Monthly Archive for January, 2017

LingTea, 2/2 – Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Feb. 2nd) 12-1pm in room 117, Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron will give a talk with the title “The role of speech production planning in shaping patterns of phonological variability“. This is a practice job talk.


Connected speech processes have played a major role in shaping theories about phonological organization, and how phonology interacts with other components of the grammar (Selkirk, 1974; Kiparsky, 1982; Kaisse, 1985; Nespor and Vogel, 1986, among others). External sandhi is subject to locality conditions, and it is more variable compared to processes applying word-internally. We suggest that an important part of understanding these two properties of external sandhi is the locality of speech production planning.

Presenting evidence from English flapping and French liaison, we argue that the effect of lexical frequency on variability can be understood as a consequence of the narrow window of phonological encoding during speech production planning. This proposal complements both abstract, symbolic and gestural overlap-based accounts of phonological alternations. By connecting the study of phonological alternations with the study of factors influencing speech production planning, we can derive novel predictions about patterns of variability in external sandhi, and better understand the data that drive the development of phonological theories.

Colloquium, 2/3 – Jeremy Hartman

Speaker:  Jeremy Hartman (UMass Amherst)
Date & Time: February 3rd at 3:30 pm
Place:  Education Bldg. rm. 433
Title:  Negation and factivity in acquisition and beyond


In this talk, I present joint work with Magda Oiry on the interaction between negation and two types of factive predicates in acquisition. Following work by Léger (2008), we examine children’s understanding of sentences with the factive predicates know and be happy, in combination with negation–in the matrix clause, as well as in the embedded clause. In addition to an asymmetry in the understanding of know vs. be happy, we find a new and revealing pattern of errors across different sentence-types with know. We also show that a similar error pattern is found even with adult subjects. I discuss how these findings relate to recent work on the processing of negation.

Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 2/3 – Martha Schwarz

The Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday, 2/3, from 1-2pm in room 117.

Martha Schwarz will be presenting different ways of accounting for ergative marking that is determined by factors of the subject in the context of Nepali.

All are welcome!

WORDS Group – 2/3

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 3rd February at UQAM, 10h-11h30 (room tba). We will be discussing the following paper:

Harizanov, Boris and Gribanova, Vera. (2017). Whither Head Movement. MS.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

LingTea, 1/26 – Lydia Felice, Sarah Mihuc

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Jan. 26th) 12-1pm in room 117, Lydia Felice and Sarah Mihuc will each present on their work on Kabyle Berber.

Speaker: Lydia Felice
Title: An Analysis of the State Alternation in Kabyle Berber

Abstract: In Kabyle, nominals may appear in the Free State or Construct State. Free State nominals are characterized by presence of the prefix a-. Construct State nominals lack this prefix. Nominals in the Free State appear as preverbal subjects, complements of certain prepositions, and objects of the verb. Nominals in the Construct State appear as postverbal subjects and complements of certain prepositions. I assume that the Free State morpheme is an intrinsic case marker occupying K0. Nominals in the Construct State are DPs that must be licensed structural case, while nominals in the Free State are KPs that receive case from the FS morpheme a-. I propose that treating the FS vowel as K0 accounts for the full distribution of Free State and Construct State nominals.


Speaker: Sarah Mihuc
Title: Effects of Focus on Word Order in Kabyle Berber

Abstract: A variety of word orders are attested in Kabyle Berber; changes in word order have previously been explained as related to focus and topic in Berber (Mettouchi 2008). In order to precisely test the relationship between focus and word order, I present an experiment based on Calhoun’s (2015) experiment on Samoan focus and word order. Speakers were shown illustrations of events, and were asked to answer questions about them. The questions have answers with six different types of focus. Thus, the answers to each question type show which word order is associated with which type(s) of focus in Kabyle Berber.

Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 1/27 — BLS Practice Posters

The Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday, 1/27, from 1-2pm in room 117.

This week, three students will present their posters in preparation for the undergraduate poster session at the 43rd annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society.


Justin Royer – Numeral and Noun Classifiers in Chuj

Sarah Mihuc – The Effects of Focus on Word Order in Kabyle Berber

Lydia Felice – An Analysis of the State Alternation in Kabyle Berber

All are welcome!

Colloquium, 1/20 – Dan Lassiter

Speaker:  Dan Lassiter (Stanford University)
Date & Time: January 27th at 3:30pm
Place:  Education Bldg. rm. 433

Title:  Epistemic language in indicative and counterfactual conditionals

Abstract:  In this talk I’ll report on a series of experiments which examine judgments about epistemic modals, both in unembedded contexts and in indicative and counterfactual conditionals. Building on these results and recent probabilistic theories of epistemic language, I propose a probabilistic version of Kratzer’s restrictor theory of conditionals that identifies the indicative/counterfactual distinction with Pearl’s distinction between conditioning and intervening in probabilistic graphical models. Combining this theory with recent accounts of must, we can also derive a theory of bare conditionals; I describe the predictions and consider their plausibility in light of the experimental data.

Linguists at the Undergraduate Research Event

Undergraduate linguists presented their research the 7th Annual Arts Undergraduate Research Event last week (see post). Here they are with their posters:

Eva Portelance

Eva Portelance

Theodore Morely and Elias Stengel-Essen

Theodore Morely and Elias Stengel-Essen

Lydia Felice
Lydia Felice


LingTea, 1/19 – Jessica Coon

In this week’s LingTea, on Thursday (Jan. 19th) 12-1pm in room 117, Jessica Coon will give a talk with the title “The linguistics of Arrival: Aliens, fieldwork, and Universal Grammar“. This is a practice talk for an up-coming Arrival-related public lecture.


If aliens arrived, could we communicate with them? How would we do it? What are the tools linguists use to decipher unknown languages? How different can human languages be from one another? Do these differences have bigger consequences for how we see the world?

The recent science-fiction film Arrival touches on these and other real questions in the field of linguistics. In Arrival, linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is recruited by the military to translate the language of the newly-arrived Heptapods in order to answer the question everyone wants to know: why are they here? Language, it turns out, is a crucial piece of the answer.

Jessica Coon, science consultant for the linguistics in Arrival, has never worked with an alien, but will discuss her own fieldwork on Mayan languages, and what these languages can tell us about linguistic diversity and Universal Grammar.

Semantics Research Group – 1/20

The semantics research group will be meeting January 20th at 15:00 in room 117. Bernhard Schwarz will be presenting on Wataru Uegaki’s dissertation:  Interpreting questions under attitudes.

WORDS Group – 1/20

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 20th January, at UQAM (room DS-3470) at 10-11.30.  The focus of this meeting will be on Head movement in syntax and morphology. In particular, two handouts from the Workshop on the Status of Head Movement in Linguistic Theory held at Stanford University (September 16-17, 2016) will be discussed:

  • Gribanova, V. & Harizanov, B. (2016): Whither Head Movement
  • Harley, H. (2016): What Hiaki stem forms are really telling us

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 1/20 – Dative Tutorial

The Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday, 1/20, from 1-2pm in room 117.

This week’s meeting will be a tutorial on Dative, a linguistic fieldwork software program. Dative allows users to create a collaborative database on their language of study. Linguistic forms are stored in an online data base that can be accessed from each fieldworker’s computer. These forms are searchable, and can be exported directly to LaTex. We will walk through these features at the meeting. All are welcome!

Sepideh receives CRBLM stipend

McLing is happy to report that Sepideh Mortazavinia has just received a CRBLM graduate student stipend for her project “Second Language Acquisition of Presupposition”, supervised by Lydia White and Michael Wagner. Congratulations Sepideh!

Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 1/13

This semester’s first meeting of the Ergativity/Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday, 1/13, from 1-2pm in room 117. The first part of the meeting will be organizational, so please come with suggestions for things that you would like to read, discuss, or present this semester. During the second part of the meeting, we Clint and Jessica will present a draft of a survey article they are working on. All are welcome!

P* Reading Group – Jan 10

In the winter 2017 semester, P* Reading Group will meet on Tuesdays 1-2 pm in Room 117. The first meeting of the semester will be on Tuesday 10th at 1-2 pm in Room 117. Don will lead a discussion of Mattys et al. (2014). Extrinsic cognitive load impairs low-level speech perception. Everyone is welcome!

7th Annual Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Research Event – 1/17, 4:30-6:30 PM

The 7th Annual Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Research Event is on Tuesday, 1/17, from 4:30-6:30 in Leacock 232. The event features posters and presentations by students who received an Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Award in Summer 2017, including several projects involving linguistics students and faculty. The following linguistics-related posters will be showcased:

  • Eva Portelance, “Narrative Frameworks”, supervised by Andrew Piper (LLCU)
  • Lydia Felice, “Free State/Construct State Alternation in Kabyle”, supervised by Jessica Coon
  • Theodore Morely (Computer Science), “Web-Tools for Linguistic Research”, supervised by Morgan Sonderegger
  • Elias Stengel-Essen (Cognitive Science), “Linguistic Enrichment of Speech-Corpus Tools”, supervised by Morgan Sonderegger

Lydia Felice and Eva Portelance will also be speaking at the event.

All are welcome!

Jozina vander Klok to University of Oslo

McLing is happy to report that PhD alumna Jozina vander Klok (’12) has just accepted a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oslo, beginning this June. Jozina will be leaving UBC, where she has been a post-doctoral fellow since 2013. Congratulations Jozina!

McGill at LSA/SSILA/ADS 2017

McGill linguists past and present attended the 91st Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, and the associated meeetings of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA) and the American Dialect Society(ADS), which took place 5–8 January 2017 in Austin, Texas. Their many presentations included:

  • George Aaron Broadwell, Lauren Eby Clemens (Postdoc ’14-’15): “Inflectional change in Copala Triqui”
  • Lauren Clemens (Postdoc ’14-’15), Jessica Coon, Carol-Rose Little (BA ’12), Morelia Vázquez Martínez: “Encoding focus in Ch’ol spontaneous speech”
  • Lauren Clemens (Postdoc ’14-’15): “Prosody, pseudo noun incorporation, and V1 syntax: VP-fronting or Vo-raising?”
  • Emily Elfner (Postdoc ’12-’14), Patricia A. Shaw: “Game-based methodology for the study of intonational contours in Kwak’wala”
  • Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (Postdoc ’14-’15), Theodore Levin: “On the unavailability of argument ellipsis in Kaqchikel”
  • Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (Postdoc ’14-’15): “C-T head-splitting: evidence from Toba Batak”
  • Guilherme Garcia: “Adapting inconsistent lexical patterns: a Bayesian approach to weight and stress”
  • Daniel Goodhue: “Biased polar questions: VERUM focus is semantic focus, high negation is a distinct phenomenon”
  • Natália Brambatti Guzzo, Heather Goad: “Overriding default interpretations through prosody: depictive predicates in Brazilian Portuguese”
  • Aron Hirsch (BA ’12): “Fragments, pseudo-clefts, and ellipsis”
  • Thomas Kettig (BA ’13): “One hundred years of stability: the case of the BAD-LAD split”
  • Hadas Kotek (Postdoc ’14-’16): “Movement and alternatives don’t mix: a new look at intervention effects”
  • Jeffrey Lamontagne, Heather Goad, Morgan Sonderegger: “Penultimate prominence in Québec French: internal motivations or English influence?”
  • Jeffrey Lamontagne and Gretchen McCulloch (MA ’13): “Wayyy longgg: orthotactics and phonology in lengthening on Twitter”
  • Cora Lesure (BA ’15): “Phonologically null morphemes and templatic morphology: the case of Chuj (Mayan)”
  • Moti Liberman and Gretchen McCulloch (MA ’13) organized a symposium entitled “Datablitz: Getting High School Students Into Linguistics”
  • Michael McAuliffe, Michaela Socolof (BA ’16), Sarah Mihuc, Michael Wagner, Morgan Sonderegger: “Montreal Forced Aligner: an accurate and trainable forced aligner using Kaldi”
  • Michaela Socolof (BA ’16): “The position of the negative particle ara and NPIs in Kabyle negation”
  • Morgan Sonderegger, Michael McAuliffeJurij BozicChristopher BrunoSeptember CowleyBing’er JiangJeffrey LamontagneMartha SchwarzJiajia Su: “Laryngeal timing across seven languages: phonetic data and their relationship to phonological features”
  • Lisa Travis: “A typology of VP-fronting”
  • Jozina Vander Klok (PhD ’12) and Vera Hohaus: “Building Blocks of Weak Necessity Modality: The View from Paciran Javanese”

Some current and past McGill affiliates gathered for a photo:



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