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Clint Parker at SAIL and NACIL

Clint Parker is at the University of Arizona this week for two conferences.  This past weekend he presented a poster at the Symposium on American Indian Languages.  His poster, based on work from his second Eval paper, was titled “On the roles and responsibilities of universities in Indigenous Language Revitalization: A Canadian Perspective”.  Next weekend he will give a talk titled “Agreement, clitic doubling, and vestigial ergativity in Shughni” at the Second North American Conference on Iranian Linguistics.

Clint with at his poster with SAIL organizer Wilson Silva

Syntax Group, 4/11 – Justin Royer

This week, Justin Royer will be presenting a paper by Robert Henderson and a related puzzle in Chuj from his own work. The paper is Morphological alternations at the intonational phrase edge: The case of K’ichee’ (Henderson, R. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2012) 30: 741. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-012-9170-8). For the meeting, please focus on sections 1, 2.1, and 3.1 of the paper.
As usual, we will meet 12-1pm in Linguistics room 117.
All are welcome!

Fieldwork Lab, 4/11 – Scott AnderBois on A’ingae documentation

At Fieldwork Group this week (Thursday 4/11 from 4:30-6:00 in Room 117), Scott AnderBois (Brown University) will present on a project he co-directs geared toward the documentation of the A’ingae language (Isolate, Ecuador).  He will also present some software he and his students have developed during the project.  The software, called LingView, provides a browser-based user interface to display annotated audio/video materials from ELAN and written materials from FLEx.

Colloquium, 4/12 – Scott AnderBois

The last talk in our 2018-2019 McGill Linguistics Colloquium Series will be given by Scott AnderBois (Brown University) on Friday, April 12th at 3:30 pm in room 434 of the Education Building. 

At-issueness in direct quotation: the case of Mayan quotatives

In addition to verba dicendi, languages have a bunch of different other grammatical devices for encoding reported speech. While not common in Indo-European languages, two of the most common such elements cross-linguistically are reportative evidentials and quotatives. Quotatives have been much less discussed then either verba dicendi or reportatives, both in descriptive/typological literature and especially in formal semantic work. While quotatives haven’t been formally analyzed in detail previously to my knowledge, several recent works on reported speech constructions in general have suggested in passing that they pattern either with verba dicendi or with reportatives. Drawing on data from Yucatec Maya, I argue that they differ from both since they present direct quotation (like verba dicendi) but make a conventional at-issueness distinction (like reportatives). To account for these facts, I develop an account of quotatives by combining an extended Farkas & Bruce 2010-style discourse scoreboard with bicontextualism (building on Eckardt 2014’s work on Free Indirect Discourse).

Jessica Coon in Florida

Jessica Coon was at the University of Florida in Gainesville April 5-6 for the 5th Florida Linguistics Yearly Meeting (FLYM) where she gave a plenary talk, presenting collaborative work with Nico Baier and Ted Levin. The title of her talk was titled: “Mayan Agent Focus and the Ergative Extraction Constraint”. A new manuscript of this work is available here.

P* Reading Group, 4/3

Jeff will lead a discussion of Inkelas (2015) “Re-representing phonology: consequences of Q Theory” on Wednesday (Apr. 3rd) 1:30-2:30pm in Room 831 of SCSD (2001 McGill College 8th floor). It’s a fairly short description of the Q-theory model of representations. The paper is in our google drive folder (bit.ly/PGroup_2019a). All are welcome to attend!

Syntax Group, 4/4 – Jurij Bozic

This week, Jurij Bozic will be presenting ongoing with on Agreement and Control.
Our meeting will take place at the usual time of 12-1pm in Linguistics Room 117.
All are welcome!

Workshop on Amazigh Languages

The Montreal Workshop on Amazigh Languages took place last week, March 21st and 22nd, and was a big success. The workshop included invited talks by Karim Achab (University of Ottawa), Hamid Ouali (University of Wisconsin, Madison), and Khokha Fahloune (UQAM), and by organizer Nico Baier (McGill Univeristy) as well as short presentations on Kabyle by the students in this semester’s Field Methods course. The workshop was made possible by a SSHRC Insight Grant on Agreement and Anti-Agreement Across Languages.

discussion during Khokha Fahloune’s talk on agreement and clitics


Jessica Coon, Karim Achab, Nico Baier, Sadia Nahi, Hamid Ouali, Khokha Fahloune



Liz Smeets at GASLA

Liz Smeets is just back from the 15th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (GASLA) conference where she presented on her thesis work. Her talk was entitled “Testing L1 transfer at the syntax-discourse interface: the case of CLLD in Italian.” Congrats Liz!

GASLA attendees, including Liz (4th from left) and McGill alumna Silvina Montrul (5th from left)

Michel Paradis in The Handbook of the Neuroscience of Multilingualism

The Handbook of the Neuroscience of Multilingualism was just published with a special forward by emeritus McGill linguistics professor Michel Paradis. Congratulations Michel!

Special talk, 3/25 – Caroline Féry

Who: Caroline Féry (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Coordinates: Monday, March 25 2019, 1-2.30pm, in Room EDUC 338
Title: Prosody and information structure in European French
It has repeatedly been reported in the literature that French prosody reacts in a different way to changes in information structure as compared to Germanic languages (Delais-Roussarie 1995, Post 2000, Jun & Fougeron 2002, vander Klock, Portes et al 2014, Goad & Wagner 2018, among others). But all authors do not agree as to how to analyse this difference. Some propose that it is just a matter of degree across those languages (see the authors above), and thus the same prosodic tools can be used in French and in English. I propose that French has a different intonation system altogether (Féry 2014), the most important clues being the absence of pitch accents and the emphasis on the boundaries of prosodic constituents. I will show two experiments on French prosody in collaboration with Emilie Destruel. The first one compares post-verbal given and new objects and adjuncts and finds that the phonetic correlates of phrasing are larger for adjuncts than for objects. The second one investigates pairs of post-verbal objects and adjuncts in different information structural conditions: all-new, only one of the two constituents is focused, or both are (dual focus). In both experiments, it is the correlates of phrasing that are variable, but these correlates do only a poor job in unambiguously expressing information structural roles. The reason is that information structure cannot change the syntax-based phrasing, and the role of phonetic prominence is not clear in French. I will also briefly discuss vander Klock et al.’s semantic proposal and assess it in comparison with my intonational one.

Word Structure Research Group, 2/22 – Claudia Perez-Herrera

Next meeting: Friday 22 March 2019, 1h30-3 PM, room 117, 1085 Dr Penfield

Topic: Structure

Presenter: Claudia Perez-Herrera


  • Bermudez-Otero, R. (2016) We do not need structuralist morphemes, but we do need constituent structure. In Daniel Siddiqi & Heidi Harley (eds), 2016, Morphological metatheory (Linguistics Today 229), 387–430. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/002774

Amazigh Workshop talks, 3/21 – Achab, Baier, Ouali, Fahloune

This Thursday and Friday McGill  will host a Workshop on Amazigh languages, featuring invited talks by Karim Achab (University of Ottawa), Hamid Ouali (University of Wisconsin, Madison), and Khokha Fahloune (UQAM), as well as short presentations on Kabyle by the students in this semester’s Field Methods course.
Thursday, the talks will be held in Leacock 738
All are welcome! Below, find the titles/times of the four long talks for the conference. For a detailed scheduled and abstracts for the talks, please visit the workshop website.
Thursday, March 21st (Leacock 738)
1:00 — 2:00:  Karim Achab (University of Ottawa) — Diachronic and Synchronic Account of Anti-Agreement in Amazigh Languages
2:00 — 3:00: Hamid Ouali (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) — On Tense and Aspect in Tamazight
3:30 — 4:30:  Khokha Fahloune (UQAM) — Retour sur les marqueurs sujet et objet en kabyle
4:30 — 5:30: Nico Baier (McGill University) — Person Case Constraint Effects in Kabyle

Please feel free to drop by for any of the talks.

Colloquium, 3/22 – Susi Wurmbrand

SpeakerSusi Wurmbrand (Universität Wien)
Date & Time: March 22, 2019
Place:  Education Bldg. rm. 334
Title: Proper and improper A-dependencies


This talk provides an overview of case and agreement dependencies that are established across clause-boundaries, such as raising to subject or object and cross-clausal agreement. We will see that cross-clausal A-dependencies (CCADs) in several languages can apply not only across non-finite but also across finite clause boundaries. Furthermore, it will be shown that the DP entering a CCAD is situated in the specifier of the embedded CP. This poses a challenge for the traditional ‘truncation’ approach to CCADs according to which CCADs are restricted to reduced (CP-less) complements. It also poses a challenge for the view that A-dependencies cannot follow A’-dependencies involving the same element. Lastly, we can observe that a clause across which a CCAD applies functions as true, non-deficient, A’-CP for other purposes. The direction proposed to bring the observed properties together is to maintain a universal improper A-after-A′ constraint, but allow certain positions in certain CPs to qualify as A-positions from which further A-dependencies can be established.

TOM 12 – 3/30

The 12th annual Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Semantics Workshop (TOM 12) will be co-hosted by the Department of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics at Concordia University and the Department of Linguistics at McGill University on Saturday, March 30, 2019. For details and registration, see https://tom12mtl.wixsite.com/tom12. All are welcome. Those planning to attend are requested to register. Registration is free.

Linguistics/CRBLM joint talk, 3/15 – Mara Breen

The linguistics Department at McGill and the CRBLM jointly invite you to a talk by Prof. Mara Breen (Psychology, Holyoke College). There’s be a social dinner in the evening, please let me know in case you’re interested in attending!
Title: Hierarchical linguistic metric structure in speaking, listening, and reading
Friday, March 15, 3:30-5:00pm
Location: McGill College 2001, Room 461
ABSTRACT: In this talk, I will describe results from three experiments exploring how hierarchical timing regularities in language are realized by speakers, listeners, and readers. First, using a corpus of productions of Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat—a metrically and phonologically regular children’s book, we show that speakers’ word durations and intensities are accurately predicted by models of linguistic and musical meter, respectively, demonstrating that listeners to these texts receive consistent acoustic cues to hierarchical metric structure. In a second experiment, we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) as participants listened to an isochronous, non-intensity-varying text-to-speech rendition of The Cat in the Hat. Pilot ERP results reveal electrophysiological indices of metric processing, demonstrating top-down realization of metric structure even in the absence of explicit prosodic cues. In a third experiment, we recorded ERPs while participants silently read metrically regular rhyming couplets where the final word sometimes mismatched the metric or prosodic context. These mismatches elicited ERP patterns similar to neurocognitive responses observed in listening experiments. In sum, these results demonstrate similarities in perceived and simulated hierarchical timing processes in listening and reading and help explain the processes by which listeners use predictable metric structure to facilitate speech segmentation and comprehension.

Syntax Reading Group, 3/14 – Benjamin Oldham

This week, Benjamin Oldham will be presenting his ongoing work on applicatives in Chichewa. The presentation is titled: Object marking in Chichewa: A diagnostic for the syntax of applicatives. A short abstract is below.
This presentation uses object marking in Chichewa as a diagnostic for the syntactic structure of applicatives, which are double object constructions. In different types of applicatives, the object available for object marking may be either the direct object or the applied object, to the exclusion of the other. I show that object marking targets the syntactically highest object, and that Chichewa makes the distinction between a high and low applicative. This syntactic model is compatible with other observed behaviors of object marking crosslinguistically.
We will meet at our usual meeting time of 12-1pm in Linguistics, Room 117.
All are welcome!

Fieldwork Lab meeting, 3/14 – Ethics and REB

The fieldwork lab will meet this Thursday from 4:30–6:00pm in room 117. Richard Compton (UQAM) will lead discussion ethics and university REB, and will be discussing a reading by Monica Macaulay’s (2004) article, ‘Training Students for the Realities of Fieldwork.’ If you need access to a copy of the article, or if you would like to receive regular Fieldwork Lab meeting announcements, email organizer Clint Parker.

Workshop on Amazigh Languages, 3/21—3/22

McGill linguistics will host a Workshop on Amazigh languages on March 21st and March 22nd. The workshop will have invited talks by Karim Achab (University of Ottawa), Hamid Ouali (University of Wisconsin, Madison), and Khokha Fahloune (UQAM), as well as short presentations on Kabyle by the students in this semester’s Field Methods course.

All are welcome! If you do you plan on attending for some or all, please email organizer Nico Baier ideally by Monday, March 11.

Syntax Reading Group, 2/28 – Michaela Socolof

This week in Syntax Reading Group, Michaela Socolof will be presenting some ongoing work on Georgian correlatives. There is no reading for this week.
We will meet at our usual time and location: 12-1pm in Linguistics room 117. All are welcome!
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