April 30, 2016

DiPVaC 3

The third Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change conference (DiPVaC 3) is taking place at the University of Ottawa from May 4-6.

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and Bridget Jankowski (Ph.D. 2013) are presenting:
"Up north here: Discourse-pragmatic deixis in Northern Ontario."

Sali and Bridget are also presenting:
"Oh yeah okay: Discourse markers on the outer rim."

Alumni Derek Denis (Ph.D. 2015) and Alexandra D'Arcy (2005), along with colleague Martina Wiltschko (University of British Columbia) are presenting:
"Deconstructed multifunctionality: Confirmational variation in Canadian English through time."

Former visiting student Claire Childs (Newcastle University) is presenting:
"Interviewer effects on negative tag realisations in North-East England."

April 29, 2016


Several of our undergraduate students presented at the tenth annual Cornell Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium, which took place in Ithaca, New York on April 23 and 24:

Chris Klammer, Tae Ho Lee, and Sarah Moncur:
"Korean tonogenesis: Comparing Seoul standard with regional dialects."

Rachel Soo:
"Speaking out of tone: Perception and production of Cantonese tones in heritage and native speakers."

Alissa Varlamova:
"A longitudinal study of the early language development of nonidentical triplets."

April 28, 2016

Little report from TOM 9

The annual Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal semantics workshop took place at McGill University on April 23. Michela Ippolito shares this photo of departmental contributors. Way to go, all!

Guillaume Thomas (faculty), Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D.), Giuseppe Ricciardi (MA), Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.), Kazuya Bamba (Ph.D.), and
Michela Ippolito (faculty). Behind are Angelika's poster (left) and Kaz's (right).

April 27, 2016

A surprise guest at MOTH

(Photo by Diane Massam.)

Visitors descended upon our Mississauga campus from far and wide for MOTH over the weekend of the 15th and 16th - including at least one who wasn't on the program!

April 26, 2016


The 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL) is being held at the University of Utah from April 29 to May 1. Talks or posters being presented by representatives of our department are as follows:

Alexandra Motut (Ph.D.) and Meg Grant (faculty):
"Experiencers do not categorically block long-distance control of PRO."

One of the keynote speakers of the conference is Rachel Walker (MA 1993, now at the University of Southern California). Other alumni involved are:

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba):
"Inverse marking as impoverishment."

Naomi Francis (MA 2014, now at MIT):
"Modal scope in negative inversion constructions."

Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2012, now at the University of York):
"Indirect Evidentials and TAM: more arguments for the sentence domain projection."

Lyn Tieu (MA 2008, now at École Normale Supérieure), with colleagues Federica Di Bacco (Ulster University), Vincenzo Moscati (Università degli studi di Siena), Raffaella Folli (Ulster University), Christina Sevdali (Ulster University), and Jacopo Romoli (Ulster University):
"Testing the QUD approach: Children’s comprehension of scopally ambiguous questions."

April 25, 2016


The second Cascadia Workshop in Sociolinguistics was held at the University of Washington in Seattle on April 23 and 24.

Gloria Mellesmoen (MA) presented:
"Allophones in the Canadian Shift: Evidence from a sub-phonemic chain-shift in British Columbia English."

Alumni Derek Denis (Ph.D. 2015, now at the University of Victoria) and Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) presented:
"A comparative diachrony of utterance-final tags in Canadian English."

April 24, 2016

Workshop on Romance 'se'/'si'

On April 21 and 22, the University of Wisconsin, Madison hosted a workshop on various linguistic approaches to the multifunctional se/si clitics found across most of the Romance languages. Several University of Toronto linguists gave presentations:

Cristina Cuervo (faculty):
"Disappearing se in predicates embedded under causative light verbs."

Kaz Bamba (Ph.D.):
"On the relation between null subjects and impersonal se."

Alumna Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2011, now at the University of York) and colleague Virginia Hill (University of New Brunswick, Saint John)
"Unergative frames for non-argument se verbs: A case study."

April 18, 2016


The ninth Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal (TOM) semantics workshop is being held at McGill University on Saturday, April 23.

Both of the invited speakers are faculty semanticists from our department: Michela Ippolito and Guillaume Thomas.

Two grad-students are giving presentations:

 Tomohiro Yokoyama (Ph.D.):
"Three presuppositions of wh-exclamatives in English."

Giuseppe Ricciardi (MA):
"The evidential restriction of the Italian epistemic future."

And two more are presenting posters:

Kaz Bamba (Ph.D.):
"The contrastive morpheme hoo in Japanese comparative constructions."

Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.):
"The negative wh-construction in the discourse."

April 16, 2016

Sali in the Huffington Post

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) was interviewed by the Huffington Post recently on the subject of teen language in accordance with the release of her new book, Teen Talk: The Language of Adolescents.

April 14, 2016

Research Groups: Friday, April 15

Note that only one research group is meeting this week:

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Psycholinguistics Group
Shir Givoni (Tel Aviv University): "Marking multiple meanings."

April 13, 2016

LIN1205: Experimental Design presentations

In the department lounge on Monday the 18th, starting at 12 PM, Meg Grant's LIN1205: Experimental Design students will be making brief presentations about their final projects.

Maida Percival (Ph.D.) and Kazuya Bamba (Ph.D.):
"'Segmental intonation' in tonal vs. non-tonal languages."

Kelly-Ann Blake (BA) and Frederick Gietz (Ph.D.):
"Accommodation in conversation between experts and novices."

Kiranpreet Nara (Ph.D.) and Maksym Shkvorets (MA):
"Generational change in perception and production of VOT in Heritage Ukrainian."

Erin Pettibone (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese) and Kristen DonPaul (MA)

Everyone is welcome!

April 11, 2016

TBB199 Wikipedia page project now live!

Students in Naomi Nagy's first-year course TBB199:Exploring Heritage Languages have written and published a highly informative Wikipedia entry about heritage languages in Toronto. Anyone who has information about the ethnolinguistic vitality of other heritage languages in the GTA is invited to contribute. Current contributors are in the attached photo, courtesy of Helen-Marie Teo.

April 8, 2016

Sali on CTV News Toronto

Faculty sociolinguist Sali A. Tagliamonte was interviewed for a short CTV News look at teenager-speak that aired several days ago. The video is accessible here.

April 7, 2016

Congratulations, Ailís!

Congratulations to Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at Universität Mannheim), who has accepted a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor at New York University, specializing in language acquisition. She will begin her new job in September. All our best, Ailís: we can attest to this being thoroughly well-deserved!

Guest speaker: Zsófia Zvolenszky (Slovak Academy of Sciences/Eötvös Loránd University)

The Department of Philosophy is hosting a talk on the philosophy of language being given by Zsófia Zvolenszky of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary: "A common problem for possible-worlds analyses of deontic and fictional discourse." This will be taking place on Monday, April 11, from 3:15 PM to 5:00 PM in room 418 of the Jackman Humanities Building.

In my talk, I will bring together considerations from formal semantics and philosophy of language about two seemingly very different types of discourse: deontic modal discourse (about what is necessary and possible according to a certain set of rules, for example, rules of etiquette or U.S. traffic laws), and discourse about fiction (claims like 'Anna Karenina is Russian', true in the work of fiction but not true simpliciter). My aim is to draw out commonalities of these two types of discourse, and lessons they hold for one another. Specifically, I focus on (i) a common problem that affects influential possible-worlds-based accounts of the two types of discourse; and (ii) the advantages of an alternative, operator-based approach to the two types of discourse. I'll say a bit more about these in reverse order. 
A fiction-operator ("in/according to the relevant work of fiction") is widely used in analyses of fictional discourse; I argue that an analogous corpus-operator ("according to the relevant corpus of rules/laws") has advantages when accounting for deontic modal discourse. Crucially, neither operator should be cashed out in terms of truth with respect to possible worlds—for short, neither should be pw-based. The reason: a thorny problem (about intuitively false deontic modal claims that nonetheless come out as logical truths: for example, many claims of the form ‘if p then it ought to be that p). I (and others) have been discussing this problem over the past decade and a half in the context of deontic modal discourse, showing that it afflicts a benchmark pw-based analysis of modality due to Angelika Kratzer (she discusses the problem in her 2012 book Modals and Conditionals). I will argue that the thorny problem is even more general than previously thought (indeed applicable to deontic claims that aren’t conditional) and calls for giving up a basic tenet of pw-based analyses of deontic modality (like Kratzer’s): that the universal truth of p across a selected set of possible worlds is sufficient for ‘it ought to be that p’ to be true. A corpus-operator—if it steers clear of possible worlds—promises to avoid the various versions of the thorny problem at hand. Yet if we look to fashion the corpus-operator based on its far more widely discussed cousin, the fiction-operator, we find that one prominent approach to it, David Lewis’s (in his classic 1978 "Truth in Fiction"), gives a pw-based account of the fiction-operator. I argue that it is well to steer away from a Lewisian approach in the fictional discourse realm due to an analog of the thorny problem already familiar in the deontic modal discourse realm. 
My conclusion is that there are reasons—in many ways parallel reasons—for adopting a non-pw-based operator approach to analyzing fictional discourse as well as deontic modal discourse.

April 5, 2016

Nick Welch in Glossa

Congratulations to Nicholas Welch (postdoc) on the publication of "Propping up predicates: Adjectival predication in Tłįchǫ Yatıì", kicking off the first volume of the journal Glossa, which is the open-access continuation of Lingua.

Alumnus Ewan Dunbar (MA 2008, now at CNRS) is also featured in the first set of papers, with colleague Alexis Wellwood (Northwestern University): "Addressing the 'two interface' problem: Comparatives and superlatives."

Congratulations to both - and to the editorial team, for getting Glossa off the ground so well.

April 4, 2016

Research Groups: Friday, April 8

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Phonology Group

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Language Variation and Change Group
'Shut-up-and-write' session for everyone writing course papers or an MA Forum paper or a Generals paper or a thesis.

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Semantics Group
Michela Ippolito (faculty): "On the embeddability of epistemic modals."

In this talk I review some of the facts about embedding epistemic modals under attitude verbs and some recent literature on this phenomenon. I discuss some problems and show that the constraints on embedding epistemic modals are very similar to the constraints on embedded V-to-C in German.

April 3, 2016

Guest speaker: Alan Dench (University of Western Australia)

We are delighted to welcome Alan Dench to our department from the the University of Western Australia. A renowned fieldworker, Alan has worked on the syntax, morphology, phonology, and historical reconstruction of a range of mostly Pama-Nyungan languages (found among indigenous populations of Australia). He was extensively involved in the documentation of Martuthunira before its last speaker passed away in 1995. Cross-linguistic topics of interest to him include case-marking, pronouns, and kinship terms.

His talk for our department - "Reconstructing degrammaticalization: The Nyamal and Ngarla 3sgDAT pronoun" - will be taking place at 4:10 PM on Wednesday, April 6 in SS 2106. A reception will follow in the department lounge.

The paper proposes the development of a free pronoun form from what was originally bound material. It is suggested that the 3sgDAT pronoun, para, in two languages of the Pilbara region of Western Australia - Ngarla and Nyamal - has its origin in a bound pronominal element, ‑ra, with a much wider distribution in western Pama-Nyungan languages. The development of the free form para fills a gap in an innovated 3sg paradigm and compensates for the partial loss of non-subject bound pronominal forms in the two languages.

Put in these simple terms, the account proposed is quite the opposite of that which might ordinarily be expected in a comparative reconstruction. Faced with the question of reconstructing a form for a protolanguage that in one set of daughter languages surfaces as a free pronoun and in another set of daughters surfaces as a bound form, we would normally choose to reconstruct the paradigm of free pronoun forms and argue that these forms became bound in some subset of languages through a process of grammaticalization. The alternative diachronic analysis proposed here involves the reconstruction of ‘degrammaticalization’ and adds to what is still a relatively small inventory of (attested and accepted) examples of degrammaticalization described in the literature.

The analysis thus raises an interesting methodological question: "As rare as degrammaticalization may be as a phenomenon, are there conditions under which we may be licensed to reconstruct degrammaticalization?"

April 2, 2016

MOTH 2016

Our Mississauga campus is hosting this year's Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton (MOTH) syntax workshop on April 15 and 16. Anyone planning to attend is encouraged to register as soon as possible via the website so that the organizers have a good sense of how many people to expect.

The invited speaker is Ivona Kučerová (McMaster University), and there will be a dinner on Friday evening after her talk.

Current and former department members presenting are numerous:

Juvénal Ndayiragije (faculty):
"There is a cost to external Merge."

Julien Carrier (Ph.D.):
"The double-object construction in Inuktitut."

Heather Yawney (Ph.D.):
"Turkish verbal suspended affixation."

Dylan Bandstra (MA):
"Inalienable possession in Tlingit."

Shay Hucklebridge (MA):
"Relativization as nominalization: Head-internal relative clauses in Tłı̧cho̧ Yatıı̀."

Hong-Yan Liu (MA):
"The Mandarin ba-construction."

Zoë McKenzie (MA):
"Multifunctionality of the optative mood in Inuktitut."

Symon Stevens-Guille (MA):
"A timing-based account of RNR identity."

Alumna Yining Nie (MA 2015, now at New York University):
"Why is there NOM - NOM but no ERG - ERG?"

Kudos to the organizers on their hard work!

April 1, 2016


The 39th meeting of Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW) will be taking place in Göttingen, Germany, from April 5 to 8. Several faculty and alumni are giving presentations:

Peter Jurgec (faculty) and former postdoc Bronwyn Bjorkman (now at Queen's University):
"Indexing constraints to words: Evidence from derived environment effects."

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and former postdoc Heather Burnett (now at l'Université de Paris 7-Denis Diderot):
"Using intra-speaker variation to diagnose syntactic structure."

Guillaume Thomas (faculty) and colleague Yasutada Sudo (University College London):
"Cumulative readings of 'each'."

Ailís Cournane (Ph.D. 2015, now at Universität Mannheim):
"Omission evidence for child V-to-T upwards (re)analysis."

Naomi Francis (MA 2014, now at MIT):
"Scope in negative inversion constructions: Evidence from positive polarity item modals."

Keir Moulton (MA 2002, now at Simon Fraser University) with colleague Nino Grillo (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin):
"Clausal determiners and long-distance AGREE in Italian."

Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at MIT):
"Clitic dissimilation and dependent case."

Former visiting student Michael Wagner (now at McGill University) and McGill colleague Liz Smeets:
"The syntax of focus association in German/Dutch: Evidence from scope reconstruction."