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P* Reading Group, 2/20 – James Tanner on Williams and Escudero (2014) 

P* Reading Group (Wednesday, 2 pm)

We’ll be having P* Group on Wednesday, February 6th at 1:30 pm in room 831 of SCSD (2001 McGill College, 8th floor), during which James will lead a discussion of  Williams and Escudero’s (2014) “A cross-dialectal comparison of vowels in Northern and Southern British English”. The paper is available at bit.ly/PGroup_2019a. All are welcome to attend!

MCQLL, 2/20 – Seara Chen

At next week’s MCQLL meeting, Seara Chen will be presenting on computational model for phonotactics. She will present a survey of two of the major types of computational models for phonotactics, which are based on a collection of papers. In addition, she will also give a short explanation of the current experiment they are working in the lab that will be used to compare different automated phonotactic scorer.

The meeting will be Wednesday 2/20 5:30pm in room 117. All are welcome!

Semantics Group, 2/22 – Grégoire Winterstein (UQAM)

After a long wait, we are happy to announce the first presentation of the Semantics Group in the Winter term. Grégoire Winterstein (UQAM) will give a talk titled “Bayesian argumentation within language: the case of ‘even’ “.

Abstract: In this talk, I will present some evidence that support the idea that some natural language expressions encode argumentative constraints. Practically, this means that the linguistic form of an utterance matters when evaluating the sort of conclusion the speaker is trying to support in discourse, and how effective their utterance is in providing support for these conclusions. To formalize these argumentative effects, I use a Bayesian approach that gives a probabilistic interpretation to argumentation and assumes that semantic meaning also deals with probabilities. To illustrate, I will discuss the case of scalar additive elements such as English “even” that have been analyzed as conveying the argumentative superiority of their prejacent compared to their antecedent. I argue against such an analysis, but still maintain that their semantics is argumentative.

As usual, the meeting will take place in Room 117 starting at 3:00pm. All are welcome to attend!

MCQLL, 2/13 – Vanna Willerton

At next week’s MCQLL meeting, Vanna will be presenting two short papers on the topic of language acquisition. Both papers use statistical methods to deduce interesting information regarding the role of data in early language learning:

  1. How Data Drive Early Word Learning: A Cross-Linguistic Waiting Time Analysis. Mollica & Piantadosi (2017)
  2. Humans store ~1.5 megabytes during language acquisition: information theoretic boundsMollica & Piantadosi (?)

It is not required that you all read them, but they are quite short so you are welcome to read ahead of time to make a more interesting discussion. Please click the titles for papers.

We will be meeting Wednesday 5:30pm in room 117.

Semantics Group, 2/15 – Grégoire Winterstein (UQAM)

This Friday, we will have our first meeting in the Winter term. Grégoire Winterstein (UQAM) will give a talk titled “The augmentative properties of ‘even’ “.

As usual, the meeting will take place in Room 117 starting at 3:00pm. All are welcome to attend!

P* Reading Group, 2/6 – Yeong Woo Park

P* Reading Group (Wednesday, 2 pm)

We’ll be having P* Group on Wednesday, February 6th at 1:30 pm in room 831 of SCSD (2001 McGill College, 8th floor), during which Yeong will lead a discussion of  Xu’s (2009) “Timing and coordination in tone and intonation—An articulatory-functional perspective”. The paper is available at bit.ly/PGroup_2019a. All are welcome to attend!

MCQLL, 2/6 – Jacob Hoover

At next week’s MCQLL lab meeting, Jacob will present on Non-projectivity and mild–context sensitivity. He will be presenting on Marco Kuhlmann’s 2010 book “Dependency Structures and Lexicalized Grammars”.  Word-to-word dependencies have a history in descriptive linstuistics, based on the intuition that the structure of a sentence can be captured by the relationships between the words.  Dependency structures can be sorted into different classes depending on the amount and form of crossing dependencies that are allowed.  Examining classes of non-projective dependency structures and how they relate to grammar formalisms (starting with projective dependency structures = lexicalized context-free grammars), as well as dependency corpora is a way to investigate what kind of limited context-sensitivity should be used to best deal with the long distance dependencies and free word order in natural languages.

We will meet Wednesday 2/6 5:30pm in room 117.

 

MCQLL, 1/30 – Amy Bruno

Next Wednesday, Amy will present her project on Empirical Learnability and Inference with Minimalist Grammars, which is the second part of the presentation that she did at the end of last semester.

Abstract: This is a draft presentation of some of my current PhD research, intended for a more computationally-oriented audience. It contains collaborative work done over the past year with Eva Portelance (Stanford), Daniel Harasim (EPFL), and Leon Bergen (UCSD). Minimalist Grammars are a lexicalied grammar formalism inspired by Chomsky’s (1994) Minimalist Program, and as such are well suited to formalize theories in contemporary syntactic theory. Our work formulate a learning model based on the technique of Variational Bayesian Inference and apply the model to pilot experiments. In this presentation, I focus on giving an introduction to the central issues in syntactic theory and motivating the problems we wish to address. I give an introduction to syntactic theory and formal grammars, and demonstrate why context free grammars are insufficient to adequately characterize natural language. Minimalist Grammars, a lexicalized mildly context-sensitive formalism are introduced as a more linguistically adequate formalism.
The meeting will be Wednesday 5:30pm in room 117.

P* Reading Group, 1/16

P* Reading Group (Wednesday, 2 pm)

We’ll be having P* Group on Wednesday the 5th at 2 pm in room 831 of SCSD (2001 McGill College, 8th floor), during which Jeff will lead a discussion of Schmitz et al.’s (2018) Exploring the relationship between speech perception and production across phonological processes, language familiarity, and sensory modalities. The paper is available at bit.ly/PGroup_2019a. All are welcome to attend!

McGill Linguists Save World

A number of us represented linguists at Marche Mondiale Climate Alarm/La Planete s’invite au Parlement last Saturday in Montreal. A report of the day can be found here.

Some pictures of the event were taken. Thanks Vanna and Michael!

In this photo (left to right) is Jason Borga, Emily KL, Tim O’Donnell, Jacob Hoover, and Mathieu Paillé.

In this pic, Michael’s kids have also something to say!

 

 

 

MCQLL, 12/5

At next week’s meeting, Amy and Benji will both give a presentation. Amy is going to present her project “Inference and Learnability over Minimalist Grammars” (abstract below). Benji is going to present the paper Parsing as Deduction (Pereira &Warren, 1093) (paper attached).

(Working) Title: Inference and Learnability over Minimalist Grammars

Abstract: This is a draft presentation of some of my current PhD research, intended for a more computationally-oriented audience. It contains collaborative work done over the past year with Eva Portelance (Stanford), Daniel Harasim (EPFL), and Leon Bergen (UCSD). Minimalist Grammars are a lexicalied grammar formalism inspired by Chomsky’s (1994) Minimalist Program, and as such are well suited to formalize theories in contemporary syntactic theory. Our work formulate a learning model based on the technique of Variational Bayesian Inference and apply the model to pilot experiments. In this presentation, I focus on giving an introduction to the central issues in syntactic theory and motivating the problems we wish to address. I give an introduction to syntactic theory and formal grammars, and demonstrate why context free grammars are insufficient to adequately characterize natural language. Minimalist Grammars, a lexicalized mildly context-sensitive formalism are introduced as a more linguistically adequate formalism.

We will meet Wednesday at 5:30pm in room 117. Food will be provided.

P* Reading Group, 11/27

P* Reading Group (Tuesday, 11 am)
This week, Alvaro will be leading a discussion on Tremblay et al.’s (2017) The functional weight of a prosodic cue in the native language predicts the learning of speech segmentation in a second language. All are welcome to attend!

MCQLL, 11/28

At next week’s meeting, Yves will be presenting the family of stochastic processes known as Dirichlet processes.

The Dirichlet distribution, a generalization of the Beta distribution, is a probabilistic distribution over a finite-dimensional categorical distribution. The Dirichlet process can be seen as an infinite-dimensional generalization of this which balances the trade-off between partitioning random observations into fewer or additional categories. I will describe this through the metaphor of the “Chinese restaurant process” and talk about its use in the fragment grammar model of morphological productivity.

We will be meeting at 5:30pm Wednesday November 28th in room 117.

Semantics Group, 30/11

In this week’s meeting, Masashi Harada will give a talk titled “Contextual effects on case in Japanese copular constructions: A solution by ellipsis.” Abstract below. As usual, the meeting will take place on Friday at 3pm in Room 117. All are welcome to attend!

Abstract: I discuss a new type of case connectivity effects in copular constructions, based on Japanese data. I show that the availability of accusative case on the predicate nominal in Japanese copular sentences depends on the context where the sentence occurs. This contextual effect is surprising because case assignment is generally considered to be a purely morpho-syntactic phenomenon. However, I reconcile the contextual variability in case with morpho-syntactic case licensing theory. Specifically, I propose that the copular sentences in question involve ellipsis taking as its antecedent pro that has its value  determined contextually. The proposed analysis yields a new insight into the mechanism of ellipsis seemingly without a linguistic antecedent, and advance analysis of connectivity effects.

P* Reading Group, 11/20

P* Reading Group (Tuesday, 11 am)
This week, Bing’er will be leading a discussion on  Feldman et al.’s (2013) “A Role for the Developing Lexicon in Phonetic Category Acquisition”. P* Group will take place in room 002 of the Linguistics Building, from 11 am until noon. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 11/23

In this week’s meeting, Francesco Gentile and Bernhard Schwarz will present their joint work on how many-questions. Below is the abstract of their Sinn und Bedeutung’s paper “A uniqueness puzzle: how many-questions and non-distributive predication.”

We discuss a novel observation about the meaning of how many-questions, viz. a uniqueness implication that arises in cases that feature non-distributive predicates, such as How many students solved this problem together?. We attempt an analysis of this effect in terms of Dayal’s (1996) Maximal Informativity Presupposition for questions. We observe that such an analysis must be reconciled with the unexpected absence of uniqueness implications in cases where the non-distributive predicate appears under a possibility modal. We explore two possible solutions: (i) the postulation of a scopally mobile maximality operator in degree questions of the sort proposed in Abrusán and Spector (2011); (ii) the proposal that the informativity to be maximized is based on pragmatic, contextual, entailment rather than semantic entailment. We explain why neither solution is satisfactory. We also observe that a Maximal Informativity Presupposition fails to capture uniqueness implications in how many-questions with predicates that are weakly distributive in the sense of Buccola and Spector (2016), such as How many students in the seminar have the same first name?. We conclude that uniqueness implications in how many-questions have must have a source that is independent of Dayal’s (1996) Maximal Informativity Presupposition.
As usual, we will meet on Friday in Room 117, starting at 3pm.

P* Reading Group, 11/13

P* Reading Group (Tuesday, 11 am)
This week, Bing’er will be leading a discussion on  Feldman et al.’s (2013) A Role for the Developing Lexicon in Phonetic Category Acquisition. P* Group will take place in room 002 of the Linguistics Building, from 11 am until noon. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group

This Friday, Jason Borga will be leading a discussion on Rudin’s (2018) “Head-Based Syntactic Identity in Sluicing”. As usual, the meeting will take place in Room 117, from 3pm to 4:30pm. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 11/9

In this week’s meeting, Jessica Coon will be giving a talk titled “Headless relative clauses and (possible?) free-choice free relatives in Ch’ol”. Jessica will present new work on Ch’ol headless relatives (collaborative with Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez, CIMSUR-UNAM), arguing that maximal and existential free relatives share an identical core structure, and receive different interpretations based on the environments in which they appear. Jessica will also present some puzzling data on a possible free-choice morpheme. As usual, the meeting will take place in Room 117 from 3pm to 4:30pm. All are welcome to attend!

P* Reading Group, 10/30

P* Reading Group (Tuesday, 11 am)
This week, Natalia will be leading a discussion on Bosworth’s (2017) “High vowel distribution and trochaic markedness in Québécois”. P* Group will take place in room 002 of the Linguistics Building, from 11 am until noon. All are welcome to attend!
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