April 7, 2021

Read a new blog post co-authored by Tessa Scott and Henry Sales Hernandez for the Center for Latin American Studies, describing their efforts to teach Mam in Oakland!

This weekend a number of Berkeley linguists are presenting at the Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL 51-52). Current affiliates who will be presenting include Hannah Sande, Maddy Bossi, and Katie Russell. Congrats, all!

Tessa Scott was accepted to present at Move and Agree: Forum on the Formal Typology of A'-agreement. The forum is taking place online from May 31 to June 4 and is being co-hosted by McGill and UBC. Also scheduled to give invited presentations are Amy Rose Deal on "How agreement works, with special reference to A'-features" and Nico Baier (PhD 2018) on "On the nature of complex A/A'-probes." Congrats, all!

April 5, 2021

The 2020-2021 colloquium series continues on Monday, April 12, with a talk by our very own Susan Lin, held via Zoom from 3:10-5pm. The talk is entitled "Looking inward: reflections on the role of articulatory research," and the abstract is as follows:

Many of the oldest and most fundamental works in the history of the field of phonetics were articulatory studies. Yet at present, articulatory phonetics accounts for a relatively small fraction of the research published in the most influential phonetics journals. We are in a time when the field is, rightly, reviewing the scientific rigor, ethical standards, and public safety of its research methodologies. It is therefore reasonable to ask what novel contributions articulatory phonetics research can still make, so as to warrant its continued or even renewed use. In this talk, I share phonetic and phonological insights that have resulted from articulatory research. All of these findings point to evidence at the articulatory level that is otherwise hidden from view; these are insights that could not have otherwise been gleaned from acoustic or perceptual data. Some of these findings were the product of targeted investigations and controlled experimentation, while others were incidental findings from other studies, and as such I also argue for the continued value of basic exploratory articulatory research.

Larry Hyman has received notification from French Ambassador Philippe Etienne that he has been appointed Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques. As Ambassador Etienne explains, "this honor reflects the French authorities' gratitude for [Larry's] efforts to promote French language and culture" and culminates a span of over 50 years in which Larry has studied abroad in Bordeaux, held visiting research positions in Paris, Lyon and Toulouse, and received other invitations in France. He is also known for hosting many French visitors in Berkeley. Along with his French colleague, Clément Sanchez of the Collège de France, Larry has served as Director of the France-Berkeley Fund since 2010. More information is available here. Congratulations, Larry!

April 2, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

March 30, 2021

Ever Reyes, member of the DE in Indigenous Language Revitalization and graduate student in the Department of Music, published a blog post on language revitalization for the Center for Latin American Studies.

March 29, 2021

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

  • We released a new collection of many hours of video recordings of Kawaiisu (Uto-Aztecan; California), featuring siblings Luther Girado (1941-2021), Betty Hernandez (1944-2014), and Lucille Hicks. In the videos, their team -- with Julie Turner, Laura Grant, Jon Hammond, and others -- is usually headed somewhere, talking about land and history, or doing something, like making elderberry jelly. The videos were made between 2012 and 2014 as part of a project funded by an NSF DEL grant awarded to the Kawaiisu Language and Cultural Center.
  • The Berkeley Language Center continues its digitization of their Linguistics Lectures collection, consisting of over 140 lectures given primarily as part of departmental colloquia between 1960 and 1985. The most recently digitized is a 24-part lecture course, "American Indian Languages," taught by Mary Haas. If you have information about the course (e.g., date, students enrolled), please write to

March 26, 2021

Congrats to Isaac Bleaman, whose article "Predicate fronting in Yiddish and conditions on multiple copy Spell-Out" has just appeared online in Natural Language & Linguistic Theory. Read it here!

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

March 25, 2021

March 23, 2021

Congratulations to graduate students Aurora Martinez Kane, Allegra Robertson, and Katie Russell and to undergraduate major Teela Huff (who will be attending UCLA for her linguistics PhD) on being selected for NSF Graduate Research Fellowships!

March 19, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Spring Recess: March 22-26, 2021
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Mar 19 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Round Robin!
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Thursday Mar 25 - Zoom - 4-5pm
    Practice WCCFL talks (part 1)
    Tyler Lemon: Low nominative agreement in Uab Meto (poster).
    Maksymilian Dąbkowski: Laryngeal feet in A’ingae: Implications for metrical theory.
  • Zoom Phonology - Wednesday Mar 24 - Zoom - 11am-12pm
    Maya Wax Cavallaro (UC Santa Cruz): Laryngeal features and contrast in Kaqchikel and Tz'utujil final consonant allophony.
    For the Zoom link or to be added to the Zoom Phonology mailing list, contact Karee Garvin.

March 12, 2021

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

March 11, 2021

The 2020-2021 colloquium series continues on Monday, March 15, with a talk by Michelle Yuan (UC San Diego), held via Zoom from 3:10-5pm. The talk is entitled "Movement in Inuktitut incorporation," and the abstract is as follows:

Previous work on the Copy Theory of Movement has shown that the realization of movement chains may, in part, be regulated by morphological well-formedness conditions, such as affixation (Landau 2006, a.o.). In this talk, I provide a case study of this idea from noun incorporation (NI) in Inuktitut (Eastern Canadian Inuit), based on my fieldwork. Incorporation in Inuktitut (and Inuit) is cross-linguistically unusual, in that a small set of verbs is obligatorily incorporating (i.e. affixal), while for most other verbs incorporation is not possible. An additional goal of this talk is therefore to further elucidate the nature of Inuit incorporation, informed by how exactly it interacts with clausal syntax.

Our starting point is a little-known observation by Johns (2009) that incorporation constructions in Inuktitut may surface with object agreement and passive morphology. I provide evidence that incorporated nominals are in fact syntactically active, thus accessible to case/agreement processes and able to undergo syntactic movement—despite surfacing within the verb complex. I analyze this pattern as a Stray Affix effect applied in the context of phrasal movement: the nominal complement of an incorporating verb is obligatorily pronounced, regardless of whether it has undergone movement, due to the affixal nature of the verb. I then extend this logic to account for some heretofore unnoticed restrictions on incorporated pronouns (building on my other work on Inuktitut clitic-doubling; Yuan 2021), and discuss possible morphological evidence for a movement analysis of control (cf. Polinsky and Potsdam 2002).

March 9, 2021

The program for the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL) 39 (organized virtually by the University of Arizona) has just been released, with a schedule full of great work by Berkeley linguists!

  • Emily Drummond: Maintaining syntactic identity under sluicing: Pseudoclefts and voice (mis)matches
  • Maksymilian Dabkowski: Laryngeal feet in A'ingae. Implications for metrical theory
  • Rebecca Jarvis: Presuppositionality and syntactic nominalization in finite clausal complements
  • Tyler Lemon: Low nominative agreement in Uab Meto
  • Wesley dos Santos: Long head movement is A-bar movement: the case study of Kawahíva
  • Joshua Martin (BA '17): Monoradical intersectivity and the morphosemantics of suppletion
  • Samir Alam (BA '19) and Elango Kumaran (BA '17): Focus-sensitive restrictions on multi-argument agreement in Maithili
  • Prerna Nadathur (former faculty lecturer) and Hana Filip (PhD '93): Telicity, teleological modality, and (non)culmination
  • Bernat Bardagil (former postdoc): Learning and describing interlocutor indexicality in Mỹky

March 8, 2021

Oliver Whitmore is gauging interest in the potentiality of forming a reading group on Modern/Contemporary Occitan. He is asking those who might be interested to fill out this survey before spring break.

The French Department at UC Berkeley is delighted to announce that Professor Zsuzsanna Fagyal from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be giving a seminar on Wednesday, March 17th from 12-2pm. [Zoom link]

Title: Social Meaning and Consonantal Variation in French and Romance

Abstract: In our forthcoming chapter “Sociophonetics”, Justin Davidson (UC Berkeley) and I take a bird’s-eye view of socially relevant phonetic variation across some varieties of the Romance languages. In this seminar, I will go beyond methodological considerations of social meaning in speech (e.g., first-, second-, and third-wave studies, etc.) and discuss social indexicality more broadly as affect, status, and conventionalized discursive practices in society. Cases of local hypo- and hyper-articulation (‘strengthening’ and ‘weakening’) in consonants, presented in our chapter, will be used as examples in my introductory presentation and as input for discussions with the audience.

Participants are asked to read in advance of the seminar the chapter that she and Justin have co-authored. Please email Mairi McLaughlin for a copy of the chapter.

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

  • We've digitized and catalogued 15 reel tapes of sound recordings of Kiliwa (Yuman; Baja California) made by Mauricio Mixco (PhD 1971) primarily between 1966 and 1969, when he was a graduate student in our department. The storytellers were Rufino Ochurte, Braulio Espinoza, and Rodolfo Espinoza. Trinidad Ochurte Espinoza collaborated closely with Prof. Mixco in the transcription and translation of his uncles' stories, many of which were published in 1983 as Kiliwa Texts: "When I have Donned My Crest of Stars." Soon Prof. Mixco will also be archiving his papers with our archive.
  • We've digitized four notebooks of transcribed, glossed texts in Potawatomi (Algonquian; US, Canada; here, here, here, and here) that belonged to Charles Hockett (1916-2000). The texts come from speakers Jim and Alice Spear. The first three notebooks are dated 1940, after Hockett received his PhD in linguistics from Yale (1939) with a dissertation supervised by later Berkeley faculty member Murray Emeneau (1904-2005); all four of them come to us as part of the papers of Laura Buszard-Welcher (PhD 2003).

March 5, 2021

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!