Linguistics Colloquia


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


Without living speakers, reclaiming a language solely from archival documentation requires an (emerging) understanding of the people and practices involved in creating the documentation, in addition to a grounding in cultural practices and a foundation in linguistics. In many ways, dormant language reclamation is a fundamentally different process from that of more typical Indigenous language revitalization contexts.

Due to the necessary reliance on archival materials, which can be incomplete, flawed, ambiguous, cryptic, among other qualities, we can use the tools of historical-comparative linguistics in order to reconstruct and repurpose the language found within this documentation for language learning and teaching. Applying historical-comparative methods to legacy documentation allows for a more accurate record of the language, as it can provide crucial information in order to repair forms and complete paradigms.

Furthermore, historical-comparative methods can provide valuable knowledge about (not just of) the language and the language community. This paper examines the process of reconstructing the Wendat language, a formerly dormant Iroquoian language, from 17th and 18th century manuscripts for the purposes of reclamation. In doing so, I will show that the process of reclamation-based reconstruction has significant implications for our understandings of the grammar and lexicon of this language, but also for our knowledge of culture, historical periods (especially in terms of language contact and shift), and relationships among sister languages.

 Speaker bio

Dr. Megan Lukaniec is Wendat from the Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake, Québec and an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Language Revitalization in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Victoria. Since 2006, she has been working with and for her community in order to reawaken and reclaim the Wendat (Iroquoian) language, which was dormant for well over a century. Within the scope of a SSHRC CURA grant (2007-2012) awarded to the Huron-Wendat Nation and Université Laval, her role as a linguist included reconstructing the language from legacy documentation, training language teachers, teaching introductory language courses, and creating pedagogical materials. In 2017, with the collaboration of the CDFM Huron-Wendat, she created the initial designs of and reconstructed content for an online trilingual dictionary (Wendat-French-English; She obtained her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and for her dissertation work, she reconstructed and described the verb morphology of Wendat.

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


Japanese is a 'pitch accent' language that uses F0 fall as the only cue for perceiving pitch accent, while English is a 'stress-accent' language that applies not only F0 but duration, intensity, and spectral information to identify stress accent (lexical stress). This study examined how Japanese listeners' identification of English lexical stress is affected in rising intonation where F0 fall is not available as the perceptual cue for lexical stress. It also examined how they use durational cues to help identify the stressed syllable in a word. A perceptual experiment was carried out with nonsense trisyllabic mamama words produced with lexical stress in different syllables and with varying intonation patterns (fall and rise), combined with different syllable durations manipulated using the PSOLA technique. The results of the experiment revealed that the listeners had difficulties identifying stressed syllables in rising intonation, indicating that Japanese listeners are insensitive to the stress cue signalled by F0 rise instead of F0 fall. The experiment also showed that the effect of different syllable durations was seen only in the word-final position, which implies the limited role of syllable duration in Japanese listeners' identification of lexical stress.

LinguisticsNOW: Dr. Anne Christophe

Bootstrapping the syntactic bootstrapper
Friday, November 1st  |  4:30 - 6:00 pm  |  HBC 1600, SFU Harbour Centre

Join the UBC and SFU Departments of Linguistics for LinguisticsNOW, a joint colloquia series held twice a year. The series brings the most exciting new work in linguistics to the North West. The speaker for November 2019 is CNRS senior researcher Dr. Anne Christophe.


For a long time, children were thought to acquire first the sounds of their native language (phonology), then its words (lexicon), then the way in which words are organized into sentences (syntax). This corresponds to what young children produce: first they babble (between 6 and 12 months), then they speak in isolated words (1-2 years), and then they start combining words together. Accordingly, researchers have looked for ways in which children may acquire the sound system of their language before they know words, words before they know syntax, and so on. In many cases however, computational studies have shown that some learning problems are intractable unless one postulates access to at least partial information from other domains, and experimental studies have shown that children have managed to learn some of this partial information. I will present experimental work on the acquisition of the lexicon, focussing on how children could gather and use syntactic information to facilitate their learning of word meanings – the syntactic bootstrapping hypothesis (Gleitman, 1990). Although many experiments show that infants are able to use the syntactic contexts in which unknown words appear to infer something about their potential meanings, what remains unclear is how children learn which syntactic contexts correspond to which conceptual features – for instance, how do they figure out that words occurring in noun contexts usually refer to objects, and how do they learn the characteristics of noun contexts in their language? I will present the hypothesis that children might learn these by generalizing from a handful of words for which they already have a meaning, a semantic seed. I will back up this hypothesis with computational work (showing that this learning mechanism is feasible), and experimental work (showing that toddlers do indeed learn syntactic contexts in this way).

Past Colloquia


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

  • Abstract
    Cantonese tone acquisition, contrary to the general principle that perception precedes production in child language, while some recent studies demonstrated that Cantonese tone acquisition is a protracted process. How production and perception are linked in first language tone acquisition remains largely unknown, and very little acoustic data has been reported so far. This study revisited the acquisition of lexical tone by Cantonese-speaking children, exploring the possible link between production and perception in first language acquisition with data from over 100 children aged between 2;0 and 6;0. Both transcription and acoustic data were used to illustrate the multifaceted aspects of Cantonese tone acquisition. The findings call for a wider perspective on how to define successful phonological acquisition.

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

  • Abstract
    In audio-visual speech perception, visual information has been well established to influence and facilitate speech perception. When audio and visual speech cues are temporally aligned, visual cues slightly precede the audio signal and thereby provide anticipatory information. However, sensitivity to audio-visual alignment varies extensively within and across populations, potentially influencing the extent to which visual cues contribute to audio-visual perception. This raises the broad issue of what lies behind this variation in sensitivity to audio-visual alignment. Here, the role of experience is addressed for audio-visual speech perception. In a set of behavioral and EEG experiments carried out at NTNU and SFU, we consider how audio-visual synchrony sensitivity in speech perception may be influenced by experience through adult development, language experience and musical experience.

Dr. Dawn M. Behne is Director of the Speech Laboratory in the Department of Psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway. Her background is in phonetics and cognitive psychology, with a focus on speech perception. Her research includes acoustics of speech, audio-visual speech perception and cognitive and neurological organization of speech and music processing. (

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

  • Abstract
    Linguistic style is a diverse phenomenon that is of interest to several fields of study within the social sciences and the humanities. I begin by orienting my approach to quantification of stylistic difference by reference to relevant work in areas as diverse as corpus and sociolinguistics, psychology, education, and literary studies. I argue that an approach to style which has its foundations in distributional approaches to word meaning overcomes key shortcomings in previous approaches to quantifying style. The primary methodology I use to investigate style is the creation of stylistic lexicons, where any lexical unit in a language can be assigned a continuous value reflecting a particular stylistic property based on its usage in huge, stylistically-diverse text corpora (social media corpora, it turns out, are especially useful for this). I review some statistical methods for building such lexicons, and discuss the rationale and methodological implications of moving from a single central stylistic dimension (formality, which corresponds roughly to the oral/written spectrum) to more fine-grained models.
    In the second part of the talk, I introduce several case studies where I have used automatically-generated lexicons to investigate how lexical style reflects socially relevant factors such as age, class, and gender. Applying a formality lexicon, for instance, to a set of transcribed sociolinguistic interviews (the Toronto corpus) reveals generalizations with respect to these classic social factors that would remain inaccessible to traditional sociolinguistic analysis, while applying the same lexicon to online question/answer forums shows that lexical style reflects degree of social power more generally. In joint work with Adam Hammond from the English Department at the University of Toronto, we have used fine-grained stylistic lexicons built especially for literature to carry out various sociolinguistic experiments, including a large-scale analysis of style and social factors in Project Gutenberg as accessed through our GutenTag tool for Digital Humanities research, and more focused work looking at dialogism (multi-voicedness) in the modernist literature of Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot.

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

  • Abstract
    Weinreich, Labov, and Herzog (1968:102) note that one of the challenges facing an account of language change is the fact that both the society and the language are changing at the same time, and so “it is not easy to assert that the new members [of a community] are the simultaneous inheritors of the same language and the same community.” In this talk I will consider how we can model the orderly heterogeneity of social change in order to better model the social influences on sound change propagation. I take as an example my recent (to appear) co-authored work on back vowel fronting in San Francisco, California.

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)

  • Abstract
    More than a half century of research in variationist sociolinguistics has proffered robust evidence for the role of social factors in accounting for patterns of linguistic variance. In this talk I will consider the explanatory power of these models and argue that greater insight can be achieved if we update the definition of a “social factor” to encompass qualitative empiricism. In particular, I argue that variationist models can only be explained by including evidence such as that from language ideology. I take as an example a reconsideration of my (2013) paper on the low back vowel merger in San Francisco, California.

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

  • Abstract
    Varieties of English across the world, such as Canadian English (Chambers, 1973), have developed PRICE and often MOUTH nucleus raising before voiceless consonants, so that the vowels in the words tight and tide, and lout and loud are produced differently but are perceived as the same. Nucleus raising of PRICE and MOUTH in different varieties are often independent innovations, and this observation has led to a range of proposals to account for the origins and development of these types of patterns. However, it is often difficult to empirically evaluate these proposals as little or no recorded data exist for the time period before nucleus raising was present. The present talk examines a recently described instance of PRICE and MOUTH nucleus raising in Liverpool English (Knowles, 1973; Cardoso, 2015), which is used to evaluate three of these proposed theories: new-dialect formation (Trudgill, 1986), failure-to-lower (Gregg, 1973), asymmetric assimilation (Moreton and Thomas, 2007). I provide a dynamic acoustic analysis of the PRICE vowel in Liverpool English across a wide time range (about 100 years). My findings suggest that the Canadian Raising pattern in Liverpool English most likely developed as a result of asymmetric assimilation.


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



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