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Goad, Guzzo, and White in Studies in Second Language Acquisition

Heather Goad, Natália Guzzo and Lydia White’s paper, “Parsing Ambiguous Relative Clauses in L2 English: Learner Sensitivity to Prosodic Cues” has been accepted for publication in Studies in Second Language Acquisition. Congrats all!

Kilbourn-Ceroun, Clayards, and Wagner in Laboratory Phonology

Congratulations to coauthors Oriana Kilbourn-Ceroun (PhD ’17), Meghan Clayards, and Michael Wagner, who have just had their paper “Predictability modulates pronunciation variants through speech planning effects: A case study on coronal stop realizations” accepted for publication in the journal Laboratory Phonology.

Sonderegger, Stuart-Smith, Knowles, Macdonald, and Rathcke in Language

“Structured heterogeneity in Scottish stops over the twentieth century”, a paper by Morgan Sonderegger, Jane Stuart-Smith, Thea Knowles (McGill BA 2012, Asst Prof at U. Buffalo), Rachel Macdonald, and Tamara Rathcke, was published in the March issue Language.  Congrats all!

How and why speakers differ in the phonetic implementation of phonological contrasts, and the relationship of this ‘structured heterogeneity’ to language change, has been a key focus over fifty years of variationist sociolinguistics. In phonetics, interest has recently grown in uncovering ‘structured variability’—how speakers can differ greatly in phonetic realization in nonrandom ways—as part of the long-standing goal of understanding variability in speech. The English stop voicing contrast, which combines extensive phonetic variability with phonological stability, provides an ideal setting for an approach to understanding structured variation in the sounds of a community’s language that illuminates both synchrony and diachrony. This article examines the voicing contrast in a vernacular dialect (Glasgow Scots) in spontaneous speech, focusing on individual speaker variability within and across cues, including over time. Speakers differ greatly in the use of each of three phonetic cues to the contrast, while reliably using each one to differentiate voiced and voiceless stops. Interspeaker variability is highly structured: speakers lie along a continuum of use of each cue, as well as correlated use of two cues—voice onset time and closure voicing—along a single axis. Diachronic change occurs along this axis, toward a more aspiration-based and less voicing-based phonetic realization of the contrast, suggesting an important connection between synchronic and diachronic speaker variation.

Coon and Keine to appear in Linguistic Inquiry

McLing is happy to report that Jessica Coon and Stefan Keine’s paper “Feature Gluttony” has been accepted for publication in the journal Linguistic Inquiry.

This paper develops a new approach to a family of hierarchy effect-inducing configurations, with a focus on Person Case Constraint (PCC) effects, dative-nominative configurations, and copula constructions. The main line of approach in the recent literature is to attribute these effects to failures of phi-Agree or, more specifically, failures of nominal licensing or case checking. We propose that the problem in these configurations is unrelated to nominal licensing, but is instead the result of a probe participating in more than one Agree dependency, a configuration we refer to as feature gluttony. Feature gluttony does not in and of itself lead to ungrammaticality, but rather can create irresolvably conflicting requirements for subsequent operations. We argue that in the case of clitic configurations, a probe which agrees with more than one DP creates an intervention problem for clitic-doubling. In violations involving morphological agreement, gluttony in features may result in a configuration with no available morphological output.

Michael Wagner in Snippets

A new paper by Michael Wagner was recently published in the journal Snippets. The full citation and link are:
Wagner, Michael (2019). Disjuncts must be mutually excludable. Snippets 37.  http://dx.doi.org/10.7358/snip-2019-037-wagn

Clint Parker to appear in Glossa

Congratulations to Clint Parker, whose paper “Vestigial ergativity in Shughni: At the intersection of alignment, clitic doubling, and feature-driven movement” has been accepted for publication in the journal Glossa. The paper is based on his first PhD Evaluation paper, cosupervised by Jessica Coon and Nico Baier. Congrats Clint!

Bale & Schwarz in Linguistics and Philosophy

An article co-authored by Alan Bale and Bernhard Schwarz, titled “Proportional readings of ‘many’ and ‘few’: the case for an underspecified measure function,” has just appeared online in Linguistics and Philosophy. The article can be found online here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10988-019-09284-5

Goad & White in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism

Heather Goad & Lydia White have just published an epistemological paper ‘Prosodic effects on L2 grammars’ in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. The paper, along with 15 commentaries, can be found here: https://www.jbe-platform.com/content/journals/10.1075/lab.19043.goa

Wagner & McAuliffe in Journal of Phonetics

A new paper has  just been published in the Journal of Phonetics:
Wagner, Michael & Michael McAuliffe (2019): The effect of focus prominence on phrasing. Journal of Phonetics 77https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2019.100930
Prosody simultaneously encodes different kinds of information about an utterance, including the type of speech act (which, in English, often affects the choice of intonational tune), the syntactic constituent structure (which mainly affects prosodic phrasing), and the location of semantic focus (which mainly affects the relative prosodic prominence between words). The syntactic and semantic functional dimensions (speech act, constituency, focus) are orthogonal to each other, but to which extent their prosodic correlates are remains controversial. This paper reports on a production experiment that crosses these three dimensions to look for interactions, concentrating on interactions between focus prominence and phrasing. The results provide evidence that interactions are more limited than many current theories of sentence prosody would predict, and support a theory that keeps different prosodic dimensions representationally separate.

Keine, Wagner, and Coon in CJL

A new paper by Stefan Keine, Michael Wagner, and Jessica Coon has just appeared in the newest issue of the Canadian Journal of Linguistics. The paper is titled “Hierarchy Effects in Copula Constructions” and can be accessed online here.

This paper develops a generalization about agreement in German copula constructions described in Coon et al. (2017), and proposes an analysis that ties it to other well-established hierarchy phenomena. Specifically, we show that “assumed-identity” copula constructions in German exhibit both person and number hierarchy effects, and that these extend beyond the “non-canonical” or “inverse” agreement patterns described in previous work on copula constructions (e.g., Béjar and Kahnemuyipour 2017 and works cited there). We present experimental evidence to support this generalization, and then develop an account that unifies it with hierarchy phenomena in other languages, with a focus on PCC effects. Specifically, we propose that what German copula constructions have in common with PCC environments is that there are multiple accessible DPs in the domain of a single agreement probe, the lower of which is more featurally specified than the higher (see, e.g., Béjar and Rezac 2003, 2009; Anagnostopoulou 2005; Nevins 2007). We also offer an explanation as to why number effects are present in German copula constructions but notably absent in PCC effects. We then place our account within the broader context of constraints on predication structures.

Brendan Gillon publishes semantics textbook

Brendan Gillon‘s new textbook Natural Language Semantics: Formation and Valuation was recently published by MIT Press. Congratulations Brendan!

Tanner, Sonderegger, and Torreira in Frontiers in Psychology

McLing is happy to report that a paper co-authored by James Tanner, Morgan Sonderegger, and Francisco Torreira has just been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. The title is ‘Durational Evidence That Tokyo Japanese Vowel Devoicing Is Not Gradient Reduction’, and is available here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00821/

Michel Paradis in The Handbook of the Neuroscience of Multilingualism

The Handbook of the Neuroscience of Multilingualism was just published with a special forward by emeritus McGill linguistics professor Michel Paradis. Congratulations Michel!

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

Moulton and Shimoyama in Glossa

A paper by Keir Moulton (U. Toronto, former McGill post-doc) and Junko Shimoyama just appeared in Glossa. The paper is titled “On the Inverse Trace Conversion and maximal informativeness analysis of Japanese internally-headed relative clauses: A reply to Erlewine and Gould 2016”, and can be found here.

Abstract: In this response to Erlewine & Gould (2016), we argue that an account of internally-headed relative clauses using Inverse Trace Conversion and the maximal informativeness semantics for definites of von Fintel et al. (2014) does not derive the observed interpretations when the internal head is quantified by certain downward entailing quantifiers and derives no interpretation at all for non-monotonic and some upward entailing quantifiers. We then argue that the cases that Erlewine & Gould (2016) claim to be a newly identified interpretation of internally-headed relatives are actually headless relatives.

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.

Coon in Journal of Linguistics

Jessica Coon’s article, “Building verbs in Chuj: Consequences for the nature of roots” was just published in the 2019 winter issue of Journal of Linguistics. A preprint is available here.


This paper offers an in-depth look at roots and verb stem morphology in Chuj (Mayan) in order to address a larger question: when it comes to the formation of verb stems, what information is contributed by the root, and what is contributed by the functional heads? I show first that roots in Chuj are not acategorical in the strict sense (cf. Borer 2005), but must be grouped into classes based on their stem-forming possibilities. Root class does not map directly to surface lexical category, but does determine which functional heads (i.e. valence morphology) may merge with the root. Second, I show that while the introduction of the external argument, along with clausal licensing and agreement generally, are all governed by higher functional heads, the presence or absence of an internal argument is dictated by the root. Specifically, I show that transitive roots in Chuj always combine with an internal argument, whether it be (i) a full DP, (ii) a bare pseudo-incorporated NP, or (iii) an implicit object in an antipassive. In the spirit of work such as Levinson (2007, 2014), I connect this to the semantic type of the root; root class reflects semantic type, and semantic type affects the root’s combinatorial properties. This work also contributes to the discussion of how valence morphology operates. In line with works such as Alexiadou, Anagnostopoulou & Schäfer (2006), I argue that valence morphology applies directly to roots, rather than to some ‘inherent valence’ of a verb.

Boberg et al. Handbook of Dialectology

The Handbook of Dialectology, co-edited by Charles Boberg, John Nerbonne, and Dominic Watt was published by Wiley-Blackwell earlier this year.

Bozic in Linguistic Inquiry

Congratulations to Jurij Božič, who has recently learned that his paper ‘Strictly Local Impoverishment: An Intervention Effect’ has been accepted for publication by Linguistic Inquiry. An earlier version of the paper can be found on Lingbuzz.

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.

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