Monthly Archive for March, 2012

Syntax-semantics group 3/26 – Alanah McKillen

Presenter: Alanah McKillen
What: ACD and quantifier scope
When: Monday, March 26 3:00-4:30 pm
Where: Linguistics 117

Ling-Tea 3/28 – Tanya Slavin

Speaker: Tanya Slavin
When: Wednesday 3/28, 3:00pm
Where: Linguistics 117
Title: On possession and noun incorporation in Ojicree

Syntax-phonology group 3/29 – Locality domains

This week in syntax-phonology reading group we’ll discuss…

Paper: Alec Marantz, “Locality Domains for Contextual Allosemy in Words”
Where: Linguistics 117
When: Thursday 10am–11:30am

For background reading, see chapters 1 & 2 of Embick 2010 (Localism vs. Globalism in Morphology and Phonology)

Colloquium 3/30 – Jason Merchant

Speaker: Jason Merchant
When: Friday, 3/30 at 3:30pm
Where: Education 433
Title: More comparatives than you can shake a stick at: The case of Greek
Abstract:

The syntax and semantics of comparatives are perennial topics of investigation not least because of the challenges they pose to usual assumptions about the syntax-semantics interface; more recently, their cross-linguistic properties have also begun to be the focus of attention. In this talk, I present the case of comparison in modern Greek, which has a richer set of comparative morphemes and standard-marking morphemes than any other language so far described in the literature: it has a synthetic comparative morpheme like English -er (-ter-), two analytic comparative morphemes (pjo and perisotero), and five different markers of the standard (Eng “than”; Greek “apo”, “apoti”, “para”, “ap’os-AGR”, and a genitive of comparison). Building on earlier work, I show that Greek has both fully and reduced clausal comparatives, necessitating a 2-place -er, as well as two phrasal comparatives: one marked by the preposition “apo”, and one by the genitive. These, I show, have different distributions, but can both be accommodated by a 3-place -er (derivable from the 2-place one): while the prepositional marker has an expected distribution, the genitive is curiously restricted: I argue that its properties follow if the genitive must be interpreted in situ, while the PP can undergo scopal displacement.

SLUM’s Future Week

SLUM’s Future Week is right around the corner!! This will be a week of activities designed help you plan your future with a linguistics degree. See below for the updated schedule of events.

NOTE: ROOM CHANGE FOR THURSDAY’S SLP PRESENTATION, NOW IN EDUCATION ROOM 613

 

MONDAY, MARCH 26TH: ACADEMIA DAY

Talks: 2:30-4, 1085 Dr Penfield Room 002
Reception: 4-6, 1085 Dr Penfield, Room 212 (linguistics lounge)

If you’re interested in going to graduate school for linguistics, this day is all for you! There will be a graduate school info session, and presentations from a professor and a graduate students. They will all be available to answer questions.

2:30: presentation by professor Jessica Coon
3:00: presentation by graduate student Michael Hamilton
3:30: graduate school info session by professor Heather Goad
4-6: reception with refreshments in the lounge

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 27th: ADVISING DAY

Professor Shimoyama advising, by appointment: 1-3
Peer advising, drop-in: 11:30-4, 1085 Dr Penfield rm. 212 (linguistics lounge)

Need advice on anything and everything linguistics-related? Make an appointment with Professor Shimoyama, or just stop on by to ask an upper-year student about classes, advice, or anything at all. For an appointment with Professor Shimoyama, e-mail hannah.pinsky@mail.mcgill.ca to get a 20 minute appointment and get all of your questions answered! To talk to an upper-year student, just stop on by the ling lounge. We will also holding elections during this time, so you can come get your questions answered and cast your vote for next year’s exec.

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28th: FUTURE WEEK B&P

When: 5 PM
Where: Gerts

Come socialize with your fellow linguistics students, meet the nominees for next year’s exec, and cast your vote! We’ll be hosting a Beer and Pizza at Gerts with the Russian Undergraduate Students’ Society!

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 29th: SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST PRESENTATION

Presentation by Dr. Rosalee Shenker: 2:30, Education building Room 613 (NOTE: ROOM CHANGE)
Reception: following the presentation, in the linguistics lounge (1085 Dr Penfield, Room 212)

Interested in a career in SLP? Come see a presentation from Dr. Rosalee Shenker, Executive Director of the Montreal Fluency Centre and long-time speech-language pathologist. She will have all sorts of helpful info for anyone interested in SLP, and she will be there to answer all of your questions! Then come relax in the lounge for a reception with refreshments right afterwards.

 

See you all next week!!

Mi’gmaq project report

The current work on the Mi’gmaq in the department is a continuation from last semester’s Linguistic Field Methods course, co-taught by Jessica Coon and Michael Wagner, in collaboration with McGill PhD student Janine Metallic, a Mi’gmaq speaker from the Listuguj community.

Conor Quinn, Gretchen McCulloch, Mary Ann Metallic, Janice Vicaire, Erin Olson, Jacob Leon, Elise McClay, Jessica Coon

This semester, in addition to academic work carried out by both graduate and undergraduate students, a group of students––including Mike Hamilton, Jacob Leon, Carol Little, Elise McClay, Gretchen McCulloch, Erin Olson, and Yuliya Manyakina––is collaborating with the Listuguj Education Department to help develop online teaching materials for use in Mi’gmaq adult education courses. You can keep up with this project, and related discussion and events on the group’s new website: migmaq.org. This page links to a grammar wiki, which will contain accessible descriptions of topics in Mi’gmaq linguistics.

Janice Vicaire writes with Mary Ann Metallic, Alan Bale, Jessica Coon

Last week’s Algonquian activities were highlighted by three visitors to the department: Mi’gmaq language teachers Mary Ann Metallic and Janice Vicaire, as well as Conor Quinn, an Algonquianist from the University of Southern Maine. Students met with visitors individually and in groups to learn more about Mi’gmaq and discuss the lesson development project.

Heather Goad cameo appearance in McGill rap video

A new music video, “McGill State of Mind“––just released on YouTube––features an appearance by our own Heather Goad. You can jump to minute 2:28 to catch Heather in action. For the uninitiated, this is a take on Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind“, which sadly to the best of our knowledge does not feature any linguists. The McLing editors wonder how many other linguistics blogs have contained links to rap videos.

McCCLU 2012

This year’s McCCLU was a great success! We had six presenters from McGill, and another eight presentations from other Canadian and North American universities.With topics ranging from syntax to sociolinguistics, this year’s presentations were diverse and exciting. We kicked things off Friday night with a talk by Dr. Luis Alonso-Ovalle, and a reception followed.

After a full day of presentations Saturday, dinner that night was well attended- we squeezed about 30 people into la Caverne Greque! Our out of town visitors saw a bit of Saint Laurent Blvd, and we wrapped up Sunday afternoon with an interesting discussion of ergativity by Dr. Jessica Coon.

This conference would not be possible without the help of many people, so thank you again to faculty liaison Jessica Coon, SLUM, and all other McCCLU volunteers.

–The organizers: Olivia Eit-Bella, Jessica Cooper, and Maddie Revill

Syntax-Semantics Research Group Schedule

Monday, March 19, 2012, 3:00-4:30 pm
Yosef Grodzinsky and Bernhard Schwarz: Part 2 on Breakstone, Micha, Alexandre Cremers, Danny Fox and Martin Hackl. to appear. On the analysis of scope ambiguities in comparative constructions: converging evidence from real-time sentence processing and offline data, Proceedings of SALT 21, 2011.

Monday, March 26, 2012, 3:00-4:30 pm
Alanah McKillen: ACD and quantifier scope

Monday, April 2, 2012, 3:00-4:30 pm
Galit Agmon: On Iatridou, Sabine and Ivy Sichel. 2011. Negative DPs, A-Movement, and Scope Diminishment . Linguistic Inquiry 42(4): 595-629.

Monday, April 16, 2012, 3:00-4:30 pm
David Nicolas (Institut Jean Nicod): The logic of mass expressions.

Ling-Tea 3/21 – Conor Quinn

This week in Ling-Tea…

Who: Conor Quinn (University of Southern Maine)
When: Wednesday 3/21, 3:00–4:00
Where: Linguistics 117
Title: Applicative and antipassive: Algonquian transitive “stem-agreement” as differential object marking

Algonquian Mini Workshop 3/22

This Thursday evening––in keeping with the many Algonquian-related events happening this week––we will have a mini Algonquian workshop to showcase some of the work going on in the department. This will take place in room 002. Rough topics are given below.

4:00–4:30 – Gretchen McCulloch: Comparing Mi’gmaq indefinite pronouns to patterns found in other languages
4:30–5:00 – Elise McClay: Possessive paradigms in Mi’gmaq: Alienability as syntactic proximity
5:00–5:30 – Yuliya Manyakina: On Mi’gmaq obviation
5:30–5:45 – break
5:45–6:15 – Mike Hamilton: Mi’gmaq clause structure
6:15–6:45 – Bethany Lochbihler: Ojibwe person marking
6:45–7:15 – Jenny Loughran: The past tense in Mi’gmaq
7:15 dinner (on site)

Please email Jessica if you think you might attend so we can get a head-count for food.

Algonquian reading group 3/22 – Conor Quinn

Speaker: Conor Quinn (University of Southern Maine)
Title: “Deriving pronominal feature structures through asymmetrical dependencies: obviation, inverse, and antihierarchy effects in Algonquian languages”
Background reading: chapter 3 of dissertation
When: Thursday 3/22, 10-11:30
Where: Linguistics 117

Colloquium 3/23 – Tanya Slavin

Speaker: Tanya Slavin
Title: “Deriving Object Experiencer verbs in Ojicree”
When: March 23rd at 3:30PM
Where: Leacock rm. 14.

Abstract:

In this talk I look at the meaning and distribution of the Ojicree verbal suffix ‑ishkaw in the contexts where it acts as a causative head. I argue that ‑ishkaw is different from the more common causative morpheme ‑ih in that it forms Object Experiencer verbs. Presenting a range of new data and observations, I demonstrate that causatives formed with ‑ishkawexhibit two essential semantic properties of Object Experiencer verbs (cf. Belletti and Rizzi 1988, Arad 2002, Pesetsky 1995, Landau 2009): non-volitional subject and psychologically affected object. I argue that despite the initial impression, the special Object Experiencer semantics is not inherent to this morpheme but follows directly from structure. Specifically I propose that  -ishkaw is a causative head that introduces a causing event rather than an animate causer (cf. Pylkkanen 2008). The interpretation of the causee as an experiencer is a result of a selectional restriction of this morpheme: -ishkaw selects a vP but not a VoiceP. This study contributes to the long-standing debate on the interaction of meaning and structure in Object Experiencer verbs, lending support to the idea that the Object Experiencer interpretation is derived structurally. Finally, I offer some thoughts on the correlation between non-agentivity and the Object Experiencer interpretation and, more generally, on the correlation  between (non-)agentivity of the subject and the properties of the object in causative constructions.

SLUM Future Week

Future Week is almost here!! From March 26th-29th, SLUM has a week of activities planned to help you plan your future with a linguistics degree. Here is the schedule of events:

MONDAY, MARCH 26TH: ACADEMIA DAY
Talks: 2:30-4, 1085 Dr Penfield Room 002
Reception: 4-6, 1085 Dr Penfield, linguistics lounge (2nd floor)
Professor Goad will be holding a graduate school info session, and there will also be presentations from Professor Coon and a graduate student. There will be a reception to follow in the lounge.

TUESDAY, MARCH 27th: ADVISING DAY
Professor Shimoyama advising, by appointment: 1-3
Peer advising: drop-in, in the linguistics lounge 11:30-4
Make an appointment with Professor Shimoyama, or just stop on by to ask an upper-year student about classes, advice, or anything at all. For an appointment with Professor Shimoyama, e-mail hannah.pinsky@mail.mcgill.ca to get a 20 minute appointment and get all of your questions answered! To talk to an upper-year student, just stop on by the ling lounge.

*We will also holding elections during this week, so drop by the lounge during Peer Advising to cast your vote for next year’s exec.*

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28th: FUTURE WEEK B&P
When: exact time TBD
Come socialize with your fellow linguistics students, meet the nominees for next year’s exec, and cast your vote! We’ll be hosting a Beer and Pizza at Gerts with the Russian Undergraduate Students’ Society.

THURSDAY, MARCH 29th: SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST PRESENTATION
Presentation by Dr. Rosalee Shenker: 2:30, 1085 Dr Penfield Room 002
Reception: following the presentation, in the lounge
Come see a presentation from Dr. Rosalee Shenker, Executive Director of the Montreal Fluency Centre and long-time speech-language pathologist. She will have all sorts of helpful info for anyone interested in Speech Language Pathology, and she will be there to answer all of your questions! Then come relax in the lounge for a reception with refreshments right afterwards.

Hope to see you all there!

McGill represents at TOM 5 (photos)

McGill had a great showing of grad students (and faculty!) at the TOM 5 semantics workshop last weekend in Ottawa. Below are some pictures from the event.

Jozina Vander Klok and Sasha Simonenko

Jozina Vander Klok and Sasha Simonenko (McGill) with Pascale Champagne-Rousseau (Ottawa)

David-Étienne Bouchard

The audience finds David-Étienne Bouchard's talk on "find" objectively captivating.

post-TOM drinks

"We're only interested in drinks." - Sasha, to the waitress who dared bring menus

post-TOM dinner

Dinner, before tears were shed from spicy jungle curry

Brendan Gillon at FASL 2 and at Harvard

Brendan Gillon has been an invited speaker at FASL 2 (Formal Approaches to South Asian Linguistics), held at MIT on March 17-22. The title of his talk was “Linguistic Theory and Classical Sanskrit”. On March 19, he also gave a colloquium talk at Harvard: “Complement Polyvalence and Polyadicity”.

This is the abstract of his FASL 2 talk:

Linguistic theory can be used both to furnish an informal grammar of the language described and to relate the informal theory to a formal grammar. I shall talk about these two uses as applied to the study of classical Sanskrit. I shall touch only briefly on the latter, where the application of formal grammar, or formal language theory, to the study of Panini’s grammar of Sanskrit looks to be beneficial to both areas of study, not unlike the way in which the study of Euclid’s Elements with the aid of formal logic was beneficial both to the study of Euclid’s Elements and to the study of axiomatic mathematical systems. I shall concentrate, however, primarily on the former. In particular, I shall show how derivational morphology and compounding in Classical Sanskrit are nicely handled by left linear grammars. Time permitting, I shall address some compound formation and argument structure.

Bethany Lochbihler to present at GLOW

Bethany Lochbihler will be presenting her work “Final and non-final phase status” at this year’s GLOW (Generative Linguistics in the Old World) conference, which will take place in Potsdam next week, March 28th–30th.

Announcing “Exploring the Interfaces” Workshop

As part of the Syntactic Interfaces Research Group (SIRG) of McGill University and UQAM, McGill is hosting the first of three workshops, Exploring The Interfaces, ETI 1, on May 6-8, 2012.

For the past two and a half years, linguists in Montreal affiliated with SIRG (formerly McSIRG) have been investigating the properties of the two syntactic interfaces, Phonetic Form (PF) and Logical Form (LF) in an interdisciplinary way. Now, in this three day workshop that focuses on the structure of words, we bring together a number of external collaborators of SIRG as well as other renown researchers to explore words from intermodular perspectives. The goal is to investigate the structure of the interfaces through the structure of words, using phonological, semantic and experimental evidence, and surveying evidence from different language types. A particular focus of the workshop is to examine phonological as well as semantic evidence for cyclic domains inside words, and investigate apparent mismatches as resulting from particular interface processes.

Invited speakers: Jonathan Bobaljik (UConn), Richard Compton (U of Toronto), A.-M. Di Sciullo (UQAM), David Embick (UPenn), Heidi Harley (U of Arizona), Vera Gribanova (Stanford U), Tom Leu (UQAM), Bethany Lochbihler (McGill U), Alec Marantz  (NYU), Eric Mathieu (U of Ottawa), Neil Myler (NYU), Heather Newell (UQAM), Glyne Piggott & Lisa Travis  (McGill U), Andrés Salanova (U of Ottawa), Tobias Sheer (Université de Nice), Tanya Slavin (McGill U), Kie Zuraw (UCLA), as well as two other researchers to be confirmed.

Discussants (so far): Alan Bale (McGill), Brian Buccola (McGill), Jessica Coon (McGill), Michael Hamilton (McGill), Aron Hirsch (McGill), Gretchen McCulloch (McGill), Heather Newell (UQAM), Máire Noonan (McGill), Larissa Nossalik (McGill), Glyne Piggott (McGill), Alexandra Simonenko (McGill), Tobin Skinner (UQAM), Tanya Slavin (McGill), Naoko Tomioka, Lisa Travis (McGill).

More detailed information, as well as a link for preregistration, will soon be posted on the workshop’s website. For information, please contact eti1.mcgill@gmail.com

Yosef Grodzinsky colloquium at MIT

Yosef Grodzinsky presented “The analysis of negative quantifiers: multi-modal evidence” as a colloquium speaker at MIT this past Friday.

Recent discussion of  negative  quantifiers  (see  Penka,  2011  and  references  therein) focuses  on  two  main  questions:  do  these  quantifiers  decompose,  and  if  so,  what  are the  mechanisms  for  decomposition?  In  this  talk,  I  will  describe  a  series  of  neuro-­  and psycholinguistic  experiments  my  colleagues  and  I  have  conducted  with  healthy  and   brain-damaged  participants  that  aim  to  provide  relevant  evidence.  These experiments  recorded  responses  from  several  modalities,  as  participants  were analyzing  sentences  with  positive  and  negative  proportional  and  degree  quantifiers   in  German  and  English  (e.g.,  mehr/weniger-­als-­die-­Hälfte  die  Kreise  sind  Gelb, many/few  of  the  circles  are  blue).

All  experiments  used  a  Parametric  Proportion  Paradigm  (PPP):  participants were  exposed  to  sentence-scenario  pairs,  and  were  requested  to  make  truth  value judgments.  Sentences  contained  a  quantifier  in  subject  position,  and  scenarios   depicted  a  proportion  between  2  types  of  objects.  Proportion  was  a  parameter, systematically  varied  across  images  that  were  presented  with  each  sentence  type.

Our  first  experiment  used  functional  MR  imaging  to  extract  a  signal  that represents  localized  brain  activity.  It  aimed  to  identify  brain  loci  that  evince  an intensity  differential  between  the  contrasting  stimuli.  Signal  intensity  for  sentences with  negative  quantifiers  was  higher  than  that  for  their  positive  counterparts  only  in Broca’s  region.  Importantly,  no  other  localizable  intensity  contrasts  were  found.

A  second  experiment  (currently  only  a  pilot)  confronted  English  speaking, focally  brain  damaged,  Broca’s  aphasic  patients  with  the  same  task.  However  here, the  dependent  measure  was  error  rate.  The  results  suggest  a  remarkably  selective   deficit:  While  patients  performed  near-normally  on  the  positive  quantifiers,  their scores  were  drastically  reduced  when  the  stimuli  contained  negative  quantifiers.

A  third  experiment  attempted  to  take  a  deeper  look  at  the  behavioral signature  of  quantifier  analysis  through  a  study  of  complex  RT  functions  obtained from  healthy  participants.  Here,  too,  we  observed  that  the  signature  of  negative quantifiers  is  quite  distinct  from  that  of  their  positive  counterparts.

In  this  talk,  I  will  try  to  connect  these  results,  obtained  through  different modalities  from  different  populations,  to  previous  ones  that  come  from  parametric studies  of  overt  syntactic  movement  with  healthy  participants  in  fMRI,  and  with Broca’s  aphasic  patients.  I  will  propose  that  a  generalization  over  the  experimental results  supports  an  analysis  of  sentences  with  negative  quantifiers  that  assumes covert  movement.  I  will  then  try  to  situate  these  results  in  the  broader  context  of  a research  agenda  that  tries  to  create  a  brain  map  of  syntactic  and  semantic knowledge.

Dissertation defense 3/14 – Öner Özçelik

Candidate: Öner Özçelik
Title:  Representation and acquisition of stress: The case of Turkish
Date:  Wednesday March 14, 3:00
Place:  Education 433
Abstract:

This thesis investigates the representation and acquisition of word-level stress in Turkish. Two general proposals are made in the thesis, one related to formal phonology, the other about second language (L2) acquisition of word-level prosody. The first proposes that the presence/absence of the Foot is parametric; that is, contra much previous research (see e.g. Selkirk 1995, Vogel 2009), it is argued in this thesis that the Foot is not a universal constituent of the Prosodic Hierarchy; rather, some languages, such as Turkish and French, are footless. Several types of evidence are presented in support of this proposal, from both Turkish and French, with a focus on the former language. A comparison of regular (word-final) and exceptional stress in this language reveals, for example, that regular “stress” is intonational prominence falling on the last syllable of prosodic words in the absence of foot structure. Exceptional stress, on the other hand, is argued to be the result of certain morphemes coming into the computation already footed in the lexicon, and being footed on the surface, too, because of faithfulness to this information. The grammar, then, assigns the other properties of this foot, such as binarity and foot type, which are vacuously satisfied for regular morphemes, as they are not footed, and as the grammar has no mechanism that assigns feet or stress. The result is a unified analysis of regular and exceptional stress in Turkish.

Second, the thesis proposes a path for the L2 acquisition of prosody, the Prosodic Acquisition Path Hypothesis (PAPH). The PAPH predicts different levels of difficulty and paths to be followed by L2 learners based on the typological properties of their first language (L1) and the L2 they are learning, and also on the basis of a hierarchical tree representation of the relationships proposed to hold between prosodic parameters. Most foot-related parameters are incorporated in the proposal, as well as the new parameter proposed in this thesis about the presence/absence of the Foot. The PAPH predicts that once the Foot is projected in an L1, learners of a footless L2 will not be able to expunge it from their grammar, but will, instead, be restricted to changing the values of foot-related parameters. Not every one of these parameters is, however, hypothesized to be equally easy to reset; depending on a variety of factors such as their location on the parameter tree and markedness, certain parameters, such as Foot-Type, are hypothesized to be easier to reset than others, such as Iterativity.

The predictions as concerns the learning path are tested through an experiment, which examines productions of English- and French-speaking learners of L2 Turkish. The results of the experiment largely confirm the predictions of the PAPH. None of the English-speaking learners of Turkish were able to rid their grammar of the Foot, though they were able to make various Universal Grammar (UG)-constrained changes to their grammar, such as resetting Extrametricality from Yes to No, and at later stages, Foot- Type from Trochaic to Iambic, thereby having increasingly more word types with final stress. French-speaking learners, on the other hand, produced target-like footless outputs, with word-final prominence, from the initial stages of acquisition. At no stage did any of the learners have UG-unconstrained representations such as weight-insensitive iambs, which are not permitted by the inventory of feet provided by UG.

 

Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.