Linguistics Department News (Calques)

Recent Stories

Dąbkowski and Beguš publish in Glossa

February 23, 2024

Maksymilian Dąbkowski and Gašper Beguš have published a new paper, "Complex diachronies of final nasalization in Austronesian and Dakota", in Glossa 9/1 (2024). Abstract:

"Final nasalization of voiced stops is phonetically unmotivated (i.e. not a consequence of universal articulatory or perceptual tendencies). As such, final nasalization has been deemed an impossible sound change. Nonetheless, Blust (2005; 2016) proposes that final nasalization took place in four Austronesian languages: Kayan-Murik, Berawan dialects, Kalabakan Murut, and Karo Batak. In this paper, we argue final nasalization in these languages is not a single sound change and reduce it to a combination of phonetically grounded changes. We demonstrate that in Austronesian, final nasalization involved four steps: (i) fricativization of voiced stops, (ii) devoicing of the fricatives, (iii) spontaneous nasalization before voiceless fricatives, and (iv) occlusion of the nasalized fricatives to nasal stops. Finally, we extend our account to final nasalization in Dakota (Siouan) and propose a new explanation for the development of the unnatural final voicing in the related Lakota language. Our results shed light on the role of phonetic naturalness in diachrony and synchrony. We maintain that while phonetically unnatural phonological processes may arise via a sequence of sound changes or analogical extension, sound changes are always natural and phonetically grounded."

Dąbkowski coauthors paper in Journal of Semantics

February 2, 2024

Maksimilian Dąbkowski and Scott AnderBois's paper "Rationale and Precautioning Clauses: Insights from A’ingae" has appeared in Journal of Semantics. Abstract:

"We describe and analyze the semantics of rationale and precautioning clauses (i.e. in order to- and lest-clauses) through a detailed case study of two operators in A’ingae (or Cofán, iso 639-3: con, an Amazonian isolate): the infinitive -ye ‘INF’ and the apprehensional -sa’ne ‘APPR.’ We provide a new account of rationale semantics and the first formal account of precautioning semantics. We propose that in structures such as [p [(in orderto q]] or [p [q-ye]], the rationale operator (underlined) encodes modal semantics where the goal worlds of the actor responsible for achieve q

In structures such as [p [lest q]] or [p [q-sa’ne]], the precautioning operator encodes modal semantics where the actor’s goal worlds avoid a recoverable situation r which entails q (r⇒q).

We observe and account for three apparent asymmetries within the domain of rationale and precautioning semantics, which we dub precautioning semantics asymmetry, rationale polarity asymmetry, and precautioning encoding asymmetry. We thus elucidate the relation between rationale and precautioning clauses and make substantial predictions with respect to the cross-linguistic inventories of rationale and precautioning operators."

Deal publishes article in Linguistic Inquiry

February 2, 2024

Amy Rose Deal's paper "Interaction, Satisfaction, and the PCC" has appeared in Linguistic Inquiry 55 (2024) 39-94. Abstract:

"The Person-Case Constraint (PCC) is a family of restrictions on the relative person of the two objects of a ditransitive. PCC effects offer a testing ground for theories of Agree and of syntactic features, both those on nominals and those found on agreement probes. This article  offers a new theory of PCC effects in an interaction/satisfaction theory of Agree (Deal 2015a) and shows the advantages of this framework in capturing PCC typology. On this model, probes are specified for interaction, determining which features will be copied to them, and for satisfaction, determining which features will cause probing to stop. Applied to the PCC, this theory (a) captures all four types of PCC effect recognized by Nevins (2007) under a unified notion of Agree; (b) captures the restriction of PCC effects to contexts of “Double Weakness” in many prominent examples (e.g., in Italian, Greek, and Basque, where PCC effects hold only when both objects are expressed with clitics); (c) naturally extends to PCC effects in syntactic environments without visible clitics or agreement for one or both objects, as well as to the absence of PCC effects in some languages with clitics or agreement for both objects. Two refinements of the interaction/satisfaction theory are offered: a new notation for probes’ interaction and satisfaction specifications, clarifying the absence of uninterpretable/unvalued features as drivers of Agree; and a proposal for the way that probes’ behavior may change over the course of a derivation, dubbed dynamic interaction."

Proto-Algonquian Mini-Conference (March 2)

January 26, 2024
The Canadian Studies Program is pleased to announce a one-day conference on the UC Berkeley campus on Saturday, March 2, 2024, honoring the late David Pentland on the occasion of the posthumous publication of his Proto-Algonquian Dictionary. The speakers will be: Kevin Brousseau, David Costa, Rose-Marie Déchaine & Chris Wolfart, Ives Goddard, Will Oxford, and Richard A. Rhodes. More details may be found here. We hope you will join us to celebrate David and his contribution to our field. The conference, including a lunch, is at no cost, but you will need to register to attend either in person or over Zoom by emailing

Sande coauthors article in Phonological Data and Analysis

January 11, 2024

Hannah Sande and Madeleine Oakley's article "A typological survey of the phonological behavior of implosives: Implications for feature theories" has been published in Phonological Data and Analysis 5 (2023) 1-46. Abstract:

"This paper presents the first cross-linguistic investigation into the phonological behavior of implosive sounds. In many feature theories, implosives share features with obstruent sounds, plus some implosive-specific laryngeal feature. These feature theories predict, then, that implosives should pattern phonologically as a natural class with obstruents, to the exclusion of sonorants. We take a detailed look at the phonological patterning of implosives in six languages, and present results of a typological survey of implosives in 88 languages where implosives contrast with sonorants and obstruents at the same place of articulation. We find that, despite previous feature-based proposals which assume that implosives are obstruents, implosives pattern with sonorants to the exclusion of obstruents in 38% of languages in our sample. Another 32% of languages show mixed behavior, where implosives pattern with both obstruents and sonorants, depending on the specific phonological process involved. We discuss the implications of our results for the phonological featural representation of implosives, and propose future historical and phonetic studies to further illuminate the cross-linguistic behavior of implosive sounds."

Garrett, Mikkelsen, et al. publish book chapter

December 20, 2023

A new chapter, "Karuk", co-authored by Andrew Garrett, Susan Gehr, Erik Hans Maier, Line Mikkelsen, Crystal Richardson, and Clare S. Sandy, has appeared in volume 2 of The Languages and Linguistics of Indigenous North America: A Comprehensive Guide, edited by Carmen Dagostino, Marianne Mithun, and Keren Rice (De Gruyter Mouton). Abstract: 

"Karuk is an isolate language of northern California with a rich history of academic and locally-based documentation for over 100 years and an active community of learners, teachers, and speakers today. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the language’s history, social contexts, and grammatical patterns through present-day language use and language reclamation. After an introduction to the language’s sociocultural and linguistic setting, we offer a grammatical profile of this polysynthetic, highly agglutinating language, whose phonological patterns cause extensive fusion at morpheme boundaries. Among other features of typological interest, we discuss the Karuk pitch-accent system, its elaborate system of directional suffixes, multiple pluractional categories, the absence of a copula, and pragmatically determined word order. We conclude with a history of documentation and revitalization work in the Karuk community."

Beier, Hyman, and Michael at "Theory of Tone" workshop

December 6, 2023
Several Berkeley colleagues and past students took part in the "Theory of Tone" workshop at INALCO (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales), Paris, on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. This project is supported by a European Research Council grant (Valentin Vydrin, Principal Investigator). Its goal is to provide a Tonal Density Index for 250 tone languages over the next five years. Among the presenters were Larry Hyman, Lev Michael & Chris Beier, Nicholas Rolle (Berlin; (Berkeley PhD 2018), and Florian Lionnet (Princeton; Berkeley PhD 2016). Also presenting was Ana Lívia Agostinho (Santa Catarina University, Brazil; Berkeley postdoc 2019-2020), who will be returning to Berkeley for three months in February 2024.

New book: "The Unnaming of Kroeber Hall" by Andrew Garrett

December 3, 2023

Andrew Garrett's new book, The Unnaming of Kroeber Hall: Language, Memory, and Indigenous California, has been published by MIT Press. From the publisher's website:

"In January 2021, at a time when many institutions were reevaluating fraught histories, the University of California removed anthropologist and linguist Alfred Kroeber's name from a building on its Berkeley campus. Critics accused Kroeber of racist and dehumanizing practices that harmed Indigenous people; university leaders repudiated his values. In The Unnaming of Kroeber Hall, Andrew Garrett examines Kroeber's work in the early twentieth century and his legacy today, asking how a vigorous opponent of racism and advocate for Indigenous rights in his own era became a symbol of his university's failed relationships with Native communities. Garrett argues that Kroeber's most important work has been overlooked: his collaborations with Indigenous people throughout California to record their languages and stories.

The Unnaming of Kroeber Hall offers new perspectives on the early practice of anthropology and linguistics and on its significance today and in the future. Kroeber's documentation was broader and more collaborative and multifaceted than is usually recognized. As a result, the records Indigenous people created while working with him are relevant throughout California as communities revive languages, names, songs, and stories. Garrett asks readers to consider these legacies, arguing that the University of California chose to reject critical self-examination when it unnamed Kroeber Hall."

Kavitskaya and Yu coedit book, "The Life Cycle of Language"

November 30, 2023

Darya Kavitskaya and Alan C. L. Yu (Berkeley PhD 2003) have coedited a new book, The Life Cycle of Language: Past, Present, and Future (Oxford University Press), dedicated to Andrew Garrett and with numerous Berkeley contributors (among others):

  • Molly Babel (PhD 2009) and Melinda Fricke (PhD 2013): "Sound structure and the psycholinguistics of language contact"
  • Christine Beier (faculty) and Lev Michael (faculty): "Community-participatory orthography development in the Máíjùnà communities of Peruvian Amazonia"
  • Juliette Blevins (visiting faculty, 2002-4): "PIE *meh2- 'grow, be fruitful' and Proto-Basque *ma, *maha 'fruit': An apple by any other name..."
  • Gabriela Caballero (PhD 2008): "Tone and morphological structure in a documentation-based grammar of Choguita Rarámuri"
  • Chundra Cathcart (PhD 2015): "Paradigmatic heterogeneity and homogenization: Probing Paul's principle"
  • Lisa Conathan (PhD 2004): "The material and the textual in documentation of Native American languages"
  • Alice Gaby (faculty, 2007-10) : "The life cycle of the Kuuk Thaayorre desiderative"
  • David Goldstein (PhD 2010): "Toward a non-teleological account of demonstrative reinforcement"
  • Jeff Good (PhD 2003): "Language change in small-scale multilingual societies: Trees, waves, and magnets?"
  • Hannah J. Haynie (PhD 2012) and Maziar Toosarvandani (PhD 2010): "The structure of dialect diversity in Mono: Evidence from the Sydney M. Lamb papers"
  • Larry M. Hyman (faculty): "The fall and rise of vowel length in Bantu"
  • Jay H. Jasanoff (faculty, 1969-70): "Greek ἔγνωκα and the perfect of PIE *ǵneh3 'know'"
  • Matthew L. Juge (PhD 2002): "Increasing morphological mismatch via category loss: The Spanish future subjunctive"
  • Darya Kavitskaya (faculty) and Adam McCollum: "The rise and fall of rounding harmony in Turkic"
  • Mary Paster (PhD 2006): Akan morphological 'reversal' in historical context"
  • Clare S. Sandy (PhD 2017): "Recovering prosody from Karuk texts: Deciphering J. P. Harrington's diacritics"
  • Justin Spence (PhD 2013): "Stylistic differentiation in California Dene texts"
  • Donca Steriade (faculty, 1982-84): "Paradigm structure in Sanskrit reduplicants"
  • Alan C. L. Yu (PhD 2003), Carol K. S. To, and Yao Yao (PhD 2011): "Child-directed speech as a potential source of phonetic precursor enhancement in sound change: Evidence from Cantonese"

Congratulations to all concerned!