January 31, 2013

Guest speaker: Peter Jurgec (Feb. 1/2013)

We have a guest speaker this Friday.

Speaker: Peter Jurgec, Leiden University (http://www.jurgec.net/)
Title: Unifying vowel and consonant harmony
Time: Friday Feb. 1st, 3pm. A reception will follow in the lounge.
Place: Sid Smith 560A (ground floor) (Sid Smith is located at 100 St. George St.)

Abstract: Recent phonological literature sees vowel and consonant harmony as fundamentally different. Whereas vowel harmony is attributed to feature spreading, consonant harmony instead involves a long-distance relationship between consonants. Such a formal distinction may appear warranted as consonant harmony (i) is found only with some features and (ii) invariantly affects a subset of consonants; vowel harmony does not display these gaps. In this talk, I argue that both phenomena can nevertheless be analyzed as feature spreading. I relate the first gap in consonant harmony to a general tendency for assimilation to target syllable nuclei (i.e. vowels). This tendency can be captured by modified alignment constraints. The second gap suggests that consonant harmony is dependent on another consonant feature. A strikingly similar pattern is found in parasitic vowel harmony. I capture such parasitic preference by agreement constraints, which apply to vowel and consonant harmony. This approach correctly predicts that vowel harmony can be parasitic or not, whereas consonant harmony is always parasitic.

January 29, 2013

ICPP 2013

Keren Rice and Alexei Kochetov travelled to Japan to attend the International Conference on Phonetics and Phonology (ICPP) 2013 at the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics, where Keren was an invited speaker. Keren gave a talk entitled "Sonorant obstruents revisited", and Alexei presented joint work with Yoonjung Kang entitled "When long is tense and tense is long: An EPG study of Japanese and Korean stops". Alumna Manami Hirayama (now teaching at Ritsumeikan University) also gave a talk entitled "Perception of accent contrasts in vowel devoicing in Japanese". Manami shares this photo of them enjoying a meal together after the conference.

January 28, 2013

New book edited by Diane Massam

Congratulations to Diane on the publication of  Count and Mass Across Languages, with Oxford University Press! Here is the abstract from the OUP website, followed by the URL for the book:

This volume explores the expression of the concepts count and mass in human language and probes the complex relation between seemingly incontrovertible aspects of meaning and their varied grammatical realizations across languages. In English, count nouns are those that can be counted and pluralized (two cats), whereas mass nouns cannot be, at least not without a change in meaning (#two rices). The chapters in this volume explore the question of the cognitive and linguistic universality and variability of the concepts count and mass from philosophical, semantic, and morpho-syntactic points of view, touching also on issues in acquisition and processing. The volume also significantly contributes to our cross-linguistic knowledge, as it includes chapters with a focus on Blackfoot, Cantonese, Dagaare, English, Halkomelem, Lithuanian, Malagasy, Mandarin, Ojibwe, and Persian, as well as discussion of several other languages including Armenian, Hungarian, and Korean. The overall consensus of this volume is that while the general concepts of count and mass are available to all humans, forms of grammaticalization involving number, classifiers, and determiners play a key role in their linguistic treatment, and indeed in whether these concepts are grammatically expressed at all. This variation may be reflect the fact that count/mass is just one possible realization of a deeper and broader concept, itself related to the categories of nominal and verbal aspect.

Book URL:

New Ontario Premier a Linguist

(Post courtesy of Jack Chambers)

Kathleen Wynne, newly appointed leader of the Ontario Liberals and first woman premier of Ontario, graduated with her M.A. in our department in (as I recall) 1979. Her Forum research was on literacy skills in a northern Algonquian community. Kathleen was a prized TA, active in the LGCU and clean-up hitter for the Glottal Stops, the department slo-pitch team. Her work as MLA and cabinet minister has limited her involvement in our activities for the last few years, but we were pleased when she took time to participate in the Workshop on Phonetics, Gender and Sexual Orientation in November 2005. Among her many advantages as premier, of course, is the A she earned in Analysis & Argumentation. We wish her all the best.

J.K. Chambers

January 23, 2013

New work by Chandan Narayan

Chandan Narayan has a chapter in a new OUP volume 'Origins of Sound Change' edited by Alan Yu. Chandan's piece is called "Developmental Perspectives on Phonological Typology and Sound Change." Here is the link that was published on LinguistList:

Book URL: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199573745.do

January 22, 2013

Belated Photos from our Holiday Party

This year's holiday party took place in November! At the time, it seemed a little early for Christmas decorations, and unfortunately F-Zero was unable to perform this year, but it was festive nevertheless. The lounge was filled with linguists, friends of linguists, partners of linguists, and budding linguists. There were so many people in the room that our windows almost looked as though they had a decorative frost! Here are a few pictures from the party! 

Standing room only!

January 17, 2013

Linguists Show their Stripes

...just another Wednesday!

(photo courtesty of Sali Tagliamonte)

January 7, 2013

Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting

There were quite a few members of the department presenting at the LSA this past weekend in Boston.

Keren Rice gave the Presidential Address, entitled “Variation, Phonology, and Fieldwork.”

Bridget Jankowski gave a talk: "A variationist approach to disentangling grammatical change and
register change."

Derek Denis gave a talk: "Grammaticalization? change in the right periphery from 1875 to 2003."

Nicholas Welch gave two talks: "The bearable lightness of being" and "Propping up predicates: BE-support in Tlicho Yatii."

Bronwyn Bjorkman presented a poster: "Aspectual ergative splits and perfective-linked oblique case."

A number of alumni were also present. Mike Barrie, Kyumin Kim, and Lyn Tieu presented posters, and Tanya Slavin and Nicole Rosen presented talks at the LSA.

(photo courtesy of Sali Tagliamonte)

January 4, 2013

Visiting Scholar: Celeste Rodríguez Louro

We would like to introduce you to a Visiting Scholar to the Department January 9-18: Dr. Celeste Rodríguez Louro from the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia. Celeste’s area of specialization is Language Variation and Change. She works on the structural and discourse-related aspects of Australian English, including present perfect/preterit alternations, epistemic phrases, tense variation and quotative verbs. She recently organized the 2012 Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society in December 2012, where our own Keren Rice presented one of the plenary talks. 


Celeste will be giving a talk in the LVC Research Group January 11, 12:10 pm entitled: Quotatives and tense variation in cross-generational Australian English speech. All are welcome.

 The reason for her visit is to collaborate with Sali on a project on variation and change in narrative structure in Australian English. She will be tapping the Sali’s expertise in LVC generally, but also her knowledge of the study of quotative verbs in particular. However, please note that Celeste is interested in talking to members of our faculty about related research interests.

Celeste’s current project traces the development of story-telling in Australian English, offering the first systematic sociolinguistic analysis of quotatives by Australians born since 1873. Sali’s studies of the quotative system have noted a shift in narrative style and this finding has been echoed by studies in other varieties of English as well. English-speaking people appear to be increasingly imbuing their stories with reports of their thoughts and feelings. Celeste’s research question is: has this changed in Australian narratives as well? This project will draw on an abundance of existing, but yet untapped, historical linguistic data: the Oral History Collection at the State Library of Western Australia. Her plan is to augment the Library’s Collection, and add rich annotated transcription and digitised materials, creating a wealth of resources for further research. Her collaboration with Sali (and with Alex D’Arcy at Victoria) will lead to large-scale comparative studies.

Here are a few of her current publications:

*Colantoni, Laura & Celeste Rodríguez Louro (Eds). (Forthcoming). Perspectivas teóricas y experimentales sobre el español de la Argentina [Theoretical and experimental perspectives on Argentinian Spanish]. Madrid: Iberoamericana/Vervuert. Accepted 14 November 2012.

*Rodríguez Louro, Celeste &Thomas Harris. (Forthcoming). Evolution with an attitude: The grammaticalization of epistemic/evidential verbs in Australian English. English Language and Linguistics 17:3.

*Rodríguez Louro, Celeste. (In press). Quotatives Down Under: Be like in cross- generational Australian English speech. English World-Wide 34:1.

Welcome, Celeste!

(Post courtesy of Sali Tagliamonte)