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Hsieh, Travis and Paul in BLS 42 proceedings

Papers by Henrison Hsieh (Distinguishing nouns and verbs: Against nominalism for Tagalog), Lisa deMena Travis (The what and where of Out of Control morphemes in Tagalog and Malagasy), and Ileana Paul (PhD 2000) (with Baholisoa Simone Ralalaoherivony and Henriette de Swart: Malagasy maha at the crossroads of voice, causation, and modality) have appeared in the BLS 42 proceedings, which are available online.

Smeets and Wagner WCCFL proceedings

Liz Smeets and Michael Wagner have posted their upcoming WCCFL proceedings ‘The Syntax of Focus Association in Dutch and German: Evidence from Scope Reconstruction’ on lingbuzz.
In this paper we present novel evidence for the availability of scope reconstruction of the German and Dutch equivalents constituents of the form [only + DP]. Adding to earlier arguments in Reis (2005) and Meyer & Sauerland (2009), this paper provides additional evidence against the analysis of the German equivalent of only in B uring & Hartmann (2001), which claims that it can exclusively adjoin to adverbial positions. We rely on evidence from the Prosodic Question Answer Congruence and data from the scopal interaction between exclusive operators and adverbs to support our claims. We also present a syntactic analysis which accounts for the reconstruction data, and provides an alternative explanation for some of the syntactic restrictions on its distribution for which the Adverbial Analysis was originally proposed. We conclude with a discussion of why it might be that scope reconstruction is always available from the pre field, whereas in the middle field only arguments seem to be able to reconstruct.


Klassen and Wagner in Journal of Memory and Language

An article by Jeff Klassen (PhD ’16) and Michael Wagner,  ‘Prosodic prominence shifts are anaphoric’, has appeared in the Journal of Memory and Linguistics. Congratulations!
This paper presents evidence that shifts in prosodic prominence are anaphoric and require a contextually salient antecedent, similar to pronouns. The argument is based on a series of experiments looking at prosodic optionality in dialogues in which there are multiple potential antecedents embedded in a contextually salient coordinated structure. By looking at the interaction with adverbs that restrict the choice of antecedent, we show that the observed prosodic variability reveals different anaphoric choices, and hence different speaker intentions. The results are incompatible with the hypothesis that prominence shifts can be explained purely in reference to low-level facilitation due to repetition of the linguistic structure or accessibility of it referent, and are not reducible to existing accounts of prominence in terms of predictability.



Proceedings of AFLA 22 edited by Henrison Hsieh

The Proceedings of the 22nd meeting of the Austronesian Formal Linguistics Society (AFLA 22), edited by Henrison Hsieh, has just been published by Asia-Pacific Linguistics. The volume is freely available for download here: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/101155. AFLA 22 was held at McGill University in Quebec, Cananda in May, 2015




C. Douglas Ellis publication

C. Douglas Ellis, Professor Emeritus at McGill and currently Adjunct Research Professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University, has just published the third volume of the series, Spoken Cree.  For more information on the series, visit http://www.spokencree.org/.

Wagner in Proceedings of Satellite Session on Framing

Michael Wagner’s paper on How to be kind with Prosody was accepted for inclusion the proceedings of a Satellite Session on Framing speech: Celebrating 40 years of inquiry with Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel at Speech Prosody 2016, Boston. You can read it here.

Bernhard Schwarz in Semantics and Pragmatics

Congratulations to Bernhard Schwarz, who published at least two articles this week in Semantics and Pragmatics: a full article titled “Consistency preservation in Quantity implicature: The case of at least“, as well as a reply “At least and ignorance: a reply to Coppock and Brochhagen (2013)“.

Buccola & Spector in Linguistics and Philosophy

Brian Buccola’s (McGill PhD 2016) paper Modified numerals and maximality has been accepted for publication at Linguistics and Philosophy. The article, which is co-authored with Benjamin Spector, builds on central parts of Brian’s PhD thesis Maximality in the semantics of modified numerals.  Congratulations, Brian!

Schwartz and Goad in Language Acquisition

Misha Schwartz (BA 2014) and Heather Goad’s paper Indirect positive evidence in the acquisition of a subset grammar has just been accepted for publication in Language Acquisition. The abstract appears below:
This paper proposes that second language learners can use indirect positive evidence (IPE) to acquire a phonological grammar that is a subset of their L1 grammar. IPE is evidence from errors in the learner’s L1 made by native speakers of the learner’s L2. It has been assumed that subset grammars may be acquired using direct or indirect negative evidence or, in certain L1–L2 combinations, using positive evidence. The utility of IPE is tested by providing native speakers of English with indirect evidence of the phonotactic constraints holding of word-initial clusters in Brazilian Portuguese (BP), which are a subset of those in English. Participants were tested on the well-formedness of BP-like words and the results indicate that approximately one-third were able to use the IPE to make appropriate BP-like judgements. This suggests that IPE may be another source of evidence that learners can use to build a grammar that is a subset of their own L1 grammar.

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceroen in Journal of Semantics

Congratulations to Oriana Kilbourn-Ceroen, whose paper “Embedded Exhaustification: Evidence from Almost” just appeared in Journal of Semantics!

Hadas Kotek’s paper to appear in Glossa

Hadas Kotek‘s paper “Covert partial wh-movement and the nature of derivations” has just been accepted for publication with Glossa: Special Issue on Syntactic Computation. Here is a link to the latest version on Lingbuzz: http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/002541/. Congratulations Hadas!

Mi’gmaq Research Partnership publication

A paper documenting the Mi’gmaq Research Partnership––a collaborative language partnership involving the Listuguj Education Directorate and McGill and Concordia linguists––was just published in the Journal of Language Documentation and ConservationAuthors include McGill BA alums Carol-Rose Little (Cornell) and Elise McClay (UBC), Listuguj community member Travis Wysote, and project PI Jessica Coon.

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron in Journal of Semantics

Oriana Kilbourn-Cerón’s article “Embedded Exhaustification: Evidence from Almost” has been accepted for publication at the Journal of Semantics. Congratulations, Oriana!

Poschmann & Wagner in NLLT

Michael Wagner has a new paper out, with Claudia Poschmann, in Natural Language and Linguistic TheoryThe title is “Relative clause extraposition and prosody in German”

Whether a relative clause (RC) can be extraposed has been argued to depend both on contextual focus and on whether an RC is restrictive or appositive. However, no previous study has looked at the interaction between these two factors in restricting extraposition, despite the fact that different types of relative clauses are generally taken to differ in how they relate to focus. Furthermore, previous studies have not looked at the role of prosody in accounting for the effect of focus on extraposition, and have found contradictory results with respect to the prosodic differences between appositive and restrictive relative clauses. This paper presents the results of a production experiment on German which crosses the location of focus and the type of RC in order to explore how they interact in affecting prosody and extraposition.

Stuart-Smith, Sonderegger et al. in Laboratory Phonology

An article co-authored by Morgan Sonderegger has appeared in Laboratory Phonology — congratulations!

Stuart-Smith, Jane, Morgan Sonderegger, Tamara Rathcke, and Rachel Macdonald. (2015) “The private life of stops: VOT in a real-time corpus of spontaneous Glaswegian.” Laboratory Phonology 6(3-4): 505–549.

While voice onset time (VOT) is known to be sensitive to a range of phonetic and linguistic factors, much less is known about VOT in spontaneous speech, since most studies consider stops in single words, in sentences, and/or in read speech. Scottish English is typically said to show less aspirated voiceless stops than other varieties of English, but there is also variation, ranging from unaspirated stops in vernacular speakers to more aspirated stops in Scottish Standard English; change in the vernacular has also been suggested. This paper presents results from a study which used a fast, semi-automated procedure for analyzing positive VOT, and applied it to stressed syllable-initial stops from a real- and apparent-time corpus of naturally-occurring spontaneous Glaswegian vernacular speech. We confirm significant effects on VOT for place of articulation and local speaking rate, and trends for vowel height and lexical frequency. With respect to time, our results are not consistent with previous work reporting generally shorter VOT in elderly speakers, since our results from models which control for local speech rate show lengthening over real-time in the elderly speakers in our sample. Overall, our findings suggest that VOT in both voiceless and voiced stops is lengthening over the course of the twentieth century in this variety of Scottish English. They also support observations from other studies, both from Scotland and beyond, indicating that gradient shifts along the VOT continuum reflect subtle sociolinguistic control.


Simonenko in Journal of Semantics

Recent McGill PhD Sasha Simonenko’s paper “Semantics of DP Islands: The Case of Questions” has just appeared online in Journal of Semantics, and can be found here. This work grew out of her dissertation, defended in 2014. Congratulations, Sasha!

This article provides a semantic–pragmatic answer to the question of why some definite DPs are islands for wh-subextraction while others are not. While it was suggested as early as in Chomsky (1973) that the key to the problem are differences between determiners involved, there has been no analysis which would be based on independently attested properties of the determiners. This article focuses on the contrast in wh-subextraction between DPs with two kinds of definite articles, the so-called weak and strong ones, in Austro-Bavarian German, recorded in Brugger and Prinzhorn (1996). The analysis I offer makes use of the recent works showing that weak and strong definite articles can have different semantics. In particular, to account for the use and distribution of German strong articles, Schwarz (2009) assumes a semantics which routinely results in directly referential readings of the DPs headed by such articles. I show that, assuming a classic Hamblin/Karttunen semantics for questions, cases of wh-subextraction out of directly referential DPs would result in a trivial question which presupposes the asserted content of its possible answers. More broadly, this work aligns with a series of semantic–pragmatic analyses of constraints on island formation (Szabolcsi & Zwarts 1993; Fox & Hackl 2006; Oshima 2007; Abrusán 2008; Abrusán & Spector 2011; B. Schwarz & Shimoyama 2011; Mayr 2013).


Epistemic Indefinites

Epistemic IndefinitesEpistemic Indefinites: Exploring Modality Beyond the Verbal Domain, a collected volume edited by Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Paula Menéndez-Benito has just been published by Oxford University Press. Congratulations to all contributing authors and to the editors!


Coon, Mateo Pedro, and Preminger in Linguistic Variation

Jessica Coon’s collaborative paper with Pedro Mateo Pedro (Universidad del Valle de Guatemala) and Omer Preminger (Maryland) just appeared in the journal Linguistic VariationThe title is “The Role of Case in A-Bar Extraction Asymmetries: Evidence from Mayan.”

Many morphologically ergative languages display asymmetries in the extraction of core arguments: while absolutive arguments (transitive objects and intransitive subjects) extract freely, ergative arguments (transitive subjects) cannot. This falls under the label “syntactic ergativity” (see, e.g. Dixon 1972, 1994; Manning 1996; Polinsky to appear(b)). These extraction asymmetries are found in many languages of the Mayan family, where in order to extract transitive subjects (for focus, questions, or relativization), a special construction known as the “Agent Focus” (AF) must be used. These AF constructions have been described as syntactically and semantically transitive because they contain two non-oblique DP arguments, but morphologically intransitive because the verb appears with only a single agreement marker and takes an intransitive status suffix (Aissen 1999; Stiebels 2006). In this paper we offer a proposal for (i) why some morphologically ergative languages exhibit extraction asymmetries, while others do not; and (ii) how the AF construction in Q’anjob’al circumvents this problem. We adopt recent accounts which argue that ergative languages vary in the locus of absolutive case assignment (Aldridge 2004, 2008a; Legate 2002, 2008), and propose that this variation is present within the Mayan family. Based primarily on comparative data from Q’anjob’al and Chol, we argue that the inability to extract ergative arguments does not reflect a problem with properties of the ergative subject itself, but rather reflects locality properties of absolutive case assignment in the clause. We show how the AF morpheme -on circumvents this problem in Q’anjob’al by assigning case to internal arguments.

Sasha Simonenko in Journal of Semantics

Recent PhD graduate Sasha Simonenko, currently a Postdoc at LaTTiCe (CNRS, ENS, Paris 3), just learned that her manuscript “Semantics of DP islands: The case of questions” has been accepted for publication in Journal of Semantics. Congratulations Sasha!

Call for Papers for McGWPL

Dear Students,

We are preparing an issue of McGWPL featuring Evaluation and MA papers from students in the department, and as such we are inviting students to submit their completed Evaluation and MA work to be published in McGWPL. Published work in the Department’s working papers provides an excellent opportunity to showcase your research both within and beyond the McGill linguistics community. As Evaluation and MA research papers have already been reviewed by the department for quality, no major revisions are required for submissions.

Submissions can be in Word or LaTeX format and must follow the formatting guidelines outlined in the McGWPL templates. Templates for LaTeX and Word submissions are available to download from our website (http://www.mcgill.ca/mcgwpl/submissions).

Below are the details for submission:
Deadline: November 20th 2014
Page Limit: No explicit page limit; please endeavour to keep submissions below ~70 pages
Format: LaTeX, Word
Bibliography: If you are submitting using LaTeX, please send the corresponding BibTeX file with submission
Further formatting details are available in the submission templatesPlease email your submission file to: mcgwpl.linguistics@mcgill.ca

We’re looking forward to receiving your submissions!

The McGWPL Team

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