The status of portmanteau person agreement is controversial: is it simply a matter of fusion (Noyer 1992) or contextual allomorphy at PF (Trommer 2007), or does it reflect true multiple agreement in the narrow syntax (Georgi 2011)? Alternatively, are both of these possibilities attested (Woolford 2012)? This paper presents evidence that portmanteau agreement is determined by the narrow syntax in several Algonquian languages. The evidence involves a correlation between portmanteau agreement and the system of direct/inverse marking. Each of the languages displays two different patterns of portmanteau person agreement (patterns A and B) as well as two different patterns of direct/inverse marking (patterns A and B). Interestingly, these phenomena correlate: clauses with portmanteau pattern A also display direct/inverse pattern A, and likewise for pattern B. I will show that the portmanteau and direct/inverse patterns can be analyzed as sharing the same underlying source: variation in the articulation of the person probe, which is specified as [uPerson, uProximate, uParticipant] in the A contexts and as [uPerson, uProximate] in the B contexts. Since the direct/inverse system has effects on quantifier scope and binding, the agreement and movement operations triggered by this probe must take place in the narrow syntax. Since portmanteau agreement follows from the same source, its origin is thus syntactic as well.
This weekend (March 14th-16th), SLUM will be holding its annual undergraduate conference, McCCLU. The Conference starts on Friday evening with a Wine & Cheese, as well as a keynote address by Matthew Masapollo, continues on Saturday and Sunday with a series of ten presentations given by undergraduate students from Ontario, Quebec, and the Northeastern U.S., and concludes on Sunday afternoon with a keynote address by Gretchen McCulloch.
You are all, of course, invited to attend McCCLU and we would be very happy to see you there!
For a more detailed schedule and information about the venues, please see our webpage, Facebook, or Twitter:
In connection with this semester’s Linguistics 410 Structure of Mayan class, there will be a screening of “Haunted Land“, a documentary film produced here in Montreal about Mateo Pablo, a Chuj-speaker who returns to his village in Guatemala, the site of a massacre during the Guatemalan Civil War. Mateo Pablo and director Mary Ellen Davis will both be present for discussion. All are invited to attend.
When: Wednesday March 12th 6pm
Where: Arts W-215
Please join us for the next colloquium in our 2013/14 colloquium series:
Speaker: Thomas Ede Zimmerman (University of Frankfurt)
Date & Time: Friday, March 14, 3:30 pm
Place: Education Building Rm. 433
Title: On the ontological status of semantic values
The following three theses will be defended, and connections between them will be established:
1. Model-theoretic natural language semantics is not a theory of meaning.
2. Extensions (“generalized” quantifiers, truth values, …) must be distinguished from referents.
3. Intension must be distinguished from content.
March 14-16, 2014
SLUM would like to cordially invite you to attend the upcoming McCCLU – a three-day conference held in the spring each year! Undergraduate Linguistics students will be coming from all over the Northeastern U.S., Ontario, and Quebec (including McGill, of course) to give talks about their research.
For more information, please see our post on the Linguist List: More Information
Volunteers for Saturday’s talks are also needed, so please contact SLUM at email@example.com if you are interested in getting involved.
Last Thursday, our current graduate students organized a party for the admitted students as part of our Open House. Many thanks to those who helped organize the evening. We hope to see some familiar faces in the coming school year!
(Photos courtesy of Yuliya Manyakina)
Who: Richard Compton
When: Wednesday, February 26, 3-4 pm in Room 117
Title: Mood variance as evidence for genuine object agreement in Inuit
This paper argues that φ-indexing morphology in Inuit includes genuine cases of object agreement exponence, contra recent work (Preminger 2009, Woolford 2008, 2010, Arregi & Nevins 2008, Nevins 2011, and Kramer to appear) that has called into question the existence of object agreement cross-linguistically and recast apparent instances thereof as pronominal clitics (and thus clitic doubling when an object is present). Evidence for the status of Inuit object-agreement is drawn from mood-variance and portmanteau subject-object agreement morphemes.
In particular, it is shown that while tense-variance—proposed by Nevins (2011) as a diagnostic for differentiating agreement from clitics—is inadequate to diagnose the status of Inuit φ-indexing morphology, mood-variance can instead serve to distinguish real agreement. Finally, I propose that these facts obtain because C is the locus of agreement in Inuit—and not T as in other languages.
4:00 pm Lab Tour
Evening Student Party
Friday, Feb. 28:
1:00 pm Research Lunch for admitted graduate students & current graduate students 3:30 pm Norvin Richards (MIT) Colloquium
Evening Party at Michael Wagner and Meghan Clayards’ house
We are pleased to announce that the next talk in our 2013-14 McGill Linguistics Colloquium Series will be by Norvin Richards (MIT) on Friday, February 28th at 3:30 pm in the Education Building room 433.
The title of the talk is “Pied-piping and Selectional Contiguity”.
Cable (2007, 2010) argues, on the basis of data from Tlingit, that wh-questions involve three participants: an interrogative C, a wh-word, and a head Q, which is visible in Tlingit but invisible in English. In Cable’s account, QP standardly dominates the wh-word, and wh-movement is always of QP. The question of how much material pied-pipes under wh-movement, on Cable’s account, is essentially a question about the distribution of QP. Cable offers several conditions and parameters governing the distribution of QP. I will try to derive Cable’s conditions on the distribution of QP from Contiguity Theory, a series of proposals about the interaction of syntax with phonology that I have been developing in recent work.
Who: Naoko Tomioka (McGill PhD)
When: Wednesday, February 19 from 3-4 pm in Room 117
Title: Language, Linguistics, and the Voice of Customer Research
In this talk, I will discuss big data, and how large volumes of linguistic data have recently gotten the attention of many corporations. Numerous analyses of large volume linguistic data exist, and the choice of analytic approach depends on the questions one hopes to answer. I will share my personal experience working on linguistic data from online surveys; one of the research projects I conduct involves the use of gradable adjectives such as ‘easy’ and ‘difficult’ in free-text and how they relate to scales of usability.
The Syntax-Phonology Reading Group will meet this Friday, Feb. 21 from 11:30-1pm in room 117. We will read Joey Sabbagh’s paper “Word order and prosodic structure constraints in Tagalog”, to appear in Syntax. Henrison and Lisa will lead the discussion. All are welcome!
Speaker: Marc Brunelle (in collaboration with Hạ Kiều Phương and Martine Grice (University of Cologne))
Synchronic tone sandhis are well attested and described, but their development is largely a matter of speculation. In this study, we look at an instance of apparent tone sandhi in progress and examine the interplay between coarticulation, reduction and perception in its formation.
In Northern Vietnamese (NVN), the low rising tone (sắc) often loses its rise in non-final position, making it perceptually very similar to the low falling tone (huyền). This gradient change does not normally result in contrast neutralization, as the rise is recoverable from a strong progressive coarticulation on the following tone. However, over the past decade, the authors have noticed that many speakers neutralize the rising tone and the low falling tone before the high level tone (ngang), an observation confirmed by native speaking linguists. This is characteristic of young female Hanoians, but seems more and more common among other gender and age groups, as well as outside Hanoi.
We conducted an acoustic investigation of this incipient sandhi in six young female NVN speakers. They were recorded while completing a map task designed to obtain targets words controlled for tone and microprosody in semi-spontaneous speech. Our results show that although none of our speakers exhibits full neutralization, they all show some degree of tone change. Based on these results and those of previous studies, we infer phonetic scenarios that could account for the initial development of the tone change. We then highlight similarities between this incipient sandhi and more established cases in Chinese and Hmong.
Who: Jeffrey Klassen
When: Wednesday, February 12, 3-4 pm in Room 117
What: Second language acquisition of English focus prosody: Evidence from Spanish native speakers
In wh-question-answer pairs, Spanish has a pattern of syntactic movement (subject-verb inversion) while English solely makes use of acoustic prominence. Previous work has revealed that adult learners of Spanish show difficulty with focus movement in Spanish, even at advanced levels (Lozano 2006). This was cited as evidence that focus was part of a domain unavailable to L2 learners, referred to as the C-domain by Platzak (2001), and the external interface by Sorace (2011). The current study examines the acquisition of English focus prosody by Spanish speakers. As it also constitutes an external interface phenomenon by Sorace’s definition, and its properties in the L2 (English) differ from the L1 (Spanish), it makes another test case for the theory. Participants heard sentences with correct and incorrect prosodic focus and rated them as to how natural they sounded. Contrary to Sorace’s hypothesis, the adult learners were successful in interpreting prosodic focus.
Oriana Kilbourn-Cerón has been awarded a $1000 Arts Graduate Student Travel Award to fund her trip to L.A. to present her first evaluation paper at WCCFL 32.
Congratulations again, Oriana!
We are happy to extend a late welcome to Meg Grant, who in December took up a one-year postdoctoral position in our department. Meg is interested in sentence processing at the syntactic and semantic levels, and using experimental research to inform syntactic and semantic theory. Her dissertation (UMass Amherst) examined the processing of comparatives, mainly using eye tracking during reading. After receiving her Ph.D. she worked in 2013 for the Laboratoire d’Excellence ‘Empirical Foundations of Linguistics’ in France, where she developed a further interest in sentence production. At McGill, Meg is working under the supervision of Yosef Grodzinsky, Michael Wagner, and Bernhard Schwarz. This Winter term, she is teaching LING 390 Neuroscience of Language. Welcome, Meg!
March will be upon us soon and, with it, the 32nd edition of WCCFL to be held at the University of Southern California.
This year, McGill will be well represented: Oriana Kilbourn-Cerón is giving a talk based on her first evaluation paper (“Almost: Scope and Covert Exhaustification”), Sasha Simonenko is presenting a poster, based on her dissertation (“A Structural Account of the Loss of Direct Referntiality”), and Richard Compton is an alternate, also presenting a poster (“Mood Variance as Evidence for Genuine Object Agreement in Inuit”.)
As usual, acceptance rates have been very competitive (12.7% for talks and 20.8% for both talks and posters.)
Congratulations McGillian WCCFLers!
You can check the WCCFL 32 program at: