July 17, 2019

2019 Cowper Syntax Prize and Dresher Phonology Prize

We are delighted to announce the winners of our annual graduate student term-paper awards: the Elizabeth Cowper Syntax Prize and the B. Elan Dresher Phonology Prize. These are awarded to the authors of outstanding papers in the graduate syntax and phonology courses offered over the past academic year.

Cowper Syntax Prize: Alec Kienzle (Ph.D.): "Agents, paths, and states in the Hebrew middle templates."

Dresher Phonology Prize: Lisa Sullivan (Ph.D.): "Allomorphy and morphophonology: Where do we draw the line?" and "An OT analysis of –(i)an demonym allomorph selection."

Congratulations to Alec and Lisa for their excellent work!

July 10, 2019

New paper: Nagy and Lo (2019)

Naomi Nagy (faculty) and Samuel Lo (BA) have a paper out in Asia-Pacific Language Variation, 5(1): "Classifier use in Heritage and Hong Kong Cantonese."

Heritage language speakers have frequently been reported to have language skills weaker than homeland (monolingual) speakers. For example, Wei and Lee (2001:359), a study of British-born Chinese-English bilingual children’s morphosyntactic patterns (including classifier use), report “evidence of delayed and stagnated L1 development.” However, many studies compare heritage speaker performance to a prescriptive standard rather than to spontaneous speech from homeland speakers. We compare spontaneous speech data from two generations of Heritage Cantonese speakers in Toronto, Canada, and from Homeland Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong. Both groups are similar in a strong preference for general and mass classifiers, and classifier choice being primarily governed by the noun’s number. We observe specialization of go3 to singular nouns, a grammaticalization process increasing with each generation. The similarity between homeland and heritage patterns replicates previous studies utilizing the same corpus.

July 2, 2019

Suzi Lima's REP course in Arts & Science News

Back in May, Suzi Lima (faculty) led a Research Opportunity Program course to Brazil with students Octavia Andrade-Dixon (BA), Greg Antono (BA), and Guilherme Teruya (BA). This week, their adventures are chronicled in the Arts & Science News.

July 1, 2019

2019 Dene Languages Conference

This year's Dene Languages Conference is taking place at the University of California, Davis, on July 6 and 7.

Keren Rice (faculty) is presenting "Phonological effects of contact between related languages: Tsiigehtshic Gwich'in and Fort Good Hope Dene."

Alessandro Jaker (postdoc) is presenting "A verb grammar of Tetsǫ́t’ıné Yatıé."

June 30, 2019

Research Groups: Week of July 1-5

Wednesday, July 3, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University): "Reduced nominals: Syntax and prosody."
I explore the well-known idea that phases and prosodic domains coincide. Specifically, I look at noun incorporation and pseudo noun incorporation and show that the phonological word does not correspond to a syntactic head but to nP (in the sense of Match Theory). The notion that the phonological word corresponds to a head rests by and large on the fact that nP and vP are often evacuated leaving the n+N complex head the only element in nP. This gives rise to the appearance of the complex n+N head being the phonological word.

June 29, 2019

Sali in the U of T Alumni Magazine

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) has been interviewed for the U of T Alumni Magazine about the task of adding more Canadian words to the Oxford English Dictionary.

June 28, 2019

Arsalan on View to the U

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) has been interviewed on UTM's View to the U podcast this week about his research and the place of language in multiculturalism, both in Canada and around the world.

June 26, 2019

Sociolinguists in Marmora

Faculty member Sali A. Tagliamonte's Ontario Dialects Project has spent the past 17 years documenting and analysing the dialects of English found in this province. Nearly every summer, Sali takes a team of students (graduate and/or undergraduate) out to a select location to conduct a large number of sociolinguistic interviews with the locals. This year's expedition, in late May, was to the town of Marmora, located northeast of Peterborough and northwest of Belleville. Sali, along with graduate students Ilia Nicoll (Ph.D.) and Lauren Bigelow (MA), spent a week interviewing residents, going on local adventures, and singing Bob Dylan songs with quite a crowd! (Photos courtesy of Sali.)

Lauren and Ilia in Marmora.

Ilia discovers some local educational materials!

Playing music and singing with the locals!

June 25, 2019

Congratulations, Tomohiro!

Tomohiro Yokoyama defended his doctoral dissertation, "The person case constraint: Unconditional interfaces and faultless derivations," on Tuesday, June 25. The committee consisted of Susana Béjar (supervisor), Elizabeth Cowper, Guillaume Thomas, Arsalan Kahnemuyipour, Nicholas LaCara, and external examiner Omer Preminger (University of Maryland). Congratulations, Dr. Yokoyama!

June 24, 2019

Research Groups: Week of June 24-28

Wednesday, June 12, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
Clarissa Forbes (Ph.D. 2018, now at the University of Arizona): "The synchrony and diachrony of person-sensitive patterns in Tsimshianic."
The Tsimshianic languages of northern British Columbia share a number of syntactic properties, including verb-initial order and a complex ergative agreement pattern. In this paper, I illustrate that the languages of this small family exhibit alternations based on the person features of clausal arguments in two distinct ways: VSO/VOS word order alternations, and alternations in verbal agreement. I demonstrate that across the family these alternations occur independently, and argue that this motivates an account in which they are derived in different ways: either syntactically or post-syntactically. I present an analysis of restrictions on local persons in each branch, assuming a common clause structure, and demonstrate how distinct synchronic models generate the patterns of each branch. Finally I compare the two branches in a diachronic light, considering their Proto-Tsimshianic origin and possible paths of grammaticalization to the two subtly different patterns attested today.

June 21, 2019

Workshop on ELAN

Clarissa Forbes (Ph.D. 2018, now at the University of Arizona) will be holding a workshop on interlinear glossing in ELAN (5.3 or above), on Monday, June 24, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, in SS560A. This will be aimed at people who already use ELAN to annotate recordings, but everyone is welcome! Please bring a laptop with ELAN 5.3 or above installed on it, and ideally a sound file that has one to two lines of transcription.

June 20, 2019

New paper: Jankowski and Tagliamonte (2019)

Bridget L. Jankowski (Ph.D. 2013; staff) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) have a new paper in English World-Wide, 40(2): "Supper or dinner? Sociolinguistic variation in the meals of the day."

The English words for daily meals constitute a complex lexical variable conditioned by social and linguistic factors. Comparative sociolinguistic analysis of 884 speakers from more than a dozen locations in Ontario, Canada reveals a synchronic system with social correlates that are reflexes of the British and American founder populations of the province. Toronto and Loyalist settlements in southern Ontario use the highest rates of dinner while northerners with European and Scots-Irish roots use supper. Dinner is taking over as the dominant form among younger speakers, exposing a cascade pattern (Trudgill 1972; Labov 2007) that is consistent with sociolinguistic typology (Trudgill 2011).

June 19, 2019

Congratulations, Alex!

We are thrilled to have learned that Alexandra Motut (Ph.D.) has been offered and accepted the role of Executive Director of the Rotman Commerce Centre for Professional Skills (CPS) Alex has held multiple leadership positions for the WIT (Writing Instruction for TAs) program over many years. More recently, as a Project Manager for CPS with an emphasis on Curriculum and Educational Development, her initiatives have been thoroughly successful and very justifiably celebrated.

Congratulations, Alex, on this wonderful and entirely well-earned new position. Rotman is fortunate indeed!

June 18, 2019

Congratulations, Julianne!

Alana, Diane, Julianne, Cristina, Susana, and Elizabeth. (Photo courtesy of Diane.)

Julianne Doner successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, "The EPP across languages," on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. The committee was made up of Diane Massam (supervisor), Susana Béjar, Cristina Cuervo, Elizabeth Cowper, Alana Johns, and external examiner Theresa Biberauer (University of Cambridge). Congratulations, Dr. Doner!

June 17, 2019

Elaine receiving the National Achievement Award from the CLA

Back at the beginning of May, Elaine Gold (faculty) was named the recipient of the 2019 National Achievement Award from the Canadian Linguistic Association. On June 2, she was given the award at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the CLA in Vancouver, British Columbia. This comes eight years after the 2011 Annual Meeting of the CLA in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where Elaine first proposed the idea of a language museum for Canada, and then went on to spearhead - with unbridled enthusiasm and resourcefulness - the effort to bring the Canadian Language Museum into being. Congratulations, Elaine, on this well-earned honour!

Elaine with past CLA president Wladyslaw Cichocki (Ph.D. 1986, now at the University of New Brunswick) and current CLA president Diane Massam (faculty). Photo by Päivi Koskinen (Ph.D. 1998, now at Kwantlen Polytechnic University).

June 16, 2019

RelNomComp Workshop

We are hosting a Relativ-/Nominal-/Complementation Workshop (RelNomComp) on June 19 and 20, co-organized with McGill University. It will be taking place from 9 AM through 5 PM each day in SS 3130, plus evening events. Among the stellar line-up of invited speakers from all over the world are a few of our own:

Keir Moulton (faculty) and Leslie Saxon (MA 1979, now at the University of Victoria), with colleagues Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten (University of Gothenburg) and Rosa Mantla (University of Victoria):
"Dene internally-headed relatives."

Keir Moulton (faculty), with colleagues Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten (University of Gothenburg) and Junko Shimoyama (McGill University):
"Nominalized attitude complements."

The workshop will also feature a short 'data dives' section examining some new results from recent work related to the workshop theme, including:

Marisa Brook (faculty) and Keir Moulton (faculty):
"Non-locative where-relatives."

Julien Carrier (Ph.D.):
"Nominalization in Inuktitut."

Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.):
"Nominalization in Malay."

Note that while there is no registration fee for the conference, if you would like to attend, please fill out the RSVP form on the website.

June 15, 2019

Denis (2013) on Jeopardy!

Some of the work of Derek Denis (faculty) was featured in a Jeopardy! clue earlier this week.

(Photo provided by Thomas St. Pierre and Katharina Pabst.)

We acknowledge that there has been speculation in the past related an improbable number of connections between Jeopardy and the sociolinguists in our department. Note, however, that we continue to have no official comment on the matter.

June 14, 2019

Congratulations, Becky!

Elsi, Keir, Susana, Daphna, Becky, Diane, Lauren, and Craig. (Photo courtesy of Becky.)

Becky Tollan successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, "Cross-linguistic effects of subjecthood, case, and transitivity in syntax and sentence processing," on Thursday, June 13. The committee consisted of Daphna Heller (supervisor), Diane Massam, Craig Chambers, Lauren Clemens (State University of New York at Albany), Susana Béjar, Keir Moulton, and external examiner Elsi Kaiser (University of Southern California). Congratulations, Dr. Tollan!

Becky is stepping straight into a tenure-track job in syntax and psycholinguistics at the University of Delaware. They are very fortunate indeed! All the best, Dr. Tollan, and do keep in touch!

June 12, 2019

CVC 11

Change and Variation in Canada 11 is taking place at Memorial University of Newfoundland on June 14 and 15. A number of sociolinguists among current departmental members and alumni are presenting:

Emily Blamire (Ph.D.), Marisa Brook (faculty), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"Very surprising: A real time analysis of Toronto intensifiers from 2016 through 2019."

Lauren Bigelow (MA) and Derek Denis (faculty):
"Country GOAT, City GOAT."

Karlien Franco (postdoc) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"Interesting fellow or tough old bird? Third person singular male pronouns in Ontario."

Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.):
"The social meanings of um and uh."

Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba), with colleagues Jesse Stewart (University of Saskatchewan), Michele Pesch-Johnson (University of Manitoba), and Olivia Sammons (Carleton University):
"Michif VOT."

June 11, 2019

New paper: Tollan, Massam, and Heller (2019)

Becky Tollan (Ph.D.), Diane Massam (faculty), and Daphna Heller (faculty) have a new paper in Cognitive Science, 43(6): "Effects of case and transitivity on processing dependencies: Evidence from Niuean."

We investigate the processing of wh questions in Niuean, a VSO ergative-absolutive Polynesian language. We use visual‐world eye tracking to examine how preference for subject or object dependencies is affected (a) by case marking of the subject (ergative vs. absolutive) and object (absolutive vs. oblique), and (b) by the transitivity of the verb (whether the object is obligatory). We find that Niuean exhibits (a) an effect of case, whereby dependencies of arguments with absolutive case (whether subjects or objects) are preferred over dependencies of arguments with ergative or oblique case, and (b) an effect of transitivity, whereby dependencies of obligatory objects (i.e., of transitive verbs) are preferred over dependencies of optional objects (i.e., of intransitive verbs). These results constitute evidence against theories that appeal to a universal subject advantage, or to the linear distance between filler and gap. Instead, the effect of case is consistent with a frequency‐based account: Because absolutive case has a wider syntactic distribution than ergative or oblique, absolutive dependencies are easier to process. The effect of transitivity reflects sensitivity of the parser to whether or not an argument is obligatory. We propose that these two strategies could be unified if the parser prefers dependencies with arguments that are more likely to materialize.

June 10, 2019

Research Groups: Week of June 10-14

Wednesday, June 12, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
1. Alec Kienzle (Ph.D.): "Agents, paths, and states in the Hebrew middle templates."
2. Kenji Oda (Ph.D. 2012, now at Syracuse University): "Towards the non-predicate modification analysis of the expressive small clause in Japanese."

June 9, 2019

Guest speaker: Nicholas Rolle (Princeton University)

We are delighted to welcome back Nicholas Rolle (BA 2007, MA 2010), who after a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, is now a postdoc at Princeton University. His research spans phonology, morphology, and syntax, not to mention a number of language families. He will be giving a talk, "Outward-looking phonologically-conditioned allomorphy in Cilungu grammatical tone", based on work with Lee Bickmore (State University of New York at Albany), on Wednesday, June 12, at 2:00 PM in SS 2111.

This paper examines 'outward-looking phonologically-conditioned allomorphy' (Carstairs 1987, Bobaljik 2000, Paster 2006) in Cilungu grammatical tone (Bantu: Zambia – Bickmore 2007, 2014). We argue that outwardly-located, non-H-toned subject markers condition allomorphy on three inwardly-located TAM designations: the Yesterday Past, the Recent Past, and the Perfect. The allomorphy manifests as differences in grammatical tone, e.g. the [Yesterday Past] by default is expressed in part by a high tone on the final mora of the word, but this grammatical tone is suspended based on the tonal specification of the subject marker which appears at the beginning of the word (a non-local effect, as intervening tones are transparent to this allomorphic relation). Bickmore (2007, 2014) shows that these allomorphic patterns are not due to the language’s general tonology, and emphasizes that the tone of the subject marker has no effect on other similar TAMs. We take these data to support a model in which exponence takes place simultaneously rather than inside-out (contra Bobaljik 2000, Embick 2010, 2015, a.o.), in line with a strictly modular view of the phonology interface (Scheer 2011), whereby syntactic primitives and phonological primitives never exist in the same representation.

June 8, 2019

Congratulations, Katharina!

We are thrilled to have learned that this year's winner of the Richard M. Hogg Prize from the International Society of the Linguistics of English is our own Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.), for her manuscript 'Is [nuz] really the new [njuz]? Yod dropping in Toronto English', based on her second Generals paper. Congratulations, Katharina, on this well-deserved honour!

June 7, 2019

DiGS 21 and workshop

The 21st Diachronic Generative Syntax Conference is taking place at Arizona State University from June 5 through 7.

One of the invited speakers is Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba):
"Probe respecification."

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.) is presenting:
"Two directions for change: Case studies in the loss of null subjects."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at New York University) with colleague Naomi Lee (New York University) are presenting:
"The journey, not the endstate: finding innovation in the dynamics of L1A."

An associated workshop took place on June 4: Comparative Approaches to the Diachronic Morpho-Syntax of the Indigenous Languages of North and Central America.

Alana Johns (faculty):
"Dialect variation and Brick Walls (Inuktitut)."

Julien Carrier (Ph.D.):
"Double agreement and morphosyntactic alignment shift in Inuktitut."

Clarissa Forbes (Ph.D. 2018, now at the University of Arizona):
"The synchrony and diachrony of person-sensitive patterns in Tsimshianic."

The U-of-T-connected crew! Julianne, Clarissa, Will, Alana, Julien, and Ailís.
(Thanks to Julianne for the photo and the links to the programs!)

June 6, 2019

THEY 2019

Our department is delighted to be among the sponsors of THEY, HIRSELF, EM, and YOU: Nonbinary Pronouns in Theory and Practice (THEY 2019), being held from June 11 through 13 at Queen's University.

For their book Gender: Your Guide (2018), faculty member Lee Airton of the Faculty of Education at Queen's interviewed two people linked to our department: current Ph.D. student Lex Konnelly, and former postdoc Bronwyn Bjorkman, both of whom have worked on singular they in present-day English. Now all three have combined forces to organize this conference on pronouns and genders outside historical European attempts at collapsing gender into a binary system based on sex assigned at birth. Lex is also giving one of the keynote talks: "Gender diversity and linguistic advocacy: Innovation in the use of singular they."

Please note that even if you are not able to travel to Kingston, you can register to participate remotely!

June 5, 2019

New paper: Jurgec (2019)

Peter Jurgec (faculty) has a new paper in Phonology, 36(2): "Opacity in Šmartno Slovenian."

Šmartno is a critically endangered dialect of Slovenian that exhibits three interacting processes: final devoicing, unstressed high vowel deletion and vowel–glide coalescence. Their interaction is opaque: final obstruents devoice, unless they become final due to vowel deletion; high vowels delete, but not when created by coalescence. These patterns constitute a synchronic chain shift that leads to two emergent contrasts: final obstruent voicing and vowel length (due to compensatory lengthening). The paper examines all nominal paradigms, and complements them with an acoustic analysis of vowel duration and obstruent voicing. This work presents one of the most thoroughly documented instances of counterfeeding opacity on environment.

June 4, 2019

Research Groups: Week of June 3-7

Note that there is no meeting of the Syntax Group this week.

Wednesday, June 5, 11:30 AM to 2 PM in SS2120
Language Variation and Change Group
Practise talks for CVC 11 in St. John's.

June 3, 2019

New paper: Denis and D'Arcy (2019)

Derek Denis (faculty) and Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) have a new paper in American Speech, 94(2): "Deriving homogeneity in a settler-colonial variety of English."

Canadian English (CanE) is argued to present a textbook example of dialectological homogeneity. Its largely undifferentiated urban structure is attributed to source input, as a consequence of a shared founder effect. This outcome is predicted by the sociohistorical realities of settler colonialism but remains unexplored in diachronic perspective. The recent construction of large diachronic corpora of regional CanE varieties enables direct comparison in order to problematize longitudinal homogeneity and to probe the potency of founder effects over time. This article examines three features known to be undergoing longitudinal change and to be regionally variegated across dialects of English: deontic modality, stative possession, and general extenders. At the heart of the discussion is the nature of homogeneity in CanE. The authors conclude that although there is compelling support for longitudinal parallelism, the linguistic reality is somewhat nuanced: aspects of CanE homogeneity appear emergent rather than foundational and relative to linguistic variables rather than to the linguistic system as a whole.

June 2, 2019

New paper: Tagliamonte and Jankowski (2019)

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and Bridget L. Jankowski (Ph.D. 2013; staff) have a new paper in American Speech, 94(2): "Golly, gosh, and oh my God! What North American dialects can tell us about swear words."

This article presents a synchronic quantitative study of nearly 3,000 words and expressions referring to ‘God’ in Ontario, Canada. The results expose a number of striking social and linguistic patterns. Using apparent time as a proxy for historical change, we discover that G-words have undergone a remarkable shift across the twentieth century. Euphemisms, such as golly and gosh, are quickly moving out of favor, and the expressions with God, particularly oh my God, have usurped all other forms. Moreover, there are clear regional differences. Rural communities retain old-fashioned euphemisms, and there are notable social contrasts to their use: females favor gosh while males favor gee(z), and both are favored by less-educated speakers. Variants with God are not only predominant in the urban center, Toronto, they reflect known societal change in North America as a whole. Younger speakers in every community shift toward noneuphemistic practice beginning in the 1930s, increasing after World War II and accelerating again among people born after 1960. However, this shift is not simple lexical replacement. Where once individuals used God in collocations such as Praise God or Thank God, people born in the early 1960s onward are using God in one collocation in particular: oh my God (n = 611). A fascinating correlate is that, as with many changes, this is being led by higher-educated women who have white-collar jobs. These findings reflect not only a greater acceptance of the word God in contemporary society, but also egalitarian diffusion across the population, both geographically and socially.

June 1, 2019

Derek on CTV News

Derek Denis (faculty) was interviewed on CTV News yesterday evening about the pronunciation(s) of the name of our city depending on, for instance, how local the speaker is!

May 31, 2019

CLA/ACL 2019

The annual meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association/Association canadienne de linguistique is taking place at the University of British Columbia from June 1 through 3.

Elaine Gold (faculty), the recipient of this year's National Achievement Award, will be giving a plenary talk as her acceptance speech: "How a posting on Linguist List changed my life."

Yves Roberge (faculty) will be contributing a few words to the session being held in memory of Michael Rochemont (University of British Columbia), who passed away in July 2018 at the age of 68.

Talks include those by:

Philip Monahan (faculty), Alejandro Pérez (postdoc), and Jessamyn Schertz (faculty):
"Abstract phonological features: EEG evidence from English voicing."

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) and Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.):
"Hybrid alignment in Laki agreement and the special status of clitics."

B. Elan Dresher (faculty) and Iryna Osadcha (Ph.D. 2018):
"Mobile lexical parentheses in metrical grids."

Koorosh Ariyaee (Ph.D.):
"The need for indexed markedness constraints: Evidence from spoken Persian."

Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D):
"Nominal modification in Hindi-Urdu."

Virgilio Partida Peñalva (Ph.D.):
"Little-v agreement and Split-S in Mazahua."

Andrew Peters (Ph.D.):
"Mongolian converbs and the macro-event property."

Heather Stephens (Ph.D.):
"Yep, indeed: The certainty of polarity particles yep and nope."

Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.):
"Definiteness in Laki: Its contributions to the DP structure."

Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), with colleagues Roger Yu-Hsiang Lo (University of British Columbia) and Maxime Tulling (New York University)
"The prosody of Cantonese information-seeking and negative rhetorical wh-questions."

Mihaela Pirvulescu (faculty, Department of French) and Rena Helms-Park (faculty), with colleagues Virginia Hill (University of New Brunswick), Nadia Nacif (Ph.D., Department of French), and Maria Petrescu (Ryerson University):
"The acquisition of adverbs in trilingual children."

Gloria Mellesmoen (MA 2016, now at the University of British Columbia) and Marianne Huijsmans (University of British Columbia):
"Pluractionality in ʔayʔaǰuθəm."

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba):
"The Algonquian inverse: Syntax or morphology?"

Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at the University of British Columbia):
"An analysis of ATR harmony in Alur."

David Heap (Ph.D. 1997, now at the University of Western Ontario) and Adriana Soto Corominas (University of Alberta):
"Recycling in Catalan clitic acquisition: Underspecification and frequency effects."

Jila Ghomeshi (Ph.D. 1996, now at the University of Manitoba) with Hanadi Azhari (Umm Al-Qura University):
"Emergent participles in Makkan Arabic."

Neil Banerjee (BA 2016, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology):
"Inward sensitive allomorphy in Bengali negation."

And among the posters are:

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) and Andrew Peters (Ph.D.):
"Separating concord and Agree: The case of Zazaki Ezafe."

Nicholas LaCara (faculty):
"The timing of head movement: Evidence from predicate clefts."

Koorosh Ariyaee (Ph.D.) and Ali Salehi (Stony Brook University):
"Does Persian prefer Arabic to French and English?"

Kazuya Bamba (Ph.D.)
"Topic -wa vs. subject -ga: Sentence-final particles and their sensitivities."

Radu Craioveanu (Ph.D.)
"Asymmetries in aspiration."

Xiaochuan Qin (MA):
"Paths and place: Spatial adpositions in Mandarin Chinese."

Martha McGinnis (MA 1993, now at the University of Victoria):
"The Voice/v distinction is configurational: Evidence from Georgian causatives."

Naomi Francis (MA 2014, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology):
"Free choice any in imperatives."

Wladyslaw Cichocki (Ph.D. 1986, now at the University of New Brunswick):
"Variation in prosodic rhythm in regional varieties of New Brunswick French."

Rachel Soo (MA 2018, now at the University of British Columbia):
"Lazy consonant perception in Cantonese heritage and homeland speakers."

Anabela Rato (faculty, Department of Spanish and Portuguese) Owen Ward (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese):
"Predicting difficulty in the perception of non-native consonants: The use of cross-linguistic perceptual similarity measures."

May 30, 2019

Guest speaker: Susanne Vejdemo (QualiTest/College of Staten Island, CUNY)

The Language, Cognition, and Computation (LCC) group welcomes Susanne Vejdemo (QualiTest/College of Staten Island, CUNY), who works on empirical approaches to semantics and the lexicon across languages and across time. She will be giving a talk on Friday, May 31, at 10:00 AM, in room 266 of the Pratt Building (note the updated location): "Processes of lexico-semantic birth, death and zombie-hood in the color domain: Cross-linguistic and intergenerational data." She will also discuss computational approaches to the detection of semantic change in diachronic corpora.

How does lexico-semantic change proceed? The color domain is an excellent arena for studies of lexico-semantic processes: the lexical battles that happen when a new concept emerges in a language; the way a new concept can make older concepts shift in semantic space as it grows; the way a dying concept loses both denotational reference area and collocational ability.

I will combine cross-linguistic data from seven Germanic languages, with inter-generational data from two generations of Swedish speakers. I will chart the birth and subsequent lexical and semantic upheaval for two young color categories (PINK and PURPLE) that did not exist a few centuries ago in the languages. The two perspectives help elucidate different part of the process. Lexicosemantic change often starts and ends in category peripheries, as 'defeated' color terms get marginalized and die - or remain as shadows of their former selves.

May 29, 2019

Canadian Language Museum exhibit on lexicography in Indigenous communities

Under the continued steady direction of founder Elaine Gold (faculty), the Canadian Language Museum's new exhibit, 'Beyond Words: Dictionaries and Indigenous Languages', will be on display for the first time at the 2019 annual meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association, being held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver from June 1 through 3. The exhibit will be free to view for all and is located in the Level 2 Foyer of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

This exhibit highlights the complex relationship between Indigenous languages and dictionaries over several centuries, from word lists and dictionaries developed for exploration, colonization, conversion, and assimilation purposes, to online language materials being developed by Indigenous communities to transmit the elders' language knowledge to today's youth.

For more details, see the Facebook page.

May 28, 2019

Research Groups: Week of May 27-31

Wednesday, May 29, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 2127 (note irregular location).
Syntax Group
Julianne Doner (Ph.D.) on what happens when null subjects are lost; Andrew Peters (Ph.D.): on Mongolian converbs.

May 27, 2019

Public lecture: Monika Molnar (University of Toronto)

Monika Molnar (faculty) of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology is giving a free public lecture on Thursday, May 30, from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM in room 132 of the Rehabilitation Sciences Building (500 University Avenue) as part of the May Month events aiming to draw attention to speech and hearing awareness: "Childhood bilingualism from the perspectives of research and clinical practice."

Many children across Canada and the globe grow up learning more than one language in their homes. Parents and educators often wonder whether bilingual children follow typical developmental patterns. Speech-language pathologists also struggle to identify language disorders in this group of children because the assessment tools aren’t specifically designed for multi-language settings. In this talk, we will share recent research findings on bilingual language acquisition and how it is informing caregivers and speech-language pathology practice today.

May 26, 2019

Report from NACIL 2

The Second North American Conference on Iranian Languages took place at the University of Arizona from April 19 to 21. Unfortunately, the American border is currently closed to those who have only an Iranian passport, so some of those taking part (including two members of our department) had to join in via Skype. Given the situation, Noam Chomsky (University of Arizona/Massachusetts Institute of Technology) addressed the attendees twice: once on syntax and once on current U.S.-Iranian relations.

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) presented a keynote speech: "The CP-vP parallelism: Evidence from (some) Iranian languages." Note that a recording of Arsalan's talk can be found here. Thanks to the NACIL2 photographers for taking and sharing this image!

Also notably, Breanna Pratley (BA) presented "The importance of methodological choices in the typology of uncommon phenomena: A Gilaki case study."

Well done to the organisers and to everyone who participated – whether on-site or from a distance.

May 25, 2019

Guest speaker: Paul Kerswill (University of York)

The Department of Language Studies at the Mississauga campus is pleased to welcome Paul Kerswill (University of York), a sociolinguist whose research has centered on dialect contact. His talk, "Demography in the formation of Multicultural London English: The Jamaican component", will be taking place at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, May 29, in room 3180 of the New North Building. Note this updated location.

May 24, 2019

Congratulations, Julie!

Congratulations to Julie Goncharov (Ph.D. 2015, currently at the University of Göttingen), who has been awarded a three-year postdoc at the University of Tromsø! Wonderful news, Julie, and a fantastically well-earned opportunity.

May 23, 2019


The fiftieth Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL 50) is taking place from May 23 through 25 at the University of British Columbia. We have several alumni taking part:

Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2012, now at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) and colleague Patricia Schneider-Zioga (California State University, Fullerton):
"Differential object marking in Kinande."

Sharon Rose (BA 1990, now at the University of California, San Diego), and University of California, San Diego colleagues Michael Obiri-Yeboah and Sarah Creel:
"Perception of ATR vowel contrasts by Akan speakers."

Keffyalew Gebregziabher (former postdoc, now at the University of Calgary):
"Clitics and agreement affixes: A view from Tigrinya possessive, modal necessity, and copular constructions."

May 22, 2019

Research Groups: Week of May 20-24

Note that there is no meeting of the Syntax Group this week.

Friday, May 24, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM, in SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group
Shir Givoni (Tel-Aviv University): "Marking ambiguity."

Language is ambiguous but, contra received wisdom, ambiguity need not always be resolved in order to arrive at a single intended meaning. In fact, interlocuters may mark ambiguous utterances when more than one meaning is called for. Consider the following example (ambiguous utterance underlined and marking in bold for convenience):

"Octopus Garden was conceived in 2005 as a sacred space for intentional relationships and transformation through yoga, meditation and complementary therapies. This month we are bending over backwards (pun intended) to make the diverse practices of yoga more accessible than ever before" (Octopus Garden newsletter, May 9, 2019).

This talk presents the Low-Salience Marking Hypothesis (Givoni, Giora, and Bergerbest 2013), according to which marking ambiguity boosts awareness of less-salient meanings (i.e., less frequent, less familiar, less conventional, and less prototypical meanings) and facilitates their activation. Couched in the Graded Salience Framework (Giora 1997, 2003) this hypothesis is the first to address the phenomenon of ambiguity marking and its implications with regard to processing of ambiguity. Results from offline questionnaires, a lexical decision task, and an online reading task, all conducted in Hebrew, support the Low-Salience Marking Hypothesis. Results are discussed with respect to alternative lexical access models.

May 21, 2019


The 26th meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association is taking place from May 24 through 26 at the University of Western Ontario.

One of the invited speakers is Becky Tollan (Ph.D.):
"Effects of case and transitivity in anaphora resolution in Niuean."

Diane Massam (faculty) along with Lisa Travis (McGill University) will be presenting:
"What moves, why and how: The contribution of Austronesian."

Yining Nie (MA 2015, now at New York University):
"Raising applicatives in Tagalog."

Maayan Abenina-Adar (BA 2013, now at the University of California, Los Angeles), with James Collins (Univeristy of Hawai’i at Manoa):
"How modal and non-modal implications of Tagalog free relatives emerge."

May 20, 2019

REP course in Brazil

Octavia Andrade-Dixon (BA), Greg Antono (BA), Guilherme Teruya (BA), Rildo Dias (faculty, Universidade Estadual de Roraima), Suzi Lima (faculty), Carlos Borges (faculty, Universidade Estadual de Roraima), and Isabella Coutinho (faculty, Universidade Estadual de Roraima)

Suzi Lima (faculty) is currently leading a REP (Research Excursion Program) course, 'Brazilian Indigenous Languages: Documentation, Language Maintenance, and Revitalization', in Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil. The enrolled undergraduate students are receiving hands-on training in language documentation (working on indigenous languages of Roraima) and collaborative research under the direction of Suzi and colleagues at the Universidade Estadual de Roraima (UERR). Check out their blog to learn more about their adventures!

May 19, 2019

27th Manchester Phonology Meeting

The 27th Manchester Phonology Meeting is taking place at the University of Manchester, England, from May 23 through 25. Current department members and alumni presenting are:

Elan Dresher (faculty) and Iryna Osadcha (Ph.D. 2018):
"Mobile lexical parentheses in metrical grids."

Aleksei Nazarov (faculty):
"Formalizing the connection between opaque and exceptionful generalizations."

Heather Yawney (Ph.D.):
"Derived environment effect of the velar and uvular voicing restriction in Kazakh."

Nicholas Rolle (MA 2010, now at Princeton University):
"The scope of dominant grammatical tone in Izon."

Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst):
"Slave coalescence as gradual coda reduction."

There is also an associated pedagogy workshop, 'Teaching Phonology: The State of the Art', taking place on the 22nd. Christina Bjorndahl (MA 2008, now at Carnegie Mellon University) and colleague Mark Gibson (Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona) are presenting "Laboratory phonology in the classroom."

May 18, 2019

Congratulations, Barend!

Congratulations to Barend Beekhuizen (faculty), who is the recipient of a Connaught New Researcher Award for 2019-2020 from the U of T's Connaught Fund!

May 17, 2019


The tenth annual Southern California Undergraduate Linguistics Conference (SCULC 10) is taking place at the University of California, Los Angeles, on May 18. Several of our undergraduates will be presenting!

Kristen Wing Yan Wong (BA):
"Sound symbolism of gender in Cantonese first names."

Andrea Michelle Leung (BA):
"The effect of visual integration of pitch contour in Mandarin tone perception."

Stephanie Deschamps (BA) and Shanthos Thirunavukkarasu (BA):
"Cross-modal noise compensation in audiovisual words."

May 16, 2019

Parameters Workshop in Honour of Lisa Travis

The Department of Linguistics at McGill University is holding a workshop on May 17 and 18 on the theme of syntactic parameters in order to celebrate faculty member Lisa Travis, who is retiring at the end of this academic year.

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.) is presenting:
"How to organize parameters: Accounting for alternations in EPP type

Yining Nie (MA 2015, now at New York University) is also presenting:
"Applicatives and the parameters of promotion."

May 15, 2019

Chicago Linguistic Society 2019

The 55th annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society is meeting at the University of Chicago from May 16 through 18.

Aleksei Nazarov (faculty) and Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) are both part of a large group project with their University of Massachusetts, Amherst colleagues Brandon Prickett, Kaden Holladay, Rajesh Bhatt, Gaja Jarosz, Kyle Johnson, and Joe Pater: "Learning syntactic parameters gradually and without triggers."

May 14, 2019

Research Groups: Week of May 13-17

Wednesday, May 15, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
1. Julianne Doner (Ph.D.): "How to organize parameters: Accounting for alternations in EPP type."
2. Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) and Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.): "Hybrid alignment in Laki agreement."

May 10, 2019


The 50th meeting of the Associação Brasileira de Linguística (ABRALIN 50) took place from May 2 through 9 in Maceió, Brazil. Suzi Lima (faculty) gave a talk: "Oficinas de linguística em comunidades indígenas e pesquisa colaborativa" at the special session 'Languages and peoples threatened: Political impacts of linguistic work' organized by Bruna Franchetto (UFRJ/Museu Nacional). She also co-organized the session 'Complex structures in Brazilian languages' along with Tonjes Veenstra (ZAS). (Photos, video, and captions courtesy of Suzi.)

Participants in the symposium 'Complex structures in Brazilian languages'.

Participants in the symposium 'Languages and peoples threatened: Political impacts of linguistic work'.

Brazilian languages specialists: Kris Stenzel (UFRJ), Ana Vilacy Galucio (Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi), Suzi Lima (faculty), Mara Santos (UNIFAP), Bruna Franchetto (UFRJ/Museu Nacional), Denny Moore (Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi), and Luciana Storto (USP).

Suzi celebrated her birthday with her colleagues in Brazil and reports that she had a fabulous time!

May 9, 2019


The 24th Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Languages of the Americas is taking place from May 9 through 11 at the University of Maryland. We are represented by presentations by one faculty member and a number of alumni, all on different indigenous languages of North and South America.

Guillaume Thomas (faculty):
"Switch-reference and discourse anaphora."

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba)
"The Algonquian inverse: What’s voice got to do with it?"

Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University)
"Cayuga and Contiguity Theory: The role of default agreement."

Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst):
"Associative plural in two Northern Dene languages."

Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at the University of Chicago):
"The morphosyntax of participle-incorporating existentials in Inuktitut."

May 8, 2019

U of T Science Rendezvous 2019

We're very happy to be returning to the annual U of T Science Rendezvous, which this year is taking place on Saturday, May 11 on St. George Street between Harbord and College. Celebrated in dozens of places across the country at once, Science Rendezvous is an all-day science festival for people of all ages, aimed at generating enthusiasm for science and promoting university enrollment in related subjects. We will once again have a booth: come check out what your mouth is doing when you're speaking, learn words from dozens of languages spoken in Canada, and maybe even take home a personalized souvenir!

May 7, 2019


Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW) 42 is taking place from May 7 through 11 at the University of Oslo in Norway. Several current and previous graduate students are presenting posters:

Jessica Denniss (Ph.D.):
"Ngarinyman resultatives."

Paulina Lyskawa (MA 2015, now at the University of Maryland) and colleague Rodrigo Ranero (University of Maryland):
"A Mayan diagnostic for the unergative vs. unaccusative distinction."

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

Monica and colleague Patricia Schneider-Zioga (CSU Fullerton):
"Partitive case and abstract licensing: Sociative causation in Kinande."

May 6, 2019

Research Groups: Week of May 6-10

Wednesday, May 8, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.): "Definiteness in Laki: Its contributions to DP structure."

May 5, 2019

Guest speaker: Dan Jurafsky (Stanford University)

The Vector Institute Machine Learning Advances and Applications Seminar series is pleased to welcome Dan Jurafsky (Stanford University), who works on language processing, computational linguistics, and language in specific contexts. His talk, "'Does this vehicle belong to you?': Computational extraction of social meaning from language", will be taking place on Thursday, May 9, from 12 PM to 2 PM, in room 1160 of the Bahen Centre.

Police body-worn cameras have the potential to play an important role in understanding and improving police-community relations. In this talk I describe a series of studies conducted by our large interdisciplinary team at Stanford that use speech and natural language processing on body-camera recordings to model the interactions between police officers and community members in traffic stops. We draw on linguistic models of dialogue structure and of interpersonal relations like respect to automatically quantify aspects of the interaction from the text and audio. I describe the differences we find in the language directed toward black versus white community members, and offer suggestions for how these findings can be used to help improve the relations between police officers and the communities they serve. I'll also cover a number of our results on using computational methods to uncover historical societal biases, and detect framing, agenda-setting and political polarization in the media. Together, these studies highlight how natural language processing can help us interpret latent social content behind the words we use.

May 4, 2019

New paper: Denis, Gardner, Brook, and Tagliamonte (2019)

Derek Denis (faculty), Matt Hunt Gardner (Ph.D. 2017, now at St. Mary's University), Marisa Brook (faculty), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) have a new paper out in Language Variation and Change, 31(1): "Peaks and arrowheads of vernacular reorganization."

A key component of Labov's (2001:411) socially motivated projection model of language change is the hypothesis that adolescents and preadolescents undergo a process of vernacular reorganization, which leads to a "seamless" progression of changes in progress. Between the ages of approximately five and 17, children and adolescents increase the "frequency, extent, scope, or specificity" of changes in progress along the community trajectory (Labov 2007:346). Evidence of advancement via vernacular reorganization during this life stage has come from peaks in the apparent-time trajectory of a change around the age of 17 (e.g., Labov 2001, Tagliamonte and D'Arcy 2009). However, such peaks do not rule out the alternative explanations of retrograde change or age-grading. This paper presents both apparent time and real-time evidence for vernacular reorganization. We observe the arrowhead formation – a counterpart of the adolescent peak – for quotative be like in a trend study of adolescents and young adults in Toronto, Canada. Our results rule out the alternative explanations for previously observed adolescent peaks.

May 3, 2019

Congratulations, Naomi!

Congratulations to Naomi Nagy (faculty), who has been promoted to Full Professor! Well-deserved after a decade of enthusiastic teaching/mentorship and high-powered research into heritage languages of Toronto and more!

May 2, 2019

Guest speaker: Jenny Saffran (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

The Department of Psychology at the Mississauga campus is pleased to welcome Jenny Saffran (University of Wisconsin, Madison), who is renowned for her extensive work on L1 acquisition, as  well as the broader relationships between language, cognition, and music. Her talk, "Acquiring and predicting structure via statistical learning," will be taking place on Monday, May 6, from 12 PM to 2 PM in DV 3130.

May 1, 2019

Congratulations, Elaine!

Congratulations to Elaine Gold (faculty), who has been selected as this year's recipient of the National Achievement Award from the Canadian Linguistic Association! The award will be presented to Elaine on Sunday, June 2, at this year's CLA meeting in Vancouver, B.C. Elaine will also be giving a plenary talk about her work. CLA President Wladyslaw Cichocki describes Elaine's accomplishments as follows:

Dr. Elaine Gold has demonstrated exceptional effectiveness in communication and knowledge transfer about language and linguistics. Her work with the Canadian Language Museum has reached communities across Canada, both within and beyond the university context. Dr. Gold holds an MA in the History of Art and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Toronto. Until her retirement in 2017, she held teaching positions at Queen’s University and at the University of Toronto, where she served as Undergraduate Coordinator and Lecturer in Linguistics. Her teaching covered a wide range of topics, and her scholarly output has contributed a distinctly Canadian focus in areas such as sociolinguistics, aspect and loanwords in Yiddish, Indigenous Englishes, and Canadian English. She has made notable contributions to the now-flourishing research area of Canadian 'eh' and to the study of aspect in Bungi, a Scots English/Cree creole that arose during the fur trade. Dr. Gold’s most important contribution to linguistics in the public realm has been as founder, in 2011, and executive director of the Canadian Language Museum (CLM) (www.languagemuseum.ca). This unique institution has achieved a great deal for the outreach of linguistics into communities across Canada. In her work, Dr. Gold has been able to identify areas of research on languages in Canada that are of relevance to the wider public, to select researchers active in these areas, to oversee the development of itinerant museum exhibits on the relevant topics, and to manage their circulation across the country. Dr. Gold routinely recruits and mentors students from the University of Toronto’s Master of Museum Studies program, who create and curate each exhibit as part of their graduating-year Exhibitions course. The CLM’s exhibits showcase and celebrate the diversity of Canadian English, of French in Canada as well as the many Indigenous and heritage languages spoken in Canada. The latest exhibit, Beyond Words: Dictionaries and Indigenous Languages, is occasioned by the United Nations’ proclamation of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The CLM travelling exhibits have had extensive geographic coverage, criss-crossing the country from Victoria to St. John’s. These exhibits have been displayed on nearly 100 occasions to date in diverse venues, including universities, schools, public libraries, community centres, government buildings, museums, historic sites, even hospitals. Museum exhibits have been featured at academic conferences and at large international events, for instance as part of the Aboriginal Pavilion at the 2015 Pan American Games and at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (Toronto, 2017). In 2016, Dr. Gold’s vision and advocacy resulted in the establishment of a permanent home and exhibit space for the Museum at the Glendon Gallery (Glendon Campus of York University, Toronto). Beyond this permanent location, the CLM continues to function as a virtual museum with a substantive social media presence. In 2018, it launched its first digital (web-based) exhibit, Échos de la mosaïque/Messages from the Mosaic, and produced an original documentary, Two Row Wampum: Preserving Indigenous Languages in Toronto, that can be viewed on the CLM website. In summary, Dr. Gold has set a stellar example of what it means to be a 'public scholar' in our discipline. Her work on the CLM has reached non-academic audiences, and it has engaged the general public around issues of language and linguistics in a manner that is accessible and informative. The Canadian Linguistic Association is delighted to recognize this great service by awarding Dr. Gold our National Achievement Award for 2019.

April 30, 2019

New paper: Steele, Colantoni, and Kochetov (2019)

Jeffrey Steele (faculty, Department of French), Laura Colantoni (faculty, Department of Spanish and Portuguese), and Alexei Kochetov (faculty) have a paper out in the Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 49(1): "Gradient assimilation in French cross-word /n/+velar stop sequences."

Articulatory studies have revealed cross-linguistic variation in the realization of cross-word nasal+stop sequences. Whereas languages such as Italian and Spanish show largely categorical regressive place assimilation (Kochetov and Colantoni 2011, Celata et al. 2013), English and German alveolar nasals are often characterized by gradient assimilation, modulated by the degree of overlap with the following gesture (Barry 1991, Ellis and Hardcastle 2002, Jaeger and Hoole 2011). The lack of comparable instrumental studies for French may be due to the common assumption that the language lacks nasal place assimilation in general. We investigate here the production of French /n/+/k ɡ/ sequences via electropalatography. Four female speakers of European and Quebecois French wearing custom 62-electrode acrylic palates read the sentences C'est une bonne casquette ‘That's a good cap’ and C'est une bonne galette ‘That's a good tart/cookie’ alongside comparable control sentences involving /n/+/t d/ sequences. For each sequence, assimilation type was determined both qualitatively via visual inspection of the linguopalatal profiles and quantitatively using two contact indices. None of the /n/-tokens exhibited either categorical assimilation (i.e. [ŋk]) or lack of assimilation (i.e. [n(ə)k]). Rather, an intermediate pattern was attested with the nasal involving overlapped coronal and velar gestures ([nn͡ŋ]) and continuous retraction of the constriction. The degree of overlap varied among speakers, extending up to half of the nasal interval. Overall, these French patterns are strikingly different from the categorical processes reported for other Romance languages, yet similar to the gradient assimilation attested in Germanic languages. We conclude by discussing possible sources of these differences.

April 29, 2019

Research Groups: Week of April 29-May 3

Tuesday, April 30, 3:00 PM-4:30 PM in SS 1078
Phonology Research Group
Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland): "Restricted structure preservation in Stratal Optimality Theory."
This talk investigates the role of structure preservation within the framework of Stratal Optimality Theory (e.g. Kiparsky 2000) through an analysis of German dorsal fricative assimilation. The principle of structure preservation (e.g. Kiparsky 1985) prohibits the creation of allophones during the course of operations in the lexical phonology. Although structure preservation has largely been rejected within Optimality Theory, previous work has shown that processes which are both neutralizing and non-structure-preserving result in a ranking paradox in a single, parallel OT evaluation (e.g. Krämer 2006). This has been presented as an argument that such processes must apply at the word or phrase level in a Stratal model of OT (Bermúdez-Otero 2007, Mackenzie 2016). The lexical phonology literature, however, includes numerous cases of purely allophonic processes that appear to apply early in the lexical phonology (e.g. Harris 1990). This talk considers German dorsal fricative assimilation as one such case. In German, [x] and [ç] are in complementary distribution with [x] occurring after back vowels and [ç] occurring elsewhere. The back variant of the fricative does not occur when a morpheme boundary intervenes between the fricative and a preceding back vowel, resulting in well-known surface contrasts such as [kuxən] 'cake', [ku-çən] 'little cow'. These data have been argued to provide a counterexample to structure preservation as they require the allophonic process to occur early in the lexical phonology (e.g. Hall 1989). If assimilation is motivated by constraints which penalize marked feature sequences, a ranking paradox similar to that demonstrated in analyses of neutralizing and non-structure-preserving processes arises. Instead, this talk argues that purely allophonic processes occurring at the earliest lexical level are motivated by constraints which require rich output specifications. This approach is integrated with a model of contrastive specifications in which a hierarchy of featural faithfulness constraints maps the rich base to contrastively specified outputs (e.g. Dresher 2009).

April 28, 2019

Sali in the Trinity College Alumni Magazine

The Trinity Alumni Magazine has a new feature on Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and her 2016 book Teen Talk: The Language of Adolescents. Check it out here!

April 27, 2019

MOTH 2019

The 2019 Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton Syntax Workshop is taking place at Carleton University on April 27 and 28. We have a lot of graduate students presenting!

Jean-François Juneau (Ph.D.) and Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D.):
"A case of upward Agree: A new analysis of Georgian NP ellipsis and suffix-stacking."

Alec Kienzle (Ph.D.):
"Voice and implicit arguments in Hebrew deverbal nominalizations."

Kinza Mahoon (Ph.D.):
"Participle modification and pluractionality in Hindi-Urdu: An argument for more structure."

Xiaochuan Qin (MA):
"Paths and place: Spatial adpositions in Mandarin Chinese."

Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.):
"Problematizing the categorization of deverbal nominals: Evidence from Malay."

Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.):
"Laki definite and number marking: A feature-based account."

April 26, 2019

Congratulations, Amos!

A very fond farewell to Amos Key (faculty), who has accepted the new role of Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement at Brock University. This position is aimed at fostering ties between the university and Indigenous groups and individuals, and promoting engagement and awareness of Indigenous viewpoints, Indigenous rights, Indigenous languages, and ongoing settler-Indigenous relations on the Brock campus and beyond. We're absolutely delighted for you, Professor Key, and for Brock as well. All the best from all of us with your new position!

April 25, 2019

Congratulations, Dan!

Dan Milway successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, "Explaining the resultative parameter," on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. On the committee were Elizabeth Cowper (supervisor), Michela Ippolito, Diane Massam, Susana Béjar, Nick LaCara, and external examiner Norbert Hornstein (University of Maryland). Congratulations, Dr. Milway!

Susana, Nick, Michela, Elizabeth, Dan, Diane, and Norbert. (Photo by Jennifer McCallum.)

April 24, 2019

Research Groups: Week of April 22-26

Wednesday, April 24, 2:00 PM-4:00 PM in SS1078
Syntax Group
Dry-runs for MOTH in Ottawa this weekend.

Friday, April 26, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM, in SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group
Zhanao Fu (visiting scholar): Practice talk for ASA: "Shift of pitch's short-term memory."

Friday, April 26, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Group discussion of distinctive regionalisms in Canadian English vocabulary.

April 23, 2019

Second Experimental Portuguese Linguistics Workshop

Our department and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese are hosting the Second Experimental Portuguese Linguistics Workshop at Victoria College on Friday, April 26. The event brings together researchers from Portugal, Brazil, the United States, Canada, and more. U of T folks presenting are from a variety of departments, including ours:

Gitanna Brito Bezerra (postdoc):
"The influence of referentiality, definiteness, and 'preposition+determiner' contraction relative clause processing."

Anabela Rato (faculty, Department of Spanish and Portuguese) Owen Ward (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese):
"Predicting difficulty in the perception of non-native consonants: The role of cross-linguistic perceptual similarity."

Natalia Rinaldi (Ph.D., Department of French):
"Weak or strong necessity: On deontic modals in Brazilian and European Portuguese."

April 22, 2019

Nathan in the Innis Herald

Nathan Sanders (faculty) is in the Innis Herald discussing how he came to linguistics, how our field straddles the creative/humanistic and the scientific/logical, and why the gap between these is something of an illusion.

April 17, 2019

Congratulations, Na-Young!

Congratulations to Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D.), who has accepted a teaching-stream position as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at Pennsylvania State University! Na-Young, we are absolutely delighted; you've more than earned it. We'll miss you around here, but we're also so happy to know that Penn State gets to benefit from your many strengths.

April 16, 2019

Guest speaker: Terry Regier (University of California, Berkeley)

The Computational Linguistics group of the Department of Computer Science is pleased to welcome Terry Regier, a Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He works on language and cognition, particularly with respect to meaning and categorization. His talk, "Semantic typology and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in computational perspective", will be taking place from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM in PT266 (i.e. the ordinary time and place for the Computational Linguistics Group).

Why do languages have the semantic categories they do, and what do those categories reveal about cognition and communication? Word meanings vary widely across languages, but this variation is constrained. I will argue that this pattern reflects a range of language-specific solutions to a universal functional challenge: that of efficient communication – that is, communicating precisely while using minimal cognitive resources. I will present a general computational framework that instantiates this idea, and will show how that framework accounts for cross-language variation in several semantic domains. I will then address the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis - the claim that such language-specific categories in turn shape cognition. I will argue that viewing this hypothesis through the lens of probabilistic inference has the potential to resolve two sources of controversy: the challenge this hypothesis apparently poses to the widespread assumption of a universal groundwork for cognition, and the fact that some findings supporting the hypothesis do not always replicate reliably.

April 15, 2019

Guest speaker: Dagmar Jung

The Fieldwork Group is pleased to welcome Dagmar Jung, a senior researcher at the University of Zurich. She has been working on the documentation of endangered languages in North America, particularly of the Dené sub-family, for more than two decades. Her talk, "Integrating first language acquisition into language documentation in the field", will be taking place on Wednesday, April 17, at 10:00 AM, in SS 1078.

April 14, 2019

Research Groups: Week of April 15-19

Note that there are no group meetings this Friday because of the long weekend.

Tuesday, April 16, 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM, PT266
Computational Linguistics Group, Department of Computer Science
Bai Li (M.Sc., Department of Computer Science): "Automatic detection of dementia in Mandarin Chinese."
Machine learning methods have recently shown promising results for detecting Alzheimer's disease through speech. In this talk, I will describe my master's research in detecting dementia in multiple languages. This task is challenging because of the scarcity of datasets, thus transfer learning and domain adaptation is crucial to make best use of limited data. I will talk about the challenges of applying transfer learning methods across different languages, and present a novel method of transfer learning by leveraging a large multilingual corpus of movie subtitles.

April 13, 2019


The Second North American Conference in Iranian Linguistics (NACIL 2) is being held at the University of Arizona from April 19th through 21st. As we are developing a specialty for Iranian linguistics, we are well-represented on the program. (Note: since the United States currently does not permit those with only Iranian citizenship to enter the country, several of our departmental members will be presenting their work via Skype.)

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) is giving one of the keynote speeches:
"The CP-vP parallelism: Evidence from (some) Iranian languages."

Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.):
"Laki definiteness and demonstratives: Anaphoric versus deictic."

Koorosh Ariyaee (Ph.D.):
"Exceptions of pre-nasal vowel raising in spoken Persian: An indexed constraint approach."

Breanna Pratley (BA):
"The importance of methodological choices in the typology of uncommon phenomena: A Gilaki case study."

Jila Ghomeshi (Ph.D. 1996, now at the University of Manitoba):
"Relative temporal clauses."

Also worth noting is that Andrew Carnie (BA 1991, now at the University of Arizona), as a local Dean of the Graduate College, will be assisting with the welcome.

April 12, 2019

Exhibit at OISE on the linguistic landscapes of Toronto

The Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at OISE, in conjunction with the U of T School of Cities, is hosting an exhibit: 'Linguascaping Toronto', about the linguistic landscapes of the city. This will be taking place on Monday, April 15, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, in the Nexus Lounge on the 12th floor of the OISE building.

April 11, 2019


Two of our students are presenting talks at this year's Great Lakes Expo for Experimental and Formal Undergraduate Linguistics (GLEEFUL), held annually at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. Way to go, both of you!

Gregory Antono (BA): "Más allá del supermercado: Language attitudes of Chinese-Argentine youth."

Lena Donald (BA): "Attitudes on multilingualism in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)."

April 10, 2019

Research Groups: Friday, April 12

Note that there is no meeting of the Syntax Group this week.

10:00 AM-11:30 AM, SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Research Group
Guest speaker: Lindsay Hracs (visiting scholar, Department of Computer Science) "The acquisition of 'only' from the perspective of naturalistic and laboratory stimuli."
Acquiring focus sensitive particles such as only is a learning problem that spans multiple linguistic interfaces. In order to fully interpret sentences such as 'Only Patrick eats sushi', children must draw on aspects of phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Laboratory studies (Crain et al. 1994, Paterson et al. 2003, Paterson et al. 2006, Notley et al. 2009, Kim 2011, among others) show that children have difficulty with such sentences until rather late in development, i.e. 8 years. However, explanatory factors vary considerably from study to study. I argue that modelling methodologies are appropriate for studying this learning problem because they allow for manipulation of cues from different linguistic interfaces in a way that laboratory studies do not. Finally, I present data from a corpus study of child-directed and child-produced speech that show children and caregivers both exhibit similar behavioural changes across development, and that co-occurrences in the corpus suggest children are not exposed to the sentences used as stimuli in the laboratory studies as frequently as previously thought.

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM, SS 560A
Semantics Research Group
Michela Ippolito (faculty) on joint work with Donka Farkas (University of California, Santa Cruz): "Epistemic stance without epistemic modals: The case of the presumptive future."
I will discuss sentences with occurrences of the future tense that are not interpreted temporally but signal a weakened commitment to the prejacent proposition. The talk will focus on Italian but the presumptive future is present in most Romance languages, as well as many languages outside this language family (e.g. Dutch, Greek, etc.). The particular goal of this work is to provide an appropriate semantics for sentences containing this kind of future. To do so, we will compare the presumptive/epistemic future to standard epistemic modals in the language and we will discuss the presumptive future in declarative as well as in interrogative sentences. The more general goal is to contribute to our understanding of the many ways in which natural language can express ‘modulated’ commitment, and the different kinds of ‘epistemic softeners’ a language can employ.

April 9, 2019

Jack's final linguistics lecture

We have reached the end of an era: Emeritus Professor Jack Chambers has decided to retire from teaching his beloved fourth-year undergraduate sociolinguistics seminar (LIN451: Urban Dialectology). Now eighty, Jack has been a part of our department for nearly fifty years; he joined us in 1970, and has often served as de facto department historian for much of the time since. (Photos by Sali and Naomi.)

His final lecture for our department took place on Thursday, April 4. Surprise guests were fellow faculty members Sali A. Tagliamonte, Suzi Lima, Yoonjung Kang, Naomi Nagy (with partner Craig), and Keren Rice (Ph.D. 1976, supervised by Jack himself).

At the end of class, to a standing ovation, undergraduate Huberta and the other students gave Jack a beautiful bouquet (though they had to wait until Carlo had finished asking a critical question!).

Jack has hinted, tantalizingly, that he may well do some additional teaching at the U of T in the future, albeit not in our department. Stay tuned to find out what he's up to next!

April 8, 2019

Lunch for graduating seniors

On Wednesday, April 3, we held a catered lunch in the lounge to celebrate our undergraduate students completing either a specialist or a major in our department. This semester, we are about to proudly launch 114 new alumni out into the world: 15 specializing, 65 majoring, and 34 minoring in linguistics. (Photos by Naomi Nagy and Deem Waham.) Thanks to Deem, to the faculty who helped celebrate, and to everyone who joined us!

Undergraduate Coordinator Naomi Nagy (faculty) congratulates the attendees.


Faculty, very ready to celebrate the students!


Intense discussion with the Department Chair.

Linguistics is funny!

One of the cakes even came with a tiny diploma...just for you.

All our best to all our graduates!

April 7, 2019

Ngarinyman to English Dictionary

The Ngarinyman to English Dictionary is to be released in July 2019 by Aboriginal Studies Press. This project has been a major collaborative endeavour; it has involved Ngarinyman people from several different communities, linguists, an anthropologist, and an ethnobiologist.

Ngarinyman is an Aboriginal language of the northern Victoria River District in the Northern Territory (Australia). Many Ngarinyman people live in Yarralin, Bulla Camp, Amanbidji (Kildurk) and around Timber Creek. The Ngarinyman to English Dictionary contains Ngarinyman words with English translations, illustrations and detailed encyclopaedic information about plants, animals and cultural practices. Also included is a guide to Ngarinyman grammar and an English index. This volume is ideal for both beginners and advanced speakers of Ngarinyman, for translators and interpreters, and for anyone interested in learning more about Ngarinyman language and culture. The Ngarinyman to English Dictionary is a part of the AIATSIS Indigenous Language Preservation: Dictionaries Project. This project is a response to the alarming rates of language loss in Australia, and aims to support the publication of Indigenous languages dictionaries. A dictionary contributes to language maintenance, supporting written texts of all genres including important literacy development resources. Dictionaries are a valuable addition to the tool kit of language learners, educators, interpreters and translators. The Dictionaries Project will produce a number of much-needed, high-quality dictionaries of Indigenous languages, which will contribute to community efforts to revitalise and strengthen their languages.

Among the four compilers was our own Jessica Denniss (Ph.D.). In conjunction with the work, Jessica also recently gave the keynote lecture at TULCON: "The mutual value of linguistic work with Indigenous communities: A perspective from Ngarinyman (Australia)." Congratulations to Jessica and to everyone else involved with this milestone!

April 6, 2019

New paper: Rupp and Tagliamonte (2019)

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and recent visiting scholar Laura Rupp (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) have a paper out in English Language & Linguistics, 23(1): "This here town: evidence for the development of the English determiner system from a vernacular demonstrative construction in York English."

The English variety spoken in York provides a unique opportunity to study the evolution of the English determiner system as proposed in the Definiteness Cycle (Lyons 1999). York English has three vernacular determiners that appear to represent different stages in the cycle: the zero article, reduced determiners and complex demonstratives of the type this here NP (Rupp 2007; Tagliamonte & Roeder 2009). Here, we probe the emergence and function of demonstratives in the cycle from the joint perspective of language variation and change, historical linguistics and discourse-pragmatics. We will argue that initially, the demonstrative reduced in meaning (Millar 2000) and also in form, resulting in Demonstrative Reduction (DR) (previously known as Definite Article Reduction (DAR)). This caused it to become reinforced. Data from the York English Corpus (Tagliamonte 1996–8) and historical corpora suggest that the use of complex demonstratives was subsequently extended from conveying ‘regular’ deictic meanings to a new meaning of ‘psychological deixis’ (Johannessen 2006). We conclude that survival of transitory stages in the cycle by several historical demonstrative forms, each in a range of functions, has given rise to a particular sense of ‘layering’ (Hopper 1991). Our analysis corroborates the idea that grammaticalization trajectories can be influenced by discourse-pragmatic factors (Epstein 1995; Traugott's 1995subjectification).