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The McGill Linguistics Department Newsletter
Updated: 1 day 46 min ago

P* Reading Group, 10/18

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 02:40

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Oct. 18) 11 am -12 pm in Room 117, Emily will lead a discussion of Dmitrieva et al. (2015). ”Phonological status, not voice onset time, determines the acoustic realization of onset f0 as a secondary voicing cue in Spanish and English”. Journal of Phonetics,49, 77-95.
Everyone is welcome!

Syntax reading group, 10/20

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 02:20

The Syntax reading group is meeting this Friday, October 20th at 10am in room 117 of the Linguistics building. Our speaker of the week is Justin Royer with a talk titled “Towards a unified account of noun classifiers in Chuj (Maya).”

All are welcome!

WORDS Group, 10/20

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 02:20

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 20th October, at McGill, Dr. Penfield Ave. 1085 (room 117) at 1pm-2.30pm. Gabe Daitzchman will present the first three chapters of Harbour (2016) and also data on Hebrew and Nama.

Reading: Harbour, Daniel. (2016). Impossible Persons. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Semantics Research Group, 10/20

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 02:20

The Semantics Research Group will be meeting Friday, October 20th in room 117 from 15h-16h30. Bernhard Schwarz will be presenting a talk in preparation for NELS, titled “On the locus of question exhaustification”. The abstract and some suggested reading is below.

Abstract:
Heim (1994) argued that wh-questions are systematically ambiguous between non-exhaustive (Hamblin 1973, Karttunen 1977) and exhaustive (Groenendijk and Stokhof 1984) readings. Question exhaustivity has been credited to a syntactically represented operator, with two different views regarding its position: (i) “high exhaustification” applies to the question meaning as a whole (Heim 1994, Beck and Rullmann 1999); (ii) “low exhaustification” applies in the wh-question nucleus, below the wh-phrase (Guerzoni & Sharvit 2014, Nicolae 2015). I will offer an argument that only high exhaustification exists.

Suggested reading: Nicolae , Andreea: 2015. Questions with NPIs. Natural Language Semantics, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 21–76

P* Reading Group, 10/11

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 02:40

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Oct. 11) 11 am -12 pm in Room 117, Jiaer will lead a discussion of Kim et al. (2012). ”How does context play a part in splitting words apart? Production and perception of word boundaries in casual speech “. Journal of Memory and Language,66/(4).
Everyone is welcome!

Fieldwork lab, 10/13

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 02:20

We’re having our next Fieldwork meeting at 10am this upcoming Friday October 13th in room 117 of the Linguistics building, where graduate student Masashi Harada will be leading our discussion.

Everyone is welcome!

WORDS Group, 10/13

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 02:20

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 13th October, at McGill, Dr. Penfield Ave. 1085 (room 117) at 1pm-2.30pm. Gabe Daitzchman will present on Ackema & Neeleman (2013):

  • Ackema, Peter, and Neeleman, Ad. (2013). Person features and syncretism. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 31(4). 901-950.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Semantics Research Group, 10/13

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 02:20

The semantics research group will be meeting on Friday the 13th October in 117 at 15h. Chris Bruno will be presenting an article from the recent special edition of Linguistics & Philosophy on numerals: Jefferson Barlew’s “Focus on Numbers”.

McGill at AMP 2017

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 01:50

McGill Linguists past and present presented at the 2017 Annual Meeting on Phonology last month at NYU:

  • Jeffrey Lamontagne, Heather Goad & Morgan Sonderegger: “Variability in French prominence: Evidence for weight sensitivity”
  • Jeffrey Lamontagne & Francisco Torreira: “Production planning and directionality in external sandhi”
  • Martha Schwarz (MA 2017), Morgan Sonderegger, & Heather Goad: “Representing a four-way contrast: Nepali, voiced aspirates and laryngeal realism”
  • Öner Özçelik (PhD 2012): “Phonological markedness and extraprosodicity as predictors of morphological errors in SLI”

Paulina Elias at SEURA symposium

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 01:50

Linguistics undergrad Paulina Elias was one of the first SEURA (Social Equity Undergraduate Research Award) recipients during this award’s first year at McGill. Paulina’s research project this past summer focused on the documentation of Chuj, a Mayan language spoken in Guatemala and by speakers here in Montreal, and was supervised by Jessica Coon. Last week they attended the SEURA Symposium, where they participated in a discussion panel that centred around social equity in research.

McGill at MIT Workshop on Simplicity

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 08:13

McGill linguists presented at the MIT Workshop on Simplicity in Grammar Learning on Sep 23:

  • Richard Futrell and Tim O’Donnell: “A generative model of phonotactics”
  • Kevin Ellis and Tim O’Donnell: “Inducing phonological rules: Perspectives from Bayesian program learning”
  • Aron Hirsch (postdoc) and Ezer Rasin: “An evolutionary effect of simplicity bias on the typology of logical operators”

 

 

 

McGill Ling at Montreal AI Symposium

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 08:08

McGill linguists past and present presented at the Montreal AI Symposium on Sep 26:

Chris Bruno, Eva Portelance (BHons ’17), Tim O’Donnell: “Unsupervised induction of natural-language dependency structures”

Elias Stengel-Eskin, Emily Kellison-Linn, Tim O’Donnell: “Variational Inference for Unsupervised Lexicon Learning”

Syntax Group, 10/06

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 02:20

We’re having our second Syntax reading group meeting at 10am this upcoming Friday October 6th in room 117 of the Linguistics building. Everyone is welcome!

WORDS Group, 10/6

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 02:20

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 6th October, at McGill, Dr. Penfield Ave. 1085 (room 117) at 1pm-2.30pm. Lisa Travis will present her joint work with Ileana Paul on Malagasy pronouns. The suggested reading is:

  • Zribi-Hertz, Anne and Liliane Mbolatianavalona. 1999. Towards a modular theory of linguistic deficiency: Evidence from Malagasy personal pronouns. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 17: 161–218.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

P* Reading Group, 9/27

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 02:40

In this week’s P* Reading Group on Wednesday (Sep. 27) 11 am -12 pm in Room 117, Jeff will lead a discussion of Frost (2011). ”Stress and cues to relative prominence in English and French: A perceptual study”. Journal of the International Phonetic Association,(41/1).
Everyone is welcome!

WORDS Group, 9/29

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 02:20

The WORDS Group will be meeting on Friday 29th September, at McGill, Dr. Penfield Ave. 1085 (room 117) at 1pm-2.30pm. The focus of this meeting will be on discussing the paper ‘Decomposing Pronouns’ by R-M. Dechaine and M. Wiltschko (2002; Linguistic Inquiry 33(3), p.409-442), presented by Tom Leu.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Fieldwork Lab meeting, 9/29

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 02:20

The Fieldwork Lab will be meeting on Friday September 29th, from 10-11am in room 117. Discussion will be guided by Prof. Lisa Travis and will focus on a particularly daunting fieldwork experience (relevant reading is Zribi-Hertz & Mbolatianavalona’s paper on Pronouns) as well as the data pattern from Malagasy among other related topics.

All are welcome!

Sonderegger, Bane and Graff in the news

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 02:00

The recent paper in Language by Sonderegger, Bane and Graff (The Medium-Term Dynamics of Accents on Reality Television) has been discussed in the press. Morgan Sonderegger has been interviewed for CTV News, as well as CBC News. The latter piece also includes Charles Boberg discussing the Montreal accent. Coverage of the paper has also appeared in the McGill Newsroom and the LSA press release.

Congratulations to the authors for this success!

McGill at Manitoba Workshop on Person

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 01:50
McGill linguists presented last week at the Manitoba Workshop on Person in Winnipeg. Jessica Coon and Michael Wagner presented joint work with Stefan Keine (USC), “Hierarchy effects in copular constructions: The PCC corner of German”, and Lisa Travis presented joint work with Ileana Paul (Western), “Augmented pronouns in Malagasy”.

L to R: Bronwyn Bjorkman (BA 2006), Ileana Paul (BA 1990, PhD 2000), Elizabeth Cowper (BA 1972), Jessica Coon, Richard Compton (postdoc 2014-2014), Lisa Travis, Michael Wagner.

Sonderegger, Bane, Graff in Language

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 01:50
A paper by Morgan Sonderegger, Max Bane, and Peter Graff, “The medium-term dynamics of accents on reality television”, has been published in the September 2017 issue of Language. The article can be found here (+ supplementary material), and is the subject of press releases by the LSA and McGill. and the abstract is below: How flexible is an individual’s accent during adulthood, and how does this flexibility relate to longer-term change? Previous work has found that accents are remarkably flexible in conversational interaction, but predominantly stable over years, leading to very different views of the role of individuals in community-level sound change. This article examines medium-term accent dynamics (days to months) by taking advantage of a ‘natural experiment’: a reality television show where contestants live in an isolated house for three months and are constantly recorded, forming a closed system where it is possible to both determine the dynamics of contestants’ speech from day to day and reason about the sources of any observed changes. We build statistical models to examine time dependence in five phonetic variables within individuals, in 14.5 hours of spontaneous speech from twelve English-speaking contestants. We find that time dependence in pronunciation is ubiquitous over the medium term: large daily fluctuations in pronunciation are the norm, while longer-term change over weeks to months occurs in a minority of cases. These patterns mirror the conflicting findings of previous work and suggest a possible bridge between the two. We argue that time dependence in phonetic variables is influenced by contrast between sounds, as well as systematic differences between speakers in how malleable their accents are over time; however, we find only limited evidence for convergence in individuals’ accents. Our results have implications for theories of the role of individuals in sound change, and suggest that medium-term pronunciation dynamics are a fruitful direction for future work.

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