Workshop Description

Contrast in Syntax is a two-day workshop being hosted by the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto (April 24-25, 2015). It is being organized in honour of Elizabeth Cowper, who retired in June 2014 after 38 years at the university. 

This workshop aims to investigate the role of contrast in syntactic theory, particularly the representation of syntactic features. Much of Elizabeth’s research has focused on the nature of grammatical features, both in identifying the set of features active in a particular language or stage of a language (e.g. at what stage English may have had a grammatical contrast between subjunctive and indicative clauses), and in arguing that properties of different languages may fall out from differences in the set of oppositions they employ (e.g. grammatical number represented as singular/non-singular or as plural/non-plural). This interest in the nature of grammatical contrasts, and how those contrasts are represented in human language, has been reflected in the work of many of her students, both past and present. 

The workshop will feature invited talks by 14 of Elizabeth’s former students and advisees, as well as a plenary poster session, and presentations by current students. 

Invited Speakers: 

  • Michael Barrie (Sogang University)
  • Andrew Carnie (University of Arizona)
  • Lisa Cheng (Leiden University)
  • Jila Ghomeshi (University of Manitoba )
  • Daniel Currie Hall (St. Mary’s University)
  • Päivi Koskinen (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)
  • Julie Legate (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Martha McGinnis-Archibald (University of Victoria)
  • Kenji Oda (University of Syracuse)
  • Nick Pendar (Skytree)
  • Elizabeth Ritter (University of Calgary/Ben Gurion University)
  • Leslie Saxon (University of Victoria)
  • Carson Schutze (University of California, Los Angeles)

Organizing Committee: 

  • Diane Massam (University of Toronto)
  • Bronwyn Bjorkman (University of Toronto)