Monthly Archive for August, 2015

Ling-Tea, Hadas Kotek – 9/1

Hadas Kotek will be presenting joint work with Michael Erlewine at the first Ling-Tea of the Fall 2015 semester. This will be presenting a practice talk for Sinn und Beteutung. If you would like to present at a future Ling-Tea, please email Colin Brown!

Coordinates: Tuesday 9/1, 1:00pm–2:00pm in Linguistics 117

Title: Relative pronoun pied-piping, the structure of which informs the analysis of relative clauses

In this talk we argue that restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses have a fundamentally different semantic interpretation: while restrictive relatives are property-denoting, non-restrictive relatives are proposition-denoting. The evidence motivating this claim comes from a consideration of Relative Pronoun Pied-Piping, concentrating specifically on the behavior of intervention effects inside RPPP in non-restrictive relatives. Intervention effects have been shown in previous work to distinguish regions of Rooth-Hamblin alternative computation from regions where covert movement has taken place (Sauerland & Heck 2003, Cable 2007; 2010, Kotek & Erlewine, to appear, Erlewine & Kotek 2014). We show that RPPP, like pied-piping in wh-questions, is sensitive to intervention effects.
We propose that while a movement strategy is used for the interpretation of restrictive RCs, in non-restrictive relatives, relative pronouns are interpreted in-situ within the pied-piped constituent at LF, using Rooth-Hamblin alternative computation. This bring RPPP in line with other instances of pied-piping in wh-questions and focus constructions, allowing for a uniform semantics for pied-piping (cf Cable 2007; 2010).  To derive the non-intersective meaning of the relative clause, we propose that the relative pronoun projects a singleton alternative set, corresponding to the RC’s antecedent. Following Demirdache (1991), we treat this antecedent as an E-type anaphor. This allows us to directly derive the proposition denoted by the RC, without first computing the corresponding property, as is done in the case of restrictive relatives. This proposal helps explain two differences between restrictive and non-restrictive relatives in English. First, why non-restrictive relatives can only be constructed using relative pronouns, whereas restrictive relatives also have a that/∅ complementizer option. Second, why RPPP in these RCs can be substantially larger than in restrictive RCs, and why only restrictive RCs are sensitive to islands.

Arcos Lopez, Bale, and Coon, Numeral classifiers in Ch’ol – 8/31

Nicolás Arcos López, Alan Bale, and Jessica Coon will give an informal presentation on numeral classifiers in Ch’ol (Mayan), today from 1–2:30pm in Linguistics 117. This is in preparation for a talk at the Gender, Class, and Determination workshop at University of Ottawa next month.

Summer PhD defenses

Congratulations to Brian Buccola and Michael Hamilton, who defended their dissertations this summer!

Brian’s dissertation, co-supervised by Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Bernhard Schwarz and defended August 26th, is titled “Maximality in the semantics of modified numerals.” Brian heads to Israel soon where he will be a post-doctoral fellow at the Language, Logic, and Cognition Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Congrats Brian!

Brian with his supervisors, Bernhard and Luis

Mike defended his dissertation “The syntax of Mi’gmaq: A configurational account” on August 10th. Mike was co-supervised by Jessica Coon and Michael Wagner, and has just begun a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University. Congratulations Mike!


Sign up for Fall 2015 Ling-Tea!

Ling-Tea will be held this semester Tuesdays from 1:00–2:00pm in Linguistics Department room 117. LingTea is a good place for students, faculty, postdocs, and visitors to present ongoing research in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. It’s also a perfect venue for dry runs of forthcoming conference talks. Anyone is welcome to give a LingTea talk! Please email Colin to sign up for one of the dates below.

September 15, 22, 29

October 6, 13, 20, 27

November 3, 10, 17, 24
December 1, 8

What McGill linguists did this summer…

McGill was well-represented at the 2015 LSA Institute.  Grads Hye-Young Bang, Guilherme GarciaDan GoodhueBing’er JiangOriana Kilbourn-CeronDejan Milacic and alums Elise McClay and Erin Olson (BA ’12) were participants; alums Gretchen McCulloch (MA ’13) and Yuliya Manyakina (MA ’15) ran satellite events; Morgan Sonderegger co-taught a course on modeling sound change.  Here are most of them:

mcgill_3 (1)

McGill was also well-represented at ICPhS 2015 in Glasgow, described in a separate post.

Hye-Young Bang  gave talks at the International Conference on Korean Linguistics and at ICPhS, in addition to attending the LSA Institute.

Colin Brown spent a good portion of his summer in the Pacific Northwest doing research on the Gitksan language. He reunited with two consultants as well as UBC’s Gitksan lab in Vancouver, BC, before traveling to Gitksan territory for two weeks, where he worked with ten consultants in 4 villages, hiked to a glacial waterfall, and attended a (8 hour!!) stone raising feast. Upon his return to Vancouver he attended the 50th annual International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages (ICSNL) at UBC.

photo from the NW

Jessica Coon spent two weeks in Chiapas with Lauren Clemens (SUNY Albany, recent McGill Post-doc), Ryan Bennett (Yale), and Cora Lesure (McGill BA). They ran two experiments in two different Ch’ol-speaking towns. One was a perceptual study, and the other was a production experiment designed to test focus-marking strategies, set up with help from Michael Wagner and with new pictures created by McGill undergraduate Blare Coughlin. The pictures are available for public use, with credit to Blare, and can be downloaded here.

Cora, Morelia, Ryan, Jessica, and Lauren

McGill BA student Nadia Famularo, recent graduate Madeleine Mees, and Tibetan consultant Tashi Wangyal, traveled to UC Santa Barbara last week to present collaborative work at ICSTLL: The International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. The work grew out of the 2014 Field Methods class on Tibetan. The title of their talk (with Jessica Coon, who could not attend) was “Ergative marking in Dharamsala Tibetan”.

Maddie, Nadia, and Tashi between talks in Santa Barbara

Maddie, Nadia, and Tashi between talks in Santa Barbara

Guilherme Garcia finished writing a book chapter on Quebec French and English stress with Natália Brambatti Guzzo and collected data in Brazil, in addition to attending the LSA Institute.

At the beginning of May, Brendan Gillon returned from a half year sabbatical, which he spent at National Chengchi University, in Taipei, Taiwan. During his four months there, he gave seven talks on topics in linguistics and in philosophy, two of which he managed to give in his very rusty Chinese. Later, while in Paris as a member of the jury for a CNRS Habilitation he gave a talk, entitled “Quel contenu sémantique ont les classificateurs en chinois (mandarin)?” at a workshop at the Sorbonne organized by Francis Corblin.



Heather Goad finished her term as Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the end of August. Together with Misha Schwartz (BA 2014), she submitted one journal article and one conference proceedings paper on the kinds of evidence available to learners when acquiring a subset grammar in phonology. She also finished two book chapters and one conference proceedings paper on the grammar and acquisition of sC clusters. Together with James Tanner (MA 2015) and Kate Shaw (BA in progress), she worked on extending the Prosodic Transfer Hypothesis to the processing of inflectional morphology.

Henrison Hsieh attended the 13th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (13-ICAL) in Taipei, Taiwan this past July, as well as some of the talks held by the Linguistics Department at the University of the Philippines Diliman for their Linguistics Month activities. In addition to learning more about a lot of the current work in Austronesian linguistics, Henrison met many of the Austronesianists active in and around the Austronesian-speaking region. He is excited for opportunities to collaborate with them in the future.

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron‘s proceedings paper from WCCFL 32, “Almost: scope and covert exhaustification” is now available online at Oriana also attended the LSA (see above) and ICPhS (other post).

Donghyun Kim gave talks at the 2015 Linguistic Society of Korea and  the 2015 Korean Society of Speech Sciences meetings, entitled “Developmental trajectories in the acquisition of novel vowel contrasts” and “The acquisition of new vowel contrasts by Korean learners of English: A longitudinal study” (both with Meghan Clayards and Heather Goad).

Mellon postdoctoral fellow Hadas Kotek presented in Generative Syntax in the Twenty-first Century: The Road Ahead in Athens, Greece, and participated in the SIAS Summer Institute: In the Armchair, in the Field, and in the Lab, which took place in Berlin. Hadas also had a number of publications: her paper on the syntax/semantics of most appeared in Natural Language Semantics (joint work with Martin Hackl and Yasutada Sudo). Her paper describing turktools, a set of free, open-source tools appeared online in Natural Language & Linguistic Theory (joint work with recent McGill post-doc Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine), and her paper on relative pronoun pied-piping and the syntax of restrictive vs. non-restrictive relative clauses will appear in the Proceedings of CLS 51 (PDF; joint work with Michael Y. Erlewine).

Jeff Lamontagne also gave a talk at CLA, entitled “A variationist analysis of vowel fronting in Laurentian French”.

Junko Shimoyama presented a poster at the CLA annual meeting at the Univ. of Ottawa, on her ongoing project with Alex Drummond (UMass Amherst), Bernhard Schwarz and Michael Wagner, titled “A no-source puzzle for clausal ellipsis in right dislocation, sluicing and fragments”.






McGill at ICPhS 2015

McGill linguists present and past gave a number of talks and posters at the 18th International Conference of Phonetic Sciences, held in August 2015 in Glasgow, all with associated proceedings papers:

Oriana, Hye-Young, and James all received IPA Student Awards to attend the conference.

Here are some pictures of us at ICPhS, and friends:


McGill linguists (Meghan, Oriana, Morgan, James, Hye-Young) with postdoc alumna Sara MacKenzie, McGill Psych alum Doug Schiller



Linguists walking towards the Science Centre: Oriana, James, Michael M


McGill linguists present and future (Michael, Mehgan, Gustav, Francisco, Morgan) with Linda Polka and A.J. Orena from McGill SCSD

Beginning-of-year picnic

All McGill linguists, plus family and friends, are invited to our annual Beginning-of-Year picnic, to be held this year Sunday September 6th at noon at Parc Laurier in the Plateau. The picnic will be potluck style: please bring some some kind of dish and perhaps something to drink.  Hope to see you all there!

Welcome lunch and Fest-Eval, 8/28

Please join us for two events to kick off the year: FestEval and the annual departmental Welcome (Back) Lunch. Both events will take place in the Department building (1085 Dr. Penfield) on Friday, August 28 2015.
Welcome (back) Lunch: 12.30-2, Department Lounge (Room 212)

FestEval (Friday, August 28, 2pm-5.05pm, Room 002)
2.00 Liz Smeets: Against the adverbial analysis of focus association
2.25 Jiajia Su: The syntactic structure of Chinese Classifiers
2.50  Dan Goodhue: Epistemic must is not evidential, it’s epistemic
3.15  Henrison Hsieh: An additional inference for actuality entailments
3.40.-3.50 Break
3.50 Hye-Young Bang: The lexical and contextual path of tonogenesis: Evidence from Seoul Korean
4.15 Gui Garcia: Extrametricality and Second Language Acquisition
4.40-5.05  Donghyun Kim: A longitudinal study of individual differences in the acquisition of novel vowel contrasts
Hope to see you all there!

2015–2015 colloquium schedule

Please mark your calendars for this year’s colloquium speakers! All talks take place Fridays at 3:30pm, location TBA.
Kie Zuraw (UCLA) – September 11th
Matt Goldrick (Northwestern) – October 2nd
Danny Fox (MIT) – October 23rd
Mark Baker (Rutgers) – November 6th
​Meghan Fowlie (McGill) – November 20th
​Elizabeth Smith (UQAM) – December 4th
Lisa Pearl (UC Irvine) – March 18th
Pat Keating (UCLA) – April 8th



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