Archive for the 'Reading groups' Category

Prosody & Meaning Reading Group, 11/20

This Monday, we will discuss the paper by Ladd and Morton (1997). The paper is about whether there is a categorically different ‘contrastive’ accent in English, or whether apparent differences are just due to degrees of inference.

Ladd, D. R. and Morton, R. (1997). The perception of intonational emphasis: continuous or categorical? Journal of Phonetics, 25(3):313–342.

MLML Meeting, 11/21

At this week’s Montreal Language Modeling Lab meeting (Tues Nov 21 at 5:30-7:30pm in Room 117), Vanna Willerton will give an overview of Charles Yang’s model of linguistic productivity called the Tolerance Principle, from Yang’s book The Price of Linguistic Productivity. Those who are familiar with Tim’s work will be particularly interested as his Fragment Grammars model and the Tolerance Principle are alternative theories of productivity. Light food provided. Everyone is welcome; please RSVP to if not on the lab mailing list.

P* Reading Group, 11/22

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Nov. 22) 11am-12pm in Room 117, Donghyun will lead a discussion of Franken et al. (2017). Individual variability as a window on production-perception interactions in speech motor control. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 142(4), 2007–2018. Everyone is welcome!

Syntax/Fieldwork meeting, 11/24

Join us this Friday at 10 am in room 117 of the Linguistics building for a talk by our speaker of the week, Clint Parker.

All are welcome!

McGill at MoMOT 2

MoMOT 2 (the second Morphology in Montreal Ottawa and Toronto meeting) was hosted at UQAM this year, on November 18-19. McGill’s linguists gave the following presentations:

The program can be viewed here.

MLML meeting, 11/14

At this week’s Montreal Language Modeling Lab meeting (Tues Nov 14 at 5:30-7:30pm in Room 117), Emily Mulhall will present her replication of the Rational Speech Act model of language understanding in Goodman & Stuhlmuller (2013). “Knowledge and Implicature: Modeling Language Understanding as Social Cognition.” Topics in Cognitive Science, 5(1):173-184. She will also review the RSA framework in general and alternatives to it. Light food provided. Everyone is welcome; please RSVP to if not on the lab mailing list.

WORDS Group, 11/17

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 17th November, at McGill, Dr. Penfield Ave. 1085 (room 117) at 1pm-2.30pm. Tim O’Donnell will present “Productivity and Reuse in Language”:


A much-celebrated aspect of language is the way in which it allows us to express and comprehend an unbounded number of thoughts. This property is made possible because language consists of several combinatorial systems which can be used to productively build novel forms using a large inventory of stored, reusable parts: the lexicon. For any given language, however, there are many more potentially storable units of structure than are actually used in practice — each giving rise to many ways of forming novel expressions. For example, English contains suffixes which are highly productive and generalizable (e.g., -ness; Lady-Gagaesqueness, pine-scentedness) and suffixes which can only be reused in specific words, and cannot be generalized (e.g., -th; truth, width, warmth). How are such differences in generalizability and reusability represented? What are the basic, stored building blocks at each level of linguistic structure? When is productive computation licensed and when is it not? How can the child acquire these systems of knowledge? I will discuss a theoretical framework designed to address these questions. The approach is based on the idea that the problem of productivity and reuse can be solved by optimizing a tradeoff between a pressure to store fewer, more reusable lexical items and a pressure to account for each linguistic expression with as little computation as possible. I will show how this approach addresses a number of problems in English inflectional and derivational morphology, and briefly discuss its applications to other domains of linguistic structure.

Syntax group meeting, 11/17

Join us this Friday at 10am in room 117 of the Linguistics building for our meeting where Nico Baier will be presenting his paper on “Anti-agreement in non-local contexts.” All are welcome!

Prosody & Meaning Reading Group, 11/06

The Prosody & Meaning Reading group will discuss Cristian DiCanio’s “The phonetics of information structure in Yoloxóchitl Mixtec” on Monday, Nov 6 (12-1pm, Room 117).

MLML meeting, 11/07

At this week’s Montreal Language Modeling Lab meeting (Tues Nov 7 at 5:30-7:30pm in Room 117), Chris Bruno will present work on the generalized parser project, a general framework capable of parsing many different grammar formalisms. Light food provided. Everyone is welcome; please RSVP if not on the lab mailing list.

P* Reading Group, 11/08

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Nov. 8) 11am-12pm in Room 117, Yeong will lead a discussion of DiCanio et al. (2015). Vowel variability in elicited versus spontaneous speech: evidence from Mixtec. Journal of Phonetics, 48, 45-59. This discussion is especially relevant because Christian DiCanio will be the colloquium speaker on Friday. Everyone is welcome!

Synt-ex Reading Group, 11/14

The Synt-ex reading group (experimental syntax reading group) is an interdisciplinary reading group that meets up every two weeks. Our next meeting will be  November 14th, 3-4pm at the Rabinovitch House (3640 rue de la Montagne). There will be snacks provided by CRBLM. Anyone interested is welcome to join, if you want to be added to the list send an e-mail to or check out the website

Prosody Reading Group, 10/30

On Monday, October 30, Ruveneko Ferdinand-Peterkin will lead the discussion about Goldrick et al. (2016): Automatic analysis of slips of the tongue…, and a related production experiment (Monday Oct 30, 12-1pm, Room 117, note shorter time due to Aron Hirsch’s minicourse).

Montreal Language Modeling Lab meeting, 10/31

At this week’s Montreal Language Modeling Lab meeting (Tues Oct 31 at 5:30-7:30pm in Room 117), Arlie Coles will be presenting on her work implementing a neural network model for the Montreal Forced Aligner. Light food provided. Everyone is welcome; please RSVP if not on the lab mailing list.

P* Reading Group,

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Nov. 1), 11am-12pm in Room 117, Gasper Begus, a PhD student visiting from Harvard University, will present a talk entitled, “What can unnatural processes tell us about typology?
” The abstract is below. Everyone is welcome!

One of the most contested debates in phonology concerns identifying factors that affect typology. Two lines of thought emerge in this discussion: Analytical Bias (AB) and Channel Bias (CB) approach. Disambiguating between Analytic and Channel Bias influences on typology is complicated by the fact that several proposals assume learning biases (AB) crucially influence the frequency and directionality of sound change (CB). In this talk, I argue that this “duplication problem” is substantially reduced in the case of unnatural alternations. I present a model that estimates CB influences on typology based on a statistical technique non-parametric bootstrap called Bootstrapping Sound Changes (BSC). For any synchronic alternation, the BSC technique estimates the probability that the alternation arises based on the number of sound changes it requires and their respective probabilities. With the BSC technique, we can compare Historical Probabilities of attested and unattested alternations and perform inferential statistics on the comparison, predict (un)attestedness in a given sample for any alternation, and derive quantitative outputs for a typological framework that models both Channel Bias and Analytical Bias influences together. The BSC technique also identifies several mismatches in typological predictions of Analytic and Channel Bias approach. By comparing these mismatches with the observed typology, the paper attempts to quantitatively evaluate the distinct contributions of diachronic and synchronic factors on phonological typology.

Syntax reading group, 11/03

Join us this Friday at 10am for our Syntax meeting in room 117 of the Linguistics building. Jessica Coon will be presenting joint work with Stefan Keine in their paper “Feature Gluttony and Hierarchy Effects”.


This paper offers a new take on a family of hierarchy-effect inducing configurations, including (i) PCC effects (Anagnostopoulou 2005; Nevins 2007), (ii) dative-nominative configurations (Sigurdsson & Holmberg 2008), and (iii) certain copula constructions (Coon, Keine, & Wagner, to appear). Following previous work, we take these configurations to arise in contexts in which two accessible DPs are in the same domain as a single agreeing probe (Béjar & Rezac 2003; Anagnostopoulou 2005). Standard accounts of these hierarchy effects attribute them to failures of nominal licensing, in particular, a Person Licensing Condition (Béjar & Rezac 2003; Preminger 2017). We argue instead that these effects are better understood as arising from properties of probes. We offer a new account which captures commonalities and differences across these constructions, both in terms of the types and specifications of the features involved, as well as in the result of hierarchy violations and their possible repairs.

All are welcome!

Prosody & Meaning Reading group: Oct 23 and Oct 30

On Monday, the Prosody & Meaning Reading group will meet to discuss Judith Tonhauser’s recent paper on “Prosodic cues to presupposition projection“. Aron Hirsch will lead the discussion (Monday Oct 23rd, 11.30-1pm, Room 117). The following week, we’ll likely talk about Goldrick et al. (2016): Automatic analysis of slips of the tongue… (Monday Oct 30, 12-1pm, Room 117).

MLML Lab Meeting, 10/24

The Montreal Language Modeling Lab is holding weekly meetings starting this semester to discuss topics related to computational and quantitative linguistics. Meetings are held on Tuesday evenings 5:30pm-7:30pm in Room 117, and light food is provided. Email Emily ( to be added to the mailing list. In this week’s meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 24), Bing’er will present the 10-minute version of her first eval paper on the perception of tonal register contrast in Chinese Wu dialects, followed by a discussion of Kleinschmidt et al. (2011), “A Bayesian belief updating model of phonetic recalibration and selective adaptation,” Association for Computational Linguistics. All are welcome, but please RSVP if not on the mailing list.

P* Reading Group, 10/25

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Oct. 25), 11am-12pm in Room 117, Bing’er will lead a discussion of Richter et al. (in press). “Evaluating Low-Level Speech Features Against Human Perceptual Data”. Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Everyone is welcome!

WORDS Group, 10/27

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 27th October, at McGill, Dr. Penfield Ave. 1085 (room 117) at 1pm-2.30pm. This session will take place in the shape of a Mini Workshop on Person, where we will discuss various examples of morphologically complex pronouns that we have come across.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

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