Monthly Archive for September, 2017

P* Reading Group, 9/27

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Sep. 27) 11 am -12 pm in Room 117, Jeff will lead a discussion of Frost (2011). ”Stress and cues to relative prominence in English and French: A perceptual study”. Journal of the International Phonetic Association,(41/1).
Everyone is welcome!

WORDS Group, 9/29

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 29th September, at McGill, Dr. Penfield Ave. 1085 (room 117) at 1pm-2.30pm. The focus of this meeting will be on discussing the paper ‘Decomposing Pronouns’ by R-M. Dechaine and M. Wiltschko (2002; Linguistic Inquiry 33(3), p.409-442), presented by Tom Leu.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Fieldwork Lab meeting, 9/29

The Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday September 29th, from 10-11am in room 117. Discussion will be guided by Prof. Lisa Travis and will focus on a particularly daunting fieldwork experience (relevant reading is Zribi-Hertz & Mbolatianavalona’s paper on Pronouns) as well as the data pattern from Malagasy among other related topics.

All are welcome!

Sonderegger, Bane and Graff in the news

The recent paper in Language by Sonderegger, Bane and Graff (The Medium-Term Dynamics of Accents on Reality Television) has been discussed in the press. Morgan Sonderegger has been interviewed for CTV News, as well as CBC News. The latter piece also includes Charles Boberg discussing the Montreal accent. Coverage of the paper has also appeared in the McGill Newsroom and the LSA press release.

Congratulations to the authors for this success!

McGill at Manitoba Workshop on Person

McGill linguists presented last week at the Manitoba Workshop on Person in Winnipeg. Jessica Coon and Michael Wagner presented joint work with Stefan Keine (USC), “Hierarchy effects in copular constructions: The PCC corner of German”, and Lisa Travis presented joint work with Ileana Paul (Western), “Augmented pronouns in Malagasy”.

L to R: Bronwyn Bjorkman (BA 2006), Ileana Paul (BA 1990, PhD 2000), Elizabeth Cowper (BA 1972), Jessica Coon, Richard Compton (postdoc 2014-2014), Lisa Travis, Michael Wagner.

Sonderegger, Bane, Graff in Language

A paper by Morgan Sonderegger, Max Bane, and Peter Graff, “The medium-term dynamics of accents on reality television”, has been published in the September 2017 issue of Language. The article can be found here (+ supplementary material), and is the subject of press releases by the LSA and McGill. and the abstract is below:
How flexible is an individual’s accent during adulthood, and how does this flexibility relate to longer-term change? Previous work has found that accents are remarkably flexible in conversational interaction, but predominantly stable over years, leading to very different views of the role of individuals in community-level sound change. This article examines medium-term accent dynamics (days to months) by taking advantage of a ‘natural experiment’: a reality television show where contestants live in an isolated house for three months and are constantly recorded, forming a closed system where it is possible to both determine the dynamics of contestants’ speech from day to day and reason about the sources of any observed changes. We build statistical models to examine time dependence in five phonetic variables within individuals, in 14.5 hours of spontaneous speech from twelve English-speaking contestants. We find that time dependence in pronunciation is ubiquitous over the medium term: large daily fluctuations in pronunciation are the norm, while longer-term change over weeks to months occurs in a minority of cases. These patterns mirror the conflicting findings of previous work and suggest a possible bridge between the two. We argue that time dependence in phonetic variables is influenced by contrast between sounds, as well as systematic differences between speakers in how malleable their accents are over time; however, we find only limited evidence for convergence in individuals’ accents. Our results have implications for theories of the role of individuals in sound change, and suggest that medium-term pronunciation dynamics are a fruitful direction for future work.

P* Reading Group, 9/20

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Sep. 20) 11 am -12 pm in Room 117, Morgan will lead a discussion of  Lisker & Abramson (1964). “A cross-language study of voicing in initial stops: Acoustical measurements”. Word, 20(3), 384-422. 
And Abramson & Whalen (2017). “Voice Onset Time (VOT) at 50: Theoretical and practical issues in measuring voicing distinctions”. Journal of Phonetics, 63, 75-86. 
Everyone is welcome!

Semantics Research Group, 9/22

The Semantics Research Group will be having its first meeting of the semester on Friday, September 22 at 15h in room 117. The purpose of this meeting is to organize our activities for the following year. Everyone is welcome to come.

MOTH Syntax Workshop 2018 at McGill

Please mark your calendars! McGill is hosting MOTH 2018 (Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton Syntax Workshop) on Satrurday, April 28, 2018 at Thomson House. MOTH is an excellent venue for graduate students to present their ongoing work and get feedback. Stay tuned for more details.

Departmental picnic 2017 – Parc La Fontaine

This year’s departmental picnic took place at Parc La Fontaine on September 16th at 12pm. McGill’s linguists enjoyed the warm September weather and had good conversation over delicious food.


 

MoMOT 2 at UQAM

MoMOT 2 (Morphology in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto) is taking place at UQAM on 18-19th November 2017. The abstract submission deadline is October 15th 2017. More details about this workshop can be found here.

Buccola to Ecole Normale Supérieure

Brian Buccola (McGill PhD 2015) has just taken up a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, at CNRS lab, at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Brian is moving to Paris from Jerusalem, where he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Language, Logic, and Cognition Center of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Congratulations, Brian!

WORDS Group, 9/15

The Word Structure Research Group — “the WORDS Group” — will be meeting on Fridays at 1-2.30pm at McGill, Dr. Penfield (room 117). Our first meeting will be on 15th September. This will be an organizational meeting. Please let us know if you wish to be added to our mailing list.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Language revitalization talk: Megan Lukaniec

There will a talk on language revitalization Tuesday cosponsored by Linguistics and the Office of First Nations and Inuit Education, DISE. The talk will take place Tuesday September 12th at 4:15pm in Education room 233, and will be preceded by coffee and snacks in Education room 203A at 3:45. All are invited!
Speaker: Megan Lukaniec (Huron-Wendat Nation, UC Santa Barbara Linguistics)
 Abstract:

With the number of dormant languages steadily increasing, archival materials are becoming indispensable tools for linguistic research and revitalization. Absent the invaluable opportunity to consult a native speaker, reclamation in dormant language communities must follow a different trajectory: transform documentation into accessible and culturally relevant language teaching.

The Wendat language, also known as Huron or Huron-Wendat, is one such example of a dormant language undergoing revitalization. Although it lost its last fluent speakers in the mid-19th century, Wendat (Iroquoian) was documented extensively by missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries. For the past decade, Wendat community members have been leading efforts to reawaken their language. These revitalization efforts, based out of the reserve of Wendake, Québec, have led to adult evening courses, workshops for children at the tribal elementary school, lessons at the tribal daycare center as well as the creation of an online, open access trilingual dictionary, Wendat-French-English (wendatlanguage.com).

So, how does one repurpose historical documentation for language reclamation? How does one use linguistics in order to repatriate linguistic and cultural knowledge? Using Wendat as a case study, this paper will examine the broader processes of language reclamation and revitalization, including the historical-comparative reconstruction of linguistic data, transforming such data into materials for teacher training and language courses, and reintroducing language into a dormant language community. Finally, I will offer observations about the social and cultural effects of language reclamation, including its effects on community healing and individual well-being.

McGill at Sinn und Bedeutung 22

McGill Linguists, past and present, attended Sinn und Bedeutung 22, hosted by Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) Berlin and the Linguistics Department of the University of Potsdam, on September 7-10, 2017 (https://sinnundbedeutung22.wordpress.com/):

  • Alexandra Simonenko (PhD 2014) and Bernhard Schwarz: “Decomposing universal projection in questions”
  • Vincent Rouillard (BA 2017) and Bernhard Schwarz: “Presuppositional implicatures: quantity or maximize presupposition?” (poster)
  • Yosef Grodzinsky (professor, 2002-14), Galit Agmon (visiting student, 2011-12), Kedem Snir, Isabelle Deschamps (postdoc, 2013-15) and Yonatan Loewenstein: “The analysis of less-comparatives: Evidence from the processing cost of downward entailingness”

 (Yossi Grodzinsky, BS, Ileana Paul (McGill PhD 2000),Sasha Simonenko, Vincent Rouillard)

Colloquium Series 2017-18

In the year 2017-18, the following colloquia will take place throughout Fall 2017 and Winter 2018:

  • Aaron Hirsch – October 6
  • Christian DiCanio – November 10
  • Lucie Ménard – December 1
  • Sharon Goldwater – January 12
  • Karen Jesney – January 26
  • Susana Béjar – February 23
  • Elizabeth Coppock – March 23
  • Daniel Pape – April 13

Colloquia typically take place on Fridays at 3.30-5pm. Rooms are to be announced.

Summer 2017 PhD defenses

Congratulations to Guilherme Garcia and Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, who defended their dissertations this summer!

Gui’s dissertation, supervised by Heather Goad and defended August 2, is titled “Weight effects on stress: lexicon and grammar.” Gui is currently a lecturer in the Department of Education at Concordia University. In the winter he will be joining the Department of English at Ball State University as an assistant professor (tenure-track) in phonology/phonetics. Congratulations, Gui!

Gui (third from left), supervisor Heather Goad (fourth from left), and oral defense committee.

Oriana’s dissertation, supervised by Morgan Sonderegger and Michael Wagner July 21, is titled “Speech production planning affects variation in external sandhi.”  Oriana is currently a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics at Concordia University. Congratulations, Oriana!

Oriana with supervisors

Welcome new graduate students!

Welcome to this year’s incoming class of graduate students and QY student!

Jason Borga is primarily interested (so far!) in syntax, syntax-semantics interface, and language acquisition. He completed his B.A. in Cognitive Science at the University of Connecticut.

Masashi Harada completed his M.A. in linguistics at the University of Kansas. His primary research interests currently lie in the theory of syntax, semantics, and the interface of syntax with other modules of grammar.

Filiz Mutlu

Mathieu Paillé has research interests including syntax, biolinguistics, and Algonquian languages. He completed his B.A. in linguistics at the University of Winnipeg.

Justin Royeis interested in syntax, semantics, fieldwork and Mayan languages, and has conducted research on classifier systems and (in)definiteness. He completed his B.A. in Linguistics at Concordia University.

Vanna Willerton wants to get into the field of computational linguistics and, to this end, will spend the qualifying year developing her math and programming skills. She completed her B.A. in Linguistics, minoring in Philosophy, at Carleton University.

Wilfred Yau is interested modelling natural languages using computational and mathematical tools, such as lexical semantics, probabilistic programming and Bayesian Models of Language Processing. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto with a double major in Economics and Linguistics.

 

McLing summer news

What did McGill linguists do this summer? Some answers can be found below. If you didn’t get your post in on time, email the editors for round two.

Luis Alonso-Ovalle  presented work at SALT.

Chris Bruno presented work relating to his first evaluation paper at SALT, held at the University of Maryland, College Park. The title was “Contrastive negation and the theory of alternatives”.

Jessica Coon traveled to Beijing in May to present a public lecture on Arrival at the 2017 Global Machine Intelligence Summit. Then in June she headed to Guatemala to meet up with current and past McGill students in connection with the University of Maryland’s Guatemala Field Station. For the first two weeks the students took Kaqchikel immersion classes, and and spent the second two weeks conducting research on Mayan languages.

Jessica and Lisa Travis are happy to report that the Oxford Handbook of Ergativity was published over the summer, co-edited by Jessica Coon, Diane Massam (U. Toronto), and Lisa Travis.

Henrison Hsieh presented ongoing work with Luis Alonso-Ovalle entitled “Overcoming the Unexpected: The Tagalog Ability/Involuntary Action Form” at WCCFL and SALT, among other venues. Later in the summer, he attended the 2017 LSA Institute in Lexington KY before going to Southeast Asia to attend the Workshop on Quirks of Subject Extraction at the National University of Singapore and do some data collection in the Philippines.

Michael McAuliffe presented three co-authored papers at Interspeech 2017 in Stockholm, on Polyglot and Speech Corpus Tools , on the Montreal Forced Aligner, and on sentence prosody (with co-authors including Michael Wagner and Morgan Sonderegger).

Clint Parker spent most of his summer in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where he lived with a Tajik host family and studied the Tajik language (a dialect of Persian). While in Dushanbe, Clint was also able to study Shughni, an Eastern Iranian minority language of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, on which he hopes to focus much of his research. The summer helped him both to gain language skills necessary to do fieldwork on Shughni and to make contacts for future research in the country.

Bernhard Schwarz presented work at SALT.

Morgan Sonderegger presented two papers at Phonetics and Phonology in Europe (PaPE 2017).

A paper by James Tanner, Morgan Sonderegger, and Michael Wagner appeared in Laboratory Phonology (doi: 10.5334/labphon.96).

Lydia White attended two conferences in June: (i) the International Symposium on Bilingualism, University of Limerick, Ireland (https://isb11.com/); (ii) the Experimental Psycholinguistics Conference, Menorca (http://www.psycholinguistics.info/experimental/index.html). She presented papers on L2 Italian pronoun interpretation on behalf of the Second Language Acquisition Group (Heather Goad, Gui Garcia, Natália Brambatti Guzzo, Sepideh Mortazavinia, Liz Smeets, Jiajia Su, Lydia White). Lydia also made a keynote presentation in Menorca.

A paper on pronoun interpretation in L2 English by Roumyana Slabakova, Lydia White & Natália Brambatti Guzzo appeared in Frontiers in Psychology 8:1236 in July (doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01236).

 

Welcome back!

McLing hopes everyone had a great summer! As always, we invite you to send us your news: presentations, publications, fieldwork, courses, workshops, departmental events, student projects, jobs, etc., for presentation in upcoming newsletters. Know of a friend, colleague, or student who did something newsworthy? Send us a report and we will follow up.

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