March 5, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

Big Give is an online fundraising tradition that began in 2014, giving alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends the chance to come together on one day to show support for the Linguistics Department specifically, and the Berkeley campus generally. Big Give begins at 9pm on Wednesday, March 10, and runs through 9pm on Thursday, March 11. Watch for our emails around that time — you might even be able to help us win extra money in the hourly contests!

March 3, 2021

Prospective Student Open House: Graduate Student Research Presentations
Monday, March 8, 2021

3:00 Zoom link opened (feel free to start arriving for the event once the link is open)
3:10 Event Begins: Welcome by Lev Michael
3:15 Emily Drummond, Syntactic ergativity without morphological ergativity: Predictions of abstract Case
3:35 Schuyler Laparle, Structuring discourse through gesture
3:55 Emily Remirez, Decoding social encoding with coding
4:15 Raksit Lau-Preechathammarach, Shifting sociolinguistic dynamics, multilingualism, and sound change in Kuy, a minority language of Northeast Thailand

Congratulations to Schuyler Laparle who has been selected for the inaugural class of Berkeley SciComm Fellows! From the official announcement:

These individuals were selected for their passion for science communication, their commitment to help build a community of practitioners at UC Berkeley, and their desire to apply science communication skills to their future careers, spanning academia, policy, outreach, and more. As a Berkeley SciComm Fellow, they will learn facilitation skills, take a deep dive into science communication practice, and receive training to lead two different science communication workshops, Science Storytelling and Public Speaking. They will then have opportunities to run these workshops for the UC Berkeley community.

March 2, 2021

Congratulations to Gašper Beguš on the publication of his article "Estimating historical probabilities of natural and unnatural processes" in Phonology! Click here to download the article (Open Access).

March 1, 2021

A number of Berkeley affiliates and alumni are presenting at the International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation taking place from March 4 to 7, 2021:

  • Emotion and Motivation in Language Reclamation (Ruth Rouvier)
  • Emergent multilingual identities among children learning Zapotec (Julia Nee, Rosita Jiménez Lorenzo)
  • Documenting child language in an Indigenous Amazonian community (Amalia Skilton)
  • Talk Story on Collaboration, communities, and relationship-building: Pushing the conversation forward (Badiba Olivier Agodio, Kayla Begay, Tinah Dobola, Octavio León Vázquez, Kate Lindsey, Iara Mantenuto, Jerry William Rain, Katerina Rain, Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada, Hannah Sande, Cheryl Tuttle)
  • pglex: A 'pretty good' lexical service (Ronald Sprouse, Edwin Ko, Andrew Garrett)
  • Zooming through the Pandemic with the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival (Leanne Hinton, Carly Tex)
  • Relating the past, present & future: archiving language collections (Raina Heaton, Zachary O'Hagan, Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Susan Smythe Kung, Nick Thieberger, Paul Trilsbeek)

Berkeley faculty Hannah Sande, Larry Hyman, and PhD alumni Gabriela Caballero, Florian Lionnet, and Nik Rolle will be giving talks at the upcoming Princeton Phonology Forum (Tone and Phonological Theory), taking place from March 19 to 21, 2021. The full program and schedule is available online, and the deadline for registration is March 18.

Gabriela Caballero: Tonal exponence and lexical-grammatical tone interactions in San Juan Piñas Mixtec
Larry Hyman: Allomorphy and Tonal Opacity at the Phrase Level in Kuki-Thaadow
Hannah Sande: Not all morphology is item-based: Evidence from three tonal processes
Nicholas Rolle & Florian Lionnet: Phantom structure: A representational account of floating tone association

February 28, 2021

A workshop honoring the scientific contributions of John Ohala is scheduled to take place on Friday and Saturday, March 12 and 13, 2021.

Please email John Kingston, one of the organizers of the workshop, by March 9 to receive the registration form. The Zoom link and a final program will be sent to registered attendees.

Here is a sneak peak at the program:

Day 1 (March 12)

Opening the workshop
9:00-9:10 Jean-Marie Hombert, Laboratoire Dynamic du Langage, Universite de Lyon
John Ohala: my teacher, my colleague and my friend

Session 1: Chair John Kingston
9:11-9:36 Bj orn Lindblom, Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University
A phonetician's battle against Autonomous Linguistics - An exercise in Integrative Phonology
9:37-9:42 Klaus Kohler (read by Bj orn Lindblom)
9:43-9:58 Alan C. L. Yu, Department of Linguistics, University of Chicago
Speech processing variation as a source of sound change
9:59-10:14 Marzena Zygis, Zentrum f ur Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
The role of aerodynamics in explaining sound patterns: infrequency of voiced aricates
10:15-10:30 Jane Stuart-Smith, Department of English Language and Linguistics, Univeristy of Glasgow
Making waves: Reflections on Ohala’s contribution to comparative philology

Session 2: Chair Didier Demolin
10:40-10:55 Sieb Nooteboom, Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Universiteit Utrecht and
Hugo Quene, Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Universiteit Utrecht
On the mental representations of speech sounds
10:56-11:11 Rungpat Roengpitya, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Mahidol University
Thai Tones: Then and Now.
11:12-11:27 Jean-Luc Schwartz, GIPSA-lab, L'Universite de Grenoble-Alpes and
Lucie Menard, Laboratoire de Phonetique, Universite du Quebec a Montreal
Structured idiosyncrasies in vowel systems, an intriguing case of Mutual Use of Available Features at the phonetic level
11:28-11:43 J urgen Trouvain, Language Science and Technology, Universit at des Saarlandes
Aerodynamic voicing constraints in stops: from Wolfgang von Kempelen to John Ohala"

Session 3: Chair John Kingston
11:53-12:07 Terrance M. Nearey and Bruce Derwing, Department of Linguistics, University of Alberta
ICSLP 92 and the visiting professorships of John and Manjari Ohala at the University of Alberta (1991-92)
12:08-12:23 Steven Greenberg, Silicon Speech
Pathways to Meaning
12:24-12:39 Jeri J. Jaeger, Department of Linguistics, University at Bualo
The Story of J
12:40-12:55 Ryan Shosted, Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (
A Funny thing happened on the way to the f[a]rum: The Deseret Alphabet and the cord-card merger in Utah English

Session 4: Chair Didier Demolin
13:05-13:20 Ian Maddieson, Department of Linguistics, University of New Mexico
The listener as a source of sound change" as inspiration for research on environmental impacts on language design
13:21-13:36 Reiko Kataoka, Department of Linguistics and Language Development, San Jose State University
Hypo-correction as a reanalysis of subphonemic variation
13:37-13:52 Christian DiCanio, Department of Linguistics, University at Bualo
Speed in action: from tonal variation to tonal change
13:53-14:08 John Esling, Department of Linguistics, University of Victoria
and Scott R. Moisik, Linguistics and Multilingual Studies Programme, Nanyang Technological University
The problem with modeling is that you are doomed to success

Day 2 (March 13)

Session 5: Chair John Kingston
10:00-10:15 Jacqueline Vaissiere, Laboratoire de Phonetique et Phonologie, Universite de la Sorbonne Nouvelle
John's innovative research and new instrumentations as a great source of inspiration:
on nasalization in the Laboratoire de Phonetique et de Phonologie in Paris
10:16-10:31 Francois Pellegrino, Laboratoire Dynamic du Langage, Universite de Lyon
On phonetic complexity and information - or where did John's suggestion lead me
10:32-10:47 Melissa Barkat-Defradas, Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution-Montpellier
From Code/Frequence Theory to vocal preferences in Humans
10:48-11:03 Jonathan Harrington and Phil Hoole, Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit at M unchen
Planting the seed for sound change: Evidence from real-time MRI of velum kinematics in German

Session 6: Chair Didier Demolin
11:13-11:28 Maria-Josep Sole Sabater, Phonetics Laboratory, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Developing new ways to measure phonetic parameters: successful and not-so-successful attempts
11:29-11:44 Didier Demolin, Laboratoire de Phonetique et Phonologie, Universite de la Sorbonne Nouvelle and
John Kingston, Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The evolution and history of non-pulmonic consonants
11:45-12:00 Richard Rhodes, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley
The History of obstruent voicing in Ojibwe
12:01-12:16 Susanne Fuchs, Zentrum f ur Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
About the involvement of respiration in short temporal windows

Session 7: Chair John Kingston
12:26-12:41 Patrice S. Beddor, Department of Linguistics, University of Michigan
Revisiting listeners turned speakers
12:42-12:57 Pierre Divenyi, Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, Stanford University,
Mohamad Mrayati, United Nations Development Programme, and Rene Carre, Centre National de la Recherche Scientique
Transitions as speech parameters: Appendix to Moderator John Ohala’s comments at the symposium `Phonetic Universals
in Phonological Systems and their Explanation' at the 9th ICPhS, Copenhagen 1979
12:58-13:12 Heriberto Avelino, Instituto Nacional de Antropologa e Historia, Museo Nacional de Antropologa
Final devoicing: Evidence from High Speed Videoendoscopy
13:13-13:28 Natasha Warner, Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona
Pervasiveness of aerodynamics in phonetic explanations: the incompatibility of nasalization and frication"

A Zoom memorial event for John Ohala will be held at 8am (Pacific time) on March 13. All are welcome to attend. Please contact Keith Johnson for the link.

In addition, if you would like to add to the remembrances page, which is now a part of John’s departmental web page, please visit this Google form. When you submit your entry on the form the text you entered will automatically appear on the remembrances page.

February 26, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Fieldwork Forum - Wednesday Mar 3 - Zoom - 3:10-4pm
    Kristina Balykova (UT Austin): Working with the last Guató speakers.
  • Language Revitalization Working Group - Wednesday Mar 3 - Zoom - 4:10-5pm
    Víctor Cata and Rosemary Beam de Azcona: Challenging the reader: la traducción de lenguas minoritarias a lenguas coloniales.
    The talk will be held bilingually in English & Spanish / Se presenta de manera bilingüe español-inglés. RSVP here.

    A collection of short stories with themes of religion and gender, Nácasinu Diidxa, first published in a bilingual Isthmus Zapotec - Spanish edition, has been translated into English. In this conversation author Víctor Cata and translator Rosemary Beam de Azcona will discuss the significance of translating from Zapotec into colonial languages.
    Una colección de relatos que exploran temas de la religión y la diversidad sexual, Nácasinu Diidxa, que primero fue publicada en una edición bilingüe diidxazá (zapoteco del Istmo) - español, ahora se ha traducido al inglés. En esta conversación el autor, Víctor Cata, y la traductora, Rosemary Beam de Azcona, hablarán sobre el significado de traducir de lenguas como el zapoteco, cuyos hablantes experimentan la discriminación, a lenguas coloniales como el español y el inglés.
  • Phorum - Friday Feb 26 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Susannah Levi (NYU): Talker familiarity helps speech perception. Does the benefit stop there?
  • Phorum - Friday Mar 5 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Katie Russell (UC Berkeley): TBA.
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Feb 26 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Hadas Kotek (MIT): Top-down derivations: Flipping syntax on its head. Joint work with Bob Frank (Yale).
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Mar 5 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Michael Diercks (Pomona): Bukusu object marking: At the interface of pragmatics and syntax. Joint work with Justine Sikuku (Moi University).
  • Zoom Phonology - Wednesday Mar 3 - Zoom - 11am-12pm
    Hossep Dolatian (Stony Brook): Orthography to Phonology: Constraints on the Armenian schwa.
    For the Zoom link or to be added to the Zoom Phonology mailing list, contact Karee Garvin.

February 24, 2021

Congratulations to Alexander Elias, who has been invited to give an hour-long "Early Career Researcher Plenary Talk" at the 13th International Austronesian and Papuan Languages and Linguistics Conference (APLL13) hosted remotely by the University of Edinburgh on June 10-12, 2021. The title of his talk is "Phonemic Initial Glottal Stops in the Lesser Sundas: The Emergence and Spread of an Areal Sound Pattern."

February 23, 2021

Mairi McLaughlin's book La Presse française historique: Histoire d’un genre et histoire de la langue has just been published by Classiques Garnier. The book presents the results of the first major study into the history of language in the French press. It has a dual aim: to shed light on the history of the genre of journalism and to explore what the study of historical periodicals can bring to our understanding of the history of language.

Congratulations, Mairi!

Congrats to Larry Hyman, who (virtually) gave an invited talk on "Grammatical functions of tone" to open the conference Prosody & Grammar Festa 5 held last week in Japan!

Gašper Beguš will be giving a seminar talk at UC Berkeley's Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences on Friday, March 5, from 11:10am to 12pm. The title of his talk is "Modeling Language with Generative Adversarial Networks" and the abstract is below. Click here for more details. Congrats, Gašper!

Can we build models of language acquisition from raw acoustic data in an unsupervised manner? Can deep convolutional neural networks learn to generate speech using linguistically meaningful representations? In this talk, I will argue that language acquisition can be modeled with Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and that such modeling has implications both for the understanding of language acquisition and for the understanding of how neural networks learn internal representations. I propose a technique that allows us to wug-test neural networks trained on raw speech. I further propose an extension of the GAN architecture in which learning of meaningful linguistic units emerges from a requirement that the networks output informative data. With this model, we can test what the networks can and cannot learn, how their biases match human learning biases (by comparing behavioral data with networks’ outputs), how they represent linguistic structure internally, and what GAN's innovative outputs can teach us about productivity in human language. This talk also makes a more general case for probing deep neural networks with raw speech data, as dependencies in speech are often better understood than those in the visual domain and because behavioral data on speech acquisition are relatively easily accessible.

February 22, 2021

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

  • Chris Beier and Lev Michael archived a new collection of materials on Andoa (also known as Katsakáti; Zaparoan, Peru). In 2009 the Berkeley team, including Ramón Escamilla (PhD 2012) and Marta Piqueras-Brunet (MA 2008), collaborated for an intensive few days primarily with speakers Juan Mucushua and María Sandi, in addition to Dionisia Arahuanaza and Lidia Arahuanaza. The collection includes sound recordings, fieldnotes, a booklet "Katsakáti: El idioma antiguo del pueblo de Andoas," photographs, and documents deriving from previous documentation of the language in the 1950s by Catherine Peeke and Mary Sargent of SIL International. These are the only known surviving sound recordings of the language.

February 19, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

February 16, 2021

Congrats to Maksymilian Dąbkowski, who will be presenting at the 34th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing (Thursday, March 4, at 3:45pm ET). The title of his talk is "Evidence of accurate logical reasoning in online sentence comprehension" and it is a collaboration with Roman Feiman.

February 15, 2021

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

  • We released a new collection of materials on Tswefap (Grassfields Bantu; Cameroon), from the 2015-2016 graduate field methods course. The consultant was Guy Tchatchouang, the instructors were Larry Hyman and Steven Bird, and students were Geoff Bacon, Andrew Cheng, Emily Clem, Ginny Dawson, Anna Jurgensen, Erik Maier, and Alice Shen.

February 12, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Language Revitalization Working Group and Fieldwork Forum - Wednesday Feb 17 - Zoom - 3:40-5pm (note special time and link)
    Presentations from some of the students in Language Revitalization in fall 2020: Ash Cornejo, Alex Chang, Irene Yi, Ellis Miller, and Sharon Marcos, who will each present about their language revitalization work, along with some time for questions and conversation.
  • Phorum - Friday Feb 12 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Florian Lionnet (Princeton): Downstep in Paicî: between accent and tone.
  • Phorum - Thursday Feb 18 - Zoom - 6-8pm (note special date, time, and link)
    Myriam Lapierre (UC Berkeley): Practice job talk.
  • Phorum - Friday Feb 19 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Check-in meeting facilitated by Hannah Sande: come share current and upcoming projects and get to know our newest faculty member!
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Feb 12 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Suzana Fong (MIT): A dependent case analysis of pseudo noun incorporation in Wolof.
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Feb 19 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Andrew McKenzie (Kansas): TBA.
  • Zoom Phonology - Wednesday Feb 17 - Zoom - 11am-12pm
    Gašper Beguš (UC Berkeley): Tonal wugs in Žiri Slovenian: Floating tones, vowel quality, quantity, and stress.
    For the Zoom link or to be added to the Zoom Phonology mailing list, contact Karee Garvin.

February 10, 2021

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