News

February 14, 2014

The Department of Linguistics mourns the passing and celebrates the life and career of Chuck Fillmore (August 9, 1929 – February 13, 2014), a beloved teacher and colleague. A web page in his memory (with appreciations, biography, and photos) has been set up at http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/charles-j-fillmore-1929-2014.

August 9, 2013

George Lakoff and Eve Sweetser's Neural Theory of Language (NTL) project is an interdisciplinary research effort to answer the question: How does the brain compute the mind? Specific research questions include: How can the brain -- a highly structured network of neurons -- support thought and language? How do the specific neural structures of the human brain shape the nature of thought and language?

Andrew Garrett's Yurok Language Project combines active fieldwork with Yurok elders with philological analysis of earlier fieldnotes and recordings to develop a Yurok documentary corpus. The Yurok materials are organized into a single digital archive, publicly available on the project web site, which incorporates information from as early as 1850 to the present day.

Flowers photographed on a Phonology Lab hikeThe Phonology Laboratory (Keith Johnson, Director; John Ohala, emeritus Director) is a research and teaching laboratory within the Linguistics Department.

The Survey of California and Other Indian Languages has three main activities: language documentation; archiving; and community service and public outreach. The Survey was founded by Mary Haas and Murray Emeneau in 1952, a year before the present Department of Linguistics, and it continues the linguistic work of the Archaeological and Ethnographic Survey of California, established by A. L. Kroeber in 1901.

The long-term objective of Keith Johnson's NIH-funded research project is to understand human spoken language processing (particularly speech perception and auditory word recognition) in linguistic context. Speech signals are unique in human experience because they are highly familiar, and have great practical significance in daily life. Therefore, it is not too surprising to find that people develop optimized processing strategies tuned specifically for speech.

Update January 17, 2020: The Xtone database is no longer available.

The Syntax & Semantics Circle is a weekly forum dedicated to discussion of the descriptive, experimental, and theoretical study of syntax and semantics, featuring presentations of ongoing research by members of the Berkeley Linguistics Department and other departments, as well as discussion of previously published works. Go to the current schedule.

Linguistic map of California from the California Language ArchiveThe California Language Archive, an online catalog and digital repository of UC Berkeley language archives, is the largest university archive of indigenous language materials in North America and is managed by students an

Phorum is a lively weekly talk and discussion series, coordinated by graduate students and attended by students, visitors and faculty. Phorum features presentations on all aspects of phonology and phonetics by Berkeley linguists and out-of-town visitors. Go to this semester's schedule.

Word meanings across languages are sometimes viewed as reflecting a universal conceptual repertoire - or, at the other extreme, culturally varying linguistic convention. This project, headed by Terry Regier, explores a third possibility: that there are better and worse ways of partitioning semantic space for the purposes of communication, and that systems of word meanings across languages tend to reflect near-optimal partitions of such a space. This idea can in principle account for both universal tendencies and some degree of linguistic convention.

Sharon Inkelas and Gabriela Caballero (PhD 2008) are developing a theoretical production model of morphology, called Optimal Construction Morphology, whose aim is to predict the optimal combination of morphological constructions that can produce a word of a given target meaning in a given language. OCM builds on earlier theories such as Lexical Morphology and Phonology, A-Morphous Morphology, Paradigm Function Morphology, and Construction Grammar, synthesizing the contributions of realizational, item-based and cyclic morphological theories in novel ways.

Klamath RiverThe Karuk dictionary and text project, led by Andrew Garrett and Line Mikkelsen, aims to create comprehensive and usable online research, teaching, and learning tools for Karuk, an indigenous language of northern California with fewer than a dozen first-language speakers.

March 8, 2013

Congratulations to the following graduate and undergraduate students, who received fellowships from the Linguistic Society of America to attend the 2013 summer Linguistic Institute! 

  • Nico Baier
  • Sarah Bakst
  • Kouros Falati
  • Jevon Heath
  • Shubha Guha
  • Emil Minas
  • Mark Morales
  • Whitney White

The last four of these received all-expense paid Rackham undergraduate fellowships, of which only 10 are awarded nationally. Berkeley had the highest total number of fellowship recipients of any institution.

Berkeley linguistics faculty Terry Regier and Keith Johnson have recently published articles in Science and Nature, respectively:

February 7, 2013

Berkeley's Yurok Language Project featured in LA Times article on revitalization of the Yurok language.

September 29, 2012

A new web interface for the South American Phonological Inventory Database (SAPhon) was recently launched.