Past Research Seminar Schedules


January – April 2014

January 15
Gitksan Research Group
Topic: In this talk Gitksan Lab members will present short snippets summarizing their current research projects, namely:

Madeleine Barois, Katie Bicevskis, Kay Cheng and Aidan Pine: Quantifier scope in Gitksan

Colin Brown: Clefts without presuppositions? Some evidence from Gitksan

Jason Brown: Gitksan phonetics

Henry Davis: Proportional and non-proportional readings of weak quantifiers

Clarissa Forbes: Gitksan nominal ‘coordination’

Lisa Matthewson: Ligi: An existential/universal/free choice/free relative/evidential/disjunction

Tyler Peterson: Three causatives in Gitksan

Michael Schwan: Glottalized obstruents

NB: Feb. 5th Seminar has been postponed

February 12
Jozina Vander Klok

Title: Anti-locality and successive cyclicity in two domains in Javanese

Abstract: I investigate the structure of two domains in Javanese, vP-external (i.e., extended vP-projection) and vP-internal, through three different constructions: VP-topicalization, subject-auxiliary answers, and auxiliary fronting in yes-no questions. I find that two independent puzzles arise in Javanese. Within the vP-internal domain, VP-topicalization and subject-auxiliary answers partition events and states; only eventive predicates are grammatical. Within the vP-external domain, VP-topicalization, subject-auxiliary answers, and auxiliary fronting in yes-no questions partition a high vs. low auxiliary class; only the low class of auxiliaries are grammatical with these constructions. Across these two syntactic domains, I propose that the same theoretical principles underlie both partitions. Specifically, I argue that both the event-state partition and the high-low auxiliary class partition reflect the interaction of anti-locality (Abels 2003) and successive cyclic movement as required by a phase (e.g. Chomsky 2000).

March 5
Jörg Bücker

Title: A usage-based view on the diachronic development of German adpositions into pragmatic markers

Abstract: While many synchronic studies discuss the present-day forms and functions of German discourse markers in the pre-front and in the end field, less work has been done regarding the role exposed syntactic positions play for the diachronic development of German pragmatic markers. Due to this and from a usage-based point of view, I will try to show that the pre-front field and the end field – two positions which are more or less closely associated with specific discourse-structuring functions – can be syntactic and functional hosts for diachronic developments that lead to rather different discourse- structuring devices. Taking the example of German constructions with “von wegen”, I will argue that the pre-front field instances of the Early Modern High German preposition “von wegen” (‘because’) evolved into the speech-act linking device “von wegen” (≈ ‘regarding …’) and then further into the interjection-like exclamative “von wégen” (≈ ‘no way’), while the end field instances of prepositional “von wegen” (‘because’) evolved into a reporting frame-like “von wegen” (≈ ‘like’). In sum, the case of “von wegen” shows that language use and language change go hand in hand – all steps of change in the diachronic rise of “von wegen” are immediately tied to and driven by situated discourse practices in dialogic interaction.

April 2
Field Methods Class
Title: TBA

September – December 2013

October 16
Hannah Sarvasy (James Cook University)
Title: “Across the Great Divide: How Papuan Languages Carried Austronesian Birth-Order Terms Over the Saruwaged Mountains ”
Abstract: Birth-order terms originating in the Austronesian languages of the Markham River valley have been borrowed into most Papuan languages spoken in areas that abut the Markham River valley. There is evidence that these terms have been further borrowed into Papuan languages well beyond those in contact with Austronesian languages, even crossing the Saruwaged Mountains and making incursions into a single village in the Uruwa River valley on the opposite side of the mountain range. There is, however, no evidence of borrowings into other lexical fields along the same trajectory. The exact route the birth-order terms took to arrive in the Uruwa area is yet to be determined, since every Papuan language in the region displays different forms, repetitions within systems, and ordering of the Austronesian-originating birth-order terms. Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

November 20
Natalie Weber & Lisa Matthewson
Title: The semantics of Blackfoot internal arguments

Abstract: In Blackfoot, semantically transitive verb stems occur in three morphological types. In this talk we argue that the verbal stem morphology reflects semantic composition with the verb’s complement. We present a full range of data regarding the types of complement which occur with each stem class, and show that each type of transitive verb stem combines with complements of either type e (referential noun phrases) or type <e,t> (predicative noun phrases), but not both. We argue that these complements combine via Saturate and Restrict (Chung and Ladusaw 2004), respectively. This adds Blackfoot to the short list of languages which have been argued to overtly encode the Saturate/Restrict distinction (along with Chamorro and Maori.)

Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

November 27
Oksana Tkachman
Title: A Brush or to Brush: The Basic Noun-Verb Distinction in Two Young Sign Languages

Abstract: Many sign languages have semantically related noun-verb pairs, such as ‘hairbrush/brush-hair’, which are similar in form due to iconicity. Researchers studying this phenomenon in sign languages have found that the two are distinguished by subtle differences, for example, in type of movement. This presentation describes a study on two young sign languages, Israeli Sign Language (ISL) and Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL), which has aimed to determine whether they have developed a reliable distinction in the formation of nouns-verb pairs despite their youth and if so, how. These two young language communities differ from each other in terms of heterogeneity within the community, contact with other languages, and size of population. Reliable formational distinctions between nouns and related verbs were found in ISL, but not in ABSL, which shows that a formal distinction in noun-verb pairs in sign languages is not necessarily present from the beginning, but may develop gradually instead. The results lend support to the hypothesis that certain social factors such as population size, domains of use, and heterogeneity/homogeneity of the community play a role in the emergence of grammar.

Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

September – December 2012

September 26
James Crippen
Unicode and digital text representation for linguists.
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

October 10
Patrick Littell
NACLO Introduction: Composing Problems for High-School Linguistics Olympiads
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

October 17
Natalie Weber
Lexical prominence in Blackfoot roots. (Practice talk for the 44th Annual Algonquian Conference)
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

November 7
Colleen Fitzgerald (Professor of Linguistics Department of Linguistics & TESOL The University of Texas a Arlington)
Methodologies and Elicitation Techniques for Prosodic Documentation
Time: 12:15-1:15
Location: Buchanan Building D 323
(Note time and place. This talk is part of the First Nations Languages Program Lecture Series on Endangered Language Documentation & Revitalization)

November 14
Frederick Newmeyer
Parentheticals and the Grammar of Complementation
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

November 21
Molly Babel
Undoing what’s been done: Mergers and phonetic accommodation
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103
Abstract: Mergers are a type of sound change that involves the elimination of a contrast between two formerly phonemic distributions. In speech communities undergoing mergers, individuals‘ systems may be at various stages of mergedness in production. In addition, individuals within a community vary in terms of being able to perceptually distinguish the contrast. This talk explores the flexibility of speakers’ representations of merged sounds through a spontaneous phonetic accommodation paradigm. I describe an experiment in which speakers of New Zealand English, a dialect undergoing a merger of the vowels in NEAR/SQUARE lexical sets, completed an auditory naming task where they produced words in response to productions from an unmerged speaker of Australian English. Phonetic accommodation was measured using both a perceptual similarity task and acoustic measurements. The results indicate that speakers who were less merged in baseline productions were able to further unmerge in response to the Australian model. The degree to which New Zealanders accommodated to the Australian model was also affected by individuals’ social biases toward Australia. The results suggest that the degree of merger can be lessened when exposed to an unmerged model, but that those who are more fully merged do not unmerge spontaneously. These findings also underscore the role of social preferences in the mapping of perception to production. .

November 28
Meagan Louie
“Evidence and Consequences for a Stative/Eventive Distinction in Blackfoot’s Modal Domain”
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103
Abstract: Dunham (2008) and Reis Silva & Matthewson (2008) propose that temporal interpretation in Blackfoot is driven by the stative/eventive distinction. Where the aforementioned research focuses on the temporal orientation of non-modal assertions, I claim that this distinction likewise holds for temporal perspective (cf. Condoravdi 2002) in Blackfoot’s modal domain – i.e., some Blackfoot modals pattern as if they are stative, whereas others pattern as if they are eventive.

I then show that there are reflexes of the modal stative/eventive distinction in other parts of the Blackfoot grammar (namely, in the form of temporal restrictions on conditional constructions). In accounting for these patterns of temporal interpretation, however, the semantic component of Blackfoot grammar needs to contrast not only a null past/present distinction, but also a null perfective/prospective distinction. I propose that strict restrictions encoded in Blackfoot’s ontology allow for such a profligate use of absent/null temporal morphology, without sacrificing clarity in terms of temporal interpretation. .

January – May 2012

January 18
Vera Hohaus
Context Dependency and the Semantics of the Positive in Samoan
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

January 25
James Crippen
Some properties of relative clauses in Tlingit
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

February 1
Lisa Cheng (Leiden University)
Mapping phonology to syntax: Evidence from two Bantu languages
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103

February 29
Carmela Toews
Everything I Know About Siamou Perfectives and Imperfectives.
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103
Abstract: I give an overview of the perfective and imperfective in Siamou, discussing phonological form, syntactic position (briefly), and meaning. I argue that the perfective is a low-tone suffix and that the imperfective is a mid-tone nasal suffix. I consider the possibility that perfective and imperfective aspect are syntactically lower than other aspects in Siamou. I show that the Siamou perfective and imperfective generally fit with cross-linguistic patterns for these aspects, including, for example, culmination entailments, but likely differ from other languages with regard to stative verbs.

March 21
Gitksan Research Group
Research on Gitksan at UBC
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103 Abstract: In this talk we present an overview of our current and planned research on Gitksan (Tsimshianic). We briefly present our projects on consonant-vowel interactions, ejectives, noun modification, focus, rhythm, and plurals in the language. We also present one of the traditional legends we have collected and analyzed.

March 28
Heather Bliss
Title: Argument expressions, argument structure, and argument licensing: A proposal for Blackfoot
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103
Abstract: In this talk, I sketch out a proposal for Blackfoot’s “non-configurational” properties that takes one step further the insight of the Pronominal Argument Hypothesis (cf. Jelinek 1984, Baker 1991) that there can be a disconnect between argument expressions on the one hand and argument structure and licensing on the other. Specifically, I propose that, argument expressions do not function as concerted units to satisfy argument structure and licensing requirements in the clause. Rather, they span across the various syntactic domains in the clausal spine, with NPs satisfying argument structure requirements in the thematic domain (vP layer), and Determiners (or other nominal heads) satisfying argument licensing requirements in the grammatical domain (IP layer). These pieces of nominal expressions may be composed in the discourse domain (CP layer) where they are linearized and satisfy information structural requirements. Under this model, all grammatical arguments are external arguments, licensed vP-externally. I propose that they are introduced via a generalized Voice head (akin to an Applicative head) that, in principle, can select for any verbal functional category (e..g CP, IP, AspP, vP). Further, I propose that Blackfoot’s verb agreement and other argument-licensing morphology instantiates these Voice heads at different levels in the clausal spine.

April 4
Field Methods Class Presentations
Time: 12:15-1:45
Location: TFS 103