Language and Social Context

Lev Michael

Professor of Linguistics

PhD, UT Austin

Anthropological linguistics, typology, documentation and description of Amazonian languages, South American historical and contact linguistics, language revitalization

Isaac L. Bleaman

Assistant Professor of Linguistics


Sociolinguistics, language variation and change, sociophonetics, sociosyntax, corpus methods, language contact, multilingualism, language planning, language and ethnicity, Yiddish, Jewish language varieties

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...

Implicit Standardization in a Minority Language Community: Real-Time Syntactic Change among Hasidic Yiddish Writers

Isaac L. Bleaman

The recent turn to "big data" from social media corpora has enabled sociolinguists to investigate patterns of language variation and change at unprecedented scales. However, research in this paradigm has been slow to address variable phenomena in minority languages, where data scarcity and the absence of computational tools (e.g., taggers, parsers) often present significant barriers to entry. This article analyzes socio-syntactic variation in one minority language variety, Hasidic Yiddish, focusing on a variable for which tokens can be identified in raw text using purely morphological...

The Gettysburg Corpus: Testing the Proposition That All Tense /æ/s Are Created Equal

Isaac L. Bleaman
Daniel Duncan

Corpus studies of regional variation using raw language data from the internet focus predominantly on lexical variables in writing. However, online repositories such as YouTube offer the possibility of investigating regional differences using phonological variables, as well. This article demonstrates the viability of constructing a naturalistic speech corpus for sociophonetic research by analyzing hundreds of recitations of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. We first replicate a known result of phonetic research, namely, that English vowels are longer in duration before voiced...

Minority language maintenance and the production-prescription interface: Number agreement in New York Yiddish

Isaac L. Bleaman

Standardization is a focus of language maintenance efforts in many, but not all, minority language communities. What is the impact of this choice on interspeaker variation in maintained languages? This study investigates variable number agreement in Yiddish, a minority language spoken by two distinct communities in the New York area: (1) Hasidic Jews, who maintain the language without standardization, and (2) Yiddishists, who are overtly committed to maintaining a "correct" Yiddish. An analysis of data from 40 sociolinguistic interviews shows that Yiddishists have significantly higher...

Gender in Language Project at Lavender Languages and Linguistics 28

May 10, 2022

Ben Papadopoulos (organizer), eleven of his current or former LRAP apprentices, and Jennifer Kaplan will give a panel publically presenting the Gender in Language Project and its preliminary findings for the first time at Lavender Languages and Linguistics 28 on May 23, 2022 at the University of Catania, Italy. These stellar students are Cooper Bedin, Carmela Blazado, Sol Cintrón, Sebastian Clendenning-Jimenez, Keira Colleluori, Jesus Duarte, Julie Ha, Zaphiel Kiriko Miller, Serah Sim, Chelsea Tang, and Irene Yi. Apart from the panel, four other individual papers from Jennifer, Sebastian & Zaphiel (presenting together), Keira, and Jesus will be presented. Ben and eight of the aforementioned students will soon be travelling to the conference. Information about the panel, as well as the individual papers being presented, may be found here. Congrats, all!

Bleaman speaks in Singapore

April 6, 2022

Isaac Bleaman gave a research talk over Zoom for the Language and Linguistics Cluster at the National University of Singapore on Wednesday, April 6 (in Berkeley: Tuesday, April 5). The talk was titled "Language maintenance, prescriptive norms, and community divergence."

Helms published in Isogloss

February 27, 2022

Annie Helms's article "Bay Area Spanish: Regional sound change in contact languages" has been published in Isogloss: Open Journal of Romance Linguistics, as part of the special issue Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 17 with selected papers from the Going Romance conference in 2020. Congratulations, Annie!

Papadopoulos published in Deportate, esuli, profughe

February 24, 2022

Congrats to Ben Papadopoulos, who has just published an article titled "A Brief History of Gender-Inclusive Spanish" in the Italian feminist journal Deportate, esuli, profughe 'Deported, exiled, refugee (women).' Ben wrote the article in both English and gender-inclusive Spanish (in the x gender), and the journal has published both versions.