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Hirsch and Schwarz at “New trends in semantics” workshop

On June 16, Aron Hirsch (postdoc 2017-19) and Bernhard Schwarz jointly gave an invited talk at the workshop “New trends in semantics”, held at Humboldt University, Berlin. Their talk was entitled “Reconciling maximality with cumulativity in questions”.

Yuzhou Yan @ CULC16

Yuzhou Yan (Honours Linguistics/Major Computer Science) presented on part of his honours thesis work at the 16th annual Cornell Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium (CULC16, hybrid format), April 22-24, 2022. The title of his presentation was “Complementizer Selection by Japanese Verbs”.

Junko Shimoyama at Cornell

Junko Shimoyama gave a colloquium talk last Thursday at Cornell University virtually, on “Embedded negative polar questions in Japanese: explaining the puzzling distribution of embedded non-canonical negation”. This is based on joint work with Daniel Goodhue (PhD 2018) at the University of Maryland.

Public lecture: Anne H. Charity Hudley, “A Model for Linguistic Reparations”, 2/11

On Friday February 11th at 3:30pm Anne H. Charity Hudley (Stanford University) will give a public lecture as part of the McGill Linguistics colloquium series titled “A model for linguistic reparations.” The pre-registration link is here.  This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Linguistics, the Faculty of Arts, the Arts Undergraduate Society, and the Society for Linguistics Undergraduates at McGill, and is part of wider Black History Month events in the Faculty of Arts. Read the McGill Reporter piece here.

Abstract: This current time of pandemic and protest is a visceral and constant reminder that the racial and economic legacies of the enslavement of Black people were not only unresolved but continue to determine the courses of the daily lives of Black people across the world. Diversity and inclusion alone will not repair hundreds of years of injustice. Colleges and universities need to have frank and explicit conversations about Anti-Black racism and create plans for educational reparations.

As part of a model for educational reparations, Charity Hudley presents linguistic reparation work from the Talking College Project, a Black student and Black studies centered community-based research project that was designed to document the particular linguistic choices of Black students for Black students. The Project is explicitly focused on empowering Black students to be proud of their cultural and linguistic heritage.

Bio: Anne Harper Charity Hudley is Professor of Education, African American Studies, and Linguistics at Stanford University. Her research and publications address the relationship between language variation and Pre-Kindergarten-higher education educational practices and policies and high-impact practices for students who are underrepresented as faculty in higher education.

 

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.”

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.

Public lecture, 2/25 — Michel DeGraff at Concordia

Black History Month at Concordia, the Black Perspectives Office, and the Centre for Cognitive Science present a public lecture by Professor Michel DeGraff (MIT)
#BlackLivesMatter → #OurLanguagesMatter
Language rights are HUMAN rights—in Haiti and beyond

When: Thursday Feb. 25 at 18:00
Where: Zoom—register here to receive the meeting ID and passcode
Who: Open to the university community and the general public

Abstract: As a creolist who works on language and education for social justice (http://MIT-Ayiti.NET http://Haiti.MIT.edu), I continuously puzzle at the vast array of educators, activists, intellectuals, politicians, etc., who fail to realize that language rights are at the core of human rights. This puzzlement will take us to my native Haiti and other outposts of Empire where we can document spectacular violations of linguistic rights in the course of knowledge production and in the workings of human-rights organizations. We’ll highlight the persistent incoherence in these patterns throughout history… Or perhaps there’s a logic (a colonial racist logic?) to this apparent madness. In this talk, I’ll take Haiti and Creolistics as twin case studies to try and understand the genesis of these human-rights violations as part of the history of colonization and slavery. Then I’ll present one specific and concrete set of “direct actions” (à la Martin Luther King Jr.) that we linguists and educators can take toward a constructive forward-looking resolution of these violations. Here our case study is the MIT-Haiti Initiative where we’re helping to usher a paradigm shift in the perception and use of Haitian Creole as a key tool for universal access to quality education and for the respect of human rights in Haiti. We hope, perhaps with too much optimism, that our MIT-Haiti Initiative, in spite of its obvious limitations (after all, MIT is part of the Global North), can serve as one among other models that can help the Global South recover, and perhaps even escape, from imperialism and racism.

Dr. Michel DeGraff is a Professor of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Director of MIT-Haiti Initiative. This talk is sponsored by the Black Perspectives Office and the Centre for Cognitive Science, with support from Concordia’s INDI Program, Linguistics Program and Linguistics Student Association.

Bernhard Schwarz at UCL

As part of the UCL Linguistics Seminar series, Bernhard Schwarz gave an invited talk today entitled “Comparisons of concentration and the composition of dimensions”, reporting on on joint work with Alan Bale (Concordia University) and David Shanks (McGill University).

Martina Martinović at UChicago

Martina Martinović presented her work on control and restructuring in an invited talk at the University of Chicago on November 20th. The title and abstract are below:

Control and restructuring in Wolof

This research explores the phenomenon of control in the Niger-Congo language Wolof, which has the following properties. First, Partial Control is not possible in Wolof; all control predicates exhibit only Exhaustive Control. Second, all control predicates in Wolof exhibit restructuring properties, both those that cross-linguistically generally restructure, and those that have been argued to never restructure. I argue that these properties give support to Grano’s (2012, 2015) claim that there are two strategies for establishing control: one that results in Exhaustive Control (for Grano, following Cinque (2004), this is raising), and another that results in Partial Control (involving a PRO). I argue that Wolof only has the former strategy. While Wolof does not have direct evidence that the strategy resulting in Exhaustive Control involves raising, it does offer some indirect support for this claim. First, I show that all non-finite complements involve a reduced clausal size, and propose that this allows for raising to proceed from all such structures. Second, only predicates that do not take direct objects participate in control: subject control over an object, as well as object control, are not possible. It has long been noted that restructuring/Exhaustive Control verbs are only monotransitive verbs (Kayne 1989, Cinque 2004), which has been taken as an argument for the functional status of such verbs. I argue that lexical verbs must also be allowed to involve raising of embedded subjects. Raising to object, even if it exists (as convincingly argued in Postal 1974), appears to be cross-linguistically rare. If Exhaustive Control is raising, and raising to object is not found in Wolof, this explains the absence of object control. And finally, I show that there is no independent evidence for PRO in Wolof.

Announcement: PhD Dissertation Defense, 12/9 — Francesco Gentile

Please join us for the PhD Oral Defense of Francesco Gentile, Monday, December 9th, 2019 at 2:30 pm in the Ferrier Bldg. Rm. 456. The dissertation is titled: “Modal Adjectives and the Grammar of Non-local Modification”. The defence will be followed by a reception in the Linguistics lounge (room 212).

LING/DISE Indigenous languages search, 12/2 – Ryan DeCaire

Please join us this afternoon for the last of the three talks in connection with the LING/DISE search in Indigenous Languages.

Speaker: Ryan DeCaire (UofT)

Coordinates: December 2nd, 3:00–4:30 in Arts 260 (to be followed by a reception)

Title: Tertiary Education for Indigenous Language Revitalization

Abstract:

Indigenous communities, some now for decades, have been working tirelessly to maintain and revitalize their languages with the hope that their use will again become normal. Given this experience, many communities are in a very unique, yet critical, time in their history as they struggle to restore intergenerational transmission and primary use among and between peer groups. In this struggle, we are noticing that adults are now more important than ever, especially given their necessary role in raising and teaching children. While focusing on our situation in Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) communities, in this presentation I will discuss the critical role of adults in our revitalization efforts, how we are creating second language speakers, and how we can work in partnership with the University to make a historical impact in the pursuit to revitalize Indigenous languages.

Speaker bio: Ryan DeCaire is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and was born and raised in Wáhta Mohawk Territory. His work is primarily focused on best practices for developing advanced oral proficiency in adults as well as Kanien’kéha documentation for revitalization. He is a language learner and instructor in immersion and non-immersion environments. Ryan is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto, a Ph.D. Student in the Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization Program at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, as well as a research partner with Onkwawén:na Kentyóhkwa.

LING/DISE Indigenous Languages search invited speaker, 11/26 – James Crippen

Please join us for the second of three talks in connection with the LING/DISE search in Indigenous Languages.

Speaker: Dr. James Crippen (UBC)

Coordinates: November 26th, 3:00–4:30 in EDUC 624 (to be followed by a reception)

Title: Theoretical analysis of Tlingit’s verbs and consequences for language documentation and learning

Abstract: 

The Tlingit language is a First Nations language of Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon. It is a member of the Na-Dene family and is distantly related to the Dene languages like Navajo, Kaska, and Dene Sųłiné. Linguistic research has traditionally presented Tlingit’s verbs as large strings of interwoven morphology which require complex and opaque lexical entries. This traditional approach is extremely difficult to internalize and generations of Tlingit language learners have been daunted by its complexity. Crippen’s dissertation work counters the traditional approach, arguing instead that Tlingit’s verbs are more like whole sentences and hence that they can be straightforwardly analyzed with conventional syntactic theory. The system described by this analysis is simple and transparent, and it concentrates most arbitrary phenomena in a single place: the verb root.

Eight previously unexplicated properties of roots are documented and analyzed in Crippen’s dissertation: (i) valency (√, v, Voice) restricts the number of arguments required by default, (ii) qualia structure (√, N) restricts the meaning of patients, (iii) durativity (√, Asp) restricts the temporal structure of the eventuality denoted by the verb, (iv) stativity (√, Ɛ, Asp) determines the dynamicity of eventualities, (v) stem variation (√, V) is the predictable tone (L/H)
and length (μ/μμ) of verb stems, (vi) conjugation class (√, Asp) reflects spatial organization and determines many apparently unrelated morphological patterns, (vii) motion status (√, Asp, PP) regulates the location or path argument, and (viii) irrealis status (√, Asp) reflects whether the eventuality denotes a world that is like or unlike the actual world. This presentation will illustrate valency (property i) and a few of the other root properties to show how Tlingit’s verbs are built from roots and other pieces. The aim is to demonstrate that on the one hand that this system is theoretically tractable and on the other that it is  straightforward to internalize for language learners and so can radically transform efforts to document and revitalize the Tlingit language.

announcement: LING/DISE Indigenous languages search invited speaker, 12/2 – Ryan DeCaire

Please join us next week for the last of the three talks in connection with the LING/DISE search in Indigenous Languages.

Speaker: Ryan DeCaire (UofT)

Coordinates: December 2nd, 3:00–4:30 in Arts 260 (to be followed by a reception)

Title: Tertiary Education for Indigenous Language Revitalization

Abstract:

Indigenous communities, some now for decades, have been working tirelessly to maintain and revitalize their languages with the hope that their use will again become normal. Given this experience, many communities are in a very unique, yet critical, time in their history as they struggle to restore intergenerational transmission and primary use among and between peer groups. In this struggle, we are noticing that adults are now more important than ever, especially given their necessary role in raising and teaching children. While focusing on our situation in Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) communities, in this presentation I will discuss the critical role of adults in our revitalization efforts, how we are creating second language speakers, and how we can work in partnership with the University to make a historical impact in the pursuit to revitalize Indigenous languages.

Speaker bio: Ryan DeCaire is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and was born and raised in Wáhta Mohawk Territory. His work is primarily focused on best practices for developing advanced oral proficiency in adults as well as Kanien’kéha documentation for revitalization. He is a language learner and instructor in immersion and non-immersion environments. Ryan is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto, a Ph.D. Student in the Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization Program at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, as well as a research partner with Onkwawén:na Kentyóhkwa.

LING/DISE Indigenous Languages search invited speaker, 11/19 – Kari Chew

Please join us for the first of three talks in connection with the LING/DISE search in Indigenous Languages.

Speaker: Dr. Kari Chew (University of Victoria)

Coordinates: November 19th, 3:00–4:30 in EDUC 624 (to be followed by a reception)

Title: Weaving Words: Situating linguistics, education, and language reclamation within a culturally-significant metaphor

Abstract: 

Drawing on a five-year study with Chickasaw language learners and speakers, I consider the metaphors used to talk about language reclamation, which involves the work of linguists and educators. As a Chickasaw, I understand language as the vehicle for our original instructions from Aba’ Bínni’li’, the Creator, to be in good relation with people, land, plants, animals, and spirits. Within dominant discourses about Indigenous languages, metaphors of endangerment, loss, and extinction pervade. I conceptualize Chickasaw language reclamation within the culturally-significant metaphor of tanni—the art of finger weaving belts for ceremonial attire. I identify strands of the weaving as themes emerging from research with my community and personal experience as a language learner, including a critical consciousness of cultural identity rooted in language, a holistic understanding of language as cultural practice, and a view of language reclamation as an intergenerational endeavor in which younger generations are especially valued. I argue that by situating language reclamation within metaphors envisioned by Indigenous peoples, communities can exercise linguistic and educational sovereignty to enact language continuance in alignment with their own aspirations.

PhD dissertation defense, 11/22 – Liz Smeets

Please join us for the PhD oral defence of Liz Smeets, Friday November 22nd at 2:30pm in Ferrier room 476. The dissertation is titled: “Conditions on L1 transfer in L2 discourse-syntax mappings: The case of Clitic Left Dislocation in Italian and Romanian.” The defence will be followed by a reception in the Linguistics lounge (room 212).

LING/DISE Indigenous Languages search invited speaker – Kari Chew, 11/19

Please join us next week for the first of three talks in connection with the LING/DISE search in Indigenous Languages.

Speaker: Dr. Kari Chew (University of Victoria)

Coordinates: November 19th, 3:00–4:30 in EDUC 624 (to be followed by a reception)

Title: Weaving Words: Situating linguistics, education, and language reclamation within a culturally-significant metaphor

Abstract: 

Drawing on a five-year study with Chickasaw language learners and speakers, I consider the metaphors used to talk about language reclamation, which involves the work of linguists and educators. As a Chickasaw, I understand language as the vehicle for our original instructions from Aba’ Bínni’li’, the Creator, to be in good relation with people, land, plants, animals, and spirits. Within dominant discourses about Indigenous languages, metaphors of endangerment, loss, and extinction pervade. I conceptualize Chickasaw language reclamation within the culturally-significant metaphor of tanni—the art of finger weaving belts for ceremonial attire. I identify strands of the weaving as themes emerging from research with my community and personal experience as a language learner, including a critical consciousness of cultural identity rooted in language, a holistic understanding of language as cultural practice, and a view of language reclamation as an intergenerational endeavor in which younger generations are especially valued. I argue that by situating language reclamation within metaphors envisioned by Indigenous peoples, communities can exercise linguistic and educational sovereignty to enact language continuance in alignment with their own aspirations.

James Tanner at University of Glasgow

On Thursday 31st October, James Tanner gave an invited talk at the University of Glasgow, presenting joint work with Morgan Sonderegger and Jane Stuart-Smith (Glasgow) entitled ‘Structured speaker variability in Japanese stops: relationships within and across cues to stop voicing’.

Special talk, 10/11 – Uli Sauerland

There will be a special talk by Uli Sauerland on Friday October 11, 15:30-17:00 in Sherbrooke 688, Room 491. Title and abstract below, all are welcome!
“Compression within a generative view of thought and language”  (based on joint work with A. Alexiadou and T. Guasti)
Language is generally thought to be closely related to non-linguistic thought.  We argue instead for a view where thought representations are radically compressed before linguistic articulation. Specifically, we propose that thought representations are generated independent of language and that language realizes in a compressed form  Initial evidence for the account comes from syntax-semantics interface phenomena, code-mixing and -blending, expressive meaning, and historical linguistics. In this talk, I focus on ongoing work developing the approach by using data from large-scale (i.e. 30+ languages) comparisons of child language data.

Jessica Coon and Tarynne Pachano in Ottawa

Jessica Coon and Tarynne Pachano were at Carleton University over the weekend where they participated in ELK-Tech, a meeting on digital tools for supporting endangered languages.

Jessica also spent Friday afternoon at the University of Ottawa, where she gave a colloquium talk on hierarchy effects, based on her collaborative work with Stefan Keine.

Syntax-Semantics Reading Group, 9/23 — Chris Davis

The next syntax-semantics reading group meeting will take place Monday (23/09) at 14:30 in room 002. Chris Davis will be giving a guest talk related to a paper of his from 2017, downloadable at the following link: https://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/2YzZjA5N/davis-NELS47

The presentation is entitled: Evidentiality, Maximize Presupposition, and Gricean Quality in Okinawan.

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