Past Colloquium Schedules

Click on title to view abstract of talk (if available)

September 2013 – May 2014

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rick Dale (University of California, Merced)

Title: A tutorial on recurrence methods for linguistics and psychology

Abstract: I will showcase how to employ growing dynamical methods to high-level language data, such as transcripts and codes drawn from discourse and pragmatics. These methods are inspired by the study of complex dynamical systems in the natural sciences, and the study of motor control in the psychological sciences. By applying these methods to the high-level “cognitive” context, new insights about communication and coordination can be gained, from quantifying the coupling between persons at many levels, and by extracting the overall network structure of human interaction.

TFS 103, 5:00-6:30 PM

Note special date & time.

Friday, 29 November 2013

12:00-1:30 PM

TFS, 103

Marcel den Dikken — The City University of New York

Title: On the morphosyntax of (in)alienably possessed noun phrases

Abstract: Click here.

Note the special time!

Friday, 24 January 2014

3:30-5:00 PM

TFS, 103

Amanda Miller — The Ohio State University

Title: What can we do with High Frame Rate Ultrasound?: Investigating the Phonetic Bases of C-V Co-occurrence Restrictions

Abstract: A common phonological pattern found in the languages of the world is Consonant-Vowel Co-occurrence restrictions. An important question at the Phonetics-Phonology Interface is “What are the phonetic bases of such co-occurrence restrictions?” Typically, C-V co-occurrence restrictions are seen as arising from conflicting articulatory goals produced by the same articulator in the consonants and the vowels that don’t co-occur. The Back Vowel Constraint (BVC) is a C-V co-occurrence constraint found between alveolar and lateral lingual stops (clicks) and the uvular fricative, with [i]. In this talk, I will show that the BVC, which occurs in many languages in the “Khoesan Sprachbund,” is phonetically based in the aerodynamic requirements for producing the clicks.

The phonetic bases of co-occurrence restrictions that involve stop consonants, have not been investigated adequately because stop releases are very short (20-30 ms); and safe and portable tools have been lacking that have the necessary temporal resolution. This is tragic considering that stop consonants occur in 99.93% of the languages in the UPSID database, and they make up 8-35% of the sounds in the languages that they occur in (Maddieson 1984). High frame rate ultrasound (Miller and Finch 2011) allows us to view stop shutting and release gestures, which are relevant to understanding phonological patterns.

I present a case study which uses high frame rate ultrasound to investigate the phonetic bases of the BVC. Since the clicks in !Xung contain coronal gestures, dorsal gestures, and “rarefaction gestures”, it is not trivial to identify the phonetic bases of the BVC. Indeed, conflicting analyses of the BVC that are based in the coronal and dorsal places of articulation have been offered. The first set of analyses investigates the vowel quality in affected C-V syllables. Important differences from previous descriptions are found! A second set of analyses investigate the locations of the double constrictions in the consonants. Results of the coronal constriction locations are consistent with previous research (Ladefoged and Traill 1994). However, differences in the dorsal places of articulation among the clicks are found, which arise through differences in the anterior points of articulation. A final set of analyses investigates dynamic properties of the clicks themselves. The clicks all display varying degrees of tongue body lowering, which creates the vacuum in the clicks. Different TR gestures are also found in the consonant releases, which arise from the differences in the degree of tongue body lowering. It is the TR gestures themselves that color the following vowel, and that are the phonetic bases of the BVC.

Friday, 14 February 2014

3:30-5:00 PM

TFS, 103

Jila Ghomeshi — University of Manitoba

Title: Particles in Conversation

Abstract: In this talk I will discuss the kinds of polyfunctional elements that are scattered throughout utterances when people are in conversation. These elements are often phonologically reduced and somewhat indiscriminate in terms of their placement in the utterance. While characterizations such as ‘filler,’ ‘marker of emphasis,’ or ‘focus marker’ may suffice at first glance, they are inadequate once two or more markers must be distinguished from one another. I will concentrate on two such elements in Persian that can be characterized as adversative and additive. I will explore the syntactic changes that give rise to this sort of ‘pragmaticalization’ and will also discuss how these seemingly ‘small’ markers require us to go beyond the level of the ‘sentence’ as our domain of enquiry.

Friday, 28 February 2014

3:30-5:00 PM

TFS, 103

E. Allyn Smith — Université du Québec à Montréal

Title: The Japanese evidentials rashiisooda, and yooda: experimental results and theoretical implications

Abstract: Japanese is a language with morphological evidential markers that are non-obligatory, providing a means of testing the contribution of these evidentials to the meaning of sentences and how those meanings differ from sentences without evidential markers but with other evidential-like meanings (such as the phrasal ‘I heard that…’). In this talk, I present felicity ratings and reaction time results for the Japanese evidentials rashiisooda, and yooda from joint work with Julie Matsubara and Michael Blasingame, showing that the Japanese evidential system is more complex than a simple distinction between reportative and ‘other’ evidentiality (Aikhenvald 2004). These results are shown to be consistent with the analysis of evidentials as epistemic modals but inconsistent with illocutionary accounts.

Friday, 28 March 2014

3:30-5:00 PM

TFS, 103

Ashley Farris-Trimble — Simon Fraser University

Title: Not just homogeneity of (marked) target: Conspiracies can target faithfulness too!


Conspiracies have traditionally been defined as a phonological phenomenon in which a two or more processes work together to repair or avoid a single marked structure (Kisseberth, 1970). This homogeneity of target/heterogeneity of process means that conspiracies can be defined by their marked structure target, but not by the processes involved in avoiding that target. Since Kisseberth’s initial exposition of conspiracies (1970), they have been one of the driving forces in phonological theory, and they helped inspire the concept of phonology as an output-oriented system. One of the primary advantages of a constraint-based theory like Optimality Theory (OT; Prince & Smolensky, 1993/2004) is that it easily deals with conspiracies by positing a high-ranked markedness constraint that disallows a particular marked structure and induces different repair processes.

However, another type of conspiracy has been overlooked. In some phonologies, a variety of processes work together to avoid a target that can only be defined in terms of faithfulness. That is, multiple processes occur or are blocked if the result would be unfaithfulness of some particular degree or in some location. These faithfulness conspiracies are introduced in this talk and exemplified by a set of processes from Amahl’s acquisition of English (Smith, 1973). While the idea of phonological processes conspiring to preserve faithfulness seems inherently contradictory, we will show that a faithfulness conspiracy is defined by limits on unfaithful mappings across a variety of marked structures and repair processes. Other examples from Ibibio, Dakota, and Cantonese will also be discussed. Finally, we will consider what drives faithfulness conspiracies from a theoretical point of view. The classic markedness conspiracy is described by a high-ranking markedness constraint that necessitates repair strategies. In a faithfulness conspiracy, however, the target does not correspond to a single constraint. Moreover, even though OT is celebrated for its power to account for markedness conspiracies, it requires special constructs for some faithfulness conspiracies (e.g., positional faithfulness constraints), and it is not capable of accounting for others (e.g., Amahl’s avoidance of multiply-unfaithful forms). We explore several possible candidates for the motivation for faithfulness conspiracies, including perceptual, lexical, and learnability factors.


Kisseberth, C. 1970. On the functional unity of phonological rules. Linguistic Inquiry 1: 291-306.

Prince, A. & Smolensky, P. 1993/2004. Optimality Theory: Constraint Interaction in Generative Grammar. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Smith, N.V. 1973. The Acquisition of Phonology: A Case Study. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


January – April 2013

(Click on title to view abstract of event, if available.)

Friday, January 11, 2013
Ana Arregui (University of Ottawa, Department of Linguistics)
Title: The imperfect: from times to worlds in different languages
TFS 103, 1:00 pm
Note special time.

Friday, January 18, 2013
Andrea Wilhelm (University of Victoria & University of Alberta)
Title: “Dënesųłiné as a type < e > language”

Abstract: This talk explores the semantic nature of nouns in the Athabaskan/Dene language Dënesųłiné, and its consequences for a typology of nouns. I present evidence for the hypothesis that in Dënesųłiné, nouns are inherently of type , entities, and enter the syntax as such. Key traits of the language fall out naturally from this hypothesis: the fact that nouns are bare (no determiners and number marking), the obligatoriness of copulas, the absence of intersective adjectives, and the fact that relative clauses are fully saturated (i.e., internally headed) clauses which are then nominalized. For a typology of nouns, my hypothesis means that it may not be universally true, as is widely assumed, that nouns enter the syntax as predicates (type <e,t>). Instead, there must be crosslinguistic variation in the semantic type of nouns, as suggested in Chierchia (1998), or perhaps the universal type of nouns is , as suggested in Baker (2003).

TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Friday, March 22, 2013
Keir Moulton (Simon Fraser University, Department of Linguistics)
Title: Bound Cataphora: D-type pronouns, causatives, and amnestying WCO
(Click title for abstract.)

TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Friday, April 5, 2013
Jozina Vander Klok (University of British Columbia, Department of Linguistics)
Title: Two types of auxiliaries in Paciran Javanese
Abstract: Cole et al. (2008) find that auxiliary fronting in yes-no questions partitions the set of auxiliaries in the dialect of Peranakan Javanese into two types: lower auxiliaries can front vs. higher auxiliaries cannot. In research on a different dialect of Javanese spoken in Paciran, I show that this partition holds for not only auxiliary fronting, but it is also found in two other syntactic constructions; namely, VP-topicalization and subject-auxiliary answers to yes-no questions. These findings suggest that the partition of auxiliaries is not unique to the distinct dialect of Peranakan Javanese, but a property that holds across all dialects of Javanese.

I offer a unified structural analysis in which the two types of auxiliaries are mediated by a phase edge. This projection, which dominates the set of low auxiliaries, serves as an intermediate landing site for A’-extraction for all three syntactic constructions given a ban on anti-locality movement (e.g., Abels 2003).

Abels, Klaus. 2003. Successive Cyclicity, Anti-locality and Adposition Stranding., University of Conneticut PhD. Cole, Peter, Hara, Yurie, and Yap, Ngee Thai. 2008. Auxiliary Fronting in Peranakan Javanese. Linguistics 44:1-43.

TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Friday, April 12, 2013
Eva Zimmermann and Jochen Trommer (University of Leipzig)
Title: Moraic suffixes, prefixes, and infixes
Abstract: Click here
TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Tuesday, June 23, 2013
Fangfang Li (University of Lethbridge)
Title: On the development of phonological knowledge
Abstract: Learning to talk is not easy. The mastery of speech sound articulation is not solely a linguistic feat, but rather predicated on motor maturation and practice, the determination of relevant cues for category formation and differentiation, and the realization of those cues in the action of speaking. Furthermore, children need to learn the relevant socio-indexical variants for each sound category to appropriately express their social identities. Thus, the repertoire of children’s phonological knowledge is multifaceted and includes at least the following three aspects as proposed by Pierrehumbert (2003), Munson, Edwards, & Beckman (2005), and Beckman, Munson, & Edwards (2007): 1) language-specific defining acoustic features, 2) social-indexical knowledge, and 3) lexical-based phonological knowledge. In an attempt to render a comprehensive view of children’s development of phonological knowledge, several large-scale studies will be reported and discussed. The first study is a cross-language investigation of voiceless sibilant fricatives in 120 preschool-aged children speaking English, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. Results of acoustic examination indicate that the learning of language-specific phonetic space takes place as early as age 2. The second study explores when and how gender-specific speech variation occurs in English-acquiring children. About 200 children were recruited and tested over an age span of 4 to 16. Preliminary results suggest an early differentiation in speech between boys and girls in the youngest age group. In addition, such variation is correlated with degree of gender typicality in adolescent boys. The third study was designed to investigate the effect of lexical frequency on sound acquisition in Mandarin Chinese. Results from transcription analysis indicate varied competence in extracting phonological knowledge over lexicons of different types of non-words. Taken together, these studies reveal complex interaction among various levels of linguistic and nonlinguistic representations during the course of phonological acquisition.

TFS 103, 3:00 pm

September – December 2012

Click on title to view abstract of talk (if available).
Friday, September 21, 2012
Claire Turner (UBC)
TFS 103, 3:30 PM

Title: Distinguishing Saanich modals: text-based and field-based investigation

Abstract:This talk will provide an overview of the various modals of SENĆOŦEN (Saanich, Northern Straits Salish). I will argue that, like other Salish languages, SENĆOŦEN lexically distinguishes between circumstantial and epistemic modality, but that it also appears to distinguish evidence source and strength. More specific distinctions are encoded lexically too: for example, there is a negative ability modal (also found in other Central Salish languages) and a circumstantial modal used only with counterfactual and unlikely situations.

Friday, September 28, 2012 Stefan Dollinger, Laurel Brinton, Margery Fee, and Gabrielle Lim (UBC) Buchanan Tower 599, 4:00-5:00 PM

Title: What makes a word, sense or usage Canadian? Good tales and wiki demos from the new Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles

Abstract: Originally published in 1967, DCHP-1 (Avis et al. 1967) became a national icon. Work on a revision, DCHP-2, has been carried out at UBC since 2006. Today, six years and 10,000 person hours after our initial presentation to this forum, we are in the position to present key features of DCHP-2. This talk also address the over-arching issues: while lexicography, or the making of dictionaries, was firmly situated within the field of linguistics until the 1960s (and thus DCHP-1), it has since been sidelined in favour of other concerns. One of the underlying themes of DCHP-2 has been to reconnect lexicography with linguistic key concerns, such as language change, geographical and social variation, in ways that are appealing to linguists. At the same time, the overall aim has been to produce a new dictionary — accessible free of charge – that is of relevance to both the linguistic expert and the general public alike. Feedback and critique are welcome. Coffee and cookies will be served.

Friday, October 19, 2012
Miriam Locher (University of Basel)
TFS 103, 3:30 PM

Title: Emotions and Relational Work

Abstract: In recent years, research in linguistic pragmatics has expanded into different communicative and discursive dimensions. With regard to its research object, it has grown from the analysis of single utterances to analyses of longer stretches of discourse, including written, spoken, and computer-mediated texts and interactional practices. With regard to form, pragmatics has departed from its language-centred orientation and moved to an increasingly multi-modal approach to communicative signalling. And concerning meaning, it has embraced relational and – to a lesser extent – affective and emotional meaning (see Culpeper 2011) beyond the interpretation of the purely referential or informational content of utterances. This paper takes up and combines all these directions of expansion to scrutinize the role of multi-modal emotional signalling and the impact of emotional meaning in the discursive management of interpersonal relationships. We conceive this paper as a programmatic step in the development of interpersonal pragmatics (Locher and Graham 2010), a type of pragmatics that casts particular light on relational work (Locher 2004; Locher and Watts 2008; Langlotz and Locher 2008). To exemplify our points and arguments we will illustrate our ideas with an analysis of a video excerpt showing the fictional movie character Gollum from Lord of the Rings. This research is the result of collaboration with Andreas Langlotz (University of Lausanne, Switzerland).

Friday, November 9, 2012
Language of the Year Special Event
TFS, 3:30 pm

Friday, November 23, 2012
Alex D’Arcy (University of Victoria, Department of Linguistics)
TFS 103, 3:30 PM

Title: ‘Be like’: A critical feature for variation theory, not just linguistic ‘fluff’

Abstract: Labov once described ‘be like’ as “one of the most striking and dramatic linguistic changes of the past three decades” ( 2000). He argued that ‘be like’ offers a perhaps unprecedented opportunity to study “rapid language change in progress on a large scale in order to address the general questions on the mechanism, the causation, and the consequences of change” (see Cukor-Avila 2002:21). With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that ‘be like’ has indeed proven a robust heuristic in the ongoing effort to hone an empirical theory of language change. It belongs to that set of features upon which variationists have come to rely to answer questions that are central to the discipline, features like (t,d) and (ng) (e.g. Guy 1980; Labov 1989). However, while (t,d) and (ng) are stable, vernacular universals, ‘be like’ has proven instrumental for very different reasons. In this talk I provide an overview of the insights enabled by this innovation, with an eye on the “general questions” referenced above by Labov.

Friday, November 30, 2012
Morgan Sonderegger (McGill University, Department of Linguistics)
Title: Longitudinal phonetic and phonological dynamics on reality television
TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Abstract: There has been much recent interest in the extent to which an individual’s phonetics and phonology changes over time, from two perspectives. In short-term laboratory settings, aspects of one’s speech shift in response to the speech of others, mediated by social and linguistic factors (e.g. Goldinger, 1997; Nielsen, 2008; Babel, 2009). It has been hypothesized that an accumulation of such shifts over time is an important source of accent change in individuals and sound change in communities (Pardo, 2006; Delvaux & Soquet, 2007). However, studies where phonetic or phonological variables are remeasured for individuals at times years apart have found huge variability: there is often no evidence for any change for a majority of individuals, while a minority change significantly (e.g. Harrington, 2006; Evans & Iverson, 2007; Sankoff & Blondeau, 2007). What is the link between the different patterns seen in short-term convergence and long-term dynamics?

We address this question by investigating ‘medium term’ phonetic and phonological variation in a British reality television show where speakers live in an isolated house for three months, subject to constant recording, making it possible to trace the dynamics of phonetic and phonological variables in contestants’ speech and to test hypotheses about their sources. We consider five variables in six hours of speech from 12 speakers, and analyze each variable’s dynamics over the course of the season after controlling for linguistic factors. Variability is the norm: speakers and variables show four qualitatively different types of time dependence, with a significant minority showing stability. There is some evidence that particular speakers (across variables) and particular variables (across speakers) show characteristic types of time dependence. Long-term time trends do sometimes occur, which could be due to accumulation of short-term shifts. Day-by-day variation is common, but far from universal. These results suggest a tentative account of the relationship between short-term and long-term dynamics, and directions for future work.

January – May 2012

Click on title to view abstract of talk (if available).

Friday, February 3, 2012
Karen Zagona (University of Washington, Department of Linguistics)
Title: TBA
TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Monday, February 27, 2012
Michael Becker (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Universal Grammar protects Initial Syllables
TFS 103, 12:30pm

Friday, March 2, 2012
Andries Coetzee (University of Michigan)
Grammar, frequency and speech rate in phonological variation
TFS 103, 3:30pm

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Kathleen Currie Hall (CUNY: The College of Staten Island & The Graduate Center)
Quasi-Allophones and Marginal Contrasts: An Information-Theoretic Model of Phonological Relationships
TFS 103, 12:30pm

Friday, March 16, 2012
Valentine Hacquard (University of Maryland, Department of Linguistics)
Understanding desire and belief reports
TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Friday, April 20, 2012
Malcah Yaeger-Dror (Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania & University of Arizona) & Christopher Cieri (Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania)
Metadata Planning & Practice for Spoken Language Corpora
TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Catherine Best (MARCS Institute and University of Western Sydney)
Devil or angel in the details? Phonetic variation and the complementary principles of phonological distinctiveness and phonological constancy
TFS 103, 11:00 am

September – December 2011

Click on title to view abstract of talk (if available).

Friday, September 23, 2011
Craig Corey (University of Alaska, Anchorage)
Title: Dnaghelt’ana Qut’ana K’eli Ahdelyax: Songs of the Inland Dena’ina of Southwest Alaska
Note Location: Gessler Hall, Room 116, 3:30 pm
Co-Sponsored with the UBC School of Music

Friday, September 30, 2011
Claire Turner (University of British Columbia)
Title: Imperfective Aspect Use in Northern Straits Salish: Semantics and Form (Followed by a quick look at evidentiality)
TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Friday, October 21, 2011
Shaylih Muehlmann (University of British Columbia, Department of Anthropology)
Title: Last words, last speakers: the ethnographic challenges of quantifying what is lost as languages obsolesce

Abstract: In this talk, I analyze how language ideologies linking language death to cultural extinction, recently re-popularized in efforts to save “endangered languages,” have been interpreted by a an indigenous community whose language is at an advanced stage of obsolescence. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in a Cucapá settlement in northern Mexico, I examine the effect of this language ideology in two related cases. First, the practice of identifying last speakers as they age and eventually pass away and second, in my own attempts to isolate what Cucapá vocabularies were still being learned by younger generations of primarily monolingual Spanish speaking youth. I argue that links made between language and culture were heard by local people as a challenge to their indigenous authenticity and I contextualize this sentiment within a history of colonial relations as well as more recent state-sponsored shifts towards policies of cultural recovery.

TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Friday, October 28, 2011
Barbara Dancygier (University of British Columbia, Department of English)
Title: Viewpoint and intersubjectivity in constructions
TFS 103, 3:30 pm

Friday, November 4, 2011
Candace Galla (University of British Columbia, Faculty of Education)
Title: Revitalizing Language and Culture in the Community: A Hawaiian Model
TFS 103, 3:30 pm