Monthly Archive for February, 2013

Call for Submissions for McGWPL Winter/Spring Issue (23.1)

McGWPL is currently looking for submissions for its Winter/Spring issue, and would like to invite submissions from all fields of linguistics. Submissions are not restricted to members of the McGill community and submissions from outside the university are encouraged, as well as submissions from both students and professors. 


  • Papers can be written in either French or English
  • Papers should not exceed 20 pages, single spaced, excluding references and appendices, although exceptions can be made under some circumstances
  • Papers must be formatted according to the McGWPL style guide. Style guide and templates are available on our website
  • Please send your submissions either in .doc or .tex format along with a .pdf version of your paper to


Deadline: May 1, 2013


Ling Lunch 2/27 — Brian Buccola

When: Wednesday 2/27 1:00–2:00 pm in room 117

Who: Brian Buccola

What: A mathematical demonstration that classic Optimality Theory is expressively weaker than ordered rewrite rules

Abstract: I demonstrate mathematically that classic Optimality Theoretic grammars, consisting of just two levels of representation (underlying and surface) and of just two types of constraints (markedness and basic faithfulness), are formally expressively weaker than ordered rewrite rules. That is, under a suitable (and very generous) formalization of what phonologists intuitively consider classic OT, I prove that there are phonological patterns which can be expressed by ordered rewrite rules but which cannot be expressed by any set of classic OT constraints, under any ranking. Moreover, the type of constraint that ends up being required is precisely the type that has been proposed in extensions to classic OT.

Colloquium: Kevin Russell (U of Manitoba/McGill) – March 1

Speaker: Kevin Russell (U of Manitoba/McGill)

When: Friday, March 1 at 3:30 pm

Where: Education Building, room 433

Title: When phonology goes bad

AbstractThe consensus on dyslexia, to the extent there is one, is that the core deficit lies in the reader having poor phonological representations or poor ability to use their phonological representations. Yet most dyslexic readers show no obvious problems in using phonology during everyday speaking and listening.

This talk addresses the question of what it could possibly mean for a phonological representation to be poor. It synthesizes current findings in spoken word recognition and the development of phonological categories in infants and young children, to determine what the phonological representations of beginning readers are probably like and how, in some, they can be adequate for spoken communication but still be a poor match for the assumptions of an alphabetic orthography.


SLUM is proud to announce the imminent arrival of McCCLU, the McGill Canadian Conference for Linguistics Undergraduates, the weekend of March 15-17! You can keep up-to-date with the goings-on at

Ling Lunch schedule

Here is the tentative schedule for Ling Lunch presentations for the rest term, which will be held on Wednesdays from 1:00–2:00 pm in room 117.

February 27 – Brian Buccola: A mathematical demonstration that classic Optimality Theory is expressively weaker than ordered rewrite rules
March 13 – Michael Hamilton
March 20 – TOM practice talks/posters (unconfirmed)
March 27 – Beamer workshop (unconfirmed)
April 3 – TBA*
April 10 – TBA*

*Please contact us at if you’d like to present.

Register for TOM to be held at McGill

The Linguistics department of McGill University will host the Sixth Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Semantics Workshop (TOM 6). If you plan to attend, you must register. To register, click this link.

When: Saturday, March 23, 2013
Invited Speakers: 
Michela Ippolito (University of Toronto)
Raj Singh (Carleton University)

TOM is a friendly and informal workshop on semantics and related fields. It is an ideal venue for students to present their ongoing work to get helpful feedback. The talks will be 20 minutes long, followed by 10 minutes of discussion. Click here for more info.

Hamilton and Adar present at MOTH

On March 2nd, Mike Hamilton and Maayan Adar will be presenting at MOTH, the first Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton graduate syntax workshop, hosted this year by McMaster University in Hamilton. The title of Mike’s presentation is “Diagnostics for wh-movement in Mi’gmaq: Two outta three ain’t bad!” and Maayan’s is “Individual and event existentials in Tagalog.” More information and the titles of the other talks are available at the MOTH website.

Simonenko presents at LSALAA and CUNY Syntax Supper

On March 1st, Sasha Simonenko will be presenting at the 2013 “Languages With And Without Articles” workshop, to be held in Paris at Université Paris 8 from February 28–March 1st. The title of her talk is “Microvariation in Finno-Ugric possessive suffixes: D-like or Focus-like.” More information and the titles of the other talks are available at the workshop website.

Sasha also gave a talk as part of the CUNY Syntax Supper series on November 20th, 2012. The abstract for her presentation, entitled “Clitic-hood as a Phonological Correlate of Phase-Head Status: Connecting Phonological and Syntactic Opacity,” is available here.

Congratulations, Sasha!

Ergativity Lab — 2/19

ErgLab will be meeting this week on Tuesday at 10:30 in 117. This time, we’ll continue to discuss diagnostics for antipassives for our questionnaire, using Maayan’s handout. Topics to be addressed include variation in properties among different constructions called “antipassive” and the distinction between secondary predicates and adjectives and its relevance to antipassives.

Colloquium: Jennifer Cole (U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) – 2/22

Speaker: Jennifer Cole (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

When: Friday, February 22nd, 3:30 pm

Where: Education room 433

Title: Memory for Prosody

Abstract: Lacking the automatic playback of audio recording devices, humans recall a previously heard utterance on the basis of a cognitive representation of the linguistic object encoded in memory. When repeating or imitating a heard utterance, this representation serves to guide the phonology and phonetics of the spoken output. A number of recent studies show that the memory encoding of perceived speech includes (sub‐phonemic) phonetic detail that reflects the individual speaker’s voice and variation in the phonetic implementation of phones. The study presented in this talk asks about the memory encoding of prosody: Does the cognitive representation of the prosodic form of a heard utterance specify the abstract phonological features that encode pitch‐accents and prosodic phrase boundaries? Does it include speaker‐and utterance‐dependent phonetic detail?

Two different production tasks are used to explore the prosodic aspect of these representations: an imitation experiment in which speakers heard and then imitated spontaneous utterances from a Maptask corpus, and a read enactment task in which speakers read the same sentences aloud from text presentation. For each task, the resulting utterances were compared for similarity to the original Maptask utterance in their phonological prosodic features (prominences and boundaries) and in acoustic measures of the phonetic cues to those features. The main empirical findings from these studies are (i) imitators reproduce the phonological prosodic features more reliably than their specific phonetic cues, and (ii) the prosodic form of read‐enacted utterances is phonologically and phonetically more variable across speakers than with imitated utterances. These findings, considered in the context of our ongoing work on prosody perception, support a complex model of prosody encoding: Listeners encode prosody in terms of both phonetic detail and abstract prosodic features, but abstract features play a privileged role in later tasks involving recall for reproduction.

Ergativity Lab — 2/12

ErgLab will be meeting this week on Tuesday at 10:30 in 117. We’ll continue to talk about developing our questionnaire, this time focusing on diagnostics for antipassives. Maayan will lead the discussion, drawing on Arka’s 2009 paper, The core-oblique distinction and core index in some Austronesian languages of Indonesia.

Syntax-Phonology Reading Group, Thursday 2/14

Exceptionally meeting on Thursday 2/14 at 11h35, room TBA

Topic:  The nanosyntax of Nguni noun class prefixes and concords  by Knut Tarald Taraldsen, LINGUA, vol. 120.6pp. 1522–1548

Discussion led by Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron.

Algonquian Reading Group — 2/14

This week at Algonquian reading group, Mike Hamilton will be presenting on Mark Baker’s 1996 work on the polysynthesis parameter. He will be discussing chapter 2.
We will meet at 10:30 in room 117 in the linguistics building this Thursday the 14th.

Syntax-Semantics Reading Group 2/15

Who: Walter Pedersen

What: A scalar analysis of ‘again’

Where: Room 117

When: Feb. 2, 3:00pm

Background reading:

Travis presents at UCLA

On January 25th, professor Lisa Travis gave a talk at UCLA, titled “Investigating The Macroparameters and/or Microparameters of Ergativity.” More information on the talk can be found here on the UCLA linguistics website. She also met with two alums of McGill’s undergraduate program, Laura Kalin and Mark Garellek.

Syntax-Phonology Research Group — 2/6

Syntax-Phonology Research Group

Wednesday, February 6, 4 p.m. in room 117.

Topic: Lexicalizing number and gender in Lunigiana by Knut Tarald Taraldsen

Discussion led by Máire Noonan and others.

Algonquian Reading Group — 2/7

This week, Gretchen McCulloch will be presenting research on verb finals using data from Mi’gmaq. The reading is Campana’s 1998 paper, “The Thematic Properties of Algonquian Verbs.” It can be found here:

The meeting will be on Thursday, 10:30–11:30, in room 117.

2013 Fest-Eval on February 7: Mark your calendars!

The 2013 Fest-Eval will take place on February 7. Everybody is encouraged to attend this event!
Where: Room 117
When: 12:00 – 4:30, including a 30 minute lunch break. Lunch will be provided.
What:  20 minute presentations followed by a 10 minute Q/A period.

Session 112:00 – 12:30 Fiona Campbell, “Laryngeal setting and suffix-triggered neutralization in Kwak’wala stops.”

12:30 – 13:00 Laura Harder, “Feature mismatch in half-rhymes: An underspecification perspective”

13:00 – 13:30 Michael Hamilton, “Syntax-Prosody mapping in Japanese'”

[13:30 – 2:00 Late lunch break]

Session 2

2:30 – 3:00 Jeff Klassen, “Evidence for a Contrastive Theory of Focus Prominence”

3:00 – 3:30 Alanah McKillen, “De Re/De Dicto Ambiguity and the Processing of Antecedent Contained

3:30 – 4:00  Brian Buccola,  “Some remarks on inference patterns involving epistemic modality”

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