September 20, 2017

Ngumpin-Yapa Workshop (2017, University of Queensland)

The Ngumpin-Yapa Workshop (on the Ngumpin-Yapa subgroup of the Pama-Nyungan language family in Australia) was held at the University of Queensland on August 10th and 11th, 2017. From our department, Jessica Mathie (Ph.D.) presented her paper "Through the looking-glass: Ngarinyman expressions of searching, looking and finding".

Workshop participants

September 17, 2017

Manitoba Workshop on Person 2017

The Manitoba Workshop on Person is being held on September 22 and 23 (2017) at the University of Manitoba. Invited speakers from our department:

Susana Bejar (faculty): Ineffable person in copular complements 

Bronwyn Bjorkman (former post-doc, now at Queen's), Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Daniel Currie Hall (PhD 2007, now at Saint Mary's University), and Andrew Peters (PhD): Person and deixis in Heiltsuk pronouns

Michelle Yuan (MA 2013, now at MIT): Plural person and associativity (in Inuktitut)

Diane Massam (faculty): Person and null pronouns

And other presentations from our department:

Tomohiro Yokoyama (PhD): The Person Case Constraint: Repairing the notion of “repair”

Lex Konnelly (PhD) and Elizabeth Cowper (faculty): The future is they: The feature geometry of non-binary gender

Richard Compton (PhD 2012, now at UQAM): Inuktitut PCC revisited

Will Oxford (PhD 2014, now at University of Manitoba): Person and the Algonquian inverse

September 14, 2017

5th Annual Meeting on Phonology (2017)

The 5th Annual Meeting on Phonology (AMP) is being held at New York University from September 15 to 17 (2017). Presentations from UofT:

Mia Sara Misic, Zhiyao Che, Fernanda Lara Peralta (BA), Karmen Kenda-Jež (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) & Peter Jurgec (faculty): Nasal harmony and nasalization in Mostec Slovenian

Suyeon Yun (UTSC post-doc) & Yoonjung Kang (faculty): Allophonic variation of the word-initial liquid in North and South Korean dialects

Alexei Kochetov (faculty), Laura Colantoni, & Jeffrey Steele (French Dept.): Gradient and categorical effects in native and non-native nasal-rhotic coordination

September 7, 2017

Corpora in the Classroom

Two increasingly important domains in linguistics are the study of spontaneous speech and the analysis of large corpora of natural language data. Our Linguistics Department has professors and students who do both.

To improve the instructional infrastructure and scaffold undergraduate and graduate class assignments that teach relevant theory and research skills, we have developed a teaching resource called Corpora in the Classroom (, on which hundreds of hours of recorded and digitized speech from 9 languages (so far) are archived and meta-data-tagged.

This tool has been used in 7 or 8 sociolingusitics classes over the past 5 years, but we are hoping to expand its utility and use to additional classes/areas. If you'd like to use this tool or contribute data to it, please have a look at the demo pages ( and then contact Naomi to discuss. (Sample assignments using this tool for a 1st year course are at, HWs 11 & 13.)

The project has been funded by internal ITIF and CRIF grants, Keren Rice's CRC funds, and SSHRC.

September 1, 2017

SemDial 2017

The 21st Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue (SemDial 2017 – SaarDial) was held August 15-17, 2017 at Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany. From our department, Angelika Kiss (PhD) presented her paper "Meta-conversational since when-questions and the common ground".

August 31, 2017

LVC memes

In case you missed it, this Drake meme was floating around linguistics circles on Facebook. (Caption: "Reading about dialectology is better than reading fiction :P".)

August 28, 2017

Andrei Munteanu, Dresher award winner, presenting at CRC

Andrei Munteanu (MA), winner of the 2016-17 Dresher Phonology Prize for outstanding work in a graduate phonology course, presented his winning work at the 2017 CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop on August 15th: "Co-occurrence restrictions in English: A corpus study". Here's a picture of his talk:

August 23, 2017

Brazilian Indigenous languages research excursion program

(See the course blog here for pictures and updates:

This summer, Suzi Lima (faculty in Spanish & Portuguese, as well as Linguistics) has been teaching a course called "Brazilian Indigenous Languages: documentation, language maintenance and revitalization" in the Spanish & Portuguese department. The first four classes were held at UofT, and the final six classes (starting August 18th) are being held in Brazil, where the students are receiving hands-on training for language documentation projects and collaborative research.

I'd highly recommend checking out the blog link above (or click here); Suzi and her students and colleagues are doing a great job of documenting their progress in Brazil with pictures and updates.

If you're interested in research on Brazilian Indigenous languages but weren't able to join the class and go on this research excursion, check out the Brazilian Indigenous Language research group ( at UofT.

August 22, 2017

Solar eclipse nerds

Toronto was in the path of the August 2017 eclipse (a partial eclipse for us, at more than 70% coverage of the sun), and a contingent of linguists went outside of Sid Smith to (safely) see it.

(L-to-R): Derek Denis (faculty), Nathan Sanders (faculty), Dan Milway (PhD), Michela Ippolito (faculty), Jennifer McCallum (graduate administrator), Zoe McKenzie (PhD), Savannah Meslin (MA), Luke Zhou (MA), Clarissa Forbes (PhD), Robert Prazeres (PhD)

August 19, 2017

Distinctive featured linguists

From the CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop. (Credit: Naomi Nagy)

August 18, 2017

Association of French Language Studies conference Blue Jays outing

UofT linguistics profs Alexei Kochetov, Jeff Steele and Naomi Nagy attended the Association of French Language Studies conference outing to the Blue Jays-Yankees game on Aug. 10, following 3 full days of interesting talks about French in a wide range of contexts.

August 17, 2017

New volume on ergativity, edited by Diane Massam and colleagues

The Oxford Handbook of Ergativity was recently published. This volume, which was edited by Diane Massam (faculty) alongside colleagues Jessica Coon and Lisa deMena Travis at McGill, includes almost fifty articles on ergativity (from theoretical approaches to case studies to experimental work). Congratulations on this Diane, I know how much work and coordination has gone into this!

Authors featured in this volume include Julie Anne Legate (MA 1997, now at University of Pennsylvania), Alana Johns (faculty, co-authoring with Ivona Kucerova at McMaster), Richard Compton (PhD 2012, now at Université du Québec à Montréal), and Tyler Peterson (visiting assistant professor 2012-2013, now at University of Auckland). Click here for more information, or read the abstract below.

This volume offers theoretical and descriptive perspectives on the issues pertaining to ergativity, a grammatical patterning whereby direct objects are in some way treated like intransitive subjects, to the exclusion of transitive subjects. This pattern differs markedly from nominative/accusative marking whereby transitive and intransitive subjects are treated as one grammatical class, to the exclusion of direct objects. While ergativity is sometimes referred to as a typological characteristic of languages, research on the phenomenon has shown that languages do not fall clearly into one category or the other and that ergative characteristics are not consistent across languages.

Chapters in this volume look at approaches to ergativity within generative, typological, and functional paradigms, as well as approaches to the core morphosyntactic building blocks of an ergative construction; related constructions such as the anti-passive; related properties such as split ergativity and word order; and extensions and permutations of ergativity, including nominalizations and voice systems. The volume also includes results from experimental investigations of ergativity, a relatively new area of research. A wide variety of languages are represented, both in the theoretical chapters and in the 16 case studies that are more descriptive in nature, attesting to both the pervasiveness and diversity of ergative patterns.

August 16, 2017

2017 CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop

The annual CRC-Sponsored Summer Phonetics/Phonology Workshop hosted by our department took place on Tuesday, August 15th. Here were the presentations:

Jessamyn Schertz (faculty): Listening differently to accented talkers: Use of acoustic and contextual cues in perception of native vs. non-native speech

Na-Young Ryu (PhD): Effects of cross-language acoustic similarity on non-native speakers’ perception of Korean vowels

Rachel Soo (incoming MA) and Philip J. Monahan (faculty): Phonemic perception and lexical access: Evidence for speech factor levels in Cantonese heritage speakers

Julian Bradfield (The University of Edinburgh): The Sound of a Spherical Cow

Karina Kung (BA UTSC), Luan (Jessie) Li (BA UTSC), Connie Ting (incoming MA), Jasmine Yeung (BA UTSC), and Yoonjung Kang (faculty): Compensating for speech rate variation in English stop perception

Rachel Evangeline Chiong (BA), Andrea Macanović (BA), and Peter Jurgec (faculty): Secondary palatalization in Zadrečka Valley Slovenian

Andrei Munteanu (MA): Co-occurrence restrictions in English: A corpus study

Paul Arsenault (PhD 2012, now at Tyndale University College) and Alexei Kochetov (faculty): Retroflex vowel harmony in Kalasha: A preliminary acoustic analysis

Wenxuan Chen (BA) and Peter Jurgec (faculty): Vowel harmony in Slovenian

Nathan Sanders (faculty): Some issues in the perceptual phonetics of sign language: Motion-in-depth and the horizontal-vertical illusion

Mercedeh Mohaghegh (PhD 2016) and Craig Chambers (UTM Psychology faculty): Perceptibility of the place of articulation in nasal and oral stops and recognition of assimilated words

Suyeon Yun (UTSC post-doc): Quantifying sonority contour

Katherine Sung (BA) and Alexei Kochetov (faculty): Allophonic variation in English coronal stops: An EPG corpus study

Deepam Patel (BA), Rosemary Webb (BA), and Peter Jurgec (faculty): The rise and fall of the palatal nasal glide in Slovenian

Suyeon Yun (UTSC post-doc) and Yoonjung Kang (faculty): Allophonic variation of the word-initial liquid in Korean dialects

August 15, 2017

Julie Doner in Probus (International Journal of Romance Linguistics)

Julie Doner (PhD) has had her article "Spanish stress and lexical accent across syntactic categories" published in the August 2017 volume of Probus, International Journal of Romance Linguistics. Congrats, Julie! The abstract is below, and a link to the article is here.

In this paper, I provide an analysis of Spanish stress with the following three characteristics: (a) both verbal and non-verbal stress are accounted for in a single, unified, system, (b) the three-syllable window for stress is accounted for in a principled way, and (c) the stress algorithm has no access to the morphosyntactic structure. I do this by extending Roca’s analysis of variable edge parameters for stress in Spanish non-verbs to verbs, and by arguing that morphemes which mark for only person, number, and gender (φ-features) are outside of the domain of stress because they are prosodic adjuncts.

August 14, 2017

Methods in Dialectology XVI (Tachikawa, Japan)

The Sixteenth International Conference on Methods in Dialectology (METHODS XVI) was held in Japan from August 7th to 11th (2017). Presentations from our department:

Jack Chambers (faculty), Erin Hall (Ph.D. student), Mary Aksim (M.A. 2016, now at the University of Ottawa): Dialect asymmetries in vowel perception

Katharina Pabst (Ph.D. student), Lex Konnelly (Ph.D. student), Melanie Röthlisberger (Ph.D. student at KU Leuven, former visiting student), and Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty): The individual vs. the community: Evidence from T,D deletion in Canadian English

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty): Into the hinterlands: Probing urban to rural diffusion in intensifier variation (part of the workshop “Beyond the well-known: current foci and issues in research on intensification”)

Thanks to Katharina Pabst for the pictures!

Jack Chambers (faculty) and Dennis Preston (faculty at Oklahoma State University) giving a speech at the conference dinner

Katharina and Mel before their talk

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) giving a talk about intensifiers in Northern Ontario

The U of T related contingent at Methods XVI

August 1, 2017

Dog Days VI Syntax Workshop

The 6th annual Dog Days Summer Workshop on syntax, morphology, and semantics is taking place on Wednesday, August 9th (2017) in SS560A, starting at 9am. It is being presented with the generous support of Susana Béjar, Elizabeth Cowper, Diane Massam, Alana Johns, and Keren Rice and the University of Toronto Linguistics Department. Here are the speakers:

Julianne Doner (Ph.D.): Overtness and the EPP

Bronwyn Byorkman (Queen’s, formerly UofT post-doc), Elizabeth Cowper (faculty), Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007, now at Saint Mary's), and Andrew Peters (Ph.D.): Person and deixis in Heiltsuk pronouns

Neil Banerjee (BA 2016, now at MIT): Something not aspectual in Southern Nambiquara

Virgilio Partida Peñalva (Ph.D.): Split-S in Otomí

Gavin Bembridge (York): Verbal Class and Lexical Diacritics

Alana Johns (faculty): An Agreement/Case Mismatch?

Heather Yawney (Ph.D.): Suspended Affixation within the Inflectional Domain of Turkish Verbs

Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2011, now at University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) and Tova Rapoport (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev): Agreements: Secondary Predication Integration

Bridget Copley (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Paris 8): More have causatives

Bronwyn Bjorkman (Queen’s University, formerly UofT post-doc): Who can they be?

Kenji Oda (Ph.D. 2012, now at Syracuse University): First/last name asymmetry in Japanese proper names

Julie Goncharov (Ph.D. 2016, now at Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Relativization in the Grammar

Will Oxford (Ph.D. 2014, now at University of Manitoba): Consequences of Caselessness

July 18, 2017

New book by Isaac Gould

Isaac Gould (BA 2009, MA 2010, now at the University of Kansas) has recently had his book Choosing a Grammar: Learning paths and ambiguous evidence in the acquisition of syntax published with John Benjamins Publishing Company. Congratulations, Isaac! Here's the summary from the site:

This book investigates the role that ambiguous evidence can play in the acquisition of syntax. To illustrate this, the book introduces a probabilistic learning model for syntactic parameters that learns a grammar of best fit to the learner’s evidence. The model is then applied to a range of cross-linguistic case studies – in Swiss German, Korean, and English – involving child errors, grammatical variability, and implicit negative evidence. Building on earlier work on language modeling, this book is unique for its focus on ambiguous evidence and its careful attention to the effects of parameters interacting with each other. This allows for a novel and principled account of several acquisition puzzles. With its inter-disciplinary approach, this book will be of broad interest to syntacticians, language acquisitionists, and cognitive scientists of language.

July 17, 2017

July 12, 2017

Welcome back, Derek!

Derek Denis (BA 2008, MA 2009, PhD 2015), who was away as a post-doc at the University of Victoria, has recently returned to UofT take up a tenure-stream position in sociolinguistics at the Mississauga campus. Here's an interview with Derek! Topics:
  1. His research
  2. Toronto for research on variation and change
  3. Being grounded in one institution
  4. Getting a tenure-stream job
  5. Involvement at St. George campus
  6. Supervising and collaborating with graduate students
  7. If linguistics didn't exist...
Questions and answers:

1. How would you introduce your research to someone who isn't familiar with linguistics?

All of my research falls under the very large umbrella of trying to understand the what, how, who, and why of language change. I mostly work on Canadian English and primarily use variationist sociolinguistic methods. I'm mostly interested in morphosyntactic and discourse-pragmatic phenomenon such as 'eh' but I've also done sociophonetic research as well.

2. What makes Toronto a compelling place to carry out research on language variation/change?

Toronto is one of the most multicultural and multilingual cities in the world. This is obviously of great benefit for linguists because it means we can almost always find a native speaker of a language locally. It also means that we can study the heritage varieties of these languages outside of a homeland setting, as Naomi has been doing. I’m most interested in understanding the effect that having a population in which more than 50% of people speak a language other than English has on Toronto English. We have a very detailed understanding of ‘old line’, middle class, settler colonial English from Sali’s Toronto English Archive, but there are other things going on in communities that are predominantly composed of first generation Canadians and who predominantly interact with first generation Canadians. In London, Jenny Cheshire, Paul Kerswill and their colleagues have found that in such scenarios a unique kind of multiethnolectal dialect can form. I suspect that we have something like that developing in Toronto and I'd like to try to document it and understand how it came about and where it's going.

3. You've done three degrees at UofT, and now you're back for a job. What are the benefits of being so grounded in one institution? Has it posed any problems or challenges?

The number one benefit of being back at UofT in a faculty position is the amazing students, both graduate students and undergraduate students. I plan to involve students in my research at all stages. I don't think there's anything wrong with doing what I did... everyone is different. I'm exactly where I want to be so my path worked for me. The only challenge I can think of is that I'll have to find something to occupy my Thursday nights since I won't be able to go to pub night anymore!

4. Will having a tenure-stream job change the way that you plan your research, such as the scale or time-frame of research projects that you start?

Having a permanent position and the resources available to tenure-stream faculty will definitely allow me to implement my bigger ideas!

5. Your main appointment is in Mississauga—how will you be involved in St. George?

I’ll be a member of the graduate faculty which will mean I'll occasionally teach graduate courses and can be the supervisor or a committee member on forum papers, GPs, and dissertations.  This year I'll be co-coordinating Junior Forum with Susana as well. I plan to be in Sid Smith most Fridays for research group meetings. I’m always happy to talk to whoever about variation, change, sociolinguistics, stats, and really pretty much anything else people in the department are working on or thinking about!

6. For the graduate students reading this, what kind of projects would you be interested in supervising or collaborating on?

Once my project on Toronto multiethnolects gets underway, there should be lots of opportunities for graduate students to be involved in that project. I'd be happy to supervise any project using variationist sociolinguistic methods including projects on languages other than English and understudied varieties of English worldwide. I'm also interested in supervising or co-supervising historical or experimental work. One of my more recent interests is understanding the role of settler colonialism in the development of Englishes around the world including Canadian English and I'd be more than happy to chat with anyone who's thinking about Settler-Indigenous relationships in terms of language (or otherwise).

7. If linguistics didn't exist, what other academic field or career path would you have liked to explore or go into?

When I was 10, I was a huge fan of the Stargate movie, which made me want to be an (crypto-)Egyptologist. In grade 7, I wrote a report on what educational path I’d need to take to achieve that goal. Funnily enough, I ended up following parts of that path in a lot of ways. What I didn’t get into was physical anthropology and archaeology. I think if I didn’t become a linguist and stayed in academia, I’d have gotten into the study of prehistroical population migrations either from the archaeological or genetic side of things. One thing I love about teaching historical linguistics is that I get think about that kind of stuff. 

If I wasn’t in academia, I would own and operate a small coffee shop and roastery called svartr --- Old Norse for 'black', like how I take my coffee. That’s always been the back-up plan.

July 11, 2017

CLA presentation award winners

Congratulations to our two departmental winners, Julianne Doner and Virgilio Partida Peñalva!

Julie Doner has won the Best Student Paper Award, from the Canadian Linguistics Association in the twenty-minute talk category, for her presentation "Predicate-sensitive EPP", while Virgilio Partida Peñalva has won the Best Student Paper Award in the ten-minute talk category, for his presentation "Stripping in Spanish: Focalized PP remnants". Congratulations to both our winners!

We also congratulate Nicole Hildebrandt-Edgar of York University, who tied with Julie for first place in the 20-minute talk category with her presentation “I don’t know in Toronto and Victoria: Comparing analyses of discourse variation”, and Angélica Hernández Constantin, of Western University who won the Best Poster Presentation Award for her poster ""Différences regionales dans l’utilisation du verbe impersonnel haber de l’ espagnol: Les Caraïbes contre l’ Amérique Latine continentale".