Archive for the 'Publications' Category

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.

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.



Proceedings of AFLA 22 edited by Henrison Hsieh

The Proceedings of the 22nd meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Society (AFLA 22), edited by Henrison Hsieh, has just been published by Asia-Pacific Linguistics. The volume is freely available for download here: AFLA 22 was held at McGill University in Quebec, Cananda in May, 2015




C. Douglas Ellis publication

C. Douglas Ellis, Professor Emeritus at McGill and currently Adjunct Research Professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University, has just published the third volume of the series, Spoken Cree.  For more information on the series, visit

Wagner in Proceedings of Satellite Session on Framing

Michael Wagner’s paper on How to be kind with Prosody was accepted for inclusion the proceedings of a Satellite Session on Framing speech: Celebrating 40 years of inquiry with Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel at Speech Prosody 2016, Boston. You can read it here.

Bernhard Schwarz in Semantics and Pragmatics

Congratulations to Bernhard Schwarz, who published at least two articles this week in Semantics and Pragmatics: a full article titled “Consistency preservation in Quantity implicature: The case of at least“, as well as a reply “At least and ignorance: a reply to Coppock and Brochhagen (2013)“.

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