Archive for the 'Reading groups' Category

Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 1/13

This semester’s first meeting of the Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday, 1/13, from 1-2pm in room 117. The first part of the meeting will be organizational, so please come with suggestions for things that you would like to read, discuss, or present this semester. During the second part of the meeting, we Clint and Jessica will present a draft of a survey article they are working on. All are welcome!

P* Reading Group – Jan 10

In the winter 2017 semester, P* Reading Group will meet on Tuesdays 1-2 pm in Room 117. The first meeting of the semester will be on Tuesday 10th at 1-2 pm in Room 117. Don will lead a discussion of Mattys et al. (2014). Extrinsic cognitive load impairs low-level speech perception. Everyone is welcome!

Semantics Research Group – 12/9

The Semantics Research Group is meeting this Friday the 9th at 1 pm in room 117. Alan Bale will continue presenting on his work on “Sentential Oddities and the Mass-Count Distinction“. Note the time change, as we are meeting at 1 pm instead of the usual 3 pm.

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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.

Semantics Research Group, 10/7

This Friday the 7th, the semantics research group will meet at 3 in room 117. Vincent Rouillard and Bernhard Schwarz will present on structurally defined alternatives and Maximize Presupposition in preparation for their upcoming NELS talk. Short abstract and recommended reading below. The reading has been added to the dropbox folder, and is also available through the library. All are welcome to attend!

Structurally defined alternatives and epistemic narrowing in Maximize Presupposition

We will investigate the application of Katzir’s (2007) notion of structurally defined alternatives to Heim’s (1991) Maximize Presupposition principle and the so-called antipresuppositions it gives rise to. In this investigation, we encounter a phenomenon that we call epistemic narrowing, where an antipresupposition turns into an inference about the speaker’s beliefs rather than common belief.  Following Chemla (2008), we take epistemic narrowing to result from a hearer’s reasoning about presupposition accommodation. But we also conclude that epistemic narrowing is less prevalent than Chemla’s account seems to predict, and we attempt to delineate the actual conditions that epistemic narrowing is subject to.

Recommended reading: Chemla, Emmanuel. 2008. An epistemic step for anti-presuppositions. Journal of Semantics 25:141–173.

WORDS Group, 10/7

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 7th October, at UQAM (room tba). Heather Newell (UQAM) will present on her joint work with Markus Pöchtrager (Boǧaziçi University) with the title “An underlying (s)ɪ(n): the morpho-phonology of Turkish possessive constructions“.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Ergativity Lab/Fieldwork Lab organizational meeting, 9/26

This semester, Ergativity Lab and Fieldwork Lab will have alternating meetings on Mondays from 12:00–1:00 in room 002 (lunch welcome). Ergativity Lab will continue discussion relating to ergativity, case, and agreement from last semester, and welcomes new participants. Fieldwork Lab meetings will be a mix of focussed practical meetings related to fieldwork, perhaps with some guest presenters (e.g. “how to use ELAN”, “semantic fieldwork”, “navigating REB”…), along with discussions of ongoing research and trouble-shooting.

The first organizational meeting takes place today at noon, and anyone is welcome to attend.

Semantics Research Group, 9/30

The Semantics Research Group will meet this Friday the 30th at 3 pm in room 117. Henrison, Chris and Dan will present on Bayesian probability and its use in pragmatics, in particular its application to Gricean implicatures.

There are two short readings. The first is a short introduction to Bayesian probability, pages 5-7 of “Griffiths et al._bayes_2008.pdf” in the group’s shared Dropbox folder. This gives a quick and clear introduction to Bayesian probability. (If you don’t have access to this folder, but would like to, please get in touch with Daniel (dot) Goodhue (at)

The second paper, by Franke and Jäger, presents a nice overview of the state of the art in probabilistic pragmatics. We will focus on section 4, pages  9-13, however, if you would like some background and motivation, we suggest reading the first 9 pages as well. You can find the article here.

WORDS Group, 9/30

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 30th September, at UQAM (room tba). Lydia Felice and Lisa deMena Travis will give a presentation with the title “The realization of gender morphemes in Kabyle and the Syntax/PF interface“.


We will be proposing an analysis of the position and realization of the gender morpheme in Kabyle and setting this analysis within the context of prefix-suffix asymmetries and a nanosyntax account of Case (Caha 2009).
Caha, P. (2009). The Nanosyntax of Case. PhD thesis, University of Tromsø.

Semantics Research Group, 9/23

The Semantics Research Group will not be meeting this Friday as there is a departmental colloquium taking place at 3:30.

Semantics Research Group, 9/16

The Semantics Research Group is having an organizational meeting this Friday the 16th at 3 pm 2:45 pm in room 117. The goal is to make a rough schedule of meetings. The meetings can be used to present and discuss someone else’s paper, to present work in progress, to give a practice talk, etc. Anyone who is interested is invited to attend. If possible, please come with an idea for a topic you might be willing to lead the group on, but even if you’re not sure what/whether you’ll present, we still hope you’ll come!

Semantics Reading Group: Friday 9, Maayan Adar

The Semantics Research Group will meet this year on Friday’s from 3-4:30 in room 117 on days when we do not have colloquia scheduled. If your are interested in presenting any research (original or someone else’s) on anything related to semantics or one of its interfaces, please send Dan Goodhue an e-mail.

To kick off this semester (and building on our discussions about questions over the summer), Maayan Adar (MA McGill ’14) is visiting from UCLA on Friday the 9th to tell us about his research on NPI licensing in embedded questions (see abstract below). All are welcome to attend!


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