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Mathieu Paillé to U Calgary

Congratulations to Mathieu Paillé, who will start a position as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Calgary in fall 2022. He will work with Elizabeth Ritter, Dimitrios Skordos, and Martina Wiltschko on a project called “How to do things with nominals.

McGill @ LSA 2022

McGill linguists presented at this year’s meeting of the Linguistics Society of America, held this past weekend in hybrid format in Washington DC. The full program is available at: https://www.linguisticsociety.org/node/36129/schedule.



McGill at BUCLD

McGill was well represented at the 46th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (Nov 4-7). The following poster presentations were given by current and former McGillians:

  • Unlearning L1 options and incomplete acquisition: The case of CLLD in Italian and Romanian. Liz Smeets (PhD 2020)
  • Can indirect positive evidence be used in the domain of inflectional morphology? Native English-speaking learners’ understanding of Mandarin plural marking. Ying Li (post-doc 2018-2020) & Heather Goad
  • L2 acquisition of singular/plural interpretation of Japanese bare nouns. Tokiko Okuma (PhD 2015)
  • Does using ‘babytalk’ predict more talking with infants? Infant-directed prosody in the TalkBank LENA corpus. Henny Yeung, Elise McClay (BA Hon 2012) & Emma Hutchinson

McGill @ NELS

McGill linguists will be presenting their work at the upcoming 52nd meeting of the Northeast Linguistics Society (NELS 52), hosted virtually by Rutgers University October 29–31. More information and the full program are available here: https://sites.rutgers.edu/nels-52/.



McGill at Interspeech and Amlap 2021

McGill will be represented at two upcoming virtual conferences in early September, details and links below:

At  Amlap 2021 in Paris:

Little and Coon @ WSCLA 25

Carol-Rose Little presented a paper titled “An external possession puzzle in Ch’ol Mayan” at the 25th Workshop on Structure and Constituency of Languages of the Americas (WSCLA 25), hosted virtually by Sogang University last weekend. Carol-Rose also presented a poster, together with  Jessica Coon, Scott AnderBois (Brown) and Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez (CIMSUR-UNAM) titled “Super-free relatives and bare nouns in two Mayan languages: Implications for type-shifters”.

Guzzo and Garcia in Glossa

Postdoc Natália Brambatti Guzzo and Guilherme D. Garcia (PhD ’17) just had an article accepted for publication at Glossa: a journal of general linguistics. The title of the paper is ‘Gradience in prosodic representation: Vowel reduction and neoclassical elements in Brazilian Portuguese’. The preprint is available for download on Open Science Framework: 10.31219/osf.io/548gv.

Guzzo and Franken @ CLS 57

Natália Brambatti Guzzo and Avery Franken (BA ’21) presented a talk at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, hosted virtually by the University of Chicago on May 6-8. The title of the presentation was ‘Examining contact effects in a written corpus: Subjects in Brazilian Veneto’.

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

Natália Guzzo in Journal of Child Language

Postdoc Natália Brambatti Guzzo’s article “Revisiting the Acquisition of Onset Complexity: Affrication in Québec French” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Child Language. The preprint is available on Open Science Framework: https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/m7xys. Congrats Natália!

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

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


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!

Syntax/semantics group, 2/19 – Hermann Keupdjio on resumptive pronouns in Bamikele (rescheduled)

This week’s syntax-semantics reading group meeting will take place Friday, February 19th at 2:30pm. Hermann Keupdjio––rescheduled from last week due to Montreal-wide internet problems––will be presenting his work on the syntax and semantics of resumptive pronouns in Bamileke entiled “Economy of derivation vs economy of interpretation: Resumption in Medumba”. An abstract is here: abstract

Syntax/semantics group, 2/12 – Hermann Keupdjio on resumptive pronouns in Bamikele

This week’s syntax-semantics reading group meeting will take place Friday, February 12th at 2:30pm. Hermann Keupdjio will be presenting his work on the syntax and semantics of resumptive pronouns in Bamileke entiled “Economy of derivation vs economy of interpretation: Resumption in Medumba”. An abstract is here: abstract

Carol-Rose Little in Cornell “alumna spotlight”

McGill postdoctoral fellow Carol-Rose Little was recently featured in a Cornell University “Alumna Spotlight”, where she talks about her work as well as her (virtual) time in the McGill department. Nice work Carol-Rose!

Welcome new postdoctoral fellow Hermann Keupdjio

McLing is happy to welcome Hermann Keupdjio [kə́pʒʲò], who is joining McGill Linguistics this January as a postdoctoral researcher under the supervision of Prof. James Crippen. Hermann recently graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Ph.D in Linguistics. His research program spotlights the following research areas: (i) theoretical syntax (the mechanics of Move & Agree in relation to A’-movement and A’-agreement); (ii) syntax at the interfaces –– Syntax-Phonology/Phonetics interface (tonal reflexes of A’-movement and their acoustic correlates); Syntax-Semantics interface (Exhaustivity marking, pluralities and pronouns denotation) and Syntax-Pragmatics interface (Polar questions and response particles)  ––; and (iii) syntactic variation (Bamileke dialect variation).
In the context of his postdoctoral research activities at McGill, Hermann will be investigating aspects of information structure and allomorphy (stem variation) in Tlingit, and will also be developing Tlingit language learning materials. Hermann is a Bamileke Medumba speaker-linguist (Grassfield Bantu), but has also conducted research on Nata (Eastern Bantu). When he is not doing linguistics, Hermann is either cooking some African culinary delights or is doing kickboxing.
Welcome Hermann!

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).

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.

Coon, Baier, and Levin to appear in Language

A paper by Jessica Coon, Nico Baier (McGill postdoc ’18–’19), and Ted Levin has been accepted for publication in the journal Language. The paper is titled “Mayan Agent Focus and the Ergative Extraction Constraint: Facts and Fictions Revisited”, and is available on LingBuzz.

Abstract: Many languages of the Mayan family restrict the extraction of transitive (ergative) subjects for focus, wh-questions, and relativization (A’-extraction). We follow Aissen (2017b) in labelling this restriction the ergative extraction constraint (EEC). In this paper, we offer a unified account of the EEC within Mayan languages, as well as an analysis of the special construction known as Agent Focus (AF) used to circumvent it. Specifically, we propose that the EEC has a similar source across the subset of Mayan languages which exhibit it: intervention. The intervention problem is created when an object DP structurally intervenes between the A’-probe on C and the ergative subject. Evidence that intervention by the object is the source of the problem comes from a handful of exceptional contexts which permit transitive subjects to extract in languages which normally ban this extraction, and conversely, a context which exceptionally bans ergative extraction in a language which otherwise allows it. We argue that the problem with A’-extracting the ergative subject across the intervening object connects to the requirements of the A’-probe on C: the probe on C is bundled to search simultaneously for [A’] and [D] features. This relates the Mayan patterns to recent proposals for extraction patterns in Austronesian languages (e.g. Legate 2014; Aldridge 2017b) and elsewhere (van Urk 2015). Specifically, adapting the proposal of Coon and Keine (to appear), we argue that in configurations in which a DP object intervenes between the probe on C and an A’-subject, conflicting requirements on movement lead to a derivational crash. While we propose that the EEC has a uniform source across the family, we argue that AF constructions vary Mayan-internally in how they circumvent the EEC, accounting for the variation in behavior of AF across the family. This paper both contributes to our understanding of parametric variation internal to the Mayan family, as well as to the discussion of variation in A’-extraction asymmetries and syntactic ergativity cross-linguistically.


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