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Welcome new McLing grad editor Dan Goodhue

Though we are sad to say goodbye to last year’s grad editor Brian Buccola (who is moving on to become a McGWPL editor), we are pleased to welcome Dan Goodhue to the McLing editorial team. To post something to McLing please send your good news, conference presentations, linguistics-related travel, announcements, and events to one of the editors listed in the sidebar at the bottom right of the blog, or reach the entire group at: mcling.linguistics@mcgill.ca. To ensure that your posts make it into the Monday morning issue, please send by Sunday afternoon.

Stay tuned for your new undergrad SLUM editor!

Welcome everybody!

Hello, world. Here we are again. McLing welcomes the new academic year, and, with it, a number of new people joining the department. Besides the new class of students (see this post), we would like to give our warmest welcome to:

Morgan Sonderegger, a new permanent faculty member.

Morgan has completed a joint PhD in Linguistics and Computer Science at the University of Chicago, his dissertation is titled “Phonetic and phonological dynamics on reality television”. Morgan’s research focuses on the dynamics of phonetic and phonological patterns over time, both within individuals and within a speech community, using a range of computational, statistical, and experimental methods.

Alex Drummond, one-year faculty lecturer.

Alex is joining us from Durham University, where he was a postdoc in the Department of Philosophy, working on the Un-Cartesian Linguistics project with Wolfram Hinzen. Prior to that,  Alex completed his PhD in syntax at the University of Maryland in 2011. His research is currently focusing on binding theory, and in particular on the division of labor between the syntax and the interfaces. Previously, he has worked on extraposition, pseudopassivization, and preposition stranding. He also develops and maintains the Ibex software for performing psycholinguistic experiments online.

Tanya Slavin, postdoctoral researcher.

Tanya will be continuing her SSHRC-funded postdoc in the Department this year, working with Glyne Piggott. Her project focuses on investigating the interaction of syntax and phonology in word formation processes in Ojibwe (a Central Algonquian language).

Robert Henderson, postdoctoral researcher.

Robert will be working with Lisa Travis and Jessica Coon on the grant, “The mental representation of language variation: macro- and micro- parameters”, which focuses on ergative patterns in grammar from a crosslinguistic perspective. Robert’s dissertation is on pluractional affixes, which often generate entailments about arguments following an ergative pattern. He will be working to understand the source of these patterns and how pluractional affixes can shape clausal morphosyntax more generally.

Emily Elfner, postdoctoral researcher.

Emily will be continuing her SSHRC-funded postdoc in the Department this Winter term, working with Michael Wagner. Her current research interests include prosody, the syntax-phonology interface, and  phonological theory, with particular reference to Irish.

Professor Bryan Gick, Department of Linguistics, University of British Columbia

Professor Gick will be visiting the Department during Fall 2012. He is currently working on a new model for speech/phonetics/phonology, and looks forward to talking with Morgan Sonderegger on computational modeling, Charles Boberg on sound change, and Heather Goad on phonological acquisition.

Professor Jakob Leimgruber, Department of English, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Professor Leimgruber will be visiting the Department from September 12-25 for the purpose of working with Professor Charles Boberg indiscussing his research on language policies and sociolinguistics in Quebec.

Professor Kevin Russell, Department of Linguistics, University of Manitoba

Professor Russell will be visiting the Department during Fall 2012 and Winter 2013. He looks forward to discussing his research with Heather Goad. He is working on a  book that outlinethe findingfrom psycholinguisticssociolinguistics and phonetics that are relevant for phonological theory. He also plans to begin work on a Guarani reference grammar.

The incoming class

McLing is very happy to welcome and introduce to you the new (very impressive!) cohort of graduate students:

Maayan Adar is interested theoretical syntax, Tagalog, Austronesian languages, and ergativity. He completed his BA at the University of Toronto, specializing in linguistics with a minor in Latin.

Hye-young Bang is interested in phonetics. She comes from the University of Queensland, Australia

Guilherme Duarte Garcia wants to work on phonology (and its interfaces) and second language acquisition. He is particularly interested in stress (and its interaction with morphology) and how it is acquired in first and second language contexts. He has a BA in English/Portuguese translation and an MSc in Linguistics from UFRGS, Brazil.

Dan Goodhue‘s interests lie in the intersection of language, logic and thought. He earned his B.A. at the University of Vermont in political science and spent the past year in Montreal studying linguistics full time in our department.

Jiajia Su wants to work in second language acquisition. She has a BA in English from Xinyang Normal University (China) and an MA in Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics from Ningbo University.

Nina Umont is interested in prosody and its intersections with semantics and syntax. She majored in linguistics at Reed College in Portland, OR, USA.

Welcome! We would like to wish you all the best in your new careers. We are all very excited to have you here.



Let’s celebrate the beginning of the academic year with an informal picnic!

When: Sunday, September 9th, 4 pm
Where: Parc Lafontaine
What: Bring your own food and drink (plates, cups, etc); sharing is encouraged!

We’ll try to find picnic tables in the area just east of Avenue Calixa Lavalee (which runs north-south in the middle of the park, and south of the baseball field and the grey city building; it’s more or less in the center of the park (and the same place as last year).

All are welcome!

PS: If the weather forecast is bad, stay tuned for further announcements.
PSS: For pictures from last year, see http://blogs.mcgill.ca/mcling?s=picnic

LaTeX workshop: reference management (today!)

What: A workshop on reference management in LaTeX. Topics include LaTeX’s native reference management system (commands and entry format), as well as the more robust natbib package and, most of all, the BibTeX reference management tool. In addition, we will discuss how to draw trees and do numbered examples.

Who: Brian Buccola and Alanah McKillen. (For those who cannot make it, contact Brian or Alanah for copies of the handouts as well as source codes.)

When: Monday (today!), August 20, 01:00 PM.

Where: Room 117 of the linguistics building.

If possible, bring your laptop with LaTeX already installed. If not, you’re still welcome to attend and follow along (we will do an interactive presentation on the projector).

Two upcoming linguistics-related film screenings

In conjunction with the Montreal First Peoples’ Festival (Présence Autochtone), there will be a lecture by Daniel Everett (Bentley University), as well as a screening of his recent documentary:

Lecture title: Life and Language in the Amazon Jungle: The Difficult Task of Understanding Others
Wednesday August 1st, 10am-11:30am
At INRS-Urbanisation, Culture et Société, room 2109
385, Sherbrooke East St. (Métro Sherbrooke)

The related documentary film, The Grammar of Happiness, will be screened on the following day:
Thursday August 2nd at 6.30PM
At NFB (1564, Saint-Denis St. Métro Berri-UQAM)

Later the same day there will also be a screening of the documentary We Still Live Here – Âs Nutayuneân, about the revival of the Wampanoag language in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Wednesday August 1st at 8.30PM
At NFB (1564, Saint-Denis St. Métro Berri-UQAM)

The filmmaker Anne Makepeace will be participating in Revisioning the Americas through Indigenous Cinema 2012 symposium.

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: http://www.mcgill.ca/mcgwpl/submissions.

Deadline for submissions is September 15, 2012.

Mi’gmaq project report

The current work on the Mi’gmaq in the department is a continuation from last semester’s Linguistic Field Methods course, co-taught by Jessica Coon and Michael Wagner, in collaboration with McGill PhD student Janine Metallic, a Mi’gmaq speaker from the Listuguj community.

Conor Quinn, Gretchen McCulloch, Mary Ann Metallic, Janice Vicaire, Erin Olson, Jacob Leon, Elise McClay, Jessica Coon

This semester, in addition to academic work carried out by both graduate and undergraduate students, a group of students––including Mike Hamilton, Jacob Leon, Carol Little, Elise McClay, Gretchen McCulloch, Erin Olson, and Yuliya Manyakina––is collaborating with the Listuguj Education Department to help develop online teaching materials for use in Mi’gmaq adult education courses. You can keep up with this project, and related discussion and events on the group’s new website: migmaq.org. This page links to a grammar wiki, which will contain accessible descriptions of topics in Mi’gmaq linguistics.

Janice Vicaire writes with Mary Ann Metallic, Alan Bale, Jessica Coon

Last week’s Algonquian activities were highlighted by three visitors to the department: Mi’gmaq language teachers Mary Ann Metallic and Janice Vicaire, as well as Conor Quinn, an Algonquianist from the University of Southern Maine. Students met with visitors individually and in groups to learn more about Mi’gmaq and discuss the lesson development project.

Reading room book donation

Friday morning, boxes of books were removed from our old reading room and sent to Cebu Normal University in the Philippines. After attempting to find a library in Montreal that would be interested in the books, the department contacted Institut Fidal, a charitable organization providing international aid and development to teaching institutions and institutions of learning. The charity focuses on programs such as literacy, education, training, research and bursaries.  Special thanks go to Brendan Gillon for putting us in touch with Institut Fidal, Lauren Mak for coordinating the donation, Lydia White for contributing towards the cost of the shipment of the books, and Connie’s daughter Leeza and a student from UQAM for doing the packing job.  It’s been a long process but finally all the hard work paid off!

Montreal ranked among top student cities

Montreal was rated the best city for students in Canada, and tenth world-wide. The survey, conducted by the British firm QS, is reported in the Montreal Gazette. The full ratings can be seen on the QS website. Montreal (together with Boston) is one of only two cities in North America to make the top ten and received one of the highest scores for quality of life.

The 2012 North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad at McGill

On February 2nd, the 2012 edition of the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) took place. This is a contest for students in grades 6-12 in which they are invited to solve difficult linguistics problems.  The winners are eligible to represent North America at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Slovenia.

This year, forty-five universities and around a hundred high schools from the U.S. and Canada participated in the event.

A team of linguists from McGill and UQAM brought this event to Quebec for the first time. The competition took place at the Wendy Patrick Room, in Wilson Hall, at the McGill (downtown) campus.

The students report that they had fun trying to solve the problems, despite their difficulty.

We are eagerly waiting to get the results, and want to wish all participants the best of luck.

LaTeX workshop

Brian Buccola and Alanah McKillen will hold a workshop on LaTeX.

When: Thursday, Feb. 2, 3:00 – 5:00(?) PM
Where: room 117 (unless too crowded, in which case 002)

Notes: The plan is to have a friendly, introductory workshop, starting from the basics. A handout will be provided with all the basic commands to get you started, and Alanah and Brian will also hook up their laptops to the projector to show you how to do things. Attendees are highly encouraged to bring their laptops (with LaTeX already installed) in order to play along; however, feel free also to just sit back and watch.

Welcome Emily Elfner!

Emily just finished her Ph.D. on “Syntax-prosody interactions in Irish” at UMass Amherst, and is now starting a SSHRC-funded postdoc here at McGill with Michael Wagner. She’ll be presenting part of her thesis research this week at OCP (Old World Conference in Phonology) in Berlin, and then spend some time in Ireland to collect data, before returning to Montreal. Please join us in welcoming her to the department!

LaTeX workshop dates

Brian Buccola and Alanah McKillen will hold a LaTeX workshop on Thursday, February 2, 2012. LaTeX is a powerful typesetting program for producing high-quality technical documents.

The workshop will assume no knowledge of LaTeX; all the basics will be covered. A second, more advanced (and linguistics-specific) workshop is tentatively scheduled for the following Thursday, February 9, 2012.

All are welcome!

If you’re interested in receiving more information about the LaTeX workshops and have not yet already done so, please contact Brian or Alanah to be added to their email list.

Holiday party

Junko Shimoyama and Bernhard Schwarz hosted this year’s Holiday Party before the break. Students, staff, and faculty were all in attendance. These pictures just in!



Welcome Galit Agmon!

We are pleased to (belatedly) welcome Galit Agmon, a visiting student who came to McGill for the year from the Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she is a 3rd year graduate student. She will be visiting the neurolinguistics lab and working with Yosef Grodzinsky. Galit earned an undergraduate degree in Linguistics and Cognitive Science from the same university, and is generally interested in brain modeling of linguistic knowledge. Currently, she is getting her hands wet with the analysis of fMRI results.

Movember team collects $845 for prostate cancer research

Did you notice all those guys with mustaches in our department last month? No, it wasn’t a Tom Selleck lookalike contest. That was the Movember team growing mo’s for prostate cancer research. The linguistics Movember team managed to collect a whopping $845, which will go directly to Prostate Cancer Canada and the Movember Foundation. Congratulations to them, and many thanks to everyone who contributed!

top row: Brian Buccola, Tobin Skinner, Mike Hamilton, David-Étienne Bouchard
bottom row: Jamie Findlay, Alan Bale, Moti Lieberman
not pictured: Dan Goodhue, David Fleischer, Jenny Loughran, Lance Williams, Stephan Hurtubise

There will be a Mo’-get-together to celebrate and to collect any last-minute donations. Date & time to be determined, but possibly Thursday after the grad seminar talks. Contact Mike for more details.

McGill to host Linguistics Olympiad

McGill will host a regional portion of the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad this spring. What does this mean? Here’s a quote from the NACLO website:

This olympiad is a contest in which high-school students solve linguistic puzzles. In solving the problems, students learn about the diversity and consistency of language, while exercising logic skills. No prior knowledge of linguistics or second languages is necessary. Professionals in linguistics, computational linguistics and language technologies use dozens of languages to create engaging problems that represent cutting edge issues in their fields. The competition has attracted top students to study and work in those same fields. It is truly an opportunity for young people to experience a taste of natural-language processing in the 21st century.

Please pass the call below on to anyone who might be interested!

  • Are you a high school student in grade 6-12?
  • Ever wondered whether you could decipher an ancient script, decode Swahili, or count in Indonesian?
  • Now you can find out! No prior knowledge of linguistics required, just some curiosity and basic problem-solving skills.
  • Compete for a chance to go to the international competition and meet participants from all over the world.
  • And it’s free!

Participate in the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad. It is a fun and educational contest, in which you will solve linguistics problems from a variety of languages (natural and artificial). No prior knowledge of linguistics or any particular language is required.  All you need to bring is your curiosity and enthusiasm.

The first round of the contest will take place on Thursday, February 2, from 10am to 1pm at McGill University (sign in starting at 9:15am; room to be announced on our website).  Students who perform well on the first round will be invited back for a second round, to take place on March 13. The winners of the invitational round will be eligible to represent North America at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Slovenia.

Check out the McGill site at or the general NACLO site for more information, or contact us at naclo.montreal@gmail.com.

There will be an information and training session at McGill on January 19th 5-7pm. Pizza will be served. Please RVSP if you’re interested at naclo.montreal@gmail.com, and we’ll send you more information.

Local Montréal Organization team (from McGill & UQAM):
Faculty team: Luis Alonso-Ovalle, Heather Newell, Junko Shimoyama,  Lisa Travis, Michael Wagner
Student team: Aron Hirsch, Jeff Klassen, Elise McClay, Gretchen McCulloch, Jozina vander Klok

Linguists grow mustaches for Movember

As part of Movember, McGill linguists are growing mustaches to raise money for prostate cancer research. The McGill Linguistics Movember team consists of Alan Bale, David-Etienne Bouchard, Brian Buccola, Jamie Findlay, David Fleischer, Dan Goodhue, Michael Hamilton, Stephane Hurtubise, Moti Lieberman, Jenny Loughran (fund-raising), Tobin Skinner, and Lance Williams. So far the team has raised $600, ranking 12th of 24 teams at McGill––an especially good achievement considering the relatively small size of our department.

The team would like to thank everyone who has donated so far, and encourage those who haven’t yet to check out their team page to donate electronically (plus you can see their excellent mustaches), or see any team member to donate in person.

The team will be having an end-of-Movember event on Thursday evening after Rick Nouwen’s talk (5:30ish, location TBD). And stay tuned to next week’s McLing for a possible team photo!

Department Picnic

This academic year got started with a potluck picnic at Parc La Fontaine in early September. There was excellent food to sample, and, of course, great company.

A McLing photographer who was sent to cover the event has just sent some pictures which he was busy developing following an ancient technique that takes months. Enjoy!



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