Admitted students open house, 2/23–2/24

We’re having an open house for admitted graduate students later this week on Feb. 23-24. Admitted graduate students will attend classes, a lab tour, and a campus tour; have individual meetings with faculty members; learn about our current graduate students’ research, as well as the faculty members’ research; enjoy a party afterwards, socialize with our current graduate students, etc. Department members can find more details on the final schedule that has been sent out by email. Meanwhile, if you see any new faces wandering the halls, please say hello!

P* Reading Group, 2/21

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Tuesday (Feb. 21) 1-2 pm in Room 117, Oriana will lead a discussion of Cohen-Goldberg (2015). “Abstract and lexically specific information in sound patterns: Evidence from /r/-sandhi in rhotic and non-rhotic varieties of English”. Language and Speech, 58(4), 522–548. Everyone is welcome!

Jessica Coon at UQAM’s “Midis autochtones”

Jessica will present this Wednesday at Midis autochtones, Organized by the Association modulaire étudiante de linguistique at UQAM and the Département de linguistique at UQAM.

February 22, 2017
12:45-1:45
room DS-1950 at UQAM (http://carte.uqam.ca/pavillon-ds)
coffee and snacks provided
 
Abstract: This talk will discuss the Mayan language family, a family of thirty languages currently spoken by more than six million people in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Topics will include the socio-political context in which the languages are spoken, grammatical properties of the languages, as well as language endangerment and revitalization efforts.

Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 2/24 – Richard Compton

The Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday, 2/24, from 1-2pm in room 117 of the Linguistics Building.

Richard Compton will be presenting his work on Inuit.

All are welcome!

P* Reading Group, 2/14

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Tuesday (Feb. 14) 1-2 pm in Room 117, James will lead a discussion of Bailey (2016). Automatic detection of sociolinguistic variation using forced alignment. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics, 22(2). Everyone is welcome!

LingTea, 2/16 – Daniel Harasim

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Feb. 9th and 16th) 12-1pm in room 117, Daniel Harasim will give his second talk with the title “Musical Syntax“.

Title: “Musical Syntax”.

Abstract: Musical structures can be formalized similar to the syntax of natural languages. The syntax of western music is based on a harmonic tension-resolution structure that is intuitively perceivable. In this talk, I will shortly explain musical syntax using music text book examples and Jazz standards. Then I will focus on the formalization of musical syntax using dependency structures in a generative framework. I will end by explaining core challenges of parsing musical structures and its implementation using a meta-rule formalism in a general parsing framework.

WORDS Group, 2/17

The WORDS Group will be meeting with Boris Harizanov on Friday February 17, 10:30-11:30 in room 117, McGill Department of Linguistics.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

https://wordstructure.org/

Colloquium, 2/17 – Boris Harizanov

Speaker:  Boris Harizanov (Stanford University)
Date & Time:  February 17th at 3:30 pm
Place:  Education Bldg. rm. 433
Title:  On the nature of syntactic head movement

Abstract:  

In Harizanov and Gribanova 2017, we argue that head movement phenomena having to do with word formation (affixation, compounding, etc.) must be empirically distinguished from head movement phenomena having to do purely with the displacement of heads or fully formed words (verb initiality, verb-second, etc.). We suggest that the former, word-formation type should be implemented as post-syntactic amalgamation, while the latter, displacement-type should be implemented as regular syntactic movement.

In this talk, I take this result as a starting point for an investigation of the latter, syntactic type of head movement. I show in some detail that such movement has the properties of (Internal) Merge and that it always targets the root. In addition, I suggest that, once a head is merged with the root, there are two available options (traditionally assumed to be incompatible with one another or with other grammatical principles): either (i) the target of movement projects or (ii) the moved head projects. The former scenario yields head movement to a specifier position, while the latter yields head reprojection. I offer participle fronting in Bulgarian as a case study of head movement to a specifier position and show how this analysis explains the apparently dual X- and XP-movement properties of participle fronting in Bulgarian, without stipulating a structure-preservation constraint on movement. As a case study of head reprojection, I discuss free relativization in Bulgarian. A treatment of this phenomenon in terms of reprojection allows for an understanding of why an element that has the distribution of a relative complementizer C in Bulgarian free relatives looks like a determiner D morphologically.

This work brings together and reconciles two strands of research, usually viewed, at least to some degree, as incompatible: head movement to specifier position and head movement as reprojection. Such synthesis is afforded, in large part, by the exclusion of the word-formation type of head movement phenomena from the purview of syntactic head movement, as in Harizanov and Gribanova 2017.

McGill at DP60

Current and past McGill linguists gathered at MIT Saturday for a surprise workshop in honour of David Pesetsky’s 60th birthday. Attendees presented posters and attended panels, which can be found on the website.

Lauren Clemens, Bronwyn Bjorkman, Jessica Coon, Laura Kalin, Hadas Kotek, Aron Hirsch

Lauren Clemens, Bronwyn Bjorkman, Jessica Coon, Laura Kalin, Hadas Kotek, Aron Hirsch

Jessica Coon’s paper, “Two types of ergative agreement: Implications for case” appeared in the Festschrift volume (along with 59 other contributions, including by Bjorkman, Kotek, and Hirsch).

 

Presentations at Toronto Intonation workshop

McGill linguists will participate in the Second Intonation Workshop at the University of Toronto February 16-17, giving two papers:

“The continuation contour in French: Realisation and representation”
Jeffrey Lamontagne, Heather Goad & Morgan Sonderegger

“Melodic alternations in Spanish, and their implications for intonational phonology”
Francisco Torreira (McGill University and Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics) &
Martine Grice (University of Cologne)

Welcome Tim O’Donnell

McLing would like to (belatedly) welcome Tim O’Donnell, who  joined the McGill Linguistics faculty this January.

Tim O’Donnell develops mathematical and computational models of language  learning, processing, and generalization. One area of special interest is how language users strike a balance between the ability to creatively express new meanings, on one hand, and conservatively reuse existing words, idioms, and other constructions, on the other. His research draws on experimental methods from psychology, formal modeling techniques from natural language processing and computational linguistics, theoretical tools from linguistics, and problems from all three domains. Recent projects include work on lexicon learning from speech input, morphological productivity, phonotactics, syntactic structure building, and the meaning of verbs.

Tim

Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab Meeting – 2/10

The Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday, 2/10, from 1-2pm in room 117 of the Linguistics Building.

Lisa Travis will be presenting Chapter 3 (Caseless Adjacency) of Levin’s (2015) MIT thesis Licensing without Case.

All are welcome!

P* Reading Group, 2/7

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Tuesday (Feb. 7) 1-2 pm in Room 117, Martha will lead a discussion of Gallagher (2015). Natural classes in cooccurrence constraints. Lingua, 166(Part A), 80–98. Everyone is welcome!

LingTea, 2/9 and 2/16 – Daniel Harasim

In this and next week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Feb. 9th and 16th) 12-1pm in room 117, Daniel Harasim will give talks with the title “Musical Syntax“.

Title: “Musical Syntax”.

Abstract: Musical structures can be formalized similar to the syntax of natural languages. The syntax of western music is based on a harmonic tension-resolution structure that is intuitively perceivable. In this talk, I will shortly explain musical syntax using music text book examples and Jazz standards. Then I will focus on the formalization of musical syntax using dependency structures in a generative framework. I will end by explaining core challenges of parsing musical structures and its implementation using a meta-rule formalism in a general parsing framework.

 

Semantics Research Group, 2/5

The semantics research group will be meeting next week, Friday, February 5th, at 15:00 in room 117.

Chris Bruno will be presenting a 2015 paper by Simons, Beaver, Roberts, and Tonhauser, on presupposition projection in factive predicates. Title and abstract below. It is relevant to some of what was talked about at our last colloquium with Jeremy Hartman.

Simons, Beaver, Roberts, Tonhauser (2015)

Title: The Best Question: Explaining the Projection Behaviour of Factives

Abstract: This paper deals with projection in factive sentences. The paper first challenges standard assumptions by presenting a series of detailedobservations about the interpretations of factive sentences in context,showing that what implication projects, if any, is quite variable and thatprojection is tightly constrained by prosodic and contextual information about the alternatives under consideration. The paper then proposes an account which accommodates the variability of the data and sensitivity to contextual alternatives. The account is formulated within a modified version of Roberts 1996/2012 question-based model of discourse.

McGill at BLS 43

McGill linguists are returning this week from the 43rd annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Lydia Felice and Sarah Mihuc presented posters based on their in-progress McGill honours theses. Justin Royer, incoming McGill PhD student and Chuj Lab member, presented a poster based on his recent Concordia BA thesis.

  • Lydia Felice: The Case for KP: An Analysis of the Free State and Construct State in Kabyle Berber
  • Sarah Mihuc: Effects of Focus on Word Order in Kabyle Berber
  • Justin Royer: Nominal and numeral classifiers in Chuj (Mayan)
Sarah, Justin, and Lydia at Berkeley

Sarah, Justin, and Lydia at Berkeley

LingTea, 2/2 – Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Feb. 2nd) 12-1pm in room 117, Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron will give a talk with the title “The role of speech production planning in shaping patterns of phonological variability“. This is a practice job talk.

Abstract:

Connected speech processes have played a major role in shaping theories about phonological organization, and how phonology interacts with other components of the grammar (Selkirk, 1974; Kiparsky, 1982; Kaisse, 1985; Nespor and Vogel, 1986, among others). External sandhi is subject to locality conditions, and it is more variable compared to processes applying word-internally. We suggest that an important part of understanding these two properties of external sandhi is the locality of speech production planning.

Presenting evidence from English flapping and French liaison, we argue that the effect of lexical frequency on variability can be understood as a consequence of the narrow window of phonological encoding during speech production planning. This proposal complements both abstract, symbolic and gestural overlap-based accounts of phonological alternations. By connecting the study of phonological alternations with the study of factors influencing speech production planning, we can derive novel predictions about patterns of variability in external sandhi, and better understand the data that drive the development of phonological theories.

Colloquium, 2/3 – Jeremy Hartman

Speaker:  Jeremy Hartman (UMass Amherst)
Date & Time: February 3rd at 3:30 pm
Place:  Education Bldg. rm. 433
Title:  Negation and factivity in acquisition and beyond

Abstract:

In this talk, I present joint work with Magda Oiry on the interaction between negation and two types of factive predicates in acquisition. Following work by Léger (2008), we examine children’s understanding of sentences with the factive predicates know and be happy, in combination with negation–in the matrix clause, as well as in the embedded clause. In addition to an asymmetry in the understanding of know vs. be happy, we find a new and revealing pattern of errors across different sentence-types with know. We also show that a similar error pattern is found even with adult subjects. I discuss how these findings relate to recent work on the processing of negation.

Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 2/3 – Martha Schwarz

The Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday, 2/3, from 1-2pm in room 117.

Martha Schwarz will be presenting different ways of accounting for ergative marking that is determined by factors of the subject in the context of Nepali.

All are welcome!

WORDS Group – 2/3

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 3rd February at UQAM, 10h-11h30 (room tba). We will be discussing the following paper:

Harizanov, Boris and Gribanova, Vera. (2017). Whither Head Movement. MS.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

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