We in the Department of Linguistics seek the support of our friends in Berkeley's "Big Give" on Thursday, November 17Big Give is an annual online fundraising event that gives all of us in Cal's extended community the opportunity to support our university through gifts to the programs and schools we care about the most. Last year Linguistics raised over $6,000, mostly from small donations. This year, we'd love to raise $10,000 or even more in this one-day fundraising event.

Big Give begins at 9 pm (Pacific time) on Wednesday, November 16, and continues through 9 pm on Thursday, November 17. The link for Big Give donations is here.

Why do we need to ask for help? State support for the University of California has been declining for years. Current budget realities mean that academic units need philanthropy to maintain the excellence of our core academic missions of research, teaching, and public service. And those who are in the best position to help are those who know well what a remarkable community our department is — the effect we have through our research, and in the world.

The Berkeley Department of Linguistics is unique in the breadth of our research, our impact on students, and our benefit to society.

Our distinctive breadth goes back in our history to the founding of the first Berkeley Linguistics Department in 1901, and then the current department in 1953. Here are some compelling current examples:

  • Nearly a third of our graduate students do experimental research (in the laboratory or in the field); over half of our graduate students do fieldwork on minority or endangered languages in Africa, Amazonia, Asia, or North America. More students do linguistic fieldwork at Berkeley than in any other top-ten linguistics program in the US.
  • Student and faculty research in the Language & Cognition Lab focuses on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and the interplay of universal and language-specific forces in cognition; on cross-linguistic typologies of word meanings and the cognitive principles underlying their diversity; and on other questions at the intersection of cognition, computation, and language. Research results are published in Cognition, PLoS One, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science, and elsewhere.
  • The unique Linguistics Research Apprentice Practicum pairs undergraduate research apprentices and graduate student mentors in intensive original research projects. Since 2014, over 75 mentor-apprentice pairs have worked in areas including heritage language use in California, lexicon and text database construction, acoustic analysis of endangered languages, perceptions of gay and lesbian speech, syntactic and semantic patterns in Native American languages of the west coast, and much more.
  • Our PhonLab (Phonetics/Phonology Lab) sponsors student and faculty research in sociophonetics, articulatory and perceptual phonetics, and phonetic neuroscience. Electro-glottography, palatography, and state-of-the-art ultrasound imaging are used not only in the lab but also in field research from Amazonia to Australia. Published in Nature, PLoS One, and Science, PhonLab research has also been featured in the Economist and NPR, and most recently in the New York Times on “bigly" vs. "big league.”
  • The Survey of California and Other Indian Languages and the associated California Language Archive (CLA) make language materials from 1901 through the present freely accessible to scholars and to the indigenous communities in which these materials were created. Today the CLA has 14,500 catalog records representing 265 languages, and 5,296 online items; the Survey is regularly visited by language learners, teachers, and researchers from California Indian communities and from other universities.

In no other Linguistics Department is this range of high-impact work done. Donations of any amount will make a difference:

  • $40 will pay for refreshments at a weekly meeting of SLUgS, the Society of Linguistics Undergraduate Students.
  • $70 will provide a portable 7x4 screen for teaching, lecturing, and group discussions beyond the classroom.
  • $200 will support a day of staffing the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages to assist members of California Native communities studying archival materials about their heritage languages.
  • $200 will sponsor the joint research project of one Linguistics Research Apprentice Practicum team (an undergraduate apprentice and a graduate student mentor) for a semester.
  • $378 will provide a professional recording kit for our field methods class (including a Zoom H4n Pro recorder and an AT803 omnidirectional lavalier microphone).
  • $500 will defray staff costs to accession a new digital collection of endangered-language documentary materials in the California Language Archive.
  • $500 will fully fund meetings of the new Women in Linguistics graduate student group for a year, including sessions with outside visitors and campus faculty.
  • $1,000 will provide much-needed acoustic treatment (soundproofing) for our sociophonetics research lab, SPARCL.
  • $2,300 will sponsor registration costs for one undergraduate or graduate student at the 2017 Linguistic Institute. This is a biennial summer school attended by hundreds of students (and faculty) from around the globe; they routinely describe it as a transformative intellectual experience.
  • $4,000 will support an undergraduate summer project in our new Sawyer Program for community-oriented applied linguistics projects, for example involving language and literacy, speech-language pathology, or indigenous and minority language communities.
  • $21,914 will fully fund a graduate-student fellowship (with tuition) for one semester. An endowment of $600,000 would do so permanently!

During Big Give, please use both of the hashtags #CalBigGive and #Cal_Lx (pronounced Calques) in your tweets. Thank you for your support of Berkeley Linguistics!