Historical and Areal Linguistics

Distinguishing cognitive from historical influences in phonology

Gašper Beguš

Distinguishing cognitive influences from historical influences on human behavior has long been a disputed topic in behavioral sciences, including linguistics. The discussion is often complicated due to empirical evidence being consistent with both the cognitive and the historical approach. This article argues that phonology offers a unique test case for distinguishing historical and cognitive influences on grammar, and it proposes an experimental technique for testing the cognitive factor which controls for the historical factor. The article outlines a model called catalysis for...

Andrew Garrett

Professor of Linguistics, Nadine M. Tang and Bruce L. Smith Professor of Cross-Cultural Social Sciences

PhD, Harvard

Historical linguistics; Indo-European; Karuk, Yurok, and California Indian languages; language documentation and revitalization

Yiddish Linguistics

Isaac L. Bleaman

Linguistic studies of Yiddish span several centuries and incorporate a wide range of research questions and methodologies, from philological analyses of Old Yiddish texts to generative approaches to particular grammatical constructions. The historical development of the language has undoubtedly been, and continues to be, the most hotly debated research topic in Yiddish linguistics. However, other productive areas of inquiry have included structural analysis (e.g., syntax, semantics, and phonology), dialectology and other fields of sociolinguistics (e.g., language contact and interspeaker...

Nichols published in Diachronica

April 18, 2022

Johanna Nichols and her Helsinki colleagues have co-authored a new paper in Diachronica. Congrats, Johanna!

Grünthal, Riho, Volker Heyd, Sampsa Holopainen, Juha Janhunen, Olesya Khanina, Matti Miestamo, Johanna Nichols, Janne Saarikivi, and Kaius Sinnemäki. 2022. Drastic demographic events triggered the Uralic spread. Diachronica. Advance online publication: https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.20038.gru; supplement: https://zenodo.org/record/6345559.

This research was also featured in a press release to Helsingin Sanomat (Finland's main newspaper): https://www.hs.fi/kaupunki/helsinki/art-2000008761777.html

Arawak Linguistics and Max Schmidt’s Account of Arawak Expansion

Lev Michael

The following is a piece that I wrote far back in 2008 as I was finishing my dissertation and starting up as an Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley. I was invited to write it as one of a number of commentaries for a new edition of Max Schmidt's 1917 work "Die Aruaken. Ein Beitrag zum Problem der Kulturverbreitung" [The Arawak: A Contribution to the Problem of Cultural Dissemination]. The volume ended up never being published, but over the years a number of people have asked me for this piece and it has been cited in a number of works on Arawakan history and ethnography. I've decided to make...

Graduate Field Methods Course History

This page summarizes the history of graduate instruction in linguistic field methods at Berkeley, with information about academic year, language(s), consultant(s), and instructor(s), when known. The information has been reconstructed from archival course catalogs, which occasionally do not reflect the ultimate instructor of record, and in consultation with Linguistics faculty, graduate students, alumni, and records in the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages. We will continue to update it as we learn more.

The course in its present guise began in the 1948-1949 academic...

The syntactic diversity of SAuxOV in West Africa

Hannah Sande
Nico Baier
Peter Jenks

Surface SAuxOV orders abound in West Africa. We demonstrate that apparent examples of this word order have important structural differences across languages. We show that SAuxOV orders in some languages are due to mixed clausal headedness, consisting of a head initial TP and head-final VP, though this order can be concealed by verb movement. Other languages are more consistently head-initial, and what appear to be SAuxOV orders arise in limited syntactic contexts due to specific syntactic constructions such as object shift or nominalized complements. Finally, we show that languages which...

Classification of Guébie within Kru

Hannah Sande

Guébie, a Kru language spoken in Côte d’Ivoire, is currently doubly classified within Eastern Kru according to Ethnologue (Lewis et al. 2013). It is listed as a dialect of two distinct subgroups, Bété and Dida. This double classification is clearly problematic, and this paper provides the initial work towards addressing the correct classification of the language. Here I compare the phonological and syntactic properties of Guébie with surrounding Bété and Dida languages in order to determine its relatedness to each subgroup. I conclude that Guébie is more closely related to Vata, a Dida...

Theory and description in African linguistics

Emily Clem
Peter Jenks
Hannah Sande

This collection contains 36 papers presented at the 47th Annual Conference on African Linguistics at UC Berkeley from March 23-March 26, 2016.1 This meeting of ACAL coincided with a special workshop entitled “Areal features and linguistic reconstruction in Africa”, and we are glad to include four papers from that workshop in this collection as well. Collectively, these papers add a sizable body of scholarship to the study of African languages, including valuable new descriptions of African languages, novel theoretical analyses of them, and important insights into our...

Kavitskaya presents at Edinburgh Symposium on Historical Phonology

November 30, 2021

Darya Kavitskaya will have a co-authored poster at the 5th Edinburgh Symposium on Historical Phonology (on Zoom) on December 6, at 7 am PST. Here is the link to the conference site: http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/symposium-on-historical-phonology/eshp5/, and to the program: http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/symposium-on-historical-phonology/pdf/eshp5-final-prog.pdf