2023 / 2024




2024 CLA Conference

Calgary Linguistics members presented eight communications (three talks and five posters) at the annual CLA conference in Ottawa:

  • Anika Rogalski, Dimitrios Skordos & Angeliki Athanasopoulou on “Incongruent prosody and context in the comprehension of contrastive focus: A two-alternative forced choice task experiment”

  • Dennis Ryan Storoshenko & Jesse Weir on “Trial Item Content Impacts Island Effects in Online Processing of English”

  • Celeste Olson, Suzanne Curtin & Angeliki Athanasopoulou on “How Adult Canadian English Speakers Process Prosody in Novel Compound Words”

  • Jesse Weir on “Laurentian French Affrication: A match theory approach”

  • Francisco Ongay González on “Quantité vocalique et accentuation en Mixe d’Ayutla”

  • Cheryl Iwanchuk & Dimitrios Skordos on “Contrastive Inference Abilities in Children”

  • Syed Sazzadul Alam & Stephen Winters on “Laryngeal Feature Contrast Processing in L2 Stop Perception”

  • Brooklyn Sheppard & Stephen Winters on “The perception of sarcasm: Can prosody cue whether a statement is a compliment or an insult?”


10AM-3PM • APR 10 2024 • CHE 212


SLLLC Graduate Forum

Calgary Linguistics students that will present on the 2024 SLLLC Graduate Forum:

  •  Francisco Ongay González – “Names, pronouns, and something in between: A tyopology of nominals”
  • Cheryl Iwanchuk – “Children’s ability to infer meaning in sentences”
  • Brooklyn Sheppard – “Exemplar theoretic modeling of the perception of phrasal prominance”
  • Charys Russell – “Variability and Vocabulary: Comparing high and low-variability training with real-word and non-word training items”
 The Graduate Forum will also showcase the work of graduate students in the other programs of the SLLLC, with presentations on applied linguistics, language pedagogy, literature, and culture.
Please contact for more information and registration to the event.



10AM-4PM • APR 6 2024 • PF 114 / ZOOM


Verbatim’s Student Colloquium

  • Sarah Krassman – “Emic and etic perspectives of iconicity: Phonology blocks iconic notions in L1 American Sign Language”
  • Bethany Joo – “Why some  kids pet tats instead of pet cats: An exploration into the cause of positional velar fronting in English speaking children”
  • Ya’ara Gurel – “Gender-inclusive speech in a language with a binary gender system: Innovations in Hebrew”
  • Ileia Goode – “Yr Obedt hble Sarvt: An exploration of /e/-lowering in the Northwest Midlands”
  • Rowan Sali – “Every adult has consistent truth value judgements or they don’t: A test of strong vs weak distributivity in adults”
  • Cheryl Iwanchuk – “An analysis of the truly tenseless”
  • Francisco Ongay González – “A synchronic approach to language change: The case of grammaticalization of Spanish hacer


3:30PM • MAR 15 2024 • CHE 212


Temporal relations and the syntax of adverbial clauses in Persian

This talk starts with a puzzle surrounding the syntax of when-clauses in Persian. Specifically, when-clauses exhibit internal scrambling while other temporal adverbial clauses do not. By carefully considering the types of temporal relations that hold between main and adverbial clauses, as well as the morphological properties of the elements that can introduce subordinate clauses in Persian, I show that scrambling is induced by the absence of overt material and that this absence is construed as temporal coincidence. This talk supports ideas developed by Demirdache & Uribe-Etxebarria on tense and aspect as predicates that take times as arguments.


3:30PM • MAR 1st 2024 • CHE 212


The syntax of gender features

Current theories of syntax tend to treat φ-features fundamentally differently than other syntactic features, both in terms of their geometry and the types of syntactic relations they enter. This talk proposes a syntax-centered theory of gender. The guiding idea is that if gender is a syntactic feature, then it should display properties of a syntactic feature, separable from its post-syntactic realizations (morphological realizations and semantic interpretations). In particular, I will argue that φ -features are not syntactically special but their bundling configurations may yield opaque morphological realizations. The case study will be the gender system of Czech. I will argue that the gender feature can – and does – undergo feature movement that results in feature bundling with features of higher functional projections. The empirical profile of these bundling configurations presents a methodological conundrum: I demonstrate that some of the diagnostics used in the literature to probe the gender feature in fact target other features the gender feature bundles with. To uncover the underlying narrow syntax feature structures our diagnostics must carefully separate post-syntactic reflexes from their syntactic underpinning.


3:00PM • FEB 9 2024 • ZOOM / CHE 212


Sometimes infixation is just a lang-diddly-anguage game
from another &%@*! plane-ma-net

Infixes have the following properties:

(1) They expone morphemes.
(2) They are prefixes or suffixes that have phonological pivots.
(3) They are only computed phonologically after they have undergone infixation. (Kalin 2022)

Given the above, we will argue in this talk that neither fucking-infixation, diddly-infixation, nor Homeric-infixation are instances of grammatical infixation. However, while fucking-infixation is governed by grammatical behaviour (it is pied-piped by a focus morpheme (Newell & Ulfsbjorninn
2023a,b), the other two purported infixes mentioned above cannot be part of natural grammar and therefore must fall into the category of extra-linguistic language games.

Kalin, L., 2022. Infixes really are (underlyingly) prefixes/suffixes: Evidence from allomorphy on the fine timing of infixation. Language, 98(4), pp.641-682.

Newell, Heather & Shanti Ulfsbjorninn. 2023a. Pied-fucking-Piping: English Expletives aren’t Infixes, but Stress is. Rencontre annuelle de la Canadian Linguistics Association / Association canadienne de linguistique (CLA/ACL). York University. Canada. 

Newell, Heather & Shanti Ulfsbjorninn. 2023b. A Specific Fucking Pattern: The precise nature of stress-pivot infixation. North American Phonology Conference (NAPhCxii). Concordia University. Canada.


3:30PM • JAN 19 2024 • CHE 212


Number, demonstrative, and anaphoric definite

I examine the demonstrative (Dem) ku ‘that’ in Korean by situation it in a cross-linguistic context. I show that Dem ku is obligatory to indicate anaphoric definite and does not indicate unique definite, similar to a strong article in German (Schwarz 2009, 2013) or a demonstrative in Mandarin (Jenks 2018). Building on this, I propose that the syntactic role of Dem ku is to take a DP referentially visible similar to an article in Italian (Longobardi 1994, 2001) or other materials in Scandinavian languages (Julien 2005). Referential visibility is satisfied by a phonologically overt material in D or the specifier of DP in these languages (Longobardi 1994, Julien 2005). I propose that Dem ku plays this role by occupying the specifier of DP. The proposed account is extended to capture a special interaction between number and anaphoric definite; for example, in Korean, plural is obligatory in the context of anaphoric definite in contrast to plural that is optional in indefinite contexts. It is shown that the special interaction is cross-linguistically well observed such as in Laki, Persian, Swedish, or Japanese and so on. A possibility of this type of interaction in Blackfoot is also discussed.

6:00 PM • JAN 11 2024 • LDL


Dr. Lindsay Hracs received her PhD in Linguistics in 2021. Her dissertation used computational modelling to study input and exposure in the acquisition of information structure. After finishing her PhD, Lindsay completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. Her current position as Data Science Lead in the Kaplan Global Epidemiology Lab has allowed her research program to extend beyond the study of input in language acquisition to the field of epidemiology where she uses machine learning and natural language processing to support research on inflammatory bowel disease. Lindsay’s current work also includes the study of semantics and visual information processing in relation to data visualization.
Dr. Joey Windsor received his Linguistics PhD in 2017 for his work on the phonology-syntax interface drawing on data from Irish and Blackfoot, and he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Medicine and Community Health Sciences in 2020. He currently works as the Knowledge Translator for the Kaplan Global Epidemiology Lab where he works on making scientific knowledge about chronic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases accessible to public audiences. He is the Chief Editor of three national reports on the Impact of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, including the impact of COVID-19 on Inflammatory Bowel Disease. He is also the President of the Language Creation Society and is currently co-editing the Palgrave Handbook on Constructed Languages.



Alberta Conference on Linguistics

Presentations from Calgary Linguistics people:

Francisco Ongay González – An approach to durative adverbials in Stoney Nakoda

Mahyar Nakhaei – The effect of the methodology in documenting an instance of a language change

Ya’ara Gurel – Gender-inclusive speech in a language with a binary gender system: In-novations in Hebrew

Cheryl Iwanchuk – Children’s ability to infer meaning in sentences

Mathieu Paillé and Nina Haslinger – Against syntactic constraints on contrastive reduplication

Charys B. Russel – Variability and vocabulary: Comparing high- and low-variability training with real-word and non-word training items

Syed Sazzadul Alam – Laryngeal feature contrast transfer in L2 perception and production

Anika Rogalski, Dimitrios Skordos, and Angeliki Athanasopoulou – Prosody and context in the comprehension of contrastive focus

Celeste Olson and Angeliki Athanasopoulou – The perception of prosody in English compound words

Brett C. Nelson – Redeploying phonological dimensions in the third language acquisition of Kaqchikel stop consonants

Rowan Sali – Every adult uses weak distributivity or they don’t: A simpler approach to the question of strong vs weak distributivity in adults

Jesse Weir – A voice comparison of Bill Hader and his Saturday Night Live character Stefon


3:30PM • NOV 10 2023 • CHE 212

Prosody and Prosodic Phrasing in Kwak’wala

Kwak’wala is a critically endangered Wakashan language spoken in British Columbia. Owing in part to extensive documentation in the early 20th century by Franz Boas and George Hunt, the language has received significant attention in the linguistic literature. In the realm of phonology, Kwak’wala shows several unusual prosodic features including a typologically rare default-to-opposite stress system at the word level (Boas 1947; Grubb 1969; Shaw 2009), and extensive mismatches between syntactic and prosodic domains at the sentential level (Anderson 2005). Relatively underdescribed, however, are the intonational and tonal properties of words and sentences, and how these correlate with patterns of prosodic prominence and phrasing. In this talk, I provide an overview of word- and phrase-level prosody in Kwak’wala, and propose that prosodic processes in this language conspire to demarcate prosodic word-level domains. I also discuss the implications of this analysis for language documentation and revitalization.


3:30PM • OCT 20 2023 • CHE 212


ʔayʔaǰuθəm (Comox-Sliammon) demonstratives and determiners and the role of co-speech gesture

In this talk based on joint work with Daniel Reisinger (UBC) and Lisa Matthewson (UBC), I introduce the demonstrative and determiner paradigms in ʔayʔaǰuθəm (a.k.a. Comox-Sliammon), a Central Salish language, and discuss how they interact with co-speech gesture. I show that ʔayʔaǰuθəm determiners and demonstratives encode evidentiality, while demonstratives also encode deictic distance. I then discuss the role of co-speech pointing and iconic gestures accompanying these D-elements, presenting a mini-experiment based on Ebert et al. (2020). In this mini-experiment, we investigate the type of content contributed by co-speech gesture as well as differences in the interpretation of co-speech gesture accompanying different types of D-elements. Like Ebert et al., we find that co-speech gesture typically contributes not-at-issue, appositive-like meaning, but may contribute at-issue content when accompanying demonstratives. We also find that co-speech gesture is interpreted differently accompanying definite-like and indefinite-like DPs.


2022 / 2023

Several UCalgary graduate students are participating! Learn more about their research below:

Summer Abdalla – Acquisition of Levantine Arabic Word Stress

Francisco Ongay González – A Raising Account of Llevar + Time in Spanish [view poster]

Mahyar Nakhaei – A new look at -esh: Eye-tracking a novel Persian agreement marker

Peng Qiu – The syntactic properties of group classifiers and individual classifiers in Mandarin [view slides]

Shayne Shapkin – Swiss German Confirmationals and Head Valuation [view slides]

Kang Xu – A new syntactic analysis of Mandarin sentence-final particles [view poster]

FORUM: School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures, and Cultures Graduate Forum 2023


9:00 AM • APR 14 2023 • CHE 212

The graduate forum of the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures, and Cultures (SLLLC) is a discussion space for graduate students to share their research with colleagues and faculty members.

Presenters will speak on topics based in literary and cultural studies, theoretical and experimental linguistics, and applied linguistics.


3:30PM • MAR 17 2023 • CHE 212

How does the melody of speech affect early attention and word learning abilities? How do children then produce melodic distinctions in their own speech? My research examines the complex intersection of prosody and language development in both perception and production. For perception, I use eye tracking to investigate how toddlers utilize the acoustic correlates of prosody during referent resolution. For production, I use an autosegmental metrical approach to create an inventory of the intonational contours found in the natural speech of young children as well as examine how children phonetically implement prosodic information. By understanding how these processes occur in typical development, I am able to analyze and assess prosodic development in children who experience the world in unique ways, such as autistic children and children with motor speech disorders.


3:30PM • FEB 17 2023 • CHE 212

Dr. Keren Rice will present her phonological work of “Let the language tell its story – Is markedness universal or emergent?”.

SLLLC High Profile Event: DR KEREN RICE

7:00PM • FEB 16 2023 • EEEL 161

Ethical considerations in doing research in Indigenous language communities: What do linguists have to learn from Indigenous communities?

Professor Rice is a linguist whose research has focussed on both questions of linguistic theory and on documentation, maintenance and revitalization of Indigenous languages of North America, with particular focus on languages of the Athapaskan family. She has also written about the paradigm shift to community-based linguistic research and the evolving nature of ethical responsibilities for linguists in Canada. Professor Rice recently retired from her role as University Professor, Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives at the University of Toronto, and instructor for the Linguistic Society of America’s Institute for Collaborative Language Research (CoLang), which emphasizes community-based approaches to language revitalization and collaboration at all stages of this work.


3:30PM • FEB 10 2023 • CHE 212

Research on the language of space has uncovered a complex set of conceptual and linguistic factors affecting how speakers use and learn spatial vocabularies across languages. In this talk, I will argue that communicative/pragmatic factors, even though much less discussed, also influence spatial language acquisition and use. A first set of studies examines the asymmetric pattern of acquisition of the locatives front and back. Although, this and other asymmetric patterns of lexical emergence are thought to reflect children’s immature underlying conceptual/semantic structure, experiments with child and adult speakers of different languages demonstrate that they are due to pragmatic inferences typically associated with the use of these locatives. A second set of studies, focuses on a previously unnoticed asymmetry in the use of containment (in/out) and support (on/off) prepositions. Experiments with child and adult speakers of English as well as speakers of a wider cross-linguistic sample, demonstrate that the distribution of these prepositions is heavily affected by pragmatic factors. Together, this data provide evidence that pragmatic pressures can produce strikingly stable and potentially universal patterns of spatial language acquisition and use.


3:30PM • JAN 27 2023 • CHE 212

Predicates in natural language can be classed according to whether they are ‘integrative,’ i.e. hold of individuals qua individuals (e.g., This is a comedy), or ‘summative,’ i.e. hold of individuals qua sums of parts (e.g., This is blue; ‘blue’ quantifies universally over its argument’s parts). 

The present talk improves on the theory in Paillé 2020 for summative predicates, in a way that ends up making apparently challenging predictions for integrative predicates (if the two classes are to remain unified). Summative predicates are known to display truth-value gaps (Löbner 2000, Spector 2013, Križ 2015): The square is blue is neither true nor false if the square is partly but not fully blue. I suggest a way to modify the theory in Paillé 2020 to generate such gaps, by modelling strengthening through the trivalent Pexh operator of Bassi et al. (2021). This move raises a non-trivial puzzle: integrative predicates have not been suggested to involve such truth-value gaps, but these are now predicted. I show that in fact, the generation of truth-value gaps with integrative predicates is empirically desirable. I discuss various data involving situations where two integrative predicates hold of an individual, but only one of the predicates is asserted; I suggest such sentences are neither true nor false. Thus, the unified semantics for summative and integrative predicates from Paillé 2020, modified to generate truth-value gaps, can and should be maintained.


3:00PM • DEC 2 2022 • CHE 212

In this talk, Dr. Citko examines agreement in Polish postverbal relative clauses with coordinated heads. Building on the rich literature on agreement and multi-valuation in coordinate structures (Marušič, Nevins and Badecker 2015, Grosz 2015, Citko 2018, Shen 2019, among many others), she will focus on the following questions: (i) what do such relative clauses tell us about the structure of coordination and the nature of agreement (i.e., the choice between so-called First Conjunct vs. Last Conjunct vs. Resolved Agreement), (ii)) what structural factors determine the choice between Resolved Agreement and Single Conjunct Agreement, and (iii) how is the result of an Agree between a single Probe and Multiple Goals realized morphologically?


3:00PM • NOV 18 2022 • CHE 428

One central fact about language comprehension is we make incremental commitments: we do not wait until the end of a clause or sentence to parse and interpret what is being communicated, but rather actively predict how things will turn out as information unfolds. As a result, a central question for psycholinguists has been what information we use to make predictions, and what the nature of these predictions might be. In this talk, I present two visual world eye tracking studies, one with speakers of Ojibwe (Algonquian) and one with speakers of English (Germanic), that shed light on how person/animacy information is used to predictively parse and interpret argument structure relationships. I then outline a model of incremental processing commitments based on a universal set of constraints. These constraints are derived from “prominence hierarchies” related to person/animacy, thematic role, and syntactic position, providing a single set of principles that can explain processing phenomena related to person/animacy information in a wide range of typologically distinct languages.