Jan. 6, 2020

YYC Pronouns 2019

The latest in a series of syntax workshops hosted by syntacticians at Canadian universities

YYC Pronouns 2019 was held at the University of Calgary on November 14-16, 2019. This was the latest in a series of syntax workshops hosted by syntacticians at Canadian universities.  It consisted consisted of two events – a public lecture for the broader Calgary community and an academic workshop for syntacticians.  The public lecture “Formalizing Pronouns” by Dr. Kirby Conrod (University of Washington) explored the changing face of the pronoun they in English, the various ways in which pronouns are used to construct identity, and how the manipulation of pronouns such as so-called definite singular they can be reconciled with formal treatments of pronouns.  This event was organized in partnership with the Calgary Public Library, and took place at the new Central Library on November 14th, 2019.  It was attended by approximately 75 people, including members of the broader Calgary community, University of Calgary faculty, staff and students and workshop participants.

The academic workshop on the topic of pronouns was held at the University of Calgary on November 15-16th, 2019.  Building on the tradition of prior workshops, we invited faculty, postdocs and graduate students from Canadian universities who share a theoretical approach and an interest in the structure, distribution and interpretation of pronouns, as well as leading researchers specializing in this topic from outside Canada. The workshop consisted of 2 keynote addresses by international figures who have made major contributions to our understanding of the grammatical properties of pronouns, 17 invited talks by scholars from other Canadian universities and 4 talks by University of Calgary faculty and students. Our invitees spanned the academic ranks, including 3 Assistant Professors, 8 Associate Professors and 6 Full or Emeritus Professors. Additionally, we invited 5 presenters from the graduate student or Post-doctoral ranks. Our invitees came from Victoria in the west to Halifax in the east, representing a total of 12 different linguistics programs in Canada. Given the importance of these workshops for the development of professional networks within Canada, the inclusion of early-career scholars was given high priority. The subject matter of the presentations represents a broad range of research, encompassing laboratory-based psycholinguistic work on pronouns in English to more traditional fieldwork examinations of less-studied languages such as Chuj (Guatemala).

The format of the event – with 45 minutes allotted for regular talks, and a workshop dinner – provided many opportunities for discussion and networking.  We are currently exploring the possibility of publishing some of the papers from the workshop in a thematic issue of the Canadian Journal of Linguistics.


The event organizers would like to acknowledge the generous financial support from the Faculty of Arts, the Department of Philosophy, the Office of the Vice President Research, the Canadian Linguistics Association, as well as SLLLC and the LRC.  We would also like to thank Francey Pisicoli for her help promoting the event, Quinn Goddard for the lovely photographs, and the linguistics graduate student volunteers who helped with the smooth operation of the day.  For more information and photos, please check out the workshop website.