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McGill @ CLA 2022

McGill linguists presented at this year’s Canadian Linguistics Association (CLA) annual meeting, held virtually June 1st–4th. Presenters included:

  • Terrance Gatchalian – The composition of Ktunaxa causatives: argument- and event-structure restrictions
  • Sijia Zhang & Michael Wagner – Speech segmentation and tone sandhi in Mandarin Chinese

Full information can be found at the conference page: https://cla-acl.ca/programmes/congres-de-2022-meeting.html

final presentations for first LING 483/683 “Linguistic elicitation for language revitalization” course

The first “Linguistic elicitation for language revitalization”, co-taught by Meghan Clayards and Jessica Coon in the condensed May summer term, together with course advisors James Crippen, Luis Alonso-Ovalle, Tahohtháratye Brant (UofT), and Ryan DeCaire (UofT), held final presentations at the Thomson Island Cultural Camp in Akwesasne last Thursday.

The course was developed in partnership with the grass-roots organization Ionkwahronkha’onhátie’ (“We are becoming fluent”) and with the support of McGill’s Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement Initiative (ISCEI). It paired Linguistics grad students (Laurestine Bradford, Terrance Gatchalian, Jacob Hoover, Katya Morgunova, Willie Myers, David Shanks, Irene Smith, and Connie Ting) with advanced second-language speakers of Kanien’kéha from communities in Quebec and Ontario (Wenhni’tí:io Gareau, Alyssa General, Kahawíhson Horne, Teyútkw^ Jimerson, Otsì:tsia Sunday, Karonhiióstha Skye, and Wentanoron Jacco) for five weeks of intensive Kanienkéha linguistics and linguistic elicitation work with L1 speaker, Elder Wá:ri McDonald.

The goal was to provide L2 learners with linguistic tools and concepts to continue their paths toward fluency, and to provide linguistics grad students experience in collaborative language work. The partners developed final projects which they presented on June 2nd, on topics ranging from benefactives and semi-reflexives, to question intonation, to alternations between glottal stop and down-stress––all with implications for language-learning and teaching. Stay tuned for developments from these projects!

Incoming graduate cohort for fall 2022

McLing is pleased to announce the incoming McGill graduate cohort! The following PhD, MA, and QY students will be joining McGill in Fall 2022. Welcome new students!
– Cheman Baira A Sangma
– Jeanne Brown
– Benjamin LeBrun
– Luané Lennox
– Olivia Oppong
– Nicole Isaac-Pictou

Mathieu Paillé to U Calgary

Congratulations to Mathieu Paillé, who will start a position as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Calgary in fall 2022. He will work with Elizabeth Ritter, Dimitrios Skordos, and Martina Wiltschko on a project called “How to do things with nominals.

Mathieu Paillé at Workshop on Part-Whole Structures

PhD student Mathieu Paillé gave a talk entitled “Inclusion of parts, or exclusion of predicates: Comparing two exhaustivity accounts of homogeneity” at the Workshop on Part-Whole Structures in Natural Language, at Masaryk University in Brno (held online). The handout is here.
Abstract: Discussion of homogeneity effects usually focuses on examples involving pluralities, but the effect is often taken to hold within atoms as well (e.g., Löbner 2000, Spector 2013, Križ 2015). In this talk, I compare two accounts of homogeneity, namely the account by Bar-Lev (2018, 2021) made for plural homogeneity, and the account proposed in Paillé (2020, 2021) for subatomic homogeneity. These accounts are similar in a number of ways: both understand the homogeneity paradigm in terms of weak lexical meaning paired with strengthening in positive sentences, both claim that this strengthening is specifically the result of an Exh(aust) operator, and both must posit constraints on the syntactic distribution of this Exh operator. But the accounts differ in the nature of the alternatives and in the specific property of Exh that leads to strengthening. Bar-Lev’s account posits the inclusion of proper parts, while Paillé’s account uses the exclusion of conceptually related predicates. I show that neither theory can be carried over to the homogeneity effects they were not intended to capture: Bar-Lev’s account faces difficulties with subatomic homogeneity, specifically due to conjoined predicates (e.g., The flag is white and green), while Paillé’s account is not translatable to plural homogeneity at all. As such, I suggest that plural and subatomic homogeneity effects are underlyingly united in only some of their properties (being the result of local exhaustification in positive sentences) while differing in the nature of the alternatives and whether these are included or excluded.

Laurestine Bradford at Cogsci 2022

PhD student Laurestine Bradford will present her Master’s project work as a flash talk at the 44th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (Cogsci 2022), taking place on July 27th-30th in hybrid format. Her work is entitled “Communicative Need Modulates Lexical Precision Across Semantic Domains: A Domain-Level Account of Efficient Communication.

McGill at Ba-TOM 1

Students from the Winter 2022 Linguistic Field Methods class traveled to Toronto later this week to present their work on Kirundi at the first Toronto–Montreal Bantu Colloquium, Ba-TOM 1, hosted at the University of Toronto Scarborough May 27th and 28th.

Benilde Mizero, Katya Morgunova, Jessica Coon, Brandon Chaperon, Claire Henderson, Chase Boles, David Shanks, Juvénal Ndayiragije (UT Scarborough), Terrance Gatchalian, and Willie Myers

Presenters included Chase BolesBrandon ChaperonTerrance Gatchalian, Claire HendersonKatya Morgunova, Willie Myers, and David Shanks. They were joined by Kirundi language consultant Benilde Mizero.

McGill @ MOTH 2022

McGill linguists of past and present gathered at UQAM last Friday and Saturday for the 10th annual edition of the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton (MOTH) Syntax Workshop.

Justin Royer gave an invited talk titled “Binding and anti-cataphora in Mayan”. Other talks by McGill grad students included:

  • Terrance Gatchalian – Building Ktunaxa causatives
  • Will Johnston – Directed motion in White Hmong: Serial verb constructions as complex PPs
  • Bernardas Jurevičius – Anaphoricity and referentiality
  • Willie Myers – High-, Low-, and No-absolutive syntax: Effects of object raising in Mam

The full program is available here: https://sites.google.com/view/moth2022/program

Mireille Tremblay (PhD ’91), Richard Compton (Post-doc ’13–’14), Ileana Paul (PhD ’00), Justin Royer, Bernardas Jurevicius, Terrance Gatchalian, Jessica Coon, Lisa Travis, Will Johnston, Willie Myers

Fulbright Fellowship for Clint Parker

Congratulations to PhD student Clint Parker, who has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship for the 2022–2023 academic year, which he will use to carry out fieldwork on the Shughni language in Tajikistan.  Clint will be hosted by a local academic institution and work directly with Shughni-speaking academics and other community members.  This fieldwork will inform and help round out his dissertation, which is a comprehensive grammar of Shughni.

Will Johnston at Minnesota

Will Johnston gave a talk titled “Event Structure and Serial Verb Constructions in Hmong” on Friday, April 1 at a (virtual) meeting of the University of Minnesota Hmong Linguistics Research/Reading Group.

McGill at upcoming MOTH 2022

The 10th Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton (MOTH) Syntax Workshop will take place this year April 22nd and 23rd at UQÀM. The line-up includes presentations by Terrance Gatchalian, Will JohnstonBernardas Jurevicius, and Willie Myers, as well as an invited talk by Justin Royer. The full program is available here, and registration is here.

McGill @ MOT 2022

Connie Ting and Wei Zhang each presented at the 2022 edition of MOT, the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto Phonetics/Phonology Workshop, held at the University of Ottawa March 25th and 26th.

  • Connie Ting – “Investigating universality of consonant intrinsic F0 effects”
  • Wei Zhang – “Cue primacy effects in Mandarin tone imitation”

The full program is available here.

Departmental cross-country ski

Wei, Irene, Meghan, Ben, Martina, Terrance, and Jessica on a mini departmental ski trip on Mount Royal

Banting post-doctoral fellowship to Justin Royer

McLing is thrilled to announce that 5th-year PhD student Justin Royer has been awarded a two-year Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. Justin will spend the next two years at UC Berkeley Linguistics, working under the supervision of Peter Jenks. Justin’s project grows out of his dissertation research and is entitled: “Documentation of Chuj and Mam, two Mayan languages: Implications for a cross-linguistic theory of reference”. Congratulations Justin!

Alonso-Ovalle and Royer AND Bale, Schwarz, and Shanks in Journal of Semantics

The most recent issue of Journal of Semantics (volume 38, issue 4) contains two new articles by McGill linguists, both collaborations between students and faculty members:

Congrats all!


McGill @ LSA 2022

McGill linguists presented at this year’s meeting of the Linguistics Society of America, held this past weekend in hybrid format in Washington DC. The full program is available at: https://www.linguisticsociety.org/node/36129/schedule.



Mathieu Paillé at Göttingen

Mathieu Paillé gave an invited talk on December 21, 2021, online at the University of Göttingen. The talk was entitled “On the strengthening of non-scalar predicates and the syntactic distribution of exhaustivity.”

McGill at TOMILLA 3

McGill linguists traveled to the University of Ottawa last week for the 3rd Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Indigenous Languages of Latin America (TOMILLA 3) workshop December 3rd and 4th. McGill talks included:

  • Willie Myers – “High, low, and no absolutive Mayan syntax: effects of object raising in heritage Mam” (based on work with McGill BA student Ix Jimenez-Haham)
  • Justin Royer & Jessica Coon – “Object raising bleeds binding: a new correlate of high-absolutive syntax in Mayan”

Justin Royer, Willie Myers, Ix Jimenez-Haham, Jessica Coon, and collaborator Pedro Mateo Pedro (UofT)

Mathieu Paillé at Humboldt University of Berlin

Linguistics PhD student Mathieu Paillé gave an invited talk online at Humboldt University of Berlin on November 9th, entitled “Derivational morphemes exhaustify roots: a hypothesis on the relationship between language and concepts.”
Abstract: Non-scalar content vocabulary taken from a particular conceptual domain is usually interpreted as mutually exclusive, as seen in examples like #This comedy is a tragedy or #Some animated films are live-action (Paillé 2020; cf. Cann 2011). This has been variously dealt with as a fact about the structure of the lexicon (de Saussure 1916) or of conceptual space (Gärdenfors 2000). I begin by showing that the mutual exclusivity is in fact a product of grammar; indeed, it can be removed through conjunction or additive particles. As such, I speculate that it is the effect of a grammatical Exh(aust) operator (Chierchia et al. 2012). If this account is accepted, it comes with the consequence that the Exh found with these predicates displays novel behaviour. Not only is it obligatory (cf. e.g. Magri 2009), but it also, at first approximation, necessarily has the predicate in its immediate scope. To understand these requirements on Exh, I turn to another linguistic phenomenon that has the same twin properties of being obligatory with, and always local to, content vocabulary. This is derivational morphology. As discussed by Boeckx (2011), derivational morphemes take concepts (qua roots) and make them mergeable — i.e., linguistically usable. My proposal is that Exh’s unusual behaviour with content words is due to these very morphemes not just selecting a root/concept, but also requiring an Exh operator in their immediate vicinity. I formalize this through an Agree relation between derivational morphemes and Exh; this explains both the obligatory nature of Exh and its locality requirement, assuming there is no upward Agree. Thus, in effect, derivational morphemes ‘clean up’ underlyingly messy conceptual spaces, hiding away any overlap between related concepts.

Royer and Coon at FAMLi VI

Justin Royer and Jessica Coon presented collaborative work at the 6th meeting of Form and Analysis in Maya Linguistics (FAMLi VI), which took place in a hybrid format at CIMSUR-UNAM in Chiapas, Mexico November 12th and 13th. The title of their talk was: “Extracción del objeto y el parámetro absolutivo bajo/alto”.

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