Monday, December 7, 2009

Change and Variation in Canada Workshop to be held at MUN

"The fourth annual Change and Variation in Canada (CVC IV) workshop will be held at Memorial University June 19-20, 2010. This student-led event will bring together researchers working within a variationist framework on Canadian language varieties or at Canadian institutions.

The call for papers will be made available in January 2010. We will also provide more details about the conference at that time."

For more information see the CVC IV website.

End of Semester LING FAIR a Success!

On Friday, December 4, 2009, the Linguistics Department held its first showcase of undergraduate student projects. Close to 30 students participated in the event and a number of promising posters were presented. Congratulations, student linguists! Job well done.

Longest word contest -- ICELANDIC

Memorial's Linguistics Department held a 'longest word' contest in conjunction with its end-of-term class fair. The longest word was in Icelandic. Here are the results! (Double-click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Linguistics Fair

Come and see what our Linguistics students have been doing this semester! We'll have posters, presentations, a short film, Ongwehonwe and Inuit foods and other nibblies. Bring along the longest word you know in any language and enter it in our 'longest word' contest.

What: End-of-term class fair
When: Friday, December 4
Where: 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Room SN 3058

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Brown bag talk on Tuesday, Dec 1 @ 12pm

Dr. Phil Branigan will be giving a brown bag talk on Tuesday, Dec 1 from 12:00 - 1:00 in the seminar room (SN 3036).

Title: Why is there syntactic movement?

Abstract: This talk is concerned with one foundational issue in syntactic theory. For over 20 years, the standard explanation for why syntactic movement occurs has been circular--in
fact, uncontroversially so. In this talk, I discuss the basis for this circularity: the EPP ("Extended Projection Principle"), introduced by Stowell and Chomsky in the early 80s. An alternative,
non-circular model of movement is presented--the *provocation* model--and a few case studies are examined to illustrate how this model deals better with known data.

Monday, November 9, 2009

DATE CHANGE: Seminar Series talk on Friday, November 27th

Dr. Yvan Rose will present his current research in the area of child language development on November 20th November 27th at 4:00pm. Location: SN3058. A reception will follow the talk.

Exploring the relations between speech perception by infants and the early development of phonology

To learn how to speak, children must crack the code of their mother tongue. One of the big mysteries in the face of the obvious complexity of this challenge is that infants manage it with apparent ease, at an astonishing rate. Studies of early phonological development typically look at infant speech perception or early phonological productions, but do not address the relationships between the two. During this presentation, I will draw on recent experimental research results to discuss such potential relationships.

Brown bag talk on Tuesday, Dec 1

Dr. Phil Branigan will be giving a brown bag talk on Tuesday, Dec 1 from 12:00 - 1:00 in the seminar room (SN 3036). Title and abstract forthcoming.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

MUN Linguistics hosts 33rd annual APLA conference

On November 6-7, 2009, Memorial's Linguistics department will host the 33rd Annual Conference of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association/l’Association de linguistique des provinces de l’Atlantique (APLA/ALPA). This year, the theme is ‘The Effects of Globalization on Local Languages and Dialects.’ The keynote address is free and open to the general public, and attendance at the conference is free for Memorial students.

The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Sylvie Dubois (Louisiana State University) in the Arts and Administration Building (AA-1043) on Friday, November 6 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. Dr. Dubois' talk title is: Distinctive Paths of Linguistic Resistance: The Case of Cajun Vernacular English and Creole African-American Vernacular. A reception and cash bar will follow the talk.

Further information about the conference can be found at, via e-mail apla33 [ at ] or by calling the Linguistics Department at 737-8134.

Keynote Speech by Sylvie Dubois (Louisiana State University)

Date: Friday, November 6, 2009
Time: 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Arts and Administration Building (AA-1043)
Reception and cash bar to follow.

Distinctive Paths of Linguistic Resistance:
The Case of Cajun Vernacular English and Creole African-American Vernacular English

Language and social variation in Louisiana has a long and complex history. Any account of the present day varieties of English must begin with an historical overview of the ways in which language, ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic structure have been interwoven to form the intricate tapestry that is Louisiana. The focus of our talk is on the vernacular English currently spoken by Creole African-Americans of French ancestry (CAAVE) and Cajuns (CVE) living in South Louisiana. Language change and linguistic persistence characterize both black and white French-speaking populations. The most important change is the decline in the number of bilinguals. One aspect of persistence is the development of CAAVE and CVE dialects that distinguish THESE speakers from their fellow Southerners. Another one is the maintenance of these divergent dialects while others are disappearing elsewhere in Southern American English (Bailey 2001). When we compare the oldest speakers of both varieties, phonological and morphological variables show no difference. The only reason to speak of two vernaculars is social. For the next generations, persistence of the dialect takes quite a different form. In CAAVE, a high rate of glide absence is maintained across all generations. In CVE, the middle-aged generation uses this feature dramatically less, but the younger generation increases its use so that their frequency approaches the proportion found in the speech of the older generation. We argue against the fact that the similarities between CAAVE and CVE as spoken by older speakers are the result of interference from French. We suggest that they speak comparable dialects because they learned English from people who spoke English in and around their communities, not only as adults but as children as well, and that these English speakers had all these features in their speech. We will also show that linguistic persistence in CAAVE has more to do with the patterns of social intercourse, whereas persistence in CVE is better explained by the social changes that took place throughout the 20th century.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Brown bag talk on Tuesday, October 6

Paul Pigott will be giving a brown bag talk on Tuesday, October 6 from 12:00 - 1:00 in the seminar room (SN 3036).

Sea ice knowledge in Labrador Inuttut: overwhelmed by English

Inuit on the Labrador coast are shown to have a comparatively complex system of classifying and describing sea ice: knowledge now held by Inuttut speakers over 40 years of age or older. Inuit Elders use up to 60 specialized concepts in their own words: Inuttut concepts like ‘ajugak’ a lead or crack used for hunting, fishing and travel. Interviews involving 24 speakers aged 37-79 show a decline in linguistic competence such that the youngest participants knew fewer than a dozen words. The extinction of at least 200 other North American speech communities since contact should be a warning about how quickly they can vanish and permanently alter the ability of future generations to experience the oral history of their ancestors. That is still not the situation in Labrador today. But inspired efforts to teach younger speakers must be made if Inuttut, a fundamental element of Canada’s linguistic history, is to survive into the next generation. The positive result of this study for Labrador Inuit is its documentation of an oral tradition that persists in its eloquent description of ice conditions along the Labrador Coast.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Four Linguistics MA students will be graduating from MUN this fall. Warmest congratulations to:
  • Janet Burgess
  • Kimberley Churchill
  • Evelyn Kisembe
  • Ashleigh Noel

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

MUN linguistics project receives national television exposure

A Memorial project tracking language change in Petty Harbour was profiled on Global National television news on Tuesday, September 8. The piece included interviews with community members and researchers from the Memorial University Sociolinguistics Laboratory. See the Changing Accent segment on Global National. Select the "Global National: Sep 8" video and skip to the fourth segment. (September 8, 2009) (Note: © 2009 CW Media Inc.)

The project, titled "Urbanization and Rapid Change in Newfoundland English", uses the community's change from a relatively isolated fishing community to a near-suburb of St. John's to investigate the effect of such changes on local language features. More information is available on the lab's website:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Celebrating Kanani Penashue's convocation

Memorial's Gazette recently published a bio of Kanani Penashue on the occasion of her receiving her BEd (Native and Northern). Kanani speaks Innu, and has taken Innu linguistics at Memorial. (Her bio is about half-way down the page.)

Grammatical Change in Indo-European Languages

Memorial's historical linguists have published proceedings from the workshop on Indo-European Linguistics at the 18th International Conference on Historical Linguistics (6-11th August 2007) at the University of Qubec a Montreal. This workshop was convened by Dr. Vit Bubenik, Dr. John Hewson and Dr. Sarah Rose (Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland).

The volume titled 'Grammatical Change in Indo-European Languages' is a collection of 17 articles selected from the presentations by scholars working on new directions in Historical Linguistics focusing on questions of grammatical change, and the central issue of grammaticalization in Indo-European languages. Several studies examine examine particular problems in specific languages, but often with implications for the Indo-European phylum as a whole. Given the historical scope of the data (over a period of four millenia) long range grammatical changes such as the development of gender differences, strategies of definiteness, the prepositional phrase, or of the syntax of the verbal diathesis and aspect, are also treated. The shifting relevance of morphology to syntax, and syntax to morphology, a central motif of this research, has provoked lively debate and discussion in the discipline of Historical Linguistics.

The book has been published by John Benjamins (Amsterdam/Philadelphia) in July 2009 in the series Current Issues in Linguistic Theory.

Undergrad course paper makes it into print

Six MUN linguistics students have seen a paper they wrote for an undergraduate class project make it into a refereed scholarly journal. The paper, entitled So very really variable: Social patterning of intensifier use by Newfoundlanders online, looks at how local participants in Facebook and BlueKaffee vary in the use of intensifiers, words that mean very. James Bulgin, Nicole Elford, Lindsay Harding, Bridget Henley, Suzanne Power, and Crystal Walters originally collected and analyzed the data for a collaborative course project in LING 3210, Language Variation and Change. They then polished it and submitted it to Linguistica Atlantica, where it appears in the just-released volume, Number 29.

Gerard Van Herk and Shad Valley

Gerard Van Herk gave a lecture to students enrolled in the Shad Valley programme at MUN in July, about how young Newfoundlanders are adapting regional speech features for identity and gender purposes. Shad Valley is a summer enrichment programme for high school students, with a focus on science and entrepreneurship. The MUN version attracted over 40 gifted students from across Canada. Gerard’s seminar in 2008 was well-received and led to his being asked toaddress the entire group this year.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cayuga grammar

While doing fieldwork for a Cayuga dictionary between 1993-1999, Carrie Dyck also gathered information for a Cayuga grammar. You can view the ongoing draft at this website:

Pan-Innu dictionary workshop

The editorial team of the Pan-Innu dictionary met at UQAM (June 10-12) to review more additions and revisions to the main database, a project funded by Marguerite MacKenzie's SSHRC CURA grant. The meeting was attended by speakers of three Innu dialects, Yvette Mollen, Hélène St. Onge and Anne-Marie André, primary editor and ethno-linguist José Mailhot, linguists Lynn Drapeau and Anne-Marie Baraby from UQAM and the principal investigator. The team has been meeting several times a year since the summer of 2006 and hopes to have an on-line version of the Innu-French-English lexicon posted on the website by December of this year.

Innu environmental terminology workshop

Marguerite MacKenzie and Laurel Anne Hasler were invited to lead a workshop (July 7-10) to begin the translation of scientific terminology into Innu-aimun for use by the staff and translators of the Environmental office of the Innu Nation ( Three employees, a translator for each of the two Innu dialects, an environmental consultant and the linguists, reviewed a list of over 250 terms having to do with environmental assessment for hydro and mining development. Plans to construct a dam on the Lower Churchill River would significantly affect Innu lands ( This and subsequent workshops will result in a glossary of terms which allow the Innu interpreters and translators to better inform the community members during the consultation process.

Workshop on Southern East Cree

Marguerite MacKenzie participated in a workshop to document Southern East Cree verb paradigms and to revise and add items to the dictionary of that dialect. Marie-Odile Junker and her team at Carleton University hosted the seven day meeting (June 1-9), where six Cree speakers worked with linguists prepare verb paradigms for eventual posting on the website. The dictionary already appears there and is regularly updated. Later in the month she met with instructors in the Cree Literacy Certificate program to continue detailed planning of the course content.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Philip Comeau (York University) speaks at MUSL Brown Bag Talk

Philip Comeau (York University) will be giving a brown bag talk on Wednesday, July 22 at 1:00 pm (SN-3060). His paper is on the distribution of interrogative particles *–ti / –tu* in Canadian French. The abstract follows. Questions in both French and English are encouraged.

Previous accounts of interrogative particles in Quebec French differ not only in terms of the analyses, but also with respect to the distribution of these particles across the person paradigm (e.g., Picard (1992) claims they do not occur with second person subjects while Maury (1990) and Vecchiato (2000) report that they do). Subject-verb inversion, another variant for total interrogation, is reported to occur only with second person subjects (e.g., Auger 1994) or not at all (e.g., Vinet 2000). This paper presents an analysis of the spread of –*ti* across the person paradigm in one variety of Acadian French (Baie Sainte-Marie, Nova Scotia). Following a brief outline of the historical development of –*ti*/–*tu* in French, I present data from a number of varieties of Canadian French (both Acadian and Quebec) while considering a number of structural differences which may account for cross-dialectal differences.

Il existe en français populaire deux particules postverbales (–*ti* et –*tu*) qui marquent l’interrogation totale. Cependant, certains chercheurs ne sont pas d’accord sur la distribution de cette particule (p. ex. Picard (1992) soutient que –*tu* ne se trouve pas à la deuxième personne tandis que Maury (1990) et Vecchiato (2000) confirment la présence de –*tu* à la deuxième personne). Auger (1994) conclut que l’inversion du sujet et du verbe, une autre variante qui sert à marquer l’interrogation, se trouve uniquement à la deuxième personne alors que Vinet (2000) conclut que l’inversion n’existe plus comme option en français québécois. Suivant une analyse s'agissant de la répartition de la particule à travers du paradigme de personne dans le français acadien de la Baie Sainte-Marie (Nouvelle-Écosse), j’examine quelques différences dans les grammaires des variétés du français canadien, ce qui expliquerait les différences entre l'utilisation de la particule dans ces variétés.

Dr. Brittain takes part in Tibetan Education and Language Symposium

In May, Julie Brittain took part in the Tibetan Education and Language Symposium, a week-long event hosted by the Tibet Sustainable Governance Program at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Va). Her presentation, "Language under pressure: The Cree Child Language Acquisition Study and its contribution to language maintenance in a bilingual community", fitted with one the principal themes of the gathering - bilingual education. (In the Tibetan context, bilingual education refers to Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese.) This was a unique event as it brought together scholars and practitioners from all over the world, including a number from many different regions of Tibet, as well as from other parts of the people's Republic of China. Julie taught at Tibet University (Lhasa) in 1987-88 and goes back to the region as often as time permits.

Friday, June 26, 2009

MUSL labbies and associates do CVC

This past weekend, presentations by MUSL personnel and associates were well-received at Change and Variation in Canada III. Samantha Parris presented on slit-t and slit-d in Cape Breton ("The reanalysis of a traditional feature in industrial Cape Breton"), Matt Hunt Gardner and Gerard Van Herk looked at intensifiers in online forums about different nations' Idol and Next Top Model programs ("That's so Pinoy! Intensifiers, gender and online Philippine fan forums" and "Idol worshippers and Model citizens: Nationality, choice, and language change" respectively), and Becky Childs discussed a pilot study on Canadian Raising in Petty Harbour ("Diphthongs, speaker orientation, and Newfoundland English: Indicators and explanations for linguistic variation"). More information on these talks can be found on the MUSL website (

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Announcement: a course on Cayuga, an Iroquoian language, offered in F09

In Fall 09, I am offering a a course on Cayuga, an Iroquoian language. The course is LING 4050/6050 “Linguistic Structure of a Northern American Aboriginal Language — Cayuga”. It will be held in SN3036, during slot 18 (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30-11:45).

The prerequisites for the course are “Linguistics 1103/2103 and 1104/2104, or the permission of the instructor and the Head of the Department.” I am interested in accepting students from other departments who do not meet the prerequisites, as long as they are deeply motivated and have some background in morphological analysis (identifying prefixes and suffixes).

While the course focusses on the structure of Cayuga, I think it would also be of interest to students in Ethnomusicology, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, or Aboriginal Studies. Students from other departments could, for example, do research on Iroquoian language terms relevant to their discipline. We will be reading original versions of the Thanksgiving Address (an oratory associated with the Longhouse religion), a short story, some conversations, and excerpts from Anne-Marie Shimony’s classic work “Conservatism among the Iroquois at the Six Nations Reserve.”

Please circulate this announcement to students who might be interested in the course, and encourage them to contact me about it. I can be reached at 737-8170 or through e-mail

Monday, June 8, 2009

Linguistics graduates, May 2009

Congratulations to Meghan Hollett (BA, Linguistics and Russian Majors) and Erin Swain (MA Linguistics), who convocated in May, 2009!

"The Linguists"

The film 'The Linguists' is available in streaming video for free at

Dr. Bubenik's keynote address

Dr. Vit Bubenik was invited to give a keynote address at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Department of Linguistics, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki (Greece) on May 2, 2009. His paper was titled ‘Hellenistic Greek in Contact with Latin and Semitic Languages’.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ISER funds MUN linguistics students

Two MUN linguistics students have just received research grants from the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER). Jennifer Thorburn will receive funding for her project, "Inuit English in Nain, Labrador: A sociolinguistic analysis of salient supra-local features in an isolated ethnolect." Suzanne Power will receive funding for "Newfoundland English: Sociolinguistic Variation in Placentia Bay." These grants will help defray the costs of fieldwork as Jenn and Suzanne travel to these communities to collect sociolinguistic data that will form the basis of a dissertation (Jenn) and thesis (Suzanne).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Language That Ate The World

In late April, 11 students from local middle schools spent three days in the department, finding out about the past, present and future of English, as part of an enrichment mini-course called “The Language That Ate The World: English and How It Got That Way.” Grad students Rachel Deal and Matt Hunt Gardner, along with prof Gerard Van Herk, took the students through a range of hands-on activities, looking at everything from Old English ulcer remedies to Tok Pisin road safety manuals. And the students generated data of their own, working on recent slang, language use questionnaires, and trends in texting.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Will Oxford receives one of the new Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

Will Oxford, who completed his MA with our department in 2007, is one of the inaugural recipients of the new Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships—the most important, prestigious and sought-after scholarships for doctoral students. Scholarship recipients will receive $50,000 each year for up to three years. A total of 166 scholarships will be awarded in 2009. The scholarship fund is administered by Canada’s three federal research granting agencies: SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR.

Mr. Oxford, the only linguist to receive the award, will begin his doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, where he will continue the research on Innu-aimun syntax, which has already appeared as a book, begun during his MA in the Department of Linguistics at Memorial.

For additional information about Will's award, see the MUN Gazette article.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

SLAM mixer, April 09

SLAM at Relay For Life

SLAM Executive 2009

Here is an excellent picture of the Executive members of Student Linguistics at Memorial (SLAM) for 2009. From left to right, we have Megan Simmonds, Catherine Burgess, Heidi Rice, Lucille O'Neill-Bidaud, Alethea Power, Stephanie Pritchett, and Gina Whelan. Thank you for your wonderful contributions to our social life in the 2008-9 academic year, SLAM!

MUN Linguistics team helps create Innu language children's books

Marguerite MacKenzie and Laurel Anne Hasler of the Linguistics CURA project facilitated a second workshop for writing children's books in the language of the Innu of Labrador. The workshop was led by Donna-Lee Smith, specialist in writing and Director of the First Nations and Inuit Education Programs at McGill University. Classroom assistants and staff of Peenamin Mackenzie school in Sheshatshiu and the Mushuau Innu Natuashish school attended. Four books from the fall workshop had been printed for use in classrooms and a further six were completed this time.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Linguistics Faculty Involved in Cree Language and Education Initiative

Marguerite MacKenzie and Julie Brittain have been invited to join a committee which will, over the coming months, be working toward producing a written report overviewing the Cree Nation of Quebec's Cree-medium education program (Cree as a Language of Instruction Program: CLIP). The Cree School Board has nine schools, one in each of the Cree communities in northern Quebec. CLIP offers Cree-medium education to children up to Grade 3 (or Grade 2, depending on the community). The committee had its initial planning meeting in Montreal April 15th. The review is being conducted on behalf of the Cree community.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kevin Terry receives prestigious 'Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies' award

Congratulations to Kevin Terry, who recently received the title of 'Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies' at Memorial University. This award recognizes outstanding academic achievement throughout a graduate program. A certificate and pin will be presented at the upcoming Graduate Awards Ceremony in recognition of the award.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Earlier this month, Gerard Van Herk and Jennifer Thorburn presented papers at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics in New Orleans. Gerard's paper was on early African American English corpora and Jennifer's was a comparison of a phonological variable in two dialects of English.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sandra Clarke's retirement party

We belatedly publish these pictures of Dr. Clarke's retirement party. The party took place on September 28, 2006.

Pictures: Sandra Clarke (above)
John Hewson, department founder.
Peter Trudgill and Sandra Clarke.
Christophe dos Santos, Jennifer Thorburn, and Laurel-Anne Hasler

Memorial Working Papers in Linguistics

Volume 1 of the Memorial Working Papers in Linguistics is now available on the department website at This volume contains a selection of excellent undergraduate student papers from the 2006-7 academic year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Aldrich Student Conference 2009

Six students from Memorial's linguistics department presented a talk at the annual Aldrich Student Conference on March 22. The titles and abstracts of their talks are presented below.

070OA : 22 March 2009 - 10.00-11.15 AM - BN1009
Word-final consonant clusters in three dialects of Arabic
Ahmad Assiri
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
My research examines government and binding relationships between word-final consonant clusters in one syllable type of Arabic: CVCC. The data comes from three different dialects of Arabic: Jordanian Arabic (JA), Lebanese Arabic (LA), and Asiri Arabic (AA). These dialects differ in the way word-final consonant clusters are treated. That is, consonant clusters are either divided by an epenthetic vowel or remain undivided; specifically, epenthesis applies in JA across the board; whereas, in AA epenthesis is not tolerated. LA, on the other hand, ranges between epenthesis and lack of epenthesis.
In light of the general premises of Government Phonology, I assume sonority and place structures for Arabic consonants in attempt to characterize the relationships between word-final consonant clusters in all three dialects. An Optimality Theoretic analysis will also be used for more comprehensive account of the data.

071OA : 22 March 2009 - 10.00-11.15 AM - BN1009
A Sociophonetic Study of Interdental Variation in Jordanian Arabic
Osama Omari
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
This paper examines variation in the realization of interdental fricatives among young speakers of Jordanian Arabic (JA). Three linguistic variables will be analyzed: (), (ð), and the interdental emphatic fricative (ðʕ). Adopting a Labovian token-by-token approach, I examine the possible linguistic and social constraints on the choice of the variants by the speakers. The linguistic and social factors coded in the study are the immediate phonological environment, stress, word class, syllable and word position, frequency, sex of the informants, and urbanization. Multivariate analyses of the data show that three major factors constrain the variation: the social factors (sex and urbanization), the immediate phonological context, and the saliency of the linguistic position. The linguistic findings in this paper may challenge the lexically conditioned hypothesis on variation (Abdel-Jawad and Suleiman 1990), which relies heavily on the notion of classifying lexical items according to their etymological and phonological relevance to the standard variety (i.e., Standard Arabic).

072OA : 22 March 2009 - 10.00-11.15 AM - BN1009
Vowels and Identity: Nova Scotians living in St. John's
Matt H. Gardner
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
In this study I examine the effects of dialect contact on six Nova Scotians living in St. John’s. I test the hypothesis that those here the longest and/or those with the densest local social networks have the most centralized, or Newfoundland-like, low back vowels. While it was found that length of residency and social network density were the two most significant factors, unexpectedly, those with the strongest community ties or who had been living in Newfoundland the longest showed the least centralized low back vowel, while the participant who had been in Newfoundland the least and who had the least dense local social network produced low back vowels even more centralized that the past data predict for Newfoundland. Data from this study also shows evidence of the Canadian Shift. I also discuss the correlation between negative stereotypes (both homegrown and in St. John’s) and these participants’ identity creation through language.

Session 25 : Oral Presentation
Date : 22 March 2009
Room : BN1009
Time : 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM

073OA : 22 March 2009 - 11.30-12.45 PM - BN1009
The Role of Perceptual Salience in Child Language Acquisition: Preliminary Findings from Northern East Cree
Kevin Terry
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
Peters (1983, 1985) and Slobin (1985) claim that perceptual salience plays an important role in the initial child language acquisition processes of extraction and segmentation. These proposals are based mainly on evidence from languages, like English, which have relatively simple morphological systems. A growing number of studies test these theories against evidence from more morphologically complex languages.
In this paper, I define the processes of extraction and segmentation and identify what is meant by ‘perceptual salience’. I examine the role that perceptual salience has been found to play in the acquisition of several languages with complex morphological systems including Mohawk, Quiché Mayan, Navajo and Quechua. In light of this evidence, preliminary findings from a study of the speech of a child acquiring Northern East Cree, an Algonquian language spoken in Quebec, are also presented. These data have been made available through the Chisasibi Child Language Acquisition Study (

074OA : 22 March 2009 - 11.30-12.45 PM - BN1009
Lexicalization of the Quotative be + like and Non-Traditional Speech Communities
Meghan Hollett and Bridget Henley
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
The TV show Grey's Anatomy is commonly associated with young, trendy females. In our study, status as a viewer or non-viewer of Grey's Anatomy was foregrounded in order to test whether this distinction is reflected in speech. Sociolinguistic interviews were conducted with 24 informants (12 male and 12 female; 12 viewers and 12 non-viewers), and analyzed for instances of quotative complementizers. This variable, which introduces quotations (eg. We were like "Oh my God"; They say "Oh, we hated it.") is appropriate for the analysis at hand because of the strong social connotations of the most frequently used variant: the quotative be + like. Previous studies have shown be + like increasing in frequency and lexicalization in Canada (Tagliamonte & D'Arcy 2004), and particularly in St. John's (D'Arcy 2004). We will discuss the advantages of the methodological framework used in this study, and present evidence to suggest further lexicalization than previously reported.

075OA : 22 March 2009 - 11.30-12.45 PM - BN1009
Icelandic Quirky Case in the Minimalist World
David Bowden
Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
In English, sentences like me need money and him felt dizzy are completely ungrammatical. However, in Icelandic these sentences are perfectly acceptable. To English speakers, such phrases sound odd, and for good reason. This is because in most languages speakers must use the equivalents of I, he, she, and we for subject words and not their related oblique forms like me, him, her, and us. Icelandic exhibits a crosslinguistically rare phenomenon termed Quirky Case, or Aukafallsfrumlag in Icelandic scholarship, whereby speakers can employ oblique forms in the subject position. What is it about Icelandic that makes it acceptable for speakers to break this seemingly hard and fast rule, and how can linguists make sense of it? In this presentation, possible revisions to the previously accepted notions of how nominal case assignment and grammatical roles interact will be discussed.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Carrie Dyck was awarded a SSHRC CURA Letter of Intent grant

Carrie Dyck was awarded a SSHRC CURA Letter of Intent grant in March 2009. The funds are for developing a full CURA proposal. "The purpose of the [CURA] program is to support the creation of alliances between community organizations and postsecondary institutions which, through a process of ongoing collaboration and mutual learning, will foster innovative research, training and the creation of new knowledge in areas of importance for the social, cultural or economic development of Canadian communities."

Paul De Decker awarded the Arts Pedagogical Research Initiative

Paul De Decker was awarded an Arts Pedagogical Research Initiative for 2008-9. "The Arts Pedagogical Research Initiative (APRI) has been established by Dr. Tremblay, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, to encourage creative and innovative practices in teaching and learning in the Faculty of Arts at Memorial. The intent of the program is to support the implementation of new teaching projects or programs which are designed to enhance student learning."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SLAM Scholarship Winner!

SLAM (The Society for Linguistics at Memorial) would like to congratulate Justin Markussen-Brown on winning the SLAM Scholarship 2009.

We, SLAM, were very impressed with his application as well as his commitment to the Linguistics Department/SLAM and are honoured to award this scholarship to such a deserving applicant.

We would also like to send a special thank you to: Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie, Dr. Carrie Dyck, Ruby Bishop and Juanita Lawrence for helping us with the preliminary stages of the scholarship and beyond.

A big thank you to all those who donated to the scholarship fund through bake sales and other fundraising and thank you to anyone who we may have forgotten.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dean's List Scholarship Winner, 2007-8

Karen Tucker (Linguistics Major) received the Dean's List scholarship for 2007-8. "This scholarship, established by donors to the Opportunity Fund who have directed that their donations be used for scholarships within the Faculty of Arts, is valued at approximately $1,000.00 annually. It is awarded to a student who achieves high ranking on the Dean's List of the Faculty of Arts and who meets the requirements for scholarship standing, but who is not in receipt of other significant scholarship funding. The award will be made by the Senate Committee on Undergraduate Scholarships, Bursaries and Awards based on a recommendation from the Dean, Faculty of Arts. "

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dean's List, 2007-2008

The Dean's List is a way of recognizing excellence in students who are registered for a BA or BA Honours degree. Compiled annually in the spring, it includes the very best students.

To make the Dean's List, students must complete a minimum of 9 courses over two semesters (or 10 over three semesters) and achieve high marks.

Linguistics students on the Dean's List for 2007-2008 are:

Aikman, Amelie
Bowden, David
Bulgin, James
Crossan, Hilary
Flynn, Amy
Foley, Brittany
Harvey, Andrew (French/Linguistics)
Hollett, Meghan (Russian/Linguistics)
Ingram, Alisha
Ingram, Elizabeth
Power, Kimberly
Sarlak, Nira
Smith, Laura (Russian/Linguistics)
Sparling, Maggie
Tucker, Karen (French/Linguistics)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Luraghi speaking Jan. 14, 2009

Silvia Luraghi, University di Pavia will be giving a talk entitled "Where do Beneficiaries come from? Sources for Beneficiary expressions in Classical Greek, and the relation between Beneficiary, Recipient and Purpose".

DATE: January 14th, 2009
TIME: 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Department Colloquium, March 30

Date: March 30, 2009
Time: 3:30 - 4:30
Venue: C2033
Authors: Phil Branigan and Doug Wharram

Title: Distributive semantics in Innu-aimun

Indefinite nouns are interpreted distibutively when they co-vary with a higher plural or quantificational phrase, as in the English sentence "Those camels have 2 humps each." (The humps is understood as a set of objects distributed over the set of camels because it is followed by the word each.) In Innu-aimun, a similar semantic effect on indefinite nouns occurs when they are accompanied by a reduplicated numeral. We describe when these reduplicated forms can and cannot occur, and try to make sense of their grammatical properties by developing a formal semantic analysis. We show that this new approach compares favorably with previous attempts to analyse similar distributive reduplication structures in some other languages (Cree and Hungarian), and discuss what this implies for semantic theory more generally.

Department Colloquium, January 26

Title: Work that -S! Drag queens, gender, identity, and traditional Newfoundland English
Authors: Gerard Van Herk, Becky Childs, & Matthew Sheppard
Time: 3:30 - 4:30
Place: C2011
Abstract: We study the adoption and adaptation of a traditional Newfoundland English speech feature, non-standard verbal s-marking (as in We knows a lot of people or I loves it), by social groups not usually associated with traditional dialect: young urban women and drag queens. Using quantitative data from sociolinguistic interviews and language surveys, we show that the form is both decreasing in frequency and progressing from a strictly grammatical function to a resource for the performance of gender and affiliation with local and urban identities.

Brown bag talk on Monday, March 16 at 1:00 pm

Tyler Kendall (Duke University) will be giving a brown bag talk on Monday, March 16 at 1:00 pm in the Sociolinguistics Lab (FM-2006). His paper is entitled "Performance, consciousness, and salient sociolinguistic variables in Petty Harbour English." Everyone is welcome.

In this talk, Tyler examines interview data from MUN research in Petty Harbour to ask whether evidence can be found within the speech stream that bears on questions of performance and consciousness. One of the findings of MUSL research in Petty Harbour has been that the younger speakers in the community make use of salient local variables for identity-work. Through a quantitative examination of speech timing features (such as pause and speech rate), Tyler considers this finding and shows that there does appear to be evidence in the timing data that inform our understanding of the linguistic performance of salient variables.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lexicalization of the Quotative be + like and Non-Traditional Speech Communities

Bridget Henley and Meghan Hollett will be presenting Lexicalization of the Quotative be + like and Non-Traditional Speech Communities this Monday (March 2) at 1:00 pm in the socio lab (FM-2006). The abstract is below. Please forward this to anyone who might be interested in attending.

The hit primetime TV show Grey's Anatomy is commonly associated in the public imaginary with young, trendy females. In our study, status as a viewer or non-viewer of Grey's Anatomy was foregrounded in order to test whether this distinction is reflected in speech. Sociolinguistic interviews were conducted for 24 informants (12 male and 12 female; 12 viewers and 12 non-viewers), and analyzed for instances of quotative complementizers. This variable, which introduces quotations (eg. We were like "Oh my God, these people…"; And they say "Oh we hated it") is appropriate for the analysis at hand because of the social markedness of the most frequently used variant: the quotative be + like. Previous studies have found that the variant be + like is increasing in frequency and lexicalization in Canada (Tagliamonte and D'Arcy 2004), and particularly in St. John's (D'Arcy 2004). We will discuss the advantages of the methodological framework used in this study, and present evidence to suggest further lexicalization than previously reported.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Innu-aimun Teaching Vocabulary Workshop

Laurel Anne Hasler and Marguerite MacKenzie spent three days (Feb. 23-25) in Sheshatshiu, Labrador, working with Innu staff and classroom assistants to revise the lexicon of teaching vocabulary. A list of 500 terms was established and will be printed in a reference booklet . The two Innu communities in Labrador (Sheshatshiu and Natuashish) are moving quickly towards local control of their education system. Strengthening teaching and resources in the Innu language is an important goal of this process, supported by the department's SSHRC-funded Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) project (

Department Colloquium, March 9

Date: March 9
Time: 3:30 - 4:30
Place: C2033

Authors: Sarah Rose, Derek Nurse, John Hewson

The structure of the verb in the non-Bantu Niger-Congo languages.

This talk provides an update on the ongoing research program of the
Memorial University Bantu Working Group. We present a summary of our current
research into the verbal categories of tense and aspect in the non-Bantu languages of
West and Central Africa. Our primary focus will be how the verbal structures of
these understudied languages differ in significant ways from the better-studied
Bantu languages of East and Southern Africa. Topics addressed include: agglutinating (synthetic) verbal morphology (typical of Bantu) vs. isolating
(analytic) structures (typical of non-Bantu Niger-Congo); tense- prominent vs. aspect prominent languages; and how time is expressed in a tenseless language.

Department Colloquium, March 23

Date: March 23, 2009
Time: 3:30 - 4:30
Place: C2033

Title: Relationships between language typology and the acquisition of word-final consonants in French

Author: Christophe dos Santos


Many generalizations about syllabification across languages point to a strong effect of sonority. For example, the more sonorous a consonant is, the more likely it is to appear at the end of syllables (in syllable codas). Are such generalizations accidental or driven by general principles in phonology? Child language development can help us address this question, because children have to build phonological systems from the ambient languages they are exposed to. If general principles lead phonological systems in general, they should manifest themselves in acquisition. During this presentation, I will show that Marilyn, a first-language learner of French, syllabifies her word-final consonants on the basis of sonority before she attains the type of syllabification we expect in the target (adult) system.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New website: Memorial University Sociolinguistics Lab

The Memorial University Sociolinguistics Laboratory now has a new website:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cree Literacy Planning Workshop

Marguerite MacKenzie met with Cree instructors on January 23-25 to revamp the content of the first four of ten courses in the Cree Literacy certificate program, offered through McGill University. This program, which focuses on improving reading, writing and spelling in Cree syllabics, as well as acquiring familiarity with Cree grammar, will now be offered to community members, including parents and daycare workers, as well as to Cree teachers. The Cree School Board of Quebec has implemented a program of Cree as the language of instruction in the primary grades in most communities.

Pictures from Feb. 13 department potluck

Christophe dos Santos, Kevin Terry

Jean Briggs, Marguerite MacKenzie

Jenn Thorburn, Carrie Dyck

Jeannie De Decker, Gerard van Herk

Julie Brittain, Ron Schwartz

Paul De Decker, James Bulgin, and John Hewson

Jim Black, Meghan Tanner, Gerard van Herk, and Ron Schwartz

Osama Omari, Ahmad Assiri, Christophe dos Santos, Kevin Terry, and Rachel Deal

Derek Nurse

And apologies to people who came after the camera was put away!

Friday, February 13, 2009

SLAM (Society for Linguistics at MUN) mixer

SLAM is having a Valentine's Mixer in SN-4087 from 5:00pm-8:00pm on Friday, Feb. 13th.

Department Colloquium Monday Feb. 16, 2009

The Chisasibi Child Language Acquisition Study (CCLAS)
Julie Brittain, Carrie Dyck and Kevin Terry

In this talk, we report on faculty and student research arising out of the Chisasibi Child Language Acquisition Study ( Chisasibi is an East Cree-speaking community in Northern Quebec. Begun in 2004, the data collection phase of the project (video-recording) was completed in 2007 and we are now engaged in data processing and data analysis. CCLAS aims to document how children acquire East Cree (an Algonquian language) as a first language. The methodology of the study is ground-breaking, and the extent of data gathered is unparalleled, making CCLAS among the largest L1 acquisition study for any language. We will provide a brief overview of the project and discuss how it will contribute to our knowledge of language acquisition.

Date: Monday, February 16, 2009
Time: 3:30 - 4:30
Place: C2033

Department potluck Feb. 13

The Departmental Potluck is February 13, 2009, starting at 7:00 p.m.
at Dr. Marguerite MacKenkzie's house (40 Allandale Road). Students do
not need to contribute to the potluck.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

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