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Paillé and Royer at the “Colloque 50 ans de linguistique à l’UQAM”

Mathieu Paillé and Justin Royer both presented their work at the “Colloque 50 ans de linguistique à l’UQAM: regards croisés sur les enjeux de la linguistique”, held at Université du Québec à Montréal April 22-24. The titles of their talks were:

  • Mathieu Paillé – “Généraliser le critère thêta : une alternative à base d’exhaustivité”
  • Justin Royer – Aligner prosodie et syntaxe pour mieux comprendre la syntaxe: Phénomène prosodique en maya

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

McGill at WCCFL 39

McGill linguists presented at the 39th meeting of the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 39), hosted virtually by the University of Arizona April 8–11. Presentations involving McGill linguists included:

  • Dan Brodkin and Justin Royer – “Ergative Anaphors and High Absolutive Syntax” Abstract
  • Carol-Rose Little, Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez, Jessica Coon, Nicolás Arcos López and Morelia Vázquez Martínez – “Collaborative corpus creation: A Chol case study” Abstract
  • Jonathan Palucci, Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Esmail Moghiseh – “Against Obligatory Wide Scope for Any : Transparency”   Abstract

Michael Wagner in GLOW “targetted collaborative debate”

Michael will debate Arto Anttila (Stanford) in a “Targeted Collaborative Debate” on April 16 at the upcoming 44th meeting of Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW 44) conference, held virtually.
Arto Anttila (Stanford University) and Michael Wagner (McGill):  “What is deaccentuation?”
The full program is available here: https://glowlinguistics.org/44/program/

Hermann Keupdjio at SAIAL

Postdoctoral fellow Hermann Keupdjio will be giving two talks at Syntactic Asymmetries in African Languages (SAIAL 2021), organized virtually by Potsdam Linguistics, April 15–16.

  • Hermann Keupdjio – Wh-/focus movement and the in-situ/ex-situ partition in Bamileke Medumba
  • Hermann Keupdjio and Christelle Niguieu Toukam – Syntactic asymmetry between multi-event and causative SVCs in Bamileke

The full program is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gVMKOIYIbWsFD9U2rJoQ3NJAic92TmAm/view


McGill @ MOTH 2021

The annual Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton (MOTH) Syntax Conference is scheduled to take place Monday–Tuesday, April 19th and 20th, hosted virtually by McMaster University. You can find the full program and registration information here: https://moth-2021.webnode.com/, including the following talks by McGillians:

  • Jing Ji, (McGill University): A Hybrid Analysis of Chinese Right Dislocation
  • William Johnston, (McGill University): Verb Serialization as Event-Building: Evidence from Hmong
  • Jonathan Palucci, (McGill University): Unifying English causative and experiencer have: the affected argument

Register for free here: https://moth-2021.webnode.com/registration/

Wagner, Iturralde Zurita, and Zhang at CUNY Sentence Processing Conference

Michael, Alvaro (SCSD), and Sijia presented their work on rhythm typology at CUNY this week:

Wagner, Michael, Alvaro Iturralde Zurita, and Sijia Zhang (2021). Two dimensional parsing, the iambic trochaic law, and the typology of rhythm. Short Talk at the CUNY Sentence Processing Conference, UPenn [abstract]  [slides]


McGill @ DGfS 43

McGill was represented at the 43rd Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS 43, Freiburg, February 23-26, 2021), presenting the following talks in two focused workshops:

Aurore Gonzalez and Justin Royer
“Expletive negation and negative polarity: the view from Québec French”
(Workshop on Empirical approaches to canonical and non-canonical uses of negation)

Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten, Keir Moulton (postdoc 2009-11) and Junko Shimoyama
“Nouny propositions and their individual correlates: the view from Japanese”
(Workshop on the nouniness of propositional arguments)

Colloquium, 2/26 — Viola Schmitt

Our next talk in the 2020-2021 McGill Linguistics Colloquium Series will be given by Viola Schmitt (Humboldt University Berlin) on Friday, February 26th at 3:30pm. The title of the talk is “Are worlds special?”. The abstract can be found at the end of this message.

Viola is interested in meeting with students and faculty. If you are interested in setting up a meeting with her, please contact Masashi Harada by next Monday with a list of your availability on February 26th from 10:00 – 13:30.

If you have not yet registered for the colloquium series, please do so here (you only need to register once for the 2020-2021 year). For more information on upcoming events in the McGill Linguistics department, please see our website.

This talk (which owes a lot to current joint projects with Nina Haslinger, Eva Rosina, Tim Stowell and Valerie Wurm) addresses an apparent gap in an otherwise apparently robust pattern, namely, that all semantic domains contain pluralities (or at least objects with a non-trivial part structure). In the individual domain, plurality-denoting expressions have a number of well-known characteristic properties (see Link 1983 for a general discussion): On the one hand, we have properties that are intuitively related to the presence of a part-whole relation – plurality- denoting expressions can partake in cumulative readings (Scha 1981 a.m.o.) and be targeted by certain adverbs that seem to directly appeal to their part-structure (Link 1987, Zimmermann 2002 a.o.). On the other hand, a subset of plurality-denoting expressions – namely, definite plurals and individual conjunctions – can give rise to homogeneity effects (Löbner 2000, Schwarzschild 1993, Križ 2015 a.o.) and some of these expressions sometimes permit non-maximal predication (Brisson 1998, Malamud 2012, Križ 2016 a.o.). My first point will be to show that if we consider the first set of tests, the notion of plurality (or rather, some form of part-structure) is pretty much persistent across semantic domains: It looks like we find pluralities in the domains of a number other ‘primitives’, like events, degrees and times (see Landman 2000, Dotlacˇil & Nouwen 2016, Artstein & Francez 2006 a.m.o. for discussion of different types of such primitives), as well as in ‘functional’ domains like those of predicates of individuals, propositions, question denotations, quantifiers or individual concepts (see Schmitt 2019, 2020, Beck & Sharvit 2002, Haslinger 2019, Haslinger & Schmitt to appear for discussion of different aspects of this claim). I will then argue, based on data from German, that the best candidates for world-pluralities fail these tests. First, it has been argued that the antecedents of (indicative) conditionals denote (definite) pluralities of worlds (see Schlenker (2004), Kaufmann (2017), Križ (2018, 2019)) because they exhibit two traits of plurality: Homogeneity and non- maximality (see in particular Križ (2018) for these points and Gajewski (2005) for relevant connected observations). Second, neg-raising constructions with attitude verbs have been discussed as potentially involving world-pluralities, with neg-raising being a potential instance of homogeneity (see Križ (2015) for a discussion of this possibility). However, neither construction allows for cumulative readings that appeal to parts of world pluralities (rather than, say, pluralities of propositions). Furthermore, adverbs sensitive to part-structure which, in all other cases, seem to be pretty much category blind, cannot access parts of world pluralities. The last part of the talk will probe the consequences of these findings. (Warning: I don’t really have a solution, yet, just some speculations.)

Call for papers for “Move and Agree” workshop, cohosted by McGill and UBC

The call for papers is now out for the workshop Move and Agree: Forum on the Formal Typology of A’-Agreement, cohosted by McGill and UBC and co-organized by Hermann Keupdjio, James Crippen, and Rose-Marie Decháine (UBC). The workshop will take place virtually May 31st–June 24th, with abstracts due March 5th.

The invited speaker line-up includes current and former McGill affiliates: Nico Baier (postdoc ’18–’19), Michael Hamilton (PhD ’15), Carol-Rose Little, and Martina Martinović. The workshop description is below:

The minimalist research program (Chomsky 1995 et seq.) creates a paradox for movement operations: Merge is conceptually necessary, but Move – and its accompanying Agree relation – is not. Yet there are many natural language phenomena which are insightfully analyzed using the metaphors of movement and agreement. We wish to theorize the paradox of Move/Agree (Keupdjio 2020), namely why does Move/Agree exist at all, if it is conceptually unnecessary? This forum focuses on the syntactic contexts that can be analyzed as instances of A′-movement and which are also associated with A′-agreement; e.g. content questions, relativization, information-structure operations like topicalization and focus. The agreement morphology that arises with A′-movement is known under various names:

  • A′-agreement (Keupdjio 2020);
  • wh-agreement (Chung 1994, Carstens 2005, Reintges, LeSourd & Chung 2006, Hedinger 2008, Schneider-Zioga 2009, Lochbihler & Mathieu 2010);
  • wh-copying (Fanselow & Mahajan 2000, Felser 2004);
  • extraction morphology (Zentz 2016);
  • complementizer agreement (McCloskey 2001, Carstens 2003);
  • reflex of successive cyclic movement (van Urk 2015, Georgi 2017).

Grouping these various morphological reflexes of A′-movement together as instances of A′-agreement, this forum explores the connection between A′-movement and A′-agreement with two goals in mind:

  1. to gain a broader and deeper empirical coverage of A′-agreement via case studies of typologically distinct languages from a variety of language families;

  2. to move forward the theory of A′-agreement defined as a non-local morphosyntactic feature-sharing mechanism that correlates with A′-movement (Baier 2018).

Guzzo and Little at LSA and SSILA 2021

McGill postdocs Natália Brambatti Guzzo and Carol-Rose Little each presented their work at this year’s annual meeting of the Linguistics Society of America, which took place virtually January 7–10.

Carol-Rose also presented “Clusivity marking across Mayan languages” at the concurrent 2021 Annual Meeting for the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA).
SSILA will also be awarding Carol-Rose Little and Morelia Vázquez Martínez with a Special Recognition for incorporation of an Indigenous language in their Best Student Presentation award category for their talk entitled “Dimensions of definiteness in Ch’ol: A dialectal comparison”, which Morelia gave entirely in Ch’ol at the 2020 SSILA meeting (with slides in English).

AFLA 28 at McGill

McGill Linguistics will jointly host the 28th Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association meeting (AFLA 28) with National University of Singapore May 25th–28th 2021 (to be held virtually). The list of invited speakers and more information about the call for papers can be found on the AFLA website here: https://lingconf.com/afla28/.

The Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association (AFLA) promotes the study of Austronesian languages from a formal perspective. Since the initial meeting in 1994, AFLA has served as a forum for the presentation of new research in all of the core areas of formal linguistics, including (but not limited to) phonology, linguistic typology, morphology, semantics and syntax. AFLA has a history of bringing together leading scholars, native speaker linguists, and junior scholars in the formal study of Austronesian languages.

Justin Royer at Going Romance 34

Justin Royer presented joint work with Aurore Gonzalez (Harvard) at Going Romance 34 (held virtually in Paris). Their work was entitled “Expletive negation” as a decomposed NPI in Québec French. 

Michael Wagner at the 61st Annual Conference of the Psychonomic Society

Michael Wagner recently presented a poster, “Encoding a semantic contrast requires phonological contrast in English but not in French” at the 61st Annual Conference of the Psychonomic Society on Nov 19 2020.

Can a homophone antecedent cause deaccentuation?

It turns out yes. See the full poster for more.

McGill @ NELS 51

The 51st Annual Meeting of the Northeast Linguistics Society (NELS 51) took place virtually this past weekend, organized by the UQÀM. McGill presenters included:

  • Justin Royer – Subject or possessor? Binding and the ‘Low/High-ABS’ parameter in Mayan
  • Jonathan Palucci & Luis Alonso-Ovalle – Numeral any: In favor of viability

Full conference information can be found here: https://sites.grenadine.uqam.ca/sites/linguistique/en/nels51/

Luis Alonso-Ovalle at SENSUS

Luis Alonso-Ovalle was a keynote speaker at SENSUS (Constructing Meaning in Romance), where he presented joint work with alumni Vincent Rouillard, and Elizabeth Heredia-Murillo.

McGill at MOTH 2020

McGill linguists attended and presented at the 2020 Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton (MOTH) Syntax Workshop, hosted virtually by the University of Toronto, August 17-18, 2020. Madelaine O’Reilly-Brown presented “Restructuring and clause structure in Hindi-Urdu”, Connie Ting  presented “Capturing ‘exempt’ anaphors with local binding”, and Beini Wang presented “Split intransitivity in Mandarin Chinese”. Martina Martinović was this year’s invited speaker.

Two new papers from Speech Prosody conference

Two new papers by McGill Linguistics coauthors were published in the proceedings of this years Speech Prosody Conference, held May 25 to August 31, 2020. Videos from the talks can still be found on the conference website.

Gibson, Emma, Francisco Torreira, and Michael Wagner. (2020). The high-fall contour in North American English: A case study in imperatives. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020.
Abstract: Imperatives are often uttered with a standard declarative falling contour. However, there are several claims that they can be pronounced with different tunes, leading to different illocutionary as well as attitudinal import. In this paper, we investigate one such tune, which we categorize as the “high-fall contour” and can be described as a nuclear high accent that is often scaled higher (or ‘upstepped’) compared to earlier accents. We show that it is used in the context of “weak” (suggestion-like) and “repeated” or “redundant” imperatives. The “weak” usage of the high-fall seems contradictory in pragmatic flavour to its use in repetitions, which usually sound like definite commands and not suggestions. We test for whether these uses may be distinguishable based on prenuclear patterns, as has been suggested in prior literature, and ultimately do not find evidence to suggest the tunes are distinct. We also observe that, surprisingly, imperative repetition leads to a lengthening of duration.
Martens, Gouming, Francisco Torreira, and Michael Wagner. (2020). Hat contour in Dutch: Form and function. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020.
Abstract: The hat contour is an intonation pattern which starts with a rise and ends in a fall. Although most researchers agree that it consists of a rise and fall, there is little consensus about the actual phonological form of this contour. Consequently, theories about the meaning of the hat pattern are very diverse as well.

The current research attempts at gaining a better understanding of the relationship between the form and meaning of one specific hat contour in Dutch: Something we will refer to as the early-fall hat contour. We will test the hypothesis that an early fall encodes the presupposition that there are true alternatives to the asserted proposition.An online rating experiment was set up in which stimuli were manipulated for the timing of the fall (early fall vs. late fall) and the availability of alternative propositions. The results show that as predicted, an early-fall is less acceptable when all alternatives are ruled out than a late fall. Moreover, an early fall is preferred when there are true alternatives, which interprets as an effect of Maximize Presupposition. The effects are very small however, suggesting that more research is needed to understand these effects better. Index Terms: alternative propositions, hat contour, intonational meaning, maximize presupposition.

McGill at LabPhon 17

LabPhon 17 was virtually held in Vancouver, July 6-8. There were several presentations by current and recent McGillians:

  • Heather Goad (invited speaker) – Marginal phonological structure: Prosodic constituency that you cannot ‘hear’ in Québec French
  • Jane Stuart-Smith, Morgan Sonderegger, Jeff Mielke, James Tanner, Vanna Willerton – The SPADE Consortium (talk) Desperately seeking English sibilants: Discovering dialect norms and speaker variability for /s ʃ/ from large-scale multi-dialect analysis
  • Meghan Clayards, Claire Suh and Ross Otto (poster) – Individual differences in top-down lexical processing linked to cognitive inhibition
  • Heather Goad and Natália Brambatti Guzzo (poster)– Prosodic structure affects processing: The case of English past inflection (poster)
  • Michael Wagner, Josiane Lachapelle and Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron (poster) – Liaison and the locality of production planning

The full program can be found here: https://labphon.org/labphon17/detailed-programme

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”

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