Author Archive for McLing

LingTea, 4/25 – Markus A. Pöchtrager

This week’s LingTea will exceptionally occur on Tuesday (April 25th) at 11.30am-1pm in room 117. Markus A. Pöchtrager (Boğaziçi University) will give a talk with the title “What do you mean, it’s not phonology?” Please note the time as this is an extended version of LingTea.

Abstract:

Research in phonology over the last decades has given rise to an impressive number of models, sometimes competing, sometimes complementing each other. However, communication across those models, especially competing ones, and therefore improvement is often hindered by a lack of agreement on what phonological theory is actually meant to explain. What is the domain of our investigation, what should be counted in, what not, and why? Worse still, such questions are rarely explicitly addressed, meaning that there is little hope in improving communication (and making progress).

In this talk I want to touch upon those issues from the point of view of Government Phonology, which is usually said to be rather restrictive in what counts as phonological. I will go through a number of case studies as well as several theoretical notions in order to show what different results are achieved from seemingly slight differences in basic assumptions and will try to evaluate the empirical and conceptual differences of those assumptions. For several phenomena that are assumed to be phonological by more mainstream models I will argue that we are better off having them dealt with in other components of grammar.

LingTea, 4/20 – Markus A. Pöchtrager

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (April 20th) 12-1.30pm in room 117, Markus A. Pöchtrager (Boğaziçi University) will give a talk with the title “What do you mean, it’s not phonology?” Please note the time as this is an extended version of LingTea.

Abstract:

Research in phonology over the last decades has given rise to an impressive number of models, sometimes competing, sometimes complementing each other. However, communication across those models, especially competing ones, and therefore improvement is often hindered by a lack of agreement on what phonological theory is actually meant to explain. What is the domain of our investigation, what should be counted in, what not, and why? Worse still, such questions are rarely explicitly addressed, meaning that there is little hope in improving communication (and making progress).

In this talk I want to touch upon those issues from the point of view of Government Phonology, which is usually said to be rather restrictive in what counts as phonological. I will go through a number of case studies as well as several theoretical notions in order to show what different results are achieved from seemingly slight differences in basic assumptions and will try to evaluate the empirical and conceptual differences of those assumptions. For several phenomena that are assumed to be phonological by more mainstream models I will argue that we are better off having them dealt with in other components of grammar.

McGill at GASLA 14

McGill linguists attended GASLA 14, which was hosted at the University of Southampton on 7-9th April 2017. Here is a list of their presentations:

  • Liz SmeetsUltimate attainment at the syntax-discourse interface: L1 effects and object movement in Dutch
  • Heather Goad, Lydia White, Guilherme D. Garcia, Natália B. Guzzo, Marzieh Mortazavinia, Liz Smeets and Jiajia SuPronoun interpretation in L2 Italian: effects of pause and stress
  • Natália B. Guzzo, Heather Goad, Guilherme D. GarciaLearners can acquire structurally-conditioned variation: High vowel deletion in Quebec French

Current and past McGill affiliates gathered for a photo:

WORDS Group, 4/7

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 7th April, at UQAM (room DS-3470) at 10-11.30.  Heather Goad and Lisa Travis will present on the following topic:

The role of phonology in the Navajo Mirror Principle problem. 

Everyone is welcome to attend!

P* Reading Group, 3/28

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Tuesday (Mar. 28) 1-2 pm in Room 117, Jeff will lead a discussion of Kaye (1995). “Derivations and Interfaces”. Frontiers of Phonology, edited by Jacques Durand & Francis Katamba, 289–332. London & New York: Longman. Everyone is welcome!

P* Reading Group, 3/21

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Tuesday (Mar. 21) 1-2 pm in Room 117, Heather will lead a discussion of Elfner (2006). “Contrastive syllabification in Blackfoot”. Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (pp. 141–149). Everyone is welcome!

P* Reading Group

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Tuesday (Feb. 21) 1-2 pm in Room 117, Morgan will lead a discussion of Shih & Inkelas (2016). “Morphologically-conditioned tonotactics in multilevel Maximum Entropy grammar”. Proceedings of the Annual Meetings on Phonology(Vol. 3). Everyone is welcome!

P* Reading Group, 3/7

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Tuesday (Mar. 7) 1-2 pm in Room 117, Hye-Young will lead a discussion of Kirby & Ladd (2016). Effects of obstruent voicing on vowel F0: Evidence from “true voicing” languages. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 140(4), 2400–2411. Everyone is welcome!

McGill at MOT 2017

UQAM is hosting the 2017 Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto (MOT) Phonology Workshop on 24th-26th March, 2017. McGill linguists will attend the meeting to present their work:

  • Morgan Sonderegger, Michael McAuliffe, Jurij Bozic, Chris Bruno, September Cowley, Jeffrey Lamontagne, Bing’er Jiang, Martha Schwarz, Jiajia Su: Laryngeal timing across seven languages: phonetic data and their relationship to phonological features
  • Donghyun Kim, Meghan Clayards: The link between speech perception and production and the mechanisms of phonetic imitation
  • Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron: Production planning effects on variable external sandhi: a case study in liaison
  • Martha Schwarz: Nepali laryngeal contrasts
  • James Tanner: Phonetic and phonological mechanisms of Tokyo Japanese vowel devoicing
  • Binger Jiang, Meghan Clayards: Cue weighting of voice quality, pitch, and tonal contour in the tonal register contrast in Chinese Wu dialects
  • Jeffrey Lamontagne, Heather Goad, Morgan Sonderegger: Weighting around: Motivating variable prominence assignment in French

The entire program can be found here.

 

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!

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/

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.

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.

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!

LingTea, 1/26 – Lydia Felice, Sarah Mihuc

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Jan. 26th) 12-1pm in room 117, Lydia Felice and Sarah Mihuc will each present on their work on Kabyle Berber.

Speaker: Lydia Felice
Title: An Analysis of the State Alternation in Kabyle Berber

Abstract: In Kabyle, nominals may appear in the Free State or Construct State. Free State nominals are characterized by presence of the prefix a-. Construct State nominals lack this prefix. Nominals in the Free State appear as preverbal subjects, complements of certain prepositions, and objects of the verb. Nominals in the Construct State appear as postverbal subjects and complements of certain prepositions. I assume that the Free State morpheme is an intrinsic case marker occupying K0. Nominals in the Construct State are DPs that must be licensed structural case, while nominals in the Free State are KPs that receive case from the FS morpheme a-. I propose that treating the FS vowel as K0 accounts for the full distribution of Free State and Construct State nominals.

 

Speaker: Sarah Mihuc
Title: Effects of Focus on Word Order in Kabyle Berber

Abstract: A variety of word orders are attested in Kabyle Berber; changes in word order have previously been explained as related to focus and topic in Berber (Mettouchi 2008). In order to precisely test the relationship between focus and word order, I present an experiment based on Calhoun’s (2015) experiment on Samoan focus and word order. Speakers were shown illustrations of events, and were asked to answer questions about them. The questions have answers with six different types of focus. Thus, the answers to each question type show which word order is associated with which type(s) of focus in Kabyle Berber.

LingTea, 1/19 – Jessica Coon

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Jan. 19th) 12-1pm in room 117, Jessica Coon will give a talk with the title “The linguistics of Arrival: Aliens, fieldwork, and Universal Grammar“. This is a practice talk for an up-coming Arrival-related public lecture.

Abstract:

If aliens arrived, could we communicate with them? How would we do it? What are the tools linguists use to decipher unknown languages? How different can human languages be from one another? Do these differences have bigger consequences for how we see the world?

The recent science-fiction film Arrival touches on these and other real questions in the field of linguistics. In Arrival, linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is recruited by the military to translate the language of the newly-arrived Heptapods in order to answer the question everyone wants to know: why are they here? Language, it turns out, is a crucial piece of the answer.

Jessica Coon, science consultant for the linguistics in Arrival, has never worked with an alien, but will discuss her own fieldwork on Mayan languages, and what these languages can tell us about linguistic diversity and Universal Grammar.

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