Women in Berkeley Linguistics

Women were first admitted as University of California students in 1870. Linguistics has been taught at Cal since 1901: in a Department of Linguistics (1901-06), in the anthropology and language departments, and in a Graduate Group in Linguistics (1947-53) and a revived Department of Linguistics (1953-). In all 120 years of Berkeley linguistics, women have been active participants in our research and teaching communities. The mosaic below shows some of their stories and voices, including a range of experiences across decades in which colonialism, racism, and sexism all play a role. By acknowledging our history — the positive and the negative — we hope we can help foster a healthy community here at Berkeley and in the field at large.

Biographies: Shown below are a few of the many women who have made distinctive contributions to the linguistics community and language research at Berkeley, not only in the linguistics department. Especially in its earliest years, Berkeley linguistic work has often focused on the Indigenous languages of California, with work that was all too often extractive; the goals and experiences of Indigenous collaborators remain an important part of our history.

Reflections: We invited current and former students and faculty to write about their time at Berkeley. Responses, some of which are shown below, included a variety of perspectives. We are honored by the generosity and trust of those who shared their experiences of scholarship and science, community and creativity, and persistence and resilience.

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Credits ...

California women's suffrage (Wikipedia photo from the Ella Strong Denison Library, Scripps College), Susan Ervin-Tripp (photo by Dan Slobin), L. S. Freeland (memoir & photo in the Lucy Shepard Freeland papers, MS 83, Special Collections and Archives, University Library, UC Santa Cruz), Quirina Geary (photo by Scott Braley), Leanne Hinton (photo by Scott Braley), Martha Horne (photo by Pliny Earle Goddard, 15-3179, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, UC Berkeley), Gladys Reichard (photo via the Guggenheim Foundation; letter to Boas in the Franz Boas Papers, Mss.B.B61, American Philosophical Society), Laura Fish Somersal (photo by Jesse Sawyer in the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages), Lily Wong Fillmore (photo by Liz Mangelsdorf), Mary Yee (photo by Madison Beeler, 91-31333, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution). Other photos courtesy of those depicted or in the public domain to the best of our knowledge. Illustrations by Emily Remirez.

Martha Horne (c.1853-1926)

Martha Horne

Biography ...

Martha Horne was born near the beginning of the American invasion of her land, the Klamath River basin, and grew up in a multilingual setting where she learned Karuk, Shasta, Tolowa, and English. In 1901, living in Hoopa, California, she was the first Indigenous California woman to work on language documentation with a Berkeley researcher, when she shared a Karuk-language story, and vocabulary in her three Indigenous languages, with anthropologist A. L. Kroeber. She played a key role in documenting not only Karuk but traditional California multilingualism.

Horne's daughters Julia Bennett and Jeannette Beaver also made major contributions to language documentation: in 1901-02, Bennett dictated seven Karuk-language stories and a notebook full of vocabulary, sentences, and cultural knowledge; and in 1904, Beaver filled a notebook with what may be the earliest Indigenous California language material (Karuk vocabulary and sentences) written by a Native person.

Gladys Reichard (1893-1955)

Gladys Reichard

Biography ...

Columbia PhD student Gladys Reichard spent the 1922-23 academic year at Berkeley (with field trips to northern California) doing research on the Wiyot language; her dissertation Wiyot Grammar and Texts was published in 1925 and her PhD was awarded in 1926. Reichard had taught in Pennsylvania public schools for six years before attending Swarthmore College and Columbia. Over a career in Barnard College's anthropology department — for many years the only such department in a women's college — she is also notable for grammars of Coeur d'Alene (1938) and Navajo (1951) among other books, many of them based on immersive fieldwork living with Navajo people.

A methodological innovator, Reichard made X-ray records of Coeur d'Alene articulation, and films and wax cylinder recordings of Navajo. If her attention to context, broad documentary impulses, and dislike of theoretical dogma contributed to what Nancy Mattina called the "roar of male disapproval", her work remains essential reading. Just as important was her commitment to Indigenous capacity building decades before this was common in anthropology or linguistics. In 1934, she created a school in Arizona to teach Navajo literacy to adults; she arranged for Coeur d'Alene speaker Lawrence Nicodemus to spend two winters at Columbia (1935, 1936) as her student; and she co-authored Agentive and Causative Elements in Navajo (1940) with Navajo speaker (and her former student) Adolph Dodge Bitanny. Reichard died of a stroke three years before she was to retire.

Reflections ...

Gladys Reichard to Franz Boas, Berkeley, 19 November 1922: "I am beginning to get a little better acquainted around here now; I can almost always meet some one I know on the campus. [E. W.] Gifford had a party and we went via 5-passenger Dodge, 7 people & 2 dogs. We had a very nice time there not at all formal as you might suppose, & I became better acquainted with our bunch. I am getting to like Nans [L. S.] Freeland very well, she and I are reading German together. I spent a Sunday at Stanford with some Swarthmore friends, had a nice time but I like the naturalness of U.C. better than the formality of Stanford. ...

Nans, you know, is working on Miwok. She finds Indo-European (?) features such as inflection, pronouns & comparison of adjectives!!

And did you know that Kroeber has an accurate map of the N. A. Indian tribes just the size I was hunting last year, no copyright on it either, published by U.C. He said I should tell you ....

Gif[ford] & I had a nice time on kinship terms the night of the party — to the disgust of all the guests except Lowie. You see you have to yell at Gif. so that no one else can think. So [Robert] Lowie, Gif & I got into a corner, Gif put on his ear trumpet & we collaborated. He was much pleased that my data corroborated his, but two elder and younger cousin terms now archaic, which I dug out of a text, gave him a bad night (Kroeber says)."

Emma Johnson (1911-85) & Lili Rabel (1913-85)

Emma Johnson & Lili Rabel

Biographies ...

The first PhD dissertation in the modern linguistics department was by Emma Johnson (above, left); the third was by Lili Rabel (right).

Emma Wintler Johnson attended Radcliffe and Oregon State before spending the 1931-32 year studying historical linguistics in Vienna; she then moved to Mexico City and continued studying linguistics. She finished her BA at the University of Oregon, and eventually served in the Women's Army Corps during the Second World War. After the war, Johnson came to Berkeley, receiving a 1949 MA and a 1954 PhD in linguistics with a dissertation Studies in East Armenian Grammar (a structuralist grammar of the language based on consultant work). We do not know how she spent the next three decades before her death.

Lili (Elisabeth) Rabel, born in Göttingen, grew up in an academic family and fled the Nazis via Lisbon in 1941. Settling in Ann Arbor, she received her BA from the University of Michigan and went on to Berkeley, where she received her 1957 PhD in linguistics with a dissertation Khasi, a Language of Assam, based on work with emigre speakers of that Mon-Khmer language. She later taught at Louisiana State University, at UMass Amherst, and from 1967-1978 at the University of Calgary. During her career she published articles on Khasi, on bilingualism, and on literary topics.

Emma Johnson and Lili Rabel died in the same year in Santa Clara County, California.

Laura Fish Somersal (1892-1990)

Laura Fish Somersal

Biography ...

Raised bilingual in Southern Pomo (her father's language) and Wappo (her mother's language), Laura Fish Somersal was one of the most celebrated weavers in 20th century California. Her mother was blind, so Laura Fish learned weaving from others; as her mother's caretaker, she also avoided being sent away to school, and thus continued speaking Wappo rather than being forced to use English only. She demonstrated and taught basket weaving and relating practices at museums in New York and at the University of California, and locally in her community. Her work is at the Smithsonian, the Oakland Museum of California, and elsewhere.

Laura Fish Somersal worked on language documentation with multiple Berkeley researchers — Sydney Lamb (in 1955), Harvey Carlson (in the 1980s), and Jesse Sawyer (from 1959 to 1986) — and with linguists at UC Santa Barbara (Charles Li and Sandra Thompson, from 1975 to 1990, in work supported by the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages and archived at Berkeley in the California Language Archive). Her work with her friend Sawyer yielded a dictionary (1965), a text publication (1977), and a Wappo grammatical sketch (1991) as well as several specialized studies.

Pauline Jacobson

Pauline Jacobson

Biography ...

As a Berkeley graduate student Pauline Jacobson published in the first volume of Berkeley Studies in Syntax and Semantics (1974) and in BLS 1 (1975). She wrote her 1977 PhD dissertation The Syntax of Crossing Coreference Sentences on the syntax (and semantics) of Bach-Peters sentences (like The hunter who shot at it hit the tiger that chased him). She has published extensively on semantics, syntax, and their interface, advocating in particular the theory of direct compositionality — that the meanings of complex expressions are directly determined from their syntax and the meanings of their parts. Jacobson is the author of Compositional Semantics: An Introduction to the Syntax/Semantics Interface (2014) and a co-editor of The Nature of Syntactic Representation (1981, with Geoffrey K. Pullum) and Direct Compositionality (2007, with Chris Barker). She has published dozens of articles in handbooks, edited volumes, journals such as Journal of Semantics, Language, Linguistic Inquiry, Linguistics and Philosophy, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, and Natural Language Semantics, and the Semantics and Linguistic Theory conference volumes. She also served as editor-in-chief of Linguistics and Philosophy. Jacobson has taught since 1975 at Brown University, where she is now Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences.

Reflections ...

"I was an undergraduate at Berkeley (Anthropology BA 1968) and discovered linguistics much by accident when I had to take Ling 20 as a senior, and took it with Bill Wang. I instantly fell in love with the field — largely due to that course and a syntax course taught by Dick Stanley. Both courses filled me with joy in seeing the complex structure of language and how it could be understood with the right analytic tools, a joy that I still feel. Both faculty were very supportive (so I applied only to Berkeley for grad school which I started in earnest in '70-'71). But graduate school at Berkeley in the 70s for someone interested in formal syntax/semantics was less than ideal. My first year or so was great — not only because of those faculty but also Larry Horn was visiting faculty for the year. But after that the faculty changed, and the new ('big star') hires had little interest in formal syntax/semantics. Added to which was an unfortunate culture of consistently not reading students' work, let alone offering meaningful feedback. For me and at least a few others, this persisted all the way through the dissertation. (And — believe it or not — there were no such things as dissertation defenses!) There were of course also additional challenges for women students — sometimes fed by a few faculty who apparently misinterpreted the good parts about the culture of the 60s and 70s in such a way as to not understand the meaning and role of permission. All that said, I also realize that the community of fellow graduate students during my time was wonderfully supportive and we learned from each other — with exciting weekly reading and discussion groups, friendships, potluck dinners, Passover seders with plenty of wine and singing songs in Aramaic (and not much else in the way of traditions!), poker games in the lounge with money from the coffee jar used as chips (don't worry, we did return it to its rightful place!), and jug bands. That culture was wonderful and so very Berkeley! We were doing linguistics because we loved it. I also realize perhaps the most important thing I got from graduate school: the lack of any real mentorship (after the first year or so) forced me to become an independent thinker. I am eternally grateful for that, and I truly feel that my research has been all the better for having had to figure it all out (undoubtedly incorrectly at times) for myself."

Robin Tolmach Lakoff

Robin Tolmach Lakoff

Biography ...

"Language uses us as much as we use language." With these words Robin Tolmach Lakoff began her 1973 article "Language and woman's place", published a year after she came to Berkeley and later expanded as a book (1975; republished in 2004 with commentaries, ed. by Mary Bucholtz). Lakoff's work initiated the field of language and gender, also influencing work in anthropology, psychology, sociology, and other fields. At Berkeley, she has had a profound influence both on students who have gone on to become major figures in their own right, and through the emergence of a disciplinary network of scholars in language and gender.

Lakoff earned a Radcliffe BA and an Indiana MA before receiving her PhD from Harvard in 1967; her dissertation presented the first analysis of an ancient language in a modern theoretical style (published as Abstract Syntax and Latin Complementation, 1968). Lakoff taught at Michigan before coming to Berkeley in 1972. In addition to her work on Latin syntax and on language and gender, her research encompasses pragmatics, discourse genres and strategies, the politics of language, and the language of politics. Her books after 1975 include Face Value: The Politics of Beauty (1984, with Raquel L. Scherr), Talking Power: The Politics of Language in Our Lives (1990), Father Knows Best: The Use and Abuse of Therapy in Freud's Case of Dora (1993, with James C. Coyne), and The Language War (2000). Lakoff retired from teaching in 2012; her collected papers have been published as Context Counts: Papers on Language, Gender, and Power (ed. by Laurel Sutton, 2017).

Marla (Simon) Bronstein

Marla (Simon) Bronstein

Reflections ...

"My introduction to the department was through Laura Nader’s 'Cultural Linguistics' class in ’75 or ’76. I also had the good fortune to take one of Robin Lakoff’s classes, resulting in my change of major from BusAd to Linguistics. I took the first ASL and Deaf Culture classes offered at Cal taught by Freda Norman and Susan Rutherford. My early education and introduction into the Deaf community has proved to be a lifetime gift. My complete respect for this language and culture, and the opportunity at that moment in time, changed my life forever. Since graduation in ’79, I have had opportunities to work with many well-respected leaders of the Deaf community from all over the country. I spent a few years working as an ASL interpreter for the public schools and in my community, until 2010, when I suffered hearing loss subsequent to surgery for an acoustic neuroma, causing me to rely on a second language I already had the benefit of knowing."

Marla (Simon) Bronstein, AB 1979

Eve E. Sweetser

Eve E. Sweetser

Biography ...

Eve Sweetser joined the Berkeley faculty after receiving a Harvard BA and a 1984 Berkeley PhD. Among other topics her research investigates syntax and semantics, metaphor and semantic change, grammaticalization, iconicity and metaphor in co-speech gesture, and viewpoint and perspective in multimodal communication and literary texts; she has an areal specialization in Celtic languages, Middle Welsh, and Celtic and Indo-European metrics and poetics. She is the author of From Etymology to Pragmatics (1990), Mental Spaces in Grammar: Conditional Constructions (2005, with Barbara Dancygier), and Figurative Language (2014, also with Dancygier), in addition to dozens of articles and book chapters.

Sweetser has served as President of the International Cognitive Linguistics Association (1993-95) and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (2004-5); at Berkeley, she has directed the Celtic Studies and Cognitive Science programs. In her years at Berkeley, Sweetser has also directed 32 completed PhD dissertations — more than any other faculty member ever in the history of Berkeley's linguistics department.

Kira Hall

Kira Hall

Biography ...

Kira Hall's 1995 Berkeley PhD dissertation is among the foundational works of queer linguistics. In Hijra/Hijrin: Language and Gender Identity, Hall analyzed the linguistic agency of Hindi-speaking hijras in Banaras, including their self-referential uses of masculine and feminine verb morphology and deployment of obscene invective. Her subsequent research, often still grounded in ethnographic research in India, explores broadly how language contributes to sociocultural understandings of gender and sexuality. Hall was an undergraduate at Auburn University before coming to Berkeley; after her PhD, she taught at Stanford and Yale before taking up a position at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she is a professor of linguistics and anthropology. She is the author of dozens of articles and essays on language, gender, sexuality, and identity (among other topics) in volumes from Benjamins, Blackwell, Oxford, and Routledge and in journals such as Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Journal of Sociolinguistics, and Language in Society. She has co-edited Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self (1995, with Mary Bucholtz), Queerly Phrased: Language, Gender, and Sexuality (1997, with Anna Livia) and the Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality (forthcoming, with Rusty Barrett), and is one of the editors of the journal Gender and Language. Hall also serves as the President of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology.

Mary Bucholtz

Mary Bucholtz

Biography ...

Mary Bucholtz received a BA from Grinnell before coming to Berkeley. She has been a leader in the study of gender, sexuality, race, and language both before and after completing her Berkeley PhD dissertation (Borrowed Blackness, 1997). Her articles "Why be normal?" (1999) and "Geek feminism" (2002) are classics, and she has (co-)authored dozens more influential papers in Annual Review of Anthropology, Journal of Pragmatics, Journal of Sociolinguistics, Language in Society, and other journals and edited volumes. She co-edited two volumes of proceedings from the Berkeley Women and Language Conference; has co-edited Reinventing Identities: The Gendered Self in Discourse (1999, with A. C. Liang and Laurel Sutton), Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self (1995, with Kira Hall), and Feeling It: Language, Race, and Affect in Latina/o Youth Learning (2018, with Dolores Inés Casillas and Jin Sook Lee); and edited the revised edition of Robin Lakoff's Language and Woman's Place (2004). Bucholtz's book White Kids: Language, Race, and Styles of Youth Identity appeared in 2011. She is now Professor of Linguistics and Chair of the Department of Linguistics at UC Santa Barbara, a former co-editor of the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, and a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America (2019).

Reflections ...

"The highlight of my time as a graduate student was my deep involvement in the Berkeley Women and Language Group. Through my work with BWLG, I gained life-long friendships and mentoring relationships with brilliant scholars both at Berkeley and from all over the world. This network was central to my own intellectual development as well as my persistence in graduate school and an academic career. Yet as the graduate student organizers of a field-changing 1992 conference, we faced skepticism and mockery from some male faculty members and graduate students in Berkeley's Linguistics Department. We were told that we were studying 'the wrong kind of gender' (i.e., social rather than grammatical gender), that what we were doing was 'not linguistics,' and that organizing conferences and editing proceedings and other volumes was a 'waste of time' that wouldn't help us get jobs. I'm happy to report that despite these dismissive comments, I'm now a professor of linguistics, and I continue to conduct research and train students in language and gender."

Paula Floro

Paula Floro

Biography ...

Paula Floro served as manager of the Department of Linguistics from 1996 until she retired in June 2020. Colleagues and students have written about her as follows:

  • "Paula was one of my primary supports as I learned how to navigate the world of a large academic department on this campus. Beyond her encyclopedic knowledge of policy and procedures, she modelled a form of leadership entrenched in service ... She is a voice of reason who is always at the table helping to solve problems for the benefit of all."
  • "After a lengthy fieldwork trip I found myself stranded at an airport in Bolivia. Spending the night in the airport was not an option but my alternatives were limited: spend thousands of dollars to get out that night or wait days, even a week or two, in hopes of finding an affordable flight. Fortunately, I had the wherewithal to contact Paula. It was a Saturday, in the middle of the summer, yet Paula immediately responded to my frantic email. She was on vacation in the Smoky Mountains, she said, but she would heckle the travel agent to rebook me for that day. I spent the rest of the day in the airport, corresponding with Paula via my patchy Wifi connection while she was supposed to be sightseeing in the mountains. In the end, she made sure I got on a flight and could begin my journey home."
  • ”I have worked with Paula Floro on many projects and department affairs over the years and in each and every one of them she has identified opportunities for the linguistics department to better serve society through our research, classes, and outreach programs.”

  • "No offense to our faculty, but Paula is the brains of the department."

On the occasion of her retirement, Floro received the Berkeley Citation — the ninth recipient from the linguistics department, and our only non-faculty recipient.

Jocelyn Ahlers

Jocelyn Ahlers

Biography ...

Jocelyn Ahlers received her BA from Occidental College, and her PhD from Berkeley in 1999, with a dissertation Proposal For the Use of Cognitive Linguistics in Hupa Language Revitalization. She is now at CSU San Marcos, where she is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of the Faculty of the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral, and Social Sciences. Ahlers has been closely involved in language documentation and revitalization projects with the Elem Pomo and Kawaiisu communities in northern and southern California, respectively. She is a co-editor of Gender and Belief Systems (1996) and a 2009 special issue of Language and Communication on "Reflecting on language and culture fieldwork in the early 21st century", and has published papers on revitalization, linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics and language variation, and grammatical analysis in American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Gender and Language, International Journal of American Linguistics, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Language and Communication, and Semiotic Review. Ahlers occupies the linguistic seat on the American Anthropological Association Executive Board.

Reflections ...

"During my time at Berkeley, I had the chance to be involved in two ground-breaking and life-changing programs. The first was the Berkeley Women and Language Group, which was revived and revitalized by Kira Hall, Birch Moonwoman, and Mary Bucholtz in 1994. Two years later, Mary reached out to me and several other more-junior female graduate students, in what would be her career-long pattern of lifting women up and supporting their success, to encourage us to be part of the planning and execution of the 1996 conference. This led to my involvement in the publication of the proceedings of that year’s conference. And, in a lifetime highlight, during the 1998 conference, I was able to introduce that year's keynote speaker, Ursula LeGuin. To this day, I remember her coming to sit down next to me after her talk and asking me, sotto voce, 'How did I do?' I also remember her taking the time to hold and admire my then-infant daughter, who was in the room for both my introduction and LeGuin’s keynote address.

It was also my honor to be part of the inaugural Breath of Life, Silent No More Language Restoration Workshop (back when it was called the Lonely Hearts Club), and many iterations after that, founded by Leanne Hinton in conjunction with L. Frank Manriquez and the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival. Developed with the needs of members of Native California Tribal communities who had few or even no fluent speakers in mind, the workshop paired a linguist with community members to work together to find linguistic documentation of their language and to turn that documentation into language-learning resources. That experience was both life-changing and career-defining; I have been privileged to spend the decades since involved in language revitalization and reclamation projects within Native California Tribal communities."

Mary Paster

Mary Paster

Biography ...

A graduate of The Ohio State University whose Berkeley PhD was completed with a dissertation Phonological Conditions on Affixation (2006), Mary Paster is now Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at Pomona College. She is a phonologist and morphologist whose work, grounded in detailed fieldwork, addresses major theoretical questions about the morphology-phonology interface — for example, whether affix ordering and suppletive allomorphy are always phonologically optimizing. Well known as an Africanist, Paster has worked with speakers of no fewer than 18 languages indigenous not only to East and West Africa but also to California, Mexico, India, and Scotland. Her work appears in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Phonology, Studies in African Linguistics, and Yearbook of Morphology as well as other journals and prominent edited volumes. Locally in California, she has also written pedagogical materials in support of Rumsen language revitalization. Paster chaired Pomona's Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science for five years, and served as Associate Dean of the College for two years. She is now the editor of Word Structure.

Reflections ...

"A lot of people feel that they came of age in college, but looking back I realize I was still very much a kid when I started grad school at Berkeley. I still cringe when I think of a few immature things I said and did during that time, and some bad presentations that I gave. But I think it's good to have those memories since they remind me of how I want to behave as a scholar and a colleague, and they help me to empathize with students and others who are starting on their own path towards maturing as scholars and humans. The department fostered a culture of professionalization among the grad students that helped me to grow up and get ready to be a professor and mentor. Students were taken seriously as researchers from day one, and we were encouraged to present and publish our work in prestigious venues. I appreciated that even more once I graduated and learned from colleagues that other programs don't necessarily have that kind of culture."

Gabriela Caballero

Gabriela Caballero

Biography ...

Gabriela Caballero received her BA from the Universidad de Sonora and her PhD from Berkeley with a dissertation Choguita Rarámuri (Tarahumara) Phonology and Morphology (2008). Her theoretical research ranges across phonetics, phonology, morphology, and psycholinguistics. Her publications on Rarámuri, a Uto-Aztecan language of Chihuahua that has been a focus of her documentary fieldwork since 2003, include articles in journals such as International Journal of American Linguistics, Language Documentation and Conservation, and Morphology; she has also written a Language and Linguistic Compass overview of Uto-Aztecan linguistics, and articles and book chapters on morphological theory (including analyses of multiple exponence, noun incorporation, and templatic back-copying). A grammar of Rarámuri is in progress. Caballero is Associate Professor of Linguistics at UC San Diego, where she has also worked with speakers of Ixpantepec Nieves Mixtec (Oto-Manguean) and Ja'a Kumiai (Yuman) in community-based language projects. She currently serves as Vice President / President Elect of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas.

Whitney White

Whitney White

Reflections ...

"I have/had an almost exact male counterpart who was/is my best friend. When we took a course requiring us to do research on a specific language throughout the semester, we both (ignorant of each other's requests) applied to work on Karuk even though a requirement was having taken the actual Karuk class. I woke up and saw that I was accepted and immediately texted him, only to learn he was too. We were the only two new people on the project. So many things like that happened where we were treated EXACTLY the same. But it showed in terms of general opportunity as well, not just the same exact situations — for instance, our respective thesis advisors and readers were supportive and respectful to us. We were both allowed to take grad classes but took different ones. And so on. I really felt like me and him actually had the same general qualifications and the same opportunities, which I just know we don't in the world in general.

I received so much support from Professor Jenks when I wanted to take the graduate syntax course and yet more support from him when I was drowning trying to take a minimalism class at the Linguistics Institute in 2013. Again, I never felt condescended to. There was actually another undergrad boy in the class. Until today, I never even thought to evaluate if we were treated differently. I could go on and list SO many faculty, staff (! do not forget the wonderful women who magically keep everything running!), and grad students who made an atmosphere where I didn't even really have to think about my gender.

My relationship with Line Mikkelsen was especially important to me. She was my thesis advisor and a general mentor to me. She, too, allowed me to take graduate syntax and helped me so very much. She is the only person who did mention my gender and that was because she absolutely insisted that I stop apologizing for every single thing in every single sentence I ever spoke. She's a great teacher in general, but also anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting her knows she all but literally radiates actual sunlight in her every interaction but she is NOT a pushover. She's a great example and role model for young women learning that they can be nice without sacrificing their own comfort, opinions, or space."

Whitney White, BA 2015, Linguistics Departmental Service Award recipient, BA thesis "Typological canonicity of Karuk agreement"

2020

"A joy to see you succeed"

Reflections ...

From 2020: "I have worked with many students who have had to overcome severe challenges to be able to do their linguistics work. It has been an inspiration to witness your resilience and determination and a joy to see you succeed. At the same time, I wish that we, as a department, could have done more to support you."

Women's suffrage in California (1911)

Pamphlet of the Los Angeles Political Equality League distributed by suffragist Maria de Lopez

Mary R. Haas (1910-1996)

Mary R. Haas, c. 1946

Biography ...

Mary R. Haas came to Berkeley in 1943 as a Lecturer in Siamese (Thai), in what was then the Department of Oriental Languages. She was an undergraduate at Earlham College and a graduate student of Edward Sapir's at Chicago and then Yale; her 1935 dissertation was a grammar of the Tunica language of Louisiana; her wax cylinder recordings of Sesostrie Youchigant are the only sound recordings of that language in existence. In the years before coming to Berkeley Haas also did fieldwork on Ditidaht (Wakashan), Biloxi (Siouan), Natchez, and the Muskogean languages Creek, Koasati, Choctaw, Alabama, and Hichiti.

At Berkeley, Haas worked with several Indigenous languages of California, was the founding director of the Survey of California Indian Languages, and guided generations of young scholars. She published major descriptive work on Thai (partly with the Army Specialized Training Program) as well as Native American languages, important comparative studies of Algic and Muskogean, and a Tunica dictionary and volume of texts; but "the single most salient fact about her career", according to her student Karl Teeter, was "that she trained more Americanist linguists than Boas and Sapir put together."

Haas's classic paper "Men's and Women's Speech in Koasati" (Language, 1943) has been reprinted multiple times; "Algonkian-Ritwan: The End of a Controversy" (International Journal of American Linguistics, 1958) is widely cited as a definitive proof of long-distance relationship. In 1963, she was the second woman to be elected President of the Linguistic Society of America (after Adelaide Hahn in 1946). In 1965, she was the second woman selected to deliever Berkeley's Faculty Research Lecture (the campus's highest research honor since 1913), from which developed her book The Prehistory of Languages (1969). The recipient of four honorary doctorates, she continued to work with students after she retired in 1977, publishing a collection of her earlier work (Language, Culture, and History, 1978) and many significant papers, and reflecting on her life and career in a 1984 video interview.

Reflections ...

From 1978-79 oral-history interviews with Stephen O. Murray: "[Sapir] was always very good to me, but I would catch a few hints. I remember once he mentioned Adelaide Hahn ... [He] was talking to me and perhaps forgot himself and spoke of Adelaide as being a 'femme savante,' and I could tell that was a derogatory term."

On women in academic careers: "I think [Sapir] thought it was hopeless. Of that inner circle, I did better than the rest of them as far as the prestige of the university with which I became associated — which was a miracle of some kind. There weren't any jobs even for the men at the time, during the Depression, and I'm sure that I wouldn't have [gotten a position] if it hadn't been for the war, when men were drafted and unavailable."

Berkeley department-chair meetings: "It was really embarrassing to be the only woman among these men, and they were uncomfortable. From what I read now, I think that some of the problems I had in fighting for the department were probably the unfamiliarity women have with how men exercise power.''

Susan Ervin-Tripp (1927-2018)

Susan Ervin-Tripp

Biography ...

Susan Ervin-Tripp graduated from Vassar and received her PhD in social psychology from the University of Michigan in 1955; her thesis on bilingualism and cognition was based on research with French-English bilinguals. After teaching at Harvard for three years and doing fieldwork on comparative psycholinguistics with Navajo, she came to Cal in 1958. At a time when the Psychology Department did not hire women in tenure-track positions, Ervin-Tripp became an assistant professor in Berkeley's Speech (now Rhetoric) Department, and did not transfer into Psychology until 1975. Ervin-Tripp was a leader in the fields of language acquisition, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics, and a central figure in the emergence of a distinctive style of cognitive science at Berkeley in the 1970s and 1980s. She was an innovator in tape recording and coding child speech data in the 1950s, and in using video cameras to study gaze direction and activity in the 1970s. Over four decades, she taught language acquisition, bilingualism, and the psychology of gender among other topics, and mentored generations of students. After retiring in 1999, Ervin-Tripp continued to work actively until her death.

Ervin-Tripp's work on the 1970 "blue book" on the status of academic women at Berkeley activism led directly to the 1971 creation of the Academic Senate’s Standing Committee on the Status of Women, which she chaired; she was also a leader of the League of Academic Women and in other groups. An advocate for change, she documented gender pay inequities for faculty and staff and testified to legislative committees in Sacramento. Ervin-Tripp gave the Faculty Research Lecture in 1994, and in 2017 participated in a long, revealing oral history interview.

Marilyn Vihman

Marilyn Vihman

Biography ...

Bryn Mawr alumna Marilyn Vihman's Livonian Phonology, with an appendix on stød in Danish and Livonian (1971) was the first Berkeley PhD dissertation on phonetics and phonology. Director of Stanford's Child Phonology Program from 1980-1989, Vihman was Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Wales, Bangor from 1997, and then Professor of Linguistics at the University of York. An international authority in the areas of phonological development and child bilingualism, she is the author of Phonological Development: The Origins of Language in the Child (1996), radically revised and reissued as Phonological Development: The First Two Years (2014), and Phonological Templates in Development (2019), and the co-editor of The Emergence of Phonology: Whole Word Approaches, Cross-Linguistic Evidence (2013, with Tamar Keren-Portnoy). Her work has focused on cross-linguistic lexical and phonological development, especially over the first two years, with an emphasis on the interaction of perception and production and the beginnings of linguistic systematicity; she has also published influential papers on sound change and child language. Vihman's research articles have appeared in journals such as International Journal of Bilingualism, Journal of Child Language, Journal of Phonetics, Journal of Memory and Language, Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, Language, Linguistics, and Phonetica, and in numerous edited volumes.

Reflections ...

I spent nine years as a PhD student in the Linguistics Department (1962-1971); I was in no rush — since I had no idea what to do afterwards. I came to Berkeley, a year after graduating from Bryn Mawr College, with a BA in Russian and acceptance to the graduate school from the Slavic department. I had chosen Russian as the least familiar language available for study at Bryn Mawr; I heard of Linguistics as a field only in my senior year. During my year working in Paris after graduation I read two books recommended to get an idea of the field: Jespersen’s Growth and Structure of the English Language and Sapir’s Language — and I understood that this was what I wanted to learn. After a week at Berkeley, getting up early for daily Serbo-Croatian classes at 8 (since Slavic graduates had to know two Slavic languages) and observing that whereas my Russian was almost entirely written-language-based, all the other graduates appeared to be fluent speakers of at least one Slavic language, I made my way to the Linguistics Department to ask about making a switch. I remember Murray Emeneau agreeing with a sigh, saying he might as well open a folder on me. So I took Linguistics 101 as a first-year PhD student, with Harvey Pitkin, and continued dallying in literature (including a memorable Comparative Literature course with Bertrand Augst, which introduced me to Samuel Beckett) as well as various classes in Old Church Slavonic (with Francis Whitfield — whom I was terrified of, to the amusement of the department secretary, as he was a very mild-mannered man — but with high expectations of his students) and Romance Philology (with Yakov Malkiel, whom I later served for 3 years as Editorial Assistant), and eventually, Circum-Polar languages (or something like that?) with Robert Austerlitz, a Visiting Professor in the department). No rush!

In my second year I was a TA in Linguistics 101, which included only Phonology and Morphology; I had the impression that no one knew much about syntax yet (1962-64) ... and my introduction to generative ideas came only a few years later when I took a course on syntax in the English department, with a New Yorker whose name I’ve now forgotten, an enthusiast for the new ideas of deep and surface structure, etc. It was important then as an entry into what became not just mainstream but the only viable path for a linguist for some decades thereafter, but intellectually, I think the main thing I got out of it was a deep respect for the complexity of the English auxiliary system and the formation of questions and negatives etc.

I remember Elizabeth Traugott holding a tea for incoming women doctoral students, within a few weeks of my arrival; that was a very nice occasion, but I don’t think it was ever repeated. Many of the students were working on Native American languages, with Mary Haas, and a lot of them had been in the department for a very long time. A new university rule that a PhD should be completed in 7 years came into effect while I was there — 7 years after the orals, it must have been. The orals followed some years of coursework and a week of written take-home exam questions. I remember that ordeal very well. My friend Sarah Russell (now Wikander) brought me flowers for encouragement and typed up my handwritten responses (one wasn’t expected to sleep much). Len Talmy was another friend: He was already in the department when I came and was eventually persuaded to turn whatever brilliant ideas he had developed about Atsugewi into a thesis and submit it. Len was intrigued by Piaget’s ideas and that may have been one of the reasons I began wanting to study language development — but it wasn’t possible at that time as the department avoided 'hyphenated linguistics': I was able to take a course in Anthropological Linguistics with Dell Hymes, in Anthroplogy, but I couldn’t take Dan Slobin’s language development class in Psychology because it was capped at 50 and allowed no auditors; by the time I thought of it, I had already passed my orals and so could not register for credit. (Post-PhD, Dan agreed to let me join his seminar on cross-linguistic acquisition once I found an Estonian child to record, so I could add a language to the discussion; I got my foundations in language development from those two years with Dan, followed by 18 years as a post-doc with Charles Ferguson — great mentors! But again ... no rush!)

Studying for the orals was perhaps the best part of my linguistic studies. Una Canger was part of our study group; as a Danish student, she was imbued with Hjelmslev’s ideas (which no one has mentioned since, as far as I can tell). I loved reading his Prolegomena and his vision of what language is — so different from the Chomskyan model, with syntax at the center and phonology and semantics as hand-maidens — has remained with me ever since. The History of Linguistics isn’t much taught these days, which seems an important loss.

When I finally got to the dissertation writing stage, I have to say that I had virtually no guidance. I had taken courses with Wally Chafe that I greatly enjoyed, on morphology, I think; I asked him to be my supervisor. (There was no requirement to write a proposal or an outline and there was no viva at the end.) I was married to Eero Vihman by then and had been learning Estonian, and after dropping a fieldwork course on Burmese (I think the tones defeated me), I took one on Finnish instead and became fascinated by the similarities between these two closely related languages. I wanted to study sound change. I made up a set of paper 'cards' to fit a large filebox, with a space to note a word form for each of the Western Finnic languages (there are 7 or 8, including S. Estonian, Veps, Vote, Karelian, Livonian ...) and began looking for the data. Eventually I turned in some kind of first draft of a chapter to Chafe — I have no idea now what that was about — and he gave it back with the feedback, 'not very interesting'. I changed supervisors, to Karl Zimmer. Meanwhile Dick Stanley had joined the department and when I spoke with him in passing about my interest in sound change he informed me that 'sounds don’t change, grammars do'. So my dissertation became an ordered-rule generative phonology of Livonian, the Western Finnic language with the most dramatic differences from the rest; I can't imagine that anyone has ever read all the way through it.

What saved the thesis from being completely useless was the arrival of Bill Wang in the department; it was he, I think, who set up the phonetics lab. I learned generative phonology and also acoustic phonetics from him — all in one 14-week course, I think. I remember the excitement of ideas in that course, learning about the Motor Theory of Speech Perception etc. And I spent a year as a Fulbright scholar in Helsinki (1967-68), taking classes with Lauri Posti, among others. I developed ideas about the origins of stød, which Livonian has, alone among the Finnic languages; these were very different to Posti’s ideas. And I was fortunate to have somehow heard of a native speaker of Livonian living in Boston and to have made some recordings, which Posti agreed were authentic representations of the language. So those recordings and the ideas about stød — recently supported in a paper by an Estonian linguist, to my surprise (50 years later!) — were the one part of my thesis that I enjoyed working on. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to try to publish that portion — but by the time I finished the PhD I was much more interested in how children learn to talk, and I have never looked back!

Title IX (1972)

Text of US Title IX

Lily Wong Fillmore

Lily Wong Fillmore

Biography ...

Lily Wong Fillmore's interest in second language acquisition goes back to her own experience starting school as a Cantonese speaker in post-Depression Watsonville. While raising her own children in the 1950s, she volunteered to teach in a California migrant labor camp, and then became an advocate for immigrant rights. After graduating from San José State University, Wong Fillmore received a 1976 Stanford PhD in linguistics with a dissertation The Second Time Around: Cognitive and Social Strategies in Second Language Acquisition. In the same year she began teaching in Berkeley's Graduate School of Education. Over the subsequent four decades, her research on bilingualism, second language acquisition, and the role of education in language learning has made her a leader in this field; representative is the magisterial "What Teachers Need to Know about Language" (2000, with Catherine Snow).

At Berkeley, Wong Fillmore has long worked in support of student diversity and inclusive educational practices. She was active in supporting the undergraduate American Cultures requirement, approved by the Academic Senate in 1989. At Berkeley, she helped create a program that brought Indigenous language educators from Pueblo communities in the US southwest as PhD students in Education in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She has herself worked in Pueblo communities, and in Yupik communities in Alaska, and in 1998 testified as an expert witness against Proposition 227, which greatly reduced bilingual education in California public schools. Wong Fillmore retired as Jerome A. Hutto Professor of Education in 2004 and has actively continued research and writing in subsequent years.

Monica Macaulay

Monica Macaulay

Biography ...

Monica Macaulay received Berkeley AB (1979) and PhD (1987) degrees in linguistics; her dissertation was expanded and published as A Grammar of Chalcatongo Mixtec (1996). Her other books are Surviving Linguistics: A Guide for Graduate Students (2006, 2nd ed. 2011) and co-compiled dictionaries of Menominee (2006, 2011) and Potawatomi (2014). Macaulay has done fieldwork on Chalcatongo Mixtec, Karuk, Menominee, Otomí, Potawatomi, and Zapotec, among other languages; her work on syntax, semantics, and morphology appears in journals such as Anthropological Linguistics, International Journal of American Linguistics, Language and Linguistics Compass, Linguistic Typology, Morphology, Taal en Tongval, and many volumes of the Papers of the Algonquian Conferences. Her work on metalinguistic choices includes "Offensive Rock Band Names: A Linguistic Typology" (Maledicta 1988-1989, with Joe Salmons), and the influential paper "Don’t Touch My Projectile: Gender Bias and Stereotyping in Syntactic Examples" (Language 1997, with Colleen Brice). Macaulay taught at George Mason and Purdue Universities before moving to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is now Professor of Linguistics. She was President of the Endangered Language Fund and the first recipient of the Linguistic Society of America's Mentoring Award, and is a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America.

Reflections ...

"I was so lucky to have Leanne Hinton as my advisor. I remember meeting Margaret Langdon for the first time and she told me about the concept of an academic lineage. I was (and still am) so proud that it's all women for me, back to Edward Sapir. Leanne > Margaret Langdon > Mary Haas > Sapir. I make sure to tell all my female students about that."

Yoshiko Matsumoto

Yoshiko Matsumoto

Biography ...

Yoshiko Matsumoto received a BA from Japan Women's University and master's degrees from the University of Tsukuba before coming to Berkeley, where she received her PhD in 1989 with a dissertation Grammar and Semantics of Adnominal Clauses in Japanese. She taught at Ohio State for four years and has taught since 1992 at Stanford, where she is the Yamato Ichihashi Professor of Japanese History and Civilization. Her research focuses on pragmatics (including analysis of discourse markers, honorifics, and reference), construction grammar, and sociocultural aspects of discourse. She is the author of Noun-Modifying Constructions in Japanese: A Frame Semantic Approach (1997) and some four dozen articles and book chapters, and has co-edited volumes that include Diversity in Language: Perspectives (2007), Noun-Modifying Clause Constructions in Languages of Eurasia (2017), and Advances in Pragmatic Research on Japanese (2018). Her edited book Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan (2011) brings together an interdisciplinary set of authors examining issues related to aging, such as social activity, caregiving, generational bias, suicide, and sexuality.

Sharon Inkelas

Sharon Inkelas

Biography ...

Sharon Inkelas was hired at Berkeley in 1992 after receiving a BA from Pomona and a PhD from Stanford. One of today's leading linguistic theorists, she is the author of Prosodic Constituency in the Lexicon (1990), Reduplication: Doubling in Morphology (2005, with Cheryl Zoll), and The Interplay of Morphology and Phonology (2014), and the co-editor of The Phonology-Syntax Connection (1990, with Draga Zec) and The Nature of the Word: Essay in Honor of Paul Kiparsky (2008, with Kristin Hanson). Her dozens of articles on child phonology, phonological and morphological theory, and the morphology-phonology interface — including "Nimboran Position Class Morphology" (1993), "J's rhymes: a longitudinal case study of language play" (2003), "Positional neutralization: a case study from child language" (2007, with Yvan Rose), and "Word construction: tracing an optimal path through the lexicon" (2013, with Gabriela Caballero) — are published in Journal of Child Language, Language, Language and Linguistics Compass, Linguistic Inquiry, Morphology, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Phonology, and other journals and edited volumes. She frequently collaborates with students and other younger scholars. Her PhD students are themselves now prominent linguists who teach throughout North America.

In 2020, Inkelas was named a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America. At Berkeley, she was the third woman to chair the linguistics department (2005-13), chaired the department Climate Committee from 2015-17, and has received both the Distinguished Service and Teaching Awards in the Division of Social Sciences. In 2017, she began a multi-year term as Berkeley's first Special Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor on Sexual Violence / Sexual Harassment; in 2020, she was named Associate Vice Provost for the Faculty.

Emily M. Bender

Emily M. Bender

Biography ...

When Emily Bender graduated from Cal in 1995 (with an honors thesis "Integrating Kanji into the Japanese Language Curriculum"), she received the University Medal, awarded annually to one graduating senior. She did her PhD work at Stanford and took a faculty position at the University of Washington, where she is the Howard and Frances Nostrand Professor of Linguistics and the director of the UW Master of Science in Computational Linguistics program. She has also served as chair of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Bender's research includes multilingual grammar engineering, sociolinguistic variation, interactions between linguistics and computational linguistics, and the societal impact of language technology. She is the author of Linguistic Fundamentals for Natural Language Processing (2013), a co-author of Syntactic Theory: A Formal Introduction (2nd ed. 2003, with Ivan A. Sag and Thomas Wasow) and Linguistic Fundamentals for Natural Language Processing II (2019, with Alex Lascarides), a co-editor of Language from a Cognitive Perspective: Grammar, Usage and Processing (with Jennifer E. Arnold) and special issues of journals, and the author of dozens of papers in proceedings and other volumes and in journals such as Journal of East Asian Linguistics and Linguistic Typology. She is also well known for the "Bender Rule" in computational linguistics, correcting a bias toward English as the default language: Always state the language being worked on (and not just its name).

Reflections ...

"During my years as an undergraduate student at Cal (1991-1995), I found the Linguistics department to be wonderfully nurturing: Prof. William SY Wang connected me to opportunities like the President's Undergraduate Fellowship for independent research and an RAship at ICSI on the Berkeley Restaurant Project. These opportunities, combined with the fact that the upper division courses were cross-listed with grad courses, helped me to envision myself as a researcher. The ability to participate in grad classes and even an informal research group led by Prof. Chuck Fillmore on Japanese linguistics as a senior set me up to join my PhD program at Stanford with confidence. Arriving at Stanford, I saw that the work of Ivan Sag and others on HPSG was very similar to Fillmore/Kay Construction Grammar and instigated a series of informal 'construction discussions', which took place at various restaurants around the Bay Area. Looking back, I can't tell whether any particular research directions were forged in these meet ups, but they do seem to have been valuable for community building.

I returned to Cal as a lecturer and post-doctoral reseacher in 2000-2001 and it was exciting to be back — but that experience was far more awkward. I never felt like the (other) faculty knew quite what to do with me; they seemed to see me as a glorified grad student but one that no one had responsibility for mentoring. In the bigger picture, I doubt any universities have well worked-out schemes for mentoring contingent faculty. (As an aside, I think the undergraduate students also didn't see me as a typical professor, being too young (27). One brought her mom to my office hours because she wanted to meet this 'very young professor'.)

All in all, I'm grateful for my experiences at Cal and to the Linguistics Department in particular, where it was not just possible for me to get involved with research and the broader scholarly community but where I felt invited to do so."

Natasha Warner

Natasha Warner

Biography ...

Natasha Warner received her BA from the University of Minnesota before coming to Berkeley; she received her PhD in 1998 with a dissertation The Role of Dynamic Cues in Speech Perception, Spoken Word Recognition, and Phonological Universals. She is now Professor and Head of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona, where she also directs the Douglass Phonetics Lab. Warner is a phonetician whose research in that field focuses on the production and perception of spontaneous (articulatorily reduced) speech. In this area her publications include articles in journals such as Journal of Linguistics, Journal of Phonetics, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Laboratory Phonology, Language and Linguistics Compass, Language and Speech, Phonetica, and Phonology, and in significant edited volumes and handbooks. She co-edited Gender and Belief Systems: (1998) and issues of Laboratory Phonology (2002) and Journal of Phonetics (2011). Warner is also a leader in redefining academic relations with Indigenous communities, having collaborated with Quirina Geary and others on Mutsun language revitalization, with publications including a 2016 volume Mutsun-English English-Mutsun Dictionary: mutsun-inkiS inkiS-mutsun riica pappel (with Geary and Lynnika Butler) and articles in International Journal of Lexicography, International Journal of the Sociology of Language, and Language Documentation and Conservation.

Reflections ...

"I really appreciated having John Ohala as an advisor, and I appreciated how he emphasized to me the importance of being a woman in phonetics and in academia. I have many fond memories of work in the lab, even when it was hours after hours of acoustic labeling. John's history of linguistics class introduced me to Elise Richter (1865-1943), who is one of my heroes as an early female academic who was even a phonetician! In addition to John as my advisor, I treasured the opportunity to work with so many of the Berkeley linguistics faculty. Leanne Hinton changed the course of my life by giving me the chance to work in language revitalization, even though Leanne was never on any of my committees. Leanne has remained an invaluable mentor to me ever since, and there are no adequate words for my gratitude to her."

Jessica Reeder

Jessica Reeder

Reflections ...

"The very first thing I learned in Professor Mchombo's introductory Ling course was the lesson that changed my life: the difference between descriptive and prescriptive rule systems. I had always tried to play by the rules and be a 'good girl,' and this course introduced me to the idea that so many of the rules I struggled to follow — in language and in life — were prescriptive, rather than descriptive. This essential concept gave me permission to build my own moral code, my own personality, and ultimately my own beliefs about body image, gender roles, and identity—based on observation and experimentation, and on making the choice I observed to be beneficial rather than what I had been told was right. I still talk about this lesson all the time. It changed my life, and likely saved it."

Jessica Reeder, BA 2000

Laurel MacKenzie

Laurel MacKenzie

Biography ...

Laurel MacKenzie received her Berkeley BA in 2006, double-majoring in Linguistics and French, including research (with Christian DiCanio and Keith Johnson) on the phonetic origins of velar nasal excrescence. She then joined the PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania; her dissertation Locating Variation Above the Phonology (2012) examines variability of morphological and syntactic phenomena. Among other topics MacKenzie's research has examined English auxiliary contraction, English stem-final fricative voicing, Occitan s-lenition and plural expression, and phonetic change over the lifetime. Her papers are in Glossa, Journal of Linguistic Geography, Language: Teaching Linguistics, Language Variation and Change, Linguistic Variation, Linguistics Vanguard, and elsewhere. MacKenzie spent several years as a Lecturer at the University of Manchester before moving in 2016 to New York University, where she is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics.

Reflections ...

"My time as an undergrad at Berkeley Linguistics involved a lot of imposter syndrome. I spent my junior year abroad for my French major, and came back to find that the other members of my graduating class had learned a tremendous amount of linguistics while I was away polishing my French. I attended one SLUgS meeting, where I hid in the back, deeply intimidated, and was relieved when no one asked me to share what my honors thesis was on, because I was sure I had no idea what I was doing or how to talk about it intelligently. Perhaps none of this was obvious — or maybe it was — to Keith Johnson, Gary Holland, and Sharon Inkelas, all of whom miraculously made me feel during that final year of my degree that I had thoughts about linguistics that were worth having. I can't thank them enough (and I regret not having adequately thanked Gary when I had the chance) for helping me see my potential and encouraging me on my way to what has become a fulfilling career."

Jenny Lederer

Jenny Lederer

Biography ...

Jenny Lederer received her BA from UC Santa Cruz before coming to Berkeley. Her 2009 PhD dissertation Understanding the Self: The Distribution of Anaphora within Prepositional Phrases articulated a novel theory, based on the conceptual structure of reflexive events, to explain distributional asymmetries between reflexive and non-reflexive pronouns in prepositional phrases. Lederer's research generally uses the tools of cognitive linguistics to study grammatical and discourse patterns, especially political discourse; she has worked specifically on immigration and gender identity among other topics. She has published in Cognitive Linguistics, the Cognitive Science Society proceedings, International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, Journal of Pragmatics, Metaphor and Symbol, Metaphor and the Social World, and a variety of edited volumes. Lederer worked as a research associate at Real Reason before starting a teaching position in 2011 at San Francisco State University, where she is an Associate Professor of Linguistics.

Reflections ...

"Common assumptions and cultural narratives of PhD programs include demanding course work, stressful oral exams, sleep deprivation, pressure to achieve, a life on hold. My graduate experience at Berkeley countered all these tropes. Yes, it was a test, and no it was not easy, but my time in Berkeley Linguistics was an incredibly holistic and rich period of building community, deep friendship, and creating a metaphorical and literal family. My relationships with my mentors and teachers (Eve, George, John, Andrew, Line, Lynn, Leanne, Sharon, Keith, Larry, and others), the Linguistics staff (Belen, Paula, Esther), along with my student cohort are unforgettable. Contrary to 'having no life', during those years of study, research, and teaching, I produced life (a daughter and a son) and truly lived life within what felt like a tight, caring, supportive community. Being a woman student-scholar at Berkeley meant doing it all at once. Although slower to graduate than some of my peers, I did. (The fastest graduates were by and large male.) However, motherhood made me a better listener, more efficient, more empathetic, and more patient — all qualities that contribute to my success as a teacher in a now tenured position within the California State University system. At Berkeley I created an intellectual and literal home."

Julia Nee

Julia Nee

Biography ...

Julia Nee received her BA from the University of Chicago and taught linguistics and English in Mexico before coming to Berkeley, where she earned an MA in 2017 and is now a PhD candidate (and a student in the Designated Emphasis in Indigenous Language Revitalization). Since 2012, Nee has been involved in the documentation, revitalization, and study of Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec (TdVZ); she has published papers related to TdVZ in the proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung (2017) and Semantics of Underrepresented Languages of the Americas (2018) and in L2 Journal (2020). She also collaborates on Northern Pomo language revitalization camps at Redwood Valley Rancheria. Nee's PhD thesis is Participatory Action Research in Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec (TdVZ; zab) Language Revitalization.

Reflections ...

"I'm proud to be a woman in the Berkeley Linguistics department, and I'm thankful for the support and (for the most part) lack of sexism that I've been able to enjoy as a graduate student here. I've been made all the more thankful for our (imperfect, but still notable) bubble of (relative) gender equity as I've expanded my professional circle and interacted with other individuals and departments where such equity is palpably absent. I have hope that the skills I've learned at Cal will help me to work towards positive change wherever I end up next, and I know that when I will confront difficulties along my journey, I've got a team of supportive allies here in Berkeley who will be there to help me along."

Ascención Solórsano (1855-1930)

Ascención Solórsano

Biography ...

Maria Ascención Solórsano was the last fluent first-language speaker of Mutsun (the Indigenous Ohlone language of the area centered at San Juan Bautista). She was a famous healer with extensive knowledge of native plants, material culture, ceremonies, traditional stories, customs, and life from pre- and post-mission times and at Mission San Juan Bautista. Her mother Bárbara Solórsano also served briefly as a consultant to C. Hart Merriam around 1900.

In 1915, Ascención shared some of her language with Berkeley researcher John Alden Mason. In the year before she died, she worked extensively with linguist J. P. Harrington to create a large documentary corpus of her language, medicine, and culture. The knowledge she left behind made possible a modern community-based revival of the Mutsun language, led by Quirina Geary (below) in collaboration with Berkeley alumna Natasha Warner (PhD 1998).

L. S. Freeland (1890-1977)

L. S. Freeland

Biography ...

L. S. ("Nancy") Freeland, a Vassar alumna who entered the Anthropology graduate program in 1916, was the first woman at Berkeley to do Indigenous language documentation. She was only a few months away from finishing her PhD in 1923 when she had to return to the east coast, as her mother was dying. When Freeland returned later that year, she had married the writer and linguist Jaime de Angulo and was pregnant; while she did not complete the PhD, she continued to do linguistic research over the years. As an official and unofficial member of the local linguistics community, Freeland worked with speakers of Eastern Pomo, Karuk, Nisenan, Lake Miwok, Shasta, and Sierra Miwok. For many years she was also a mentor for Berkeley students and visitors (including Hans Jørgen Uldall and Carl Voegelin). Her dissertation manuscript Language of the Sierra Miwok was finished in 1933 and published in 1951; Freeland also published Central Sierra Miwok Dictionary with Texts (1960, with Sylvia Broadbent), Central Sierra Miwok Myths (1982, ed. by Howard Berman), and articles on Karuk, Miwok, Northern Paiute, Pomo, and Zapotecan. She died in her Berkeley house.

Reflections ...

In her unpublished memoir, L. S. Freeland wrote about Karuk elder Margaret Harrie, with whom she worked in 1927: "She cut through that language like a knife, until I didn't seem to have a doubtful point left. But better than that, even, she was a poet. Everything about the Karuk — their beliefs and ritual, their ceremonies and their literature — all became glowing things for me, because of her. I'll remember always the afternoon she told me the tale of the two girls who went to look for their lovers in the Land of the Dead. It was so beautiful we both cried."

Mary J. Yee (1897-1965)

Mary Yee

Biography ...

Mary Yee, the last fluent speaker of Šmuwič (or any Chumashan language), devoted over a decade to documenting her language for later generations; Šmuwič (Barbareño) is the Indigenous language of the southern California coast from Point Conception to Rincon Point along the Santa Barbara Channel. Yee worked briefly in 1952 with Berkeley graduate student William Bright, and then from 1954 through 1963 with Berkeley faculty member Madison Beeler, who made a significant collection of sound recordings with her. Between 1954 and 1961 she also worked almost daily with J. P. Harrington on Šmuwič documentation, and for many years created her own notebooks and wrote letters in her language. Her mother Lucretia García had herself worked with Harrington, from 1928 to 1930, as had her grandmother Luisa Ignacio, in 1914. Yee's daughter Ernestine De Soto is a prominent figure in Indigenous California language revitalization today who has illustrated a children's book presenting a traditional story told by her mother, and has been an active participant in multiple Breath of Life archival workshops at Berkeley.

Esther Matteson (1912-2013)

Esther Matteson

Biography ...

A graduate of Seattle Pacific College, Esther Matteson received her Berkeley PhD with a dissertation on the Arawakan language Yine, The Piro (Arawak) Language (1963, published in 1965). This was the first Berkeley dissertation on a South American language and one of very few Berkeley theses using a tagmemic framework. Matteson's career as a practical linguist had begun much earlier: after growing up in northern California, she attended Moody Bible Institute from 1939 to 1942 (the first woman to enroll in Greek and Hebrew classes there), and a few years later began working in Peru for the Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. She lived as a missionary linguist in the Yine community (along the Urubamba River in Peru) for eight years beginning in 1947. During this period, she made an early sound recording of Yine subsequently archived at UC Berkeley, and published a series of ethnobotanical, ethnographic, and linguistic studies in Berkeley's Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers and elsewhere.

After leaving Berkeley, Matteson edited a collection Bolivian Indian Grammars (2 vols., 1967) and co-edited Comparative Studies in Amerindian Languages (1972, with Berkeley alumna Alva Wheeler), for which she wrote a major paper "Proto Arawakan". She also served as a consultant to other missionary linguists in South America; was active in language surveys among displaced people in parts of Eurasia; and founded Aramaic Bible Translation, herself working with the Assyrian and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic languages.

Johanna Nichols

Johanna Nichols

Biography ...

Johanna Nichols received a BA from the University of Iowa and came to Berkeley as a graduate student in linguistics; her PhD dissertation was The Balto-Slavic Predicate Instrumental: A Problem in Diachronic Syntax (1973). Hired in Berkeley's Slavic department, she eventually became Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures (and an affiliate professor in the linguistics department), retiring in 2009. Her innovative work on areality (distinguishing spread zones from residual zones) and morphosyntactic typology (distinguishing head-marking from dependent-marking languages), and her use of typological research to answer global questions about language history, has made her one of the world's leading linguistic typologists and theoreticians of areal typology. Nichols has been named Collitz Professor (at the 2015 Linguistic Institute sponsored by the Linguistic Society of America) and a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; she has also received the Order of Merit of the, Republic of Ingushetia. She served as President of the Association for Linguistic Typology (2011-2015).

In her career so far, Nichols has written some two hundred articles and book chapters, and four books: Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time (1992), Chechen-English and English-Chechen Dictionary (2004, with Arbi Vagapov), Ingush-English and English-Ingush Dictionary (2004), and Ingush Grammar (2011). For her first book she received the Linguistic Society of America's Leonard Bloomfield Book Award. Among her most influential papers are "Diminutive consonant symbolism in western North America" (1971), "Head-marking and dependent-marking grammar" (1986), "Linguistic diversity and the first settlement of the New World" (1990), "The Amerind personal pronouns" (1996, with David A. Peterson), all published in Language, and "Modeling ancient population structures and population movement in linguistics and archeology" (Annual Review of Anthropology 1997) and "Transitivizing and detransitivizing languages" (Linguistic Typology 2004, with David A. Peterson and Jonathan Barnes). Nichols has co-authored many papers (including some of these) with Berkeley graduate students and alumni, and has directed dissertations in linguistics and served on dozens of PhD committees.

Deborah Tannen

Deborah Tannen

Biography ...

One of today's best-known public commentators on language and gender, Deborah Tannen attended Harpur College and Wayne State University before entering the Berkeley PhD program in linguistics. Her 1979 dissertation, Processes and Consequences of Conversational Style, analyzes how culturally-relative interactional conventions, which she called "conversational style", work well when shared but can lead to misunderstanding and misjudgment when not. (For example, when speakers have different habits and assumptions about how long a pause is normal between turns, those expecting a shorter pause may be misperceived as hogging the floor, while misperceiving their interlocutors, who are waiting for a pause to take the floor, as having nothing to say.) A revision was published as Conversational Style: Analyzing Talk Among Friends (1984, 2nd ed. 2005). Much of Tannen's work explores the role of gender, sociocultural background, framing, and the interplay of power and connection in natural conversational interactions. Her other scholarly books include Talking Voices: Repetition, Dialogue, and Imagery in Conversational Discourse (1989, 2nd ed. 2007) and Gender and Discourse (1996). Her eight books for a broader audience include You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation (1990, translated into 31 languages), Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work (1994), You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives (2009), and You're the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women's Friendships (2017). Her memoir Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey from World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow will appear in September 2020. Tannen has taught since 1979 at Georgetown, where she is now a University Professor.

Leanne Hinton

Leanne Hinton at the 2016 Breath of Life Workshop

Biography ...

Leanne Hinton received her PhD from UC San Diego in 1977, came to Berkeley in 1978, and is now a Professor Emerita. She is an authority on Yuman languages and linguistics and one of the world's most influential figures in language revitalization. She helped develop the master-apprentice model of revitalization as well as "breath of life" archival workshops for language reclamation in the absence of fluent speakers. Hinton's publications in Yuman and Californianist linguistics include the books Havasupai Songs: a Linguistic Perspective (1984), A Dictionary of the Havasupai Language (1984), and Spirit Mountain: An Anthology of Yuman Story and Song (1984, with Lucille Watahomigie), influential articles like "Upland Yuman sibilant shifts" (1981) and "Takic and Yuman: A study in linguistic convergence" (1991), and the immensely popular Flutes of Fire: Essays on California Indian Languages (1994), based on her columns on language in News from Native California. Her books on language revitalization are The Green Book of Language Revitalization in Practice (2001, co-edited with Ken Hale), How to Keep your Language Alive (2002, co-edited with Matt Vera and Nancy Steele), Bringing Our Languages Home: Language Revitalization for Families (ed. 2013), and The Routledge Handbook of Language Revitalization (2018, co-edited with Leena Huss and Gerald Roche).

Hinton was the second woman chair of the Berkeley linguistics department (2002-5) and served as (co-)director of the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages from 1978 to 2007, overseeing its transformation into a research center and archive oriented toward cultural heritage preservation and Indigenous accessibility. She has worked with Indigenous communities and language programs throughout the world; in California, she has been an advisory member of the board of the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival since its foundation. A past president of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (2002), Hinton has received the Cultural Freedom Award from the Lannan Foundation (2006), the Linguistics, Language, and the Public Award from the Linguistic Society of America (2012), the Hubert Howe Bancroft Award from The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley (2018), and the International Guardians of Culture and Lifeways "Honored One" Award from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums (2019).

Reflections ...

"Three women who shaped my career

Margaret Langdon received her PhD in Linguistics at Berkeley in 1966, the same year I received my BA there in Anthropology. Although I had taken a couple of courses in linguistics, we did not meet each other until a couple of years later, when she was a professor at UCSD and I had just quit graduate school at the University of Illinois and returned home to San Diego. I had been doing fieldwork with the Havasupais since undergrad days, and continued to do so during the 5 years I was out of school. Since both Havasupai and Margaret’s language of specialization, Kumeyaay (Diegueño), were closely related, we connected and became good friends. She encouraged me to do fieldwork on varieties of Kumeyaay in Baja California, and we started publishing together on comparative Yuman. Eventually, when I was about to turn 30 and decided I should start committing to an actual career, she paved the way for me to attend graduate school in the UCSD Linguistics department.

Margaret was a terrific role model for me. Besides being available any time to discuss linguistics and anything else, she was one of the early linguists doing what is now called community-based linguistics. She did work on projects for Kumeyaay community consumption, creating a practical alphabet, giving full authorship to the Kumeyaay people who developed a book of language lessons with her (Let’s Talk ‘Iipay ‘Aa), and a dictionary for community use, letting us students do this exciting work with her. Her non-academic life was as important to her as her academic life, and the two blended together seamlessly. Her students got to share her family, her many friends outside of academia, and her open and welcoming household. When she and her husband (a wonderful man in his own right) threw a party, it was attended by students and professors, relatives, plumbers (her husband’s occupation), and Kumeyaay people. There would usually be traditional singing and Peyon (a traditional gambling game). Given my young ambivalence about becoming an academic, I figured if I could be anything like Margaret (despite being much less socially expansive), I could be happy in university life.

Lucille (Cindy) Watahomigie is a Force of Nature. For over 50 years, we have worked together on many projects and books. But I must admit that I have always been the beta to her alpha, and I can never thank her enough for the directions she took me. One of the first members of the Hualapai tribe to get an advanced degree, Cindy got an MA in Education, and put it to work for her community. When the Havasupais asked me to help them develop a writing system in the 1960’s, she was working with Hualapai on theirs, so we combined forces. (The end result was two different writing systems, because the tribes wanted to stress their separateness through their orthography). When the Havasupais asked me to lead their bilingual education program in the 1970’s, Cindy was developing hers, and her inspiration was a great help in designing ours. Cindy was the visionary for what bilingual education could achieve, and she worked passionately for her vision of a bright future for tribal youth. Many important materials came out of that period, and I most fondly remember one in particular: the Hualapai Bilingual Education’s massive bilingual book on Hualapai stories, which Cindy asked me to illustrate. One of the problems of committing to a career is that there are so many other interests that might have to be left behind. I had thought that by choosing linguistics I would have to leave art behind; but for that book, and quite a few others, I was able to combine linguistics and art. It was a great relief to me.

Both of us were deeply concerned about the lack of adequate training for Native American bilingual education teachers, and Cindy took on the task of doing something about it. In 1978 she asked me to co-organize a summer workshop with her at San Diego State University called the All-Yuman Bilingual Education Workshop. This morphed the next summer into the now venerable annual American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI), now at the University of Arizona. That initial workshop was the summer just before I took my faculty position at UC Berkeley, and I recently found a letter I had written afterwards to my future husband Gary Scott, about how inspired I was by the workshop, and how important it was for indigenous people to be able to access the services of universities, and especially the linguistic archives. This was almost 20 years before the founding of the Breath of Life Workshops and Institutes for California Indians, but looking back, I see the that the inkling of the inspiration for it was born at that workshop.

Nancy Steele was the first Native person in Northern California that I got to know, some 40 years ago, and the fact that I am now pretty much a specialist in California Native languages and language revitalization is partly due to her. She has been a leader in language revitalization for all her adult life, not just for Karuk but for the whole state of California and beyond. I first met her when she was the language director at Humboldt State’s Center for Indian Community Development, developing materials and curriculum and doing teacher training. She contacted me in my early years at Berkeley, and had me come up to give workshops with her to the language teachers of the wonderfully diverse tribes there. I remember her being very well-versed in state-of the-art language teaching models, and trying to help the speakers develop skills in immersion techniques. This was important to me, because I was already seeing the flaws of bilingual education and the need for more intensive language exposure for children and adults alike.

In 1992, Nancy and I were participants at a gathering of California Indian language activists sponsored by the Native California Network. At this gathering, the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival was born, with Nancy as one of the founders and a key member then and now. She is an inspirational speaker, and was the most important voice in the development of the Advocates’ mission, which has always been to support the training of new speakers of indigenous California languages. She and I worked closely together on the development of the Advocates' signature program, the Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program, and her ideas and inspirations were key. One of my fondest memories was when we went on a long car trip together from the Northernmost to Southernmost reaches of California in the summer of 1993, to assess and mentor the first six master-apprentice teams. Since then, we have travelled together to train teams not only in California, but all over the United States, and in Canada and Australia as well. As she says, we 'tag-team' together very well. She is a co-author of our book How to Keep Your Language Alive, and is an inspiration behind many of the chapters. Besides Nancy’s work in language revitalization, she is an advocate and supporter of Native arts and Native foodways, and devoted participant of the beautiful tribal ceremonies of indigenous Northern California. She has taught me much, and I have been honored to be her friend and colleague for all these years."

Berkeley Women and Language Group

"Locating Power" (1992)

Details ...

The Berkeley Women and Language Group was established in the 1980s by linguistics graduate students Sue Bremner, Noelle Caskey, and Birch Moonwomon, and then revived in 1991 by Mary Bucholtz, Kira Hall, and Moonwomon. BWLG sponsored a series of significant conferences. Publications that emerged from these conferences, edited by an overlapping set of women graduate students over the years, are the Proceedings of the First Berkeley Women and Language Conference (1985), Locating Power (1992), Cultural Performances (1994), Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self (1995), Gender and Belief Systems (1996), and Engendering Communication (1998). In 1999, to support its major international role, the Berkeley group developed into the International Language and Gender Association, which promotes research on language, gender, and sexuality; continues to organize annual conferences; and publishes the journal Gender and Language.

Joyce T. Mathangwane

Joyce Mathangwane

Biography ...

Joyce T. Mathangwane received a BA from the University of Botswana and an MA from Leeds University (UK) before coming to Berkeley, where she received her 1996 PhD with a dissertation Phonetics and Phonology of Ikalanga: A Diachronic and Synchronic Study (published in 1999). She is now a Professor of Language and Linguistics (recently retired) at the University of Botswana; in 2009-2010 she was a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. The main languages of Mathangwane's work are Ikalanga and Chiikuhane, Bantu languages of Botswana, and Kindia, a Kikuyu dialect spoken in Kenya. Her linguistic research investigates phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, sociolinguistics, comparative linguistics, lexicography, and onomastics; and she has published on Bakalanga ethnomusicology and literacy in Botwana. Her work on linguistic aspects of HIV/AIDS includes studies of ethnolinguistics and nomenclature, with attention to Ikalanga, Setswana, and Yoruba; and sociolinguistics, advocating for the use of minority languages in health outreach. Mathangwane has published in The Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, South African Journal of African Languages, Studies in African Linguistics, SAHARA-J: Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS, and other journals and edited volumes. She is co-editor of The Discourse of HIV/AIDS in Africa (2003) and Essays on Language, Communication and Literature in Africa (2015), and is also the coauthor of Kalanga Cuisine: Zwinojiwa Ne Zwinong'wiwa Zwe Chikalanga (2013).

Belén Flores

Belén Flores

Biography ...

Belén Flores has served as Graduate Student Services Advisor in UC Berkeley Linguistics since 1993, shepherding over a hundred students through the PhD program.

  • "I came to Berkeley because of Belén", wrote a former student who had funding offers from multiple graduate programs.
  • "There is almost nothing Belén Flores would not do for the graduate students in Linguistics. She has put up prospective students (and visiting scholars) in her own home, picked up and dropped them off at airports, loaned them her bicycle and stored their things, and even delivered needed equipment to their homes during COVID, just to name a few. But, if you thought those actions were above and beyond, it is nothing compared to her learning American Sign Language in order to make it easier to communicate with, and ease the transition for, an incoming Deaf graduate student. Belén is a Berkeley-quality staff member!"

Quirina Geary

Quirina Geary

Biography ...

In 1996 Quirina Geary (Amah Mutsun) began learning her heritage language Mutsun (the Indigenous Ohlone language of the area centered at San Juan Bautista). Her own 3x great-grandmother Josefa Velasquez (1833-1922) was a Mutsun speaker who worked briefly on language documentation with C. Hart Merriam and with Berkeley researcher J. Alden Mason; the last fluent Mutsun speaker, Ascención Solórsano (above), died in 1930 after creating a monumental documentary corpus of her language in work with J. P. Harrington. So Geary's work took her to archives — including, from 1997 through the present, at Berkeley's biennial Breath of Life workshops, where she began collaborating with Berkeley faculty member Leanne Hinton and graduate student Natasha Warner (now a professor at the University of Arizona).

Geary has become a speaker and teacher of Mutsun, and a leader and role model in California language revitalization. She has taught the language to her children and community members (in person and online), and created numerous resources for language learning, including books, short stories, translations of familiar children's books (like Green Eggs and Ham), and videos. Geary holds a BA in Linguistics from UC Davis, and is the co-author of Mutsun-English English-Mutsun Dictionary, mutsun-inkiS inkiS-mutsun riica pappel (2016, with Natasha Warner and Lynnika Butler). She has co-authored papers on the Mutsun language and language revitalization in International Journal of Lexicography, International Journal of the Sociology of Language, and Language Documentation and Conservation, and in the volume Insights from Practices in Community-Based Research: From Theory To Practice Around The Globe (2018). Geary also serves on the board of the Advocates for California Indigenous Language Survival.

Brook Lillehaugen

Brook Lillehaugen

Biography ...

Brook Lillehaugen received a Berkeley linguistics BA in 1998, did her PhD work at UCLA, and then took a faculty position at Haverford College, where she is now Associate Professor of Linguistics and Chair of Linguistics at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges. Her research focuses on Zapotec languages, including philological work with colonial Zapotec-language records and documentation of present-day languages, published in journals as diverse as International Journal of American Linguistics, Language Documentation and Conservation, Language: Teaching Linguistics, Tlalocan, and Transactions of the Philological Society. Lillehaugen's work ranges from grammatical description and analysis to collaborative documentation and revitalization projects. She is co-director of Ticha, a digital tool that presents Colonial Zapotec manuscripts, including images, transcriptions, and linguistic analyses, together with a dictionary and other resources, for use by scholars, Zapotec community members, and the public; she was co-director of Dizhsa Nabani, a documentary web series focusing on language and daily life in San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya. Lillehaugen has also published literary translations (of work by Felipe H. Lopez) from Zapotec in Latin American Literature Today and The Acentos Review. In 2018 she received the (national) Ernest A. Lynton Faculty Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty.

Abby Wright

Abby Wright

Reflections ...

"I'm different from a lot of the women on this page. I switched course after three years at Berkeley Linguistics in the early 2000s, heading to the east coast to attend law school. As will likely come as no surprise, women are woefully underrepresented in the legal field. Although women enter law school in approximately equal numbers to men, women are much harder to find in management positions: women make up only a fraction of law school partners, law school deans, general counsels at large corporations, and leadership positions at government agencies.

This makes my start at Berkeley Linguistics all the more important: I had three years to develop my critical thinking and analysis skills in a supportive and diverse environment. A majority of my cohort were women, and brilliant women at that. I came to Berkeley when I was just 21, and my three years at Berkeley were a time of profound professional and personal development. And those years helped prepare me for my legal career. After law school, I clerked for a judge on the court of appeals in Boston and then for Justice Stevens on the US Supreme Court. After my clerkships, I joined the Department of Justice, where I have practiced for twelve years in the Civil Division, on the Appellate Staff. Because I am an appellate lawyer, most of my day-to-day work involves legal questions (as opposed to developing facts, for example), and many of those questions center on what words mean: how statutes should be interpreted and how constitutional provisions apply. A background in linguistics is certainly helpful in deciphering the complicated structures employed by the writers of statutory and regulatory provisions and explaining those in a persuasive manner to a judge without expertise in a particular regulatory area. But on a deeper level an understanding of linguistics helps legal professionals ask the right questions: rather than considering language as a code with fixed meaning to be unlocked ('calling balls and strikes'), linguistics helps us understand how words have meaning in context and legal training helps us understand that context."

Abby Wright, MA 2002

Mairi McLaughlin

Mairi McLaughlin

Biography ...

Mairi McLaughlin did her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Cambridge, where she received her PhD in 2008. She came to Berkeley in the same year and is now a Professor of French and an affiliated faculty member in the Italian studies and linguistics departments; she has also held visiting lectureships at the University of Oxford and Paris VIII. McLaughlin's research concerns linguistic variation and change in French and Italian, including the relationship between language and the media, language contact, translation, and speech reporting. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches, she has worked on material from the Renaissance, the 17th and 18th centuries, and the digital era. McLaughlin's first book (a revision of her doctoral thesis) was Syntactic Borrowing in Contemporary French: A Linguistic Analysis of News Translation (2011); her second book La Presse française historique: Histoire d’un genre et histoire de la langue will be published 2020. Her papers have appeared in journals such as French Studies, Journal of French Language Studies, Langages, Circula: Revue d’idéologies linguistiques, Le discours et la langue, The Italianist, and Perspectives: Studies in Translatology as well as in many books and conference volumes.

Reflections ...

"I would like to underscore the strength of mentorship by women in linguistics at Berkeley. I am a Professor in the French Department and I feel like I am part of a lineage of female mentors. I have benefitted enormously from the mentorship of Professor Sophie Marnette (University of Oxford) who did her Ph.D. in French at Berkeley. She, in turn, worked with and was then mentored by Professor Suzanne Fleischman, another female linguist in the French department. In working with my own students at UC Berkeley, I hope that this tradition will continue, in a non-exclusionary manner, of course."

Kayla Begay

Kayla Begay

Biography ...

Kayla Begay (Hupa) received a BA from Stanford and wrote her 2017 Berkeley PhD dissertation Wailaki Grammar on a Dene language spoken along the Eel River in northern California. Now an Assistant Professor of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University, her research focuses on Dene languages, and on historical-comparative linguistics for language revitalization within the Wailaki and Hupa communities. While at Stanford and Berkeley she also worked with speakers of Karuk, Yucatec Maya, and Sereer. Begay is a coauthor of "Xo’ch Na:nahsde’tl’-te: Survivance, resilience and unbroken traditions in northwest California" (2019, with Cutcha Risling Baldy, in Ka'm-t'em: A Journey Toward Healing), and has contributed to the Hupa Online Dictionary and Texts project (at UC Davis). She is also a traditional basket weaver and singer from the Xontah Nikya:aw in Hoopa Valley, and a member of the board of the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival.

Reflections ...

"My 3x great grandparents were Hupa language speakers consulted for the first linguistics PhD dissertation at Berkeley in 1904. I filed mine on a related language as the 338th in 2017. My generation of Hupa people are here today because there were those who survived, continued to speak, and prayed us into existence. My goals have been to live a life worthy of that prayer, to share language and speak better for the generations yet to come."

Emily Drummond

Emily Drummond

Biography ...

Emily Drummond graduated from Bryn Mawr before coming to Berkeley, where she is a PhD student (MA 2020). Her research focuses on the documentation and revitalization of Nukuoro, a Polynesian Outlier language spoken in Micronesia, including analytic work that engages with semantics, syntax, and morphosyntax. Drummond has published in Pacific Asia Inquiry and the proceedings of NELS, and helped create a Nukuoro Talking Dictionary (2016) and a digital edition of an 18th-century Zapotec catechism (2017, in the Haverford Ticha project).

Reflections ...

"I feel fortunate to work in a department where language documentation and revitalization is spearheaded by women, taught by women, and carried out by women. Fieldwork can be lonely, and the women I have met at Berkeley have given me strength and support, both in the field and in the department."

Acknowledging our History

At Berkeley, as in academia and society more broadly, systemic sexism and racism have long limited the opportunities for women and those holding marginalized identities. Not until 2000 did our undergraduate population achieve a balance between men and women; even in 2020, on the Berkeley campus, only about a third of the faculty are women. Women and those holding marginalized identities are more likely to be the targets of discrimination and harassment. The reflections below call out discrimination and sexual harassment, and may be distressing. If they bring up memories or concerns that you would like to discuss confidentially, the Berkeley PATH to Care Center is a confidential resource available to any current or former member of the campus community, including visitors.

The 1980s

"Your eyes are so blue today."

Reflections ...

"It was the early 80s and I was a beginning grad student with a bad case of imposter syndrome. I was in a cafe with a somewhat older (male) grad student and he was explaining some syntactic thing I didn't understand. Two (male) Linguistics professors walked in and joined us. The other grad student explained what we had been talking about and the conversation continued on that topic. I wasn't joining in (because I was intimidated) but I was following, and was really interested. Suddenly one of the profs interrupted, looked at me, and said 'Your eyes are so blue today.' That was the moment at which I knew that I wasn't taken seriously and would never be taken seriously. Such a minor thing but it made such an impression on me that I still remember it and how bad it made me feel. I'm sure he thought he was being nice."

The 1990s

"A toxic climate"

Reflections ...

"I personally experienced harassment from male faculty and graduate students throughout my time in the program, ranging from misogynistic jokes to months of stalking (both of these were perpetrated by male faculty members). The department also had a culture of tolerating faculty-student sexual relationships, including undergraduate as well as graduate students. The toxic climate wasn't unique to the Linguistics Department: I was also repeatedly sexually harassed by a male faculty member in another department, and I knew graduate students in other disciplines who had experienced sexual harassment in their home departments.

At that time, there was no public discussion of these topics in academic settings, and there were no faculty that my colleagues and I felt we could trust with these concerns. In fact, when one female graduate student came forward with a serious complaint, she was summarily dismissed from the program on dubious grounds of poor academic performance. This incident terrorized the female graduate students and reinforced the culture of silence in the department. It is deeply disturbing that this extreme misconduct was permitted to go on for so long and that, as far as I can tell, to this day none of the perpetrators experienced any negative professional consequences. I can only hope that the department's culture and climate have changed along with the larger society, and that such violations of vulnerable students would never be tolerated today."

Mary Bucholtz, PhD 1997; Professor and Chair, Department of Linguistics, UC Santa Barbara

The 2010s

"community"

Reflections ...

From the 2010s: "I loved being a graduate student at Berkeley for many reasons, in particular due to the relationships I formed with the amazing linguistics department faculty, staff, and other students.

I especially felt cared for and supported by the Berkeley linguistics department when I was a victim of sexual harassment at a university-related event. I told a friend, a more advanced female student, about the incident, not sure whether it was worth doing or saying anything about. She encouraged me to report the incident to a female faculty member, who was also very supportive. It remains a bit unclear whether any action was taken against the offender, but over the next few years I saw the department take specific steps to draw awareness to sexual harassment and microaggressions, educate faculty and students, and prevent further incidents similar to mine. The Berkeley linguistics faculty and staff truly care about the happiness and well being of their students, and I feel lucky to have been a part of that community."

The 1990s

"gaslighting"

Reflections ...

From the 1990s: "At one point, explaining why a particular fellowship had been awarded to a male graduate student a year or two behind me, instead of me, my advisor explained that my fellow student had a wife (one assumes, to support), while they knew that I had a husband (one assumes, to support me). This, in spite of the fact that it was also well-known that his wife had a full-time career, while my husband was a graduate student at the time. Later, when I became pregnant with my first child during the final years of my time there, I was overtly asked on multiple occasions by faculty advisors whether I had, in fact, intended to get pregnant. Later critiques of my work centered around whether I was taking linguistics seriously; it was only afterwards that I came to understand how much of that judgment was based on gendered assumptions about motherhood and dedication to work.

Support around research and job searches was similarly uneven and gendered. My dissertation research, which included a focus on the practical application of my field of linguistics, was so apparently unimportant that one of my advisors never bothered to read my manuscript. I only found out later that he also neglected to write a letter of recommendation for the job that I now have, almost costing me an interview for the position where I am now a Full Professor. The culture was so pervasive and apparently intransigent — I never once saw any male faculty members called out for their behavior, and, in fact, female faculty seemed to take this so for granted that they participated in or spoke in defense of some of the behaviors described above — that I largely fled the field of linguistics and ended up finding a home in linguistic anthropology. Equally troubling was that, when speaking privately to faculty about these apparent biases, responses seemed to indicate that the issue wasn’t with the department, culture, or faculty, but with students — that such complaints were a thin veil for academic inadequacy. Such gaslighting made it even more difficult to imagine finding ways to change the culture of the department."

Equity and Inclusion

In the last two decades, and especially in the last five years, the UC system and the Berkeley campus have made concerted efforts to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. This includes a focus on preventing and responding to harassment and discrimination. New university policies prohibit sexual harassment and sexual violence and require employees to report such incidents to the campus Title IX Office (OPHD); the Faculty Code of Conduct prohibits sexual harassment as well as sexual relationships between faculty and students whom they supervise. Since 2015, Berkeley's PATH to Care Center has provided confidential support and advocacy to survivors and led campus efforts in prevention education; in 2017, the campus created a new position of Special Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor on Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment. Information about the campus prevention and response process is at svsh.berkeley.edu.

In the Department of Linguistics, our Climate Committee has articulated these values on its Climate, Inclusion, and Community webpage: "When people feel safe, respected, and secure in their dignity as human beings, we are able to be creative intellectually, and we can thrive at work and in our studies. Establishing such an environment can be challenging in a work community that consists of interacting individuals with diverse backgrounds, personalities, goals, skills, and values. The Department of Linguistics is strongly committed to making our diverse community as healthy, secure and happy as possible."

Climate Committee

Linguistics office doors

Details ...

A departmental Climate Committee, first headed by Sharon Inkelas and Line Mikkelsen, was created in 2015 to support the department's goal of making our diverse community as healthy, secure, and happy as possible. This committee organizes an annual climate survey, whose results inform departmental planning; makes resources available in the department; and organizes activities that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our teaching, research, and collegial life.

Faculty gender balance

Details ...

Women comprised 11% (1/9) of the tenured and tenure-track linguistics faculty in 1970; 27% (3/11) in 1980; 21% (3/14) in 1990; 29% (4/14) in 2000; 47% (7/15) in 2010; and 44% (7/16) in 2020.

Gender parity among PhD recipients

Details ...

Berkeley's first PhD in linguistics since 1904 was awarded to a woman in 1954; but in the 1950s overall only 25% (2/8) of our PhDs were awarded to women, in the 1960s only 32% (10/31), and in the 1970s only 28% (16/58). Subsequent decades saw change: 48% (36/75) in the 1980s, 47% (27/57) in the 1990s, 48% (28/58) in the 2000s, and 58% (34/59) in the 2010s. In 2020, 59% (20/34) of the graduate students are women.

Undergraduate gender balance

Details ...

This shows how many of our undergraduates are women — in linguistics (blue) and in all social science departments (gold).

Graph showing undergraduate gender demographics

150w.berkeley.edu

Graphic associated with the "150 years of women at Berkeley" project