Monthly Archive for October, 2013

No Ling-Tea this week!

There is no Ling-Tea this week, see you again next week.

Walter Pedersen’s Work Accepted at the Journal of Semantics

PhD student Walter Pedersen‘s article on again ( “A scalar analysis of again“) has been accepted for publication at the Journal of Semantics.

Congratulations, Walter!

Rajesh Bhatt and Keir Moulton Visiting

Mark your calendars!
Rajesh Bhatt (UMass, Amherst) and Keir Moulton (Simon Fraser University) are visiting the department. Each of them will give a guest lecture in LING 417 (Topics at the interfaces) and a talk at the Syntax-Semantics Reading Group. Everybody is welcome to attend these events (but if you are planning to attend their LING 417 presentations, please drop Junko Shimoyama a line, so that she can make copies for the presentation handouts.) The schedule is as follows (note that the Syntax/Semantics Reading Group talks will not take place in room 117):
Rajesh Bhatt
Friday, Nov. 1, 11:30-1:00
Leacock 738 (Syntax-semantics research group meeting)
Title: “An Argument for Semantically Contentful Head Movement
(with Stefan Keine)”

In this presentation we develop an argument that head movement may have semantic effects and that it can hence not be a PF phenomenon.The argument is based on novel facts regarding scope in infinitival complementation structures in German. We show that every element inside the infinitival clause must take scope over the matrix verb ifthe embedded clause is a VP that remains in situ. If, by contrast, the embedded clause is either a vP or a VP that undergoes movement, no such wide scope is possible. We propose that wide scope of embedded elements is the result of syntactic verb cluster formation: The infinitival verb incorporates into the higher verb. To obtain the observed scope facts, we suggest that the verb cluster is semantically interpreted via Function Composition. Supplemented with standard assumptions about the interpretation of movement, this account derives the wide scope of material inside the embedded clause.

Monday, Nov. 4, 2:30-4:00
1085 Penfield, Room 002 (Guest lecture in LING 417 Topics at the interfaces)
“On Correlatives”
Keir Moulton (Simon Fraser University)**
Friday Nov. 8, 3:00-4:30
1085 Penfield, Room 002 (Syntax-semantics research group meeting)
“Separating crossover from cataphora, experimentally” (tentative title)
Monday, Nov. 11, 2:30-4:00
1085 Penfield Room 002 (Guest lecture in LING 417 Topics at the interfaces)
“On Pseudo-relatives and their relation to internally headed relatives”

Dissertation defense, 11/1 – Alyona Belikova

Who: Alyona Belikova

When: Friday, November 1st, 2:30pm, followed by a reception in the linguistics lounge

Where: ARTS Building, Rm. 160

Title: Getting L2 Reflexive and Reciprocal Verbs Right


This dissertation investigates whether or not linguistically misleading classroom instruction can affect second language (L2) acquisition. Of particular interest are linguistically inappropriate classroom rules which are superficially logical but linguistically false.

A case in point is provided by French reflexive and reciprocal verbs, which are formed with the clitic se. The reflexive/reciprocal clitic se does not behave on a par with object clitic pronouns as many reliable syntactic diagnostics suggest (Kayne 1975, Reinhart & Siloni 2005). Superficially, however, se generally resembles object clitic pronouns, due to similarities in distribution and form. It is, then, not surprising that classroom French L2 instruction consistently misrepresents se verbs as syntactic transitive constructions, and se itself as a reflexive/reciprocal object pronoun. Two experimental tasks (contextualized grammaticality judgments and truth value judgments) are designed to examine whether Russian- and English-speaking L2 learners of French adopt the linguistically inaccurate classroom generalization or converge on a native-like representation of se. Both tasks involve constructions where se and clitic pronouns behave differently. In addition, a questionnaire on se taps participants’ recollection of any explicit classroom instruction. The most important finding of the dissertation is that although about half of participants refer to se as an object pronoun in the sequestionnaire – thus showing that they remembered the classroom generalization – L2 learners still clearly make the relevant native-like distinction between se and true object pronouns in the experimental tasks. Learners’ failure to internalize superficially logical but linguistically false generalizations at the level of linguistic competence – as opposed to the level of learned linguistic knowledge (Schwartz 1993) – suggests that adult language acquirers must still employ language-specific learning mechanisms and go beyond instruction.

While focusing on the L2 acquisition of French reflexive and reciprocal verbs by native speakers of Russian and English, the present dissertation also reformulates the existing literature on the related phenomena in light of current developments in theoretical syntax and develops an analysis of reflexive and reciprocal verbs which has adequate empirical coverage and also does away with certain previous stipulations.

McGill at International Symposium on Multilingualism

A follow-up on a post from last week: McGill linguists are well represented in poster presentations at the upcoming International Conference on Multilingualism, a two-day conference on multilingualism and brain plasticity being held at McGill:

  • Meghan Clayards & Elizabeth Wonnacott: A case study of childhood L2 learning of phonological contrasts
  • Heather Goad, Moti Lieberman, & Lydia White: Parsing ambiguous relative clauses: L2 sensitivity to prosodic cues to high and low attachment
  • Justin Koh, Heather Goad, Audrey Delcenserie, & Fred Genesee: Atypical word-level prominence in internationally-adopted French-speaking children
  • Tokiko Okuma: The development in interpreting Japanese pronouns by adult bilingual speakers
  • Tania Leal Mendez, Roumyana Slabakova (PhD 1997) & Thomas Farmer – The Relationship between prediction and proficiency in on-line L2 processing
  • Liz Smeets, Luisa Meroni, & Sharon Unsworth: Acceleration in the bilingual acquisition: the case of specific indefinites

The full program for the conference can be viewed here.

Glyne Piggott colloquium at UConn

Professor Emeritus Glyne Piggott is just back from an invited colloquium talk on October 25th at the University of Connecticut. The title of his talk was “Movement in phonology: another reason for affix displacement.” Welcome back!

Conference travel

Lisa Travis was just in Leiden for the Little v Workshop, for which she was a keynote speaker. The title of her talk is “Little v as a domain/phase delimiter.”

Jessica Coon travels to Tromsø, Norway this week for a conference called “Features in Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, and Semantics: What are They?” She will present joint work with Alan Bale (Concordia) titled “The inseparability of person and number in Mi’gmaq.” The rest of the program can be viewed here.

Ling-Tea, 10/23 – Mikael Vinka & Christian Waldmann (Umeå University, Sweden)

Who: Mikael Vinka & Christian Waldmann, Umeå University, Sweden
Where: Wednesday, October 23 from 3–4pm in room 117
What: Surface anaphors in Swedish

Syntax/Semantics Reading Group, 10/25: Postponed.

Sepideh was originally scheduled to present her work on even at the Syntax/Semantics Reading Group next Friday, October 25, at 3:00 (room 117, as usual.) Because Chomsky is giving a talk at UQAM at around the same time, Sepideh’s presentation will be rescheduled.

The SSOC (Syntax/Semantics Organizing Committee) unanimously decided that it would not be fair for Chomsky to have to compete with the Syntax Semantics Reading Group. What if his audience decided to come to the reading group, instead?


AGReading Group, 10/25

In this week’s AGR Reading group, Alan Bale and Jessica Coon will lead discussion of Harley & Ritter’s 2002 Language article, “Person and Number in Pronouns: A Feature Geometric Analysis” and discuss ongoing work on agreement in Mi’gmaq. AGR Reading group meets Fridays from 1:00–2:30 in Linguistics room 117. All are welcome!

Smeets to present at International Conference on Multilingualism

Liz Smeets will be presenting a poster entitled “Acceleration in the Bilingual Acquisition: the Case of Specific Indefinites”  at the International Conference on Multilingualism, a two-day conference on multilingualism and brain plasticity at McGill University.

Location: Ballroom, Thomson House
Date: Friday October 25th
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Congratulations, Liz!

LSA Award for Mary Ann Metallic

Mary Ann Metallic (Listuguj Education Directorate), a collaborator and key member of McGill’s Mi’gmaq Research Partnership, has just been honoured as the first recipient of the Linguistic Society of America’s “Excellence in Community Linguistics Award,” recently announced here. The LSA notes:

Mary Ann Metallic has done exemplary work to revitalize the Mi’gmaq language in her home community of Listuguj, Quebec. Her infectious passion for Mi’gmaq has led to the development of a successful teaching program, and her work with linguists has resulted in significant contributions to language documentation and linguistic theory.

Mary Ann will travel, together with her daughter Janine Metallic (McGill) to the LSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis this January to receive the award in person. Congratulations Mary Ann!

Mary Ann Metallic (center) at the Mi'gmaq Summer Language workshop, co-organized by McGill and the Listuguj Education Directorate. Pictured with Janice Vicaire, Vicky Metallic, Yuliya Manyakina, and Carol Little

Mary Ann Metallic (center) at the Mi’gmaq Summer Language workshop, co-organized by McGill and the Listuguj Education Directorate. Pictured with Janice Vicaire, Vicky Metallic, Yuliya Manyakina, and Carol Little

McGill NELS photo

Last week we reported on the McGill contingent at the year’s NELS 44 at University of Connecticut. Here some of them are!

Back: Alex Drummond, Jonathan Bobaljik, Aron Hirsch, David-Etienne Bouchard Front: Heather Goad, Susi Wurmbrand, Sasha Simonenko, Tingchun Chen, Lisa Travis

Back: Alex Drummond, Jonathan Bobaljik, Aron Hirsch, David-Etienne Bouchard
Front: Heather Goad, Susi Wurmbrand, Sasha Simonenko, Tingchun Chen, Lisa Travis

Ling-Tea, 2/16 – Yuliya Manyakina

Who: Yuliya Manyakina
When: Wednesday, October 16, 3-4 pm in room 117
What: The role of -ew in Mi’gmaq
In this talk I examine the morpheme -ew in Mi’gmaq, an Eastern Algonquian language. I propose an analysis drawing on Barker’s (1995) notion of Extrinsic Possession.

In previous literature -ew has been described as a marker indicating change in grammatical status, used when deriving a noun from a verb or locative, or a possessive pronoun from a subject/object pronoun (Inglis 1988). However, this does not capture its full range of distribution. –ew is also found on the possessor in alienable possession constructions and can attach to bare nouns.

Based on this data, I argue that -ew’s role in nominalization is connected to the concept of Extrinsic Possession—a vague relation that encompasses ownership, creation, adjacency, and other relationships that express ‘proximity’ between a possessor and a possessum.

Syntax/Semantics Reading Group,10/18 – Oriana Kilbourn-Cerón

Friday, October 18, 2013
3:00-4:30 pm
Oriana Kilbourn-Cerón. “Almost: scope and covert exhaustification.” Penka, D. (2006) Almost there: the meaning of almost. Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung. 
Chierchia, G., Fox, D. & Spector, B. (2011) The grammatical view of scalar implicatures and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics.In Semantics : an international handbook of natural language meaning. 

McGill at NELS 44

McGill Linguistics members present and past will be well represented at the 44th meeting of the North East Linguistics Society (NELS 44), taking place Oct 18-20 at the University of Connecticut, presenting a number of talks and posters:

  • Lisa Travis (keynote speaker): A tale of two languages: a microvariation study across language families
  • David-Étienne Bouchard (PhD 2012): Fully Elliptical Comparatives
  • Tingchun Chen (BA 2010): Restructuring in Squliq Atayal
  • Alex Drummond: Dahl’s Paradigm: In defense of the crossover analysis
  • Alex Drummond and Junko Shimoyama: QR as an agent of vehicle change: Evidence from Japanese and Hindi comparatives
  • Heather Goad and Akiko Shimada (MA 2011): /s/ can be a vocoid
  • Aaron Hirsch (BA 2011) and Martin Hackl: Incremental presupposition evaluation in disjunction
  • Sasha Simonenko: Semantics of the DP wh-island
  • Mikael Vinka  (PhD 2002) and Christian Waldmann: Doing it in Swedish doesn’t mean you’ve done it

The full program can be found here.

McGill at the Algonquian Conference

McGill will be well-represented at the 45th Algonquian Conference, to take place this weekend at the University of Ottawa. The full conference program can be found here.

  • Michael David Hamilton (PhD) – An account of verbal person suffixes
  • Michael David Hamilton (PhD) & Brandon Fry (Ottawa) – Long distance agreement in Mi’gmaq and Ojibwe: Towards a comparative study
  • Carol Little  (BA ’12) – Evidentiality in Mi’gmaq
  • Yuliya Manyakina (PhD) – The role of -ew in Mi’gmaq
  • Gretchen McCulloch (MA) – Mi’gmaq -asi as a middle voice marker
  • Kevin Russell (recent visitor) & Tanya Slavin (post-doc) – The prosody and syntax of the Plains Cree verbal complex
  • Tanya Slavin (post-doc) – Possessive noun incorporation and the left-edge requirement in Oji-Cree

Matsuoka talk on 10/8

Who: Mikinari Matsuoka, McGill PhD 2001
When: Tues October 8th, 1pm-2pm, Room 002
Title:  Doubly-oriented secondary predicates in Japanese
There are some quirky adjectival secondary predicates in Japanese that describe a property of the object argument of an action verb perceived by the subject argument.  They are different from standard secondary predicates, which are construed with either the subject or the object, but not both.  It is argued that the adjectives form a complex predicate with the verb in syntax, because of which their experiencer argument is identified with the subject of the verb, and their theme argument is shared with the object of the verb.  This analysis gains support from the observation that the adjectives under discussion appear in a lower position than VP internal elements such as floating quantifiers and depictive predicates associated with the object in unmarked word order.  This observation is accounted for by assuming that VP constitutes a cyclic Spell-out domain when the object is involved in a predication relationship within VP, as claimed in some previous studies.

Ling-Tea, 10/9 – Gretchen McCulloch

 When: Wednesday, October 9th, 3–4pm in room 117
Who: Gretchen McCulloch
What: Finals in Mi’gmaq: The case of -asi
Abstract: Finals are a type of morpheme found in Mi’gmaq and other Algonquian languages that occur at the right edge of a verb stem, before agreement and other inflectional suffixes. Minimally, finals indicate the transitivity of a verb and the animacy of its absolutive argument, but they may also have a variety of other light-verb-like and valence-changing meanings. The final -asi in Mi’gmaq and its variants -a’si, -as’, -a’s’, and -si has traditionally been described as a reflexive (Inglis 1986). Based on new data from my work with speakers and a dictionary, I argue that -asi is not only reflexive, but that it can be better analyzed as a middle voice marker by the ten middle situation types of Kemmer (1993).

Syntax-Semantics Special Double Feature, 10/10 — Rooth and Abusch

Dorit Abusch and Mats Rooth will give talks as part of a special issue of the Semantics Reading Group next Thursday, October 10, Leacock 738.

2.30-3.45pm Mats Rooth (Cornell University): Focus over new, farmer sentences, and directionality in focus licensing.
3.45pm Refreshments
4.00-5.15pm Dorit Abusch (Cornell University): Anaphoric relations in sequential and conflated pictures

Everybody is welcome.

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