November 28, 2016

U of T linguists interviewed about Arrival!

In all the buzz about the new sci-fi film Arrival, U of T News interviewed Nicholas Welch (faculty) and Shayna Gardiner (PhD) about the linguistics in the movie! You can read their thoughts here.

November 24, 2016

NWAV45 at Simon Fraser University, November 3–6

NWAV45 had some great UofT representation this year! Earlier this month, a number of UofT sociolinguists flew to Vancouver to attend the conference. NWAV this year was co-organized by Alexandra D’Arcy (UofT alum, Ph.D. 2005) of UVic and Panayiotis Pappas of Simon Fraser University. Here are some photos from the trip:

The UofT crew from left to right: Jack Chambers, Marisa Brook, Ruth Maddeaux, Paulina Lyskawa, Darcie Blainey, Brianne Süss, Lex Konnelly, Naomi Nagy, Sali Tagliamonte, Sam Lo, Erin Hall, and Melanie Röthlisberger.
Gillian Sankoff listens attentively as Sali opens her talk wtih Suzanne Evans-Wagner.
Shayna intrigues the crowd.
A pod of UofT researchers in the wild!

Melanie shows off the ICE cube.

Presentations by UofT folks included:

Sali Tagliamonte (faculty) and Suzanne Evans-Wagner: “Vernacular stability: Comparative evidence from two lifespan studies.” 

Darcie Blainey (post-doc): “Staying true to your roots: Language stability through late adulthood amidst language shift.” 

Marisa Brook (Ph.D. 2016, now an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University): “A two-tiered change in Canadian English: The emergence of a streamlined evidential system.

Jack Chambers (faculty): “Cracking the code: Wedgies and lexical respectability.” and “Cognitive styles and language variation.”

Derek Denis (Ph.D. 2015, now a post-doc at the University of Victoria): “Pathways to homogeneity in Canadian English.”

Aaron Dinkin (faculty): “It’s no problem to be polite: Change in apparent time in responses to thanks.”

Erin Hall (Ph.D.): “Static and dynamic analyses of Canadian Raising in Toronto and Vancouver.”

Shayna Gardiner (Ph.D.): “The Dhutmose Letters: Lifespan change in Ancient Egypt?”

Shayna Gardiner (Ph.D.) & Naomi Nagy (faculty): “Stable variation and the role of continuous factor groups: A meta-analysis.” 

Sam Lo (undergraduate) and Naomi Nagy (faculty): “Variable use of Heritage Cantonese classifiers.”

Paulina Lyskawa (MA 2015): “Converging vs. competing phonology: Does coe-switching play a predictable role?”

Gloria Mellesmoen (MA 2016, now Ph.D. a thet University of British Columbia): “A vague phonological contrast: /eɪg/ as a distinguishing element of BC English.”

Naomi Nagy (faculty): “Cross-cultural approaches: Comparing heritage languages in Toronto.”

Melanie Röthlisberger (visiting researcher from Universiteit Leuven): “Is indiginization in probabilistic constraints a sign of different grammars? Insights from syntactic variation in New Englishes.” 

Brianne Süss, M.A. 2016: “Style-shifting over the lifespan: Evidence from a Canadian icon.”

November 18, 2016

Interview with recent hire Jessamyn Schertz

Our blog is doing a series of interviews with recent hires to the department, and first up is Jessamyn Schertz, who's been hired as an Assistant Professor at UTM / St. George. Most recently she was working in a postdoc position at UTSC with Yoonjung Kang, and we're very happy to have her continue on in her new position. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Arizona in 2014, and her website is here.

We've also created a new post label called "interview" for this and other interviews in the future.

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

I study the fine-grained details of how we pronounce and perceive the various sounds of speech. The “same” sounds can vary across languages (for example, French and English both have “p” sounds, but they are pronounced slightly differently) and even individuals with the same language background will have slightly different definitions of the same sound. The way we produce and perceive sounds is shaped by many factors, including our language background, social characteristics that we ascribe to ourselves and other talkers, the specific communicative situation, and general cognitive processes that may differ across individuals. In my work, I try to tease apart how these different factors interact with one another in 1) by recording speakers and doing acoustic analysis of their speech, and 2) by developing experiments to “map” listeners’ perception of sounds. 

How would you introduce your research to a fellow linguist?

It really depends on the linguist. As an introduction, probably pretty much the same way as above, actually!

What kinds of data collection (e.g. elicitation, experiments, oral texts, conversations) do you use in your research?

My work is mostly experimental, although I am interested in doing more corpus work as well.

Is there any research topic, area, or method you haven't explored very much but that you'd like to work with at some point?

I have recently been thinking more about the influence on social factors on speech perception. I’m hoping to take advantage of the rich social and linguistic diversity in Toronto to explore how linguistic and social factors shape perception and production. 

What courses do you most enjoy teaching?

I don’t have a favorite, but I do enjoy different aspects of teaching different levels. General introductory courses are always fun because students have no idea what to expect: most have never heard of linguistics, and their assumptions about what it is tend not to match up with the actual course content. On the other hand, the intellectual stimulation of working with advanced undergraduate and graduate students is both exciting and motivating for my own thinking.

What kind of graduate student research projects would you like to be involved in, either as a supervisor, second reader, etc.? (areas and methods)

Along with my primary areas of speech perception and production, I am looking forward to being involved in student projects that stretch my interests: students with primary interests in other subfields who are interested in doing experimental work, as well as projects looking at the relationship between linguistic systems in bilinguals and second-language learners.

What's your favourite thing about Toronto as a city?

I love Toronto! I will try to limit myself to two favorite things. First, I love walking around in all of the different neighborhoods and the opportunity to get groceries from all over the world. Second, there is a fantastic community of amateur musicians in Toronto - the best I have ever found. 

Since your main appointment is at UTM, what involvement are you going to have with the St. George department?

Right now, I’m helping to lead the Junior Forum, a professional development course for new graduate students. It’s fun to be involved at the beginning stages of people’s careers. I’ll be teaching grad courses about once a year, and looking forward to serving on thesis/GP/dissertation committees. I’ll also be continuing my involvement with the Phonetics/Phonology and Psycholinguistics groups, as well as research collaborations with my colleagues across the three campuses.

November 17, 2016

FLAUT lecture by Marshall Chasin (November 16th, 2016)

Friends of Linguistics At the University of Toronto (FLAUT) recently held a talk by Marshall Chasin titled "Clatter, Music and Hearing Loss". Here's a picture from the event.

Left to right: Yves Roberge, Marshall Chasin, Colin Swift (representative of the New College alumni association), Guillaume Thomas, and Jack Chambers. (Picture courtesy of Jennifer McCallum.)

November 11, 2016

Ph.D. convocation (November 2016)

Here are some pictures from the recent Ph.D. convocation that included graduates from our department.
Left to right: Mercedeh Mohaghegh, Yu-Leng Lin, Keren Rice (faculty), Safieh Moghaddam, Diane Massam (faculty), and Marisa Brook. (Picture from Diane Massam.)

There was a reception in the department that included wug cookies! (Picture from Keren Rice.)

November 2, 2016

Mo-MOT 1 at Carleton, November 18th to 20th

Mo-MOT 1, the First Annual Morphology in Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto Workshop, is being held later this month at Carleton University in Ottawa. The program is available here. Presenters from UofT include:

Ilia Nicoll (Ph.D.) “The Provacative Feature Deletion Model:  Morphological consequences of a syntactic model of agreement alternations”

Ross Godfrey (Ph.D.) “Process morphology and nonconcatenative allomorphy”

Elizabeth Cowper (faculty) & Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.) “The feature geometry of non-binary gender: Implications of singular definite specific they.”

Michael Barrie (Ph.D. 2006, now at Sogang University) “Two issues in the morphology of Iroquoian verbal prefixes”

Bronwyn Bjorkman (postdoc 2012-2015, now at Queen's University) “The inherent puzzle of modal subjects”

Alana Johns (faculty) is also the invited speaker on Saturday.

Rear, L-R: Mike Barrie (PhD 2006, now at Sogang U, Seoul), Elizabeth Cowper, Kumiko Murasugi (former undergrad, now at Carleton U), Andrew Peters (York U, currently taking courses at U of T), Lex Konnelly (MA 2016, current PhD student), Alana Johns
Front, L-R: Ross Godfrey (PhD), Bronwyn Bjorkman (former SSHRC & Banting postdoc, now at Queen's), Gavin Bembridge (York PhD)