« Older Entries

McGill @LSRL 51

McGill linguists presented the following talks at the 51st Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL). The conference was hosted virtually between April 29 and May 1 by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • Natália Brambatti Guzzo and Avery Franken (BA ’21): Structure preservation and contact effects: Subjects in Brazilian Veneto
  • Guilherme D. Garcia (PhD ’17) and Natália Brambatti Guzzo: Target vowel asymmetry in Brazilian Veneto metaphony

Carol-Rose Little to University of Oklahoma

McLing is happy to announce that Carol-Rose Little (current postdoc; BA ’12) has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Linguistics position at the University of Oklahoma in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics. She will be joining their faculty this fall. Congratulations Carol-Rose!

Congratulations to Donghyun Kim

Donghyun Kim (PhD 2018) will soon be starting a tenure-track assistant professor position in English Education at Kumoh National Institute of Technology in South Korea. Congratulations Don!

Alonso-Ovalle and Hsieh in Journal of Semantics

Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Henrison Hsieh’s manuscript on the Tagalog Ability / Involuntary Action verbal form (“Causes and expectations: On the interpretation of the Tagalog Ability / Involuntary Action form”) has been accepted for publication at the Journal of Semantics.

Bernhard Schwarz at UCL

As part of the UCL Linguistics Seminar series, Bernhard Schwarz gave an invited talk today entitled “Comparisons of concentration and the composition of dimensions”, reporting on on joint work with Alan Bale (Concordia University) and David Shanks (McGill University).

Royer et al. in Tlalocan

A paper by Justin Royer, Pedro Mateo Pedro (U. Toronto), Elizabeth Carolan (BA ’14), Jessica Coon, and Magdalena Torres has been accepted for publication in Tlalocan, a journal that specializes on the documentation of texts and narratives from Indigenous languages of Mesoamerica. The paper is entitled “Atz’am k’ik’ atz’am: The story of Xuwan and a grammatical sketch of Chuj”, and is available on LingBuzz: https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/005630
Abstract: This article and text provide a new take on the San Mateo saltwater sources from the perspective of Xuwan, a San Mateo resident who for her entire life has been working in the extraction, production, and merchandising of atz’am k’ik’ atz’am ‘the black salt’, a culturally-valued good which forms a quintessential aspect of Chuj life and culture. In addition to recounting her experiences with black salt, Xuwan comments on several other aspects of Chuj life, both in the past and in the present. The article is introduced with a short grammar sketch of Chuj, which highlights the prominent grammatical features found in the text.

Guzzo and Garcia in Journal of Language Contact

The article ‘Phonological variation and prosodic representation: Clitics in Portuguese-Veneto contact’ by Natália Brambatti Guzzo and Guilherme D. Garcia (PhD ’17) has been published in the Journal of Language Contact.

Guzzo, Natália Brambatti and Guilherme Duarte Garcia. 2020. Phonological variation and prosodic representation: Clitics in Portuguese-Veneto contact. Journal of Language Contact 13(2): 389–427.

In a variety of Brazilian Portuguese in contact with Veneto, variable vowel reduction in clitic position can be partially accounted for by the phonotactic profile of clitic structures. We show that, when phonotactic profile is controlled for, vowel reduction is statistically more frequent in non-pronominal than in pronominal clitics, which indicates that these clitic types are represented in separate prosodic domains. We propose that this difference in frequency of reduction between clitic types is only possible due to contact with Veneto, which, unlike standard BP, does not exhibit vowel reduction in clitic position. Contact thus provides speakers with the possibility of producing clitic vowels without reduction, and the resulting variation is used to signal prosodic distinctions between clitic types. We show that the difference in frequency of reduction is larger for older speakers, who are more proficient in Veneto and use the language regularly.

Kilbourne-Ceron, Clayards, and Wagner published in Laboratory Phonology

A new paper by Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron (PhD ’17), Meghan Clayards, and Michael Wagner was published in the journal Laboratory Phonology:
Kilbourn-Ceron, O., Clayards, M., and Wagner, M. (2020). Predictability modulates pronunciation variants through speech planning effects: A case study on coronal stop realizations. Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology, 11(1).
Abstract: Predictability has been shown to be associated with many dimensions of variation in speech, including durational variation and variable omission of segments. However, the mechanism or mechanisms that underlie these effects are still unclear. This paper presents data on a new aspect of predictability in speech, namely how it affects allophonic variation. We examine two coronal stop allophones in English, flap and glottal stop, and find that their relationship with predictability is quite different from what is expected under current theories of probabilistic reduction in speech. Flapping is more likely when the word that follows is more predictable, but is not influenced by the frequency of the word itself, while glottal stops are more likely in words that are less predictable. We propose that the crucial distinction between these two allophones is how they are conditioned by phonological context. This, we argue, interacts with online speech planning processes and gives rise to variability for context-dependent allophones. This hypothesis offers a specific, testable mechanism for certain predictability effects, and has the potential to extend to other factors that contribute to variability in speech.

Xia, White, and Guzzo in Second Language Research

Vera Yunxiao Xia (BA ’18), Lydia White and Natália Brambatti Guzzo’s article “Intervention in relative clauses: Effects of relativized minimality on L2 representation and processing” was accepted for publication in Second Language Research.

McGill at SALT 30

McGill Linguistics was well represented at the recent Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT 30), held online from August 17–20, and hosted by Cornell University.

Our own Bernhard Schwarz was a keynote speaker, presenting joint work with Aron Hirsch (McGill postdoc 2017-19) and Michaela Socolof (“Severing uniqueness from answerhood”), and a number of former and current McGill affiliates were featured in the program:

  • Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Esmail Moghiseh: “Numeral Any: the view from Farsi”
  • Brian Buccola (McGill PhD 2015) and Andreas Haida: “Numeral modifiers revisited: Ignorance as a consequence of obligatory (ir)relevance”
  • Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (McGill postdoc 2014-15) and Meghan Lim: “Anti-uniqueness without articles”
  • Filipe Hisao Kobayashi and Vincent Rouillard (McGill BA 2017): “High and low exhaustification in singular which-questions”
  • Mathieu Paillé: “The distribution of local-only exhaustivity”

McGill at AFLA 27

Mathieu Paillé gave a talk at AFLA 27 called “Tucking-in and nominative-third word order.”

Ileana Paul (undergraduate and graduate alum) presented joint work with Diane Massam: “A recipe for null arguments”

Lauren Clemens (former postdoc) presented an invited talk: “Absolutive movement in Polynesian: Syntactic ergativity and postverbal word order variation”

They are pictured below, with Jozina Vander Klok, Michael Erlewine, and Henrison Hsiehalso in attendance.


Kilbourn-Ceroun, Clayards, and Wagner in Laboratory Phonology

Congratulations to coauthors Oriana Kilbourn-Ceroun (PhD ’17), Meghan Clayards, and Michael Wagner, who have just had their paper “Predictability modulates pronunciation variants through speech planning effects: A case study on coronal stop realizations” accepted for publication in the journal Laboratory Phonology.

Sonderegger, Stuart-Smith, Knowles, Macdonald, and Rathcke in Language

“Structured heterogeneity in Scottish stops over the twentieth century”, a paper by Morgan Sonderegger, Jane Stuart-Smith, Thea Knowles (McGill BA 2012, Asst Prof at U. Buffalo), Rachel Macdonald, and Tamara Rathcke, was published in the March issue Language.  Congrats all!

How and why speakers differ in the phonetic implementation of phonological contrasts, and the relationship of this ‘structured heterogeneity’ to language change, has been a key focus over fifty years of variationist sociolinguistics. In phonetics, interest has recently grown in uncovering ‘structured variability’—how speakers can differ greatly in phonetic realization in nonrandom ways—as part of the long-standing goal of understanding variability in speech. The English stop voicing contrast, which combines extensive phonetic variability with phonological stability, provides an ideal setting for an approach to understanding structured variation in the sounds of a community’s language that illuminates both synchrony and diachrony. This article examines the voicing contrast in a vernacular dialect (Glasgow Scots) in spontaneous speech, focusing on individual speaker variability within and across cues, including over time. Speakers differ greatly in the use of each of three phonetic cues to the contrast, while reliably using each one to differentiate voiced and voiceless stops. Interspeaker variability is highly structured: speakers lie along a continuum of use of each cue, as well as correlated use of two cues—voice onset time and closure voicing—along a single axis. Diachronic change occurs along this axis, toward a more aspiration-based and less voicing-based phonetic realization of the contrast, suggesting an important connection between synchronic and diachronic speaker variation.

McGill at Amsterdam Colloquium

The 22nd Amsterdam Colloquium, hosted by the Institute of Logic, Language and Computation at the University of Amsterdam, took place December 18-20. It featured a number of presentations by current and former affiliates of our Department, including:
  • Alan Bale (PhD 2006), Bernhard Schwarz & David Shanks (U2): Monotonicity restored: more never means purer (poster)
  • Aron Hirsch (postdoc 2017–19) & Michael Wagner: Only reconstruction and backwards association (talk)
  • Will Johnston: Pair-list questions from dependent plurals (talk)

David, Anouk Dieuleveut (visiting student 2015–16), Bernhard, Aron, Will

McGill at LSA 2020

McGill linguists spent this past weekend in New Orleans for the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Society of America. Presentations by current McGillians included the following:

  • Jeffrey Lamontagne & Francisco Torreira – Production planning mediates phonological variation
  • Carol-Rose Little (Cornell University), Mary Moroney (Cornell University), Justin Royer (McGill University) – Classifying classifiers: Two kinds of numeral classifiers across languages
  • Michaela Socolof – Cyclic Spell-out and impoverishment in Georgian

Jessica Coon received the LSA’s 2020 Linguistics, Language, and the Public award. Some of the McGill group was herded together for a photo:

Morelia Vázquez (Ch’ol consultant/RA); Jessica Coon; Carol-Rose Little (BA ’12); Nico Baier (course lecturer/post-doc ’17–’19); Colin Brown (MA ’16), Jeffrey LaMontagne; Justin Royer; Lydia Felice (BA ’17); Michaela Socolof


Congratulations Dr. Liz Smeets!

Congratulations to newly-minted Dr. Liz Smeets, who recently defended her dissertation “Conditions on L1 transfer in L2 discourse-syntax mappings: The case of Clitic Left Dislocation in Italian and Romanian”, supervised by Lydia White and Lisa Travis. Below Liz is pictured with supervisor Lydia White, ceremoniously moving her photo (with help from baby Otis) from “current students” to “recent PhDs”. Congratulations Liz!

Liz, Lydia, and Otis

Bale & Schwarz in Linguistics and Philosophy

An article co-authored by Alan Bale and Bernhard Schwarz, titled “Proportional readings of ‘many’ and ‘few’: the case for an underspecified measure function,” has just appeared online in Linguistics and Philosophy. The article can be found online here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10988-019-09284-5

McGill @ YYC Pronouns Workshop

Justin Royer traveled to Calgary to present “Pronominal classifiers and definiteness in Chuj” at the YYC Pronouns Workshop, held at the University of Calgary November 15th and 16th. Ileana Paul also presented collaborative work with Lisa Travis, “The architecture of pronouns and demonstratives in Malagasy.” The full program can be found on the workshop website.

Betsy Ritter (taught at McGill in ’91); Ileana Paul (PhD ’00); Justin Royer; Bronwyn Bjorkman (BA ’06); Richard Compton (Postdoc ’13-’14); Elizabeth Cowper (BA ’72)

Special presentation in prosodylab, 11/13 – Buxo-Lugo, Kilbourn-Ceron

On Wed November 13 Andrés Buxó-Lugo (University of Maryland) will present on his research in the prosodylab-meeting (10.30am-11.30am) in Room 117 in Linguistics (1085 Dr. Penfield Avenue). 

The world is not enough to explain lengthening of phonological competitors

Speakers tend to lengthen words when a phonologically overlapping word has recently been produced. Although there are multiple accounts of why lengthening occurs, all of these accounts generally assume that competition at some point in the production-comprehension process leads to lengthening. In a series of experiments, we investigated what contexts lead to competition and consequent lengthening of target word duration. In two experiments, we manipulated the contexts in which a target word is produced. Speakers produced simple descriptions of animations involving referents that shared initial phonology with another potential referent (e.g., beetle and beaker). We manipulated whether the related referent (i.e. beetle) was named by the speaker themselves, by another person, or was unmentioned, and compared target word durations (i.e. beaker) in these conditions to the condition in which the related word was absent. In both experiments, we found that lengthening does not occur whenever two referents are in the display that could be confused, even when it is clear that they are confusable. Instead, speakers only lengthened target words when the speaker or another person had named the phonologically related word out loud. In a third experiment, we manipulated whether a previously mentioned referent was relevant to the present event. We found that speakers lengthened phonologically related words even when a referent was no longer relevant to the current event. We discuss the implications of these findings for existing and new theories of language production.

Paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749596X19300981

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron will present on on-going research  (11.30am-12pm): “Word final consonant variation is triggered by variation in the speech planning window”

McGill @ NELS 50

McGill linguists of past and present were in Cambridge this past weekend for the 50th meeting of the Northeast Linguistics Society (NELS 50), held at MIT. Talks by current McGill affiliates included Justin Royer‘s talk Apparent syntax-prosody mismatches as right extraposition: Evidence from Mayan and Michaela Socolof, Bernhard Schwarz and Aron Hirsch‘s talk, Which-questions, uniqueness, and answerhood: evidence from disjunction. Stefan Keine (USC) presented joint work with Jessica CoonFeature gluttony in the syntax of hierarchy effects in a plenary talk.

The McGill group was rounded up for a photo. The full program with links to everyone’s titles and abstracts can be found here.

back row: Bernhard Schwarz, Mitcho Erlewine (NUS, post-doc ’14–’15); Carol-Rose Little (Cornell, BA ’12); Michaela Socolof; Maayan Abenina-Adaar (UCLA, MA ’14); Vincent Rouillard (MIT, BA ’17); Hadas Kotek (Apple, post-doc ’14–’15); Alan Bale (Concordia, PhD ’06); front row: Jessica Coon, Eva Portelance (Stanford, BA ’17); Justin Royer; Bronwyn Bjorkman (Queen’s, BA ’06)

« Older Entries
Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.