Author Archive for McLing

Congratulation Jeff and Oriana!

Congratulations Jeff, for winning this year’s Faculty of Arts Graduate Student Teaching Award! And Congratulations Oriana, for winning this year’s Arts Insights Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences! You can cheer for them in person when the awards will be announced at the Arts Faculty Council meeting on April 10, at 3:00 pm in Leacock 232.

WORDS Group, 4/3

The next meeting of the Word Structure Research Group will take place on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 12-1:30pm, in DS-3470 at UQAM ( We will be discussing chapter 4 of Preminger (2014: Agreement and its Failures).

Everyone is welcome!

McGill at MOT 2018

The Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto Workshop on Phonology/Phonetics was held March 24-25 at McMaster University. The following papers were presented by McGill students and faculty:

  • Emily Kellison-Linn and Morgan Sonderegger: ‘A large-scale study of consonant voicing effects on F0 in spontaneous English speech’
  • Jiaer Tao, Francisco Torreira & Meghan Clayards: ‘Durational cues to word boundaries in spontaneous speech’
  • Jeffrey Lamontagne, Heather Goad & Morgan Sonderegger: ‘Morphological and phonological motivations for prominence shifts in French’
  • Heather Goad, McGill and Lisa deMena Travis: ‘Phonological evidence for morpho-syntactic structure in Athabaskan’

Past and present McGillians were well represented:

Emily Elfner (post-doc 2012-2014), Elan Dresher (BA 1971), Jeff Lamontagne, Emily Kellison-Linn, Jiaer Tao, Yeong Woo Park, Heather Goad

Dan Goodhue postdoc position

Daniel Goodhue (PhD 2018) just took up a short-term postdoctoral position in the Département D’Études Cognitives at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, where he is working with Salvador Mascarenhas and Emmanuel Chemla in the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique. Congratulations, Dan!

WORDS Group, 3/27

The next meeting of the Word Structure Research Group will take place Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 12-1:30pm, in DS-3470 at UQAM ( We will be discussing Preminger (2014) (Agreement and Its Failures), Chapters 1-3.

Everyone is welcome!

Brambatti Guzzo in Journal of Linguistics

Congratulations to Natalia Brambatti Guzzo, who has just published the paper ‘The prosodic representation of composite structures in Brazilian Portuguese’ in the Journal of Linguistics.


In previous research, word–word compounds and stressed affix + word structures have been assigned to the same prosodic domain in Brazilian Portuguese (BP), on account of certain similarities in phonological behaviour (Silva 2010, Toneli 2014): both types of composite structures undergo vowel raising at the right edge of each element in the construction, and vowel sandhi processes between their elements. In this paper, I show that word–word compounds and stressed affix + word structures exhibit significant differences in stress patterns in BP, which supports their prosodization in two separate domains. While stressed affix + word structures are assigned secondary stress following the phonological word (PWd) stress algorithm, each element in word–word compounds behaves as an independent PWd with regard to the stress pattern that it exhibits. I thus propose that while stressed affix + word structures are recursively prosodized in the PWd domain, word–word compounds are prosodized in the composite group, the domain proposed by Vogel (2008, 2009) that immediately dominates the PWd and accounts for the prosodization of structures with compositional characteristics. The analysis reconciles two views on prosodic structure that are traditionally assumed to be mutually exclusive: the view that prosodic domains can be recursive (e.g. Inkelas 1990, Selkirk 1996) and the view that the prosodic hierarchy includes an additional domain specific to composite structures above the PWd (e.g. Vogel 2009, Vigário 2010).

McGill at TOM 11

The annual Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal workshop in semantics (TOM) is an informal event that brings together semanticists working at universities in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. It is a great opportunity for graduate students to present work in progress and obtain feedback from colleagues. This year’s edition of the workshop (TOM 11) took place on Saturday, March 17 at the University of Ottawa, and featured the following presentations by McGill students:

  • Francesco Paolo Gentile: “Non-local modification of possible: a ‘tough’ analysis”
  • Esmail Moghiseh: “Existential free-choice items and contradiction-free strengthening” (joint work with Luis Alonso-Ovalle)
  • Mathieu Paillé: “Knowing whether and ignorance inferences” (joint work with Bernhard Schwarz)

McGill at DGfS 2018

Justin Royer traveled to the University of Stuttgart in Germany where he presented some of his research at the 40th annual conference of the German Linguistics Society (DGfS). His talk was titled Specificity, (in)definiteness, and noun classifiers in Chuj (Mayan). 

Justin Royer receives Mitacs Award

Justin Royer has received a Mitacs award to do fieldwork in Mexico this summer. He will be doing fieldwork on Chuj and will also spend some time at CIESAS (centro de investigaciones y estudios superiores en antropología social) with Prof. Roberto Zavala.


McGill at ConCALL 3

Clint Parker presented some of his recent research on alignment in Shughni at the third Conference on Central Asian Languages and Linguistics (ConCALL 3) at Indiana University March 2-4. His talk was titled Vestigial Ergativity in Shughni: Typology and Analysis.

McGill at Current Issues in Comparative Syntax

Jessica Coon presented a talk at the workshop Current Issues in Comparative Syntax, held last week at the National University Singapore. Her talk was titled “Feature Gluttony and the Syntax of Hierarchy Effects” (joint work with Stefan Keine). Other past McGill affiliates were also in attendance:

Mitcho Erlewine (former McGill post-doc), Jessica Coon, Mark Baker (former McGill faculty)

P* Reading Group, 2/22

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Thursday (Feb. 22) 11:30 am -12:30 pm in Room 117, Sarah will lead a discussion of Ingvalson et al. (2017). “Non-native speech learning in older adults”. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 148. Everyone is welcome!

McGill at BLS 44

Berkeley Linguistics Society Meeting 44 took place on 9-11th February 2018. McGill’s linguists of past and present attended and gave the following presentations:

  • Ileana Paul & Lisa Travis: Pronoun-Noun constructions in Malagasy: variation and change
  • Gabriel Daitzchman: The most specific person: Morphological decomposition and analysis of Hebrew π
  • Carol-Rose Little: A feature-based analysis of the Ch’ol (Mayan) person paradigm
  • Lauren Clemens: Verb-initial word order in Mayan languages: Causes and consequences

Gabe Daitzchman, Ileana Paul, Carol-Rose Little, Lauren Clemens, Lisa Travis, Martha Schwartz

WORDS Group, 2/13

The next meeting of the Word Structure Research Group will take place Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 12-1:30pm, in DS-3470 at UQAM ( We will be discussing Vogel (2009).

Everyone is welcome!

Daniel Goodhue defends dissertation

Congratulations to Daniel Goodhue, who defended his dissertations on 9th February 2018! Daniel’s dissertation, supervised by Michael Wagner and co-supervised by Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Bernhard Schwarz  is titled “On asking and answering biased polar questions.” Congratulations, Dan!

Luis Alonso-Ovalle, Bernhard Schwarz, Daniel Goodhue, Michael Wagner

Job talk by Suzi Lima, 2/5

This week, our department will be visited by a job candidate, Suzi Lima (UofT). Below, you can find the abstract for her talk, with details about location and time.

On the acquisition of object denoting nouns

Suzi Lima, University of Toronto, Wilson Hall WPRoom 3:30pm.

In classical theories of countability, the minimal elements in the extension of count nouns are atoms, and the material parts of these atoms are not themselves part of the extension of the nouns (cf. Link 1983, Chierchia 1998, 2010 among many others). According to these theories, grammatical atomicity (what counts as an atom for purposes of counting in language) is strongly associated with natural atomicity (what constitutes as an individual of the kind described by a noun). Against this view, Rothstein (2010) argues that natural atomicity is neither required nor necessary for grammatical counting. Rothstein (2010) argues that atoms can be contextually defined. That is, count nouns like fence, wall and bouquet denote “different sets of atoms depending on the context of interpretation”. For example, what counts as a wall-atom in a particular context (the four wall-sides of a castle that we can consider as ‘a wall’) might not count as a wall-atom in a different context (the north wall of a castle, which we can also name as ‘a wall’). Empirical facts across languages provide ample evidence that discrete individuals are not necessarily countable (see object mass nouns such as furniture in English) and that nouns that denote substances are not necessarily uncountable (cf. Mathieu 2012, Lima 2014 among many others). Such evidence suggests a strong dissociation between natural and semantic atomicity. Given this debate, the question we intend to address in this talk is whether the conceptual content of a noun and natural atomicity bias how units of individuation are determined. More specifically, we are investigating whether contextually determined individuals, more specifically, partitions of discrete individuals, can be considered as atoms.

Acquisition of countability The debate about whether the conceptual content of a noun determines how atoms are determined in grammar is a topic of interest for both formal semantics and developmental psychology studies. A series of studies in developmental psychology suggests that although the lexical content of nouns plays a role in the identification of atoms in their extensions (Carey, 2009; Macnamara, 1986; Xu, 2007), natural atomicity is not required for grammatical counting. Acquisition studies suggest that until 7 years of age children count parts of individuals of a certain kind (e.g. pieces of forks) as if they were themselves individuals of that kind (e.g. individual forks; cf. Shipley and Shepperson 1990). Srinivasan et al. (2013) replicate these results and in addition have shown that children cease to treat parts of individuals as whole individuals once they recognize that (pseudo)partitive constructions (e.g. “piece of”) and measure phrases are more informative descriptions for parts of objects.

Proposal First, we argue that a proper semantic analysis of aforementioned acquisition facts require the adoption of a theory of countability in which not only natural atoms but also their material parts belong to the extension of count nouns. To illustrate, both a whole banana and a piece of a banana belong to the extension of the noun “banana”. Secondly, we argue in favor of a blocking mechanism that prevents speakers to refer to parts of individuals using an unmodified count noun when pseudopartitive constructions or measure phrases are available to refer to these parts. Evidence for this mechanism will be based on three experimental studies with speakers of Yudja, a Tupi language spoken in Brazil that has low frequency (pseudo)partitive constructions and no measure phrases.

WORDS Group Meeting, 2/6

The next meeting of the Word Research Group will take place on Tuesday, February 6th, 12-1:30pm, in room 002 of the Department of Linguistics at McGill (1085 Dr. Penfield). We will be discussing Booij (1996).

Booij, G. (1996). Cliticization as prosodic integration: The case of Dutch. The Linguistic Review 13. 219-242.

P* Reading Group, 2/8

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Thursday (Feb. 8) 11:30 am -12:30 pm in Room 117, Yeong will lead a discussion of Garellek, M., Ritchart, A., & Kuang, J. (2016). “Breathy voice during nasality: A cross-linguistic study”. Journal of Phonetics, , 59, 110-121. Everyone is welcome!

Daniel Goodhue’s dissertation defence, 2/9

McGill University

Department of Linguistics

Daniel Goodhue

Ph.D. Oral Defence


On asking and answering biased polar questions

Friday, February 9th, 2018

at 3:00 pm

in the Arts Bldg. Rm. 160

followed by a reception in the lounge (rm. 212)

WORDS Group, 1/30

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Tuesday 30th January, 12-2pm, in DS-3470 at UQAM ( This week, we will be discussing Nespor and Vogel (1986, chap.5).

Everyone is welcome!

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.