Author Archive for McLing

WORDS Group – 12/9

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 9th December, at UQAM (room DS-3470). This will be an extended session (1pm – 5pm). The focus of this meeting will be on comparing different approaches to Phase Theory.

Everyone is welcome!

McGill at ASA 172

McGill’s linguists attended the 172nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), which took place on 28th November – 2nd December 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Presentations of current McGill affiliates included:

  • Hye-Young Bang:
    (a) The acoustic counterpart to articulatory resistance and aggressiveness in locus equation metrics and vowel dispersion
    (b) The relationship of VOT and F0 contrasts across speakers and words in the German voicing contrast
  • Donghyun Kim: Individual differences in the relation between perception and production and the mechanisms of phonetic imitation
  • Bing’er Jiang: Cue weighting in the tonal register contrast of Jiashan Wu

McGill affiliates gathered for a photo:



(Left to right: Haruko Saito (McGill, SCSD), Linda Polka (McGill, SCSD), Hye-Young Bang, Donghyun Kim, Bing’er Jiang)

Clayards, Kilbourn-Ceron, Sonderegger, Tanner and Wagner – Colloquia at Princeton and Johns Hopkins University

Michael Wagner gave talks at colloquia at Princeton University (16th November) and Johns Hopkins University (17th November), in which he reported on his joint work with Meghan Clayards, Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, Morgan Sonderegger and James Tanner with the title “Allophonic variation and the locality of production planning“. The abstract is given below.


The application of allophonic processes across word boundaries (processes such as flapping (cf. De Jong, 1998; Patterson and Connine, 2001) and sibilant assimilation (cf. Holst and Nolan, 1995) in English, or liaison in French (Durand and Lyche, 2008)) is known to be subject to locality conditions. The same processes are also known to be variable. While a correlation between the locality of cross word processes on the one hand and their inherent variability is often observed (e.g. Kaisse, 1985), existing theories of either aspect usually do not make any predictions about the other. In this paper we report on several projects that pursue the hypothesis that the locality and variability of cross-word allophonic processes are tightly linked, and can be both be understood as a consequence of the locality of production planning.

The basic idea is that flapping, sibilant assimilation, liaison and related processes are sensitive to the segmental environment in a following word, but the following segmental environment can only exert its effect of the relevant information is already available when the phonetic detail of the current word is being planned. Under this view, effects of syntax and prosody on the application of these processes are reducible to their indirect effects on production planning: For example, a speaker is less likely to plan ahead across a sentence boundary, and less likely to plan ahead across a prosodic juncture. This hypothesis makes specific predictions that all factors affecting planning should affect the likelihood of cross-word allophonic processes (such as the predictability of the following word, the # syllables of the following word, etc.). We report evidence from several experimental and corpus studies that test our hypothesis, which makes different predictions than accounts that tie allophonic processes to particular phonological domains. It also makes different predictions than accounts that try to explain sandhi processes as an effect of gestural overlap, or than currently popular accounts in terms of probabilistic reduction.

An account of the the locality of sandhi processes in terms of the locality of production planning removes some of the motivation for categorically distinct phonological domains as they are assumed in the theory of the prosodic hierarchy. It also makes new predictions about what types of processes will necessarily have to be local and variable, and also about the degree of locality/variability depending on which information their application relies on.

LingTea, 11/24 – Junko Shimoyama & Keir Moulton

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Nov. 24th) 12-1pm in room 117, Junko Shimoyama and Keir Moulton (who will be present through Skype) will give a talk with the title “On inverse trace conversion in Japanese internally-headed relative clauses“.


We report on our ongoing project that examines a recent analysis of various types of relative clauses in Japanese (Erlewine and Gould 2014, 2015). Our focus will be on the use of Inverse Trace Conversion and a maximal informativeness analysis of internally-headed relative clauses.

Semantics Research Group

This Friday the 25th, Alan Bale will present on his recent paper “Sentential Oddities and the Mass-Count Distinction“, which can be found via the link. The meeting will be at 3pm in room 117 as always. Hope to see you there!

Report of McGill at Mo-MOT 1

McGill’s linguists attended the The First Annual Morphology in Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto Workshop (Mo-MOT 1) on 18th-20th November, 2016, which took place at Carleton University. Presentations of current affiliates included the following:

  • Jurij Bozic: “Two Loci of Morphological Neutralization“
  • Lydia Felice & Lisa Travis: “The realization of gender morphemes and the articulation of K in Kabyle“
  • Maire Noonan: “The trouble with German lefties“

Current and past McGill affiliates gathered for a photo on Sunday:



Left to right: Gabriel Daitzchman, Jurij Bozic, Lydia Felice, Heather Newell (PhD, 2008), Lisa Travis, Bronwyn Bjorkman (BA, 2006), Elizabeth Cowper (BA, 1972), Kumiko Murasugi (PostDoc, 1993-1994), Maire Noonan.

LingTea, 11/17 – Lydia Felice & Lisa Travis

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Nov. 17th) 12-1pm in room 117, Lydia Felice & Lisa Travis will give a talk on the topic of Kabyle morphology.


Some researchers have observed the prefixes are more loosely connected to the stems that they attach to than are suffixes (e.g. Hyman 2008, Bobaljik and Wurmbrand 2001). This asymmetry can be accounted for if one assumes (a) that syntax is the generative system that creates complex morphological structure and (b) morpheme order is determined by the syntax. In one version of this view, suffixes are attached to the stem via head movement and prefixes through some mechanism of morphological merger (e.g. Kayne 2015). We use these ideas to account for the realization of gender morphemes in Kabyle, a dialect of Berber and to further relate this account to the nano-syntax of Case (Caha 2009).

Selected references:

Bobaljik, J. and Wurmbrand, S. (2001). Seven prefix-suffix asymmetries in Itelmen. In Proceedings of CLS.Caha, P. (2009). The Nanosyntax of Case. PhD thesis, University of Tromsø.Hyman, L. M. (2008). Directional asymmetries in the morphology and phonology of words, with special reference to Bantu. Linguistics, 46(2):309{350.Kayne, R. S. (2015). Antisymmetry and morphology. prefixes and suffixes. unpublished ms, NYU.

LingTea, 11/10 – Justin Royer

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Nov. 10th) 12-1pm in room 117, Justin Royer will give a talk with the title “Classifier systems in Chuj (Mayan)“.


Chuj, a Mayan language, has a robust system of classification. On the one hand, it features over 15 nominal classifiers which classify nouns according to their physical and social attributes. On the other, it possesses a set of numeral classifiers which obligatorily accompany nouns after certain numerals. Both types of classifiers can surface within the same utterance.    This talk will consist in presenting an overview of the environments in which nominal and numeral classifiers are licensed in Chuj. Data from ongoing fieldwork will be put forward in order to describe and discuss the theoretical implications of these systems and their interaction. Regarding nominal classifiers, I will follow Craig (1986) in arguing that nominal classifiers mark nouns that are referential or salient. This contrasts with prior analyses, which have described them as definite determiners (see e.g. Domingo Pascual 2007). Moving on to numeral classifiers, I will provide substantial evidence in support of Krifka (1995), and Bale and Coon’s (2014) claims that numeral classifiers result from the deficiency of certain quantifying expressions, rather than from the deficiency of certain nouns (Cherchia 1998). Finally, I will establish the importance of treating these two classifying systems as separate systems, governed by separate linguistic properties.

Semantics Reading Group, 11/11

On Friday November 11th, Roni Katzir will present at the Semantics Research Group. The meeting will be held at 3 pm in room 117. Title and abstract are below. Hope to see you there!

Abstract: The roles of questions, answers, and anaphoricity in focus

The placement of accent on elements in sentences interacts both with felicity — so-called free focus (FF) — and, in the presence of certain operators, with truth conditions and presuppositions — so-called association with focus (AF). This interaction is often taken to be anaphoric: in FF, the focus alternatives of a sentence are required to have a contextually salient element or subset (Jackendoff 1972, Rooth 1992, Schwarzschild 1999); and in AF, focus alternatives are matched against an anaphoric element that determines domain restriction (Rooth 1992, von Fintel 1994).My goal in this talk is to argue that the role of anaphoricity in focus is more limited than commonly thought and that questions are central to both FF and AF. In FF, I present evidence that suggests that focus is more discriminating than under the theories of Rooth 1992 and Schwarzschild 1999 and that it must target questions rather than arbitrary discourse antecedents. Moreover, I use an extension of Wagner 2005’s ‘convertible’ paradigm to argue that FF depends not just on questions but also on the ability of sentences to answer them. For AF, I present evidence that challenges the idea that the effect of focus alternatives on domain restriction is ever anaphoric. Instead, I will suggest that some AF operators access focus alternatives directly, while others have their domain restriction constrained by a derived question.

WORDS Group, 11/11

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 11th November at 1-2.30pm (location and room tba). This week’s meeting is dedicated to practice talks for the upcoming Mo-MOT 1 meeting. The following is a tentative list of presentations:

  • Lydia Felice & Lisa Travis: “The realization of gender morphemes in Kabyle and the Syntax/PF interface”
  • Ievgeniia Kybalchych (UQAM): “The trimorphemic structure of Japanese deictic expressions within a two-dimensional reference system”
  • Thomas Leu (UQAM): “Dividing the definite article up between verbal inflection and  personal pronoun”
  • Maire Noonan: “The irksome nature of left members of German compounds”

Everyone is welcome to attend!

McGill at Mo-MOT 1

Carleton University is hosting the The First Annual Morphology in Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto Workshop (Mo-MOT 1) on 18th-20th November, 2016. McGill linguists will attend the meeting to present their work:

The entire program can be found here.

McGill at BUCLD 41

McGill linguists presented at the 41st Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD 41), which was hosted at Boston UNiversity on 4-6th November, 2016. Presentations by current McGill affiliates included:

  • G. Garcia, H. Goad, N. Guzzo: “L2 Acquisition of High Vowel Deletion in Quebec French”
  • J. Klassen, A. Tremblay, M. Wagner, H. Goad: “Prominence Shifts in Second Language English and Spanish: Learning versus Unlearning”
  • L. Smeets: “Ultimate Attainment at the Syntax-Discourse Interface: the acquisition of object movement in Dutch”
  • L. White, H. Goad, J. Su, L. Smeets, M. Mortazavinia, G. Garcia, N. Guzzo: “Prosodic Effects on Pronoun Interpretation in Italian”

Past and present McGill affiliates gathered for a photo:



Sepideh Mortazavinia, Liz Smeets, Shanley Allen, Lydia White, Silvina Montrul, Alan Bale, Theres Grüter, Jeffrey Klassen, Makiko Hirakawa, Guilherme Garcia.

WORDS Group, 11/4

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 4th November, at McGill (room tba) at 1-2.30pm. Half of the session will comprise two practice talks for the upcoming Mo-MOT, given by Laura Grestenberger (Concordia University) and Chris Mauro (UQAM), while the second half will continue the discussion of Smith el al. (2016): Case and Number Suppletion in Pronouns.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

WORDS Group, 10/28

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 28th October at McGill University (room tba). We will be discussing the following paper:

Smith et al. (2016). Case and Number Suppletion in Pronouns. Lingbuzz.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

McGill at AMP 2016

McGill’s linguistis attended the 2016 Annual Meeting on Phonology, which was hosted at the University of Southern California on October 21-23. The presentations given by present McGill affiliates were the following:

  • Oriana Kilbourn-CeronSpeech production planning affects variability in connected speech
  • Guilherme Garcia, Heather Goad & Natália Brambatti GuzzoFooting is not always about stress: formalizing variable high vowel deletion in Québec French
  • Guilherme GarciaGrammar trumps lexicon: Typologically inconsistent weight effects are not generalized
  • Peter Milne & Jeffrey LamontagneCanadian French high-vowel laxing: A corpus study using automated discrimination

The program can be viewed here. Present and former McGill affiliates gathered for a photo at the conference:



Kie Zuraw, Anne-Michelle Tessier, Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron,
Erin Olson, Sharon Rose, Guilherme Garcia, Natália Brambatti
Guzzo, Jeffrey Lamontagne

Semantics Research Group, 10/21

The Semantics Research Group will meet this Friday the 21st at 3pm in room 117 to discuss Judith Degen’s recent paper in Semantics & Pragmatics in preparation for her upcoming visit to McGill on October 4th. All are welcome to attend.

WORDS Group, 10/21

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 21st October, at UQAM (room and time tba). This week’s meeting is dedicated to student presentations:

Ievgeniia Kybalchych (UQAM): “The trimorphemic structure of Japanese deictic expressions within a two-dimensional reference system.”

Jurij Bozic: “Two Loci of Morphological Neutralization.”

Remaning presenters are tba.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

LingTea, 10/13 – Nico Baier

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Oct. 13th) 12-1pm in room 117, a talk will be given by Nico Baier (UC Berkeley). Title and abstract are below.

Unifying Anti-Agreement and Wh-Agreement
In many languages, φ-agreement is sensitive to the A’-movement of its controller. Some languages, such as Abaza, exhibit ‘wh-agreement’, an effect in which dedicated agreement morphology cross-references extracted arguments (Chung and Georgopoulos 1988). In other languages, such as Tarifit Berber, extracted arguments cannot control full agreement. This is known as ‘anti-agreement’ (Ouhalla 1993). These two effects have previously been treated as distinct. Wh-agreement is viewed as normal result of Agree with a goal bearing a wh-feature (Georgopoulos 1991, Watanabe 1996, a.o.). Anti-agreement is generally taken to reflect a disruption of agreement in the syntax proper (Schneider-Zioga 2007, Ouhalla 1993, a.o.). In this paper, I argue that this traditional wisdom is incorrect and that wh-agreement and anti-agreement are in fact two instantiations of the same phenomenon. Both effects are the result of a φ-probe copying both φ- and wh-features from a goal. Patterns of anti-agreement and wh-agreement arise when partial or total impoverishment applies to the [φ+wh] feature bundle in the morphological component, blocking insertion of an otherwise appropriate, more highly specified agreement exponent.

Mah, Goad, Steinhauer in Frontiers in Psychology

Jen Mah (PhD 2011), Heather Goad and Karsten Steinhauer’s paper ‘Using event-related brain brain potentials to assess perceptibility: The case of French speakers and English [h]’ will appear shortly in Frontiers in Psychology.  Congratulations!

Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab Weekly Meeting, 10/3 – Mikael Vinka

The Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Monday, 10/3, from 12-1 in room 002. Mikael Vinka will be presenting on Saami.


This presentation will bring up two themes. On the one hand, when working with an endangered indigenous language like South Saami, it is not uncommon to encounter disparities in grammaticality judgments among L1 speakers. At least some of these inconsistencies are probably best viewed as heritage speaker effects. I will illustrate the issue with data on VP anaphora in South Saami.

The second theme deals with training L1 speaking elders in language documentation. The elders have mastered transcription programs such as ELAN and PRAAT. 45 audio transcription of spoken South Saami are published at, as a result of efforts in the local community.

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