Monthly Archive for April, 2013

Alex Drummond at UMass Amherst

Alex Drummond (Faculty lecturer) gave a talk titled ‘The Case for Extraposition as Movement’ at UMass, Amherst on April 23, 2013. The talk took place as part of Brian Dillon and Kyle Johnson’s graduate course, Seminar on Adult Sentence Processing.

Graduates’ future plans, pt. 1

Kristina D’Orsi will be interning at a social media marketing company.

Allison Filler will be interning at Rock the Vote.

SLUM president Roseanne Lau will be interning at Elle Canada.

Ex-president Maddie Revill will be working at a robotics company in California.

Marla Vicente will be completing an MA in Speech Pathology at McGill.

McGill Presenters at SALT 23

On May 3rd to May 5th, a number of McGill post-docs, faculty and alumni will present at the 23rd Semantics And Linguistic Theory (SALT 23). Luis Alonso-Ovalle will present a joint poster with Paula Menendez-Benito titled “Modal determiners and alternatives: Quantity and ignorance effects”. Robert Henderson will present a poster “Quantizing scalar change”. Gwendolyn Gillingham (BA ’07) will present a talk called “Focusing on unlikely accented nominals: Context, alternatives and implied expectations”. And Edwin Howard (BA ’09) will present a talk titled “Superlative degree clauses: evidence from NPI licensing”. Congratulations all!

Misha Schwartz receives Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Award

A second linguistics major, current U2 BA Honors student Misha Schwartz, has received an Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Award (ARIA).  Misha will work with Morgan Sonderegger this summer on accent dynamics on reality television.  More information about ARIA awards is available here. Congratulations, Misha!

Heather Goad returns from Newfoundland

Heather Goad just returned from giving two colloquia talks at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her talks were titled “A cross-linguistic examination of the unusual behaviour of s” and “Children’s productions: possible grammars or rogue grammars?” Welcome back Heather!

McGill Presenters at GASLA 12

On April 26th to April 28th, a number of McGill students and faculty presented at the 12th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (GASLA 12). Mordecai Lieberman presented a talk titled “The impact of transferred prosodic structures on L2 morphological comprehension”. Guilherme Garcia presented a poster “Stress patterns in English and Brazilian Portuguese: Proposing an accuracy ranking based on weight and syllabic structure”. Jeffrey Klassen presented a poster called “Acquisition of English focus prosody: Evidence from native speakers of Spanish”. And Lydia White presented a talk as part of a special workshop on applying generative SLA to the language classroom. The talk was called “Implications of generative second language research for language teaching: overview and assessment”. Congratulations all!

Bouchard receives Arts Insight Dissertation Award

As previously announced, David-Etienne Bouchard has won this year’s award for the best McGill dissertation in the social sciences.  Here he is with award in hand:









Taken during April 23 Faculty of Arts meeting, where awards were presented.  Congratulations, David-Etienne!


Syntax/Semantics Research Group 4/26

Who: Alan Bale

When: Friday 4/26, 3 pm

Where: room 117

What: Some differences between ignorance and scalar implicatures.

Background reading: Chierchia, Fox & Spector (2013)

Syntax-Semantics Research Group 


McGill Ling to Chicago

A number of McLingers have just presented their work at the University of Chicago.

Morgan Sonderegger presented a joint poster with James Kirby (Edinburgh), ‘A model of population dynamic in phonetic change’, and was also one of the invited discussants for the workshop at a workshop on sound change.

Emily Elfner (post-doc) presented ‘Locality conditions on syntax-prosody matching (in Conamara Irish)’, and Erica Yoon (CogSci honours) presented her joint paper with Junko Shimoyama, ‘Testing the two-grammar hypothesis for Korean: scopal interaction of object QPs and negation’ at CLS 49.

Joyce Xiao receives Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Award

Current U1 BA student Joyce Xiao just received an Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Award (ARIA). Joyce will spend her summer working with Professor Jessica Coon on verbal morphology in Chuj Mayan. You can learn more about the ARIA awards here. Congratulations Joyce!

GRIPP Group Talk: Ted Gibson (Monday 04/15)

Invited Lecture organized by the GRIPP Group of CRBLM
Monday, April 15th 2013 at 3pm.
Room 501, Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University, 1160 Pine Ave. West

Language for communication: Language comprehension and the communicative basis of word order
Ted Gibson, Ph.D.
Professor of Cognitive Sciences,
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT

Perhaps the most obvious hypothesis for the function of human language is for use in communication. Chomsky has famously argued that this is a flawed hypothesis, because of the existence of such phenomena as ambiguity. Furthermore, he argues that the kinds of things that people tend to say are not short and simple, as would be predicted by communication theory. Contrary to Chomsky, my group applies information theory and communication theory from Shannon (1948) in order to attempt to explain the typical usage of language in comprehension and production, together with the structure of languages themselves.

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Syntax/Semantics Research Group 04/19

Who: Michael Wagner

When: 04/19 at 3 pm.

Where: room 117.

What: Constraints on Alternative Sets

Background reading: Luka Crnic. 2012. Focus particles and embedded exhaustification. Journal of Semantics.

All welcome!

Michael Hamilton Awarded LSA Summer Institute Fellowship

Michael Hamilton has been awarded an LSA Summer Institute Fellowship. Congratulations, Michael!

FQRSC grant news

Jessica Coon has been awarded a three-year FQRSC (Établissement de nouveaux professeurs-chercheurs) grant. The title of her project is “Personne et nombre dans les langues Mi’gmaq et Kaqchikel: Conséquences pour la concordance.”

McGill alum Alan Bale has also been awarded an FQRSC grant. The title of his three-year project is “L’accord sémantique en micmac: les conséquences pour la théorie linguistique et la révitalisation des langues.”

Congratulations Jessica and Alan!

Syntax-Phonology Research Group — April 10

Wednesday, April 10, 4-5:30 p.m. in room 117.

Presenter: Heather Newell

Topic: Domaines Phonologiques

All are welcome!


Pragmatics Workshop: Mark your Calendars

Mark your calendars! On May 23-25, the department will host a workshop on pragmatics as part of the McSIRG (the McGill Syntactic Interfaces Research Group) activities. The workshop is funded by the FQRSC team grant that supports McSIRG and a SSHRC Connection grant. You can read a short description of the workshop below.

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Colin Phillips Talk

We are pleased to announce that the next talk in our 2012-13 McGill Linguistics Colloquium Series will be by Colin Phillips (UMD) on Friday, April 12 at 3:30 pm in the Education Building room 433. This talk is also a CRBLM distinguished lecture, and it is jointly organized by CRBLM and the linguistics dept.

The title of the talk is “Generating expectations and meanings in language comprehension and production”.


We often have expectations about utterances before they are uttered. How we do this, in language production and comprehension alike, has implications for practical concerns and for theoretical questions about language architecture. The ability to generate reliable expectations may be a key enabler of robust language understanding in noisy environments. Understanding the (non-)parallels between the generative mechanisms engaged in comprehension and production is essential for any attempt to close the gap between grammatical ‘knowledge’ and language use systems. In this talk I explore how we generate expectations about word-level and sentence-level meanings. One set of studies uses behavioral interference paradigms to examine the time-course of verb generation when Japanese speakers plan their utterances. Two other series of studies focus on electrophysiological evidence for the generation of verb expectations in Chinese, Spanish, and English. Evidence for advance generation of verb meanings is found in comprehension and production alike. But we find that different types of linguistic information drive expectations on different time scales. In verb-final clauses, verb expectations are initially driven only by lexical associations, and effects of compositional interpretations are observed only after a delay. Similar mechanisms operate in production and comprehension, but they yield different outputs, depending on the information available to the language user in a specific task.

Bouchard wins Arts Insight Dissertation Award

The Arts Committee on Graduate Students has awarded David-Etienne Bouchard the 2013 Arts Insight Dissertation Award, for the best McGill dissertation of 2012 in the social sciences.  Congratulations, David-Etienne!

Wagner receives Arts Award for Distinction in Research

Michael Wagner has received the 2013 Arts Award for Distinction in Research.  This award goes annually to a single McGill faculty member in the Faculty of Arts who has “made outstanding research contributions to their field.”  The award will be officially presented at the April 23 Faculty of Arts meeting (3pm, Leacock 232).

Congratulations, Michael!

Speech Learning Lab Meeting — 4/2

Where: Green Lab, Apr 2 at 11 AM

This week in the Speech Learning Lab, Thea Knowles will discuss some new (and maybe surprising) data we’ve been collecting on the acoustic effects of prominence vs. reduction. We’ve found that while global measures like duration, intensity and f0 all increase with prominence, the acoustic distinctiveness of sibilants do not. 

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