Monthly Archive for September, 2013

Ling-Tea, 10/2 – Liz Smeets

When: Wednesday October 2nd, 3–4 pm in room 117
Who: Liz Smeets (McGill University, presenting joint work with Dr. Luisa Meroni (Utrecht University))
What: Not ALL sentences with SOME are complicated

It has been argued that children are not as proficient as adults in computing Scalar Implicatures (SIs), despite mastering its prerequisites (Chierchia et al. 2000). This study, contrary to many previous findings, presents experimental data from a Truth Value Judgment task (Crain & Thornton, 1998) which showed that children (age range 3;8 – 6;5, mean = 4;8) can compute adult-like SIs associated with some (in the sense of `some but not all`). In the light of the Question-Answer-Requirement-model (Gualmini et al., 2008), we have investigated whether children’s SI computation is influenced by 1) the appropriate Question Under Discussion (QUD) and 2) the relevant intonation on the quantifier some (i.e. presence or absence of contrastive focus). The design of the experiment disentangles the contribution of these two factors. The data shows that when the pragmatically enriched interpretation of the target sentence yielded a good answer to the QUD, children drew the SI associated with some significantly more often than when such calculation was not needed to address the QUD. However, they only did so when they received an additional cue that triggers an implicature reading, namely when the relevant stress was placed on the quantifier.

AGR Group, 10/4 – Alan Bale

This week in Agreement Reading Group, Alan Bale will be presenting Irene Heim’s chapter, “Features on Bound Pronouns”, from the Phi Theory volume. Reading group will take place Friday from 1:oo–2:30 in Linguistics room 117.

Colloquium, 10/4 – Emily Elfner

Please join us for our second colloquium of the semester!
Who: Emily Elfner (McGill University)
When: Friday 10/4, 3:30pm
Where: Education 433
Title: Recursion in prosodic phrasing: Evidence from Connemara Irish
One function of prosodic phrasing is its role in aiding the recoverability of syntactic structure. In recent years, a growing body of work suggests it is possible to find concrete phonetic and phonological evidence that recursion in syntactic structure is preserved in the prosodic organization of utterances (Ladd 1986, 1988; Kubozono 1989, 1992; Féry & Truckenbrodt 2005; Wagner 2005, 2010). In this talk, I argue that the distribution of phrase-level tonal accents in Connemara Irish provides a new type of evidence in favour of this hypothesis: that, under ideal conditions, syntactic constituents are mapped onto prosodic constituents in a one-to-one fashion, such that information about the nested relationships between syntactic constituents is preserved through the recursion of prosodic domains. Through an empirical investigation of both clausal and nominal constructions, I argue that the distribution of phrase accents in Connemara Irish can be used to identify recursive bracketing in prosodic structure.

Syntax-Semantics Reading Group, 10/3 – Drummond and Shimoyama

This week there will be a special meeting of the Syntax-Semantics Reading Group *on Thursday*. Junko Shimoyama and Alex Drummond will give a practice talk for NELS. Everybody is encouraged to attend.

Thursday, October 3, 3:00 -4:30pm Alex Drummond and Junko Shimoyama. “QR as an agent of vehicle change.” Bhatt, Rajesh and Shoichi Takahashi. (2011) Reduced and unreduced phrasal comparatives. NLLT 29:581-620.

Apple picking re-scheduled

By popular demand, the apple picking excursion has been rescheduled a week later on Sunday October 6. The complete details are:
What: Apple picking excursion!
When: Sunday October 6

WhereParc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno

330 Rang des Vingt Cinq Est
Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, QC
J3V 4P6

the cost per adult is $6.00, children from 6 to 17 years are $2.75, and children under 6 years are free. This park offers apple picking, picnic tables (if anyone is interested), as well as a hiking trail. Everyone attending will meet in the parking lot behind the Linguistics Building at 10:00 am on Sunday the 6th.

Andria has posted a sign-up sheet in the photocopy room (109). If you are interested in attending, please sign-up by Friday, September 27th at noon. If you are planning on taking your car and have space for others, please indicate this on the sign-up sheet.

Hope to see you all there!

Award to alumna Silvina Montrul

McLing is happy to learn that Prof. Silvina Montrul––who completed her PhD at McGill in 1998––has just received the prestigious title of University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The University Scholars Program was designed to attract and keep outstanding faculty members at the University of Illinois. The program identifies the most talented faculty members from many different disciplines–from engineering to the arts and humanities–and encourages continued professional growth and contributions to the University and the public it serves. The awards were presented to the honorees by Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Vice President for Academic Affairs Christophe Pierre.
Congratulations Silvina!

Ling-Tea, 9/25 – Michael Hamilton

When: Wednesday September 25th, 3-4 pm in room 117
Who: Michael David Hamilton (McGill University, presenting joint work with Brandon Fry (University of Ottawa))
What: 2 patterns of long-distance agreement in Algonquian: neither long-distance nor instances of AGREE?

If you’d like to present something after November, please email the organizers at:

Syntax-Phonology Reading Group, 9/27

The next meeting of the Syntax-Phonology Reading Group will be Friday, September 27 from 1-2:30 in Rm. 117. Note that we are exceptionally meeting two weeks in a row; the next meeting will take place in three weeks on Friday, October 18.
This week we will discuss syntactic analyses of verb-initial languages. Jessica Coon, Emily Elfner and Michael Wagner will lead the discussion of “Verb-initial word-orders (Primarily in Austronesian and Mayan languages)” by Lauren Eby Clemens and Maria Polinsky. Because the paper is in manuscript form, we will send an email to group members early this week with the paper attached. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact Emily Elfner or Michael Wagner.

Syntax/Semantics Reading Group, 9/27

Friday, September 27, 2013
3:00-4:30 pm

Room 117

Dan Goodhue. “Intonation in English yes/no responses.” Krifka, Manfred. (2013) Response particles as propositional anaphors.SALT 23.

Liberman, M., and Sag, I. (1974). Prosodic form and discourse function. Proceedings of Chicago Linguistics Society (CLS), 10,

SSHRC Grant to Alonso-Ovalle, Schwarz and Shimoyama

Luis Alonso-Ovalle (PI), Bernhard Schwarz and Junko Shimoyama (CIs) have received a 4-year SSHRC grant, titled “Modality in the Nominal Domain.” ($278,758) Congratulations!

SSHRC Grant to Yosef Grodzinsky

McLing has just received word that Yosef Grodzinsky has received 5-year SSHRC grant, titled “Language Acquisition and Breakdown: Experiments with Quantifiers and Quantities at the Syntax-Semantics Interface” ($495,717). Congratulations!

Apple picking on September 28th

What: Apple picking excursion!

When: Saturday September 28th

WhereParc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno

330 Rang des Vingt Cinq Est
Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, QC
J3V 4P6

This year’s apple picking excursion will take place on Saturday, September 28th at Parc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno; the cost per adult is $6.00, children from 6 to 17 years are $2.75, and children under 6 years are free. This park offers apple picking, picnic tables (if anyone is interested), as well as a hiking trail. Last year, we had to cancel due to weather, but this year the forecast looks sunny!

Everyone attending will meet in the parking lot behind the Linguistics Building at 10:00 am on Saturday the 28th.

Andria has posted a sign-up sheet in the photocopy room (109). If you are interested in attending ,please sign-up by Friday, September 20th at noon. If you are planning on taking your car and have space for others ,please indicate this on the sign-up sheet.

Hope to see you all there!

Welcome new post-doc Isabelle Deschamps!

Isabelle Deschamps, a former McGill linguistics undergraduate, and a recent PhD from McGill’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, has recently joined us as a post-doc for the academic year. Her post-doc is shared between the McGill neurolinguistics lab, and Pascale Tremblay’s Speech Neuroscience Laboratory at Université Laval. Welcome Isabelle!

Job news from recent post-docs

The semester has started, and three of our recent postdocs have started their first semester in their new tenure-track positions:

Robert Henderson, who just finished a one-year postdoc with Lisa Travis and Jessica Coon as part of the SSHRC-funded Ergativity project, has just joined the faculty at Wayne State University.

Jonathan Howell, who recently spent two years with us first as graduate trainee and then as a postdoc withMichael Wagner as part of the Digging-into-Data grant, started his position at Montclair State University.

Sara Mackenzie, who recently spent one year with us on a SSHRC postdoc under Heather Goad‘s  supervision, joined the department at Memorial University.

Best of luck all!

Garcia presents at UFRGS and M@90

In August, Guilherme Garcia presented on ‘Stress Repair and Variation in Brazilian Portuguese: Stochastic Harmonic Grammar’, at UFRGS (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul), in Brazil. The name of the event was ‘I Encontro Intermediário do GT de Fonética e Fonologia da ANPOLL‘, which is the Phonology/Phonetics branch of the Brazilian Linguistics Association.

Also, on September 20-21, Guilherme will be presenting a poster entitled ‘Stress in Portuguese: grid-based vs. foot-based analyses’ at the M@90 Conference on Metrical Structure: Text-setting and Stress, at MIT. This will be presented jointly with Natália Guzzo. Congratulations Guilherme!

Ling-Tea, 9/18 – Kie Zuraw

When: Wednesday, September 18th, 3-4 pm in room 117
Who: Kie Zuraw (UCLA, presenting joint work with Sharon Peperkamp)
What: Aspiration in English prefixed words: a production study

Previous research has documented phonetic differences between prefixed words such as ‘mis-type’ and pseudoprefixed or opaquely prefixed words such as ‘mistake’ (Baker, Smith & Hawkins 2007, Smith, Baker & Hawkins 2012). One of the most striking differences is aspiration: the /t/ in ‘mis-type’ is aspirated, while that in ‘mistake’ is unaspirated. Presumably, the morpheme boundary in ‘mis-type’ prevents the /s/ from joining the second syllable’s onset, keeping the /t/ syllable-initial and thus aspirated. Our study found that the difference exists even when the stem-initial syllable is unstressed, as in ‘mis-conducted’ (aspirated) vs. ‘disposition’ (variable); we take this to mean that the /k/ in ‘mis-conducted’ is prosodic-word initial.

The purpose of this production study (16 participants producing 110 target items) was to identify words whose aspiratedness is variable across participants, for use in a future study (whose goal I’ll explain briefly in the talk). But the results themselves have some interesting points. As mentioned above, our results confirm that even unstressed-syllable-initial consonants can be aspirated–that is, can behave as though word-initial–if a clear prefix boundary precedes them. We also find that frequency of the whole word and of the stem influence whether a word is aspirated or not, as well as its VOT within each category, suggesting possible processing influences.

Below is the schedule of upcoming presentations. If you’d like to present something after November, please email the organizers at:

September 25: Mike Hamilton
October 2: Liz Smeets
October 9: Gretchen McCulloch
October 16: Gui Garcia
October 23: Mikael Vinka & Christian Waldmann (Surface anaphors in Swedish)
October 30: Hye-Young Bang
November 6: Maayan Adar
November 13: Yuliya Manyakina
November 20: Tokiko Okuma
November 27: Dan Goodhue

Colloquium, 9/20 – Richard Compton

Please join us for the first colloquium of the semester!

Who: Richard Compton (McGill University)
When: Friday, 9/20 3:30pm
Where: Education, room 433
Title: Evidence for phrasal words in Inuit

In this talk I argue that data from noun incorporation, conjunction, ellipsis, and a VP pro-form in Inuit provide evidence for word-internal XPs inside polysynthetic words. Such data provide a potential counter-example to Piggott & Travis’s (2012) proposal (following Baker 1996) that phonological words cross-linguistically correspond to syntactic heads—simplex or complex—with morphologically complex words being derived via head movement, head-adjunction, or PF movement.

For a full schedule of the year’s colloquium, see the departmental webpage.

Syntax-Phonology reading group, 9/20

The first meeting of the Syntax-Phonology reading group will be on September 20 from 1:00–2:30 in Room 117. The goal this semester is to look at how word order and prosody interact. More specifically, the goal is to see how prosodic evidence can be used certain syntactic analyses, with a special focus on VSO and VOS word orders across different languages. Please email Emily Elfner to be added to the email list. This first session will focus on two papers:

Kristine Yu (2009). The sound of ergativity: morphosyntax-prosody mapping in Samoan. Proceedings of NELS 39.

Grosjean, Grosjean, and Lane (1979): The patterns of silence: Performance structures in sentence productions.

New publication by Tanya Slavin

Current post-doc Tanya Slavin has an article in this month’s edition of the journal Lingua. Her article is titled “Deriving Object Experiencer Verbs in Oji-Cree.” The full article can be found here. Congratulations Tanya!

McGill Linguistics team at Terry Fox Run/Walk for cancer research

Fifteen McGill linguists, friends and family members participated in this year’s Terry Fox Run/Walk for cancer research at the Old Port on Sunday September 15. This is their report:
“We ran or walked at our own pace, choosing our own distance (from 1km to 10km), and had a great time. Big thanks to the participants, and most of all, to the donors, whose generous support of $452 in total will be used to fund cancer research. We look forward to the next year’s Terry Fox Day.”
Terry Fox (4)
Terry Fox Event 2013 Terry Fox Event 2013 (2) Terry Fox Event 2013 (3)
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