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.

September 14, 2018

Congratulations, Jim!

Jim Smith successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, "Sociophonetic variation and change of Northern Ontario English vowels", on Friday, September 14, 2018. The committee consisted of Sali A. Tagliamonte (supervisor), Alexei Kochetov, Aaron Dinkin (now at San Diego State University), Jack Chambers, Derek Denis, and external examiner Charles Boberg (McGill University). Congratulations, Dr. Smith! Enjoy your ongoing retirement on the West Coast, and keep in touch!

Derek, Jim, Sali, Charles, and Jack. (Photo by Marisa Brook.)

September 12, 2018

Research Groups: Friday, September 14

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, Wilson Hall 523
Psycholinguistics Group
Myrto Grigorogloun (postdoc, OISE): "Informativeness in children's event descriptions."

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Julianne Doner (Ph.D.): "Looking for predicate-EPP languages."
There is a class of predicate EPP languages characterized by a high defective T. This class of languages includes Irish, Inuktitut, and Niuean. This high defective T results in the following properties: (a) they lack non-finite clauses, (b) T is merged with C and precedes the verb, (c) they have defective tense morphology, and (d) they lack a definiteness contrast. I will also discuss three other languages which partially pattern with the predicate-EPP languages (Gitksan, Mazahua, and Mandarin), whether they can be classified as predicate-EPP languages, and the consequences for refining the description of the characteristics of predicate-EPP.

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Fieldwork Group

September 11, 2018

Exhibit on Yiddish language at Robarts

The current installation at the bottom of the elevators on the ground floor of Robarts Library is "Komets-alef: o: Back to school at the Yiddish kheyder", curated by Miriam Borden, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures.

Through the lens of the kheyder (the traditional religious classroom for children among the Eastern European Jewish population), the exhibit introduces the Yiddish language (orthography, phonetics, dialectology) and a bit about literature and culture.

The exhibit was designed by Rowan Van Berk, and co-sponsored by the Al and Malka Green Yiddish Studies Program, the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. Originally planned to be shown only until the end of July, it has now been extended to the end of October and is free and open to the public. If you're on campus and have a minute, have a look!

September 8, 2018

Sali A. Tagliamonte on CBC News

CBC News interviewed faculty member and chair Sali A. Tagliamonte this week about what we can and can't say about the unidentified author of this week's prominent anonymous op-ed piece in the New York Times by a White House insider claiming to be involved in resisting the administration. Check out the video here.

September 7, 2018

AMLaP 2018

Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP) 2018 is taking place from September 6-8 in Berlin, Germany. Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.) presented a paper coauthored with former faculty member Meg Grant (now at the Humboldt University of Berlin), and current faculty member Daphna Heller: "Effects of discourse and action on visual attention during language processing."

(Photo provided by Daphna Heller.)

September 6, 2018

SPF 2018

This year's Summer Phonology Forum took place on Thursday, August 2 and drew participants from every level in our department – as well as a couple of visitors. Worthy of note was that a large number of undergraduate students took part this year.

Fiona Wilson (Ph.D.) gave the B. Elan Dresher Phonology Prize Talk:
"Hiatus resolution cross-linguistically: A Harmonic Serialism approach."

The other speakers were:

Wenxuan Chen (BA) and Peter Jurgec (faculty):
"ATR harmony in Slovenian."

Nazia Mohsin (BA) and Yoonjung Kang (faculty):
"Gender phonology of Urdu first names."

Rachel Soo (MA) and Phil Monahan (faculty):
"Lexical-phonological interactions in Cantonese: Investigating tone merger in native and heritage speakers."

Nathan Sanders (faculty):
"Articulation versus perception in sign language movement."

Connie Ting (MA), Rachel Soo (MA), and Jessamyn Schertz (faculty):
"Investigating the use of visual gender cues in English stop voicing perception."

Gauri Chaudhari (BA), Crystal Chow (BA), Sarah Khan (BA), Anna Lyashenko (BA), and Jessamyn Schertz (faculty):
"Perception of Hindi and Urdu voiced aspirates."

Alex Jaker (postdoc):
"Consonant-vowel and sonority-prosody interactions in Dëne Su̢łiné optative paradigms."

Koorosh Ariyaee (Ph.D.):
"Pre-nasal raising in Vernacular Tehrani Persian (VTP)."

Andrei Munteanu (Ph.D.):
"OT and diachrony: Applications and implications."

Kiranpreet Nara (Ph.D.):
"Imitation of Mandarin tones by L2 learners."

Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D.):
"Training Mandarin listeners to produce and perceive Korean vowels: The role of explicit and implicit phonetic instruction."

Lisa Sullivan (Ph.D.):
"Phonology of gender in French and English given names."

Heather Yawney (Ph.D.):
"Velars and uvulars in Kazakh."

Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007, now at St. Mary's University) and Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at the University of British Columbia):
"Uyghur vowel harmony and derived transparency revisited."

Binny Abraham (Central University of Kerala) and Paul Arsenault (Ph.D. 2012, now at Tyndale University College/Canadian Institute of Linguistics):
"Mud. uga vowels: Preliminary results of an acoustic and historical-comparative study."

Eon-Suk Ko (Chosun University):
"Mothers would rather speak clearly than spread innovation: The case of Korean VOT."

Geoff Nathan (Wayne State University):
"How are sounds stored? On UG, emergence, embodiment, and phonemes."

The workshop was organized by Alessandro Jaker (postdoc), Peter Jurgec (faculty), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Phil Monahan (faculty), Keren Rice (faculty), Nathan Sanders (faculty), and Jessamyn Schertz (faculty). Well done to everyone involved!

September 4, 2018

Congratulations, Clarissa!

Clarissa Forbes successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, "Persistent ergativity: Agreement and splits in Tsimshianic", on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. On the committee were Susana Béjar (supervisor), Alana Johns, Diane Massam, Elizabeth Cowper, Arsalan Kahnemuyipour, and external examiner Jessica Coon (McGill University). Congratulations, Dr. Forbes!

Clarissa is moving on to the University of Arizona, having been awarded a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship to be taken up under the supervision of faculty syntactician Heidi Harley. Best of luck, Dr. Forbes; we're so proud!

(Photos by Emily Clare.)

Alana, Diane, Clarissa, Susana, and Elizabeth.

Good times with cohortmates (Dan Milway, Emily Blamire, and Tomohiro Yokoyama).

Celebrating Dr. Forbes!

Prevailing sentiments.