McLing Newsletter

Subscribe to McLing Newsletter feed
The McGill Linguistics Department Newsletter
Updated: 8 hours 46 min ago

P* Reading Group, 9/20

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 02:40

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Sep. 20) 11 am -12 pm in Room 117, Morgan will lead a discussion of  Lisker & Abramson (1964). “A cross-language study of voicing in initial stops: Acoustical measurements”. Word, 20(3), 384-422. 
And Abramson & Whalen (2017). “Voice Onset Time (VOT) at 50: Theoretical and practical issues in measuring voicing distinctions”. Journal of Phonetics, 63, 75-86. 
Everyone is welcome!

Semantics Research Group, 9/22

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 02:20

The Semantics Research Group will be having its first meeting of the semester on Friday, September 22 at 15h in room 117. The purpose of this meeting is to organize our activities for the following year. Everyone is welcome to come.

MOTH Syntax Workshop 2018 at McGill

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 02:00

Please mark your calendars! McGill is hosting MOTH 2018 (Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton Syntax Workshop) on Satrurday, April 28, 2018 at Thomson House. MOTH is an excellent venue for graduate students to present their ongoing work and get feedback. Stay tuned for more details.

Departmental picnic 2017 – Parc La Fontaine

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 02:00

This year’s departmental picnic took place at Parc La Fontaine on September 16th at 12pm. McGill’s linguists enjoyed the warm September weather and had good conversation over delicious food.



Mon, 09/18/2017 - 02:00

MoMOT 2 (Morphology in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto) is taking place at UQAM on 18-19th November 2017. The abstract submission deadline is October 15th 2017. More details about this workshop can be found here.

Buccola to Ecole Normale Supérieure

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 01:50
Brian Buccola (McGill PhD 2015) has just taken up a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, at CNRS lab, at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Brian is moving to Paris from Jerusalem, where he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Language, Logic, and Cognition Center of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Congratulations, Brian!

WORDS Group, 9/15

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 02:20

The Word Structure Research Group — “the WORDS Group” — will be meeting on Fridays at 1-2.30pm at McGill, Dr. Penfield (room 117). Our first meeting will be on 15th September. This will be an organizational meeting. Please let us know if you wish to be added to our mailing list.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Language revitalization talk: Megan Lukaniec

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 02:10
There will a talk on language revitalization Tuesday cosponsored by Linguistics and the Office of First Nations and Inuit Education, DISE. The talk will take place Tuesday September 12th at 4:15pm in Education room 233, and will be preceded by coffee and snacks in Education room 203A at 3:45. All are invited! Speaker: Megan Lukaniec (Huron-Wendat Nation, UC Santa Barbara Linguistics)  Abstract:

With the number of dormant languages steadily increasing, archival materials are becoming indispensable tools for linguistic research and revitalization. Absent the invaluable opportunity to consult a native speaker, reclamation in dormant language communities must follow a different trajectory: transform documentation into accessible and culturally relevant language teaching.

The Wendat language, also known as Huron or Huron-Wendat, is one such example of a dormant language undergoing revitalization. Although it lost its last fluent speakers in the mid-19th century, Wendat (Iroquoian) was documented extensively by missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries. For the past decade, Wendat community members have been leading efforts to reawaken their language. These revitalization efforts, based out of the reserve of Wendake, Québec, have led to adult evening courses, workshops for children at the tribal elementary school, lessons at the tribal daycare center as well as the creation of an online, open access trilingual dictionary, Wendat-French-English (

So, how does one repurpose historical documentation for language reclamation? How does one use linguistics in order to repatriate linguistic and cultural knowledge? Using Wendat as a case study, this paper will examine the broader processes of language reclamation and revitalization, including the historical-comparative reconstruction of linguistic data, transforming such data into materials for teacher training and language courses, and reintroducing language into a dormant language community. Finally, I will offer observations about the social and cultural effects of language reclamation, including its effects on community healing and individual well-being.

McGill at Sinn und Bedeutung 22

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 02:00

McGill Linguists, past and present, attended Sinn und Bedeutung 22, hosted by Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) Berlin and the Linguistics Department of the University of Potsdam, on September 7-10, 2017 (

  • Alexandra Simonenko (PhD 2014) and Bernhard Schwarz: “Decomposing universal projection in questions”
  • Vincent Rouillard (BA 2017) and Bernhard Schwarz: “Presuppositional implicatures: quantity or maximize presupposition?” (poster)
  • Yosef Grodzinsky (professor, 2002-14), Galit Agmon (visiting student, 2011-12), Kedem Snir, Isabelle Deschamps (postdoc, 2013-15) and Yonatan Loewenstein: “The analysis of less-comparatives: Evidence from the processing cost of downward entailingness”

 (Yossi Grodzinsky, BS, Ileana Paul (McGill PhD 2000),Sasha Simonenko, Vincent Rouillard)

Colloquium Series 2017-18

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 02:00

In the year 2017-18, the following colloquia will take place throughout Fall 2017 and Winter 2018:

  • Aaron Hirsch – October 6
  • Christian DiCanio – November 10
  • Lucie Ménard – December 1
  • Sharon Goldwater – January 12
  • Karen Jesney – January 26
  • Susana Béjar – February 23
  • Elizabeth Coppock – March 23
  • Daniel Pape – April 13

Colloquia typically take place on Fridays at 3.30-5pm. Rooms are to be announced.

Summer 2017 PhD defenses

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 01:50

Congratulations to Guilherme Garcia and Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, who defended their dissertations this summer!

Gui’s dissertation, supervised by Heather Goad and defended August 2, is titled “Weight effects on stress: lexicon and grammar.” Gui is currently a lecturer in the Department of Education at Concordia University. In the winter he will be joining the Department of English at Ball State University as an assistant professor (tenure-track) in phonology/phonetics. Congratulations, Gui!

Gui (third from left), supervisor Heather Goad (fourth from left), and oral defense committee.

Oriana’s dissertation, supervised by Morgan Sonderegger and Michael Wagner July 21, is titled “Speech production planning affects variation in external sandhi.”  Oriana is currently a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics at Concordia University. Congratulations, Oriana!

Oriana with supervisors

Welcome new graduate students!

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 01:50

Welcome to this year’s incoming class of graduate students and QY student!

Jason Borga is primarily interested (so far!) in syntax, syntax-semantics interface, and language acquisition. He completed his B.A. in Cognitive Science at the University of Connecticut.

Masashi Harada completed his M.A. in linguistics at the University of Kansas. His primary research interests currently lie in the theory of syntax, semantics, and the interface of syntax with other modules of grammar.

Filiz Mutlu

Mathieu Paillé has research interests including syntax, biolinguistics, and Algonquian languages. He completed his B.A. in linguistics at the University of Winnipeg.

Justin Royeis interested in syntax, semantics, fieldwork and Mayan languages, and has conducted research on classifier systems and (in)definiteness. He completed his B.A. in Linguistics at Concordia University.

Vanna Willerton wants to get into the field of computational linguistics and, to this end, will spend the qualifying year developing her math and programming skills. She completed her B.A. in Linguistics, minoring in Philosophy, at Carleton University.

Wilfred Yau is interested modelling natural languages using computational and mathematical tools, such as lexical semantics, probabilistic programming and Bayesian Models of Language Processing. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto with a double major in Economics and Linguistics.


McLing summer news

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 01:50

What did McGill linguists do this summer? Some answers can be found below. If you didn’t get your post in on time, email the editors for round two.

Luis Alonso-Ovalle  presented work at SALT.

Chris Bruno presented work relating to his first evaluation paper at SALT, held at the University of Maryland, College Park. The title was “Contrastive negation and the theory of alternatives”.

Jessica Coon traveled to Beijing in May to present a public lecture on Arrival at the 2017 Global Machine Intelligence Summit. Then in June she headed to Guatemala to meet up with current and past McGill students in connection with the University of Maryland’s Guatemala Field Station. For the first two weeks the students took Kaqchikel immersion classes, and and spent the second two weeks conducting research on Mayan languages.

Jessica and Lisa Travis are happy to report that the Oxford Handbook of Ergativity was published over the summer, co-edited by Jessica Coon, Diane Massam (U. Toronto), and Lisa Travis.

Henrison Hsieh presented ongoing work with Luis Alonso-Ovalle entitled “Overcoming the Unexpected: The Tagalog Ability/Involuntary Action Form” at WCCFL and SALT, among other venues. Later in the summer, he attended the 2017 LSA Institute in Lexington KY before going to Southeast Asia to attend the Workshop on Quirks of Subject Extraction at the National University of Singapore and do some data collection in the Philippines.

Michael McAuliffe presented three co-authored papers at Interspeech 2017 in Stockholm, on Polyglot and Speech Corpus Tools , on the Montreal Forced Aligner, and on sentence prosody (with co-authors including Michael Wagner and Morgan Sonderegger).

Clint Parker spent most of his summer in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where he lived with a Tajik host family and studied the Tajik language (a dialect of Persian). While in Dushanbe, Clint was also able to study Shughni, an Eastern Iranian minority language of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, on which he hopes to focus much of his research. The summer helped him both to gain language skills necessary to do fieldwork on Shughni and to make contacts for future research in the country.

Bernhard Schwarz presented work at SALT.

Morgan Sonderegger presented two papers at Phonetics and Phonology in Europe (PaPE 2017).

A paper by James Tanner, Morgan Sonderegger, and Michael Wagner appeared in Laboratory Phonology (doi: 10.5334/labphon.96).

Lydia White attended two conferences in June: (i) the International Symposium on Bilingualism, University of Limerick, Ireland (; (ii) the Experimental Psycholinguistics Conference, Menorca ( She presented papers on L2 Italian pronoun interpretation on behalf of the Second Language Acquisition Group (Heather Goad, Gui Garcia, Natália Brambatti Guzzo, Sepideh Mortazavinia, Liz Smeets, Jiajia Su, Lydia White). Lydia also made a keynote presentation in Menorca.

A paper on pronoun interpretation in L2 English by Roumyana Slabakova, Lydia White & Natália Brambatti Guzzo appeared in Frontiers in Psychology 8:1236 in July (doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01236).


Welcome back!

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 01:50

McLing hopes everyone had a great summer! As always, we invite you to send us your news: presentations, publications, fieldwork, courses, workshops, departmental events, student projects, jobs, etc., for presentation in upcoming newsletters. Know of a friend, colleague, or student who did something newsworthy? Send us a report and we will follow up.

Welcome new postdoc Aron Hirsch!

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 01:50

McLing would like to extend a warm welcome to a new postdoc, Aron Hirsch, who has jointed the department as a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow.  Aron is returning to the department, having completed a BA here in 2012. Welcome back, Aron!

Much of my research focuses on semantics, with the driving question being: how does semantics interact with other aspects of grammar and cognition, especially syntax and pragmatics, as well as prosody and language processing. Recent projects have pursued the idea that the semantics is less powerful than commonly thought, with labor re-distributed to interfacing modules. Topics I have worked on include: coordination, focus, questions, free relatives, and exceptive phrases. I am coming to McGill from MIT, where I recently finished my PhD. At McGill, I will be a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow, and will be co-teaching Semantics 4 in the second semester. I am looking forward to meeting those of you I don’t know, and learning about your work!

Welcome new lecturer Nico Baier!

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 01:50

McLing would like to welcome Nico Baier, who is joining the department this year as a Faculty Lecturer. Welcome, Nico!

Nico is just finishing his PhD at UC Berkeley. His primary interests are in syntax, morphology, and typology. His research focuses on the morphosyntax of A’-dependencies, including the interaction of phi-agreement and A’-movement and morphological reflexes of Ā-movement.