LING 665 (Semantics 4) / LING 765 (Seminar in Semantics) will focus this year on the semantics of modality.
The class will consist of two parts. The first part will provide students with a gentle hands-on introduction to the classic analysis of modal auxiliaries and conditionals developed by Angelika Kratzer. We will start by surveying the limits of an extensional semantics of the type encountered in Semantics 3 and will then progressively introduce some basic tools to capture the meaning of modals and conditionals. In this part, we will familiarize ourselves with the analysis of modals as restricted quantifiers over possible worlds, the ranking of worlds in the domain of quantification, and the interaction between if-clauses and modals.
The second part of the course will survey some more recent developments in the semantics of modals. This part will focus on the interaction of modality and aspect and the semantic import of the syntactic distinction between `high’ (epistemic and some deontic) and `low’ (root) modals, as investigated in recent work by Valentine Hacquard. We will also survey recent work on the evidential component of epistemic modals by von Fintel and Gillies, and, time permitting, we will study two recent proposals by von Fintel and Iatridou on the interpretation of weak necessity modals and sufficiency constructions.
LING 665: homework assignments, class presentation, final paper.
LING 765 (Pass/Fail): homework assignments, class presentation.
March 14-16, 2014
SLUM is looking for speakers for the next 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!
McGill will be well represented at the 19th Amsterdam Colloquium, a major biannual semantics meeting. Alexandra Simonenko, Bernhard Schwarz and Luis Alonso-Ovalle will present at the main session and Dan Goodhue and Michael Wagner at the joint SemDial/Amsterdam Colloquium session.
To celebrate the occasion, at least a subset of the presenters will give practice talks at the Syntax/Semantics Reading Group on Friday December 6 from 2:30 to 4:30 (room 117). Everybody is invited to attend.
P.S: Note that Sepideh’s talk, originally scheduled for December 6 has been postponed.
Our very own Gretchen McCulloch has been in the news lately for her blogging on internet speech. Her blog post on a new type of internet-speak construction involving because was quoted in a recent article in The Atlantic and she was interviewed last week by the CBC. You can here her full interview here. Because awesome.
Please note that the time and location of Richard Compton‘s colloquium talk at Concordia this Friday has changed. New coordinates are as follows. The talk will be immediately followed by a wine and cheese reception.
When: Friday, 11/29 4:30pm
Where: Concordia University, H-565 (Henry F. Hall Building, 1455 de Mainsonneuve)
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)
McGill post-doc Richard Compton will give a colloquium talk at Concordia this Friday: ”Two types of adjectives hiding in Inuit.” The talk will be on November 29th at 4:15 PM in H415 and will be followed by a wine and cheese reception. You can find more details on the Concordia LSA’s website.
Tokiko Okuma has just returned from the workshop, Pronouns@Tübingen, held at the University of Tübingen in Germany from November 15-17. She presented a paper, titled “Empirical evidence for the coreferential reading of Japanese overt pronouns.” She received the Arts Graduate Students Travel Award for this trip. The full program can be found here.
She also presented a poster, titled “Three factors affecting the coreferential interpretation of Japanese pronouns” at the CRBLM Scientific Day, held at UQAM on November 22. The full program can be found here. Nice work Toki!
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: Friday, January 10th, 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 : vendredi le 10 janvier 2014. Les résumés doivent être soumis à l’aide de EasyChair, à l’adresse suivante:
Au plaisir de vous voir à Montréal!
Jessica Coon (MOTH) et Morgan Sonderegger (MOLT), au nom du comité organisateur
Abstract:This paper reports on the first laboratory study of an idiosyncratic linguistic phenomenon: the “stylized interjection,” which is most recognizable to English speakers in the vocative expression, “Yoo-hoo!” The stylized interjection, as described throughout the musicological and linguistic literature, is associated with a particular intonational formula (the “calling contour”) and intriguingly, with a purportedly cross-cultural musical fingerprint: the interval of the minor third.
In this paper, I will present the results from an elicitation study which systematically compared the stylized interjection to four other linguistic forms along a number of acoustic dimensions. Results establish the characteristics of the English stylized interjection, suggesting its interpretation as “sung speech,” and thereby elucidating its unique sound-meaning correspondence. Implications for music anthropology and music-language studies, especially vis-a-vis scales and intervals, are also discussed.In addition, I will describe an ambitious cross-linguistic study (including early data) concerning the form of the stylized interjection in ten languages.
As we previously announced, Keir Moulton gave a guest talk in LING 417 on Monday November 11, with Nino Grillo. Keir and Nino, who is currently in London, presented some joint work on pseudo relatives. The presentation was very well received.
This week’s Agreement Reading Group we will be reading two papers:
- Alan Bale will be presenting Heim’s (2008) Features on Bound Pronouns.
- Michael Wagner will be presenting Kratzer’s (2009) Making a Pronoun: Fake Indexicals as Windows into the Properties of Pronouns.
Time: Friday, Nov. 22nd, at 1pm
Location: room 117
All are welcome!
A body of research proposes that second language (L2) sentence processing is strongly semantically guided as a result of shallow structures lacking syntactic details in real time (Clahsen & Felser, 2006a, b; Felser & Roberts, 2007; Felser, Cunnings, Batterham, & Clahsen, 2012; Felser, Roberts, Gross, & Marinis, 2003; Felser, Sato, & Bertenshaw, 2009; Marinis, Roberts, Felser, & Clahsen, 2005; Papadopoulou & Clahsen, 2003). A second body of research argues for a strong structural reflex (Dekydtspotter & Miller, 2012; Juffs, 2005; Juffs & Harrington, 1995; Hopp, 2006; Williams, Möbius & Kim, 2001; Williams, 2006; inter alia). In this case, working memory capacity, proficiency, lexical access, etc. qualify the manner in which such information is acted upon in the conceptual-intentional and in sensory-motor systems in a L2 (Dekydtspotter & Miller, 2012; Dekydtspotter & Renaud, 2009; Dekydtspotter, Schwartz, & Sprouse, 2006; Hopp, 2012; Miller, 2011; Williams, 2006).
The talk addresses the etiology of L2 sentence processing in a modular system consisting of autonomous components in view of new experimental evidence. The empirical focus is on anaphora under reconstruction as in (1) for instance.
(1) Which story about him(self) did Ben say that Anna told?
New evidence from reading experiments strongly suggests that L2 sentence processing includes an incremental syntactic analysis according to cycles of computations. Specifically, I argue that such L2 parsing follows default structural computations that select specified information and guide aspects of the deployment of semantic processes in real time. Hence, to the extent that minimality, locality and chains supporting binding constitute good-design signatures of language architecture given limited processing resources (Chomsky, 2005; Reuland, 2001, 2011; Rizzi 2013), these design features seem available in L2 sentence processing. A path of research in view of these findings will be charted.
Heather Goad returned last week from the Second Language Research Forum in Utah where she was an invited panelist in a colloquium on the nature of learners’ lexical representations. The title of her talk was: Target-like segments aren’t enough for target-like production–Prosodic constraints on the realization of functional morphology in L2 acquisition.
Several current and former McGillians presented posters at Phonology 2013 at UMass Amherst this past weekend.
- Brian Buccola & Morgan Sonderegger: On the expressivity of Optimality Theory versus rules: An application to opaque patterns.
- Emily Elfner: Prosodic boundary strength in verb-initial structures: Evidence from English and Irish.
- Heather Goad & Akiko Shimada: In some languages, /s/ is a vowel.
In addition to these current McGill affiliates, a number of former McGill linguists presented as well:
- Aron Hirsch (MIT, McGill BA ’12): Is the domain for weight computation the syllable or the interval?
- Sara Mackenzie (MUN, Post-doc 2010–12): Consonant harmony in Nilotic: Contrastive specifications and Stratal OT.
- Tara McAllister Byun, Sharon Inkelas & Yvan Rose (MUN, PhD ’00): Explaining child-specific phonology with a grammar of articulatory reliability: The A-map model.
The full program can be found here: http://blogs.umass.edu/phonology-2013/conference-schedule/