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Kim, Clayards, and Goad to be published in the Journal of Phonetics

Congratulations to Donghyun Kim, Meghan Clayards, and Heather Goad for the acceptance of their paper “A longitudinal study of individual differences in the acquisition of new vowel contrasts” by the Journal of Phonetics.

McLing summer news, final edition!

Jurij Bozic will attend Roots V at Queen Mary, University of London (17-18th June), where he will give a talk with the title “Roots and Non-Locally Triggered Allomorphy”. He will also spend several weeks in Slovenia eliciting judgements from native speakers on several topics that he is currently researching.

September Cowley has completed her M.A. at McGill and will join UC San Diego’s Linguistics department to begin her PhD this fall.

Henrison Hsieh has been spending some of the summer presenting joint work with Luis Alonso-Ovalle at various conferences, including the upcoming Workshop on the Semantics of African, Asian and Austronesian Languages (TripleA 4) in Gothenburg, Sweden. In July, he will be attending the LSA Summer Institute at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY.

The McGill acquisition group will be presenting work on Italian this summer at two conferences. Upcoming talks include:

  • Goad, H., L. White, G. Garcia, N. Guzzo, M. Mortazavinia, L. Smeets & J. Su. 2017. Effects of pause and stress on pronoun interpretation in L2 Italian. Paper to be presented at the International Symposium on Bilingualism (ISB 11), University of Limerick, June 2017.
  • Goad, H., L. White, G. Garcia, N. Guzzo, M. Mortazavinia, L. Smeets & J. Su. 2017. Pronoun interpretation in Italian: assessing the effects of prosody.​ Paper to be presented at the Experimental Psycholinguistics Conference, Menorca, June 2017.

McGill at Fourth Workshop on Sound Change

McGill linguists are attending the Fourth Workshop on Sound Change on 19-22 April, 2017, at the University of Edinburgh, to present their work:

  • Morgan Sonderegger, Michael McAuliffe, Hye-Young Bang: Segmental influences on F0: cross-linguistic and interspeaker variability of phonetic precursors
  • Hye-Young Bang, Morgan Sonderegger, Meghan Clayards: Speaker variability in cue weighting for laryngeal contrasts: the relationship to sound change

Departmental Picnic: Laurier edition

McGill linguists made the most of a hot and sunny late summer day to mark the beginning of the Fall term, with good and plentiful food and conversation, at the department’s annual picnic.  The picnic was held in the picturesque Parc Laurier in Le Plateau.  Some pictures:

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!


Summer plans, round 1

McLing is collecting news about what members of the McGill Linguistics community––students, graduates, faculty, etc.––are up to this summer. Please send us your news!

BA students

  • Barbara Coelho plans to dive in to learning Scottish Gaelic this summer. Besides that, she will be researching her plan to apply to a Speech Pathology MA.
  • Emily Goodwin will be volunteering this summer in the MIDC (McGill Infant Development Centre) and taking a CompSci course.
  • Hannah Cohen, Maggie Labelle, and Madeleine Mees will be working as summer interns at Nuance here in Montreal. Maggie and Madeleine will be part of the User Interface Design team, and Hannah will be part of the Speech Science team.

Graduate students

  • Hye-Young Bang will be attending the LSA Summer Institute in Chicago, and presenting at the International Conference on Korean Linguistics in Chicago and the International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS) in Glasgow.
  • Gui Garcia will be finishing a book chapter on the prosody of English acquisition of Quebec French with Natália B. Guzzo; teaching an intro course on R to a research group at UFRGS in Brazil; and doing some fieldwork in the the Italian Immigration Area in southern Brazil. From there, he heads to the second session of the LSA Summer Institute.
  • Daniel Goodhue is also heading to Chicago for the LSA Summer Institute.
  • Oriana Kilbourn will also be attending the LSA Summer Institute, and presenting at ICPhS in Glasgow as well.
  • Jeffrey Klassen is going to the Discourse Expectation Conference (DETEC 2015) in Edmonton, Alberta (June 17-19) to present a talk, joint with Annie Tremblay: “Anticipatory focus: Processing, transfer, and grammatical architecture in L2”.

McGill at upcoming GLOW and WCCFL

McGill linguists will travel to Vancouver for WCCFL 33 later this month, to be held at Simon Frasier University. Heather Goad will give a plenary talk titled “Phonotactic evidence from typology and acquisition for a coda+onset analysis of initial sC clusters“. PhD student Guilherme Duarte Garcia will give a talk “Stress and gradient weight in Portuguese.” Here is the rest of the program.

In April, PhD student Michael Hamilton and post-doctoral fellow Hadas Kotek will both head to Paris for GLOW. Mike’s talk will be “Feature Inheritance in clausal and verbal domains: Evidence from Mi’gmaq”, and Hadas’s is titled “Intervention everywhere“.  The full program can be found here.

Luis Alonso-Ovalle at Cornell

Luis Alonso-Ovalle has just returned from a trip to Cornell University where he gave a colloquium talk at the Department of Linguistics. The title of his talk was: “Modality in the Nominal Domain: Random Choice and Modal Harmony”

Syntax-Semantics Reading Group: Buccola on Al-Khatib, part II – 06/27

Brian Buccola made a presentation last Friday on Al-Khathib (2013) ‘Only’ and Association with Negative Antonyms. Ph. Diss. MIT. He will continue the presentation on Friday 27 at the Syntax-Semantics Reading Group (room 117, from 3:00 to 4:30).

Syntax/Semantics Reading Group – Shimoyama, Drummond, Schwarz and Wagner on Dislocation, 6/6

Date Presentation Background reading(s)
Friday, June 6, 2014
10:00 – 11:30 am(Room 117)
Shimoyama, Drummond, Schwarz and Wagner, “Dislocation, fragments, and ellipsis” Ott, Dennis and Mark de Vries (2013) Right-dislocation as deletion. Ms. Univ. of Groningen.http://amor.cms.hu-berlin.de/~ottdenni/papers/rightdisl.pdf

Course Announcement –– LING 460: Semantics 2

A course announcement from Brendan Gillon:


Fall 2014: MWF 10h30–11h30
Course prerequisite: LING 360 or permission of instructor
This course can be taken for graduate credit by linguistics graduate students, provided they register for it under a graduate level course number.

Course Description:

The aim of the course (LING 460: Semantics 2) is to introduce students to the two most fundamental tools in semantic theory, namely, Lambek calculus and the Lambda calculus, a thorough understanding of which is necessary for advanced work in semantic theory. The Lambek calculus, due to Jim Lambek, professor emeritus of McGill University’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is a generalization of the propositional calculus and it has applications in a variety of domains in mathematics, and perhaps surprisingly, in linguistics too, where it provides the mathematics of syntactic categories. In other words,
viewed in the right way, the propositional calculus can be used to formalize the syntactic categories of natural language expressions. The Lambda calculus is a notation developed by Alonzo Church to represent all functions in mathematics. It is widely used by natural language semanticists to express the values which can be associated with the expressions of a natural language. It turns out that there is a deep and elegant connection between the Lambek calculus and the Lambda calculus, which natural language semanticists find very useful to exploit. This connection is known as the Curry-Howard isomorphism.

Making all this clear as well as showing how these tools apply in an enlightening way to a variety of natural language expressions, including those involving coordination, quantificational expressions and comparative expressions, is what the course aims to do.

The course presupposes nothing other than what is covered in the introductory logic course (PHIL 210). Anyone with this much preparation is welcome to enrol.

Success in the course requires that one is at ease with, and not at all a whiz at, elementary logic and that one has the self discipline to work regularly at studying the material. Assessment is based on problem sets and class participation only.

Last year, a student who was an undergraduate major in English at McGill University and had taken only the introductory logic course (PHIL 210), took this course and did extremely well. The same student, who has gone on to graduate studies in linguistics at Oxford University, reports that he is `ahead of the game’ as a result of this when he started his studies there.

This fall will be the third time the course is offered. I shall be joined by Dr. Eliot Michaelson in teaching the course. Dr. Michaelson graduated from UCLA with a doctorate in philosophy and works in the area of philosophy of language. He is a Mellon post doctoral fellow in the Department of Philosophy.

The course will continue to use Bob Carpenter’s textbook, Type logical semantics. This book, though it is an introductory textbook, is a little on the steep side. To ease the gradient, I have written notes designed to reduce the slope in going from the level of introductory logic to the Carpenter textbook.

Ling Tea, 3/26 – Jeesun Nam

After a brief hiatus, Ling Tea is back this week!

Who: Jeesun Nam (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)
When: Wednesday, March 26, 3:00-4:00 pm, Rm. 117
Title: Linguistic Resource-based Approach to Automatic Annotation of Polarity-Shifted Expressions


Among a vast amount of work devoted to the analysis of subjective expressions that contain opinions, evaluations or sentiments, comparatively little work has been conducted in examining polarity shifting devices (PSDs) such as negation markers (Polanyi & Zaenen 2004, Kennedy & Inkpen 2006 and Li et al. 2010). PSDs make inappropriate the assumption that the sentimental orientation of the whole text depends on the simple sum of the prior polarities of content words. For example, in the sentence I was hardly satisfied that is comprised of a positive opinion word satisfied, the polarity of whole sentence is reversed because of a PSD hardly. PSDs should be taken into consideration to properly calculate the polarity of opinion sentences.

This study presents ongoing work on a linguistic resource-based approach to automatic annotation of polarity-shifted expressions. In the literature, given that lexicon- or rule-based approaches have shown serious shortcomings such as ‘performed-on-word-level’ problems or ‘poor-recall’ problems, statistical approaches have dominated the research in opinion classification and achieved the state-of-the-art performance. However, the latter approaches rely on the availability of a large amount of human-tagged training data, and the performance is hard to improve unless more reliable linguistic information is provided.

The linguistic resources I propose in this study essentially include two types: Korean electronic dictionary DECO (Nam 2010) conceptually corresponding to the French electronic dictionary DELA constructed in LADL at Paris 7 University, and local syntactic information represented by finite-state local graphs (i.e. Local Grammar Graphs (LGGs) (Gross 1997, 1999)). The lexicon DECO provides the information of inflectional classes, POS types, and morpho-semantic properties including polarity-orientation of opinion words. The LGGs graphically represent PSDs such as negation markers (e.g. ani ‘not’), polarity-reversing predicates (e.g. silphayha– ‘(to) fail’) or concessive connectors (e.g. –ciman ‘although’) occurring in online review texts. The lexicon DECO and LGGs are applied to the detection and automatic annotation of the polarity-shifted expressions through the multi-lingual text processing platform UNITEX, compatible with the above linguistic resources (Paumier 2003, University Paris-Est-Marne-la-Vallée: http://www-igm.univ-mlv.fr/~unitex).

In this talk, I will briefly introduce the organization of the electronic dictionary DECO as well as those of the DELA-French and DELA-English, and the LGG formalism by illustrating some examples of the LGGs on polarity-reversed expressions in Korean and in English. Finally, I will discuss how to recognize and annotate these expressions by applying the dictionaries and LGGs to online review corpora through a freeware platform UNITEX. If time permits, I will demonstrate how to process non-European languages such as Thai or Arabic by UNITEX.

Future Week – 3/25-3/28

SLUM’s Future Week is this week. There are a few events that may be of interest to graduate students (and others):

Tuesday, March 25th – Panel of Professionals, 2:30-4:30pm, Room 002 (Ling Building).
A panel of linguistics professionals from several fields and backgrounds will be explaining how they got to where they are today and how you can get there too. They’ll share their professional and education stories, but will also be open to questions.

Wednesday, March 26th – Speech Pathology Info Session, 11:00-12:00pm, Room 002 (Ling Building).
Two speech pathologists from the HSCD department will be discussing the field of speech pathology with us. They’ll be talking about the program here at McGill and might even give out some tips for future applicants. If you’re interested in speech pathology as a potential future career, this will be a very informative event.

Friday, March 28th

– Sociolinguistics Info Session, 2:00-4:00pm, Room 117 (Ling Building).
Anne Marie Trester, a sociolinguist from Georgetown University, will be giving a talk about life as a sociolinguist, how she got her start in the field, and how you can pursue a career in sociolinguistics too. We are very lucky to have this special guest join us this year, so don’t miss out! Especially if you’re interested in sociolinguistics and related fields, this will be a very interesting talk.

– Sociolinguist Wine & Cheese, 4:00-6:30pm
To wrap up the week and thank our special guest, there will be a wine & cheese directly following the info session.

Syntax/Semantics Reading Group Tutorial! David-Etienne on Degrees, 3/21

As mentioned before, starting this semester, the Syntax/Semantics Reading Group will feature a series of informal tutorials on semantic/pragmatic topics that have not been taught in regular courses for a while. These mini ‘crash courses’ do not presuppose any background in semantics. Every curious person is welcome to attend.

Our very own David-Étienne Bouchard will be in charge of the first of our tutorials. He will be introducing us to the use of degrees in semantics:

The purpose of this tutorial will be to provide a semantics to sentences containing a degree operator, in particular the comparative morpheme ‘more¹. In order to do this we will introduce degrees in our semantic ontology and enrich the denotations of gradable adjectives like tall and heavy. Degree operators will be treated as quantifiers over degrees and shown to have some flexibility in scope, albeit in a limited manner.

Date Presentation Background reading(s)
Friday, March 21, 2014
3:00-4:30 pm
David-Étienne Bouchard on degrees. Kennedy (1999), Projecting the Adjective, chapter 1. Heim (2001). Degree Operators and Scope.

McGill Canadian Conference for Linguistics Undergraduates (McCCLU)

March 14-16, 2014

SLUM would like to cordially invite you to attend the upcoming McCCLU – a three-day conference held in the spring each year! Undergraduate Linguistics students will be coming from all over the Northeastern U.S., Ontario, and Quebec (including McGill, of course) to give talks about their research.

For more information, please see our post on the Linguist List: More Information

Volunteers for Saturday’s talks are also needed, so please contact SLUM at mccclu2014@gmail.com if you are interested in getting involved.

McGill Canadian Conference for Linguistics Undergraduates (McCCLU)

March 14-16, 2014

SLUM is still looking for undergraduate speakers for the upcoming McCCLU – a three-day conference held in the spring each year. Undergraduate Linguistics students will be coming from all over the Northeastern U.S., Ontario, and Quebec to give talks about their research.

For more information, please see our post on the Linguist List: More Information

To submit an abstract, please see the following link: Abstract Submission

All are welcome to attend McCCLU!

McGill Canadian Conference for Linguistics Undergraduates (McCCLU)

March 14-16, 2014

SLUM is looking for speakers for the upcoming McCCLU – a three-day conference held in the spring each year. Undergraduate Linguistics students will be coming from all over the Northeastern U.S., Ontario, and Quebec to give talks about their research. For more information, or to submit an abstract, please see our post on the Linguist List: http://linguistlist.org/callconf/browse-conf-action.cfm?ConfID=169873
All are welcome (and encouraged) to attend!

Syntax-Semantics Reading Group, 11/24 — Eliot Michaelson.

Who: Eliot Michaelson (Philosophy. McGill)

What: “Against Salientism”.

Both philosophers of language and linguists commonly appeal to salience in order to fix the meanings of context-sensitive terms in context.  By considering the particular case of demonstratives, I will argue that the claim that salience fixes meaning in context is either trivial and uninformative, or else it is false.  To show this, it will prove necessary to distinguish between four different types of salience: objective, speaker-oriented, listener-oriented, and coordinative.  Objective salience, I argue, is in fact conceptually incoherent.  The other three notions, on the other hand, make bad predictions in a number of cases.  On this basis, I suggest that salience-based theories ought to be dispreferred to the alternative hypothesis —that speakers’ intentions are in fact responsible for fixing meaning in context.

When:  Friday, November 29, 2013, 3:00-4:30 pm. (Room 117)

MO{L}T{H} 2014 at McGill

Mark your calendars!  On Sat-Sun March 22-23, 2014, McGill Linguistics will host a joint meeting of two regional conferences: MOLT (phonology — formerly “MOT”) and MOTH (syntax).  Students are especially encouraged to submit work!  The call is below.

The Department of Linguistics at McGill University is pleased to announce the call for a joint meeting of MOLT (Montreal-Ottawa-Laval-Toronto) Phonology Workshop (formerly MOT), and MOTH (Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton) Syntax Workshop.

The workshop will take place Saturday and Sunday March 22nd and 23rd at McGill, and will involve parallel phonology and syntax sessions, as well as a poster session and a joint session for work at the phonology-syntax interface. The workshop will also include an invited talk on work at the syntax–phonology interface by Glyne Piggott.

Anonymous abstracts on any topic in phonology or syntax (along with their interfaces) should be submitted electronically as PDFs. Abstracts should not exceed 500 words, including examples and references. Graduate students are especially encouraged to submit work. Work may be presented in French or English.

Deadline for receipt of abstracts: Monday, January 20th, 2014. Abstracts should be submitted using EasyChair, at

Please circulate this call for papers among your colleagues and students.

Hope to see you in Montreal!

Jessica Coon (MOTH) and Morgan Sonderegger (MOLT), on behalf of the organizing committee


Le département de linguistique de l’université McGill a le plaisir de lancer l’appel de propositions conjoint de l’atelier de phonologie MOLT (Montréal-Ottawa-Laval-Toronto), anciennement MOT, ainsi que de l’atelier de syntaxe MOTH (Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton).

L’atelier aura lieu samedi et dimanche les 22 et 23 mars à McGill et sera constitué de sessions parallèles de phonologie et de syntaxe, en plus en plus d’une session de présentations par affiche et d’un atelier conjoint pour les travaux se trouvant à l’interface de la phonologie et la syntaxe. Nous aurons le plaisir de recevoir Glyne Piggott en tant que conférencier invité, qui nous présentera ses travaux à l’interface de la syntaxe de de la phonologie.

Les résumés anonymes portant sur tout sujet en syntaxe ou en phonologie (ainsi que leurs interfaces) doivent être soumis électroniquement en format PDF. Les résumés ne doivent pas dépasser 500 mots, incluant les exemples et les références. Les étudiants gradués sont particulièrement encouragés à soumettre leur travaux. Les présentations pourront avoir lieu en français ou en anglais.

Date limite de soumission pour les résumés : lundi le 20 janvier 2014. Les résumés doivent être soumis à l’aide de EasyChair, à l’adresse suivante:

Veuillez s’il-vous-plaît faire circuler cet appel de propositions à vos collègues et étudiants.

Au plaisir de vous voir à Montréal!

Jessica Coon (MOTH) et Morgan Sonderegger (MOLT), au nom du comité organisateur

Computational Field Workshop, May 27th and 28th

McGill will host a workshop on computational methods and fieldwork Monday and Tuesday, May 27th and 28th. Plenary speaker Alexis Palmer will give a talk and a hands-on workshop. The Computational Field Workshop will also feature talks by Montreal-based iLanguage Lab. A preliminary schedule can be found here. Registration is free, but please email Jessica Coon if you plan to attend so we can get a head-count for space and catering.

The Computational Field Workshop is co-sponsored by the Mi’gmaq Project and Ergativity Lab.

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