Semantics Research Group summer meetings

The semantics research group is meeting this summer on Thursdays from 10 to noon in room 117. This summer, we are focussing on the syntax, semantics and pragmatics of questions and answers. The research group is a forum to talk about and present on a paper of interest, or to present some original and ongoing work. Any and all are welcome to attend. If you would like to receive e-mails with information about the reading group, please express interest to Dan Goodhue (daniel.goodhue at

Jessica Coon wins Principal’s Prize

Jessica Coon  is one of three McGill faculty members to receive this year’s Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Emerging Researchers. “The Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Emerging Researchers was first awarded in 2013 with the intention of celebrating and supporting the work of highly accomplished scholars still in the early stages of their careers.” Congratulations!

Travel awards to Gui Garcia

PhD student Gui Garcia was recently awarded a CRBLM travel grant. Gui used the grant for his trip to the 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting, where he presented his work on lexical access (“Computing segmental and suprasegmental information in lexical decision.”) as well as joint work with Natália B. Guzzo and Heather Goad (“High vowel deletion in Queìbec French: Evidence for vestigial iambs”).
He was also recently awarded a GST Travel Award (“Schull Yang International Experience Award”), which he will use for his trip to the Global School of Empirical Research Methods at the University of St. Gallen later this month.
Congrats Gui!

Riente Memorial Prize to Hye-Young Bang

Congratulations to PhD student Hye-Young Bang, this year’s recipient of the Lara Riente Memorial Prize in Linguistics. This award was established in 2002 by family, friends, fellow students, professors and the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation in memory of Lara Riente, B.A. 1992, M.A. 2001. More about the award can be found here. Congratulations Hye-Young!

Undergraduate Linguistics Awards

The Department of Linguistics is pleased to announce this year’s Linguistics Undergraduate award recipients. Congratulations all!

Departmental Award

Cremona Memorial Prize in Linguistics: Michaela Socolof

In-House Undergraduate Student Awards

Academic Leadership: Daniel Biggs

Department Citizenship Award: Christopher Burnett

Excellence in Research Award: Cora Lesure

U2 Academic Achievement Award: Eva Portelance

Charles Boberg in Canadian Accent Video

Charles Boberg is featured in a new video, “The Canadian English Accent“, made by Toronto independent documentary filmmaker, Jim DeLuca. The video focuses on regional variation in Canadian English, featuring ordinary Canadians from across Canada pronouncing words and an interview with Charles. Nice, eh?

Meghan Clayards at SCSD speaker series, 5/16

Meghan Clayards will give the first talk of the spring-summer SCSD speaker series, today May 16th

Coordinates: 2001 McGill College Ave, room 869, at 3:00pm

Title: Modulation of phonetic contrasts


When speaking, talkers modulate the signal they produce to balance the conflicting goals of conveying meaning and speaking fluently. How talkers manage this modulation is responsive to information content (e.g. focus prosody, predictability) as well as sociolinguistic factors (e.g. gender, dialect). It is clear that many global phonetic characteristics change consistently with this modulation (e.g. speaking rate, vowel dispersion/reduction,) which may affect how easily the listener can understand the message. A second question is whether talkers also modulate the precision of phonetic contrasts so that they are more/less clearly conveyed to the listener. This talk will investigate whether and under what circumstances phonetic contrasts are enhanced by talkers and provide evidence that modulation may not be as precisely targeted as has been assumed. I will then turn to the issue of individual differences between talkers and argue that many of the differences between talkers can be captured by where they fit on the spectrum of more or less clear articulation. Together these results can reduce the complexity of both the production and perception computations required by talkers and listeners.

Colin Brown in Northern BC

Colin Brown is in Northern British Columbia from May 2nd until May 12th working with Gitksan speakers across five villages (photos below are of neighbouring Nisga’a territory).

 IMG_4749 IMG_4788

McGill at SALT

SALT wrapped up this past weekend at the University of Texas at Austin, and McGill linguists were present. Poster presentations by current McGill affiliates included:

The full program is available here:

mitcho Erlewine (postdoc 2014–15), Robert Henderson (postdoc 2013–14), Hadas Kotek, Maayan Adar (MA ')

McGill past and present at SALT: mitcho Erlewine (postdoc ’14–15), Robert Henderson (’12–13), Hadas Kotek, Maayan Adar (MA ’14)

Proceedings of AFLA 22 edited by Henrison Hsieh

The Proceedings of the 22nd meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Society (AFLA 22), edited by Henrison Hsieh, has just been published by Asia-Pacific Linguistics. The volume is freely available for download here: AFLA 22 was held at McGill University in Quebec, Cananda in May, 2015




Sonderegger talks in Scotland

Morgan Sonderegger gave a couple of talks during his trip to Scotland earlier this month to work with collaborators:

McAuliffe talk in Glasgow

Michael McAuliffe gave a talk to the Glasgow University Laboratory of Phonetics last week about his PhD research, entitled “Attention in lexically-guided perceptual learning”.

Michael’s trip was funded by a McGill-Glasgow Travel Award, awarded to strengthen research ties between McGill and the University of Glasgow.

Summer news round-up, 2nd edition

Grad student news

Anouk Dieuleveut will go to NASSLLI (North American Summer School on Logic, Language, and Information), this summer at Rutgers. In the fall, she’ll start the PhD program at the University of Maryland––congratulations Anouk!

Donghyun Kim will be presenting a talk with Meghan Clayards at the Korean Society of Speech Sciences titled “Individual differences in the relation between perception and production and mechanisms of phonetic imitation. Also, he will be presenting a poster with Meghan Clayards and Heather Goad at LabPhon 15 titled “Individual differences in second language speech perception across tasks and contrasts”.

Undergraduate news

Eva Portelance received the ARIA award to work with Professor Andrew Piper at the .txtlab@McGill this summer. The lab specializes in the use of computational and quantitative methods to study literary and cultural phenomena. She is currently working on a project which explores the possibility of teaching a computer to read literature. She is designing algorithms using concepts from syntax and semantics for the computer to extract meaning. The core goal is to have the computer predict narrative shifts and their type in novels from different genres and eras.

Meaghan Fowlie at NAPhC9

Meaghan Fowlie spoke at the Ninth North American Phonology Conference (NAPhC9), held May 7–8 at Concordia. The title of her talk was “Revenge of the Duke of York.”

Heather Goad in The Globe and Mail

Heather Goad was interviewed for an article that appeared last week in an article in the Globe and Mail called “Mama or Papa? Experts explain science behind babies first words“.

Jessica Coon at Stanford

Jessica Coon is returning from Stanford, where she gave a colloquium talk titled “Case Discrimination in Caseless Languages.”

C. Douglas Ellis publication

C. Douglas Ellis, Professor Emeritus at McGill and currently Adjunct Research Professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University, has just published the third volume of the series, Spoken Cree.  For more information on the series, visit

Hadas Kotek to Yale

Congratulations to Hadas Kotek who has just accepted a lecturer position in Semantics at Yale, beginning in August. Hadas is finishing a two-year Mellon Post-doctoral fellowship at McGill, supervised by Junko Shimoyama. Best of luck Hadas!

McAuliffe & Sonderegger in Glasgow

This past week Michael McAuliffe and Morgan Sonderegger gave a workshop on Easier speech corpus analysis: A practical introduction to Montreal Corpus Tools (including Speech Corpus Tools) in GULP at the University of Glasgow.

Wagner in Proceedings of Satellite Session on Framing

Michael Wagner’s paper on How to be kind with Prosody was accepted for inclusion the proceedings of a Satellite Session on Framing speech: Celebrating 40 years of inquiry with Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel at Speech Prosody 2016, Boston. You can read it here.

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