November 29, 2019

Guest speaker: Yasutada Sudo (University College London)

We are very pleased to welcome Yasutada Sudo, who is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics at University College London and who works on semantics, pragmatics, and syntax. His talk, "Implicatures with discourse referents", will be taking place on Monday, December 2, from 10:30 AM through 12 PM, in OISE 8280.

Theories of discourse anaphora represent discourse referents separately from propositional content (Karttunen 1976, Heim 1982, Kamp 1983, etc.). It is then natural to expect information about discourse referents to be relevant for pragmatic inferences, but most current theories of pragmatics seem to ignore it. In this talk I will look at some cases of implicatures where information about discourse referents gives rise to non-trivial effects, and discuss possible ways in which pragmatic reasoning refers to discourse referents.

November 28, 2019

Naomi and Anne-Marie on Radio-Canada

Naomi Nagy (faculty) and Anne-Marie Brousseau (faculty, Department of French) were recently interviewed, en français, on Radio-Canada. Listen in on Naomi and Anne-Marie, hear about what they've been up to and a favourite song of each, and révisez votre français!

November 26, 2019

Research Groups: Week of November 25-29

Wednesday, November 27, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM in SS 2116
Morphology Reading Group
Alessandro Jaker (postdoc) presenting on his paper: "The 'productive' vs. 'thematic' prefix distinction in Tetsǫ́t’ıné: An LFG formalization."

Friday, November 29, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group
Guest speaker: Victor Kuperman (McMaster University): "What spelling errors tell us about dynamics of learning: A cross-linguistic study."

Friday, November 29, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM in SS 560A
Phonology Group
Thesis proposal of Kiranpreet Nara (Ph.D.): "An acoustic and electroglottographic study of Punjabi tone and voice quality."

Friday, November 29, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM in SS 560A
Fieldwork Group
TBA

November 25, 2019

Congratulations, Andrea!

We are thrilled to have learned that Andrea Johns (BA) is one of two Indigenous students recognized by President Meric Gertler for their commitment to academics and Indigenous outreach. Andrea, who is Kanien'kéha/Mohawk and currently a fourth-year student in Indigenous Studies, has thrown herself into advocating for Indigenous language rights. On top of herself learning the Kanien'kéha/Mohawk language in classes taught by Ryan DeCaire (faculty), she has established the Indigenous Languages Club here and studied abroad in New Zealand to investigate the language revitalization and other cultural reclamation efforts on the part of the Maori. Following her graduation, she intends to continue to advocate for linguistic human rights among the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. Congratulations, Andrea, on this recognition, and all our best!

November 24, 2019

Ruth at UTM Linguistics Brown Bag

Ruth Maddeaux (Ph.D.) is the next guest speaker for the Linguistics Brown Bag Lunch series of talks at UTM. Her talk, "Individual cognitive differences as predictors of participation in sound change", will be taking place on Monday, December 2, from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM in room 3235 (partition room) of Maanjiwe nendamowinan. Feel free to bring your lunch!

Sociolinguistic research is built on analyzing variation among speakers grouped into macro-social categories – e.g., age, gender, socio-economic background (Labov 2001 and many others) – with relatively little attention paid to the individual speaker. But, models of sound change rely on the individual listener/speaker to initiate, adopt and propel change (Ohala 1981; Janda and Joseph 2003). And, psycholinguistic research finds robust correlations between aspects of the individual's cognitive function and linguistic performance. This leads to a question that brings these three facts together: What individual differences in cognitive function play a role in perceiving and producing sociolinguistically evaluated sound change?

As a starting point for investigating the role of individual differences within a group, I employ two cognitive measures: Empathy Quotient (EQ) quantifies our ability to identify another person’s emotions and to respond appropriately, and Systematizing Quotient (SQ) is our ability to construct and analyze rule-based systems (Baron-Cohen 2009). In perceptual tasks, individuals with either low EQ or low SQ scores compensate less for vocalic context when categorizing ambiguous segments (Yu 2013). I examine whether these results extend to production by testing correlations between these measures and the F2 of /u/ in the speech of Toronto English speakers. The vowel /u/ is fronting in apparent time in Toronto (Boberg 2010, 2011). It is at the onset of a change, is highly variable among speakers, and is phonetically conditioned, making it a promising locus for individual differences to emerge.

Statistical analysis reveals that neither EQ nor SQ alone predict a speaker's degree of frontedness. But, speakers who have a high drive towards both empathy and systematizing are significantly more fronted than any other speakers, most dramatically in the environment that has long favoured fronting (post-coronally). I argue that the cognitive differences are the most apparent in environments in which fronting is occurring as a phonetic, coarticulatory process. In other environments (e.g., post-labially), where fronting is not co-articulatorily motivated and in fact is happening as a result of the loss of the conditioning environment (cf. Janda and Joseph 2003), cognitive effects play a smaller role. Overall, results indicate that, alongside macrosocial group membership and identity, we need also look to individuals’ cognitive profile as predictors of their participation in language change.

November 22, 2019

Nathan and several undergraduates in the Arts & Science News

Nathan Sanders (faculty) and some of his students are in the Arts & Science newsletter this week talking about Nathan's well-received Language and Social Justice seminar from this semester.

November 21, 2019

Guest speaker: Christine Shea (University of Iowa)


The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is pleased to host an invited talk by Christine Shea, an applied linguist from the University of Iowa who works on phonetic and phonological aspects of L2 learning. Her presentation, "Activation across three lexicons", will be held on Friday, November 29, at 2:00 PM in the Regents Room at the Goldring Centre (GSC 206).

A fundamental challenge of communicating in more than one language is that the speech signal often calls for different interpretations, depending on which language is being spoken. When multilingual listeners hear words in one of their languages, multiple candidates are activated across all their languages. Sublexically, however, differences do exist and can serve to inhibit unwanted activation if they are perceived by the listener. A well-studied example of such sublexical differences is VOT across languages such as Portuguese and Spanish, compared to English. English has long-lag VOT while Spanish and Portuguese have short-lag VOT for the same phonological categories. Another sublexical difference is vowel nasalization. In Portuguese, vowel nasalization can be phonological while in Spanish and English, it is allophonic. Sublexical ambiguities of this type pose an interesting question for multilingual speech processing. Specifically, what happens when a trilingual (e.g., Spanish-Portuguese- English) listener hears input that is ambiguous between two of her languages? Does ambiguous input activate language-specific lexical representations? To answer these questions, we recruited L1 Spanish and L1 Brazilian Portuguese trilingual participants (English was either L2 or L3) living in Uruguay and Brazil.

We first determined how listeners identify the multilingual stimuli by means of a categorization task. Subsequently, we determined how listeners classify the same input as belonging to specific languages. Stimuli were bisyllabic nonwords of the form [Ce(N).Ca]. The initial consonant was drawn from a [b-p] voicing continuum (-40ms to 40ms, 10ms intervals) and spliced onto one of three vowels: full nasal vowel (contrastive in Portuguese), nasalized vowel (allophonic in English, Spanish and Portuguese) or oral vowel from each language. For example, the nonword [bẽmpa] with -30 VOT included the nasal vowel and negative VOT characteristic of Portuguese while the nonword [phepa], included VOT of at least 30ms, which phonetically corresponds to English. Participants then completed an auditory form priming task in which they heard the nonword syllables (prime), followed by a real-word (target) from English, Spanish or Portuguese and had to identify the language of the target.

Preliminary analysis shows that for phonetically ambiguous primes, RTs were longer and accuracy rates lower compared to non-ambiguous primes. We discuss the relevance of these results for self-organizing models of language selection in multilingual lexical activation.

November 20, 2019

Research Groups: Friday, November 22

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in SS 560A
Language Variation and Change Research Group
Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.):  "Place identity and variation in Northern Ontario".

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM in SS 560A
Syntax Group
Thesis proposal of Kaz Bamba (Ph.D.): "Subjects and discourse: Japanese sentence-final particles and their person restrictions."

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM in SS 560A
Semantics Group
Jessica Yeung (Ph.D.): "Processing events in Cantonese: Aspect without aspect marking."

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM in 69 Wetmore Hall
Fieldwork Group
Gloria Mellesmoen (MA 2016, now at the University of British Columbia): "The grammar of reduplication in Salish."
My survey of existing description and documentation of reduplication across all 23 Salish languages is complemented by original fieldwork on the phonology and semantics of Comox-Sliammon, a Central Salish language traditionally spoken in the Sliammon, Klahoose, Homalco, and Comox communities. It is estimated to have approximately 47 fluent speakers (FPCC 2018). Watanabe (1994a; 1994b; 2003) presents the most thorough description of the Comox-Sliammon reduplicative inventory to date, though it has also been documented in Harris (1981), Hagége (1981), and Blake (2000). Watanabe (2003) identifies 11 types of reduplication, some of which can be reanalyzed as a combination of affixes. I will outline the reanalysis that I am pursuing in my dissertation and I will argue there are four main patterns in Comox-Sliammon (as in Salish as a whole): C1C2, C1, C2, and V1.

November 19, 2019

Derek at York University this week

Derek Denis (faculty) is giving a talk as part of the Linguistics Lecture Series at York University: "Enregisterment, resistance, and the spread of linguistic alterity in the most multicultural city in the world". This will be taking place on Wednesday, November 20, from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM, in Ross South 552. A reception will follow in the department lounge. Everyone is welcome.

In 1988, Kotsinas spoke of the 'great migration' to Sweden that resulted in one tenth of children in Swedish schools being born outside the country. Linguists have documented that this great migration has resulted in the development of a multiethnolect: a variety of a language spoken (typically) by immigrant adolescents who themselves are native speakers of a diversity of languages. Features of these can be traced to the multilingual context of their emergence. Such multiethnolects have been documented in major European metropolises: Stockholm, Berlin, Oslo, London, Paris, and Amsterdam. While at the time a 10% immigration rate may have seemed like a great deal, today every other Torontonian was born outside of Canada and/or speaks a language other than English. In the most multicultural city in the world, we can ask: is there a Toronto multiethnolect? In this talk, I describe what I call Multicultural Toronto English (MTE) which I understand to be a multiethnolect. In particular, I focus on the enregisterment and diffusion of features of MTE, paying particular attention to the source of features: the vast majority of enregistered words are borrowings from Jamaican Patwah (e.g., wasteyute, bare, ahlie) or Somali (wallahi, bucktee) (languages of two of Toronto’s Black diaspora communities). However, their use has diffused beyond speakers of those languages. Through qualitative content analysis of media and online discourse and through a formal language attitudes questionnaire, I have observed a diversity of attitudes about the use of these borrowings by Torontonians, especially those not of Afro-Caribbean descent. On the one hand, there are strong reservations about the appropriation (and in some cases derision) of loanwords from Black communities. On the other hand, some express pride in the transcultural nature of the English spoken by young people. I grapple with this tension and the prevalent racial and linguistic ideologies that underlie it.

November 17, 2019

Elaine on the Lingoblog

Elaine Gold (faculty) has contributed an extensive post to the communal Lingoblog on the foundation of the Canadian Language Museum, a project to which Elaine has been tirelessly devoted (and for which she has been very deservedly recognized) since 2011.

November 13, 2019

Derek in JSTOR Daily

Derek Denis (faculty) is one of several linguists interviewed in an article for JSTOR Daily on the subject of how linguists are using UrbanDictionary.com.

November 11, 2019

Research Groups: Week of November 11-15

Wednesday, November 13, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM in SS2116
Morphology Reading Group
Gavin Bembridge (York University) leading a discussion of his paper: "Negative incorporation as polarity conditioned stem allomorphy."

Friday, November 15, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM in SS560A
Psycholinguistics Group
Jie Ren (postdoc, Department of Psychology): "Feature specification in toddlers' and adults' lexical representations: A study of developmental continuity."

Friday, November 15, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM in SS560A
Phonology Group
Thesis proposal of Heather Yawney (Ph.D): "Velars and uvulars in Kazakh."

Friday, November 15, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM in SS 560A
Fieldwork Group
Nadia Takhtaganova (MA): "Allons enfants de la patrie ! Minority language documentation and revitalisation in metropolitan France."

November 10, 2019

Congratulations, Barend and colleagues!

Congratulations to Ella Rabinovich (postdoc, Department of Computer Science), Julia Watson (BA 2018), Barend Beekhuizen (faculty), and Suzanne Stevenson (faculty, Department of Computer Science)! At the 23rd Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL), held on November 3 and 4 in Hong Kong, their presentation - "Say anything: Automatic semantic infelicity detection in L2 English indefinite pronouns" - won the conference's award for Best Paper for Research Inspired by Human Language Learning. Well done, all!

November 8, 2019

Indigenous language materials at the Fisher Rare Book Library

On Friday, November 15 from 3 PM through 5 PM, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is holding an open house on the Indigenous language documents and resources that it has available for use in research!

November 7, 2019

Fall Convocation 2019

Our department held receptions on Tuesday, November 5, and Wednesday, November 6, celebrating the convocations of our latest Ph.D. and MA graduates!

Seven alumni, along with family members and/or partners, celebrated receiving their Ph.D. diplomas: Joanna Chociej, Julianne Doner, Dan Milway, Patrick Murphy, Na-Young Ryu, Becky Tollan, and Tomohiro Yokoyama.

And our new MA alumni from 2019 are: Lauren Bigelow, Liam Donohue, Jida Jaffan, Caitlyn Martinuzzi, Ekaterina Prigaro, Xiaochuan Qin, Sadaf Rahmanian, Matthew Riopelle, and Philippe Thompson.

We are so proud of you all!

Special thanks to Jennifer McCallum (staff) for her considerable efforts in preparing the receptions despite a noticeably above-average number of problems acquiring pre-ordered cakes.

November 4, 2019

Urban and Rural Language Research: Variation, Identity, and Innovation

In conjunction with colleagues at the University of Graz, Austria, our departmental sociolinguists are holding a small workshop at Trinity College this weekend on dialects inside and outside urban areas. Note: if you are interested in attending any of the talks, please email Sali.

U of T sociolinguists presenting are as follows.

Jack Chambers (faculty) is giving one of the keynote talks:
"Discontinuities in the dialect continuum."

Derek Denis (faculty) is giving another of the keynote talks:
"Enregisterment, resistance, and the spread of linguistic alterity in the most multicultural city in the world."

Marisa Brook (faculty) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"City rels, country rels: Prestige and the urban-rural divide in Ontario."

Karlien Franco (postdoc) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"Lexicalization in grammatical change? The simple past/present perfect alternation in Canadian English."

Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.) and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty):
"'I think (that) you have to have a certain confidence': The influence of urban professional life on complementizer that."

Lauren Bigelow (Ph.D.):
"Neo-hosers up north: Locally constructed meaning and FACE and GOAT ungliding in rural Ontario."

Michael Iannozzi (BA 2014, now at the University of Western Ontario):
"A road diverged on a farm: Diverging identites from a shared beginning."

Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.) and Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.) are both serving on a panel: 'The social and psychological challenges of fieldwork'.

November 2, 2019

Mo-MOT 4

The fourth workshop on Morphology in the Montréal/Ottawa/Toronto Area (Mo-MOT) is taking place at Queen's University on November 8 and 9. Several current graduate students are presenting:

Liam Donohue (Ph.D.):
"Making perfect sense: The morphosemantics of Georgian present perfects."

Andrew Peters (Ph.D.):
"Accusative in Mongolian and Dependent Case Theory."

Jean-François Juneau (Ph.D.) is part of a talk with Gavin Bembridge (York University):
"Root alternations for discourse effects in Japanese: A challenge for locality?"

Recent faculty member Nicholas LaCara is also giving a presentation:
"Synthetic compounding in Distributed Morphology with phrasal movement."

November 1, 2019

Sali and Katharina in Arts & Science News

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) and Katharina Pabst (Ph.D.) are featured in the Arts & Science newsletter with a look into their research on linguistic lifespan change in 30 continuous years of a Toronto woman's diary entries.