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Parameters Workshop

The Parameters Workshop in Honour of Lisa Travis took place Friday and Saturday last week at Thomson House, and included a number of current and former McGill affiliates, especially students, colleagues, and collaborators of Lisa Travis.

workshop participants outside Thomson House

The workshop included two full days of talks and posters on the topic of parameters. Special thanks to grad student organizers Masashi Harada, Henrison Hsieh, Mathieu Paillé, and Justin Royer.

Lisa gave the plenary talk

McGill at SALT 29

McGill linguists traveled to California last week for the 29th meeting of SALT (Semantics and Linguistic Theory), held May 17th–19th at UCLA. Talks and posters by McGill affiliates included:

  • Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Esmail Moghiseh – Neutralizing Free Choice Items via Domain Restriction: Farsi -i Indefinites
  • Aron Hirsch and Bernhard Schwarz – Singular “which”, mention-some, and variable scope uniqueness
  • Bernhard Schwarz, Alexandra Simonenko (PhD ’14), and David Oshima – Factive islands from necessary blocking

The full program can be found here. Some current and former McGill linguists gathered for a photo:

McGill @ SALT: Bernhard, Esmail, Luis, mitcho Erlewine (postdoc ’14–
’15), Aron, Maayan Adar (MA ’14)

McGill at GLOW 42

GLOW 42 was hosted at the University of Oslo between 7-11 May. McGill linguists gave presentations at the conference, and McGill alumnus Jozina Vander Klok (PhD, 2013) was one of its organizers. The full program can be viewed on GLOW’s website here.

McGill’s linguists gathered for a quick photo:

Left-to-right: Jurij Bozic, Jozina Vander Klok (PhD ’12), Cornelia Loos (visiting student, ’06-07)

McGill at MOTH

The 2019 Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton (MOTH) Syntax Workshop took place this past weekend at Carleton University in Ottawa. Lisa Travis gave an invited talk, and Mathieu Paillé presented a talk title “Unergatives in Malay inside-verbals.”

McGill at MOTH: Kumiko Murasugi (postdoc ’93-’94), Lisa, Mathieu, and Bronwyn Bjorkman (BA ’06) 

Semantics Group, 4/26 – Bernhard Schwarz (joint work with Alexandra Simonenko and David Oshima)

This week, Bernhard Schwarz will present his joint work with Alexandra Simonenko and David Oshima.

Title: Factive islands from necessary blocking
Abstract: Szabolcsi and Zwarts (1993) discovered a type of factive island effect where question-forming wh-movement from the complement of a factive predicate can be rendered unacceptable by the complement’s content. On Oshima’s (2007) account, fleshed out in Schwarz and Simonenko (2018), factive islands are due to the necessary conflict between two felicity conditions. We present new data from multiple questions to argue that this account undergenerates factive islands, and we propose an account in terms of necessary blocking that applies correctly to both classic instances of the effect (Szabolcsi and Zwarts 1993) and factive islands with multiple questions. This finding informs the general discussion of the meaning-based unacceptability of semantically interpretable sentences (e.g., Abrusan 2014; Chierchia 2013; Del Pinal 2017; Gajewski 2002;Mayr 2017; Oshima 2007; Schwarz and Simonenko 2018), where factive islands have been considered as an important test bench (Abrusan 2014; Del Pinal 2017; Oshima 2007; Schwarz and Simonenko 2018).
As usual, we will meet on Friday in Room 117 at 3pm. All are welcome to attend!

Kim and Clayards in Language, Cognition and Neuroscience

This week a new article was published online in Language, Cognition and Neuroscience with co-authors Donghyun Kim (recent PhD graduate) and Meghan Clayards.
Donghyun Kim & Meghan Clayards (2019). Individual differences in the link between perception and production and the mechanisms of phonetic imitation, Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1080/23273798.2019.1582787
Here is the hyperlink

Michael at UofT

Michael Wagner presented a keynote talk titled “Toward a Bestiary of the Intonational Tunes of English” at the 4th Intonation Workshop at University of Toronto last Friday, reporting on joint work with McGill PhD alum Dan Goodhue on the on the intonational bestiary.

Knowles, Clayards, and Sonderegger in Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

McGill Linguistics alum and current PhD candidate at Western, Thea Knowles, was the lead author on a paper published in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research along with co-authors Meghan Clayards and Morgan Sonderegger. The paper is titled “Examining Factors Influencing the Viability of Automatic Acoustic Analysis of Child Speech” and is available online here and in preprint form here.

M. Schwarz, Sonderegger, and Goad to appear in Journal of Phonetics

An article by Martha Schwarz (MA alum 2017), Morgan Sonderegger, and Heather Goad has just been accepted to Journal of Phonetics: “Realization and representation of Nepali laryngeal contrasts: Voiced aspirates and laryngeal realism”.

Theories of Laryngeal Realism argue for a tight correspondence between a segment’s phonetic cues and the (laryngeal) phonological features that represent it. As such, the ‘p’/’b’ contrast in French, expressed phonetically by vocal fold vibration during the stop closure, is represented by a [voice] feature while the ‘p’/’b’ contrast in English, expressed phonetically by contrasting long and short lag VOT, is represented by a [spread] feature. Laryngeal realist literature focuses on whether a given segment is best represented by [voice] or [spread], and proposes a set of criteria and tests by which to diagnose the representation. In this study we push laryngeal realist theory in a new direction — to segments proposed to be specified for both [voice] and [spread] features — a combination which poses challenges to the current diagnostics. To do so, we analyze acoustic data from Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language with a single class of stops described as both voiced and aspirated. We apply the same criteria and diagnostics used in laryngeal realism. We find support for the proposed representation, with a caveat that the [voice] feature appears stronger than [spread].

Michael Wagner in France

Michael is back from at talk at LINGUAE at ENS in Paris, and presenting a joint keynote at the Workshop on Prosody & Meaning and SemDial in Aix en Provence. The talks reported on joint work with Dan Goodhue on their project ‘Toward an Intonational Bestiary‘.

Congratulations Lisa Travis!

Congratulations to Lisa Travis, who will be retiring at the end of this year. Last week, current and former students and colleagues gathered for a surprise party in Lisa’s honour. McGill alums Laura Kalin, Ileana Paul and Jozina Vander Klok presented Lisa with a book of 44 papers written on the occasion of her retirement entitled Heading in the right direction: Linguistic treats for Lisa Travis, which was published by McGill Working Papers in Linguistics and will be available online shortly.

McGill will also host a workshop on parameters in honour of Lisa’s retirement this May. See details and a call for papers here.

Junko Shimoyama at WAFL

Junko Shimoyama gave an invited talk at the 14th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL) at MIT last week (Oct. 19-21), which was preceded by a workshop in honor of Shigeru Miyagawa (Oct. 18). Her talk was titled “Embeddability of biased negative polar questions in Japanese”, which is joint work with Dan Goodhue (PhD 2018) and Mako Hirotani (Carleton University).

Knowles, Clayards, and Sonderegger in Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

The paper “Examining Factors Influencing the Viability of Automatic Acoustic Analysis of Child Speech,” by Thea Knowles (McGill BA 2012; now at Western University), Meghan Clayards and Morgan Sonderegger was published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Congrats!

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron to Northwestern

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron (PhD ’17) received a 2-year grant from the Fonds de recherche: Société et Culture to pursue a postdoctoral position at Northwestern University. The project is entitled “Penser avant de parler? L’effet de la planification de la production de la parole en temps réel sur les prononciations variables” and will be supervised by Professor Matt Goldrick. Congratulations Oriana!

McGill at Annual Meeting on Phonology

McGill linguists attended the Annual Meeting on Phonology that took place at UC San Diego on October 5-7. The following posters were presented by current members of the department:
  • “Native and non-native patterns in conflict: Lexicon vs. grammar in loanword adaptation in Brazilian Portuguese” — Natália Brambatti Guzzo
  • “Evidence for a pitch accent in Saguenay French” — Jeffrey Lamontagne, Heather Goad and Morgan Sonderegger
  • “Evidence of phonemicization: Lax vowels in Canadian French” — Jeffrey Lamontagne
In the picture, from left to right:
Natália Guzzo, Marc Garellek (BA 2008), Sara Mackenzie (post-doc 2010-2011), Jeff Lamontagne, Erin Olson (BA 2012), Joe Pater (PhD 1997), Sharon Rose (PhD 1997)

McGill at GALANA

Several papers by members of the Department were presented at GALANA (Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America) in Bloomington, Indiana, Sept. 27–30. Presentations included:
  • “Intervention effects in adult L2 processing of relative clauses” – Vera Xia and Lydia White
  • “Pronoun interpretation in L2 Italian: prosodic effects revisited” – Heather Goad, Lydia White, Guilherme Garcia, Natalia Guzzi, Sepideh Mortazavinia, Liz Smeets, and Jiajia Su
  • “Competence and performance in language acquisition revisited: drawing a fine line” – Keynote talk by Lydia White

Gui Garcia, Lydia White, Liz Smeets, Silvina Montrul, Alan Munn

Lydia White and Vera Xia also presented a poster at EUROSLA, Münster, Germany, Sept. 5-8. on “Intervention effects in L2 representation and processing”.

Simonenko and Schwarz to appear in Natural Language Semantics

Alexandra Simonenko (McGill PhD 2014) and Bernhard Schwarz recently learned that their paper “Factive islands and meaning-driven unacceptability” has been accepted for publication in Natural Language Semantics. Congratulations to both!

McGill at Sinn und Bedeutung 23

McGill Linguists, past and present, attended Sinn und Bedeutung 23, hosted by the Centre de Lingüística Teòrica at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, on September 5-7, 2018. Presentations included:

  • Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Esmail Moghiseh – Contradiction-Free Strengthening and Alternative Discharge: Persian -i Indefinites
  • Amir Anvari, Brian Buccola (PhD McGill 2016) and Andreas Haida – Alternative questions in Farsi
  • Alan Bale (PhD McGill 2006) and Bernhard Schwarz – Reverse proportionality without context dependent standards.
  • Daniel Goodhue (PhD McGill 2018) – High negation questions and epistemic bias.

Brian, Luis, Dan, and Bernhard at SuB 23

Dan Goodhue to the University of Maryland

McLing is thrilled to report that PhD student Daniel Goodhue has just accepted a postdoctoral position in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland. He will be working with Dr. Valentine Hacquard and Dr. Jeffrey Lidz at the intersection of semantics and language acquisition. The position begins in August 2018.

Congratulations Dan!

McGill at WCCFL 36

McGill linguists past and present gathered at UCLA this past weekend to present their research at the 36th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL).

McGill linguists past and present gathered at UCLA this past weekend to present their research at the 36th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL).


Matthew Barros & Hadas Kotek (McGill postdoc 2014-16): “Some Issues with Sluicing as Anaphora to Issues“
Mathieu Paillé & Bernhard Schwarz: “Knowing whether and ignorance inferences“


Aron Hirsch: “Epistemically-sensitive ‘only’ ”
Maayan Abenina-Adar (McGill MA 2014): “Surprising”
Guilherme D. Garcia (McGill PhD 2017) and Heather Goad: “Can you have stress without feet?”
Jeffrey Lamontagne: “Acoustic Evidence of Phonemicization: Laxing Coarticulation in Canadian French”

Photo, from left to right: Mathieu, Maayan, Heather, Aron, Bernhard

Left to right: Mathieu, Maayan, Heather, Aron, Bernhard


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