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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.

Abstract
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.

 

Jessica Coon at Leipzig and UCLA

Jessica Coon presented collaborative work with recent postdoctoral fellow, Nico Baier, and with Ted Levin at two invited talks recently: November 11th at Leipzig University, and November 20th at UCLA. The title and abstract are below. A manuscript version is available on LingBuzz: https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/004545.

“Mayan Agent Focus and the Ergative Extraction Constraint”

Many languages of the Mayan family restrict the extraction of transitive (ergative) subjects for focus, wh-questions, and relativization (Ā-extraction). We follow Aissen (2017) 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 Ā-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. We argue specifically that the problem with Ā-extracting the ergative subject across the intervening object connects to the requirements of the Ā-probe on C: the probe on C is bundled to search simultaneously for [Ā] and [D] features. 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 Ā-subject, conflicting requirements on movement lead to a derivational crash. This paper both contributes to our understanding of parametric variation internal to the Mayan family, as well as to the discussion of variation in Ā-extraction asymmetries and syntactic ergativity cross-linguistically.

Welcome to Montreal postdoctoral fellow, Alexander Göbel!

Alex Göbel, who recently finished his Ph.D. at UMass, just made it across the border to start his postdoc at McGill! He will be working Michael’s prosody.lab, on a postdoc funded through a Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, as well as funding from a SSHRC Insight grant. Welcome Alex!

Syntax/Semantics reading group, 10/04 – Carol-Rose Little

The syntax-semantics reading group meeting will take place Thursday October 4th at 1:30pm. If you haven’t done so, please register at the following link to join meetings: https://mcgill.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMsc-uupzMiGNDqNbAYrfn2b0ffCR0GDMJ2?fbclid=IwAR2XsoMQrLoYaaw9iejJJvfGrykVWSAPPegdGF-iiIKT51Yo7dz1eWxPXmM
 
This week, Carol-Rose Little will present work entitled Participant plurals across Mayan and the treatment of features
Abstract
Drawing on data from the morphology of participant plurals across Mayan languages, I argue that we must treat person features as binary, rather than privative. To make the inclusive/exclusive distinction, I argue that Mayan languages utilize the same set of features, but the way these features are spelled out varies across the languages. I present data demonstrating that Mayan languages derive the inclusive/exclusive distinction form a generalized first person plural, and then add morphemes to this form to make a specified inclusive or exclusive form. Some Mayan languages have a more specified inclusive form (e.g., Itzaj), whereas other Mayan languages have a more specified exclusive form (e.g., Ch’ol). I argue that the template utilized across Mayan is best captured under a binary feature approach to person (e.g., Noyer 1992, Watanabe 2013) rather than a privative feature approach to person (e.g., Harley & Ritter 2002). I end with consequences of this analysis for capturing person crosslinguistically.

Syntax/Semantics reading group, 09/24 – Alex Göbel

The first syntax-semantics reading group meeting will take place Thursday February 24 at 1:30pm. Please register in advance at the following link in order to join meetings: https://mcgill.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMsc-uupzMiGNDqNbAYrfn2b0ffCR0GDMJ2?fbclid=IwAR2XsoMQrLoYaaw9iejJJvfGrykVWSAPPegdGF-iiIKT51Yo7dz1eWxPXmM

For our fist meeting, postdoc Alex Göbel will present work entitled On the role of Focus-sensitivity for a typology of presupposition triggers. We will also set up the schedule for the Semester, so feel free to come with ideas!
Abstract: Presupposition triggers have been noted to make up a heterogeneous set that varies along multiple dimensions. In this presentation, I investigate the role of Focus-sensitivity for such a typology of presupposition triggers. The hypothesis I will be testing is that triggers differ in the mental representations they access depending on whether they are Focus-sensitive or not. For triggers lacking Focus-sensitivity, such as `again’, I hypothesize that their presupposition needs to be entailed by the Common Ground, in line with the classic treatment by Stalnaker. In contrast, Focus-sensitive triggers like `also’ require a linguistic antecedent in the discourse model. I present experimental data evaluating two predictions of this hypothesis. The first prediction is that the salience of the linguistic material satisfying a given presupposition should matter for Focus-sensitive triggers, analogous to how salience affects pronoun processing. In contrast, triggers lacking Focus-sensitivity should not be sensitive to salience in the same way, with a possible analogy being the way in which the order of premises is relevant to the validity of a conclusion in a syllogism. The second prediction is that Focus-sensitive triggers will be harder to globally accommodate than triggers lacking Focus-sensitivity, on the assumption that the Common Ground is subject to cooperative principles that render accommodation a standard practice of communication, whereas constructing the linguistic material required for an antecedent is not subject to those principles. I conclude with some discussion of the broader theoretical implications of the experimental results.
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