Departmental summer news

McGill linguists did a lot of linguistics this summer! Here is a selection of summer news:

In early July, Amelia Bruno and Eva Portelance (BA McGill, now at Stanford) presented a poster at the “Learning Languages in Humans and Machines” conference in Paris, entitled “A Framework for Lexicalized Grammar Induction Using Variational Bayesian Inference”. This work was coauthored with Tim O’Donnell and Leon Bergen (UCSD).

Jessica Coon returned from her six-month sabbatical stay in Mexico, then in August traveled to Guatemala where she gave a plenary talk (‘Construyendo verbos en chuj y ch’ol’) as well as a collaborative talk (‘Relativas libres en ch’ol y maya yucateco y la tipología de cláusulas relativas sin núcleo’ with Scott Anderbois, Oscar Chan Dzul, and Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez) at FAMLi 5.

McGill at FAMLi: Justin Royer, Cora Lesure (BA ’15), Paulina Elias (BA ’18), Robert Henderson (Postdoc ’14), Jessica Coon, Carol-Rose Little (BA ’12)

Brendan Gillon gave one talk entitled ‘Underspecification and the count mass distinction’ at a conference called The Count and Mass Distinction: a linguistic understanding?, held in May at Ruhr Univesität, in Bochum, Germany. Later in the summer, he gave a talk entitled ‘Complementation in Sanskrit treated by a modest generalization of categorial grammar’ in the Sanskrit Computational and Digital Humanities session of the 18th World Sanskrit Conference, held at the University of British Columbia.

Jacob Hoover, Michael Wagner, Masashi Harada, and Gouming Martens (from left to right in the photo below) attended the 2nd Crete Summer School of Linguistics in Rethymnon in July.

Henrison Hsieh published a paper in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory entitled Distinguishing nouns and verbs: A Tagalog case study. It is currently available online here.

Donghyun Kim successfully defended his thesis in August titled “Individual differences in plasticity in speech perception”. Don is off to a post doc at the University of Exeter working with Nicholas Dumay on research involving speech, memory, and sleep. Best of luck Don!

Defence committee from left: Heather Goad, Shari Baum (SCSD), Francisco Torreira, Donghyun Kim, Meghan Clayards, Morgan Sonderegger

Tim O’Donnell visited the Digital and Cognitive Musicology Laboratory at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne this summer to work with collaborators Martin Rohrmeier and Daniel Harasim on models of musical cognition.

Clint Parker attended CoLang 2018 (the Institute on Collaborative Language Research) at the University of Florida. During the first two weeks, he attended workshops focused on ethical considerations in fieldwork and collaboration between universities and Indigenous peoples in language revitalisation.  In the second three weeks, he participated in a practicum in which he helped compile materials and analyze the grammar of the dormant Timucua language, once spoken in northern Florida.  His CoLang work will feed into his second Evaluation Paper, which will connect to language revitalisation and the role of the university in supporting Indigenous languages.

Justin Royer did three months of research and fieldwork in Mexico, where he was supervised by Roberto Zavala at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS) in San Cristóbal de las Casas, funded by a MITACs travel grant. While in Mexico, he participated to the workshop on Headless Relatives Clauses in Mesoamerican Languages CIESAS. He also attended two conferences where he presented two talks, and one joint poster with Luis Alonso-Ovalle:
  • In May, at the Primer encuentro de estudios sobre el Chuj at the Universidad Autónoma de México he gave a talk entitled ‘La (in)definitud en chuj y los clasificadores nominales’.
  • In August, at Form and Analysis in Mayan Linguistics (FAMLi 5) in Antigua, Guatemala he gave a talk titled Configuraciones referenciales en chuj and a poster (with Luis Alonso-Ovalle) titled ‘La modalidad de decisión arbitraria en chuj: komon

Justin with Chuj consultant Magdalena Torres in Yolnhajab’, Guatemala

Liz Smeets travelled to Italy to test second language learners of Italian with Romanian or English as a first language for her dissertation research on Conditions on L1 transfer in L2 discourse-syntax mappings. Liz also published a paper entitled ‘The acquisition of object movement in Dutch: L1 transfer and near-native grammars at the syntax–discourse interface’ in Second Language Research. The paper can be found here.

In July, Lisa Travis gave a joint paper at the International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (ICAL) with Ileana Paul, held at the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar.  She stayed on ten days to work with students and professors at the university (see attached photo) collecting data for a paper co-authored with Baholisoa Ralalaoherivony and Jeannot Fils Ranaivoson on dialect variation in Malagasy focus constructions.

The Montréal Computational and Quantitative Linguistics Laboratory (MCQLL) hosted two local workshops. From June 11-15, MCQLL held a workshop on models of morphological productivity which included visitor Mika Braginsky from MIT. From August 15-17, MCQLL hosted a workshop on computational minimalist grammars and parsing which included Eva Portelance, visiting from Stanford, and Leon Bergen, visiting from UCSD.

Finally, a number of other publications involving current and former McGill authors came out this summer! These include:

Clemens, Lauren and Jessica Coon. (2018) Deriving verb-initial word order in Mayan. Language 94(2): 237–380 doi:10.1353/lan.2018.0017

Hamlaoui,FatimaMarzena Żygis, Jonas Engelmann, and Michael Wagner (2018). Acoustic correlates of focus marking in Czech and Polish. Language and Speech, 1(20):44pp DOI: 10.1177/0023830918773536

Mackenzie, SaraErin Olson, Meghan Clayards, and Michael Wagner (2018). North American /l/ both darkens and lightens depending on prosodic context. Laboratory Phonology, 9(1)(13) DOI: 10.5334/labphon.104

Santi, AndreaNino Grillo, Emilia Molimpakis & Michael Wagner (2018) Processing relative clauses across comprehension and production: similarities and differences, Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1080/23273798.2018.1513539

Smeets, Liz and Michael Wagner (2018). Reconstructing the syntax of focus operators. Semantics & Pragmatics, 11(6):1–27. DOI: 10.3765/sp.11.6

Vander Klok, JozinaHeather Goad, and Michael Wagner (2018). Prosodic Focus in English vs. French: A Scope Account.Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 3(1): 71. 1-47 DOI: 10.5334/gjgl.172

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