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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.

GRIPP Group Talk: Ted Gibson (Monday 04/15)

Invited Lecture organized by the GRIPP Group of CRBLM
Monday, April 15th 2013 at 3pm.
Room 501, Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University, 1160 Pine Ave. West

Language for communication: Language comprehension and the communicative basis of word order
Ted Gibson, Ph.D.
Professor of Cognitive Sciences,
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT

Perhaps the most obvious hypothesis for the function of human language is for use in communication. Chomsky has famously argued that this is a flawed hypothesis, because of the existence of such phenomena as ambiguity. Furthermore, he argues that the kinds of things that people tend to say are not short and simple, as would be predicted by communication theory. Contrary to Chomsky, my group applies information theory and communication theory from Shannon (1948) in order to attempt to explain the typical usage of language in comprehension and production, together with the structure of languages themselves.

Continue reading ‘GRIPP Group Talk: Ted Gibson (Monday 04/15)’

Syntax-Phonology Research Group — April 10

Wednesday, April 10, 4-5:30 p.m. in room 117.

Presenter: Heather Newell

Topic: Domaines Phonologiques

All are welcome!


Future Week

To kick off SLUM’s Future Week 2013, we will be hosting a B&P at Gert’s tomorrow from 5-7pm, and all linguistics students are welcome! The rest of the schedule is posted below, but be sure to check the Facebook event ( for updates on all events throughout the week.

Come join us for beverages and pizza at Gert’s between 5:00 and 7:00pm. This is a great chance to mingle with some really cool linguistics people, and learn about upcoming Future Week events as well as how to get involved in SLUM for next year!

An extension of Undergraduate Advisor Professor Boberg’s office hours from 2-5pm for academic advising.

Dr. Rosalee Shenker, a speech pathologist from the Montreal Fluency Center, will be giving a talk about her experience as a speech language pathologist, how she got to where she is today, and the day in the life of a SLP in Lev Bukhman (in SSMU) at 2:00pm. A reception will follow.

Expert Panel: Young professionals with experience in the field of linguistics will be talking about how they chose their careers in the SSMU Lev Bukhman room at 2:30pm.

Peer Advising: Drop by the Linguistics Lounge (1085 Dr. Penfield, rm. 212) from 3:30-5:30pm for some peer advising as an exciting wrap-up to Future Week before the long weekend

Call for Submissions for McGWPL Winter/Spring Issue (23.1)

McGWPL is currently looking for submissions for its Winter/Spring issue, and would like to invite submissions from all fields of linguistics. Submissions are not restricted to members of the McGill community and submissions from outside the university are encouraged, as well as submissions from both students and professors. 


  • Papers can be written in either French or English
  • Papers should not exceed 20 pages, single spaced, excluding references and appendices, although exceptions can be made under some circumstances
  • Papers must be formatted according to the McGWPL style guide. Style guide and templates are available on our website
  • Please send your submissions either in .doc or .tex format along with a .pdf version of your paper to


Deadline: May 1, 2013


Ergativity Lab, 10/11

The Ergativity Lab will have its first meeting tomorrow, Thursday, Oct 11th, in room 117 at 1:30pm. Robert and Jessica will be presenting a descriptive introduction to ergativity in Mayan languages. We’ll also discuss some of the theoretical questions ergative patterns raise. Looking forward to seeing you all there.

McGWPL: Call for papers

McGill Working Papers in Linguistics (McGWPL) is pleased to invite submissions for issue 22.2. Papers from all fields of linguistics are welcome. Submissions are not restricted to members of the McGill community and submissions from outside the university are encouraged, as well as submissions from both students and professors. Papers can be submitted in French or English and should not exceed 20 pages, single spaced, excluding references and appendices, although exceptions can be made under some circumstances.

For further information and detailed submission guidelines, please see our website:

Deadline for submissions is September 15, 2012.

TOM 6 coming to McGill: March 23

TOM (the Toronto-Ottawa-Montréal Semantics Conference) will be held next academic year at McGill on March 23. Mark your calendars and stay tuned!

Update on Sinn und Bedeutung 17

We reported here that David-Étienne Bouchard is presenting at Sinn und Bedeutung 17. There are other McGill people, too: Walter Pedersen (‘Again and Measures-of-Change: A Unified Account of Again-Ambiguities’), Anna Howell (BA, McGill 2009) (‘Abstracting over Degrees in Yoruba Comparison Constructions’), and Luis Alonso-Ovalle (`Expressing Random Choice: the Case of Spanish Uno Cualquiera‘, joint work with Paula Menéndez-Benito, poster session.)

Syntax-semantics group 4/02: Galit Agmon

Who: Galit Agmon
What: On Iatridou, Sabine and Ivy Sichel. 2011. “Negative DPs, A-Movement, and Scope Diminishment” (link). Linguistic Inquiry 42(4): 595-629.
Where: Monday, April 2, 2012, 3:00-4:30 pm (room 117)

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