All News

August 9, 2013

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.

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.

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

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

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.

September 20, 2012

The Linguistics Department's new ASL course, taught by Patrick Boudreault, was featured in a UC Berkeley NewsCenter article. Read the article

September 13, 2012

The Linguistic Society of America has named Berkeley graduate student John Sylak the winner of the Student Abstract Award for 2013. John's abstract, "The Phonetic Properties of Voiced Stops Descended from Nasals in Ditidaht", was the top-rated student abstract submitted for the LSA's 2013 Annual Meeting.

John will receive a $500 award and will be honored during the Annual Meeting at the Awards Ceremony, which will be held on the evening of January 5, 2013, just before the Presidential address.

Congratulations, John!

Congratulations to John Ohala (Prof. Emeritus), who has been selected as a Fellow of the International Speech Communication Association. His citation is for "contributions to experimental phonology and phonetics, and ethological aspects of communication."

June 29, 2012

Abstract of Terry Regier article in ScienceCharles Kemp (CMU) and Terry Regier have published an article in Science entitled "Kinship Categories Across Languages Reflect General Communicative Principles". Read the news coverage in th

April 18, 2012

The graduate field methods class, led by Prof. Lev Michael and focusing on Garifuna, is featured in an article on UC Berkeley's News Center website. Read the article

March 22, 2012

Linguistics students have a chance to explore and comment on Journey's multiplayer communication system. Read the Gamespot report on their efforts