Historical and Areal Linguistics

Elias gives plenary talk at APLL13

February 24, 2021

Congratulations to Alexander Elias, who has been invited to give an hour-long "Early Career Researcher Plenary Talk" at the 13th International Austronesian and Papuan Languages and Linguistics Conference (APLL13) hosted remotely by the University of Edinburgh on June 10-12, 2021. The title of his talk is "Phonemic Initial Glottal Stops in the Lesser Sundas: The Emergence and Spread of an Areal Sound Pattern."

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. 


Where? Online

When? Fridays, 12-1PM (biweekly)

Goldstein colloquium

November 2, 2020

The 2020-2021 colloquium series continues on Monday, Nov 9, with a talk by David Goldstein (UCLA), held via Zoom from 3:10-5pm. The talk is entitled "Correlated grammaticalization: The rise of articles in Indo-European," and the abstract is as follows:

One of the central empirical goals of historical linguistics is to distinguish probable from improbable changes. This includes not only singleton developments, but also interactions among multiple changes. That is, does one linguistic change become more (or less) likely given the occurrence of some other change? Investigations of this question have been hampered by methodological issues, not the least of which is how exactly correlations between changes should be measured. In this talk, I take up the question of the relationship between the grammaticalization of definite and indefinite articles in Indo-European. Did the emergence of one type of article facilitate (or inhibit) the rise of the other? Using methods developed for the study of correlated evolution in biology (Pagel 1994, 2006), I argue that indefinite articles became more likely to emerge in the wake of the grammaticalization of definite articles. The history of articles in Indo-European is thus an example of correlated grammaticalization. More generally, my results provide further evidence for the view that grammaticalization is not solely a matter of universal principles (e.g., van Gelderen 2011, 2019), but is also crucially conditioned by pre-existing linguistic structure (e.g., Kiparsky 2012, Goldstein 2019).

Nichols colloquium

October 8, 2020

The 2020-2021 colloquium series kicks off this coming Monday, October 12, with a talk by Johanna Nichols (UC Berkeley), held via Zoom. The talk is entitled Proper measurement of linguistic complexity (and why it matters), and the abstract is as follows:

Hypotheses involving linguistic complexity generate interesting research in a variety of subfields – typology, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, cognition, neurolinguistics, language processing, and others. Good measures of complexity in various linguistic domains are essential, then, but we have very few and those are mostly single-feature (chiefly size of phoneme inventory and morphemes per word in text).
In other ways as well what we have is not up to the task. The kind of complexity that is favored by certain sociolinguistic factors is not what is usually surveyed in studies invoking the sociolinguistic work. Phonological and morphological complexity are very strongly inversely correlated and form opposite worldwide frequency clines, yet surveys of just one or the other, or both lumped together, are used to support cross-linguistic generalizations about the distribution of complexity writ large. Complexity of derivation, syntax, and lexicon is largely unexplored. Measuring the complexity of polysynthetic languages in the right terms has not been seriously addressed.
This paper proposes a tripartite metric---enumerative, transparency-based, and relational---using a set of different assays across different parts of the grammar and lexicon, that addresses these problems and should help increase the grammatical sophistication of complexity-based hypotheses and choice of targets for computational extraction of complexity levels from corpora. Meeting current expectations of sustainability and replicability, the set is reusable, revealing, reasonably granular, and (at least mostly) amenable to computational implementation. I demonstrate its usefulness to typology and historical linguistics with some cross-linguistic and within-family surveys.

Bardagil presents at SLE 2020

August 26, 2020

Congrats to Bernat Bardagil, who gave a talk this week at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea on "The loss of Jê nominal verbs in Panará"!

*dhworom Reading List and Past Talks

Below you will find a list of our past readings and talks for the *dhworom Discussion Group.

Bekowies and McLaughlin publish on clitic climbing in French

June 1, 2020

Congratulations to our colleagues Zack Bekowies and Mairi McLaughlin on the publication of their chapter in a new edited volume available from Oxford University Press:

Bekowies, Zack, and Mairi McLaughlin. 2020. "The Loss of Clitic Climbing in French: A Gallo-Romance Perspective," in Variation and Change in Gallo-Romance Grammar, ed. by Sam Wolfe and Martin Maiden. Oxford: Oxford University Press.