Monthly Archive for May, 2016

Charles Boberg in Canadian Accent Video

Charles Boberg is featured in a new video, “The Canadian English Accent“, made by Toronto independent documentary filmmaker, Jim DeLuca. The video focuses on regional variation in Canadian English, featuring ordinary Canadians from across Canada pronouncing words and an interview with Charles. Nice, eh?

Meghan Clayards at SCSD speaker series, 5/16

Meghan Clayards will give the first talk of the spring-summer SCSD speaker series, today May 16th

Coordinates: 2001 McGill College Ave, room 869, at 3:00pm

Title: Modulation of phonetic contrasts


When speaking, talkers modulate the signal they produce to balance the conflicting goals of conveying meaning and speaking fluently. How talkers manage this modulation is responsive to information content (e.g. focus prosody, predictability) as well as sociolinguistic factors (e.g. gender, dialect). It is clear that many global phonetic characteristics change consistently with this modulation (e.g. speaking rate, vowel dispersion/reduction,) which may affect how easily the listener can understand the message. A second question is whether talkers also modulate the precision of phonetic contrasts so that they are more/less clearly conveyed to the listener. This talk will investigate whether and under what circumstances phonetic contrasts are enhanced by talkers and provide evidence that modulation may not be as precisely targeted as has been assumed. I will then turn to the issue of individual differences between talkers and argue that many of the differences between talkers can be captured by where they fit on the spectrum of more or less clear articulation. Together these results can reduce the complexity of both the production and perception computations required by talkers and listeners.

Colin Brown in Northern BC

Colin Brown is in Northern British Columbia from May 2nd until May 12th working with Gitksan speakers across five villages (photos below are of neighbouring Nisga’a territory).

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McGill at SALT

SALT wrapped up this past weekend at the University of Texas at Austin, and McGill linguists were present. Poster presentations by current McGill affiliates included:

The full program is available here:

mitcho Erlewine (postdoc 2014–15), Robert Henderson (postdoc 2013–14), Hadas Kotek, Maayan Adar (MA ')

McGill past and present at SALT: mitcho Erlewine (postdoc ’14–15), Robert Henderson (’12–13), Hadas Kotek, Maayan Adar (MA ’14)

Proceedings of AFLA 22 edited by Henrison Hsieh

The Proceedings of the 22nd meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Society (AFLA 22), edited by Henrison Hsieh, has just been published by Asia-Pacific Linguistics. The volume is freely available for download here: AFLA 22 was held at McGill University in Quebec, Cananda in May, 2015




Sonderegger talks in Scotland

Morgan Sonderegger gave a couple of talks during his trip to Scotland earlier this month to work with collaborators:

McAuliffe talk in Glasgow

Michael McAuliffe gave a talk to the Glasgow University Laboratory of Phonetics last week about his PhD research, entitled “Attention in lexically-guided perceptual learning”.

Michael’s trip was funded by a McGill-Glasgow Travel Award, awarded to strengthen research ties between McGill and the University of Glasgow.

Summer news round-up, 2nd edition

Grad student news

Anouk Dieuleveut will go to NASSLLI (North American Summer School on Logic, Language, and Information), this summer at Rutgers. In the fall, she’ll start the PhD program at the University of Maryland––congratulations Anouk!

Donghyun Kim will be presenting a talk with Meghan Clayards at the Korean Society of Speech Sciences titled “Individual differences in the relation between perception and production and mechanisms of phonetic imitation. Also, he will be presenting a poster with Meghan Clayards and Heather Goad at LabPhon 15 titled “Individual differences in second language speech perception across tasks and contrasts”.

Undergraduate news

Eva Portelance received the ARIA award to work with Professor Andrew Piper at the .txtlab@McGill this summer. The lab specializes in the use of computational and quantitative methods to study literary and cultural phenomena. She is currently working on a project which explores the possibility of teaching a computer to read literature. She is designing algorithms using concepts from syntax and semantics for the computer to extract meaning. The core goal is to have the computer predict narrative shifts and their type in novels from different genres and eras.

Meaghan Fowlie at NAPhC9

Meaghan Fowlie spoke at the Ninth North American Phonology Conference (NAPhC9), held May 7–8 at Concordia. The title of her talk was “Revenge of the Duke of York.”

Heather Goad in The Globe and Mail

Heather Goad was interviewed for an article that appeared last week in an article in the Globe and Mail called “Mama or Papa? Experts explain science behind babies first words“.

Jessica Coon at Stanford

Jessica Coon is returning from Stanford, where she gave a colloquium talk titled “Case Discrimination in Caseless Languages.”

C. Douglas Ellis publication

C. Douglas Ellis, Professor Emeritus at McGill and currently Adjunct Research Professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University, has just published the third volume of the series, Spoken Cree.  For more information on the series, visit

Hadas Kotek to Yale

Congratulations to Hadas Kotek who has just accepted a lecturer position in Semantics at Yale, beginning in August. Hadas is finishing a two-year Mellon Post-doctoral fellowship at McGill, supervised by Junko Shimoyama. Best of luck Hadas!

McAuliffe & Sonderegger in Glasgow

This past week Michael McAuliffe and Morgan Sonderegger gave a workshop on Easier speech corpus analysis: A practical introduction to Montreal Corpus Tools (including Speech Corpus Tools) in GULP at the University of Glasgow.

Wagner in Proceedings of Satellite Session on Framing

Michael Wagner’s paper on How to be kind with Prosody was accepted for inclusion the proceedings of a Satellite Session on Framing speech: Celebrating 40 years of inquiry with Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel at Speech Prosody 2016, Boston. You can read it here.

Summer news round-up, 1st edition

See below for what McGill linguists are up to this summer. Did you miss this edition? Send your summer plans to and we’ll get you in for round 2.

Undergrad news

Lydia Felice is finishing U2 and received an ARIA award to continue her work on Kabyle over the summer with Jessica Coon. She will be looking at so-called “free state” and “construct state” alternations.

Recent graduate Cora Lesure will head to Boston in the fall to start a Linguistics PhD at MIT. Cora’s honours thesis was titled Prosodic Boundary Marking in Ch’ol: Acoustic Indicators and Their Applications.

Dorothy Loong, who is finishing U2, will be doing an internship at the Chinese University of Hong Kong at their Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre.

Sarah Mihuc will be going to Johns Hopkins University for a summer research internship in the Computer Science department, working on machine translation of world languages with Dr. David Yarowsky.  She will also be working in the Prosody Lab.

Michaela Socolof will graduate and then will be working in the Montreal Language Modeling Lab, on software development and other MLML projects. In the fall she will head to the University of Maryland Linguistics Department as a Baggett Fellow.
Elias Stengel-Eskin (Cogsci) received an ARIA award to work over the summer with Morgan Sonderegger.  He will be working on Speech Corpus Tools and other MLML projects.

Grad student news

Chris Bruno is heading to New Jersey for the North American Summer School on Logic, Language, and Information (NASSLLI), held this year at Rutgers.

Gui Garcia will give two talks in late May at the 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting, at the University of Manchester. One of the talks investigates the role of suprasegmental information in lexical access. The second talk is joint work with Natália B. Guzzo and Heather Goad (Guzzo, Goad and Garcia), and explores high vowel deletion (/i/) patterns as evidence for vestigial iambs in Québec French. In June, he will participate in the Global School of Empirical Research Methods, at the University of St. Gallen, where he will take an intensive course on Bayesian data analysis. In July, he will present a poster (joint work with Natália B. Guzzo) on English stress acquisition by Québec French speakers at the 15th LabPhon, at Cornell University. Finally, in early September, he will be presenting a poster on extrametricality and default stress at GALANA, at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).

Henrison Hsieh will be presenting a talk at the South East Asian Linguistics Society meeting (SEALS 26) titled “An argument for the noun-verb distinction in Tagalog”. He’ll also be presenting a talk at the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association meeting (AFLA 23) titled “Prosodic indicators of phrase structure in Tagalog transitive sentences”. Finally, he’s in the process of arranging a visiting student position at the Department of Linguistics at the University of the Philippines Diliman to gather data and do research for his dissertation.

Martha Schwarz will be spending the summer doing fieldwork in India through a Mitacs Globalink Research Award.  She will be staying in the Nepali-speaking Darjeeling region, collecting data on Nepali ergativity and Nepali laryngeal contrasts.  The ergativity project is co-supervised by Jessica Coon and Ayesha Kidwai (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi).

Liz Smeets will be collecting more data from L2 learners of Dutch on the acquisition of semantic and discourse constraints on object movement in The Netherlands in June. In August she will be presenting this work at EuroSLA at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland (

Faculty news

Meghan Clayards will be presenting a poster with Hye-Young Bang at LabPhon 15 at Cornell, and where she is also co-organzing a workshop on Higher-order structure in speech variability: phonetic/phonological covariation and talker adaptation.

At the end of June Jessica Coon will head to Fairbanks, Alaska for the CoLang 2016 Institute for Collaborative Language Documentation. In July she will participate in an Indigenous Language Sustainability Workshop, held concurrently with CILLDI at the University of Alberta.

Brendan Gillon will be giving guest lectures at the Nanjing Institute of Technology and Shanghai Maritime University in May. In June he will give a lecture at Workshop on Logic in East Asia, sponsored by the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Junko Shimoyama will be giving an invited talk at TaLK 2016 (Theoretical Linguistics at Keio) in Tokyo in August.

Morgan Sonderegger will be attending LabPhon 15 at Cornell, where he will give a poster with Michael McAuliffe and Michael Wagner and is co-organizing a workshop on tools for “big data” in laboratory phonology (BigPhon).

Michael Wagner will be presenting an invited talk at a workshop on Speech Planning at LabPhon 15, and will be teaching a class at the DGFS summer school on Mapping Meaning: Theory – Cognition – Variation in Tübingen, Germany in August.

Smeets and Wagner at WCCFL

Liz Smeets and Michael Wagner just presented a joint paper at WCCFL 34 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The title of their talk is “The syntax of focus association in German/Dutch: evidence from scope reconstruction.” The full program is available here.

Sasha Simonenko (McGill PhD '14) and Liz Smeets at WCCFL

Sasha Simonenko (McGill PhD ’14) and Liz Smeets at WCCFL

Bernhard Schwarz in Semantics and Pragmatics

Congratulations to Bernhard Schwarz, who published at least two articles this week in Semantics and Pragmatics: a full article titled “Consistency preservation in Quantity implicature: The case of at least“, as well as a reply “At least and ignorance: a reply to Coppock and Brochhagen (2013)“.

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