« Older Entries

P* Group, 04/06 – Connie Ting

At this week’s p group meeting, Apr 6 12pm, Connie will lead discussion on phonology puzzles in Kirundi. It will be our last meeting this semester, hope to see you all there!

Syntax-semantics reading group, 4/1 – No Meeting

Syntax-semantics reading group, 3/25 – No Meeting

Syntax-semantics reading group, 3/18 – No Meeting

Syntax-semantics reading group, 3/11 – Gaurav Kamath

The next syntax-semantics meeting will take place this Friday, March 11th, at 3:30pm. Our next presenter will be Gaurav Kamath presenting his work, “Lexical semantics for expressives”.

P* Group, 2/16 – Xuanda Chen

At this week’s P group meeting, Feb 16 12pm,  Xuanda will lead a discussion on the paper “Comparing acoustic analyses of speech data collected remotely” (Zhang et al., 2021).

Abstract: Face-to-face speech data collection has been next to impossible globally as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions. To address this problem, simultaneous recordings of three repetitions of the cardinal vowels were made using a Zoom H6 Handy Recorder with an external microphone (henceforth, H6) and compared with two alternatives accessible to potential participants at home: the Zoom meeting application (henceforth, Zoom) and two lossless mobile phone applications (Awesome Voice Recorder, and Recorder; henceforth, Phone). F0 was tracked accurately by all of the devices; however, for formant analysis (F1, F2, F3), Phone performed better than Zoom, i.e., more similarly to H6, although the data extraction method (VoiceSauce, Praat) also resulted in differences. In addition, Zoom recordings exhibited unexpected drops in intensity. The results suggest that lossless format phone recordings present a viable option for at least some phonetic studies.

P* Group, 2/9 – Morgan Sonderegger

At this week’s P group meeting, Feb 9 12pm,  Morgan will lead a discussion on the paper “A surprisal–duration trade-off across and within the world’s languages” (Pimentel, T. et al., 2021).

Abstract: While there exist scores of natural languages, each with its unique features and idiosyncrasies, they all share a unifying theme: enabling human communication. We may thus reasonably predict that human cognition shapes how these languages evolve and are used. Assuming that the capacity to process information is roughly constant across human populations, we expect a surprisal–duration trade-off to arise both across and within lan- guages. We analyse this trade-off using a cor- pus of 600 languages and, after controlling for several potential confounds, we find strong supporting evidence in both settings. Specifically, we find that, on average, phones are pro- duced faster in languages where they are less surprising, and vice versa. Further, we confirm that more surprising phones are longer, on average, in 319 languages out of the 600. We thus conclude that there is strong evidence of a surprisal–duration trade-off in operation, both across and within the world’s languages.

P* Group, 2/2 – Meghan Clayards

At this week’s P group meeting, Feb 2 12pm,  Meghan will lead a discussion on the paper “A Cross-Language Acoustic Space for Vocalic Phonation Distinctions” (Patricia Keating et al., 2021).

Abstract:

Many languages use multiple phonation types for phonemic or allophonic distinctions. This study examines the acoustic structure of the phonetic space for vowel phonations across languages, focusing on the acoustic phonetic space for languages with non-modal phonation on vowels (rather than on consonants, or as coarticulation from consonant contrasts). Our sample of 11 languages, from five language families, includes languages with contrastive phonation types on vowels, allophonic non-modal phonation associated with particular tones, and English as a single-category case. Together these 11 languages provide 29 instances from among the following categories: Modal, Breathy, Creaky, Lax, Tense, Harsh, and/or Pharyngealized.

Syntax-semantics reading group, 2/4 – Will Johnston

Our first meeting will take place this Friday, February 4th, at 3:30pm. Our first presenter is Will Johnston, who will present ongoing work, “Verb serialization as event-building: Evidence from Hmong”. 

Abstract: A key property of so-called ‘serial verb constructions’ (SVCs) is the notion that an SVC describes a single event. I take that notion seriously: I argue that certain types of SVCs are in fact reflexes of event-building in the syntax, and that their properties and distribution can be derived from independently motivated constraints on event structure. I examine two types of SVC found in Hmong (Hmong-Mien), and argue that they are both formed by merging multiple verbal roots within the event-building portion of the verbal projection (modeled using the first-phase syntax of Ramchand 2008).

Don’t forget to register for the meetings using the following link (you will only need to register once):
 https://mcgill.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUpdu-sqDMqGtdIk5QyjSWSmkYGFwobg0yM

Syntax-semantics reading group, 01/28 – No Meeting

There will be no syntax-semantics meeting this Friday, January 28th. Instead, the first meeting will take place on February 4th at 3:30pm. In the meantime, you can register for the meetings using the following link (you will only need to register once):

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You can also, start signing up for presentation slots using the following link (under the Winter semester):
This semester, presentation slots will be prioritized for graduate students presenting ongoing research. These presentations are informal talks where you can present your research; they serve as a great opportunity to practice presenting and receive feedback.

P* Group, 01/26 – First Meeting

This semester our p group meeting will happen every Wednesday 12-1pm. The first meeting will be next Wednesday, Jan 26. Note that you need to first register at this link: https://mcgill.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZApcO-rqzsiHNRdMTmpnjjT_BGciaTWWoNM and you will get a zoom link for all our meetings this semester.

Syntax-semantics reading group meetings

This semester’s Syntax-Semantics reading group meetings will take place on Fridays from 3:30-4:30pm (except when there is a colloquium talk). The first meeting will take place on January 28th. There will be more information about the first meeting as we approach the date. In the meantime, you can register for the meetings using the following link (you will only need to register once):

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You can also, start signing up for presentation slots using the following link (under the Winter semester):

 

Finally, if you are not on the email list and would like to be added, please send Jonny an email (jonathan.palucci@mail.mcgill.ca) so you can be added to the mailing list. Future announcements will be made through that.

P* Group, 12/16 – Avleen and Heather

At this week’s P group meeting, Dec 16 1pm, Avleen and Heather will give a presentation on “Obstruent-approximant-vowel strings in Hindi”.

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the syllabification of obstruent-approximant-vowel (CAV) strings in Hindi. We propose four alternative representations for CAV: CA may form a complex onset; AV may form a light diphthong; A may simultaneously be part of a complex onset and light diphthong; or C and A may be separated by an empty nucleus. Evidence for the various alternatives comes from: phonotactic constraints that hold on sonority and place dimensions; the presence or absence of devoicing of A; the presence or absence of a pause between C and A; and the location of stress. We conclude that data from Hindi motivate an approach to syllabification that is both hierarchical and abstract.

Syntax-semantics reading group, 12/17 – Henry Davis

Our final presentation this semester will be Henry Davis and it will take place this Friday, December 17th at 2:30pm. Reminder that this week’s meeting will once again take place in a hybrid format, where the speaker and some of us will be in room 117, and others will be on Zoom as usual. We’d like to encourage students to come to the meeting in-person, there are still lots of spots available. Please email Jonny if you’d like to participate in the meeting in room 117. If it turns out that there are more than 12 people, priorities will be given to the 1st and 2nd year graduate students.
Edge asymmetries in V-initial systems – the view from Salish

Abstract: The Salish language family comprises (along with neighbouring families in the Pacific NW Sprachbund) one of the largest concentrations of V-initial systems in the world. Yet compared to better known V-initial families (e.g. Malayo-Polynesian, Mayan, or Celtic) it has had comparatively little influence on ongoing debates on the essential properties of such systems (or indeed, if such properties exist). I’m certainly not going to resolve those debates here, but I do want to bring some salient properties of Salish grammars to the table. I’ll be focusing on a fundamental asymmetry between the pre-predicative and post-predicative domains. The distribution of pre-predicative elements in many Salish languages is highly restricted – not surprisingly, given that such restrictions are constitutive of V-initial syntax – but in a rather particular way: it is the left edge which is restricted, not the pre-predicative domain in general. For example, a subject can occur pre-predicatively, but only if it is ‘shielded’ on its left edge by an auxiliary, leading to AUX-S-V-(O) order. I show that the shielding effect cannot be reduced to particular syntactic positions: both the shielded and the shielding element can be at different heights in the tree. Furthermore, left edge restrictions contrast with freedom on the right periphery: not only is post-predicative order flexible, but right-peripheral subjects can occupy positions at varying heights in the tree. I propose that specifiers can freely merge either to the left or right, but are independently restricted by the left edge constraint, accounting for the asymmetry. Finally, I speculate that the left edge constraint is fundamentally – though not necessarily directly – prosodic in nature: it can be violated just in case a left peripheral element constitutes its own intonation phrase.

Syntax-semantics reading group, 12/10 – No Meeting

There will be no syntax-semantics reading group meeting this week. Our final presentation this semester will be Henry Davis and it will take place on December 17th at 2:30pm. That week’s meeting will once again take place in a hybrid format, where the speaker and some of us will be in room 117, and others will be on Zoom as usual. We’d like to encourage students to come to the meeting in-person. Please email Jonny if you’d like to participate in the meeting in room 117. If it turns out that there are more than 12 people, priorities will be given to the 1st and 2nd year graduate students.

Edge asymmetries in V-initial systems – the view from Salish

Abstract: The Salish language family comprises (along with neighbouring families in the Pacific NW Sprachbund) one of the largest concentrations of V-initial systems in the world. Yet compared to better known V-initial families (e.g. Malayo-Polynesian, Mayan, or Celtic) it has had comparatively little influence on ongoing debates on the essential properties of such systems (or indeed, if such properties exist). I’m certainly not going to resolve those debates here, but I do want to bring some salient properties of Salish grammars to the table. I’ll be focusing on a fundamental asymmetry between the pre-predicative and post-predicative domains. The distribution of pre-predicative elements in many Salish languages is highly restricted – not surprisingly, given that such restrictions are constitutive of V-initial syntax – but in a rather particular way: it is the left edge which is restricted, not the pre-predicative domain in general. For example, a subject can occur pre-predicatively, but only if it is ‘shielded’ on its left edge by an auxiliary, leading to AUX-S-V-(O) order. I show that the shielding effect cannot be reduced to particular syntactic positions: both the shielded and the shielding element can be at different heights in the tree. Furthermore, left edge restrictions contrast with freedom on the right periphery: not only is post-predicative order flexible, but right-peripheral subjects can occupy positions at varying heights in the tree. I propose that specifiers can freely merge either to the left or right, but are independently restricted by the left edge constraint, accounting for the asymmetry. Finally, I speculate that the left edge constraint is fundamentally – though not necessarily directly – prosodic in nature: it can be violated just in case a left peripheral element constitutes its own intonation phrase.

P* Group, 12/09 – David Shanks

At this week’s P group meeting, Dec 9 1pm, David will give a presentation on “The sounds of Southern Tutchone”.

Abstract: Southern Tutchone is an understudied Dene (Athabaskan) language spoken in the Yukon. It has a privative tone system with two level and two contour tones, a large phonemic inventory, and highly complex morpho-phonological processes. This talk will frame these issues in a discussion of the possessive system, which has been my focus in this initial stage of work on the language.

P* Group, 12/2 – Tommy Liu

December 2nd at 1pm, Tommy will give a presentation on “Silent Heads and Pwd-Edges in Quebec French”. 

 

Abstract: In the first part of my talk, I present novel phonetic evidence from my corpus (Montreal metro annoucements) to support the theory of silent heads in French. With this theory, I will examine C-clusters at the edges of Pwds in Québec French, including words like [tabaʁnakl] > [tabaʁnak], [mnemɔnik], and the exceptional [sɛptʁ]. All data and analysis is completely novel, and not documented in any previous literature, therefore there is no reading for this talk.

The Word Structure Research Group, 12/3 – Richard Compton

The Word Structure Research Group/Groupe de recherche sur le mot (https://wordstructure.org/) will have a Zoom meeting Friday, December 3rd, 1:30-2:30. Richard Compton (UQAM) will give a talk: Les pronoms en inuktitut. Contact Lisa Travis (lisa.travis@mcgill.ca) if you are interested in attending.

Syntax-semantics reading group, 12/03 – No Meeting

There will be no syntax-semantics reading group meeting this week.

Syntax-semantics reading group, 11/26 – No Meeting

There will be no syntax-semantics reading group meeting this week. We will resume the following week.

« Older Entries
Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.