January 6, 2021

Congratulations to Amalia Skilton (PhD, 2019), who has been awarded the SSILA Archiving Award in Honor of Michael Krauss! From the official announcement:

The committee recognizes the Ticuna Archive, assembled and archived by Amalia and housed at the Survey of California and other Indian Languages. The archive stands out not only for the breadth of materials which it contains, but also for its meticulous organization and curation, which are documented in the guide to the materials, and published in Language Documentation and Conservation. In addition, the committee particularly notes the level of community-engagement exemplified by Amalia’s discussion of ethics and permissions associated with the collections and the level of accessibility of the collection. Amalia lives up to the spirit of Michael Krauss in creating high standards for documentation and archiving and at the same time as contributing to linguistic theory through her research on such topics as deixis, language acquisition, and Ticuna grammar.

Congratulations to Lev Michael, who has been awarded the Victor Golla Prize from the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA)!

The Victor Golla Prize is presented in recognition of a significant history of both linguistic scholarship and service to the scholarly community, with service that expands the quality and/or dissemination of such scholarship.

An excerpt of the full announcement was circulated in the SSILA newsletter:

Lev exemplifies Victor’s virtues of scholarship grounded in an empirical practice that encompasses ongoing language documentation and text philology, pursuing answers to big-picture questions about areality and language change, and effectively integrated with service to a broad community. He excels in the area of South Americanist language documentation, linguistic analysis, and community language support.

Among his many accomplishments, Lev started the biennial Symposium on Amazonian Languages, which meets in Berkeley. In March of last year, SAL 3 had 21 talks by scholars from Brazil, Canada, and the US. Of course there are bigger events for Latin Americanists generally, but nothing comparable in North America for Amazonianists. He created SAPhon, the South American Phonological Inventory Database. This online resource contains information about phonological inventories for 363 South American languages, allowing users to view information about individual languages and sounds, with a map browsing function.

Lev and his research partner Chris Beier are committed to capacity building in the Amazonian communities where they work. This is a critical part of Lev’s pedagogy and mentoring of North American students, and shines through in his work. He does training and involves community members in the work he and Chris do, and makes sure there are results that benefit them.

The committee found that Lev exemplify the spirit of this award through the breadth, quality, and availability of his research, his success in engagement with communities, and by the inspiration he brings to new generations of linguists.

The Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA) has announced that the Mary R. Haas Book Award has been awarded to Amalia Skilton (PhD, 2019):

Dr. Amalia Skilton (University of California, Berkeley) has been awarded SSILA Mary R. Haas Book Award for her thesis Spatial and Non-Spatial Deixis in Cushillococha Ticuna. This dissertation is an exquisite piece of work in both methodology and the theoretical contributions. The replicability of the several experiments—both with other Ticuna speakers and cross-linguistically—is a highly desirable feature in the context of the study of Indigenous languages. It also makes important theoretical contributions to the area of semantics and pragmatics of demonstratives, providing evidence that demonstratives encode visibility contrasts. This finding challenges the current dominant view that demonstratives carry information regarding distance but do not encode perceptual deictic content. The study also provides evidence that demonstratives do not contrast necessarily in terms of ‘distance’ between speaker/addressee and referents, but in terms of ‘peripersonal space,’ the space within reach of the speaker.

Kelsey Neely (PhD, 2019) was selected for an honorable mention for the award:

Dr. Kelsey Neely (University of California, Berkeley) has also been selected for honourable mention for The Linguistic Expression of Affective Stance in Yaminawa (Pano, Peru). The committee praised this thesis for its comprehensive nature, consisting of both a grammar of Yaminawa with context-rich examples and a detailed study of affective stance, and for its potential broader impacts of the work, particularly with respect to language education.

Congratulations, Amalia and Kelsey!

January 5, 2021

Congratulations to Christian DiCanio (PhD, 2008) who has been awarded tenure at Buffalo!

December 17, 2020

Congrats to Line Mikkelsen, whose paper Forms and functions of backward resumption: The case of Karuk, co-authored with Karuk tribal members Charron (Sonny) Davis, Vina Smith, Nancy Super (née Jerry), Peter Super Sr., and Charlie Thom Sr., has just appeared in Language! As the paper notes in its opening paragraph:

The research on Karuk reported here is the outcome of a collaboration between Karuk master speakers and Elders Sonny Davis, Julian Lang, the late Vina Smith, Nancy Super (née Jerry), the late Peter Super, Sr., and the late Charlie Thom, Sr.; Karuk language learners, researchers, and teachers Tamara Alexander, Robert Manuel, Crystal Richardson, Susan Gehr, Arch Super, Florrine Super, and Franklin (Frankie) Thom; and UC Berkeley linguists Andrew Garrett, Erik Maier, Line Mikkelsen, Karie Moorman, Ruth Rouvier, and Clare Sandy in Yreka, California, starting in 2010 and continuing through 2020. The work includes language documentation, linguistic analysis, language learning, development of language curriculum, educational support, language teaching, working through texts, (re)transcribing legacy recordings, linguistic elicitation with verbal and visual stimuli, and the development of ararahih-'urípih (= Karuk language net;, an online dictionary and morphologically parsed text corpus.

December 10, 2020

Congrats to Eric Wilbanks, whose NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant (with Keith Johnson) is being recommended for funding! The project, titled "On-line Integration during Speech Perception", will involve several experiments tracking the time-course of sociophonetic perception, and includes funding for an improved eye-tracking set-up for the lab.

Isaac Bleaman will be giving a talk at the Association for Jewish Studies on the topic "Attitudes toward change in a maintained language: Yiddish in New York" (Dec. 16 at 9:30am) and serving as a respondent on another panel on minority languages in Israel.
He will be giving a longer version of the talk (in Yiddish) at University College London on Jan. 12 at 10am, an event in the Ada Rapoport-Albert Seminar Series on Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish.

December 4, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

November 27, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

November 26, 2020

On Monday, November 30, from 3-5pm, please join us on Zoom for Qualifying Paper (QP) project presentations by graduate students Madeline Bossi, Wesley dos Santos, Emily Drummond, and Emily Grabowski.

November 20, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

Congratulations to Zach O'Hagan, who will defend his dissertation, "Focus in Caquinte," on Tuesday, November 24, 9am-12pm. Please click here for the full schedule and abstract. Everyone is warmly invited: (A celebration will take place at 5pm:

November 19, 2020

We are saddened to report that former Linguistics Undergraduate Advisor, Esther Weiss, passed away on Thursday, November 19, after suffering a stroke earlier this week. Esther, who retired in 2006 after 22 years at the University of California, working at three different campuses (UCSB, UCSF, and Berkeley), will be fondly remembered by those who worked with her and the many undergraduate students whom she advised.

November 17, 2020

November 16, 2020

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

  • We've catalogued new paper materials related to Q'anjob'al (Mayan; Guatemala, Mexico; item 2016-01.048 and above) that derive from the department's 1986-1987 field methods course, with speaker Rafael Pascual and instructor Leanne Hinton. The course was followed by an undergraduate course on K'iche' (Linguistics 175) in fall 1987, and a combined undergraduate-graduate seminar (Linguistics 198/298) on Mayan languages in spring 1988, both taught by Prof. Hinton.

November 13, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Memorial for Gary Holland - Sunday Nov 15 - Zoom - 11am-2pm
    Click here to register. The Zoom room opens at 10:45am.
  • Fieldwork Forum - Wednesday Nov 18 - Zoom - 3:10-4pm
    Lisa Matthewson (University of British Columbia): How experimental should we be?
  • Phorum - Friday Nov 13 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Chantal Gratton (Stanford): The vowel space as an interactional and affective resource.
    Email Anna Björklund or Dakota Robinson for the Zoom link and/or to be added to the mailing list.
  • Phorum - Friday Nov 20 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Claudia Valdivia, Alex Aabedi, and Ben Lipkin (UCSF Brain Tumor Center): Convergence of cross-modal lexical retrieval in the lateral prefrontal cortex.
    Email Anna Björklund or Dakota Robinson for the Zoom link and/or to be added to the mailing list.
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Nov 13 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Justin Royer (McGill): Binding and coreference in Mayan: Evidence for object raising.
  • Zoom Phonology - Thursday Nov 19 - Zoom - 9-10am
    Laura Downing (University of Gothenburg): Testing typologies of laryngeal contrasts in stop inventories: The view from Africa.
    For the Zoom link or to be added to the Zoom Phonology Mailing List, contact

November 9, 2020

A Zoom memorial event for Gary Holland will be held 11-2 (Pacific time) on Sunday, November 15. Department community members are welcome. To attend, you need to register in advance here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting; the room will open at 10:45.

November 6, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

November 5, 2020

Congrats to Ruth Rouvier, whose paper "Emotion and Motivation in Language Reclamation" has been accepted for presentation at the 7th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC) and selected for a Most Impactful Paper Award, which comes with a cash prize. The conference will be held virtually March 4-7, 2021.

November 4, 2020

Gašper Beguš will be speaking at the UC Davis PhonLab on Friday, Nov 6 at 10AM on the topic "Encoding linguistic meaning into raw audio data with deep neural networks."