May 28, 2016

Report from DiPVaC 3 and CVC 9

Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change 3 (May 4-6) and Change and Variation in Canada (May 7-8) both took place at the University of Ottawa this month.

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and Bridget Jankowski (Ph.D. 2013) helped kick off DiPVaC 3 with a look at the uses of there and here as non-locative deictic markers in Northern Ontario - a characteristic feature of the region.

(Photo by Nathalie Dion.)

Derek Denis (Ph.D. 2015, now at the University of Victoria) presented joint work with Alexandra D'Arcy (Ph.D. 2005, now at the University of Victoria) and Martina Wiltschko (University of British Columbia) on how to break down the multiple functions of utterance-final particles from the perspective of microsyntax.

Sali and Bridget returned to the stage to present on particles of the left periphery of the clause in Canadian English.

(Photo by Marisa Brook.)

Former visiting student Claire Childs (Newcastle University) gave a presentation on effects of different kinds of interviewers on how negative tags are produced in dialects of British English.

Claire's talk ultimately won the Best Student Paper award of the conference. Well done, Claire! Also, MA student Mary Aksim won the book draw.

Brianne Süss (MA), Mary Aksim (MA), Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.), Marisa Brook (Ph.D.), and Shayna Gardiner. (Ph.D.) (Photo by Sali A. Tagliamonte.)

DiPVaC 3 was also notable for being likely the first linguistics conference at which a certain Canadian game-show host put in an appearance.

Derek Denis (Ph.D. 2015, now at the University of Victoria) and Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.) provide a hint.

Change and Variation in Canada began the day after DiPVaC 3 and also featured a number of linguists associated with our department.

Marisa Brook (Ph.D.) presented on two linked levels of morphosyntactic change affecting subordinate clauses after perception verbs in Canadian and British English.

Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.), Paulina Lyskawa (MA 2015, now at the University of Maryland), Emilia Melara (Ph.D.), and Naomi Nagy (faculty) gave a presentation about whether code-switching is correlated with contact effects between English in Toronto and heritage Polish spoken by immigrants and their descendants.

Lex Konnelly (MA) presented on uses of discourse like in the queer community of Toronto and the role of small versus medium sample sizes.

Brianne Süss (MA) presented about uses of 'eh?' in rural parts of Ontario west of Ottawa, where the form enjoys a higher degree of popularity as in the nearest large cities.

Shayna Gardiner (Ph.D.) gave a presentation of a meta-analysis of studies in the journal Language Variation and Change, probing whether cases of stable variation require a continuous factor to be essentially holding them in place.

Mary Aksim (MA) presented an analysis of -s versus -th third-person-present verbal inflection in Early Modern English as represented by three female letter-writers of the time.

Incoming Ph.D. student Katharina Pabst (University of Buffalo) and faculty member Sali A. Tagliamonte, presented results of a project undertaken with Sali's class from the 2015 Linguistic Society of America Institute in Chicago, on words for 'very good' (cool, awesome, excellent, wonderful, splendid, superb, etc.) in Ontario English.

Katharina and Sali's talk. (Photo by Nathalie Dion.)

 Katharina describes a 'cool' pattern. (Photo by Nathalie Dion.)

The last talk of CVC 9 was by Sali and Ruth, on 'small' and 'little' and their synonyms in various Northern Ontario communities.

(Photo by Nathalie Dion.)

And with that, five days of intense LVC-ing came to an end. Special thanks to the organizers of the conferences for even more hard work than usual!

May 27, 2016

Elizabeth Cowper and Christina Kramer on CanadaAM

Faculty members Elizabeth Cowper (Linguistics) and Christina Kramer (Slavic Languages and Literatures), along with Michael Albano (a resident stage director of opera at the U of T) were interviewed this week on CTV's CanadaAM about the job of reading students' names at convocation, the challenge of trying to get pronunciations correct, and 'Convocation Bootcamp' (founded by Elizabeth), which trains name readers in advance.

May 25, 2016

2016 Dresher Phonology Prize and Cowper Syntax Prize

We are very pleased to announce the winners of our annual graduate student term-paper awards: the Elizabeth Cowper Syntax Prize and the B. Elan Dresher Phonology Prize. These are awarded to the authors of outstanding papers in the graduate syntax and phonology courses.

Elizabeth Cowper Syntax Prize: Shay Hucklebridge (MA)

B. Elan Dresher Phonology Prize: Maida Percival (Ph.D.)

Congratulations to Shay and Maida for their excellent work. We would like to thank all those who have helped to make these prizes available.

May 24, 2016

CLA-ACL 2016

The 2016 meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association/Association canadienne de linguistique is taking place in Calgary, Alberta from May 28 to 30 as part of this year's Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Presenters associated with our department are:

Neil Banerjee (BA):
"Of monsters and modals."

Laura Colantoni (faculty), Alexei Kochetov (faculty), and Jeffrey Steele (faculty, French):
"Ongoing L1-based influence in the L2 acquisition of the phonology and phonetics of English word-final nasals."

Elizabeth Cowper (faculty)
"The nature of finiteness."

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

Patrick Murphy (Ph.D.), Philip Monahan (faculty), and Meg Grant (faculty)
"Affrication patterns and perceptual tendencies in Canadian and European French."

Erin Pettibone (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Gabrielle Klassen (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), and Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty)
"Bilingual effects in recursive noun phrases."

French Ph.D. student Melanie Elliott:
"Direct and indirect object omission in the Spanish of bilingual Spanish-French children."

Keir Moulton (MA 2002, now at Simon Fraser University) with colleagues Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten (Simon Fraser University) and Junko Shimoyama (McGill University)
"Stay inside: The interpretation of internally-headed relative clauses in Navajo."

Keir Moulton (MA 2002, now at Simon Fraser University) with Nino Grillo (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
"Exceptional agreement in Italian pseudo-relatives."

Avery Ozburn (MA 2014, now at the University of British Columbia):
"Investigating the motivations of sibilant harmony: Coarticulation and speech errors."

Glyne Piggott (Ph.D. 1974, now at McGill University), with colleagues Lisa Travis (McGill) and Heather Newell (Université de Québec à Montréal):
"Linking syntax to phonology in possession."

Nicole Rosen (Ph.D. 2007, now at the University of Manitoba) with colleague Lanlan Li (University of Manitoba):
"Ethnicity and rurality in the Prairies: The case of /æ/."

Bettina Spreng (Ph.D. 2012, now at the University of Saskatchewan):
"am-Progressives in Swabian: Some evidence for pseudo-noun-incorporation."

Former student Elizabeth Ritter (Ben Gurion University/University of Calgary) and colleague Martina Wiltschko (University of British Columbia):
"Humanness as an alternative to case-licensing."

Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007, now at St. Mary's University):
"Phonological identity is phonological identity."

Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins (MA 1984, now at the University of Victoria) with UVic colleague Sonya Bird:
"Salish consonant clusters: Phonetic evidence for syllable parsing?"

Also, three Ph.D. students from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese are presenting posters:

Erin Pettibone:
"The acquisition of multiple adjective order in second language (L2) Spanish."

Malina Radu:
"Conditioned variability in the realization of Romanian rhotics."

Olga Tararova:
"The transfer of negative doubling in a bilingual community, Chipilo, Mexico."

May 23, 2016

Alana Johns in Nain

Alana Johns (faculty) has recently returned from a field trip to Nain, Nunatsiavut, where she has been working to set up a team of community researchers on the Sinâni Project (funded by SSHRC). The project's goal is to collect and transcribe a great deal of Inuttitut stories/conversations. These materials will be used for linguistic analysis and community heritage purposes.

During her time in Nain, Alana was interviewed on the radio (link to mp3) about the Sinâni Project. She also sends along the following pictures and captions:

"This is a photo from the installation of the new President of Nunatsiavut Johannes Lampe.
This took place in Nain May 4, 2016. I was lucky to be there so I could attend this occasion."

"The only means of transportation in town on May 4 was still skidoos, but by the time I left on May 16 people were
using vehicles and skidoos were not possible on the town roads, though they were still used to go out on the land."

May 22, 2016

Spring Reunion lecture by Elaine Gold

The Friends of Linguistics at the University of Toronto (flʌut) and Spring Reunion 2016 are co-hosting a lecture by faculty member Elaine Gold: "Bringing linguistics to the public: The Canadian Language Museum." This will be taking place on Wednesday, May 25, from 7 to 9 PM, in the department lounge.

Elaine founded the Canadian Language Museum in 2011 aiming to reach the Canadian public through short, portable exhibits on languages in Canada. Thus far, the Museum has created and curated five such travelling exhibits, as follows:

Canadian English, Eh? (2012)
Speaking the Inuit Way (2013)
Le français au Canada (2014)
Cree: The People’s Language (2015)
A Tapestry of Voices: Celebrating Canada’s Languages (2016)

Elaine will be discussing her work and the role of the Museum and its future directions. The presentation will be followed by a period of informal discussion and then a reception. Students, alumni, faculty, and friends are all welcome!

May 21, 2016

Workshop on Complexity in Learnability and Development

The Complexity and Recursion group is hosting a workshop with the theme of Complexity in Learnability and Development, supported by a SSHRCC grant to faculty members Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux and Yves Roberge. The workshop will be taking place in University College room 140 on Wednesday, May 25, from 9 AM (coffee) to 5 PM.

Ana-Teresa will be giving the opening remarks at 9:30 AM. Other projects being presented as talks are as follows:

Erin Pettibone (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Gabrielle Klassen (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), and Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty):
"Bilingual effects in recursive noun phrases."

Gabrielle Klassen (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Erin Hall (Ph.D.), Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty), and colleague Anny P. Castilla-Earls (University of Houston)
"Children's use of relative clauses in recursive and non-recursive modification."

Kazuya Bamba (Ph.D.), Midori Hayashi (Ph.D. 2011), Manami Hirayama (Ph.D. 2009, now at Ritsumeikan University), and Ana-Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty):
"On the development of complexity in Japanese nominal recursion."

May 20, 2016

Acoustical Society of America 2016

The 2016 meeting of the Acoustical Society of America is being held from May 23 to 27 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Several department members will be presenting posters:

Alexei Kochetov (faculty):
"The acoustics of strengthened glides in Kirundi."

Alexei Kochetov (faculty) and colleague N. Sreedevi (All India Institute of Speech and Hearing):
"Manner-specific tongue shape differences in the production of Kannada coronal consonants."

Kiranpreet Nara (Ph.D.):
"Acoustic analysis of Punjabi stress and tone (Doabi dialect)."

Maida Percival (Ph.D.):
"Affricate contrasts in Déline Slavey."

Luke West (MA 2015, now at UCLA):
"Pitch specification of minor syllables in Sgaw Karen."

May 19, 2016

Marshall Chasin and Jann Arden team up for hearing-loss awareness

In conjunction with Speech and Hearing Awareness Month, faculty audiologist Marshall Chasin recently sat down with Canadian singer-songwriter Jann Arden and Breakfast Television to talk about the importance of monitoring oneself for hearing loss and following up.

A video of their interview can be found on the Breakfast Television page. There is additional footage on Arden's Facebook page of her undergoing a hearing test.

May 18, 2016

Research Groups: Week of May 16-20

Thursday, May 19 - 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM in SS 1086
Syntax/Semantics Group
Two practise talks for CLA-ACL: Neil Banerjee (BA) and Nicholas Welch (postdoc).

Friday, May 20 - 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM in SS 560A
Semantics/Pragmatics Group
Rory Harder (Department of Philosophy): "Deontic modals: Inference patterns and understanding."

Here are two desiderata that a theory of meaning for deontic modals should meet: (1) given that P entails Q , it does not follow that Ought(P) entails Ought(Q); and (2) if, in a given context c, a speaker who is semantically competent with the term Ought can make a sincere judgment that Ought(P), a theory of meaning for Ought should not rule out the truth-hood of Ought(P) in c. The first is called non-upward monotonicity, and the second semantic neutrality. It is surprising to me that no theory of meaning for deontic modals has been presented in the literature that meets both of them. In this paper, I first summarize some results that show that the semantics from Kratzer (1981) and Lassiter (2011) fail to meet at least one of the desiderata. I then present some novel results in this vein. A couple recent theories, from Cariani (2013) and Fusco (2015), designed specifically to meet constraints like (1), fail to meet (2). And a couple recent neutral theories, from Carr (2015) and Charlow (forthcoming), designed specifically to meet (2), fail to meet (1), and also, thereby, fail to fully meet (2) as well. In conclusion, I make some general suggestions for how an adequate semantics for deontic modals could be constructed.

May 17, 2016

Guest speakers: Jason Rothman (University of Reading) and Elena Valenzuela (University of Ottawa)

The Jackman Humanities Institute is hosting two talks on Friday the 20th from 1 to 3 PM in room 100 of the Jackman Humanities Building (170 St. George Street). The talks are being co-sponsored by a JHI working group dedicated to the topic of multilingualism in Canada and by the Department of Language Studies at our Mississauga campus.

Jason Rothman (University of Reading):
“On the sources of differences in heritage language bilinguals: Why different is not incomplete.”

In this talk, I will first introduce the audience to and problematize both the concept of what a heritage language bilingual is and the literature that has studied their competence outcomes in adulthood over the past two decades.  Heritage speakers are native – often child L1 or 2L1 – speakers of a minority 'home' language who (usually) become dominant speakers starting at school-age in the external societal majority language of the national community in which they grow up and are educated.  Typically, heritage speakers show interesting differences in their knowledge and performance in the heritage language as compared to age-matched monolinguals. Often, such differences have been labelled as instances of incomplete acquisition (e.g. Montrul 2008) or attrition (Polinsky 2011). Under both accounts, although for different reasons, heritage language bilingual differences are viewed as some type of deficiency. I will propose that many differences, alternatively, could have only developed the way we see them in heritage grammars for reasons related to qualitative differences in the input heritage speakers receive (e.g. Rothman 2007; Pires and Rothman 2009;  Pascual y Cabo and Rothman 2012). In doing so, I will link a process of cross-generational attrition to (some) outcomes in heritage language development. I conclude by suggesting that many aspects argued to be incompletely acquired in heritage language grammars are in fact complete, but unavoidably different.

Elena Valenzuela (University of Ottawa):
“Attachment strategies in code-switched relative clauses.”

It has been argued that monolinguals and bilinguals differ in how they resolve ambiguities in relative clause attachment. Sentences (1) and (2) contain a complex NP of the type “NP of NP” followed by a relative clause (RC). Cuetos and Mitchell (1988) were the first to note that sentences as in (1) and (2) are parsed differently depending on the language:

(1) She kissed the brother (NP1) of the poet (NP2) that was on the balcony.

(2) Ella besó al hermano (NP1) del poeta (NP2) que estaba en el balcón.

In English (1), the poet is on the balcony; in the same sentence in Spanish (2), it is the brother who is on the balcony.

Languages can be grouped according to the parsing strategy for monolinguals: high attachment (Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, etc.) and low attachment (English, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Romanian, etc.). Dussias and Sagarra (2007) found that Spanish-dominant bilinguals with limited exposure to English preferred high attachment in both languages, while bilinguals with extensive exposure to English preferred low attachment in both English and Spanish.

Using eye-tracking, this research examines parsing strategies in code-switched sentences to address the following research questions:

i. Does language dominance play a role in parsing strategies?

ii. Does direction of the language code-switch affect processing?

iii. Does the direction of the language code-switch affect processing differently based on individual’s language dominance?

Three groups of bilinguals (Spanish Heritage speakers, L2 Spanish, and L1 Spanish) were tested on their parsing strategies of Spanish/English code-switched ambiguous relative clauses. Results show that the two English dominant groups, both the L2 Spanish and the early bilinguals, had slower reading times in Spanish across the board. In contrast, the L1 Spanish group had similar reading times in both languages, which may indicate that, as in Dussias and Sagarra (2007), language exposure plays an important role. Results will be discussed in terms of processing costs and language dominance.

May 16, 2016

Guest speaker: Jason Rothman (University of Reading)

We are very pleased to welcome Jason Rothman of the University of Reading. He earned a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics from UCLA in 2005 and focuses on language acquisition (especially L2 and L3) and multilingualism. His talk - "Constraining transfer in L3 acquisition: Introducing the typological proximity model" - will be taking place on Thursday, May 19 at 3:10 PM in SS 1070.

In recent years, formal linguistic approaches to language acquisition have seen a sharp increase in interest in true multilingualism, that is, investigating what happens when a bilingual acquires an additional language (e.g., see Garcia Mayo and Rothman, 2013; Halloran and Rothman, 2013 for literature review). In light of this interest, several models of cross-linguistic influence have been formalized: the Cumulative Enhancement Model (Flynn et al., 2004), the L2 Status Factor (Bardel and Falk, 2007; Falk and Bardel, 2011), the Typological Primacy Model (Rothman, 2011, 2015) and most recently the Scapel Model (Slabakova, in press) and the Linguistic Proximity Model (Westergaard et al. in press). Because the sources of potential transfer (with two sources to select from) are more dynamic than in L2 acquisition, and given the crucial role that transferred representations play for learnability across development and ultimate attainment, it is not surprising that the majority of work in the nascent field has focus on determining how the mind selects between the L1 and L2 for transfer in L3 interlanguage formation. In this talk, I will introduce the audience to the current state of the science in the field of generative L3 studies. I will argue that determining with accuracy the source and dynamics of transfer at the level of mental representation in the very first stages of L3 interlanguage must be done before any viable developmental theories can be meaningful.  I will explain the tenets of the Typological Proximity Model, which sits at the interface between formal linguistic constraints and cognitive economy to explain why initial stages L3 transfer seems to be complete (from either the L1 and L2 in its entirety) and obtains as a result of the parser’s processing of specific linguistic cues in the L3 input stream after initial exposure.

May 13, 2016

Congratulations, Marisa!

Congratulations to Ph.D. student Marisa Brook, who has accepted a one-year position at Michigan State University. As of August 16th, she will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages - probably shortly after defending her dissertation, "Syntactic categories informing variationist analysis: The case of English copy-raising."

May 10, 2016

Report from WCCFL

The 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL) was hosted by the University of Utah between April 29 and May 1. Alexandra Motut (Ph.D.) and Meg Grant (faculty) presented a poster; alumni involved were Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba), Naomi Francis (MA 2014, now at MIT), Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2012, now at the University of York), Lyn Tieu (MA 2008, now at École Normale Supérieure), and Rachel Walker (MA 1993, now at the University of Southern California). After the conference, several attendees went hiking into the mountains around Salt Lake City.

Alex Motut shares the following photos:

The conference venue: the Salt Lake City public library!

Alex is on top of the world, or at least pretty much.

May 9, 2016

CamCoS 5

Cambridge Comparative Syntax 5 took place from May 5 to 7 at Cambridge University.

Diane Massam (faculty) was one of the invited speakers; she presented a talk entitled "(Un)ergativity and the Split DP hypothesis."

Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2011, now at the University of York) and colleague Sonia Cyrino (University of Campinas) presented "Syntactic positions for DOM: The case of Brazilian Portuguese and Romanian."

Diane sends along these photos:

Monica and Diane representing our department in Cambridge!

Diane talking about roll-up movement with Guglielmo Cinque at St. John's College, Cambridge.

May 8, 2016

Research Groups: Week of May 9-13

Thursday, May 12 - 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM in Bissell 112
Syntax/Semantics Group
Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at the University of Manitoba): "Proximate DP, obviative KP."

Algonquian languages make a morphosyntactic distinction between two degrees of third-person reference: the most salient third person in a clause is marked as “proximate” while all others are marked as 'obviative' (or 'fourth person'). I propose that the proximate/obviative distinction reflects a difference in thesize of the relevant nominal expressions: proximate third persons are DP while obviative third persons are KP (cf. Richards 2010). The additional KP layer in an obviative is required in order to isolate it from a CP-level operator that is responsible for obligatory coreference effects. I show how the DP/KP analysis captures the morphosyntactic properties of obviation (word order effects, direct-inverse hierarchy, morphological markedness, etc.) and also correctly leaves room for conditioning by pragmatic factors.

Friday, May 13 - 1:00 PM sharp to 2:00 PM in SS 560A
Fieldwork Group
Group discussion of whether to change the department's guidelines for elicitation fieldwork with indigenous people around the world.

May 1, 2016


Change and Variation in Canada 9 is taking place at the University of Ottawa on May 7 and 8. A large proportion of the program involves U of T Linguistics people of the past/present/future:

Mary Aksim (MA):
"Three Early Modern English ladies."

Marisa Brook (Ph.D.):
"This seems to be on the way out: Covariants of seem subordination in Canadian and British English."

Shayna Gardiner (Ph.D.):
"Continuing our study of stable variation: The role of continuous factor groups."

Lex Konnelly (MA):
"Like in the adjective phrase: Queering ongoing change in Toronto, Canada."

Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.), Paulina Lyskawa (MA 2015, now at the University of Maryland), Emilia Melara (Ph.D.), and Naomi Nagy (faculty):
"(Why) is code-switching sometimes a predictor of contact effects?"

Katharina Pabst (incoming Ph.D. student, currently at the University of Buffalo) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty), in conjunction with the students of the 2015 LSA Summer Institute:
"Greatcool, and amazing: Adjectives of positive evaluation in Canadian English."

Brianne Süss (MA):
"Just a stereotype, eh?"

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.):
"A 'little' story from Northern Ontario: Semantic variation in the linguistic system."