February 26, 2019

Naomi at United Nations workshop on multilingualism

During Reading Week, Naomi Nagy (faculty) went to the United Nations in NYC for a workshop and panel discussion‚ Diversity and Multilingualism in a Megacity.

In addition to describing the Heritage Language Variation and Change Project, she showcased other sociolinguistic investigations of heritage and indigenous languages in Canada, with a lot of U of T connections!

Arabic in Ontario: Atiqa Hachimi (faculty) and Robert Prazeres (Ph.D.) on Moroccan Arabic in Toronto; Nahed Mourad (University of Ottawa) on Lebanese Arabic in Ottawa.

Greek in Vancouver, B.C.: Panayiotis Pappas (Simon Fraser University) and colleagues.

Tagalog in Winnipeg: Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba) and colleagues.

Italian in rural/small-town Ontario: Michael Iannozzi (BA 2014, now at the University of Western Ontario).

Pennsylvanian German in the Kitchener-Waterloo area: Miriam Neuhausen (visiting student).

Algonquian Linguistic AtlasMarie-Odile Junker (Carleton University), Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland), and Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba).

Finnish in Sointula, British Columbia: Mirva Johnson (University of Wisconsin, Madison) (with Marisa Brook (faculty) working on substrate effects of the local variety of English).

Patxohã, Yudja, Kawaiwete (34 villages!), and English in Brazil (sociolinguistics and language documentation): Suzi Lima (faculty) and teams of indigenous researchers.

February 25, 2019

Research Groups: Week of February 25-March 1

Note the irregular time for the Syntax Group this week.

Tuesday, February 26, 2:00 PM-4:00 PM, Innis College 313
Morphology Reading Group
Presentation by Virgilio Partida Peñalva (Ph.D.).

Friday, March 1, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Psycholinguistics Research Group
Barend Beekhuizen (faculty): "Computational investigations of the how and why of homonyms."

Friday, March 1, 12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Cristina Cuervo (faculty): "Asymmetries in argument introducers: Beyond Voice and v/V."
The asymmetry between subjects and objects has been noted, articulated and accounted for from many perspectives, linguistic and other. One instantiation is the opposition of subjects as external arguments, licensed as specifiers of Voice, to objects as internal arguments, complements of the verb. What about licensing of non-core arguments, such as adpositional and applied arguments? Building on recent work on adpositions (Svenonious 2007, 2008, a.o.), I explore licensing properties of P and Appl, testing the possibilities of unification of argument introducers (as in Wood and Marantz 2017), but asymmetries that parallel those of subjects and objects emerge. At the centre of the asymmetries we find the contrast between specifiers and complements, the opposition between figures and grounds, and the relative role of lexical roots and configurational properties in determining interpretation.

Friday, March 1, 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Fieldwork Group
Liam Donohue (MA) on tense/aspect in Georgian.

February 24, 2019

Sali on Talk the Talk

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) is featured in episode 352 of the linguistics podcast Talk the Talk, hosted by Daniel Midgley (University of Western Australia). They discuss the word 'wait' in present-day English and its ongoing development into a discourse marker as in "wait, what?".

February 23, 2019


The 6th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation is taking place from February 28 to March 3 at the Hawaiʻi Imin International Conference Center in Honolulu, hosted by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Notably, Luke West (MA 2015, now at the University of California, Los Angeles), Shay Hucklebridge (MA 2016, now at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Rosa Mantla (Tlicho Community Service Agency), Lucy Lafferty (Tlicho Community Service Agency), Tammy Steinwand (Tlicho Community Service Agency) and Nick Welch (former postdoc, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland) are presenting "Creating video games for language revitalization and pedagogy," based on a project developed here, originally as part of Nick's LIN458: Revitalizing Languages class in the autumn of 2013.

Keren Rice (faculty) is part of a presentation with colleagues from the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board: Faun Rice, Walter Bezha, Deborah Simmons, Jordan Lennie, Shelby Lennie, and Michael Neyelle:
"From Dene Kedə to Dene Ts’ı̨ lı̨: Reflecting on 25 years of change in the Sahtú region, Northwest Territories, Canada."

Guillaume Thomas (faculty) and Raphael Finkel (University of Kentucky):
"Building a Mbyá treebank."

Maida Percival (Ph.D.), with Sonya Bird (University of Victoria), Sonya Charlie (Simon Fraser University), Rae Anne Claxton (Simon Fraser University), Swutthus Harvey George (Simon Fraser University), Sq'utxulenuxw George Seymour (Simon Fraser University):
"Seeing speech: Teaching and learning Hul’q’umi’num’ pronunciation with Praat."

Tyler Peterson (former faculty, now at Arizona State University) is leading a workshop with colleagues Rolando Coto-Solano (Victoria University of Wellington), Samantha Wray (New York University, Abu Dhabi), and Sally Akevai (Ake) Nicholas (Auckland University of Technology):
"Accelerating the analysis of your audio recordings with Untrained Forced Speech Alignment."

Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université du Québec à Montréal) and Emily Kudlak (Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre):
"Lessons from collaborating on an Inuinnaqtun dictionary."

Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins (MA 1984, now at the University of Victoria), with Martin Holmes (University of Victoria) and Sarah Kell (University of Victoria):
"Planning to stop before you start: Ending a digital dictionary project."

Former postdoc Betsy Ritter (now at the University of Calgary), with Heather Bliss (Simon Fraser University) and Noreen Breaker (Siksika Nation):
"A’tsotsspommootsiiyo’p Niitsitapi’powahsin."

Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins (MA 1984, now at the University of Victoria), with Marion Caldecott (University of Victoria), John Lyon (California State University, Fresno), Janet Leonard (University of Victoria), Kyra Fortier (University of Victoria), and Karsten Koch (University of Alberta) are presenting a poster:
"Towards a prosody teaching toolkit: Developing methodology for a real-time intonation visualization component."

February 21, 2019

6th Scarborough Undergraduate Linguistics Conference

The Linguistics Student Association at the Scarborough campus is holding the 6th Annual Scarborough Undergraduate Linguistics Conference (SULC) on Friday, March 1. The keynote speaker is Keren Rice (faculty). 

The other talks are a mix of speakers from other campus and Scarborough undergraduates:

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

Sarah Lai (BA) and Melanie Lamarca (BA):
"The lexical skills of trilingual children in French immersion."

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

Stephanie Deschamps (BA), Hanna Zhang (BA), and Shanthos Thirunavukkarasu (BA)
"Cross-modal noise compensation in audiovisual words: Impact of native language."

Nazia Mohsin (BA):
"Gender phonology of Urdu first names."

Julia Toljagic (BA):
"The Danish invasions of England: An inquiry to the possibility of creolization."

Kristen Wing Yan Wong (BA) and Ka Yan (Kitty) Tsang (BA):
"The effect of speech rate on age estimation in conversational speech."

The entire schedule is available here. Well done to all the organizers!

February 18, 2019

Marisa in BBC News

Marisa Brook (faculty) is one of several linguists interviewed in the BBC on the subject of whether Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has started speaking English differently since she married into the English royal family.

February 13, 2019

Guest speaker: Shota Momma (University of California, San Diego)

We are delighted to welcome Shota Momma, a postdoc at the University of California, San Diego. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 2016 and works on psycholinguistics, especially processing and planning. His talk, "Unifying parsing and generation," will be held at 3:00 PM on Friday, February 15, in SS 560A. A reception will follow in the department lounge.

We use our grammatical knowledge in at least two ways. On one hand, we use our grammatical knowledge to say what we want to convey to others. On the other hand, we use our grammatical knowledge to understand what others say. In either case, we need to assemble sentence structures in a systematic fashion, in accordance with the grammar of our language. In this talk, I will advance the view that the same syntactic structure building mechanism is shared between comprehension and production, specifically focusing on sentences involving long-distance dependencies. I will argue that both comprehenders and speakers anticipatorily build (i.e. predict and plan) the gap structure, soon after they represent the filler and before representing the words and structures that intervene between the filler and the gap. I will discuss the basic properties of the algorithm for establishing long-distance dependencies that I hypothesize to be shared between comprehension and production, and suggest that it resembles the derivational steps for establishing long-distance dependencies in an independently motivated grammatical formalism, known as Tree Adjoining Grammar.

February 11, 2019

Research Groups: Week of February 11-15

Tuesday, February 12, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM, Innis College 313
Morphology Reading Group
Paper discussion led by Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.): Stump, Gregory (to appear). Some sources of apparent gaps in derivational paradigms. Morphology.

Friday, February 15, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, SS560A
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Marisa Brook (faculty) and Mirva Johnson (University of Wisconsin, Madison) reporting on their fieldwork trip investigating Finnish and English and language contact in Sointula, British Columbia.

Friday, February 15, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, SS560A
Phonology Research Group

Friday, February 15, 1:00 PM-2:30 PM, SS560A
Semantics Research Group
Heather Stephens (Ph.D.): "English polarity particles."
In this talk, I will present work in progress looking at the English polarity particles yep and nope. We will see that these particles are more restricted than their counterparts, yes and no. The differences are tied to the polarity of the proposition being responded to, the polarity of the response itself, and the discourse function of the response. In particular, yep is only felicitous in response to a positive initiative and cannot be used to disagree with a preceding utterance. Nope cannot be used to disagree with a preceding negative utterance. Further, yep and nope are shown to be infelicitous in response to out-of-the-blue utterances. I will present the discourse model of Farkas and Bruce (2009) as well as a featural analysis of polarity particles (Farkas and Roelofsen, 2015), and discuss amendments that may be required in order to account for this new data.

February 9, 2019

U of T Intonation Workshop 4

The fourth University of Toronto Intonation Workshop, hosted by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, will be taking place on Friday, February 15, from 9 AM to 5 PM, in Northrup Frye Hall 004 at Victoria College. Registration is available until Monday, February 11, at this page.

Laura Colantoni (faculty), Alana Johns (faculty), Gabrielle Klassen (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Matthew Patience (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Malina Radu (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), and Olga Tararova (Ph.D. 2017, Spanish and Portuguese, now at the University of Western Ontario) are presenting two talks:

"Typology and the production of L2 English sentence types by Inuktitut, Mandarin and Spanish speakers" and "To what extent does prosodic typology influence L2 acquisition? Evidence from the L2  perception-comprehension of English sentence types."

Shahrzad Mirzaei (Ph.D., Department of French):
"L2 acquisition of French stress by novice Persian learners: Impact of L1 morphology."

Ivan Chow (postdoc, Department of French):
"Post-focus prosodic asymmetry in spoken Cantonese."

February 8, 2019

Mohawk exhibit at UTM

In conjunction with the designation of 2019 as the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, the Mississauga campus will be home to an exhibit this week on Kanien’kéha, or Mohawk. It will be in the CCT Atrium on Tuesday the 12th and Wednesday the 13th between 10 AM and 2 PM. Bring along your headphones to listen to the exhibit and samples of spoken Kanien’kéha, featuring Ryan DeCaire (faculty).

The exhibit is jointly hosted by the UTM Indigenous Centre, the Centre for Student Engagement, and the Equity and Diversity Office. It comes from the Indigenous Language Spots project, a collaboration between Hart House and Ciimaan/Kahuwe’yá/Qajaq Indigenous Language Initiative at the Centre for Indigenous Studies. Indigenous Language Spots is a series of audio recordings in made for the radio in early 2018, created to amplify exposure and attention to Indigenous languages and to inspire curiosity about Indigenous culture, history, and the importance of preserving and sustaining endangered languages.

February 7, 2019

Indigenous languages in the Jackman Law Building

In accordance with 2019's status as the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, the Jackman Law Building is now home to a set of plaques reading 'Indigenous Law Students' Association' in each of five languages: Michif, Oneida, Plains Cree, Kwak’wala, and Anishinaabemowin. More on this via Alumni News and Articles.

February 6, 2019

Mercedeh and company recognized by Canada's Top Employers

Mercedeh Mohaghegh (Ph.D. 2016, now at Nuance Communications) and some of her colleagues have been interviewed for a Mediacorp profile in accordance with Nuance's recognition as one of Montréal's Top 100 Employers and one of Canada's Top 100 Employers of Young People. Congratulations to all!

February 5, 2019

Guest speaker: Lilia Rissman (Radboud University)

Our department is very pleased to welcome Lilia Rissman, a cognitive scientist and linguist currently working as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics at Radboud University. She is interested in cognitive approaches to meaning/processing/acquisition from a typological perspective, including across modalities. Her talk, "Tools for understanding the diversity of semantic structure", will be taking place at 3:00 PM on Friday, February 8, in SS 560A. Afterwards, there will be a reception in the department lounge.

Across languages, semantic structures display massive variability. At the same time, common patterns emerge that unify even the most disparate semantic systems. My research addresses the role of cognitive biases in explaining these common patterns and in guiding language learning and creation. I study language for describing events, and will focus in this talk on the thematic role Instrument, as in “Marnie cut the bread with a knife.” Integrated evidence from English, Dutch, Spanish and Mandarin as well as emerging signed languages points toward a conceptual/semantic interface in which cognitive biases guide semantic structure while permitting extensive variability.

February 4, 2019

Research Groups: Friday, February 8

Note the irregular meeting times/places this week.

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM in SS2119
Syntax Group
Liam Donohue (MA): "Making perfect sense: The curious case of the Georgian present perfect(s)."
Georgian possesses two verb forms which are called 'perfect' and translated in English as present perfects. One is periphrastic (composed of a past participle plus auxiliary verb) and the other is synthetic (agglutinated). In this presentation I will show how the patterns of distribution for these two forms differ in significant ways, possibly yielding insight into the broader tense/aspect landscape of Georgian.

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM in SS 560
Fieldwork Group
Group discussion led by Andrew Peters (Ph.D.): Vander Klok, Jozina (2013). Pure possibility and pure necessity modals in Paciran Javanese. Oceanic Linguistics, 52(2), 341-374.

February 3, 2019

Suzi at Berkeley Linguistics Society workshop

The Berkeley Linguistics Society is holding a Workshop on Countability Distinctions on February 8 and 9. One of the plenary speakers is our own Suzi Lima (faculty), who will be presenting "A typology of the count/mass distinction in Brazil and its relevance for count/mass theories."

February 1, 2019

Diane, Yves, alumni, and friends in Japan

Diane Massam (faculty) and Yves Roberge (faculty, Department of French) gave talks in Tokyo this week, and also had the chance to meet up with good friends: Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, now at Seikei University), Midori Hayashi (Ph.D. 2011, now at Chukyo University) and Yuko Otsuka (Sophia University). They had lots of fun talking linguistics and touring Tokyo together!

Midori, Diane, Yves, and Manami in front of Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple.

Manami, Yuko, and Yves in front of Akasaka Palace.

Midori, Yves, and Manami discussing recursion in a Tokyo café, as part of the SSHRC grant 'Development of noun-phrase
complexity in children' (on which Yves and faculty member Ana-Teresa 
Pérez-Leroux are co-PIs).

The main building of Manami's university, Seikei University.