Archive for the 'Publications' Category

Smeets and Wagner in Semantics and Pragmatics

Liz Smeets and Michael Wagner have just published the paper Reconstructing the syntax of focus operators in Semantics and Pragmatics. The early access version can be found here.




This paper presents novel evidence that the exclusive operator alleen in Dutch (and nur in German) can directly attach to the focus constituent it associates with, and against an analysis like the one in Jacobs 1983 and Büring & Hartmann 2001 which analyzes all instances of alleen/nur as sentential adverbs that take a single syntactic argument that denotes a proposition. Instead, we argue that alleen/nur takes two syntactic arguments, which combine to denote a proposition. The evidence comes from novel data showing scope reconstruction of [alleen/nur + DP] sequences from the prefield in Dutch (and German), adding to earlier arguments in Reis 2005 and Meyer & Sauerland 2009.


Clayards Phonetica paper Editor’s Choice

Meghan Clayards’ Phonetica paper, “Individual Talker and Token Covariation in the Production of Multiple Cues to Stop Voicing” (December 2017), has been selected as an Editor’s Choice paper. It was also the most-read article in this journal last month.


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).

Alonso-Ovalle and Menéndez-Benito published in Journal of Semantics

Congratulations to Luis Alonso-Ovalle who together with Paula Menéndez-Benito have a new paper, “Projecting Possibilities in the Nominal Domain: Spanish Uno Cualquiera” appearing in the Journal of Semantics!

Kim, Clayards, and Goad published in Journal of Phonetics

Congratulations to Donghyun Kim, Meghan Clayards, and Heather Goad  whose new paper, “A longitudinal study of individual differences in the acquisition of new vowel contrasts” has just been published in the Journal of Phonetics!

Bang et al. in Journal of Phonetics

A paper by Hye-Young Bang and co-authors (Morgan Sonderegger, Yoonjung Kang, Meghan Clayards, Taejin Yoon), “The emergence, progress, and impact of sound change in progress in Seoul Korean: Implications for mechanisms of tonogenesis”, has just appeared in Journal of Phonetics. Congratulations!

This study examines the origin, progression, and impact of a sound change in Seoul Korean where the primary cue to a stop contrast in phrase-initial position is shifting from VOT to f0. Because it shares similarities with the initial phase of tonogenesis, investigating this “quasi-tonogenetic” sound change provides insight into the nature of the emergence of contrastive f0 in “tonogenetic” sound changes more generally. Using a dataset from a large apparent-time corpus of Seoul Korean, we built mixed-effects regression models of VOT and f0 to examine the time-course of change, focusing on word frequency and vowel height effects. We found that both VOT contrast reduction and f0 contrast enhancement are more advanced in high-frequency words and in stops before non-high vowels, indicating that the change is spreading across words and phonetic contexts in parallel. Furthermore, speakers suppress non-contrastive variation in f0 as f0 emerges as a primary cue. Our findings suggest that one impetus for tonogenetic change is production bias coupled with an adaptive link between the cues. We further discuss the role of Korean intonational phonology on f0 which may help explain why the phonetic precondition leads to change in Seoul Korean but not in other languages.


The structure of words at the interfaces (OUP volume)

The structure of words at the interfaces (editors Heather Newell, Maire Noonan, Glyne Piggott, and Lisa Travis) was published by Oxford University Press May 11th, 2017. As well as having four editors who are professors at and/or alumni of McGill, the volume also includes papers from alumni such as Bethany Lochbihler (McGill PhD 2012), Richard Compton (McGill Postdoc 2013-2014), and Tanya Slavin (McGill Postdoc 2011-2013).

For more information:

Goodhue and Goodhue & Wagner papers to appear

Daniel Goodhue‘s paper “Must p is felicitous only if p is not known” has been accepted for publication in Semantics & Pragmatics. A draft of the paper is available here.

Daniel Goodhue and Michael Wagner‘s paper “Intonation, yes and no” has been accepted for publication in Glossa. A draft of the paper is available here.

Congrats both!

Gui Garcia in Phonology

Gui Garcia‘s paper ‘Weight gradience and stress in Portuguese’ is officially out in the journal Phonology, and can be found here. Congrats Gui!

Kilbourn-Ceron and Sonderegger in NLLT

Natural Language and Linguistic Theory has just published an article by Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron and Morgan Sonderegger: ‘Boundary phenomena and variability in Japanese high vowel devoicing’. The full article is available here.


Devoicing of high vowels (HVD) in Tokyo Japanese applies in two environments—between voiceless consonants, and between a voiceless consonant and a “pause”—and applies variably as a function of a number of factors. The role and definition of “pause” in this process, in terms of a physical pause or prosodic position (word or phrase boundary), remains unclear, as does what is expected when these environments overlap, and why HVD appears to be categorical in some environments and variable in others. This paper addresses three outstanding issues about HVD—the role of “boundary phenomena” (prosodic position and physical pauses), the relationship between the two environments, and the sources of variability in HVD—by examining vowel devoicing in a large corpus of spontaneous Japanese. We use mixed-effects logistic regression to model how boundary phenomena affect the likelihood of devoicing and modulate the effects of other variables, controlling for other major factors, including a measure of gestural overlap. The results suggest that all boundary phenomena jointly affect devoicing rate, and that prosodic phrase boundaries play a key role: variability in HVD looks qualitatively different for phrase-internal and phrase-final vowels, which are affected differently by word frequency, speech rate, and pause duration. We argue the results support an account of HVD as the result of two overlapping vowel devoicing processes, each widely-attested cross-linguistically: devoicing between voiceless consonants, and devoicing before prosodic phrase boundaries. Variability in the application of these two processes can then be partially explained in terms of aspects of phonetic implementation and processing: gestural overlap (Beckman 1996), which often plays a role in reduction processes, and the locality of production planning (Wagner 2012), a recent explanation for variability in the application of external sandhi processes.

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.

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!

Henderson and Coon in NLLT

McLing is pleased to report that Jessica Coon’s paper with Robert Henderson (Post-doc ’12-’13), “Adverbs and Variability in Kaqchikel Agent Focus: A Reply to Erlewine (2016)”, has been accepted for publication in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.

The paper is available here.

In many languages with ergative morphology, transitive subjects (i.e. ergatives) are unable to undergo A’-extraction. This extraction asymmetry is a common hallmark of “syntactic ergativity,” and is found in a range of typologically diverse languages (see e.g. Deal 2016; Polinsky to appear, and works cited there). In Kaqchikel, the A’-extraction of transitive subjects requires a special verb form, known in Mayanist literature as Agent Focus (AF). In a recent paper, Erlewine (2016) argues the restriction on A’-extracting transitive subjects in Kaqchikel is the result of an Anti-Locality effect: transitive subjects are not permitted to extract because they are too close to C. This analysis relies crucially on Erlewine’s proposal that transitive subjects undergo movement to Spec,IP while intransitive subjects remain low. For Erlewine, this derives the fact that transitive (ergative) subjects, but not intransitive (absolutive) subjects are subject to extraction restrictions. Furthermore, it makes the strong prediction that phrasal material intervening between IP and CP should obviate the need for AF in clauses with subject extraction. In this paper, we argue against the Anti-Locality analysis of ergative A’-extraction restrictions along two lines. First, we raise concerns with the proposal that transitive, but not intransitive subjects, move to Spec,IP. Our second, and main focus, is to show that there is variation in whether AF is observed in configurations intervening phrasal material, with a primary focus on intervening adverbs. We propose an alternative account for the variation in whether AF is observed in the presence of adverbs and discuss consequences for accounts of ergative extraction asymmetries more generally.

McGill at DP60

Current and past McGill linguists gathered at MIT Saturday for a surprise workshop in honour of David Pesetsky’s 60th birthday. Attendees presented posters and attended panels, which can be found on the website.

Lauren Clemens, Bronwyn Bjorkman, Jessica Coon, Laura Kalin, Hadas Kotek, Aron Hirsch

Lauren Clemens, Bronwyn Bjorkman, Jessica Coon, Laura Kalin, Hadas Kotek, Aron Hirsch

Jessica Coon’s paper, “Two types of ergative agreement: Implications for case” appeared in the Festschrift volume (along with 59 other contributions, including by Bjorkman, Kotek, and Hirsch).


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!

Gui Garcia to appear in Phonology, and workshop in Brazil

Guilherme Garcia‘s paper “Weight gradience and stress in Portuguese” has just been accepted for publication in the journal Phonology. A draft of the paper, based on his first Eval, can be found on LingBuzz. Congrats Gui!

Gui also recently taught a workshop on Bayesian data analysis using R at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS), in Brazil.

Jessica Coon in Language and Linguistics Compass

A special “Mayan Linguistics” issue of Language and Linguistics Compass has just been published. The volume includes an “Introduction to Mayan Linguistics”, co-authored by Ryan Bennett, Jessica Coon, and former McGill post-doc Robert Henderson, as well as an article on “Mayan Morphosyntax” by Coon.

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!

Bang, Clayards & Goad in Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Hye-Young Bang‘s paper “Compensatory Strategies in the Developmental Patterns of English /s/: Gender and Vowel Context Effects” has been accepted for publication at Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.  This article is co-authored with Meghan Clayards and Heather Goad.

Hsieh, Travis and Paul in BLS 42 proceedings

Papers by Henrison Hsieh (Distinguishing nouns and verbs: Against nominalism for Tagalog), Lisa deMena Travis (The what and where of Out of Control morphemes in Tagalog and Malagasy), and Ileana Paul (PhD 2000) (with Baholisoa Simone Ralalaoherivony and Henriette de Swart: Malagasy maha at the crossroads of voice, causation, and modality) have appeared in the BLS 42 proceedings, which are available online.

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