Linguistics Colloquia


Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literatures, University of British Columbia


Stefan Dollinger (UBC) 
The Pluricentricity Debate: Retrospect and Prospect of Austrian German, Canadian English and Other Non-Dominant Standard Varieties
Thursday, February 27   |   12:30 - 1:30 pm   |   RCB 7402

Sociolinguists have been studying the social correlations of language and, as a central part of their purview, have been defending the rights of minority speakers and their varieties. While this defence and advocacy has usually been focussed on non-standard varieties, the question of non-dominant standard varieties, such as Standard Austrian German or Standard Canadian English, offers highly interesting case studies that reveal some of the conceptual underpinnings of the field at present. Many decades ago, Einar Haugen went so far as to claim that linguists may have been “dulled by excessive preoccupation with the mechanics of language” (1966: 297), losing sight of the big picture. Where do we stand in 2020, half a century after Haugen’s scathing words? The Pluricentricity Debate (Dollinger 2019) illustrates recent discussions about Austrian German, which is not universally acknowledged as a standard variety today. Presenting phenomena that are quite similar to the debate around Canadian English, my talk takes an epistemological-methodological angle on the larger question of what makes a dialect and what a language or standard variety and aims to show that linguists, even sociolinguists, are not free from subjective opinion. These opinions, if unchecked, may frame and determine linguistic analyses and interpretations, which are presented as objective, data-driven facts. Three failsafes are proposed that would put sociolinguistic assessments of larger varieties on a firmer, less subjective footing.

Associate Professor, School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures, University of Calgary


Dennis Storoshenko (University of Calgary) 
Wednesday, March 4   |   12:30 - 1:30 pm   |    RCB 7402

The canonical English reflexive paradigm has an inconsistency in that while first and second person forms are morphologically possessive (myselfyourselves, etc…) two forms, himself and themselves, are unambiguously constructed from an accusative pronoun form. However, some varieties of English also use hisself and theirselves. In their 2002 paper on reflexive pronouns, Déchaine and Wiltschko predict that these forms should resist uses as a bound variable, and only emerge in coreferential contexts. While corpus sources bear out this prediction quite reliably for hisself, the pattern is not replicated for theirselves. In this talk, using corpus data from geographically-controlled Twitter sampling, I argue that this inconsistency arises from a series of confounds in English th- reflexive forms and functions, with seven variants in use across North America. As different variants have clear geographic and racial codings, the division of labour distinguishing semantically plural third person reflexives from both coreferential and bound variable (but not gender-specified) singular reflexives varies between communities. The hisself pattern meanwhile remains relatively stable because there is no comparable range of possible forms, nor any need to separate singular from plural uses. 

Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Konstanz


Nicole Dehé (University of Konstanz)
Thursday, March 12   |   12:30 - 1:30 pm   |    AQ 3154

Heritage languages (HL) spoken in North America are languages other than English (or French), which are spoken by immigrants and their descendants. A typical speaker of a moribund HL is an early bilingual who grew up hearing and speaking their L1 (i.e., the HL) and their L2 (English) sequentially in early childhood, and for whom English became dominant at school entry. Among the Germanic HLs in North America is moribund North American Icelandic (NAmIce).  

This presentation focuses on the use of prepositions in NAmIce and their role as case-assigners, as well as resulting implications for the relative vulnerability of lexicon and morpho-syntax. The study is based on data taken from a map task study carried out in three locations in Manitoba.  

A bunch of interesting findings emerges. First, there are a number of lexical differences between Ps in NAmIce and Ps in Modern Icelandic spoken in Iceland (ModIce). For example, fine-grained lexical distinctions in ModIce may be conflated in NAmIce. To mention but two observations, the directional prepositions í ('to, into'), á ('to, onto, into') and að ('to, towards, up to') may all be replaced by til ('to, towards'), and á in NAmIce may be used for ModIce directional að, í and á as well as stative hjá ('at, with'). 

Second, from a morpho-syntactic perspective, ModIce prepositions are case-assigners, and case distinctions may directly distinguish between meanings (e.g. the ACC(directional)-DAT(stative) contrast with Ps such as í and á). These morphological distinctions seem to be on their way out NAmIce. Moreover, ModIce verbs selecting nominal complements inflecting for case may occur in NAmIce as verbs selecting prepositional phrases, where the prepositions take over functions otherwise marked by case. 

Comparing the findings with respect to (a) lexicon and (b) morpho-syntax, we will be in a position to directly compare the vulnerability of two linguistic subsystems based on data from the same speakers and task.  

Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Konstanz


Nicole Dehé (University of Konstanz)  
A Cross-Linguistic view on the Prosody of Rhetorical Questions 
Friday, March 13   |   4:30 - 6:00 pm   |    Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre 

Part of the biannual LinguisticsNOW joint colloquia series between UBC and SFU's Department of Linguistics. The public lecture series brings the most exciting new work in linguistics to the North West. 

Genuine, information-seeking questions (ISQs) perform the directive speech act of requesting information. Rhetorical questions (RQs), on the other hand, are formally interrogatives, but differ from ISQs in discourse function. Biezma & Rawlins (2017) summarize their characteristics as follows: (i) RQs do not expect an answer, (ii) RQs have the feel of an assertion, and (iii) RQs do not have to but can optionally be answered. Prosody disambiguates between the two meanings, however the exact prosodic parameters related to RQs have been said to be "hard to pin down" (Biezma & Rawlins 2017: 306, 313).  

In this talk, I will present results from an ongoing research project on the prosody of rhetorical questions. A production experiment was carried out for four prominence-marking languages: three intonation languages (German, English, Icelandic) and one tone language (Chinese). We analysed F0-related cues (pitch accents and boundary tones for the intonation languages, local and global F0 variation for Chinese) as well as two phonetic cues: duration and voice quality. A comparison between the four languages reveals both similar and different strategies to signal the difference in meaning between ISQs and RQs. Results for Japanese, Cantonese and French taken from the literature will complement our findings.  

The results will be discussed (i) in light of previous and current assumptions in the literature about prosodic cues to RQs, and (ii) language-specificity vs. universality of prosodic cues to meaning. With respect to (i) we find that some assumptions especially in the semantic literature are too simple (e.g., a simple distinction between falling and rising intonation). With respect to (ii) it turns out that the use of certain cues (e.g. voice quality) may be observed across languages, but languages may differ in the way they are implemented (e.g. use of glottalization in one language vs. use of breathy voice in another). Other cues may be the same across the board (e.g. longer utterance and constituent durations in RQs).

Professor and Chair, Department of Linguistics, University of Kansas


Joan Sereno (University of Kansas)  
Thursday, April 2   |   12:30 - 1:30 pm   |    AQ 3154 

Language changes throughout the life span and it is well established that training has practical benefits for language learning. This talk will review some of our training studies that show that adult learners can acquire and retain new sound categories. Advantages and disadvantages of the high-variability training paradigm will also be discussed and the influence of perception training on production and production training on perception will be examined as well. In addition, the talk will present some data on how varying the nature of the distributions presented during training can also provide insight into the mechanisms of language learning.

Past Colloquia


Megan Lukaniec (University of Victoria) 
Title: Reclamation-based reconstruction: Using the tools of historical-comparative linguistics to reclaim Wendat language, culture, and history
Thursday, December 5 | 12:30 - 1:30 pm | RCB 7402

Takahito Shinya (Otsuma Women's University)
Title: Effects of intonational contour and duration on the identification of lexical stress by Japanese listeners
Thursday, November 14, 2019 | 12:30 - 1:30 pm | RCB 7402

Anne Christophe (CNRS)
Title: Bootstrapping the syntactic bootstrapper 
Friday, November 1, 2019 | 4:30 - 6:00 pm | HBC 1600

Peggy Mok (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Title: The acquisition of lexical tone by Cantonese-speaking children
Thursday, June 20, 2019 | 12:30pm - 1:30pm | Saywell Hall (SWH) 10051

Dawn M. Behne NTNU (Norway)
Title: Does experience influence audio-visual alignment in speech perception?
Thursday, May 9, 2019 | 12:30 - 1:30 | RCB 7402

Julian Brooke (UBC)
Title: Computational lexical stylistics for sociolinguistic analysis
Thursday, April 11, 2019 | 12:30 - 1:30 | RCB 7402

Lauren Hall-Lew (University of Edinburgh)
Title: Sound Change and Social Change
Thursday, March 14, 2019 | 12:30 - 1:30 | SECB 1010

Lauren Hall-Lew (University of Edinburgh)
Title: Language Ideology and Linguistic Variation
Friday, March 15, 2019 | 4:30 - 5:30 | 7000 Earl & Jennie Lohn Policy Room (Harbour Centre)

Amanda Cardoso (UBC)
Title: Evaluating Theories on the Origins of Canadian Raising
Thursday, February 28, 2019 | 12:45 - 1:30 | RCB 7402


Bob McMurray (University of Iowa)
Title: Reinforced statistical learning for speech categories.
Friday, November 2, 2018 | 11:00 - 12:30 | RCB 7402

María de los Ángeles Gómez González (University of Santiago de Compostela)
Title: Interacting through talk: Comparing and contrasting tag questions
Thursday, October 11, 2018 | 12:30 - 1:30 | RCB 7402

Virginia Yip (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Stephen Matthews (University of Hong Kong)
Title: The Child Heritage Chinese Corpus
Thursday, July 12, 2018 | 12:30-1:30 | RCB 6152

Molly Babel (UBC)
Title: Dimensions of phonetic variation in Cantonese-English bilinguals (Abstract)
Thursday, June 28, 2018 | 12:30-1:30 | RCB 7402

Fatemeh Torabi Asr (Simon Fraser University) 
Title: News Text in the Hands of a Computational Linguist (Abstract)
Thursday, May 24, 2018 | 12:30-1:30 | RCB 7402

LinguisticsNOW Talk! Melissa Baese-Berk (University of Oregon) 
Title: Factors influencing non-native perception and learning
Friday, March 23, 2018 | 4:30-5:30 pm | Harbour Centre

Lila Daskalaki (University of Alberta)
Title: Input Effects across domains: The case of Subjects in Heritage Greek (Abstract)
Thursday, February 22, 2018 | 12:30-1:30 | RCB 7402

Maite Taboada (Simon Fraser University) Inaugural Lecture 
Title: From social media to rhetoric through discourse analysis
Thursday, January 25, 2018 | 12:30-1:30 | Halpern 114 (new location, with refreshments provided)


Katherina Ehret (Simon Fraser University)
Title: Measuring variation in English and beyond (Abstract)
Thursday, November 30, 2017 | 12:30-1:30 | RCB 7402

Claire Moore-Cantwell (Simon Fraser University) 
Title: Learning lexical idiosyncrasy in a probabilistic world (Abstract)
Thursday, October 26, 2017 | 12:30-1:30 | RCB 7402

Peter Siemund (University of Hamburg) 
Title: Interrogative clauses in English and the social economics of questions
Thursday, September 28, 2017 | 12:30-1:30 pm | RCB 7402

Tania Zamuner (University of Ottawa) Title: The production and reverse production effect
Thursday, September 14, 2017 | 12:30-1:30 | RCB 7402

Carla Hudson Kam (UBC) Title: 'Intake', and the Adult Language Learner
Thursday, May 25, 2017 | 12:30-1:30 pm | RCB 7402

Akira Omaki (University of Washington)
Title: Developing incrementality: Grammar and parsing of filler-gap dependencies in children
Friday, March 24, 2017 | 3:30-4:30 pm | Harbour Centre 2270

Shin-ichi Tanaka (University of Tokyo)
Title: The Shape and Function of Phonology in Evolutionary Linguistics:
Why we can Explore Language Origin from Extant Languages, and How (Abstract)
Thursday, March 2, 2017 | 12:30-1:30 pm | RCB 7402 

Edith Aldridge (University of Washington)
Title: Parameter Change in Early Middle Chinese (Abstract)
Friday, February 3, 2017 | 2:30-3:30 pm | RCB 7402 



Maki Aoyagi (Dokkyo University)
Title: Perceptual Effects of Vowel Devoicing and Reduction – Phonetic vs. Phonological (Abstract)
Thursday, November 17, 2016 | 12:30-1:30 pm | RCB 7402 

Tony Naro (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro) and Marta Scherre (Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo and Universidade de Brasília)
Title: Revisiting Sociolinguistic Trends in the Brazilian Speech Community (Abstract)
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 | 12:30-1:30 pm | RCB 6152

Manfred Stede (Applied Computational Linguistics, FSP Cognitive Science, Universität Potsdam) 
Title: Argument mining: Manual and automatic annotation of short user-generated texts (Abstract)
Thursday, October 13, 2016 | 12:30-1:30 pm | RCB 7402 

Cliff Goddard (Griffith University)
"So much from so little?": Semantic complexity and the NSM theory of semantic molecules (Abstract)
Thursday September 15, 2016 | 12:30-1:30 pm | RCB 7402

Nino Grillo (Humboldt University)
The Grammar of Parsing: Preference for events over entities in complements of perceptual verbs (Abstract)
Tuesday August 2, 2016 | 12:30-1:30 pm | RCB 7402

Meg Grant (University of Toronto)
Processing ambiguous Input: Mechanisms and interaction with working memory (Abstract)
Thursday, June 2, 2016 | 12:30-1:30 pm | AQ3153

Nathan Albury (University of Oslo)
The folk linguistics of language policy: Knowing, feeling and doing Māori language revitalisation (Abstract)
Monday, April 4, 2016 | 12:30-1:30 pm | RCB 6152

Tracey Derwing (University of Alberta/SFU)
Social Factors Associated with An L2 Accent: A Synthesis (Abstract)
Thursday, March 24, 2016 | 12:30-2:00 pm | BLU 10081

Emily Elfner (UBC)
Phonological Constraints on Prosodic Phrasing: evidence from Connemara Irish (Abstract)
Thursday, February 25, 2016 | 12:30-2:00 pm | RCB 6152

Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten (SFU)
Building beliefs and desires in Navajo (Abstract)
Thursday, January 28, 2016 | 12:30 - 2:00 pm | RCB 6152


2012 - 2015

Bob McMurray (University of Iowa)
What information is in the speech signal? Not quite enough. The role of real-time processes in the development of speech perception. (Abstract)
Thursday, October 22, 2015 | 12:30 - 2:00 pm | RCB 6152

Dr. Keith Apfelbaum (The Ohio State University)
Surprising Evidence for Lexical Specificity in Selective Attention (Abstract)
Monday September 14 2015 12:30 - 2:00 pm | RCB 6152

Anna Kyppö (University of Jyvaskyla)
Belarusian or Ukrainian? Slovak or Czech? Serbian or Croatian? Introduction to Slavic Languages and Cultures
Thursday, July 9, 2015 | 12:30 - 2:00 pm | RCB 6152

Tyler Kendall (University of Oregon)
The Production and Perception of Vowels in U.S. Regional Vowel Shifts (Abstract)
Thursday, June 18, 2015 | 12:30 - 2:30 pm | RCB 6152

Dr. Thomas Cobb (Université du Québec à Montréal)
Corpus Insights from Lextutor R&D that are too small to publish but too interesting to ignore (Abstract)
Thursday, March 12, 2015 | 11:30 am - 1:30pm | RCB 6152  

Benjamin Munson (University of Minnesota)
SFU Burnaby:
Adults' perception of children's speech and its role in phonological acquisition (Abstract)
Thursday, January 15, 2015 | 12:30 pm - 2:00pm | RCB 6152
SFU Vancouver:
Imputed gender and sibilant fricative perception, revisited (Abstract)
Friday, January 16, 2015 | 4:30 - 6:00pm | Harbour Centre 1600 Canfor Policy Room


John Lyon (Simon Fraser University/UBC)
Identifying Identificational Sentences in Okanagan Salish (Abstract)
Thursday, November 27, 2014 | 12:30 -1:30 pm | Saywell Hall 10051

Jacques Moeschler (University of Geneva)
The semantics-pragmatics interface: how it works, why we need it, and where it is? (Abstract)
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 12:30 - 1:30 pm | RCB 6152

Lawrence Mcallister (Simon Fraser University)
Inaugural Lecture
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | 12:30 - 2:00 pm | Halpern 114

Paul Pietroski (University of Maryland)
Semantic Framing: The Meaning of 'most'
This event is jointly hosted by Cognitive Science with Linguistics and Philosophy
Monday, June 23, 2014 | 1:30 - 2:30 pm | IRMACS Centre

Randi Reppen (Northern Arizona University)
Using Corpora to Inform Teaching Materials Development (Abstract)
Thursday, May 22, 2014 | 9:00 - 10:30 am | AQ6106

Anne-Michelle Tessier (University of Alberta)
How kids do and don’t make U-turns: The nature of regressions in phonological acquisition (Abstract)          
Thursday, May 1, 2014 | 12:30 - 2:00 pm | AQ 6106

Cliff Goddard (Griffith University, Australia)
Endangered concepts: The challenge for linguistic fieldworkers (Abstract)
Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | AQ 6106

Frederick J. Newmeyer (University of  Washington, UBC and SFU)
In Defence of the Autonomy of Syntax (Abstract)
Thursday, March 27, 2014 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | AQ 6106

John Alderete (Simon Fraser University)
Inaugural Lecture
The phonology and morphology of Tahltan (Abstract)
Thursday, March 6, 2014 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | Halpern 126

Heather Bliss (University of Victoria)
Investigating the Syntax of Blackfoot’s Demonstratives (Abstract)
Thursday, February 27, 2014 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | AQ 6106


Jozina Vander Klok (University of British Columbia)
On theoretically-informed fieldwork: A case study on the modal system in Javanese (Abstract)
Thursday, November 28, 2013 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | RCB 6152

Barbara Citko (University of Washington)
On Multiple (Coordinated) (Free) Relatives (Abstract)
Thursday, October 31, 2013 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | RCB 6152

Peter Jacobs (University of Victoria)
Control in Skwxwu7mesh: From Aspect to Control (Abstract)
Thursday, September 26, 2013 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | RCB 6152

Kathleen Currie Hall (University of British Columbia)
Strategic Positions: A Communication-Based Approach to Phonological Prominence (Abstract)
Thursday, June 27, 2013 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | RCB 6152

Stella Tagnin (Universidade de São Paulo)
The CoMET Project at the University of São Paulo (Abstract)
Thursday, May 30, 2013 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | RCB 6152

Allard Jongman (University of Kansas)
Deriving Invariance by Integrating cues Computed Relative to Expectations (Abstract)
Thursday, April 4, 2013 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | RCB 6152

Panos Pappas (Simon Fraser University)
Inaugural Lecture
Structural Variation in Language (Abstract)
Thursday, March 28, 2013 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | Halpern 126

Michael Walsh (AIATSIS Centre for Australian Languages)
Language is Like Food (Abstract)
Thursday, March 7, 2013 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | RCB 6152

Sandra Siok Lee (CSU, Fresno)
Integrating CALL and computer assessment with teacher instruction in college ESL writing: Its efficiency and effectiveness (Abstract)
Thursday, January 24, 2013 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | RCB 6152


Alexandra D'Arcy (University of Victoria)
Incrementing generational change: Men, women, and Labov (Abstract)
Thursday, November 22, 2012 | 11:30 am - 1:00 pm | RCB 6152

Catherine Caws (University of Victoria)
Web-based annotated corpora for language learning: harnessing their potential (Abstract)
Thursday, October 25, 2013 11:30 am - 1:00pm | RCB 6152