September 17, 2019

Research Groups: Friday, September 20

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Arvind Iyengar (visiting scholar): "Scripting change: The orthographic and sociolinguistic impact of intergeneration phonological change in Indian Sindhi."

Sindhi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken mainly in southern Pakistan and in various parts of India. In Pakistan, the language is officially written in the Perso-Arabic script – a modified version of the Arabic script. However, the minority Sindhi community in India has vigorously debated for several decades now on which script to write the language in – in Perso-Arabic, or in the Devanāgarī script otherwise widely used in India. Supporters of the Devanāgarī script emphasise its supposedly superior representation of Sindhi phonology compared to the Perso-Arabic script.

However, the Sindhi language in India has been undergoing subtle shifts in phonology over the last seventy years. Because of this, certain features of the Devanāgarī script touted as an advantage by its supporters might actually hinder reading and learning, while features of the Perso-Arabic script might  somewhat ironically  lend themselves well to a pan-dialectal Sindhi orthography.

This talk will explore the details of the orthographic nuances mentioned above, which are often lost in the noise of emotional debates on script, language and identity within the Indian Sindhi community. It will also outline the potential impact of phonology-orthography mismatches on pedagogy and literacy in, and maintenance of this minority language in India.

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Phonology Research Group

1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Semantics Research Group
Naomi Francis (MA 2014, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology): "Presupposition denials with even."

This talk will explore a puzzle about even and its crosslinguistic kin. Even-like items in several languages are subject to a surprising restriction when they appear in declarative sentences that deny presuppositions: these items acceptable in negative presupposition denials but not in positive ones, as shown in (1) for English.

(1) A: Did Kenji bring his wife to the picnic? (Presupposes: Kenji has a wife, i.e., is married) 
B: Kenji isn’t even married!
B': #Kenji’s even unmarried/a bachelor!

The contrast between sentences like (1B) and (1B') is not straightforwardly reducible to independent properties of even or of presupposition denial, but instead reflects something about how even and presupposition denial interact. I propose a solution to the puzzle that makes crucial use of i) the controversial additive presupposition of even, ii) presuppositions triggered within the salient focus alternatives, and iii) an independently motivated mechanism for denying presuppositions under negation. I explore crosslinguistic predictions of the proposed analysis and discuss what the puzzle can teach us about focus-sensitive operators, presuppositions, and focus alternatives in discourse.

September 16, 2019

Goodbyes and hellos for 2019-20

At the beginning of the new academic year, we say farewell to:
  • Amos Key (faculty), stepping into the role of Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement at Brock University.
  • Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D. 2019), joining the Department of Asian Studies at Pennsylvania State University as a teaching-stream Assistant Teaching Professor.
  • Becky Tollan (Ph.D. 2019), joining the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in syntax and psycholinguistics.
  • ...and our 8 new MA alumni.
We welcome:
  • Cassandra Chapman (postdoc), working with Keir Moulton.
  • Songül Gündoğdu (postdoc), working with Arsalan Kahnemuyipour.
  • Nayoun Kim (postdoc), working with Daphna Heller and Keir.
  • Arvind Iyengar (visiting scholar), from the University of New England in Australia, working with Keren Rice.
  • Sander Nederveen (visiting scholar), an MA student from Simon Fraser University working with Keir.
  • Žiga Povše (visiting scholar), an MA student visiting from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, working with Peter Jurgec.
Best of luck to Naomi Nagy as she begins a well-deserved sabbatical, and to Guillaume Thomas, who has a half-year's leave. Conversely, we welcome back faculty members Michela Ippolito, Alexei Kochetov, and Keren Rice.

We also have 17 students beginning graduate programs in 2019: 6 in the Ph.D. and 11 MAs. Welcome!

September 10, 2019

Research Groups: Friday, September 13

Note that the meeting of the Psycholinguistics Research Group is cancelled.

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Syntax Group
Alec Kienzle (Ph.D.): "Stuck in the middle: The syntax-(lexicon)-morphology interface in a
Hebrew middle template."

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM in SS 560
Fieldwork Group

September 5, 2019

Visiting Scholar: Arvind Iyengar (University of New England)

Arvind Iyengar is Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of New England (UNE) in Armidale, Australia. His research interests include writing systems, sociolinguistics, and phonology. With the kind support of the U of T Department of Linguistics and funding from a UNE Early Career Researcher Award, Arvind will be spending time here from August to October, conducting research on the development and sociolinguistics of writing systems in Indigenous Canadian languages, and exploring opportunities for research collaboration with U of T faculty.

During his time here, he will also present at the Language Variation and Change Research Group on September 20, and at the Phonology research group on October 4. The talks will draw on his research on the Sindhi language of South Asia, focusing on intergenerational changes in the language’s phonology and the orthographic and pedagogical implications thereof. Further details of his talks will be out shortly.

September 4, 2019

New Sounds 2019

The 2019 International Symposium on the Acquisition of Second Language Speech (New Sounds 2019) took place at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan between August 30 and September 1.

Laura Colantoni (faculty), Alana Johns (faculty), Gaby Klassen (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Matthew Patience (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Malina Radu (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), and Olga Tararova (University of Western Ontario) presented: "The production of L2 English sentence types by Inuktitut, Mandarin, and Spanish speaker: Is typology enough?"

Juli Cebrian (Ph.D. 2002, now at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Angelica Carlet (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya), Nuria Gavalda (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Celia Gorba (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), and Wolf De Witte (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona): "Perceptual training, cross-linguistic similarity, and L2 perception and production."

Anabela Rato (faculty, Department of Spanish and Portuguese) and Owen Ward (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese): "The predictive role of cross-language phonetic similarity in L2 consonant learning."

Owen Ward (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese): "Perception of L2 Spanish lexical stress by L1 English listeners."

September 1, 2019

Sali in the Huffington Post

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) is in the Huffington Post this weekend, talking about the task of getting more Canadian words/meanings into the Oxford English Dictionary.

August 30, 2019

TWPL 41: Proceedings of MOT 2019

The 41st volume of Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics (TWPL 41) has now been released; it contains a range of papers from the Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto Workshop in Phonology/Phonetics (MOT 2019), which took place here in March, co-hosted by us and by York University. Many thanks to those whose articles appear in this volume, to incoming editor Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), and - especially - to outgoing editor Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.), whose prodigious efforts have underlain the TWPL revival since 2015-2016. Well done, all!

August 29, 2019


UK Language Variation and Change (UKLVC) 12 is taking place in London, England, from September 3 through 5, co-hosted by Queen Mary University of London and University College London.

Naomi Nagy (faculty), Timothy Gadanidis (Ph.D.), and Joyce Woo (BA) are presenting:
"Covariation in heritage Cantonese in Toronto."

Former postdoc Heather Burnett (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) is part of a presentation with Andrea Beltrama (University of Paris 7-Diderot) and Stephanie Solt (Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Berlin):
"The effect of precision and context on social perception."

Former visiting scholar Claire Childs (University of York):
"Ripping open the envelope of variation: Stative have (got) and auxiliary-/negative-contraction in British English."

August 28, 2019

Congratulations, Patrick!

Patrick Murphy defended his doctoral dissertation, "Listening to writers and riders: Partial contrast and the perception of Canadian raising," on Wednesday, August 28. On the committee were Phil Monahan (supervisor), J. K. Chambers, Jessamyn Schertz, Yoonjung Kang, Nathan Sanders, and external examiner Kathleen Currie Hall (University of British Columbia). Congratulations, Dr. Murphy!

August 22, 2019


Our Mississauga campus is hosting a workshop on Saturday, September 7: Building Synergies between Psychology, Language Studies, and Computer Science (PsyLinCS UTM), organised by Barend Beekhuizen (faculty), Craig Chambers (faculty), Emily Clare (Ph.D. 2018), Elizabeth Johnson (faculty), and Jessamyn Schertz (faculty).

The aim of this workshop is to showcase existing work and promote new collaborations in research at the intersection of the fields of Psychology, Linguistics, and Computer Science. Along with keynote talks, the workshop will include oral and poster presentations by workshop attendees.

The invited speakers are Suzanne Stevenson (faculty, Department of Computer Science) and Bob McMurray (University of Iowa). Note that attendance is free but anyone aiming to attend is asked to RSVP by the end of the day on Sunday the 25th.

August 16, 2019

Julie in Guatemala

Julie Doner (Ph.D. 2019) has just returned from the Guatemala Field Station run by the University of Maryland. With the four-week K'iche' Language School and Field Research Program, Julie and a number of colleagues completed two weeks of K'iche' language classes and two weeks of research.

Julie and her host family.

Julie and several of the other students in traditional Mayan clothes.

Julie giving a talk about her work (in Spanish!).

Doing elicitation.

August 11, 2019

Research Groups: Week of August 12-16

Wednesday, August 14, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
Bridget Copley (Centre national de la recherche scientifique/Université Paris 8) presenting joint work with Heidi Harley (University of Arizona): "What would it take to tame the verbal Hydra?"
Like the mythological Hydra, prominent theories of the syntax-semantics interface in the verb phrase boast multiple verbal heads, either in parallel (Folli and Harley 2005a, 2005b), or in series (Ramchand 2008). In either case, the need for syntactic heads to select appropriate lexical roots requires that a considerable amount of information is duplicated between the lexicon and the syntax. In this paper we hypothesize a single unified verbal head for dynamic predicates, with the aim of reducing the selection problem to ordinary type-driven semantic composition. To construct the denotation of the unified verbal head, we adopt two recent ontological innovations to the theory of event structure: the use of degree arguments to represent change (Hay et al. 1999, Kennedy and McNally 1999, Kennedy and Levin 2008, Kennedy 2012) and the use of force arguments to represent energy (Copley and Harley 2015). For the single-head analysis to work for major predicate classes and basic modifiers, we find that the tweaks to compositional theory that are needed are relatively minor, and raise interesting questions about the relationship between roots and structures.

August 10, 2019

Report from ICPhS 2019

The International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2019) has just wrapped up in Melbourne, Australia. Thanks to Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D. 2019, now at Pennsylvania State University) for this photo of several U of T folks!

Connie Ting (MA 2018), Lisa Sullivan (Ph.D.), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D. 2019, now at Pennsylvania State University), Kiranpreet Nara (Ph.D.), Alexei Kochetov (Ph.D.), and Kiranpreet's poster!

August 4, 2019

ICPhS 2019

This year's International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2019) is taking place in Melbourne, Australia, from August 5 through 9. Our current departmental members and alumni are very well-represented, and across a range of subfields that intersect with phonetics:

Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Laura Colantoni (faculty), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), and Jeffrey Steele (faculty):
"Linguopalatal contact differences between /n/ and /t/ across six languages."

Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D. 2019, now at Pennsylvania State University), and Suyeon Yun (former postdoc, now at Ewha Womans University):
"Contrastive hyperarticulation of vowels in two dialects of Korean."

Alexei Kochetov (faculty) and Kiranpreet Nara (Ph.D.), with colleague Matthew Faytak (University of California, Los Angeles):
"Manner differences in the Punjabi dental-retroflex contrast: An ultrasound study of time-series data."

Na-Young Ryu (Ph.D. 2019, now at Pennsylvania State University) and Yoonjung Kang (faculty):
"Web-based high variability phonetic training on L2 coda identification."

Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Paul Arsenault (Ph.D. 2012, now at Tyndale University College), and Jan Heegård Petersen (University of Copenhagen):
"A preliminary acoustic investigation of Kalasha retroflex (rhotic) vowels."

Alexei Kochetov (faculty) with Mayuki Matsui (University of Amsterdam):
"Laryngeal coarticulation in two types of devoicing: An electroglottographic study of Russian and English."

Alexei Kochetov (faculty) with Jason Shaw (Yale University) and Karthik Durvasula (Michigan State University):
"The temporal basis of complex segments."

Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), with Roger Yu-Hsiang Lo (University of British Columbia) and Maxime Tulling (New York University):
"The prosodic properties of the Cantonese sentence-final particles aa1 and aa3 in rhetorical wh-questions."

Maida Percival (Ph.D.) has a poster:
"Contextual variation in the acoustics of Hul'q'umi'num' ejective stops."

Juli Cebrian (Ph.D. 2002, now at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), with Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona colleagues Zhao Liu and Celia Gorba:
"Effects of learning an additional language on VOT perception."

Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba) with Sky Onosson (University of Victoria) and Lanlan Li (University of Manitoba):
"Ethnolinguistic differentiation and the Canadian Shift."

Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007) with Jesse Stewart (University of Saskatchewan), Michele Pesch-Johnson (University of Manitoba) and Olivia Sammons (University of Alberta):
"VOT in Michif."

Phil Howson (Ph.D. 2018, now at the University of Oregon) with Melissa Redford (University of Oregon):
"Listener preference is for reduced determiners that anticipate the following noun."

Gloria Mellesmoen (MA 2016, now at the University of British Columbia) and Marianne Huijsmans (University of British Columbia):
"The relationship between pronunciation and orthography: Using acoustic analysis as a practical illustration of ʔayʔaǰuθəm (Comox-Sliammon) vowel quality."

Gloria Mellesmoen (MA 2016, now at the University of British Columbia) with Molly Babel (University of British Columbia):
"Perceptual adaptation to stereotyped accents in audio-visual speech."

July 28, 2019

SPF 2019

This year's Summer Phonology Forum will be taking place on Tuesday, July 30, from 11 AM through 4:30 PM, in SS 2106. The registration form is available here.

The organisational committee is Alessandro Jaker (postdoc), Peter Jurgec (faculty), Yoonjung Kang (faculty), Phil Monahan (faculty), Keren Rice (faculty), Nathan Sanders (faculty), and Jessamyn Schertz (faculty).

Lisa Sullivan (Ph.D.) is giving the B. Elan Dresher Phonology Prize Talk:
"Allomorphy and morphophonology: Where do we draw the line?"

Other speakers from our department are:

Koorosh Ariyaee (Ph.D.):
"Hiatus resolution strategies in Persian."

Heather Yawney (Ph.D.):
"The Kazakh velar and uvular distribution."

Lisa Sullivan (Ph.D.):
"The effects of cognitive processing style on the perceptual compensation of stop voicing for place of articulation."

Andrei Munteanu (Ph.D.):
"Emotional phonetics cues in the speech of chess grandmasters."

Ekaterina Prigaro (MA):
"Interaction of stress shift and palatalization in Russian nominal systems."

Gajathree Ananthathurai (BA), Laurestine Bradford (BA), Araz Derohan (BA), Siobhan
Galeazzi (BA), Khadija Jagani (BA) and Yoonjung Kang (Ph.D.):
"Sound symbolism of gender in personal names: Western Armenian and Kutchi."

Patricia A. Shaw (Ph.D. 1976, now at the University of British Columbia) with colleagues Emily Elfner (York University) and Nicoline Butler (York University):
"Guess who? Game-play, questions, and intonation in Kwak’wala."

July 27, 2019

Congratulations, Shayna!

We're delighted to have heard that Shayna Gardiner (Ph.D. 2017, now at Receptiviti) has accepted a position as a Natural Language Processing Engineer at Dialpad. Congratulations, Shayna, and all the best from us as you begin this well-deserved new job!

July 26, 2019

LSA Institute 2019

The four-week 2019 Linguistic Institute run by the Linguistic Society of America has just wrapped up at the University of California, Davis. Our department was involved in three ways.

Several of our students - Gregory Antono (BA), Rosalind Owen (BA), and Max Haohang Xi (BA) - were in attendance this year and navigated an intense month of classes, symposiums, social events, and networking.

One of the themes of this year's Institute recognized the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, and the associated Dene Languages Conference included presentations by Keren Rice (faculty) and Alessandro Jaker (postdoc).

We also had two current departmental members teaching. The other of this year's Institute themes was Linguistics in the Digital Era; in conjunction with this, Marisa Brook (faculty) and Emily Blamire (Ph.D.) teamed up to teach 'Topics in Sociolinguistics and Computer-Mediated Communication'.

Marisa and Emily explain the Internet, or at least the linguistic elements thereof. (Photo by Mark Richard Lauersdorf.)

July 25, 2019

Sali and Bridget in the Bulletin

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) is interviewed in this week's U of T Bulletin about her new paper with Bridget Jankowski (Ph.D. 2013; staff) on dialectical patterns in Canadian English surrounding 'goodness', 'gosh', 'jeez', 'OMG', and other present-day English exclamations originating in ways of referring, strongly or euphemistically, to deities.

July 24, 2019

Congratulations, Na-Young!

Na-Young Ryu defended her doctoral dissertation, "Effects of web-based auditory training on the perception of Korean sounds by Mandarin learners of Korean," on Wednesday, July 24. On the committee were Yoonjung Kang (supervisor), Philip Monahan, Jessamyn Schertz, Anabela Rato, Nathan Sanders, and external examiner Ocke-Schwen Bohn (Aarhus University). Congratulations, Dr. Ryu!

Na-Young is departing shortly to take up a position as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at Pennsylvania State University. We'll miss you very much, Dr. Ryu, but we're also thrilled to get to send you off!

July 19, 2019

Congratulations, Joanna!

Keren, Nathan, Joanna, Peter, and Yoonjung. (Not pictured: Alexei and Maria.) (Photo by Jennifer McCallum.)

Joanna Chociej defended her doctoral dissertation, "Exceptional faithfulness and exceptional alternation: A case study of Polish vowel-zero alternations as deletion and epenthesis," on Friday, July 19. On the committee were Keren Rice (supervisor), Yoonjung Kang, Alexei Kochetov, Peter Jurgec, Nathan Sanders, and external examiner Maria Gouskova (New York University). Congratulations, Dr. Chociej!