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Word Structure Research Group, organizational meeting – 9/11

McLing Newsletter - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 01:50

The research group on the structure of words at the interfaces will continue this semester. This reading and research group investigates phenomena at the syntax/morphology-phonology and-semanticsInterfaces. (See here for past meetings.)  The topics this term will focus on asymmetries between prefixes versus suffixes, from structural, phonological, and interpretive points of view.    

The meeting slot this term is Friday 12:00-1:30 PM. The first organizational meeting will take place this Friday, the 11th, room TBA. If you would like to receive notices of future meetings, please email Maire Noonan to be added to the list.

Welcome new graduate students and postdoctoral fellows

McLing Newsletter - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 01:50

McLing is pleased to introduce this year’s new graduate students, QY students, and graduate research trainees, and postdoctoral fellows.  Welcome to McGill!

Graduate students

Jurij Bozic‘s main research interest is in the interface between phonology, morphology and syntax (the ‘PF’-interface). He completed an M.A. in linguistics at the University of British Columbia.

Chris Bruno’s main interests lie in formal semantics and syntax, and he is also interested in other areas like pragmatics, logic, and computation. He completed his B.Sc. at the University of Toronto in Linguistics and Computer Science.

Ariel Chan is interested in heritage language acquisition, and language change and variation. She completed her B.A. at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and her M.A. at University of Hong Kong.

September Cowley is interested mainly in semantics (especially model theoretic semantics) and pragmatics, although she is also interested in neurolinguistics and philosophy of language. September did the first half of her degree at Langara College in Vancouver, and then completed her degree at McGill.

Anouk Dieuleveut just completed her undergraduate studies in linguistics and cognitive sciences at the ENS in Paris. She has a background in experimental psychology and is mostly interested in experimental semantics and pragmatics: her master’s thesis dealt with scalar implicatures and the distinction between primary and secondary implicatures. While at McGill, she will also be a course lecturer at the French department, but hopes nonetheless to have time to discover the hiking paths of Canada… Recommendations are welcome!

Bing’er Jiang’s research interests lie in phonetics and phonology, particularly in phonation and tone languages. She has just finished her undergraduate studies at Shanghai International Studies University.

Amanda Rizun is interested in semantics and pragmatics, especially as related to first and second language acquisition. She completed her B.A. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Martha Schwarz is particularly interested in phonology and in fieldwork on understudied languages.  She completed her B.A. in linguistics at Brandeis University in Boston.  

Qin Xi (Kevin) is interested in syntax, semantics, syntax/semantics interface and syntax and prosody. In particular, he is fascinated and indeed puzzled by the use of Determiners in English as well as across languages.

Christopher, Ariel, Bing’er, Martha, Anouk, September, Xi, Amanda, Jurij

Postdoctoral fellows

Meaghan Fowlie

Meaghan is just finishing her PhD at UCLA. She did her undergrad right here at McGill, and is delighted to be back. Her primary interests lie in mathematical approaches to syntax, but has a very broad range of interests, from ergativity to field work to music and language to learnability to sociolinguistics and yes, even phonetics and phonology. Her dissertation is about adjunction, from mathematical and experimental perspectives. For fun, Meaghan does linguistics. Kidding. Really. She also likes comics and novels, films and series, cooking and baking, and travelling and wilderness.

 Michael McAuliffe

Michael recently received his PhD in Linguistics from the University of British Columbia with a thesis titled “Attention and salience in lexically-guided perceptual learning”.  At McGill, I am doing a post-doc with Morgan Sonderegger and Michael Wagner to create tools and software for asking phonetic and phonological questions about speech corpora across languages and for forced alignment across languages. My main research interests are computational phonetics, speech perception and corpus linguistics. In my free time, I enjoy long distance running, hiking and playing card, board and video games.



McGill at Sinn und Bedeutung 20

McLing Newsletter - Tue, 09/08/2015 - 01:50
McGill is well-represented at Sinn und Bedeutung (SuB) 20 at the University of Tübingen, Germany, this week (Sept. 9-12, 2015). https://sites.google.com/site/sinnundbedeutung20/home Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten (UMass, postdoc-to-be with Junko Shimoyama and Keir Moulton‘s (SFU, former postdoc) SSHRC grant): Constructing beliefs and desires (talk) Brian Buccola : Severing maximality from ‘fewer than’: evidence from genericity (talk) Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (NUS, recent postdoc) and Hadas Kotek : Relative pronoun pied-piping, the structure of which informs the analysis of relative clauses (talk) Aron Hirsch (MIT, McGill BA) : A compositional semantics for wh-ever free relatives (poster) Edwin Howard (MIT, McGill BA) : The pragmatics of verb-initial conditional antecedents in English (poster) Anna Howell (Tübingen, McGill BA) : A Hamblin semantics for alternative questions in Yoruba (poster) Hadas Kotek  : On the semantics of wh-questions (poster) Junko Shimoyama   Syntactic and semantic connectivity in afterthought right dislocation, sluicing and fragments (invited talk) joint work with Alex Drummond (Queen Mary Univ. of London, recent postdoc), Bernhard Schwarz and Michael Wagner

Ling-Tea, Hadas Kotek – 9/1

McLing Newsletter - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 07:00

Hadas Kotek will be presenting joint work with Michael Erlewine at the first Ling-Tea of the Fall 2015 semester. This will be presenting a practice talk for Sinn und Beteutung. If you would like to present at a future Ling-Tea, please email Colin Brown!

Coordinates: Tuesday 9/1, 1:00pm–2:00pm in Linguistics 117

Title: Relative pronoun pied-piping, the structure of which informs the analysis of relative clauses

In this talk we argue that restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses have a fundamentally different semantic interpretation: while restrictive relatives are property-denoting, non-restrictive relatives are proposition-denoting. The evidence motivating this claim comes from a consideration of Relative Pronoun Pied-Piping, concentrating specifically on the behavior of intervention effects inside RPPP in non-restrictive relatives. Intervention effects have been shown in previous work to distinguish regions of Rooth-Hamblin alternative computation from regions where covert movement has taken place (Sauerland & Heck 2003, Cable 2007; 2010, Kotek & Erlewine, to appear, Erlewine & Kotek 2014). We show that RPPP, like pied-piping in wh-questions, is sensitive to intervention effects. We propose that while a movement strategy is used for the interpretation of restrictive RCs, in non-restrictive relatives, relative pronouns are interpreted in-situ within the pied-piped constituent at LF, using Rooth-Hamblin alternative computation. This bring RPPP in line with other instances of pied-piping in wh-questions and focus constructions, allowing for a uniform semantics for pied-piping (cf Cable 2007; 2010).  To derive the non-intersective meaning of the relative clause, we propose that the relative pronoun projects a singleton alternative set, corresponding to the RC’s antecedent. Following Demirdache (1991), we treat this antecedent as an E-type anaphor. This allows us to directly derive the proposition denoted by the RC, without first computing the corresponding property, as is done in the case of restrictive relatives. This proposal helps explain two differences between restrictive and non-restrictive relatives in English. First, why non-restrictive relatives can only be constructed using relative pronouns, whereas restrictive relatives also have a that/∅ complementizer option. Second, why RPPP in these RCs can be substantially larger than in restrictive RCs, and why only restrictive RCs are sensitive to islands.

Arcos Lopez, Bale, and Coon, Numeral classifiers in Ch’ol – 8/31

McLing Newsletter - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 07:00

Nicolás Arcos López, Alan Bale, and Jessica Coon will give an informal presentation on numeral classifiers in Ch’ol (Mayan), today from 1–2:30pm in Linguistics 117. This is in preparation for a talk at the Gender, Class, and Determination workshop at University of Ottawa next month.

Summer PhD defenses

McLing Newsletter - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 07:00

Congratulations to Brian Buccola and Michael Hamilton, who defended their dissertations this summer!

Brian’s dissertation, co-supervised by Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Bernhard Schwarz and defended August 26th, is titled “Maximality in the semantics of modified numerals.” Brian heads to Israel soon where he will be a post-doctoral fellow at the Language, Logic, and Cognition Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Congrats Brian!

Mike defended his dissertation “The syntax of Mi’gmaq: A configurational account” on August 10th. Mike was co-supervised by Jessica Coon and Michael Wagner, and has just begun a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University. Congratulations Mike!

Sign up for Fall 2015 Ling-Tea!

McLing Newsletter - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 07:00

Ling-Tea will be held this semester Tuesdays from 1:00–2:00pm in Linguistics Department room 117. LingTea is a good place for students, faculty, postdocs, and visitors to present ongoing research in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. It’s also a perfect venue for dry runs of forthcoming conference talks. Anyone is welcome to give a LingTea talk! Please email Colin to sign up for one of the dates below.

September 15, 22, 29

October 6, 13, 20, 27

November 3, 10, 17, 24 December 1, 8

What McGill linguists did this summer…

McLing Newsletter - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 01:55

McGill was well-represented at the 2015 LSA Institute.  Grads Hye-Young Bang, Guilherme GarciaDan GoodhueBing’er JiangOriana Kilbourn-CeronDejan Milacic and alums Elise McClay and Erin Olson (BA ’12) were participants; alums Gretchen McCulloch (MA ’13) and Yuliya Manyakina (MA ’15) ran satellite events; Morgan Sonderegger co-taught a course on modeling sound change.  Here are most of them:

McGill was also well-represented at ICPhS 2015 in Glasgow, described in a separate post.

Hye-Young Bang  gave talks at the International Conference on Korean Linguistics and at ICPhS, in addition to attending the LSA Institute.

Colin Brown spent a good portion of his summer in the Pacific Northwest doing research on the Gitksan language. He reunited with two consultants as well as UBC’s Gitksan lab in Vancouver, BC, before traveling to Gitksan territory for two weeks, where he worked with ten consultants in 4 villages, hiked to a glacial waterfall, and attended a (8 hour!!) stone raising feast. Upon his return to Vancouver he attended the 50th annual International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages (ICSNL) at UBC.

Jessica Coon spent two weeks in Chiapas with Lauren Clemens (SUNY Albany, recent McGill Post-doc), Ryan Bennett (Yale), and Cora Lesure (McGill BA). They ran two experiments in two different Ch’ol-speaking towns. One was a perceptual study, and the other was a production experiment designed to test focus-marking strategies, set up with help from Michael Wagner and with new pictures created by McGill undergraduate Blare Coughlin. The pictures are available for public use, with credit to Blare, and can be downloaded here.

McGill BA student Nadia Famularo, recent graduate Madeleine Mees, and Tibetan consultant Tashi Wangyal, traveled to UC Santa Barbara last week to present collaborative work at ICSTLL: The International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. The work grew out of the 2014 Field Methods class on Tibetan. The title of their talk (with Jessica Coon, who could not attend) was ”Ergative marking in Dharamsala Tibetan”.

Maddie, Nadia, and Tashi between talks in Santa Barbara

Guilherme Garcia finished writing a book chapter on Quebec French and English stress with Natália Brambatti Guzzo and collected data in Brazil, in addition to attending the LSA Institute.

At the beginning of May, Brendan Gillon returned from a half year sabbatical, which he spent at National Chengchi University, in Taipei, Taiwan. During his four months there, he gave seven talks on topics in linguistics and in philosophy, two of which he managed to give in his very rusty Chinese. Later, while in Paris as a member of the jury for a CNRS Habilitation he gave a talk, entitled “Quel contenu sémantique ont les classificateurs en chinois (mandarin)?” at a workshop at the Sorbonne organized by Francis Corblin.


Heather Goad finished her term as Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the end of August. Together with Misha Schwartz (BA 2014), she submitted one journal article and one conference proceedings paper on the kinds of evidence available to learners when acquiring a subset grammar in phonology. She also finished two book chapters and one conference proceedings paper on the grammar and acquisition of sC clusters. Together with James Tanner (MA 2015) and Kate Shaw (BA in progress), she worked on extending the Prosodic Transfer Hypothesis to the processing of inflectional morphology.

Henrison Hsieh attended the 13th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (13-ICAL) in Taipei, Taiwan this past July, as well as some of the talks held by the Linguistics Department at the University of the Philippines Diliman for their Linguistics Month activities. In addition to learning more about a lot of the current work in Austronesian linguistics, Henrison met many of the Austronesianists active in and around the Austronesian-speaking region. He is excited for opportunities to collaborate with them in the future.

Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron‘s proceedings paper from WCCFL 32, “Almost: scope and covert exhaustification” is now available online at http://www.lingref.com/cpp/wccfl/32/index.html. Oriana also attended the LSA (see above) and ICPhS (other post).

Donghyun Kim gave talks at the 2015 Linguistic Society of Korea and  the 2015 Korean Society of Speech Sciences meetings, entitled “Developmental trajectories in the acquisition of novel vowel contrasts” and “The acquisition of new vowel contrasts by Korean learners of English: A longitudinal study” (both with Meghan Clayards and Heather Goad).

Mellon postdoctoral fellow Hadas Kotek presented in Generative Syntax in the Twenty-first Century: The Road Ahead in Athens, Greece, and participated in the SIAS Summer Institute: In the Armchair, in the Field, and in the Lab, which took place in Berlin. Hadas also had a number of publications: her paper on the syntax/semantics of most appeared in Natural Language Semantics (joint work with Martin Hackl and Yasutada Sudo). Her paper describing turktools, a set of free, open-source tools appeared online in Natural Language & Linguistic Theory (joint work with recent McGill post-doc Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine), and her paper on relative pronoun pied-piping and the syntax of restrictive vs. non-restrictive relative clauses will appear in the Proceedings of CLS 51 (PDF; joint work with Michael Y. Erlewine).

Jeff Lamontagne also gave a talk at CLA, entitled “A variationist analysis of vowel fronting in Laurentian French”.

Junko Shimoyama presented a poster at the CLA annual meeting at the Univ. of Ottawa, on her ongoing project with Alex Drummond (UMass Amherst), Bernhard Schwarz and Michael Wagner, titled “A no-source puzzle for clausal ellipsis in right dislocation, sluicing and fragments”.






McGill at ICPhS 2015

McLing Newsletter - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 01:50

McGill linguists present and past gave a number of talks and posters at the 18th International Conference of Phonetic Sciences, held in August 2015 in Glasgow, all with associated proceedings papers:

Oriana, Hye-Young, and James all received IPA Student Awards to attend the conference.

Here are some pictures of us at ICPhS, and friends:

McGill linguists (Meghan, Oriana, Morgan, James, Hye-Young) with postdoc alumna Sara MacKenzie, McGill Psych alum Doug Schiller


Linguists walking towards the Science Centre: Oriana, James, Michael M

McGill linguists present and future (Michael, Mehgan, Gustav, Francisco, Morgan) with Linda Polka and A.J. Orena from McGill SCSD

Beginning-of-year picnic

McLing Newsletter - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 01:50

All McGill linguists, plus family and friends, are invited to our annual Beginning-of-Year picnic, to be held this year Sunday September 6th at noon at Parc Laurier in the Plateau. The picnic will be potluck style: please bring some some kind of dish and perhaps something to drink.  Hope to see you all there!

Welcome lunch and Fest-Eval, 8/28

McLing Newsletter - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 02:20
Please join us for two events to kick off the year: FestEval and the annual departmental Welcome (Back) Lunch. Both events will take place in the Department building (1085 Dr. Penfield) on Friday, August 28 2015. Welcome (back) Lunch: 12.30-2, Department Lounge (Room 212)

FestEval (Friday, August 28, 2pm-5.05pm, Room 002)    2.00 Liz Smeets: Against the adverbial analysis of focus association 2.25 Jiajia Su: The syntactic structure of Chinese Classifiers 2.50  Dan Goodhue: Epistemic must is not evidential, it’s epistemic 3.15  Henrison Hsieh: An additional inference for actuality entailments 3.40.-3.50 Break 3.50 Hye-Young Bang: The lexical and contextual path of tonogenesis: Evidence from Seoul Korean 4.15 Gui Garcia: Extrametricality and Second Language Acquisition 4.40-5.05  Donghyun Kim: A longitudinal study of individual differences in the acquisition of novel vowel contrasts Hope to see you all there!

2015–2015 colloquium schedule

McLing Newsletter - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 01:50
Please mark your calendars for this year’s colloquium speakers! All talks take place Fridays at 3:30pm, location TBA. ​​ Kie Zuraw (UCLA) – September 11th Matt Goldrick (Northwestern) – October 2nd Danny Fox (MIT) – October 23rd Mark Baker (Rutgers) – November 6th ​Meghan Fowlie (McGill) – November 20th ​Elizabeth Smith (UQAM) – December 4th Lisa Pearl (UC Irvine) – March 18th
Pat Keating (UCLA) – April 8th