A subset of the current and past McGill affiliates attending WSCLA 2016 this year at UQÀM, co-organized by Richard Compton and Heather Newell.
The Mi’gmaq Research Partnership was featured last week in the Montreal Gazette, in connection with Mi’gmaq work being presented at this year’s WSCLA 2016. The full article is here: http://montrealgazette.com/news/indigenous-languages-go-under-the-microscope
This week at Ling-Tea, Bing’er Jiang will present work on Mandarin double object constructions, in preparation for the upcoming MOTH Syntax Workshop. As always, Ling-Tea will take place Tuesday at 1pm in room 117.
I propose that in Mandarin double object constructions (e.g. John sent Mary a letter), gei is an overt realization of Harley (2002)’s possessive PHAVE head, shown in (1). It raises to join the predicate to form the verb, regardless of whether the predicate is null or overt.(1) [vP Agent [v’ cause/ø [PP Goal [P’ PHAVE (gei) [DP Theme]]]]] A comparison with the dative construction (e.g. John sent a letter to Mary) provides evidence for this account. First, the double object construction (DOC) does not allow inanimate Goal arguments (Oehrle 1976). Second, idioms of the DOC lose the idiomatic reading in their dative construction counterpart. Third, there are subtle semantic differences between dative and double object constructions, which offer further support for this account. This proposal also gives a unified account of why gei sometimes appears to be a preposition (2) and sometimes a verb (3). (2) Guge na gei Lailai yi-ge ping-guo. Guge take PHAVE Lailai one-CL apple ‘Guge brings Lailai an apple.’ (3) Guge gei Lailai yi-ge ping-guo. Guge give Lailai one-CL apple ‘Guge gives Lailai an apple.’
All are welcome to attend Alanah McKillen’s PhD Dissertation Defense.
Title: On the interpretation of reflexive pronouns
When: Thursday, March 31st at 10:00am
Where: Arts Buildling, room 230 (followed by a reception in the lounge)
This dissertation is concerned with the interpretation of reflexive pronouns and how their interpretation requirements affect the formulation of Condition A in binding theory. In Standard Binding Theory, reflexives are assumed to be interpreted as bound-variables only (Chomsky, 1981; Reinhart, 1983; Büring, 2005). This assumption is explicitly reflected in Condition A, which requires that reflexives must be locally bound-variables. In this dissertation I question how well motivated this assumption is.
To test the bound-variable-only assumption for reflexives, I investigate the readings that reflexives give rise to in VP-ellipsis and focus constructions. It has previously been observed that reflexives are ambiguous in VP-ellipsis, giving rise to both a strict and sloppy reading (Dahl, 1973; Sag, 1976; Hestvik, 1995; Fiengo and May, 1994). Rather than take this as evidence for both referentially interpreted and boundvariable reflexives, as is the case with ambiguities that arise with non-reflexive pronouns (Sag, 1976; Reinhart, 1983; Heim and Kratzer, 1998), previous accounts aim to derive strict readings of reflexives while maintaining the bound-variable-only assumption (Hestvik, 1995; Büring, 2005). However, I argue that these accounts run into problems which could be avoided if reflexives were able to be interpreted as coferential with their antecedents, and not just as bound-variables.
The readings of reflexives in focus constructions have received far less attention. Judgements are mixed, with reflexives being claimed to only be interpreted as sloppy, and the strict reading being unavailable or marginal (McCawley, 1967; Heim and Kratzer, 1998; Reinhart and Reuland, 1993), which would seem to support the bound variable-only assumption. Yet others – such as Dahl (1973), Büring (2005), Roelofsen (2008), and Ahn and Sportiche (2014) – claim both strict and sloppy readings are equally possible. I present experimental evidence in this dissertation which shows that strict reflexives in focus constructions are judged as acceptable to speakers, and argue that these readings cannot be accounted for with the assumption that reflexives are interpreted as bound-variables only; and that instead, a binding theory is needed in which reflexives can be coreferential with their antecedents.
With the need for coreferential reflexives established, the remainder of this dissertation is concerned with how Condition A can be formulated to incorporate this interpretation option, and how strict readings in VP-ellipsis and focus constructions will follow once it has been incorporated. I follow Sauerland (2013) in adopting a Condition A which is built into the compositional semantics as an argument identity presupposition, which will allow reflexives the option of coreference, and accounts for strict readings as instances of weakened presupposition projection. Compared to the option of modifying Standard Binding Theory, this presuppositional approach appears to be more insightful, but is not without complications. In order for weakened projection to occur, Sauerland (2013) assumes that a presupposition must be purely presuppositional. I present data which are problematic for this assumption and outline a new direction for the conditions under which weakened projection in focus alternatives may proceed, which is based on the relation the presuppositional element bears to the focus-marked phrase.
When/Where: this Friday, 4/1 at 3pm in room 117
Liz Smeets and Michael Wagner will present their project on the syntax of Only in Dutch and German. We use evidence from scope reconstruction to argue that focus-sensitive operators like only can form a constituent with a focus constituent. In addition, we present a two-place syntactic analysis of Only to capture the attested readings of sentences with Only. We would like to discuss this analysis with other people in the department as we would like to receive feedback on a compositional problem that our analysis may have.
This summer, McGill’s prosodylab will be represented at the DGFS summer school in Tübingen on Mapping Meaning: Theory – Cognition – Variation, which is held August 15th – 26th, 2016 in Tübingen/Germany. Early bird registration is open until June 1st.
The course is titled Prosody and Incremental Processing, an abstract is posted here.
This year’s Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton Syntax Workshop (MOTH) will take place April 15th and 16th at the University of Toronto Mississauga. There will be three presentations from McGill students:
- Chris Bruno – Three kinds of locative preposing
- Bing’er Jiang – Gei and the double object construction in Mandarin Chinese
- Martha Schwarz – Nepali Ergative Case Assignment
The rest of the program is available here: http://moth2016.github.io/#programme
McLing is pleased to announce that the Committee on Graduate Studies has selected Daniel Goodhue as one of the three recipients for the 2016 Faculty of Arts Graduate Student Teaching Award. These awards are designed to recognize outstanding teaching in the Faculty by graduate students. The award will be formally announced at the April 12 Faculty of Arts meeting, held at 3pm in Leacock 232. All are invited!
McGill Linguistics was well represented at this year’s Montreal-Ottawa-Laval-Toronto Phonology Workshop (MOLT), which took place this past weekend at Carleton University. There were talks by graduate students, lecturers, postdocs, alumni, and faculty. The full program can be found here.
- Guilherme Garcia & Natália Brambatti Guzzo – Second language acquisition of word-level prominence in English by Canadian French speakers
- Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, Michael Wagner, Meghan Clayards – The effect of production planning locality on external sandhi: a study in /t/
- Donghyun Kim, Meghan Clayards, Heather Goad – Patterns of individual differences in second language vowel perception
- Jeff Lamontagne – Mid-Vowel Features and Allophony in Laurentian French
- Michael McAuliffe, Morgan Sonderegger, Michael Wagner – A system for unified corpus analysis, applied to polysyllabic shortening across 12 languages
- Peter Milne – The variable pronunciations of word-final consonant clusters in a force aligned corpus of spoken French
- Heather Newell (PhD 2004) – The pathology of level-specific morpho-phonology
This month Alexandra (Sasha) Simonenko (McGill PhD 2014) is finishing a 17-month postdoc at Labex EFL in Paris on quantitative methods in Medieval French morphosyntax and taking up a 3-year postdoc at the University of Ghent under the supervision of Liliane Haegeman. The Ghent postdoc is funded by the Flemish Research Council and will focus on the comparative semantics and morphosyntax of the DP in several Finno-Ugric languages spoken in Russia. Congratulations Sasha!
Please join us this week for Ling-Tea at its usual time and place: Tuesday at 1:00 in Linguistics room 117.
This week we have three MOLT practice talks:
Donghyun Kim, Meghan Clayards, Heather Goad – Patterns of individual differences in second language vowel perception
Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron, Michael Wagner, Meghan Clayards – The effect of production planning locality on external sandhi: A study in /t/
Jeff Lamontagne – Mid-Vowel Features and Allophony in Laurentian French
Speaker: Lisa Pearl (UC Irvine)
Date & Time: Friday, March 18th at 3:30 pm
Place: ARTS Bldg. room 260
Title: How to know what’s necessary: Using computational modeling to specify Universal Grammar
The Society of Linguistics Undergraduates at McGill is proud to announce the 10th edition of McCCLU, the McGill Canadian Conference for Linguistics Undergraduates. This year McCCLU will run on March 18-19 and will include a Wine & Cheese event in Arts 160 (Arts Building) on the 18thand a full day of presentations on the 19th at New Rez, 3625 Parc. We are hosting speakers from several universities in Canada and the US, our very own Hannah Cohen and Douglas Gordon, and Professor Lisa Travis of McGill as a keynote speaker.
Check out the schedule below and visit our website http://mccclu2016.wix.com/mccclu
We hope to see you at McCCLU!
This year’s Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of Languages of the Americas (WSCLA) will take place at UQÀM, April 1st–3rd. In addition to a number of McGill alums and former affiliates, presentations with current McGill linguists include:
- Colin Brown – Revisiting ergativity in Gitksan
- Lauren Clemens and Jessica Coon – Deriving Mayan V1: A Fresh Look at Ch’ol
- Heather Newell, Glyne Piggott and Lisa Travis – The Possessive Structure of Ojibwe: Support from Cupeño
- Hadas Kotek and Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine – Non-interrogative wh-constructions in Chuj
WSCLA is organized by Heather Newell (PhD ’09) and Richard Compton (former McGill post-doc). The rest of the program is available here, and if you’d like to attend you can register here: https://sites.google.com/site/wscla2016/registration
Lydia White was at Florida International University last week (March 10 and 11), giving plenaries at two meetings which have been combined into one, called Miami FLing 2016.The titles of her talks are:
1. How Applied Should Linguistics Be? From Theory to Practice. Barbara Gordon Memorial Lecture.
2. Is there a DPBE in L2 acquisition and, if so, why?