Author Archive for McLing

Semantics Research Group, 4/28 – Linmin Zhang

The Semantics Research Group will be meeting on Friday April 28. Linmin Zhang (from Concordia) will be presenting a practice talk of her upcoming SALT presentation. Title and abstract to follow.

McGill at TOM Workshop on Semantics

McGill Linguistics was well represented at the 10th Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Workshop on Semantics, held this year at the University of Toronto on April 22nd. Presentations included:
  • Vincent Rouillard – Minimize Restrictors! Beyond Definite Descriptions
  • Francesco Gentile – A new presuppositional semantics for how many-questions
  • Chris Bruno – Contrastive negation and alternatives
  • Invited speaker: Prof. Junko Shimoyama – On Inverse Trace Conversion and the maximal informativeness analysis of Japanese internally-headed relative clauses (joint work with Keir Moulton, Simon Fraser University)
  • Invited speaker: Prof. Luis Alonso-Ovalle – Against the Odds: On the Modal Component of the Ability/Involuntary Action Verbal Inflection in Tagalog (joint work with Henrison Hsieh (McGill University)

Junko, Chris, Luis, Henrison, and Francesco at TOM

Afternoon Bantu Workshop, May 3rd

Please join us for an afternoon Bantu Workshop, to celebrate the end of this semester’s Bobangi Field Methods class. There will be presentations by some of the undergraduate and graduate students, our Bobangi consultant Mpoke Mimpongo (UQAM), and invited speaker Jenneke van der Wal (Harvard). All talks will take place in McGill Education Building, room 216. The schedule is below–all are welcome!

12:30–12:45 – Paige Palenski, Syntactic structure of clausal negation in Bobangi

12:45–1:00 – Benjamine Oldham, Object marking in Bobangi: A pronominal incorporation analysis

1:00–1:15 – Renata Masucci, Tone in Bobangi

1:15–1:30 – Paulina Elias, Object asymmetry in Bobangi

1:30–1:45 – BREAK

1:45–2:00 – Sara Carrier-Bordeleau, Verbal reduplication in Bobangi

2:00–2:15 – Jasmine Zhang, Vowel sandhi in Bobangi

2:15–2:30 – Emily Kellison-Linn, Intonation of polar questions and declarative statements in Bobangi

2:30–2:45 – Yeong Park, High boundary tone in Bobangi

2:45–3:00 – Rosie Barnes, Agent nominalizations in Bobangi

3:00–3:15 – BREAK

3:15–3:45 – Mpoke Mimpongo (UQAM), TBA

3:45–4:45 – Invited Speaker – Jenneke van der Wal (Harvard University)

Title: Investigating focus marking in Luganda and Lingala

Abstract: While it is admittedly difficult to investigate information structure in an unfamiliar language, in this talk I hope to show that there are some manageable diagnostics for focus that can be applied in elicitation. Based on data from Luganda and Lingala I show why the discoveries about focus marking in Bantu languages are crucial for understanding both the synchronic analysis and the diachronic development of focus. (full abstract)

Digging Into Data grant to Morgan Sonderegger

Morgan Sonderegger was part of one of 14 teams internationally receive funding through the Trans-Atlantic Platform Digging into Data Challenge. Charles Boberg and Michael Wagner are also also collaborators on the project. You can learn more about the project in the McGill Reporter:

The project, SPeech Across Dialects of English (SPADE): large-scale digital analysis of a spoken language across space and time, is led by an international team: Jane Stuart-Smith, University of Glasgow, Sonderegger, and Jeffrey Mielke, North Carolina State University, and will analyze 43 existing datasets of both Old World (British Isles) and New World (North American) English, including many private datasets held by “data guardians.”

Congratulations team!

Meghan Clayards to London

Meghan will be traveling to London to give three presentations at the Workshop on Speech Perception and Production across the Lifespan, held at University College London April 26–27th. These include:

  • Sarah Colby, Meghan Clayards & Shari Baum: “Top-down and bottom-up perceptual learning for speech is maintained in older adults”
  • Elizabeth Wonnacott, Anastasia Giannakopoulou, Helen Brown & Meghan Clayards:  “High or Low? Comparing high- and low variability phonetic training in adult and child second-language learners”
  • Sarah Colby, Victoria Poulton & Meghan Clayards:  “Inhibition predicts lexical competition in older adults’ spoken word recognition”

The full program is available here.

Gui Garcia to Ball State University

McLing is thrilled to report that PhD student Guilherme Garcia has just accepted a tenure-track position in phonology and phonetics in the Linguistics Department at Ball State University. The position begins in January 2018. Congratulations Gui!

Jessica Coon at Silicon Valley Comic Con

Jessica is returning this week from San Jose, where she spent the weekend at Silicon Valley Comic Con. She gave a public lecture, “The Linguistics of Arrival: Aliens, Fieldwork, and Universal Grammar”, and participated on a panel for women in STEM. She also met some interesting characters:

Recently, she was featured on the BBC Radio 4’s “The Film Programme”. Up-to-date Arrival-related media is on her website.

McGill at Fourth Workshop on Sound Change

McGill linguists are attending the Fourth Workshop on Sound Change on 19-22 April, 2017, at the University of Edinburgh, to present their work:

  • Morgan Sonderegger, Michael McAuliffe, Hye-Young Bang: Segmental influences on F0: cross-linguistic and interspeaker variability of phonetic precursors
  • Hye-Young Bang, Morgan Sonderegger, Meghan Clayards: Speaker variability in cue weighting for laryngeal contrasts: the relationship to sound change

McGill at CLAUSE

The 2017 Canadian Linguistics Annual Undergraduate Symposium (CLAUSE̥) took place this past weekend at Concordia University. Talks by McGill linguists included:

  • Teresa Addo – Overcoming perceptual illusions: Ultimate attainment by Japanese-speaking learners of English
  • Sara Carrier-Bordeleau – Orphan prepositions as DP ellipsis
  • Sarah Mihuc – Effects of focus and word order in Kabyle
  • Victoria Poulton, Sarah Colby, Meghan Clayards – Investigating influences of working memory and inhibition on lexical frequency effects in older adults
  • Clea Stuart – Where the Malagasy adverbs are

McGill at CLAUSE: Sarah Mihuc, Sara Carrier-Bordeleau, Maya Keshev, Jacob Schermer, Helen Baer, Victoria Poulton, Clea Stuart

There were also two workshops, led by current and former McGill students Sonia Massi and Emilio Assuncao, as well as a plenary talk by McGill PhD (’08) Heather Newell (UQÀM).

Henrison Hsieh and Luis Alonso-Ovalle at AFLA

Henrison Hsieh presented collaborative work with Luis Alonso-Ovalle at the 24th meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association (AFLA 24), which took place this past weekend at the University of Washington in Seattle. The title of their talk was “Anchored implicatives: Tagalog ability/involuntary action“.


McGillians at AFLA: Ileana Paul (PhD ’00), Jozina vander Klok (PhD ’12), Tingchun Chen (BA ’10), Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (Post Doc ’14-15), Henrison Hsieh (current PhD)



Jessica Coon to UMass

Jessica travels to Amherst later this week to give a colloquium talk at UMass. The title of her talk is: “Building verbs in Chuj: Consequences for the nature of roots”.


Tim O’Donnell in Leiden

Tim O’Donnell was in Leiden last week for the The Comparative Biology of Language Learning workshop, held at the Lorentz Center April 3–7. He gave a talk Thursday, title and abstract below:

Bayesian Program Learning of Morphophonological Rules
Both children and linguists confront a similar problem of inference:
given utterances produced by speakers, together with aspects of the
meaning of those utterances, discover the grammatical principles that
relate form to meaning. We study this abstract computational problem
within the domain of morphophonology, contributing a computational
model that learns phenomena from many natural languages and
generalizes in humanlike ways from data used in behavioral studies of
artificial grammar learning.
Our work draws on two analogies. The child-as-linguist analogy holds
that both children and linguists must solve the same abstract
inductive reasoning problem, even though the nature of the input data
and underlying mental algorithms are surely different in precise
detail. Accordingly we isolate the problem of learning
morphophonological systems, and show that a single solution to this
problem can capture both linguistic analyses from natural languages
and infant rule learning of artificial languages. We adopt the
framework of “Bayesian Program learning” (BPL) – in which learning is
formulated a synthesizing a program which compactly describes the
input data. This learning-as-programming analogy lets us exploit
recent techniques from the field of program synthesis to induce
morphophonological rules from data. While child-as-linguist poses the
computational problem, learning-as-programming offers a solution.

Lydia Felice at ACAL

BA Honours student Lydia Felice presented a poster at the 48th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL 48), which took place March 31-April 2 at Indiana University Bloomington. Her poster, based on her Honours thesis work, was titled “On the State Distinction and Case in Kabyle Berber”.

Coon and Carolan article in Glossa

This issue of the journal Glossa includes an article by Jessica Coon and Lizzie Carolan (BA ’14): ‘Nominalization and the structure of the progressives in Chuj Mayan’. The full article is available on the Glossa page.

CLAUSE 2017 at Concordia

The 2017 Canadian Linguistics Annual Undergraduate Symposium (CLAUSE̥) is coming up this weekend, April 7th–9th, at Concordia University. Though the full program is still TBA, several McGill students will be presenting. We’ll report back with more info next week, or check the website for program updates.

Kilbourn-Cerón’s article in Journal of Semantics

Oriana Kilbourn-Cerón’s article “Embedded Exhaustification: Evidence from Almost”  is one of the most read articles in Journal of Semantics, according to the journal webpage. Congratulations, Oriana!

Michael Wagner to Amsterdam

Michael served as an ‘opponent’ on Matthijs Westera‘s thesis defense in Amsterdam last week at the  Institute for Logic, Language and Computation  Universiteit van Amsterdam. The thesis is titled “Exhaustivity and Intonation. A Uni fed Theory“. While there, Michael also presented a paper on “Prosodically marking focus and givenness: What a purely pragmatic account needs to account for” in a satellite workshop to the event.

Emily Elfner to York University

McLing is pleased to report that Emily Elfner (McGill post-doc 2012–2014) has recently accepted a job as Asssistant Professor in Phonetics and Phonology at York University. Congratulations Emily!

Leon Bergen mini-course this week

Leon Bergen will be visiting McGill this week, and will be giving a mini-course on the Rational Speech Act model, and its applications. One session will take place during the regular Semantics Reading Group meeting time. The full schedule is below, all are welcome to attend:

Monday March 20, 4-5.30 (Education Building, Room 434)
Tuesday March  21, 4-5.30 (Linguistics Building, Room 117)
Thursday March 23, 12-1 (Room 117, regular lingtea time slot)
Friday March 24, 3-4.30 (Room 117, regular semantics reading group slot)

Martha Schwarz at FASAL

Martha Schwarz presented a poster on “Case Assignment in Nepali” at the Formal Approaches to South Asian Languages conference at MIT, March 4-5th. This poster grew out of her summer fieldwork in India, funded by a MITACs travel grant.

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