Language and Social Context

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...

FForum 2020-2021

Fall 2020 Schedule 2020.09.02 Welcome back!

Join us via Zoom for the first FForum meeting of the semester, where we will catch up on summer developments. All are welcome!

2020.09.09 Christine Beier and Lev Michael (UC Berkeley)

Mobile tonal melodies in Iquito: analysis, elicitation, and texts

This talk focuses on the analysis of mobile tonal melodies in Iquito and methodological issues that we faced in developing this analysis. Iquito mobile melodies are tonal melodies whose position is affected by the presence of...

Bleaman publishes in American Speech

May 5, 2021

Congrats to Isaac Bleaman and Dan Duncan (Newcastle University) on the publication of their article "The Gettysburg Corpus: Testing the proposition that all tense /æ/s are created equal" in American Speech. Read it here!

McLaughlin and Davidson present at LSRL 51

April 27, 2021

This Saturday at LSRL 51 (Linguistic Symposium of Romance Languages), Mairi McLaughlin (French) and Justin Davidson (Spanish and Portuguese) will be presenting a joint paper entitled "Translator style as a sociolinguistic variable: Variation in news translation from English to Romance."

Fagyal talk in the French department

March 8, 2021

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.

Bleaman at AJS and UCL

December 10, 2020
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.

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.

Language, ethnicity and politics in Quebec

Monica Heller

Advisors: Charles J. Fillmore and John J. Gumperz