September 30, 2013

Psycholinguistics Group this Friday

(Courtesy of Daphna Heller)

There will be a psycholinguistics group meeting this Friday (Oct 4). Phil Monahan (LIN, UTSC) will present his work entitled "Using behavior and brain to probe speech categories: Dialects, underspecification and bias".

Psycholinguistics group meets in Sid Smith 560A. The talk will start at 10:15.

Syntax-Semantics Project meets twice this week

(Courtesy of Julie Doner)

There will be two meetings of syntax-semantics project this week, as follows. Please take note of the special time for the first meeting.

"Kaqchikel Agent Focus as anti-locality"
Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine, MIT
Thursday, October 3rd 4:30-6:30 pm in BL 114

Abstract: Many Mayan languages show a syntactically ergative extraction asymmetry whereby the A-bar extraction of subjects of transitives requires special verbal morphology, known as Agent Focus. In this talk I discuss the syntax of Agent Focus in Kaqchikel, a Mayan language spoken in Guatemala. I argue that Agent Focus does not simply occur whenever an ergative subject is A-bar extracted---as predicted by previous approaches---but is instead a strategy to avoid a movement step which is *too short*. Support for this claim comes from new data on the distribution of Agent Focus in Kaqchikel which shows this locality-sensitivity. Time permitting, I will discuss the notion of "last-resort" and motivate the use of a system of ranked, violable constraints to model the full pattern of Agent Focus and verbal agreement observed in the language.

"Deducing clause structure from the right periphery in T??ch? Yat?ì"
Nick Welch, U of T
Friday, October 4th 12-2 pm in SS 560A.

Abstract: T??ch? Yat?ì, a Dene language of the Northwest Territories, Canada, has a number of post-verbal auxiliaries and particles indicating categories such as futurity, mode, negation, information structure and evidentiality. The interaction of these elements reveals that they occur in a strict order, which in turn illuminates the structure of the clause in this language, with positions for future, mode, negation, and focus as functional categories at the right edge.

September 27, 2013

Guest speaker: Matthew Dryer

We have a guest speaker event today, Friday, Sept 27th, at 3pm (it will start at 3:10pm, U of T time).

Matthew S. Dryer (University at Buffalo) is presenting his work entitled "On the Order of Demonstrative, Numeral, Adjective and Noun" (see abstract below).

The talk will take place in Sid smith 560A, and a reception will follow in the Linguistics lounge.

On the Order of Demonstrative, Numeral, Adjective and Noun
This paper reports on a typological study of the order of demonstrative, numeral, adjective, and noun, based on a sample of 442 languages. I propose a set of five surface principles which interact to predict the relative frequency of the different orders of these four elements. I compare my approach to a generative account of the same phenomenon by Cinque (2005). I argue that my approach accounts for the relative frequency of the different orders better than Cinque’s and that his account suffers in three respects: (1) my sample contains instances of four orders that Cinque’s account predicts should not exist; (2) two orders are considerably more common than his account predicts; and (3) two orders are considerably less common than his account predicts. I also argue that the principles underlying the different orders of these four elements must be interpreted in terms of semantic categories and that any attempt to account for them syntactically cannot work.

September 26, 2013

Bronwyn Bjorkman wins Banting postdoctoral fellowship

The department is pleased to be able to announce that Bronwyn Bjorkman is staying on for two more years, now as a Banting Fellow. Though you have already seen Bronwyn around this term, the Banting results were only publicly announced on Monday

Her project for this postdoctoral fellowship is to investigate the cross-linguistic and language-internal relationships between expressions of anteriority, especially past tense and perfect and perfective aspects, and to develop featureal representations of these oppositions. She will continue to work with Elizabeth, on this and other topics. 

Congratulations, Bronwyn!

September 25, 2013

Canadian Language Museum exhibit at Gerstein next month

The Canadian Language Museum's Canadian English exhibit will be at Gerstein Library, on the U of T campus, from October 7-18. You can hear a CD of Canadian Dialects and admire the exhibit created by Elaine Gold and a team of students a couple of years ago. Thanks, Elaine!

September 20, 2013

2013-2014 Research group meetings start today

The 2013-2014 calendar of research group meetings begins today.

The Psycholinguistics group is meeting at 10:15am in Sid Smith 560A. Mindaugas Mozuraitis (PhD student, psychology, UTM) will present his work entitled "Appearance-reality distinction in real-time referential processing.".

At 12:00 the Syntax-Semantic project will meet  in SS560A. Dan Milway (PhD student) will present a part of his MA research: "Asymmetries and implicit arguments in English particle verb constructions."

September 16, 2013

Congratulations, Michela!

Congratulations to Michela Ippolito on the publication of her 2013 LI monograph "Subjunctive Conditionals: A Linguistic Analysis." Here is a link to the publisher's page:

September 6, 2013

Sali Tagliamonte elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Congratulations to Sali! She has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. See the following for the description of her accomplishments, plus information about the others from the University of Toronto who have been selected as fellows or won Royal Society awards. 

Special meeting of the Phonology Group today: Manami Hirayama

There will be a special meeting of the phonology group next today (September 6th) at 10 am in SS560A. Manami Hirayama (Ritsumeikan University) will be presenting her research on high vowel devoicing in Japanese; all are welcome to attend. The title and abstract follow below.

Testing the visibility of morphology in postlexical phonology: Evidence from vowel devoicing in Japanese

It has been argued in the literature of high vowel devoicing in standard Tokyo Japanese (HVD) that HVD makes reference to morphological boundaries. For example, McCawley (1968) observes that accent shifting in verb and adjective alternations triggered by HVD has the stem as the domain. Vance (1992), looking at nominal compounds with two potential undergoers of HVD in two successive syllables, argues that the presence of the boundary prohibits HVD: those adjacent to the boundary fail to undergo the process. Yoshida (2004) argues that what he calls “compound boundaries” blocks the occurrence of HVD more frequently than “morpheme boundaries” do.

The visibility of word-internal structure in HVD is a challenge to phonological theories. For example, in the theory of Lexical Phonology (e.g., Kiparsky 1982, Mohanan 1986), processes in the postlexical domain do not refer to word-internal structure (only phonological information is available in that domain), while HVD, being non-structure-preserving and non-categorical, occurs postlexically. The reference to the word-internal information is also not expected in the prosody-morphology/syntax interface hypothesis, where phonological/phonetic rules refer only to prosodic structure, not directly to morphological/syntactic structure.

In this talk, I explore the effects of morphological boundaries in HVD through two studies I have conducted. One is preliminary results from a production experiment with ten speakers. The other is a dictionary study on the lexical accent variation related to HVD (Hirayama & Giriko 2012). I argue that it is not the morphological boundary but likely the phonological boundary that HVD refers to. This supports the view of Lexical Phonology and the prosody-morphology/syntax interface hypothesis discussed above.

September 3, 2013

Richard Compton begins new post-doc

Recent alumnus Richard Compton (PhD 2012) begins a post-doctoral fellowship this month at McGill University under the supervision of Professor Jessica Coon. During the post-doc he will be continuing his research into polysynthetic word formation, word-internal modifiers, linearization, and lexical categories in Inuktitut. He also hopes to explore theoretical connections between these topics and phenomena in Mi'gmaq and other Algonquian languages. Richard will also be participating in the Mi'gmaq Research Project and organizing a reading group on a topic pertaining to Algonquian. In the winter semester he will be teaching Field Methods at McGill. Congratulations, Richard!