May 31, 2013

New Sociolinguistics Professor

(Post courtesy of Keren Rice)

I am very pleased to announce that we have hired Aaron Dinkin to a two year Assistant Professor, replacing Sali while she holds her Killam Fellowship.

Aaron completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, working on dialect boundaries and phonological change in upstate New York. He is interested in the interaction of phonological structure with the direction of phonetic and phonological change. He will teach courses in sociolinguistics and historical linguistics, as well as other courses. You can find some additional information at

Aaron's position officially begins July 1, and we look forward to seeing him here sometime soon after that date.

We look forward to welcoming Aaron to the department.

May 30, 2013

CLA 2013

Several members of our department are in, or on their way to, BC for the CLA, which takes place this weekend (June 1-3) at the University of Victoria.

The following will be giving talks:
  • Susana Béjar & Arsalan Kahnemuyipour: Agreement in copular clauses embedded in modal contexts
  • Marisa Brook: Intersecting phonotactic restrictions and their perceptual effects
  • Laura Colantoni, Olivia Marasco, Jeffrey Steele & Simona Sunara: Temporal and spectral parameters in the L2 acquisition of prosodic prominence
  • Elizabeth Cowper & Daniel Currie Hall (Saint Mary’s): English modals: Evidence for a neoparametric theory of phrase structure
  • Derek Denis: The social meaning of Eh in Canadian English
  • Julianne Doner: The acquisition of first-Order CP and DP recursion: A longitudinal case study
  • B. Elan Dresher: Contrastive vowel features in West Germanic
  • Clarissa Forbes: Number in the Gitksan nominal domain: Plural [plural] projections
  • Ross Godfrey: Inner and outer causatives in a type-driven semantics
  • Julie Goncharov: Self-superlatives
  • Alana Johns: Ergativity lives: Eastern Canadian Inuktitut and *clitic doubling
  • Diane Massam: Double and single ‘be’ Constructions in spoken English
  • Safieh Moghaddam: On split ergativity – Evidence from Davani
  • Rebecca Tollan: Deriving morphological ergativity in Basque
  • Tomohiro Yokoyama: Licensing of the question marker ka in Japanese
  • Michelle Yuan: A-bar fronting in Dinka: Evidence for a left-peripheral domain below CP
There will also be a number of poster presentations given by members of our department:
  • Bronwyn Bjorkman & Elizabeth Cowper: Inflectional shells and the syntax of causative have
  • Radu Craioveanu: The rise and fall of aspirated fricatives
  • B. Elan Dresher, Christopher Harvey & Will Oxford: Feature hierarchies and phonological change
  • Mercedeh Mohaghegh: An acoustic analysis of Persian word-final consonants within clusters
  • Alexandra Motut: A semantics for object-oriented depictives and their connection to partitives
Several alumni will also be in attendance to present talks and posters:
  • Monica Irimia: Non-canonical, but structural
  • Kenji Oda: On Apparent Adjective fronting in Irish
  • Kyumin Kim (Calgary): PERSON all the way in Blackfoot: Evidence from psych-predicates
  • Richard Compton (Queen’s): Incorporation and ellipsis as evidence for phrasal words in Inuit
  • Nelleke Strik (Dalhousie): The acquisition of long distance wh-questions in L2 French
  • Keir Moulton, Mathieu Dovan & Meghan Jeffrey (Simon Fraser): Why are weak crossover effects so weak? An experimental investigation
  • Jila Ghomeshi (Manitoba): The syntax of pragmaticalization
  • Meagan Louie (UBC): Constraints on licensing if-clauses in Blackfoot
  • Andrei Anghelescu & Michael Schwan (UBC): Nuclear consonants in Gitksan
As well, several graduate students from the French Department and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese will be giving talks and poster presentations:
  • Tanya Battersby: Semantic change in the Spanish copula system: Evidential innovation with estar in the Buenos Aires variety
  • Sophia Bello: L’omission des clitiques objets indirects: Arguments du VP ou tête fonctionnelle?
  • Anna Frolova: Acquisition des structures transitives en russe langue maternelle
  • Olivia Marasco: Intonation patterns of yes-no questions in L2 Spanish speakers
  • Joanne Markle Lamontagne: Child heritage language acquisition of the Spanish present perfect in Quebec
  • Elena Voskovskaia: Composés N-N et N-de-N dans la littérature française du 17e au 20e siècle: productivité morphologique
The full schedule is available here.

Updated: Photos from the event are available here.

Congratulations, Martin!

Congratulations to undergraduate student Martin Sneath, who is one of the winners of the highly competitive Jackman Humanities Institute Fellowships for 2013-2014!

This honour was awarded to only six undergraduate students this year, and provides Martin with the opportunity to conduct research on "Translation and Change in the Languages of Contact in Eastern Canada" under the supervision of Jackman Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellow Professor Paul Cohen.

May 28, 2013

Congratulations, Naomi!

Congratulations to Naomi Nagy on receiving tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor!

FLAUT lecture by Jack Chambers on May 30

Post courtesy of Elaine Gold
Friends of Linguistics At the University of Toronto [flaut]
and Spring Reunion 2013
present a lecture by

Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
Title: "Sleeping with an Elephant: English at the Canada-U.S. Border" 
Generally, we sound more like our neighbours than like people who live
farther away from us. But sometimes the continuum is disrupted by a barrier
of some kind ‹ an ocean, mountains or something less tangible like a
political boundary. The longest political boundary is the one that divides
Canada and the United States. Evidence from the Dialect Topography of Canada
shows that the border sometimes functions like a brick wall, blocking the
diffusion of linguistic elements. In other cases, it is permeable to some
extent, more like a screen door. The difference between what stops at the
border and what crosses it partly distinguishes local phenomena from global.
But sometimes it seems simply arbitrary, and those differences signal our
individuality and our independence.


Thursday May 30
 7-9 p.m.
4th floor 

Updated: photos from the event below

(Photo credit: Dan Milway)

(Photo credit: Dan Milway)

(Photo credit: Emily Clare)

(Photo credit: Emily Clare)

Research Groups: Syntax and Semantics (May 29/2013)

Post courtesy of Julie Doner

Syntax project will be held this Wednesday, May 29th, from 1-3 pm in
SS1072. We will have three CLA dry runs, as follows: 

Richard Compton "Incorporation and ellipsis as evidence for phrasal words in Inuit" 

Monica Irimia "Non-canonical, but structural" 

Alana Johns "Ergativity lives: Eastern Canadian Inuktitut and *clitic doubling"

May 22, 2013

Congratulations, Monica!

Congratulations to Monica Irimia, who has accepted a two-year postdoctoral research position at the University of York (England) at the Centre for Comparative and Historical Syntax, where she will work with Professor Giuseppe Longobardi on the ERC-funded project "Meeting Darwin's last challenge: Toward a global tree of human languages and genes." 

This is a highly innovative project which is described on LinguistList (23.5244) as planning to "build the first phylogenetic trees of languages based on syntactic evidence ... and to compare them to the molecular-genetic representation of corresponding populations. The project will apply a new comparative method, based entirely on grammatical evidence and on recent parametric theories of syntactic diversity, to ensure higher standards of testability/replicability and measure linguistic distances between even remote populations. A team of linguists at York and one of biologists in Italy will for the first time jointly select the populations most significant from either perspective for language/gene sampling." 

Congratulations, Monica, on joining this exciting team!

Research Groups: Syntax and Semantics (May 22/2013)

Post courtesy of Julie Doner

Today at syntax project, from 1-3 pm in SS1072: Tomohiro Yokoyama and Michelle Yuan will be giving dry runs for their CLA talks. Tomo's is titled "Licensing of the question marker ka in Japanese" and Michelle's is "A-bar fronting in Dinka (Twic East): Evidence for a left-peripheral domain below CP." 

May 21, 2013

Diane and Maayan at AFLA 20

Diane Massam and Maayan Adar (B.A. 2012, now a M.A. student at McGill) are in Arlington, Texas at the 20th meeting of AFLA. They gave talks on Niuean argument structure and on Tagalog existentials, respectively. This photo was taken after a Tex-Mex lunch of fish tacos.

May 18, 2013

Congratulations, Cathleen!

Good news from Cathleen Waters - she has accepted  an open-ended post as Lecturer in World Englishes at the University of Leicester! She finished her PhD in 2011, working in language variation and change.

(Post courtesy of Keren Rice)

May 10, 2013

Sali in the Star on effects of online language use

The Toronto Star ran a story yesterday profiling Sali's work on online language use and also the work of students in her Language and the Internet class. Here is a link:

Research Groups: Psycholinguistics (May 10/2013)

Post courtesy of Daphna Heller

This is a reminder that we are having a psycholinguistics meeting today, Friday, May 10th at 10:15am (Sid Smith 560A). Mercedeh Mohaghegh will give a presentation entitled "Connected speech processes and lexical access in real time comprehension". 

Our next meeting is scheduled for May 24th. Giovanna Morini, who is visiting Elizabeth Johnson's lab will be presenting. After that we have two meetings in June, on the 7th and the 21st. We will resume our meetings in September.

May 3, 2013

New Lecturer at UTM

(Photo used with permission)

Congratulations to Michelle Troberg, who has received a teaching-stream appointment at the rank of Lecturer in the Department of Language Studies at UTM! Michelle completed her PhD with the Department of French at U of T in 2009; her thesis is entitled: "Dynamic Two-place Indirect Verbs in French: A Synchronic and Diachronic Study in Variation and Change of Valence". Following graduation, she completed a one-year postdoctoral fellowship with Yves Roberge and was involved with the Interface Asymmetry Project (Les asymétries d’interface et le traitement cognitif) that he is a co-investigator for (principal investigator: Anna Maria Di Sciullo (UQAM)). This Project is a collaborative work aimed at developing "a model of the contact points (or interfaces) between the language faculty and the other faculties of the cognitive system." Yves and Michelle had a specific interest on the syntactic representation of event participants, in particular the verb and its complement and non-thematic dative arguments, and Michelle was especially interested in what language variation and change can tell us about these relations.

Although this is a new appointment, Michelle has been teaching at UTM for a few years now. She has taught several introductory linguistics courses, as well as courses on Romance linguistics and historical linguistics. Michelle is teaching English Grammar at UTM during the spring semester, and her official appointment as Lecturer begins on July 1, 2013.

Congratulations, Michelle!

Change and Variation in Canada 7

The seventh annual Change and Variation in Canada (CVC 7) workshop is being held at the University of Toronto this weekend (May 4-5, 2013). This student-led event will bring together researchers working within a variationist framework on Canadian language varieties and/or at Canadian institutions.

The plenary speakers will be J. K. Chambers (University of Toronto) and Philip Comeau (University of Ottawa). 

For more details go here:

SALT 23 and CVC 7

Michela Ippolito is travelling to UC Santa Cruz this weekend to present at the 23rd Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) conference taking place May 3-5. Her talk is entitled "Counterfactuals, Similarity, and Conditional Questions Under Discussion".

We are also hosting the 7th annual Change and Variation in Canada (CVC) workshop this weekend, May 4-5. Jack Chambers and Philip Comeau (University of Ottawa) are the plenary speakers, and several members of our department are giving talks. These include:
  • Matt Hunt Gardner, Derek Denis, Marisa Brook, Sali Tagliamonte, and the U of T             Quotative Project: "I'm like, 'It's different in York'": Real-time and apparent-time            quotative trends in Toronto, Canada and York, England
  • Derek Denis: On the (non-)grammaticalization of utterance-final right in Canadian            English
  • Matt Hunt Gardner: Word-final [t,d] in Cape Breton English
  • Chris Harvey: Any and no negation in Southern Ontario English
  • James Smith: Sociophonetic variation of word-final stop voicing in Toronto English
Other members of U of T who are presenting include:
  • Anne-José Villeneuve: La chute du /l/ dans les pronoms clitiques en français du Vimeu
  • André Arsenault: To my Lady say: "Thus speaks your servant": Sociolinguistic                   variation and the Gender Paradox in the Old Babylonian of Mari 
  • Yannis John Koumarianos: Adjective suffixation across three generations of                      Italian-Canadians 
The full schedule is available here.