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MULL-Lab Meeting, 09/28 – Richard Compton

MULL-Lab (formerly Fieldwork Lab) will be meeting Tuesday, September 28, at 4:30pm.  Richard Compton (UQAM) will be presenting a paper titled On the structure of (personal) pronouns in Inuktitut.  If you would like to attend but still haven’t registered, you may do so here.

MULL-Lab Meeting

Montreal Underdocumented Languages Linguistics Lab (MULL-Lab, formerly Fieldwork Lab) will be having its first meeting this Tuesday, September 21, from 3:30-4:30pm.  If you would like to attend, please fill out this registration form.  We will be setting our schedule of talks for this semester, so please come with ideas!

Fieldwork group meetings

Fieldwork group meetings will start back up this semester. Please fill out the poll here to indicate your availability for a regular meeting: https://doodle.com/poll/36t4k8czky9e8bzz?utm_source=poll&utm_medium=link. Email Clint Parker with any questions.

Mpoke Mimpongo completes MA at UQÀM

Congratulations to Mpoke Mimpongo, who recently completed is MA in Linguistics at UQÀM, under the supervision of Heather Newell (McGill PhD ’08)  with a thesis entitled “Le statut phonologique des groupes NC en Bobangi/Mangala.”

Mpoke served as the language consultant for the Field Methods class co-taught by Jessica and Morgan in 2017, and continued working with McGill students after. Mpoke credits his experience as a language consultant with deepening his interest in studying Bantu linguistics.

Congratulations Mpoke!



Fieldwork Lab, 4/15 — Will Johnston

This week, Will Johnston will present a talk titled: “Verb serialization as event-building: Evidence from Hmong”. (This is a 20-minute practice talk for MOTH; abstract follows.) Fieldwork Lab meets on Thursdays, though due to the unusual class schedule, Fieldwork Lab will exceptionally begin at 4:15 this week.

Abstract:  I examine two common and highly productive types of serial verb construction in Hmong (Hmong-Mien). These are the so-called ‘Attainment’ SVCs, which express telicity, and ‘Cause-Effect’ SVCs, which express direct causation. I argue that both are reflexes of the same underlying system: both are formed by merging multiple verbal roots within the event-building portion of the verbal projection. I then discuss the extent to which this treatment might apply to other types of SVCs in Hmong.

Fieldwork Lab, 4/8 — Hermann Keupdjio

This Thursday, during Fieldwork Lab, Hermann Keupdjio will talk to us about doing a virtual fieldtrip. Contact Carol-Rose Little if you would like to join.

Doing a virtual “fieldtrip”:

Collecting data from understudied languages is a vital enterprise that enriches our knowledge of the nature of human language. Accomplishing this with in person visits is invaluable, however, in addition to the current pandemic situation, there is an urgent need for more data, and a limited number of linguists with the training and resources to conduct field work. In this situation, online experiments provide a powerful supplementary tool for linguists and fieldworkers studying underdocumented languages. Specifically, rather than supplanting fieldwork, online experiments can allow for an expansion of field work with pre-visit pilots and follow-up experiments. More importantly, they are a helpful tool in creating and enhancing global collaborations and capacity building between field linguists, members of understudied language communities, and linguists without field training.

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 4/1 — Eszter Ótott-Kovács

This week in Fieldwork Lab Eszter Ótott-Kovács, PhD candidate at Cornell University, will be presenting her work “Genitive-Nominative Case Alternation in the Nominal Domain in Kazakh”. Fieldwork lab meets Thursday at 4pm. Contact Carol Rose Little if you would like to attend.


It is well-known that Turkic languages have Differential Object Marking, where the specific (presuppositional) direct object is marked with the accusative, while the non-specific object is unmarked for case/nominative (Enç 1991, Diesing 1992, Kelepir 2001). Relying on (mostly) Turkish data, it has been assumed that specificity drives the genitive-nominative case “alternation” in a similar manner to DOM (Kornfilt 2009, a.o.).

The talk explores the genitive-nominative “alternation” in Kazakh (Turkic), found (1) on the possessor in possessive constructions, on the subjects of (2) nominalized argument clauses and (3) relative clauses, based on novel data elicited by the author. I show that, in contrast to DOM, genitive-nominative alternation is not solely driven by specificity in this language. The genitive-nominative alternation on the possessor and the relative clause subject follows the pattern described for Turkish in terms of specificity. However, the genitive-nominative alternation on the argument clause subject is determined by the anaphoricity of the subject DP: genitive is marked on anaphoric DP subjects, nominative is used otherwise (in the case of unique definite or indefinite subjects).

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 3/11 — Jaime Pérez González

This week during Fieldwork Lab, Jaime Pérez González, a PhD candidate in the Department of Linguistics at University of Texas at Austin, will present Grammatical Aspect in Mocho’ (Mayan). We meet at 4pm on Thursday. Contact Carol-Rose Little if you would like to join.


This talk addresses in detail the aspectual system in Mocho’, a highly endangered Mayan language. Its complexity has led to a different analysis by Kaufman (1967) and Palosaari (2011). The outcome of this research is an alternative analysis to those proposed in previous studies. I show that this language has a split aspectual system based on transitivity and partially on person. Mocho’ exhibits two sub-paradigms of aspect based on the type of verb that heads the clause. On the one hand, when the head of the predicate corresponds to an active transitive verb, or when the head of the predicate is an intransitive underived verb that indicates its subject with the pronominal markers from Set A, the language will display three aspectual distinctions that contrast with one another in their temporal interpretations. On the other hand, inverse verbs and any intransitivized verbs with a suffix -(v)vn that take Set C to indicate their subject will have a binary opposition. On top of this, the morphological ergative split alignment in Mocho’ leads to an aspectual marker distinction between Speech Act Participants (SAPs) and third person. Based on corpus and elicitation sessions, this complex aspectual system is untangled here. Previous proposals have not been tested with corpus data, which can serve as a test-bed for the linguistic analysis proposed as well as for the intuitions on which the proposal is based. Thus, I will show that grammatical aspect (viewpoint aspect) in Mocho’ cannot solely be understood by eliciting data, but rather, a look from a corpus can tell us more about the nature of the language.

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 2/25 — Victoria Chen

This week during our fieldwork lab meeting, Victoria Chen (Assistant Professor in Syntax at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand) will present “When Austronesian-type voice meets Indo-European-type voice: Insights from Puyuma”. See attached abstract! Contact Carol-Rose if you would like to join the fieldwork lab. We meet from 4-5pm on Thursdays.

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 2/4 — Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada and Erin Hashimoto

At this week’s Fieldwork Lab meeting, Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada and Erin Hashimoto will give a presentation entitled “Using Legacy Text Collections for Student Training and Linguistic Research”. Details follow. Fieldwork Lab meets on Thursdays at 4:00pm. Contact Carol-Rose Little if you would like to attend.


Using Legacy Text Collections for Student Training and Linguistic Research


Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada
Assistant Professor, Indigenous Languages Sustainability
University of Alberta

Erin Hashimoto
MA Student
University of Victoria


In language documentation, the “Boasian trilogy”—which has come to be seen as the gold standard— refers to a grammar, a dictionary and a text collection. While grammars and dictionaries have received substantial attention in the literature over the last 30 years, text collections remain understudied. Yet legacy texts—broadly understood here to include narratives, procedural texts, songs, etc. collected in the past—constitute invaluable sources of language and culture for many Indigenous communities. In this talk, we focus on the potential of legacy text collections in student training and linguistic research through a case study on the mobilization of such a collection for Makah (Wakashan, Washington State, USA). To conclude, we also briefly explore the potential benefits of such work for communities.

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 1/28 — James Crippen

The next Fieldwork Lab meeting will be January 28th, 2021, at 4:00pm. James Crippen will be giving a talk about morphosyntactic and semantic elicitation. Contact Carol-Rose Little if you would like to attend and do not have the zoom link.


I will talk informally about the art and craft of morphosyntactic and semantic elicitation based on my academic traditions and personal experience. I will address some background ideologies of elicitation and basic practices as well as common errors and pitfalls. I will then talk a bit about elicitation of highly context-dependent phenomena including aspect and information structure. I emphasise the needs for advanced preparation, clear and explicit communication about tasks with consultants, and the need for flexibility and improvisation.

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 1/14

The Fieldwork Lab will resume meetings this semester, with their first meeting at 4pm on Thursday January 14th. Please contact Carol-Rose Little if you would like to be added to the Fieldwork Lab slack channel for more information on meetings.

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 12/3 — Aaron Broadwell

This Thursday (Dec 3) at 4pm during the Fieldwork Lab meeting, Aaron Broadwell (University of Florida) will be presenting “Making historical texts in indigenous languages accessible to communities: A Zapotec case study”. Please email Carol-Rose Little if you would like to attend and do not have access.

Abstract: Caseidyneën Saën is a set of open educational resources on Colonial Zapotec funded by an ACLS grant and created by a team including activists, educators, academics, and students. Here, we present this resource as a case study that contributes to larger conversations related to (1) communities working with historical corpora in their languages (e.g. Leonard 2011, Hinton 2011) and (2) the role digital scholarship can play in such projects (e.g. Czaykowska-Higgens et al. 2014).

Zapotec languages (Otomanguean) are indigenous to Oaxaca and are also spoken in diaspora communities, including in the greater Los Angeles area. Historical forms of Zapotec are attested in an expansive corpus written during the Mexican Colonial period. The online, digital resource Ticha (https://ticha.haverford.edu) makes these manuscripts accessible to the public by providing open access to high-resolution images, transcriptions, translations, linguistic analysis, and historical context. The continued development of Ticha is embedded in pedagogical practices and committed to co-creation with Zapotec individuals and pueblos. In Caseidyneën Saën, a collection of public-facing teaching materials, we use the resources available on Ticha to teach about Zapotec language, culture, and intellectual history.

The e-book Caseidyneën Saën was created by a team comprised of both Zapotec and non-Native collaborators, and the 18 co-authors of this multilingual (English, Spanish, and Zapotec), multimedia presentation represent the diversity of the team. In this talk I discuss how we went from traditional linguistic fieldwork to a deeper immersion into collaborative work with Zapotec communities to provide documents that are relevant to their linguistic history.

George Aaron Broadwell is Elling Eide Professor of Anthropology at University of Florida. See more details at https://people.clas.ufl.edu/broadwell/.

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 11/26 — Dan Brodkin

This week in the Fieldwork Lab meeting, Dan Brodkin (UC Santa Cruz) will present work titled “Agent Focus in South Sulawesi”. Fieldwork Lab will meet at 4 on Thursday, November 26th. Contact Carol-Rose Little (carol.little@mcgill.ca), if you would like to join the meeting.

Fieldwork Lab, 11/5 — Dorothea Hoffmann

The next Fieldwork Lab Meeting will be on November 5th, 2020, this week exceptionally at 2:30pm. (Contact Carol-Rose Little if you would like to join.)

Dorothea Hoffmann will present a talk entitled “Event- and team-based fieldwork with a non-profit in comparison to the “lone-wolf” approach: A personal account”.

This paper compares “traditional” academic fieldwork in Australia as a “lone-wolf” linguist with the event- and team-based approach developed by the non-profit organization The Language Conservancy (TLC) in the US and Canada. After briefly describing my fieldwork methods and experiences working in the Northern Territory of Australia with the Malak Malak, I will shift focus to my work on North American languages such as Acoma Keres, Ute Mountain Ute, Ho-Chunk, and Stoney Nakoda. I will place particular emphasis on describing a modification of the Rapid Word Collection method (RWC), which was originally developed by SIL International (2010) in order to create practical dictionaries in a relatively short period of time. TLC adapted the semantic domain associations of the RWC method to the North American endangered language situation where both literacy levels and number of speakers are generally low. As a result, TLC developed a specialized software tool to collect both written and audio recordings for each entry in the semantic domain database in a two-week workshop setting.

After a workshop is completed, all collected data is consolidated into a digital spreadsheet and checked to ensure standardized spelling, accurate transcription, and grammatical consistency by a team of experienced linguists. The data is being flagged and organized so that it can be reviewed and re-recorded by fluent speakers in subsequent weeklong workshops. These workshops become true community events bringing Elders and speakers together in an effort to document an endangered language for the purposes of language revitalization. Additionally, the speed and efficiency of the process ensures that high-quality language materials can be delivered into the hands of the community in a relatively short period of time.

SIL International. (2010). rapidwords.net. Retrieved 2020, from http://www.rapidwords.net/.
Warfel, Kevin. (2016). Dictionary Production: Rapid Word Collection Method. [Brochure]. SIL International. Retrieved 2020, from http://www.rapidwords.net/resources/files/rapid- word-collection-flyer

Dorothea Hoffmann holds a BA/MA in German and English linguistics and literary studies from the University of Konstanz, Germany and a PhD in linguistics from the University of Manchester, UK entitled “Descriptions of Motion and Travel in Jaminjung and Kriol”. She spent 5 years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago working on the Australian languages Malak Malak and Matngele. She started working for the non-profit organization The Language Conservancy in 2017 and is now Linguistic Project Manager. She has researched various Australian and North American Indigenous languages  and is enthusiastic about language documentation and revitalization.

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 10/22 — Zoë Belk

At this week’s Fieldwork Lab Meeting (Thursday, October 22 at 4:00pm), Zoë Belk will present work titled “Loss of case and gender in two generations: Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish worldwide”. Zoë is a postdoctoral research associate, in the Department of Linguistics at University College London.

All are welcome! If you would like to attend and are not currently on the mailing list, please contact Carol-Rose little.

Standard and pre-Second World War varieties of Yiddish exhibit a robust system of morphological case and gender marking on full DPs. However, as a result of the Holocaust, Yiddish underwent a catastrophic loss of speakers and disruption to the geographical communities that spoke it. Today, it is spoken by approximately 750,000 Hasidic (strictly Orthodox) Jews worldwide (Biale et al. 2018). In this talk, I will present the findings of our ongoing fieldwork into contemporary Hasidic Yiddish, which so far covers approximately 40 speakers in four countries (the US, Israel, Canada and the United Kingdom). I will demonstrate that, within two generations of the Holocaust, Hasidic Yiddish underwent a complete loss of morphological case and gender. I will discuss a number of factors that contributed to this significant development in the language and provide some comparison to minority German dialects of North America to argue that contemporary Hasidic Yiddish presents a very rare opportunity to study such rapid and pervasive language change.

Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 10/11

The first meeting for the Fieldwork Reading Group is Friday, Oct 11th at 11:00a.m.-12:30p.m. in DS-3470 at UQAM. All interested parties are welcome to attend.

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.

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.

McGill Fieldwork Lab, 11/29

This month’s Fieldwork Group meeting will take place Thursday 11/29 from 4:00–4:30 in room 002 of Linguistics. We will be hear short presentations on language-related community engagement and outreach from Javier Domingo, Ben Oldham, Clint Parker, and Robbie Penman. All are welcome!

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