August 12, 2018

Derek featured in a National Post article on regional dialects

Derek Denis (faculty) was recently featured in the National Post article "Despite cultural globalization, Canadian regional dialects are stronger than ever". Click here to read it. Here's an excerpt:

However, according to Derek Denis, assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Toronto, such worries are completely unfounded. “The hype of linking media and the internet to language change has never panned out in the way we expected. People thought there would be this widespread standardization of languages, but that didn’t happen. Even though Peter Mansbridge was the host of The National and people in Newfoundland listened to him every day, Newfoundland English still sounds like Newfoundland English.”

August 8, 2018

Yu-Leng wins thesis award; dissertation to be published

Yu-Leng Lin (PhD 2016, now at Feng Chia University in Taiwan) has won the best thesis of 2017 award in a competition held by Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Peking University Research Center on Chinese Linguistics, and Peking University Press. Her dissertation, titled "Sonority Effects and Learning Bias in Nasal Harmony", will be published as a monograph by Springer and Peking University Press individually (expected in 2018). Congratulations, Yu-Leng!

August 1, 2018

Daphna Heller honoring Micheal Tanenhaus, the 2018 Rumerlhart prize winner

Daphna Heller traveled to Madison, WI to participate in the 40th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society where her former post-doc supervisor Michael Tanenhaus was awarded the 2018 Rumelhart prize, the highest distinction in cognitive science. See the Cognitive Science Society's page 2018 Recipient: Michael Tanenhaus for more.

July 31, 2018

Linguistics Garden Party 2018

Sali and Naomi recently hosted a mid-summer garden party to celebrate the department's successes over the past year, with special attention on Keren's contributions to the department as she steps down as department chair.

July 7, 2018

Lunch hosted by Keren

Keren Rice, our outgoing department chair, recently held a lunch in the lounge to thank everyone who's helped make the department work during her term. Of course, she very much deserves our thanks too!

New volume: Recursion across Domains

A new edited volume, Recursion across Domains, has been released with many contributions from the UofT linguistics community:

Guillaume Thomas (faculty): Embedded Imperatives in Mbyá

Fábio Bonfim Duarte (visiting scholar): Clausal Recursion, Predicate Raising, and Head-Finality in Tenetehára

Suzi Lima (faculty) and Pikuruk Kayabi: Recursion of Possessives and Locative Phrases in Kawaiwete

Ana T. Pérez-Leroux (faculty), Anny Castilla-Earls, Susana Béjar (faculty), Diane Massam (emerita), and Tyler Peterson (former visiting faculty, now at Arizona): Strong Continuity and Children’s Development of DP Recursion

July 4, 2018

Na-Young wins Excellent Student Paper Award at AATK 2018

Congratulations to Na-Young Ryu (PhD), the winner of the Excellent Student Paper Award for her paper "Effects of L1 transfer and L2 experience on the perception of Korean vowels" at the 23rd Annual Conference of the American Association of Teachers of Korean (AATK), held at the University of Toronto, June 21–23, 2018.

July 3, 2018

Majed wins Best Student Poster Award at CLA 2018

Majed Al-Solami (PhD) has received the Best Student Poster Award for his poster "Vowel elision, stress, and dialect contact in Bedouin dialects" at the 2018 meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association in Regina. Well done, Majed!

July 2, 2018

Congratulations, Phil!

Phil Howson has defended his doctoral thesis "A phonetic examination of rhotics: gestural representation accounts for phonological behaviour". The committee was comprised of Alexei Kochetov (supervisor), Philip J. Monahan, Peter Jurgec, Nathan Sanders, Anabela Rato (Spanish & Portuguese Dept.), and Khalil Iskarous (USC, Dept. Linguistics).

In related news, Phil has accepted a post-doctoral research position at the University of Oregon, working with supervisor Melissa Redford.

Congratulations to Phil on these two pieces of good news!

June 25, 2018

Report from LabPhon 16

The 16th Conference of the Association for Laboratory Phonology was recently held (June 19-22, 2018) at the University of Lisbon in Portugal. A list of the presentations from our department is below. Scroll down for lots of pictures from the conference and city! (The pictures are clickable for higher resolution.)

Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Suyeon Yun (Ehwa Womans University): Acquisition of Second Dialect Features by North Koreans in Seoul

Rachel Soo (MA), Philip Monahan (faculty): Lexical-phonological representations of tone in Cantonese heritage and native speakers

Jessamyn Schertz (faculty), Kara Hawthorne (Mississippi): Sentential Context Effects on Phonetic Categorization in Talkers with Non-Native and Regional Accents

Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Suyeon Yun (Ehwa Womans University): Dialectal variation and sound change in Korean nasals

Patrick Murphy (PhD), Philip Monahan (faculty): Partial Contrast, Dialect Exposure, and the Perception of Canadian Raising

Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Katherine Sung (BA): Flapping and Linguopalatal Contact Differences in Canadian English /t/ and /d/

Núria Gavaldà (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Juli Cebrian (PhD 2002, now at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Angelica Carlet (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya), Celia Gorba (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona): Evaluating the effects of L2 vowel perceptual training: Retention of learning and generalization to production

Juli Cebrian (PhD 2002, now at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Joan Carles Mora (Universitat de Barcelona): Measuring cross-linguistic perceptual similarity by means of online tasks

Jessamyn and Kara by their poster

Yoonjung presenting her poster

Patrick presenting his poster

Rachel presenting her poster

Alexei presenting his poster

UofT team! (LtoR) Yoonjung, Juli, Patrick, Alexei, Jessamyn, Rachel

Conference dinner

Nossa Senhora do Monte belvedere

Campo Grande, near the university

Belem Tower

June 24, 2018

Linguistics Pride 2018

The department was recently decorated for Pride:

June 16, 2018

Keren Rice recognized at Academic Leaders Reception

Keren Rice was recognized by the Faculty of Arts and Science at the Academic Leaders Reception on June 13, for her work as Chair of Linguistics, 2012-2018. In her speech she highlighted all the changes the department has seen in the past six years. Congratulations on a very successful term, Keren, and thanks for all your hard work for the department! (And the Exit sign in the background seems kind of appropriate for a “stepping down” event!)

June 13, 2018

Nathan Sanders profiled by UofT Arts & Science News on conlangs

Nathan Sanders (faculty) has been profiled by UofT Arts & Science News on constructed languages (conlangs) and his role as a mentor for a Grade 8 student's project to create his own language. Check out the article here!

June 6, 2018

Canadian Linguistics Association 2018 meeting

The 2018 meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association was recently held at the University of Regina. The list of UofT representatives is long, but pictures follow!

Alana Johns (emerita): Suliatsalunik: Lots of work to do (plenary talk)

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) & Mansour Shabani (University of Guilan): Resumption in Gilaki possessor split

Jean-François Juneau (PhD): On the mi-/mo- preverbs in ditransitive Georgian verbs

Daniel Currie Hall (PhD 2007, now at St. Mary’s) & Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at UBC): The representation of phonological contrast in Uyghur vowel harmony

Suzi Lima (faculty) & Adriana Leitão Martins (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro): Aspectual information impacts the countability of deverbal nouns in Brazilian Portuguese

Angelika Kiss (PhD): Attributing illocutionary acts in Spanish by the tag question ¿no?

Karoline Antonsen (undergraduate) & Romina Farhang (undergraduate): The effect of PP type on recursive modifications in monolingual English children

Kazuya Bamba (PhD): Person constraint and sentence-final particles in Japanese

Suzi Lima (faculty), Alice Jesus (Lisboa), Rui Marques (Lisboa) & Ana Lúcia Santos (Lisboa): Constraints on the use of subjunctive in Brazilian Portuguese: A production study

Majed Al-Solami (PhD): Vowel elision, stress and dialect contact in Bedouin dialects

Michelle Troberg (UTM), Meena Ahmad (UTM undergraduate) & Maya Krol (UTM undergraduate): Change and loss of P-elements: A case study of fors and hors in the history of French

Susana Béjar (faculty) & Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty): When intensional subjects control agreement

Julie Goncharov (PhD 2015, now at Hebrew University of Jerusalem) & Monica Irimia (PhD 2011, now at University of Modena and Reggio Emilia): The imperfect puzzle

Bettina Spreng (PhD 2012, now at Saskatchewan): Finiteness, tense, and feature inheritance in Inuktitut

Bronwyn M. Bjorkman (former post-doc, now at Queen’s): Pronominal tense and anaphora: Evidence from sequence of tense

Neil Banerjee (BA 2016, now at MIT): Fishing for CARP in Kinyarwanda

Laura Kastronic (UofT French), Stephen Levey (Ottawa) & Mélissa Chiasson-Léger (Ottawa): Sisters under the skin?: Discourse-pragmatic variation and change in three varieties of French

Jila Ghomeshi (PhD 1996, now at Manitoba) & Tasheney Francis Holness (Manitoba): Additive and associative plural marking in Jamiekan

Susana Béjar (faculty), Diane Massam (emerita), Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty) & Yves Roberge (UofT French): Syntactic recursion: Theory and acquisition

Will Oxford (PhD 2014, now at Manitoba): What’s the inverse of an inverse? Transitive constructions in Algonquian and Austronesian

Richard Compton (PhD 2012, now at UQAM): Inuit φ-markers as the exponence of agree: Evidence from granularity, default forms

Leslie Saxon (MA 1979, now at Victoria): Ne, discourse particle in T li˛cho˛: Speaker commitments, common ground, and calls on the addressee

The conference venue, First Nations University of Canada, under stormy skies.
Romina Farhang and Karoline Antonsen, Undergraduate students, with their poster, along with Yves Roberge and Diane Massam, who are also on the research team led by Ana-Teresa Perez-Leroux.
Alana Johns (centre), recipient of the CLA/ACL 2018 National Achievement Award, along with her past students, Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, currently at UQAM, and Bettina Spreng, Ph.D. 2012, currently at University of Saskatchewan).
Jila Ghomeshi (Ph.D. 1996, currently at University of Manitoba), Elizabeth Ritter (Post-doc 1991, currently at University of Calgary), Ileana Paul (University of Western Ontario), and faculty members, Diane Massam and Elizabeth Cowper, at the President’s Reception.
Kaz Bamba, Ph.D. student, with his poster.

June 5, 2018

Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change 2018

Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change, an international biennial meeting of variationist sociolinguists who are working on discourse and pragmatic variables, recently took place at the University of Helsinki in Finland. UofT had a strong presence with three presentations:

Derek Denis (faculty) and Timothy Gadanidis (MA), "Before the rise of um"

Timothy Gadanidis, "Um, about that, uh, variable: uh and um in teen instant messaging"

Sali Tagliamonte (faculty) and Katharina Pabst (PhD), "Cool system, lovely patterns, awesome results: A cross-variety comparison of adjectives of positive evaluation"

 Tim presenting his Master's forum paper research
 Katharina presenting on behalf of her and Sali
Katharina and Derek enjoying post-conference sunshine and drinks near Kauppatori (Helsinki's Market Square)
Derek enjoying the Helsinki craft beer scene with Newcastle University graduate students Kaleigh Woolford (a former undergraduate student of Derek's at University of Victoria) and Joaquín Bueno-Amaro. (Photo taken around 10:30pm, no flash!)

May 31, 2018

2017-18 Dresher Prize and Cowper Prize winners

The 2017-18 Elizabeth Cowper Syntax Prize for outstanding work in a graduate syntax seminar has been awarded to Andrew Peters for his paper "Mandarin de in the nominal and verbal domains".

The 2017-18 Dresher Phonology Prize for outstanding work in a graduate phonology seminar has been awarded to Fiona Wilson for her paper "Hiatus resolution cross-linguistically:  A harmonic serialism approach".

Congratulations to both of you!

May 22, 2018

The Canadian origins of HAL 9000

This year is the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, featuring the iconic HAL 9000, a computer (specifically an artificial general intelligence) that Gerry Flahive describes as "perhaps the most memorable non-animal character in the history of cinema" in his article on HAL's speech and origins.

If no geographic features stood out to you in HAL's speech, that was the intention. After considering actor Martin Balsam, who has a mild Bronx accent, Kubrick decided on Canadian actor Douglas Rain. Jack Chambers explains in Flahive's article: "you have to have a computer that sounds like he’s from nowhere, or, rather, from no specific place". Raised diphthongs notwithstanding, Canadian English is a good candidate for this, at least in a North American context. Jack:
“Standard Canadian English sounds ‘normal' –the vowels are in the right place, the consonants are in the right place, it covers a large piece of ground. That’s why Canadians are well received in the United States as newscasters, as anchormen and reporters, because the vowels don’t give away the region they come from. It’s entirely wrong to describe Rain’s voice as ‘mid-Atlantic’–the Canadian accent has almost no trace of Britishness.”

May 16, 2018

Catching up with old friends

Saradindu Guha dropped into the department on Tuesday. Saradindu was our administrative assistant from 1990 until 1999, when he retired at 65. Now 85, he was downtown sorting out his visa for a trip to China and Japan. A remarkable man with a remarkable memory, he greeted everyone by name, inquired about spouses and partners by their names, and talked about numerous old colleagues and students. (He asked about the progress of an “affair” between two grad students. No progress— he disappeared, and she married someone else and has a university-age son.) Saradindu has a Ph.D in chemistry, and he continues his 40-year sideline of translating scientific articles from Russian into English.  Mary Hsu took this photo of Saradindu with Keren and Jack.

May 15, 2018

LVC field trip: Oral histories in Parry Sound, Ontario

The first Language Variation and Change CRC-sponsored field trip team have been doing oral histories in Parry Sound, Ontario for the past week. We have talked to 45 people and documented their stories. We are finding many interesting linguistic features in the data! In rare moments like the one portrayed in this picture, they get a chance to wind down in the local scene.

(LtoR): Kinza Mahoon, Lisa Schlegl, Tim Gadanidis, Fiona Wilson, Andrei Munteanu, Jean-François Juneau.

May 14, 2018

41st Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW)

U of T was well represented at GLOW in Budapest in April:

Left to right: Monica Irimia, Ph.D. 2014, now at University of Modena and Reggio Emilia; Elizabeth Cowper, Professor Emeritus; Avery Ozburn, M.A. 2014, now at UBC; Naomi Francis, MA 2014, now at MIT; Julianne Doner, Ph.D. student. Also participating but not pictured: Daniel Currie Hall, Ph.D. 2007, now at Saint Mary's University

May 12, 2018

11th annual Science Rendezvous

On Saturday, May 12, 2018, the Linguistics Department at the University of Toronto will be taking part in the 11th 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, button making, 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
The University of Toronto Science Rendezvous page with the information about exhibits on campus is here:
The Canada-wide site is at

The event runs from 11 to 4, and will take place on and around St George Street between Harbord and College. The Linguistics Booth will be at the Bahen Center for Information Technology Atrium BA1140.

Hope to see you there!

May 2, 2018


The 6th annual Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton workshop on syntax (MOTH 6) was recently held at McGill. Presenters from UofT:

Virgilio Partida Peñalva (PhD): Multiple PP-remnants in Spanish Pseudostripping: The interaction between NP- and TP-ellipsis

Kinza Mahoon (PhD): Structure of ezafe in Urdu – a compounding approach

Fiona Wilson (PhD): The amn’t gap in Scottish English

Jean-François Juneau (PhD): On the Old and Modern Georgian Suffixaufnahme in Possessive Noun Phrases

Andrew Peters (PhD): Form and Function: Mandarin de in the Nominal and Verbal Domains

Sahar Taghipour (PhD): On Definite Marking in Laki

Nadia Nacif (UofT French): Restrictive and non-restrictive adjectives in Romance languages: Portuguese and Spanish evidence

(LtoR) Back: Virgilio Partida Peñalva, Jean-François Juneau, Koorosh Ariyaee, Sahar Taghipour, Arsalan Kahnemuyipour. Front: Fiona Wilson, Kinza Mahoon, Andrew Peters, Nadia Nacif.

May 1, 2018

48th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL 48)

The 48th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL 48) was recently held at York University. Some of the presentations associated with UofT:

Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty): A Child’s View of Romance Modification

Gavin Antonio Bembridge (York University) & Andrew Peters (PhD): Who, or where are ‘you’ to me? Formality as distance in Romance and beyond

Suzi Lima (UofT faculty/UFRJ) & Cristiane Oliveira (UFRJ): Value and quantity in the evaluation of bare singulars in Brazilian Portuguese

Sophia Bello (UofT French): Does null mean something to you? Children’s missing objects and what it all means

Jacob Aziz (Western), Vanina Machado (UofT Spanish&Portuguese), Yasaman Rafat (Western), Rajiv Rao (University of Wisconsin, Madison) & Ryan Stevenson (Western): Investigating the sources of nuclear intonation in Argentinian-Canadian heritage speakers of Spanish: Evidence of parental and English influences,

Juliane Doner (PhD) & Çağrı Bilgin (MA 2017): Same Extended Projection Principle, Different Null Subject Language

Hilary Walton (UofT French): The influence of the presence of orthography on the production of a novel vowel contrast by Anglophone learners of French

April 30, 2018

Alana Johns: National Achievement Award, Canadian Linguistic Association (2018)

Alana Johns has been announced as one of the two 2018 laureates of the National Achievement Award from the Canadian Linguistic Association. She will give a plenary talk at the CLA's Annual Meeting at the University of Regina at the end of May. Congratulations on this wonderful honour, Alana! Here is the CLA's announcement:

Dr L. Alana Johns has had a substantial impact on three areas of Canadian linguistics: theoretical morphosyntax, comparative research on Inuit dialects, and community work in language revitalization, maintenance, and documentation.
Dr Johns is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto, where she also served as Director of Aboriginal Studies/the Centre of Aboriginal Initiatives. She spent the first part of her career at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. At both institutions, she inspired, trained and mentored many linguistics students, some of whom she brought to northern regions of Canada to engage in fieldwork. Today, an impressive number of her students have distinguished careers as scholars and as collaborators with Indigenous communities.
The core of Dr. Johns’ theoretical contributions lies in her research on the morphosyntax of Inuktitut, specifically in her work on noun incorporation and on syntactic properties that underlie ergativity. Originating in her PhD dissertation and expanded throughout her career, this influential research has redefined our understanding of cross-linguistic variation in the domain of argument structure, agreement, tense, and case assignment. Furthermore, it has contributed to our knowledge of dialectal variation within the Inuit languages. Dr Johns has also collaborated with other scholars on issues such as phonological change, sentence prosody, and receptive bilingualism in Labrador Inuttitut heritage speakers.
A strong advocate of participatory research between linguists and Indigenous communities, Dr Johns has contributed tremendously to creating a space for fruitful collaborations based on mutual trust and on the needs of the communities. In doing so, she has also contributed to redefining attitudes toward Indigenous people. In her work, she has trained and mentored community members to become Inuit language specialists. Her involvement in collecting and transcribing Inuktitut stories has contributed to preserving and enhancing the collective memory of the Inuit. Her language maintenance projects have produced grammars and teaching manuals on Inuktitut and Inuttitut as well as research documents such as the Dictionary of Utkuhiksalingmiut Inuktitut Postbase Suffixes (co-authored with Jean Briggs and Conor Cook), which is foundational to future revitalization efforts.
In sum, Dr Johns has been a driving force in the study and promotion of the Inuit dialects of Canada. Her ongoing efforts to support language documentation and revitalization have enhanced the status of Indigenous languages and have served the field of linguistics. We are very pleased to recognize her advocacy and inspirational work by awarding her the National Achievement Award of the Canadian Linguistic Association for 2018.

April 24, 2018

WSCLA and SAIL at the University of Ottawa (2018)

WSCLA (23rd Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Languages of the Americas) and SAIL (Symposium for American Indian Languages) were recently held together at the University of Ottawa (April 13th and 14th, 2018).

Current faculty/students/visiting scholars that presented their work at WSCLA/SAIL:

  • Suzi Lima (faculty): A typology of the count/mass distinction in Brazil and its relevance for count/mass theories (invited talk, WSCLA)
  • Guillaume Thomas (faculty): Resultatives in Mbyá and the grammar of causativization (talk, WSCLA)
  • Suzi Lima: The Kawaiwete pedagogical grammar (talk, SAIL)
  • Vidhya Elango (undergraduate), Isabella Coutinho (Universidade Estadual de Roraima), and Suzi Lima: Language vitality in Macuxi and Wapichana in Terra Indígena Serra de Lua, Roraima, Brazil (poster, SAIL)
  • Fábio Bonfim Duarte (visiting scholar): Is Tentehara a head-final over head-initial language? (talk, WSCLA)
  • Fábio Bonfim Duarte (with colleagues Camargos and Castro): The parallel between verbs and nouns in the Tenetehára language (poster).

Several alumni, former post-docs and former visiting scholars presented their work in one of these events: Nicholas Welch (former post-doc, now at McMaster), Richard Compton (PhD 2012, now at UQAM), Will Oxford (PhD 2014, now at UManitoba), Michael Barrie (PhD 2006, now at Sogang University), Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada (former visiting scholar, now at UAlberta), and Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at UofT)

Vidhya Elango

Suzi Lima

Fábio Bonfim Duarte and Guillaume Thomas

April 20, 2018

Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics Vol. 40: Special Issue from CRC-Sponsored Phonology/Phonetics Workshops

Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics is happy to announce the publication of a special volume dedicated to research presented at the recurring phonology/phonetics workshop during Keren Rice’s time as Canada Research Chair.

This online volume can be found at the following link:

We are very grateful to the authors, to the TWPL editorial staff, and to Keren, for making this volume possible.

April 15, 2018

Grading and lasagne

Naomi, Lex and Julien celebrated the end of a long grading day with a lasagne feast.

April 10, 2018

Linguistic Perspectives on Variation: Toronto-Buffalo Workshop (2018)

On Friday, April 6th, 2018, the first annual Buffalo-Toronto Workshop on Linguistic Perspectives on Variation was held at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Presentations from our department:

Variation and change in reduplication and repetition in Ontario dialects — Sali Tagliamonte (faculty) & Katharina Pabst (PhD)

A socio-indexical feature in Heritage Italian: VOT in Toronto — Naomi Nagy (faculty), Rosalba Nodari (Scuola Normale Superiore) & Chiara Celata (Scuola Normale Superiore)

Height or hide? Partial contrast, dialect exposure, and the perception of Canadian Raising  — Patrick Murphy (PhD) & Philip Monahan (faculty)

Evidence of intradialect variation in Scottish English  — Fiona Wilson (PhD)

Accented stops? L1-based variation in L2 English stop production  — Jessamyn Schertz (faculty)

Group Photo (LtoR): Derry Moore (Buffalo), Patrick Murphy (Toronto), Randi Moore (Buffalo), Katharina Pabst (Toronto), Sali Tagliamonte (Toronto), Christian DiCanio (Buffalo), Jessamyn Schertz (Toronto), Thomas St. Pierre (Buffalo), Naomi Nagy (Toronto), Jeff Good (Buffalo), Fiona Wilson (Buffalo), David Fertig (Buffalo)

Katharina Pabst and Sali Tagliamonte

Naomi Nagy

Fiona Wilson

Jessamyn Schertz

April 9, 2018

New book: Nominal Contact in Michif

Carrie Gillon (MA 1999, now at Quick Brown Fox Consulting) and Nicole Rosen (PhD 2007, now at University of Manitoba) have a new book: Nominal Contact in Michif. From the OUP website, the book:

  • Offers a detailed formal description of the structure of Michif with extensive examples
  • Accessible to linguists from all theoretical and descriptive backgrounds
  • Explores the validity of 'mixed language' as a category
  • Proposes a new classification of Michif as an Algonquian language with French contact influence

April 2, 2018

New book: Direct Objects and Language Acquisition

Congratulations to Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (Faculty, Dept. of Linguistics, Department of Spanish and Portuguese), Mihaela Pirvulescu (Faculty, Dept. of Language Studies UTM, Graduate Department of French), and Yves Roberge (Faculty, Dept. of French, Graduate Dept of Linguistics) on the publication of their book: "Direct Objects and Language Acquisition" with Cambridge University Press.

You can take a peek at the exciting contents inside at the following site:

March 23, 2018

How Fox Saved the People: Tlicho folktale turned video game

Nicholas Welch (faculty), Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at UMass Amherst), and Luke West (MA 2015, now at UCLA) were recently featured in a CBC article about a language-learning video game they created around a Tlicho folktale, "How Fox Saved the People". Check out the article here!

March 22, 2018

Keren Rice on donating

Arts & Science is currently running a series on their faculty and staff giving campaign, talking with employees of the university who donate. Keren Rice (faculty) was profiled on her donations to scholarship funds in honour of retiring colleagues (link here). Quote:
Why do I give? For many reasons. You see a gap, and you hope that if you do something to fill it, it won’t stay a gap.
Over the past few years I’ve made several donations to scholarship funds in honour of retiring colleagues. In a small department like Linguistics, every single faculty member makes a difference for every single student, and you want to be able to remember the contributions they have made. Each time a student gets a named award, it makes them stop and think about who that person is, what kinds of important contributions they have made.
Last year we set up a new undergraduate award in honour of our colleague Elaine Gold, who had just retired and become the Director of the Canadian Language Museum. When I wrote the student to tell him he’d gotten the award, he was just so flattered to be recognized. It’s not a lot of money, but it made him feel like his hard work had been noticed.
As a faculty member, I donate to scholarships at U of T because I am at a stage in my life when I have the means to do so and am thinking about what kinds of things I want to support. Honouring my colleagues and helping our students are definitely worthwhile causes.

March 21, 2018

Angelika Kiss featured in U of T Bulletin article on family study space

Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.) and her son Mark (9-and-a-half months old) have been featured by The Bulletin in an article on a new family study space at Robarts Library: "Robarts Library opens family study space for parents and kids".

“It's important to have a safe and secure space that allows parents to engage in their academic pursuits while also caring for their children,” says Larry Alford, the university's chief librarian.
Angelika Kiss, a PhD student in linguistics, says the new space will come in handy.
She usually studies at home where she can watch her energetic 9-month-old Mark.
It isn't long before Mark loses interest in his picture-books and demands his mom's attention. “I would love it if I could just read a few pages of an article with Mark being awake because that's sometimes impossible. He's so active,” Kiss says.
A special room for parents who want to use the library would make it much less tricky to do research with a toddler in tow, she says.

March 20, 2018

Undergraduate Research Forum

The Undergraduate Research Forum took place in the Great Hall at Hart House on March 14. Linguistics undergrads were well-represented by 3 research posters:
  1. Anna Pechkina, supervised by Naomi Nagy, “Heritage Russian Case Variability", a Summer 2017 ROP299 project.
  2. Rachel Evangeline Chiong, Andrea Macanovic, supervised by Peter Jurgec, “Long-distance palaltalization in Zadrečka Valley Slovenia", a Summer 2017 LIN398 project.
  3. Charlotte Fiegenbaum, Ariel Gomes, Morgan Marden, Olivia McManus, Si Yuan Jeffrey Wang, supervised by Sali Tagliamonte, “Catching language change: A Trans-Atlantic perspective on really reat intensifiers", a Winter 2018 ICM Project.
Students interested in these sorts of opportunities should check out:

Andrea Macanovic and her poster (along with Rachel Evangeline Chiong, Peter Weiss of ZRC SAZU, and Peter Jurgec)

March 19, 2018

Bettina Spreng: tenure-track appointment, University of Saskatchewan

Bettina Spreng (PhD 2012) has just signed a contract for a tenure-track appointment as Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Saskatchewan. Her current position with Linguistics and Religious Studies (also at Saskatchewan) lasts until June. Congrats, Bettina!

(LtoR): Alana Johns (supervisor), Bettina Spreng, Diane Massam, and Elizabeth Cowper

March 16, 2018

Sali Tagliamonte at South by Southwest

Sali Tagliamonte (faculty) was at South by Southwest (a music/film/etc. festival) in Austin, Texas this week. She participated in a panel on language and the Internet titled “Doggos, Bork, BAE: the New World Language”. It was one of the few events at the festival focused on language. The moderator was Neha Bansal and the participants were: Nick Farmer, Subramanyeswar S, and Sali Tagliamonte.

(LtoR) Subramanyeswar S, Neha Bansal, Sali Tagliamonte, Nick Farmer.

March 15, 2018

Safieh Moghaddam hired as Assistant Professor at UTSC

Safieh (Safi) Moghaddam (Ph.D. 2016) will be joining the Centre for French and Linguistics, University of Toronto, Scarborough, in the position of Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in Linguistics. Congratulations, Safi!

Here is Safi at her doctoral convocation in November, 2016, with her advisor, Diane Massam.

March 8, 2018

Linguistics in the community: Grade 8 school project on constructed languages

Shortly after arriving in Toronto in July, Professor Nathan Sanders began mentoring local student, Ben Kramer, for his Grade 8 project at the Halton Waldorf School in Burlington.  Every student in the grade selects a major project for the year and seeks out a mentor to help guide them.  For his project, Ben designed his own constructed language, Gəfedbemar, and wrote up a grammar, which includes an abjad orthography, rules for building words and sentences, a glossary of hundreds of words, and sample translations.  The finale to the project was a well-delivered and well-received public presentation on March 7th, in which Ben spoke in Gəfedbemar and described the process of building the language.  Signed copies of his grammar were very popular with the crowd!

February 21, 2018

4th Workshop on Slovenian Phonology

On Tuesday, March 6, our department will host the 4th Workshop on Slovenian Phonology. Linguistics undergraduate students will present their research projects on Slovenian (supervised by faculty member Peter Jurgec). To help us plan, please, register at before Sunday, March 4, noon. The registration is free; pizza will be provided for lunch. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
O.I.S.E. OI 2286

9:45 Coffee & Cookies

10:00 Reilley Marston: Centralized vowels in Resian
10:30 Wenxuan Chen: Vowel harmony in Slovenian
11:15 Fernanda Lara Peralta and Hanna Smolyanitsky: Nasal harmony in Mostec and beyond

12:15 Lunch Break

1.45 Anissa Baird and Richard Gan: Mapping Slovenian (Demos)
2:15 Rachel Evangeline Chiong and Andrea Macanović: Palatalization consonant harmony in Zadrečka Valley
3:15 Fernanda Lara Peralta & Jeffrey Wang: PhonoApps: Computational and learning tools for phonologists (Demo)
3:45 Nicole Breakey, Juan Murillo Vargas, Shankhalika Srikanth, and Sharon Tung: Binomials in Slovenian

4:15 Discussion & Conclusion

February 17, 2018

Heather Burnett's new book: Gradability in Natural Language

Congratulations to Heather Burnett, who was formerly a post-doc in our department, on the publication of her book Gradability in Natural Language! Click here for the book website.

This book presents a new theory of the relationship between vagueness, context-sensitivity, gradability, and scale structure in natural language. Heather Burnett argues that it is possible to distinguish between particular subclasses of adjectival predicates--relative adjectives like tall, total adjectives like dry, partial adjectives like wet, and non-scalar adjectives like hexagonal--on the basis of how their criteria of application vary depending on the context; how they display the characteristic properties of vague language; and what the properties of their associated orders are. It has been known for a long time that there exist empirical connections between context-sensitivity, vagueness, and scale structure; however, a formal system that expresses these connections had yet to be developed.
This volume sets out a new logical system, called DelTCS, that brings together insights from the Delineation Semantics framework and from the Tolerant, Classical, Strict non-classical framework, to arrive at a full theory of gradability and scale structure in the adjectival domain. The analysis is further extended to examine vagueness and gradability associated with particular classes of determiner phrases, showing that the correspondences that exist between the major adjectival scale structure classes and subclasses of determiner phrases can also be captured within the DelTCS system.

February 16, 2018

Suyeon Yun to Ewha Womans University in Seoul

Congratulations and farewell to Suyeon Yun (Postdoctoral Fellow, UTSC), who is leaving for Korea to take up a faculty position at the Department of English Education at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

February 15, 2018

Phil Howson in Phonetica

Phil Howson (Ph.D.) has recently had his paper "Rhotics and Palatalization: An Acoustic Examination of Upper and Lower Sorbian" published in the journal Phonetica. The work is from his first generals paper. He traveled to Germany, with the help of the Germany/Europe Fund, and collected data at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Sorbian Institute.

In the paper he examines the acoustics of rhotics in Upper and Lower Sorbian (related Slavic languages spoken in eastern Germany) to better understand the resistance of rhotics to palatalization, and the acoustic cues of rhotics as a class. You can find the paper here.

Congrats, Phil!

February 13, 2018


The 11th annual Toronto Undergraduate Linguistics Conference (TULCON) is being held on March 10-11 (Saturday and Sunday) 2018. It is now the longest-running undergraduate linguistics conference in North America!

Saturday 10 March 2018
Sidney Smith Hall SS2125, University of Toronto
9:30 Breakfast and Registration
10:00 Opening Keynote: Nathan Sanders, University of Toronto
Articulatory and Perceptual Patterns in Sign Language Lexicons
11:00 Break
11:15 Maya Keshav, McGill University
North American Regional Variation in Uptalk
11:45 Christina McDermott, Rachel Thomas, Thalia Cruzat, University of California Berkeley
Examining Style-Shifting in Speakers of Boston English
12:15 Catered Lunch
13:15 Victoria Svaikovsky, McGill University
The Americanization of Québécois L2 English
13:45 Claudia Valdivia, University of California Berkeley
Effect of Speaker on the Nonword Repetition Task in Monolingual and Bilingual Children and

14:15 Hayley Ostrega, McGill University
The Effects of Crosslinguistic Influence in the Acquisition of Morphosyntax in SLI Children
14:45 Break
15:15 Poster Session
Sidney Smith Hall Linguistics Lounge, 4th Floor
Courtney Dalton, Bryn Mawr College
Merging Morphemes: The Focus Marker and Copula in Kikamba
Jesse Hancock-Teed, University of Toronto
Language Movements and Reconciliation: The Impacts of Final Agreements
Aimee Padillo, University of Toronto
Do I Have an Accent? Effects of First Language on Canadian English

Sunday 11 March 2018
9:30 Breakfast
10:00 William Merrill, Yale University
Sense Abstraction: A Generalization of Intensionality for the Semantics of Subordinate Clauses
10:30 Akshayraj Aitha, University of California Berkeley
Telugu Complex DPs: A Novel Analysis
11:00 Break
11:15 Catherine Wang, University of Southern California
Fact or Opinion: Interpreting Subjective Adjectives in News Discourse
11:45 Insiya Bhalloo, University of Toronto
Investigating the Influence of Phonological Memory on the Word Recognition Abilities of Arabic Readers vs. Native Speakers
12:15 Catered Lunch
13:15 Janessa Tam, University of Toronto
Processing Digraphic Text (Cantonese-English) in Social Media Settings
13:45 Closing Keynote: Lex Konnelly, University of Toronto
The Stylistic Use of Creaky Voice in Non-Binary Transition Vlogs

February 3, 2018

Philip Monahan in the Annual Review of Linguistics

Philip Monahan (faculty) has recently published an article in the Annual Review of Linguistics (Volume 4, 2018, pp 21-47) called "Phonological Knowledge and Speech Comprehension". He talks about the role of phonological distinctive features in perception and predictive processing, with evidence from psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic research. Click here to read the article!

February 2, 2018

International Journal of the Sociology of Language: Special Issue on Francoprovençal

The International Journal of the Sociology of Language has recently released a special issue on Francoprovençal (Volume 2018, Issue 249, Jan 2018), a Gallo-Romance language primarily spoken around where France, Switzerland, and Italy meet. The issue was edited by Naomi Nagy (faculty) and Jonathan Kasstan. Two particular papers of interest:

"An overview of Francoprovençal vitality in Europe and North America" by Alessia Zulato (Illinois), Jonathan Kasstan (Queen Mary University of London), and Naomi Nagy.

"Faetar null subjects: a variationist study of a heritage language in contact" by Naomi Nagy, Michael Iannozzi (BA 2014, now at Western), and David Heap (PhD from UofT French Linguistics, now at Western).

Click here to access the issue.

January 31, 2018

Diane Massam in Berlin for a Workshop on Multi Verb Constructions

Diane Massam (Professor Emeritus) was invited to speak on Niuean complex predicates at a Workshop on Multi Verb Constructions in December 2017, organized by the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft and the Research Unit on experimental syntax and heritage languages (Humboldt University, Berlin). These pictures show the (rather intimidating!) conference venue at Humboldt University, and the great Christmas Market atmosphere of Berlin in December.

January 30, 2018

Linguistic Variation (17:2): Register Variation and Syntactic Theory

A special issue of Linguistic Variation (17:2) has just been published, on Register Variation and Syntactic Theory, edited by Diane Massam (Professor Emeritus) and Tim Stowell (MA: 1977, now at UCLA). It includes an introduction by Tim and Diane, and a paper co-authored by Diane and two of our PhD students Kazuya Bamba and Patrick Murphy. The volume includes papers on the syntax used in special registers such as diaries, text messages, newspaper headlines, and recipes, across a range of languages. Diane, Kaz and Patrick’s paper is on null objects in recipes and in radical null argument languages.

January 29, 2018

‘A Newfoundland Treasury of Terms for Ice and Snow’ (Canadian Language Museum exhibit opening, Feb. 1st, 2018)

A message from Elaine Gold and the Canadian Language Museum:

You are all invited to attend the opening of the exhibit ‘A Newfoundland Treasury of Terms for Ice and Snow’ at the Canadian Language Museum’s gallery, in Glendon Gallery, Glendon College. This is an award-winning exhibit of photographs and videos by Newfoundland artist, Marlene Creates. U of T’s Linguistics band F-Zero will be playing Newfoundland tunes, Prof. Jack Chambers will speak about English in Newfoundland, the artist will Skype in from Fogo Island, and there will be some Newfoundland treats!

You can get here by TTC, but if you drive you’ll have to pay for parking in Lot A (see map below #4); you can park there, or drive around to Lot B (#5).  You can also park in the ravine (Lots #1, 2) (and pay there)  and hike back up!

Click here for the map.