Archive for the 'Alumni news' Category

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!

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 (; (ii) the Experimental Psycholinguistics Conference, Menorca ( 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).


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.

Jozina vander Klok to University of Oslo

McLing is happy to report that PhD alumna Jozina vander Klok (’12) has just accepted a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oslo, beginning this June. Jozina will be leaving UBC, where she has been a post-doctoral fellow since 2013. Congratulations Jozina!

McGill at LSA/SSILA/ADS 2017

McGill linguists past and present attended the 91st Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, and the associated meeetings of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA) and the American Dialect Society(ADS), which took place 5–8 January 2017 in Austin, Texas. Their many presentations included:

  • George Aaron Broadwell, Lauren Eby Clemens (Postdoc ’14-’15): “Inflectional change in Copala Triqui”
  • Lauren Clemens (Postdoc ’14-’15), Jessica Coon, Carol-Rose Little (BA ’12), Morelia Vázquez Martínez: “Encoding focus in Ch’ol spontaneous speech”
  • Lauren Clemens (Postdoc ’14-’15): “Prosody, pseudo noun incorporation, and V1 syntax: VP-fronting or Vo-raising?”
  • Emily Elfner (Postdoc ’12-’14), Patricia A. Shaw: “Game-based methodology for the study of intonational contours in Kwak’wala”
  • Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (Postdoc ’14-’15), Theodore Levin: “On the unavailability of argument ellipsis in Kaqchikel”
  • Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (Postdoc ’14-’15): “C-T head-splitting: evidence from Toba Batak”
  • Guilherme Garcia: “Adapting inconsistent lexical patterns: a Bayesian approach to weight and stress”
  • Daniel Goodhue: “Biased polar questions: VERUM focus is semantic focus, high negation is a distinct phenomenon”
  • Natália Brambatti Guzzo, Heather Goad: “Overriding default interpretations through prosody: depictive predicates in Brazilian Portuguese”
  • Aron Hirsch (BA ’12): “Fragments, pseudo-clefts, and ellipsis”
  • Thomas Kettig (BA ’13): “One hundred years of stability: the case of the BAD-LAD split”
  • Hadas Kotek (Postdoc ’14-’16): “Movement and alternatives don’t mix: a new look at intervention effects”
  • Jeffrey Lamontagne, Heather Goad, Morgan Sonderegger: “Penultimate prominence in Québec French: internal motivations or English influence?”
  • Jeffrey Lamontagne and Gretchen McCulloch (MA ’13): “Wayyy longgg: orthotactics and phonology in lengthening on Twitter”
  • Cora Lesure (BA ’15): “Phonologically null morphemes and templatic morphology: the case of Chuj (Mayan)”
  • Moti Liberman and Gretchen McCulloch (MA ’13) organized a symposium entitled “Datablitz: Getting High School Students Into Linguistics”
  • Michael McAuliffe, Michaela Socolof (BA ’16), Sarah Mihuc, Michael Wagner, Morgan Sonderegger: “Montreal Forced Aligner: an accurate and trainable forced aligner using Kaldi”
  • Michaela Socolof (BA ’16): “The position of the negative particle ara and NPIs in Kabyle negation”
  • Morgan Sonderegger, Michael McAuliffeJurij BozicChristopher BrunoSeptember CowleyBing’er JiangJeffrey LamontagneMartha SchwarzJiajia Su: “Laryngeal timing across seven languages: phonetic data and their relationship to phonological features”
  • Lisa Travis: “A typology of VP-fronting”
  • Jozina Vander Klok (PhD ’12) and Vera Hohaus: “Building Blocks of Weak Necessity Modality: The View from Paciran Javanese”

Some current and past McGill affiliates gathered for a photo:



Coon and Carolan to appear in Glossa

Jessica Coon and Lizzie Carolan’s (BA ’14) paper “Nominalizations and the structure of the progressive in Chuj Mayan” will appear in the journal Glossa. A draft of the paper is available here. Congrats both!

More Arrival news

McGill Linguistics continues to make headlines with the recent release of ArrivalJessica Coon and Morgan Sonderegger both appeared on CTV National News last week, and Jessica was interviewed on CBC’s The Current last Friday. A full list of recent press, along with resources by McGill MA alum and internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch, can be found here.

McGill at NELS 47

McGill linguists presented at the 47th Annual Meeting of North East Linguistic Society (NELS 47), which was hosted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst October 14–16. Presentations by current McGill affiliates included:

McGill affiliates of past and present gathered for a photo at the dinner:

Gui Garcia, Laura Kalin, Michael Wagner, Jessica Coon, Aron Hirsch, Cora Lesure, Bernhard Schwarz, Hadas Kotek

Gui Garcia, Laura Kalin, Michael Wagner, Jessica Coon, Aron Hirsch, Cora Lesure, Bernhard Schwarz, Hadas Kotek

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!

McGill at GALANA-7

GALANA-7 took place last week at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Guilherme Garcia presented a talk titled “Second Language Acquisition of Stress in Second Language Portuguese: Extrametricality and Default Stress.” Roumyana Slabakova (PhD ’97), Öner Özçelik (PhD ’12), and Silvina Montrul (’97) also presented.

Roumyana Slabakova (PhD, 1997), Guilherme Garcia, Öner Özçelik (PhD, 2012) and Silvina Montrul (PhD, 1997)

Roumyana Slabakova (PhD, 1997), Guilherme Garcia, Öner Özçelik (PhD, 2012) and Silvina Montrul (PhD, 1997)


McGill at Sinn und Bedeutung

McGill linguists of past and present were well represented at Sinn und Bedeutung 21, which took place this past weekend in Edinburgh. Presentations and posters included:

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.

Meghan Clayards co-organized a satellite workshop at LabPhon 15 on “Higher-order structure in speech variability: phonetic/phonological covariation and talker adaptation”. She also presented a poster with Hye-Young Bang as the first author titled “Structured Variation across Sound Contrasts, Talkers, and Speech Styles”.

Many more McGill linguists presented at LabPhon, held this year at Cornell University, as seen below:
McGill faculty, students, alums at LabPhon 15 banquet

McGill faculty, students, alums at LabPhon 15 banquet

Jessica Coon spent two weeks in June at CoLang (the Institute on Collaborative Language Research) at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and in July she participated in the ANVILS (A National Vision for Indigenous Languages Sustainability) workshop at the University of Alberta.
rainbow from UAF campus, taken at midnight

rainbow from UAF campus, taken at midnight

Guilherme Garcia gave two talks at the 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting (one of which he co-authored with Natália Guzzo and Heather Goad). He then attended a workshop on Bayesian Data Analysis at the University of St. Gallen in June, and presented a poster at LabPhon 15. He also wrote the second chapter of his dissertation, which proposes a probabilistic representation of weight effects on stress—he will be presenting this at NELS and AMP later this year. In addition, he worked with Heather Goad and Natália Guzzo on a project about footing and stress in Québec French, which will also be presented at AMP. Finally, he finished writing a proceedings paper (46th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages), and prepared a workshop on data analysis using R, which he will teach in September.
Brendan Gillon spent the first three weeks of May lecturing on semantics at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology. At the end of June, he participated in a workshop on Buddhist Logic (hetuvidyā / yinming / inmyō) and its Applications in East Asia sponsored by the Austrian Academy of Sciences’  Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia.
Henrison Hsieh presented talks at the 26th Southeast Asian Linguistics Society and the 23rd Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association meetings entitled “An argument for the noun-verb distinction in Tagalog” and “Prosodic indicators of phrase structure in Tagalog transitive sentences”, respectively.
Henrison presenting at SEALS

Henrison presenting at SEALS

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, Donghyun Kim, and Jeff Lamontagne, and Michael McAuliffe also presented posters at LabPhon 15.
In July, Bernhard Schwarz visited the University of Tübingen (Collaborative Research Centre 833) and presented joint work with Sasha Simonenko (PhD McGill 2015); in August, he traveled to Tokyo to present joint work with Francesco Gentile at  “Theoretical Linguistics at Keio” (TaLK).
Junko Shimoyama gave an invited talk titled ‘Connectivity effects in dislocated phrases and fragments’ at TaLK 2016 (Theoretical Linguistics at Keio) in August in Tokyo. Her joint work with Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten and Keir Moulton (postdoc 2009-2011), ‘Stay inside: the interpretation of internally-headed relative clauses in Navajo’, was presented by the co-authors at the CLA meeting in Calgary. Her joint work with Alex Drummond (postdoc 2012-2014), ‘Complex degrees and an unexpected comparative interpretation’, will be presented by Alex at the annual meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) this week. Earlier in the summer, Junko co-presented with Christopher Fuhrman (ÉTS) and Maria Orjuela-Laverde (McGill TLS) at the annual SALTISE conference, sharing her experience with a new activity in Syntax 2 last year, called ‘Would you publish it?’, where the students participated in a process modelled after journal article reviewing. Many thanks to the students for trying it out!
Liz Smeets presented at the EuroSLA conference in Jyvaskyla, Finland this August and in June she collected data on the acquisition of object movement on Dutch in The Netherlands. Her proceedings paper from WCCFL34 “The Syntax of Focus Association in Dutch and German; Evidence from Scope Reconstruction”, joint work with Michael Wagner, is now available online:
Liz's view from the conference dinner

Liz’s view from the conference dinner

Morgan Sonderegger went to Scotland, where he co-organized a workshop and gave talks at U. Glasgow and U. Edinburgh. He co-organized the BigPhon workshop (including with Michael McAuliffe) and gave a poster at LabPhon 15 at Cornell.
Michael Wagner presented a paper with Jeff Klassen (PhD ’16), Heather Goad, and Annie Tremblay — ‘Prominence Shifts in English and Spanish Parallel Constructions’ — at SemDial. (Proceedings here)

Smeets and Wagner WCCFL proceedings

Liz Smeets and Michael Wagner have posted their upcoming WCCFL proceedings ‘The Syntax of Focus Association in Dutch and German: Evidence from Scope Reconstruction’ on lingbuzz.
In this paper we present novel evidence for the availability of scope reconstruction of the German and Dutch equivalents constituents of the form [only + DP]. Adding to earlier arguments in Reis (2005) and Meyer & Sauerland (2009), this paper provides additional evidence against the analysis of the German equivalent of only in B uring & Hartmann (2001), which claims that it can exclusively adjoin to adverbial positions. We rely on evidence from the Prosodic Question Answer Congruence and data from the scopal interaction between exclusive operators and adverbs to support our claims. We also present a syntactic analysis which accounts for the reconstruction data, and provides an alternative explanation for some of the syntactic restrictions on its distribution for which the Adverbial Analysis was originally proposed. We conclude with a discussion of why it might be that scope reconstruction is always available from the pre field, whereas in the middle field only arguments seem to be able to reconstruct.


Klassen and Wagner in Journal of Memory and Language

An article by Jeff Klassen (PhD ’16) and Michael Wagner,  ‘Prosodic prominence shifts are anaphoric’, has appeared in the Journal of Memory and Linguistics. Congratulations!
This paper presents evidence that shifts in prosodic prominence are anaphoric and require a contextually salient antecedent, similar to pronouns. The argument is based on a series of experiments looking at prosodic optionality in dialogues in which there are multiple potential antecedents embedded in a contextually salient coordinated structure. By looking at the interaction with adverbs that restrict the choice of antecedent, we show that the observed prosodic variability reveals different anaphoric choices, and hence different speaker intentions. The results are incompatible with the hypothesis that prominence shifts can be explained purely in reference to low-level facilitation due to repetition of the linguistic structure or accessibility of it referent, and are not reducible to existing accounts of prominence in terms of predictability.



Buccola & Spector in Linguistics and Philosophy

Brian Buccola’s (McGill PhD 2016) paper Modified numerals and maximality has been accepted for publication at Linguistics and Philosophy. The article, which is co-authored with Benjamin Spector, builds on central parts of Brian’s PhD thesis Maximality in the semantics of modified numerals.  Congratulations, Brian!

McGill at MOTH

Bing'er Jiang, Chris Bruno, Martha Schwarz, Symon Stevens-Guille (UofT; McGill BA '15), Jessica Coon, Bronwyn Bjorkman (Queen's; McGill BA '06)

McGill affiliates of past and present at this year’s MOTH Syntax Workshop at University of Toronto Mississauga: Bing’er Jiang, Chris Bruno, Martha Schwarz, Symon Stevens-Guille (UofT; McGill BA ’15), Jessica Coon, Bronwyn Bjorkman (Queen’s; McGill BA ’06)

McGill at WSCLA 2016

A subset of the current and past McGill affiliates attending WSCLA 2016 this year at UQÀM, co-organized by Richard Compton and Heather Newell.

back row: Carol-Rose Little (BA '12), Colin Brown (MA), Lauren Clemens (Post-doc '14-'15), Jessica Coon, Lisa Travis, Gretchen McCulloch (MA '13) front row: Emily Elfner (Post-Doc '12–'14), Cora Lesure (BA '15), Henrison Hsieh, Hadas Kotek, Elise McClay (BA '12), Heather Newell (PhD '08), Gustavo Beritognolo (MA '08)

back row: Carol-Rose Little (BA ’12), Colin Brown (MA), Lauren Clemens (Post-doc ’14-’15), Jessica Coon, Lisa Travis, Gretchen McCulloch (MA ’13)
front row: Emily Elfner (Post-Doc ’12–’14), Cora Lesure (BA ’15), Henrison Hsieh, Hadas Kotek, Elise McClay (BA ’12), Heather Newell (PhD ’08), Gustavo Beritognolo (MA ’08)

Schwartz and Goad in Language Acquisition

Misha Schwartz (BA 2014) and Heather Goad’s paper Indirect positive evidence in the acquisition of a subset grammar has just been accepted for publication in Language Acquisition. The abstract appears below:
This paper proposes that second language learners can use indirect positive evidence (IPE) to acquire a phonological grammar that is a subset of their L1 grammar. IPE is evidence from errors in the learner’s L1 made by native speakers of the learner’s L2. It has been assumed that subset grammars may be acquired using direct or indirect negative evidence or, in certain L1–L2 combinations, using positive evidence. The utility of IPE is tested by providing native speakers of English with indirect evidence of the phonotactic constraints holding of word-initial clusters in Brazilian Portuguese (BP), which are a subset of those in English. Participants were tested on the well-formedness of BP-like words and the results indicate that approximately one-third were able to use the IPE to make appropriate BP-like judgements. This suggests that IPE may be another source of evidence that learners can use to build a grammar that is a subset of their own L1 grammar.

McGill at MOLT

McGill Linguistics was well represented at this year’s Montreal-Ottawa-Laval-Toronto Phonology Workshop (MOLT), which took place this past weekend at Carleton University. There were talks by graduate students, lecturers, postdocs, alumni, and faculty. The full program can be found here.

  • Guilherme Garcia & Natália Brambatti Guzzo – Second language acquisition of word-level prominence in English by Canadian French speakers
  • Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, Michael Wagner, Meghan Clayards – The effect of production planning locality on external sandhi: a study in /t/
  • Donghyun Kim, Meghan Clayards, Heather Goad – Patterns of individual differences in second language vowel perception
  • Jeff Lamontagne – Mid-Vowel Features and Allophony in Laurentian French
  • Michael McAuliffe, Morgan Sonderegger, Michael Wagner – A system for unified corpus analysis, applied to polysyllabic shortening across 12 languages
  • Peter Milne – The variable pronunciations of word-final consonant clusters in a force aligned corpus of spoken French
  • Heather Newell (PhD 2004) – The pathology of level-specific morpho-phonology


Sasha Simonenko to take up postdoc at University of Ghent

This month Alexandra (Sasha) Simonenko (McGill PhD 2014) is finishing a 17-month postdoc at Labex EFL in Paris on quantitative methods in Medieval French morphosyntax and taking up a 3-year postdoc at the University of Ghent under the supervision of Liliane Haegeman. The Ghent postdoc is funded by the Flemish Research Council and will focus on the comparative semantics and morphosyntax of the DP in several Finno-Ugric languages spoken in Russia. Congratulations Sasha!

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