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!