Linguistics Department News (Calques)

Recent Stories

Stanton colloquium

October 17, 2020

The 2020-2021 colloquium series continues on Monday, October 26, with a talk by Juliet Stanton (NYU), held via Zoom from 3:10-4:30. The talk is entitled Rhythm is gradient: evidence from -ative and -ization, and the abstract is as follows:

The rhythmic constraints *Clash and *Lapse are commonly assumed to evaluate syllable-sized constituents: a sequence of two adjacent stressed syllables (óó) violates *Clash, while a sequence of two stressed syllables, separated by two stressless syllables (óooó), violates *Lapse (see e.g. Prince 1983, Gordon 2002 for *Clash; Green & Kenstowicz 1995, Gordon 2002 for *Lapse). In this talk I propose that *Clash and *Lapse can be evaluated gradiently: speakers calculate violations off of a phonetically realized output representation. The closer the two stressed syllables, the greater the violation of gradient *Clash; the further away the two stressed syllables, the greater the violation of gradient *Lapse. Evidence for this claim comes from patterns of secondary stress in Am. English -ative and -ization: in both classes of forms, the inner suffix (-ate and -ize) is more likely to bear stress the further away it is from the rightmost stem stress. Time permitting, we will discuss other sources of evidence for gradient rhythm, including Am. English post-tonic syncope (Hooper 1978), the rhythm rule (e.g. Hayes 1984), and secondary stress in Russian compounds (Gouskova & Roon 2013).

Sande joins the faculty

October 16, 2020
We are delighted to announce that Hannah Sande will be joining Berkeley Linguistics in January 2021! Hannah will begin teaching classes in Fall 2021, and will spend spring semester advising (remotely), and doing research.

Linguistics events this week (Oct 16-23, 2020)

October 16, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

Survey updates

October 15, 2020

Here's the latest from the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages:

Linguistics events this week (Oct 9-16, 2020)

October 9, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

Bacon joins Google

October 8, 2020

Congrats to Geoff Bacon, who recently filed his dissertation Evaluating linguistic knowledge in neural networks and has just taken up a position as a computational linguist at Google!

Berkeley @ NELS 51

October 8, 2020

The program for the 51th annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (to be hosted virtually by the Université de Quebec à Montreal) has just been released, promising the following presentations by current department members and recent alumni:

  • Amy Rose Deal: 3-on-3 restrictions and PCC typology
  • Peter Jenks: Names as complex indices: On apparent Condition C violations in Thai
  • Laura Kalin and Nicholas Rolle (PhD '18): Deconstructing subcategorization: Conditions on insertion vs. position
  • Edwin Ko: Feeding agreement: Anti-locality in Crow applicatives of unaccusatives

Congrats all!

Nichols colloquium

October 8, 2020

The 2020-2021 colloquium series kicks off this coming Monday, October 12, with a talk by Johanna Nichols (UC Berkeley), held via Zoom. The talk is entitled Proper measurement of linguistic complexity (and why it matters), and the abstract is as follows:

Hypotheses involving linguistic complexity generate interesting research in a variety of subfields – typology, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, cognition, neurolinguistics, language processing, and others. Good measures of complexity in various linguistic domains are essential, then, but we have very few and those are mostly single-feature (chiefly size of phoneme inventory and morphemes per word in text).
In other ways as well what we have is not up to the task. The kind of complexity that is favored by certain sociolinguistic factors is not what is usually surveyed in studies invoking the sociolinguistic work. Phonological and morphological complexity are very strongly inversely correlated and form opposite worldwide frequency clines, yet surveys of just one or the other, or both lumped together, are used to support cross-linguistic generalizations about the distribution of complexity writ large. Complexity of derivation, syntax, and lexicon is largely unexplored. Measuring the complexity of polysynthetic languages in the right terms has not been seriously addressed.
This paper proposes a tripartite metric---enumerative, transparency-based, and relational---using a set of different assays across different parts of the grammar and lexicon, that addresses these problems and should help increase the grammatical sophistication of complexity-based hypotheses and choice of targets for computational extraction of complexity levels from corpora. Meeting current expectations of sustainability and replicability, the set is reusable, revealing, reasonably granular, and (at least mostly) amenable to computational implementation. I demonstrate its usefulness to typology and historical linguistics with some cross-linguistic and within-family surveys.

Survey updates

October 2, 2020

Updates from the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages:

  • Isabel Lazo Martínez, Efraín Lazo Pérez, Trinidad Martínez Soza, Julia Nee and Celine Rezvani publish Beniit kon xpejigan: Te libr ka didxza kon dixtil le’enin te rului’in dnumbr ('Benita and Her Balloons: A Book Written in Zapotec and Spanish that Teaches Numbers'), the second in our new series Publications in Language Maintenance and Reclamation. (Interested in contributing? Write to us at
  • New materials from the winter-spring 1971 and 1979 graduate field methods classes on Cochabamba Quechua are available (here and here). The first was taught by James Matisoff, with consultant Jaime Daza; the second was taught by Leanne Hinton, with consultant Ditri Daza. (See here for a summary history of field methods instruction in our department.)
  • We've digitized two manuscripts by Joseph Davidson, Jr. (PhD 1977), his 'special field statement' (1974) and On the Genetic Relationship of Aymara and Inka, indigenous language families of the Andes. Dr. Davidson's dissertation was A Contrastive Study of the Grammatical Structures of Aymara and Cuzco Kechua.
  • Monica Macaulay (PhD 1987) has archived over 1,150 pages of original field notes and 43 cassettes of sound recordings (from 1992) of Chalcatongo and other varieties of Mixtec (Oto-Manguean, Mexico). We added most of the notes to her paper collection, where they join more than 500 pages of typed versions of some of the same notes (everything now scanned and available online), and the recordings to her audio collection, where they join earlier ones done on reel-to-reel tape (from 1982). The remainder of the field notes, which span the period 1981-1992, we added to a new collection documenting the Berkeley field methods classes on the language in 1981 and 1982, with speaker Nicolás Cortés and instructor Leanne Hinton, which were the impetus for Prof. Macaulay's fieldwork in Oaxaca in 1982, 1985, and 1992, primarily with speakers Margarita Cuevas Cortés and Crescenciano Ruiz Ramírez. Sound recordings from the 1985 field trip, done with Prof. Hinton, are in this collection. Macaulay's dissertation was titled Morphology and Cliticization in Chalcatongo Mixtec. The students in the first field methods class were Mariscela Amador-Hernández (PhD 1988), Claudia Brugman (PhD 1988), Nicholas Faraclas (PhD 1989), Gerd Fischer, and Martha Macri (PhD 1988).