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The McGill Linguistics Department Newsletter
Updated: 33 min 24 sec ago

Meg Grant at UQAM, 4/9

Mon, 2014-04-07 02:00

Post-doc Meg Grant will be speaking at UQAM this Wednesday at a Mercredi moins niaiseux. The talk will be in room DS-3470 from 12:40–1:45 and is titled ”Donner à une belette un œuf frais, ou donner un œuf frais à une belette? Le rôle du caractère animé dans le choix de l’ordre des constituants.” All are welcome!

Sasha Simonenko’s Dissertation Party

Mon, 2014-04-07 02:00

Sasha Simonenko successfully defended her dissertation on Friday 4. A party was held at Bernhard and Junko’s place to celebrate the event and, as usual, McLing reporters were in attendance to bring you some pictures.

Congratulations, Sasha!

McGill at CLS 50

Mon, 2014-04-07 01:55

A group of McGill linguists will travel later this week to Chicago for the 50th meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society.

Talks include Elise McClay and Michael Wagner ”Accented Unambiguous Pronouns: The Effect of Topicality and Focus”, as well as Michael Hamilton and Brandon Fry (Ottawa): “Long-Distance Agreement in Algonquian: Accounting for Syntactic Variation”. Jessica Coon will give an invited talk, “Little-v Agreement: Evidence from Mayan”.

The full program is here.

Richard Compton at GLOW 37

Mon, 2014-04-07 01:52

Post-doc Richard Compton returned this week from the 37th GLOW conference, held this year in Brussels. Richard’s poster was titled “An argument for genuine object phi-agreement in Inuit: Evidence from mood variance“. The full program can be found here.

ETI 3: Prosody and Constituent Structure

Mon, 2014-04-07 01:50

We are pleased to announce that Exploring the Interfaces (ETI) 3: Prosody and Constituent Structure will take place on McGill campus from May 8-10, 2014. The website with information about the conference, including the preliminary program, can be found here: http://eti3mcgill.wix.com/eti3

We are asking interested participants to register using the online form by April 25 so that we have accurate numbers for catering. The registration fee is payable in cash on the day of the conference, and will be waived for McGill students (the dinner fee is separate). We hope to see you there!

Syntax-Phonology Reading group, 4/4

Mon, 2014-03-31 01:55

The Syntax-Phonology reading group will meet this Friday, April 4 from 11:30-1pm in room 117 for our last scheduled meeting of the semester. We will be reading two papers by Judith Aissen in preparation for ETI3. Jessica will present Aissen 1992 “Topic and focus in Mayan” and Michael will present Aissen 2000 “Prosodic conditions on anaphora and clitics in Jakeltek”. All are welcome!

Dissertation defense, 4/4 – Sasha Simonenko

Mon, 2014-03-31 01:50

Sasha Simonenko will be defending her PhD dissertation this week, details are below. All are invited to the defense.

Title:  Grammatical ingredients of definiteness

Time: Friday, April 4th at 3:00pm

Location: Education building, room 338


This dissertation presents arguments in favour of explicit Logical Form representation of components responsible for direct referentiality and domain restriction in definites, with focus on Autro-Bavarian German, Standard Swedish, and Standard Canadian English. It provides a semantico-pragmatic analysis of the ban on wh-subextraction out of DPs with the “strong” articles in Austro-Bavarian and demonstratives in English which assumes their direct referentiality. The ungrammaticality of question formation is proposed to result from the pathological uninformativeness of possible answers. The ban on wh-subextraction thus emerges as a new testing tool for direct referentiality.

I further propose an analysis of the cases where strong articles and demonstratives do not to behave directly referentially. Assuming structural decomposition of strong articles and demonstratives into a determiner head and a relational head, I propose that directly referential interpretation results from a silent individual pronoun occupying the specifier of the relational head, whereas covarying interpretations arise as a result of either a restrictive relative clause occupying this position, or else a relational noun functioning as the relational component itself. I proceed to extend this approach to account for the distribution of strong and weak definite articles in DPs with restrictive relative clauses.

In the second part I analyze the pattern of the free-standing article omission in Swedish. I identify the omission with the use of a covert restrictor-less definite article, which accounts for why it is easily available with context-sensitive modifiers whose semantics has to make reference to a domain restrictor, but is limited to the cases of “global uniqueness” with context-insensitive ones. Thus Swedish, I propose, illustrates the case of a “rudimentary” article which, if the only one available, would make the problem of incomplete descriptions unsurmountable. This conclusion relies on, and thus provides evidence for, the unavailability of either domain restriction at the NP-level or implicit global restriction of the domain of individuals as means of modelling the behaviour of Swedish definites.

McGill at TOM 7

Mon, 2014-03-31 01:45

The 7th Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal (TOM) workshop will take place this year on Saturday April 12 at the University of Toronto.

Three of our students have been accepted: Brian Buccola (“A Blocking Solution to van Benthem’s Problem”), Oriana Kilbourn-Cerón (“Almost: Scope and Covert Exhaustification”), and Liz Smeets (“The Structure of Italian Pseudo Relatives: What We Learn from Scope Judgments”, poster session.) Congratulations to them!

You can read more about TOM 7 here:


Notice that the organizers have asked those attending the conference to register before April 1st.