Outstanding Achievement
Christina Suk-Yan Duong

Henry Rogers Award and Memorial Scholarship
Crystal Hai Ying Chen                                             

Jack Chambers Undergrad Scholarship in Linguistics
Anissa Elizabeth Baird                                                         

McNab Scholarship in Linguistics
Hannah Green

Congratulations to all four, and welcome to everyone!

October 9, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, October 12

Please note the extra meeting of the Language Variation and Change Research Group this week.

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group
Megan Parker (MA 2018): "Open doors and closed laptops: Overspecifying state information in the production of referring expressions".

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in Robarts 14190
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Practise talks for NWAV 47, part 2 of 2: Tim Gadanidis (Ph.D.); Marisa Brook (faculty) and Emily Blamire (Ph.D.); Tim Gadanidis (Ph.D.), Nicole Hildebrand-Edgar (York University), Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.), Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.), Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.), Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), and Sali Tagliamonte (faculty).

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Dan Milway (Ph.D.): "A proposal for a label-based theory of the syntax-semantics interface"
In recent work, Chomsky (2013; 2015) has argued that syntactic labelling/projection is performed at the syntax-semantics interface, and is required for proper interpretation by the Conceptual-Intentional system. In this talk I discuss the implications of this line of argumentation and propose an extension to Chomsky's Label Theory. According to this extension, the label of a complex constituent determines how it composes. I further argue that this proposal could be more theoretically attractive than our current semantic-type-based theory of composition (Heim and Kratzer 1998; Montague 1970).

Friday, October 5, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Fieldwork Group
Group paper discussion: Bar-el, Leora (2015). Documenting and classifying aspectual classes across languages. In Bochnak, M. Ryan, and Matthewson, Lisa (eds), Methodologies in semantic fieldwork, 75-109. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

October 4, 2018


The 6th Annual Meeting on Phonology (AMP 6) is being held from October 5-7 at the University of California, San Diego. We are being represented by faculty member Peter Jurgec and several recent undergraduate alumni.

Peter and George Steel (BA 2016) are presenting a demonstration:
"PhonoApps: Learning phonology online."

Peter, Rachel Evangeline Chiong (BA 2018), Andrea Macanović (BA 2018), and Peter Weiss (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
"True transparency and limited blocking in Slovenian palatalization consonant harmony."

October 3, 2018

Happy administrative birthdays!

We are fortunate to have a pair of wonderful, hard-working, enthusiastic, well-organised administrators at the front of our department office: Jennifer McCallum (our Graduate Administrator) and Deem Waham (our Undergraduate Administrator). Among other ways in which these two work in sync and with enviable efficiency is that they share a birthday. This year, we had a little gathering to celebrate our vibrant front-desk staff for everything they do. Thanks to Emily Blamire (Ph.D.) for special efforts in arranging the festivities and to Emily Clare (Ph.D.) for taking the photo.

Happy birthday to both from all of us!

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.), Nick LaCara (faculty), Naomi Nagy (faculty), Marisa Brook (faculty), Jennifer and Deem and Deem's husband Tobias, Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty), Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D.), and Emily Blamire (Ph.D.).

October 2, 2018

Research Groups: Week of October 1-5

Monday, October 2, 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM, PT266
Computational Linguistics Group, Department of Computer Science
Ella Rabinovich (postdoc, Department of Computer Science): "A computational approach to the study of bilingualism."
The goal of this talk is to propose and evaluate an approach for bridging the gap between two related areas of research on bilingualism: translation studies and second language acquisition. I investigate the characteristics of language production that is influenced by the existence of another linguistic system - language that is produced by a variety of multilinguals, including learners, advanced non-native speakers and translators. I ask whether these language varieties are subject to unified principles, governed by phenomena that stem from the co-existence of multiple linguistic systems in a bilingual brain. By applying a range of computational methodologies, I highlight factors that account for the commonalities and the distinctions between various crosslingual languages varieties. Major features of bilingualism, including grammatical, cognitive, and social aspects, have been extensively studied by scholars for over half a century. Crucially, much of this research has been conducted with small, carefully-curated datasets or in a laboratory experimental setup. I will show that the availability of large and diverse datasets of productions of non-native speakers stimulates new opportunities for pursuing the emerging direction of computational investigation of bilingualism, thereby tying empirical results with well-established theoretical foundations.

Wednesday, October 3, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Bissell Building 113
Morphology Reading Group
Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.) will be leading a paper discussion: Stump, Gregory (forthcoming). Paradigm Function Morphology: Assumptions and innovations. In Aronoff, Mark (ed.), The Oxford research encyclopedia of linguistics. Oxford University Press.

Friday, October 5, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Practise talks for NWAV 47, part 1 of 2: Naomi Nagy (faculty); Marisa Brook (faculty); Erin Hall (Ph.D.) and Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.).

Friday, October 5, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Phonology Research Group

Friday, October 5, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Semantics Research Group
Bruno Andreotti (Ph.D.): "Interpreting derived stative predicates: Evidence from ʔayʔajuθəm."
This presentation explores the semantic properties of a verb affix which marks stative aspect in ʔayʔajuθəm. Also known as Comox-Sliammon, ʔayʔajuθəm is a critically endangered Central Salish language spoken on the central west coast of British Columbia, Canada. The talk explores the different possible readings of this affix against what has been reported for similar morphemes in other languages. It is proposed that the different possible readings of a stativized predicate in ʔayʔajuθəm arise out of pragmatics, requiring no semantic or syntactic ambiguity, as has been proposed in previous analyses. In essence, the analysis states that derived stative predicates denote the contextually most informative and least superfluous of the states causally associated with the predicate, evaluated against a set of Questions Under Discussion. This analysis may also be applicable to adjectival participles in English.

October 1, 2018


The 49th meeting of the North East Linguistics Society is being held at Cornell University on October 5-7. On the program, we will be represented by five alumni across several theoretical subfields:

Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007, now at St. Mary's University) and Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at UBC):
"When is derived [i] transparent? A subtractive approach to Uyghur vowel harmony."

Naomi Francis (MA 2014, now at MIT)
"Imperatives under even."

Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at the University of Chicago):
"Lexical case as an anaphor agreement effect: The view from Inuktitut."

Julie Legate (MA 1997, now at the University of Pennsylvania) and colleague Milena Šereikaitė (University of Pennsylvania) have a poster:
"Lithuanian evidentials and passives of evidentials."

September 30, 2018

Workshop on the Syntax of Polynesian Languages

On June 8 and June 9, the department celebrated Diane Massam's retirement (and 28 years as a faculty member here) by hosting a Workshop on the Syntax of Polynesian Languages. This event may have been the first ever international meeting on the syntax of this language family. Polynesianists came from far and wide, as did many of Diane's former students and other colleagues. The phenomenal program was followed by a celebratory banquet.

At the workshop.

Vera Hohaus (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen) answering questions.

Diane with keynote speaker Yuko Otsuka (Sophia University) and two (of several) bouquets that arrived throughout the workshop.

The banquet room.

Diane with with surprise attendee Kyle Johnson (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

A special pudding.

Diane with Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D.), Jack Chambers (faculty), Keren Rice (faculty), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), and Alexei Kochetov (faculty).

With Sandy Chung (University of California, Santa Cruz), Yuko Otsuka (Sophia University), Heidi Quinn (University of Canterbury) and Eric Potsdam (University of Florida).

With Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Jennifer McCallum (staff), and Jila Ghomeshi (Ph.D. 1996, now at the University of Manitoba).

With David Medeiros (California State University, Northridge), Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba), Drew Hancock-Teed (BA alumnus), Rebecca Tollan (Ph.D.), James Collins (University of Hawaiʻi), and Jens Hopperdietzel (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).

September 28, 2018

Our appearance on Jeopardy!

Via a bit of synecdoche, our department was featured in a clue on Jeopardy! earlier this week.

(Photo by Erin Hall.)

The observation in question belongs to faculty member J. K. Chambers and comes from a 2017 interview in the Washington Post.

Our department has a large number of Jeopardy! enthusiasts and this is at least our third encounter with the show in the last few years. Earlier in 2018, alumna Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) was also featured in a clue on Jeopardy! - one pertaining to her 2017 book Discourse-Pragmatic Variation in Context: Eight Hundred Years of LIKE, an expansion of her U of T doctoral dissertation. About two years before, a subset of our sociolinguists got to cross paths with Alex Trebek in person. However, please note that whether there is a sociolinguistics-Jeopardy! conspiracy occurring behind the scenes is not a matter we are in a position to address publicly.

September 27, 2018

Congratulations, Nick!

Congratulations to recent postdoc and faculty member Nick Welch, who has just started a position as an Assistant Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Wonderful news, Nick! All the best, and keep in touch!

September 26, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, September 28

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, Wilson Hall 523
Psycholinguistics Group
Katharina Rohlfing (University of Paderborn): "Collaborative and multimodal endeavour of language learning."
So far in the research, the problem of learning a word was presented mostly in an intrapersonal way: a child has to map a word onto a concept. In this presentation, I will present an alternative to this approach: word learning is not only a matter of the learner. Instead, it is a joint and collaborative endeavor. Consequently, words are used for specific action goals – especially in early development. This view affords not only a change of theoretically conceptualizing word learning but also a change of methods. Departing from the theory summarized in Rohlfing et al. (2016) under the conception of Pragmatic Frames, I will exemplify the methodological challenge on turn-taking, which – so far – was investigated mostly as unimodal but should be considered as a multimodal phenomenon. Analyzing a corpus of mother-child dyads applying Cross Recurrence Quantification Analysis and frequent pattern mining, solutions to the assessment of human sequential behavior will be presented with respect to the questions of (i) how multimodal turn-taking spreads across different modalities and (ii) how it is co-constructed with a partner.

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Nicholas LaCara (faculty): "Modal complement anaphora and the distribution of parenthetical gaps."
English as-parentheticals can contain gaps where verb phrases normally appear. I have argued previously that these gaps are the result of VP ellipsis (VPE) in the parenthetical. In this talk, I look outside of English to see whether other putatively elliptical operations can create gaps in as-parentheticals, concentrating on Modal Complement Anaphora (MCA) in Romance. The results of this investigation seem to show that gaps can occur only where MCA can delete material, but it is not always possible to use MCA in a parenthetical. That is, MCA may not occur as freely as VPE does in English. I do not yet know why.

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Fieldwork Group
Brief, informal presentations about fieldwork expeditions that group members went on this past summer.

September 25, 2018

New paper: Ozburn and Kochetov (2018)

Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at UBC) and Alexei Kochetov (faculty) have a paper out in Phonology, 35(3): "Ejective harmony in Lezgian."

This paper contributes to the typology of laryngeal harmony by analysing an unusual case of long-distance laryngeal co-occurrence restrictions and alternations in Lezgian. This pattern, previously unmentioned in the phonological literature, is the first known case of alternations involving ejective harmony. In Lezgian, local processes mask the interaction of ejectives and plain voiceless stops. This is robustly supported by our dictionary analysis, which reveals a ban on the co-occurrence of ejectives and plain voiceless stops within the foot. Both harmony alternations and static co-occurrence restrictions are sensitive to foot structure, unlike previous cases of consonant harmony. Harmony also interacts opaquely with vowel syncope, and certain co-occurrences of plain and ejective stops are resolved with dissimilation rather than harmony, showing a conspiracy to avoid co-occurrences. We demonstrate an account within the Agreement by Correspondence framework and discuss implications for the typology and analysis of consonant harmony.

September 18, 2018

A milestone for the HLVC project!

On Friday, September 14, former visiting scholar Holman Tse (University of Pittsburgh) successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, "Beyond the monolingual core and out into the wild: A variationist study of early bilingualism and sound change in Toronto Heritage Cantonese". His project - the first dissertation to be based on data from the Heritage Language Variation and Change project - is a landmark! Naomi Nagy (faculty) served on Holman's committee along with University of Pittsburgh faculty members Scott Kiesling (supervisor), Shelome Gooden, and Alan Juffs.

Congratulations to Dr. Tse and to everyone who has been working on HLVC!

(Photos provided by Naomi Nagy.)

Naomi and Holman.

Most of a committee! Scott, Holman, Shelome, and Naomi.

September 17, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, September 21

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Laura Hare (Ph.D. 2018, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations): "Gendered speech: A sociolinguistic study of conversations between men and women in biblical narrative."
In this study, I conduct a quantitative sociolinguistic analysis of a range of different linguistic variables from different levels of grammar, including syntax and vocabulary, that are used by men and women in mixed-gender conversations in the Hebrew Bible. The results of this analysis demonstrate that Hebrew as a written language presents a sociolinguistic world with consistent patterns of linguistic variation, including consistent patterns of gender-based variation. Because the biblical authors use adherence to and deviation from the expected patterns of speech as a way of expressing character traits and indicating unusual situations, an understanding of how linguistic variation functions in the Hebrew Bible provides deeper insight into the text.

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Phonology Research Group
Radu Craioveanu's thesis proposal: "The larynx revisited: The realization, timing, and perception of laryngeal features."

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Semantics Research Group
Paper discussion led by Andrew Peters (Ph.D.).
We will discuss two recent papers by Anand and Toosarvandani on their bicontextual semantics for the English present tense, as well as extensions in the study of temporal sequencing. A discussion on competing approaches for handling temporal inferences in discourse will serve to background Anand and Toosarvandani's account of the 'historical' and 'play-by-play' present. Their approach employs Sharvit's (2004) context of assessment to unify both canonical and non-canonical uses of the English simple present, to explain how narrative backshifting arises and why it is unavailable in the historical present, as well as how the historical present can 'anchor' the past perfect, while canonical and play-by-play uses cannot. I will present discussions from two of Anand and Toosarvandani's papers which are to appear in Sinn und Bedeutung, 21 & 22 as well as from their course at the North American Summer School on Logic, Language, and Information in June 2018.

September 16, 2018

Beginning-of-semester party

We kicked off the new academic year on Friday, September 14, with a lively party! Our chair, Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty), said some introductory words and led the mini-reception for our newest Ph.D. recipient, Jim Smith, who had just successfully defended his dissertation. Yoonjung Kang (faculty) welcomed the new graduate students, postdocs, visiting scholars, and faculty. She also congratulated the 14 students who have recently completed graduate degrees in our department (3 Ph.D. students and 11 MAs over the last few months). Jack Chambers (faculty) gave a toast. Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D.) on behalf of the Linguistics Graduate Course Union, presented the awards for Excellence in TA Supervision for 2017-18: the award went to Nathan Sanders (faculty), with an honorable mention to Derek Denis (faculty).

Thanks to everyone who assisted with the logistics. Here's to a wonderful 2018-19 for all!

Yoonjung makes introductions and re-introductions.

Celebrating Nathan (and Derek).

Celebrating Jim.