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

9:00AM – April 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

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

UCalgary LING Winter Colloquium Series: Dr. Jill Thorson

3:30PM – March 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.


UCalgary LING Winter Colloquium Series: Dr. Keren Rice

3:30PM – February 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 – February 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.


UCalgary LING Winter Colloquium Series: Dr. Myrto Grigoroglou

3:30PM – February 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.  

UCalgary LING Winter Colloquium Series: Dr. Mathieu Paillé

3:30PM – January 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.


UCalgary LING Fall Colloquium Series: Dr. Barbara Citko

3:00PM – December 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?


Talk announcements (1)

A Higher Clause x Verbatim Present
How to: Grad School

4:30PM – November 25, 2022 – CHE 212

Calling all future graduate linguistics students! Want to learn more about the UCalgary LING Graduate program? A Higher Clause and Verbatim invite you to join our our How to: Grad School event. This event which will feature a panel of our graduate students.

We invite you to ask us anything about UCalgary LING Grad programs!


UCalgary LING Fall Colloquium Series: Dr. Christopher Hammerly

3:00PM – November 18, 2022 – CHD 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.


Alberta Conference on Linguistics 2022

ACOL 2022 was hosted at the University of Calgary on October 29. The following UCalgary students presented at ACOL:

  • Kang Xu – A preliminary study on the tonal system and the tone sandhi in Huangpi dialect
  • Charys B. Russell – Let Me Demónstrate: A diachronic look at stress placement with English derivational suffixes
  • Ya’ara Gurel – Voice assimilation in Colloquial Hebrew: An analysis of theoretical frameworks
  • Anika Rogalski – Why did you say it like THAT? The perception of focus prosody across contexts
  • Madeline MacLean – Context and affective prosody in perceiving emotion
  • Francisco Ongay González – Syntactic characterization of llevar + time in Spanish
  • Peng Qiu – Comparative analysis of the syntactic functions of plural markers in classifier languages
  • Summer Abdalla – Acquisition of Arabic word stress
  • Lisa Süssenbach – Testing the functional load principle in segmental contrasts of German

For more information on #ACOL2022, check our our Twitter!


UCalgary LING Fall Colloquium Series: Dr. Jorge Emilio Roses Labrada

3:00PM – October 14, 2022 – CHE 212

This presentation focuses on possession marking in Piaroa, a Jodï-Sáliban language spoken along the Middle Orinoco River in the Venezuelan-Colombian border. Based on a corpus of first-hand fieldwork data and building on previous descriptions of Piaroa possession, I show that Piaroa nouns can be divided into possessive

noun classes based not only on the alienability (i.e., obligatorily possessed vs. optionally possessed) contrast but also based on construction types (i.e., directly-possessed vs. indirectly-possessed vs. not marked), animacy of the possessor’s referent, and specific semantics of the possessee’s referent — e.g., whether it is edible or (potential) prey. This research thus contributes
to our cross-linguistic understanding of possession constructions and possessive noun classes by showing that alienability is not a sufficient criterion to account for the different possessive classes and adnominal
constructions splits in the language.


Labrada Poster

2021-2022 Verbatim Annual Research Colloquium Presenters

  • Andres Giudice Grillo –  Coda /s/ voicing in highland Ecuadorian Spanish 
  • Katherine Lee  –  The Effects of Face Coverings on Labial Production
  • Tanna Butlin –  Lip Rounding and the Enhancement of Fricative Distinctions in Canadian English 
  • Cheryl Iwanchuk –  If or then and: Children’s Errors in Logical Connectives 
  • Anika Rogalski –   The NP Does Not Move in the Heavy-NP Shift: A Minimalist Analysis 
  • Elizabeth Britton –  Decolonizing Academic English: The Influence of the Civil Rights Movement and Sociolinguistics Research
    on Education
  • Charys Russell – What Do You Use to Flip Pancakes?
  • Carissa Feddema – Doing an About Face: An Examination of the Concreteness Ratings of Words with Multiple Meanings


Screenshot_20220317-165743_Adobe Acrobat

UCalgary LING students presented their work at ACOL 2021 virtually. Click through to learn more about the presentations.


English alveolar obstruents /t d s/ are wildly unstable in that their surface forms are rarely [t d s]. This paper focuses on the respective palatoalveolar set of surface forms [tʃ dʒ ʃ]. While many speakers produce these allophones in onsets before /ɹ/ (1) (Smith, et al., 2019), a smaller set of North American speakers, most notably near New York City and Montréal, also produce them before [w] (2) (Nelson & Flynn, 2021).

1) a. betray /bitɹeɪ/ → [bɪ.ˈtʃɹeɪ]

  1. drone /dɹoʊn/ → [dʒɹoʊn]
  2. sri* /ʃri/ → [ʃri] (*/sr/ is not permitted in English)

2) a. between /bitwin/ → [bɪ.ˈtʃwin]

  1. Dwayne /dweɪn/ → [dʒweɪn]
  2. swing /swiŋ/ → [ʃwiŋ]

This paper analyzes this phonological process as a case of reanalysis of enhancement cues and phonological features (Keyser & Stevens, 2006). In typical English pronunciation, lip rounding enhances [-anterior] consonants including /tʃ dʒ ʃ/. I therefore claim that these speakers have reinterpreted the phonetic rounding cue spread by rhotic and labio-velar approximants as indicating the phonological feature [-anterior] in preceding obstruents.

Thus, when these speakers produce a sequence of [+anterior] /t d s/ before rounded approximants /w ɹ/, they apply a phonological change (Bach & Harms, 1972) of [+anterior] to [-anterior], so that the rounding enhancement cue matches the surface representation. In English, this additionally forces the features [+strident] and [+distributed], as all English posterior obstruents carry these features, resulting in surface allophones [tʃ dʒ ʃ].


Algonquian languages feature a typologically rare phenomenon known as OBVIATION, in which one DP is marked as PROXIMATE (with suffix -wa) and all other DPs are marked as OBVIATIVE (with suffix -yi). This contrast is frequently characterized as a means of tracking reference (e.g. Frantz, 2009; Goddard, 1984), empathy (e.g. Dahlstrom, 1991), point of view (e.g. Mühlbauer, 2008), and/or topicality (e.g. Genee, 2009). Since most languages only mark third person DPs for obviation, it has largely been described purely as a way of differentiating third persons. However, Blackfoot is unique in marking local (i.e. first and second person) pronouns for obviation, which raises the following question: if obviation truly tracks reference, should we not expect it to track an entity regardless of the person specification of the realizing DP?

Employing both fieldwork and a corpus study, the present study found that local pronouns in Blackfoot denoting SUBJECTS received PROXIMATE morphology while those denoting NON- SUBJECTS received OBVIATIVE morphology. Crucially, in cases of narrative direct speech where a speaker referred to themselves or their addressee, local pronouns often displayed different obviation markings than their co-referring third person DPs. This suggests that obviation marking on local pronouns tracks subjecthood rather than reference.


Yeísmo is the merger of the sounds /ʎ/ (as in Italian “aglio”, less closely English “will you”, spelt <ll> in Spanish) and /ʝ/ (similar to “yell”, spelt <y>) in the Spanish language. Yeísmo and the distinction between the two sounds have been considered important regional markers by dialectologists when dividing Spanish into geographical variants. While yeísmo is now dominant in Spanish worldwide, there are regions of the Spanish-speaking world which conserve the distinction between /ʎ/ and /ʝ/. In Peru, the distinction between /ʎ/ and /ʝ/ is now fluctuating toward yeísmo.

This research consists of two components: A literature search that serves as background, and a corpus study focused on the department of Arequipa in southern Peru. The goal of the corpus study is to discover the current state of the ʎ/ʝ distinction in the region of Arequipa from a geographical perspective by sampling speech from speakers on videos found on the Internet that are associated to each province of the region, counting how many times speakers produce [ʎ], and producing average measurements of yeísmo by province.


Stevens and Keyser’s Enhancement Theory (1989) holds that phonemic contrasts are communicated through primary features that may be enhanced through additional gestures. A classic example is that of [s] and [ʃ] in English, which are distinguished by the feature [anterior]. However, the [ʃ] in English is also typically produced with lip-rounding, which Stevens and Keyser (2006) argue makes the two sounds more acoustically distinct. Stevens and Keyser cite consonant confusion data from Miller and Nicely (1955), which shows that [s] and [ʃ] are unlikely to be confused; however, it is unknown how distinct they are without the secondary lip-rounding gesture on [ʃ]. It is also unknown how much lip-rounding could further enhance other fricative distinctions, such as between [f] and [θ], which are consistently one of the most difficult English consonant pairs to differentiate.

We will present initial plans for an audio-visual perception experiment to test the confusion of rounded and unrounded [f], [θ], [s], and [ʃ], and to quantify how much the addition of lip-rounding to these consonants may aid in disambiguation. The data should provide a clearer test of Enhancement Theory, and a novel examination of how it applies to other fricative contrasts in English.


Persian has a distinctive subject-verb agreement system. The only slot which no agreement attaches to is PAST 3SG verbs. In the Tehrani dialect of Persian, though, a new marker ‘-esh’ homophonous to 3SG object clitic is optionally added to the end of PAST 3SG verbs as in (1). 

(1)    ye mard-i                         umad-(esh)

       one man-NONSPEC       came-(esh)

       ‘A man came.’

Some claim that it is a new agreement marker borrowed from the Persian object clitic paradigm to fill the empty slot in the agreement paradigm (Rasekh 2011, 2017). However, it still demonstrates some clitic-like properties like being optional on the verb and blocking other Persian clitics to follow unlike other agreement markers (Mahootian & Gebhardt 2019). I collected the judgement of 42 native speakers on items including ‘-esh’. The results reveal that although ‘-esh’ is still an object clitic and unable to select non-specific objects, it is in the stage of being reanalyzed as an agreement marker to fill the empty slot in the Persian agreement paradigm in that it can select subject arguments regardless of their specificity as in (1). 


In Mandarin Chinese, the term ‘sentence-final particle’ has been used to describe a group of particles which always locate in the sentence-final positions and whose categorial status is unclear (e.g. their function depend on the specific extralinguistic context). Three examples containing sentence-final particles are given in (1a-c).


  1. zhè  dōngxi    sānbaǐ                 yuán maǐ bù    laí      ne 

    this   stuff       three-hundred CL    buy NEG come particle

”This stuff cannot be bought with three hundred Yuan (believe me).”

                                                                       (Lu 1990, p.264)

  1. Tā      zìjǐ      bù      yào     me.

      he      self      NEG  need    particle

”He does not need (one) (you should know this).”

                                                                        (Lu 1990, p.270)

  1. Nǐ      juéde    zhème    gàn  duì     ha? 

    you    think   like.this   do    right  particle

”You think it is right to do this, eh?”

                                                                       (Yin 1999, p.99)

Mandarin sentence-final particles have been analyzed uniformly as sentence-final complementizers by a group of researchers (Paul and Pan 2017; Pan 2019). However, in the present paper, I draw evidence from co-occurring sentence-final particles to demonstrate that in Mandarin, sentence-final particles must co-occur in a fixed order. This observation casts doubts on the assumption that these particles are complementizers because treating particles as complementisers does not explain why particles must appear in a fixed order.

New article from Dr. Pang (Benjamin) Han on Canadian Journal of Linguistics

Our 2020 PhD graduate Dr. Pang (Benjamin) Han publishes a new article titled “Reanalyzing Mandarin V1-V2 resultative constructions—A force-theoretic approach” on Canadian Journal of Linguistics. Follow this link to access the article!


Cheman Baira A. Sangma wins the best presentation award at CLA2021!

Congratulations to Cheman Baira A. Sangma on winning the best student presentation award at CLA 2021 with his presentation “Garo gemination: A case of faithfulness producing non-moraic geminates”. Click here to access the abstract of his research.

CLA 2021 presenters

  • Andrea Levinstein-Rodriguez- Comparing locative and existential small clauses in Spanish 
  • Angeliki Athanasopoulou, Irene Vogel & Grayson Ziegler  – Is there stress in Bengali?
  • Ganna Pletnyova & Dušan Nikolić – Integrating the principles of universal design for learning in an online linguistics course
  • Lindsay Hracs – Ontological category as a cue to set of alternatives in child-directed speech
  • Cheman Baira A Sangma – Garo gemination: A case of faithfulness producing non-moraic geminates
  • Darin Flynn – Hidden compounds in English
  • Dušan Nikolić – “Deafness” to lexical pitch accents: The case of non-native listeners
  • Metehan Oguz – Investigating raising structures in Turkish
  • Mahyar Nakhaei – The epenthetic vowel in Persian loanwords
  • Elizabeth Ritter & Martina Wiltschko – Grammar constrains the way I talk to myself
  • Dennis Ryan Storoshenko & Jesse Weir – Gender stereotype subversion across English wh-islands
  • Brett C. Nelson & Darin Flynn – “Chrump’s on Chwitter”? A first look at expanding affrication of English /t/

eClara2020 presenters

  • Angeliki Athanasopoulou & Celeste Olson &  Jomanna Sleiman & Suzanne Curtin- The Perception of Compound Prosody at 7 years- link
  • Amy Sun & David Barner & Dimitrios Skordos – The Developmental Trajectory of Scalar Implicatures-links: part1part2part3
  • Raina Schnider & Dimitrios Skordos – Children’s Acquisition of Scalar Implicatures in Logical Connectives- link

LSA 2021

This year’s LSA 2021 presenters were Dušan Nikolić, with his paper: F0 Acoustic Parameters Effects on Discrimination of Lexical Pitch Accents, and Dr. Storoshenko, Jesse Weir, and Adam Daniel, with their paper: On the apparent singularity of English themself. 

Narratives of Color Workshops

“Narratives of Color” is a project of bringing awareness to questions of race and racial discrimination in Calgary, organized by the University of Calgary students, Neha Bhatia and Dušan Nikolić.

This project is funded as a part of the LRC Graduate Fellowship that was instituted in 2019 to support students from the graduate programs in Languages, Literatures and Cultures and in Linguistics in implementing a community outreach project of their own design.

This project aims to raise awareness about the racial issues in Calgary, and Canada, in general, by discussing the topic of race, and by enabling participants to share their stories about race. The project involves two online (Zoomworkshops. The first workshop is open to everyone, while the second workshop is open to people belonging to Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. Participants of the workshops will receive a certificate of attendance and some great prizes! If you would like to participate or if you know someone who might be interested in participating, please register here, and share this project with your community. If you have any questions, please contact us. We appreciate your support! Thank you!

Dr. Mohammad Alsamaani

Congratulations to Dr. Mohammad Alsamaani who earned his PhD in Linguistics after a great virtual defence of his dissertation: VOT and F0 in the production and perception of Swahili obstruents: From the island to the coast to the inland region

Calgary Working Papers in Linguistics Vol. 31

Calgary Working Papers Vol. 31 in Linguistics has been published. Make sure to check out all the amazing work by our grad students.

mACOL 2020 presenters

  • Andrea Levenstein-Rodriguez- The Processing of Prepositional Relative Clauses in L2 Spanish – slides here
  • Brooklyn Sheppard – The Lives of Coordinate Structures: Evidence from Distribution and Cases of Three (or More) Conjuncts
  • Metehan Oguz – Movement of Turkish Bare Direct Objects Motivated by Strong Accusative Case Feature – abstract here, poster here
  • Mahyar Nakhaei – The Epenthetic Vowel in Persian Loanwords Borrowed from English – poster here
  • Dušan Nikolić – Are English Speakers “Deaf” to Serbian Lexical Pitch Accent Contrasts? – abstract here, poster here
  • Merion Hodgson – Plains Cree VOT in a Single-Series Typology
  • Cheman Baira A Sangma – The Phonology of Gemination in Garo
  • Cheryl Iwanchuk & Dimitrios Skordos – Children’s Understanding of Logical Connectives
  • Kang Xu – On the Syntax of Mandarin Sentence-Final Particle: A Neo-Performative Analysis
  • Kody Tufts – Variable Exponence of Aspect in Tsuut’ina Verbs 
  • Andrés Giudice Grillo – Documentary exploration of the evolution of Spanish sibilants

eClara2020 presenters

  • Angeliki Athanasopoulou & Celeste Olson &  Jomanna Sleiman & Suzanne Curtin- The Perception of Compound Prosody at 7 years- link
  • Amy Sun & David Barner & Dimitrios Skordos – The Developmental Trajectory of Scalar Implicatures-links: part1part2part3
  • Raina Schnider & Dimitrios Skordos – Children’s Acquisition of Scalar Implicatures in Logical Connectives- link

Brittany McDonald wins best student poster at CLA2020!

Congratulations to Brittany McDonald on winning the CLA 2020 Student Poster Competition for her poster presentation What type of pronouns do Korean and Japanese have?” 

Best Poster

CLA presenters 2020

Dr. Kelly Burkinshaw

Congratulations to Dr. Kelly Burkinshaw who just received her PhD in Linguistics after a great virtual defence of her dissertation.

Dr. Burkinshaw

Dr. Elias Abdollahnejad

Congratulations to Dr. Elias Abdollahnejad who just received his PhD in Linguistics after a great virtual defence of his dissertation, “Online and offline examinations of constituent order in Persian ditransitives.” 

Zoom After Elias' Defense

Indigenous language reclamation is about the efforts of Indigenous people who are learning their languages, and learning about their languages. This is happening in various places including schools, community centres, and on the land, and we are coming together to celebrate that.

In conjunction with local Indigenous groups, the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures & Cultures and other University partners invite you to join us in celebrating reclamation of the languages of Indigenous peoples in Alberta.