Welcome to the Berkeley Linguistics Department! With the first linguistics department to be established in North America (in 1901), Berkeley has a rich and distinguished tradition of rigorous linguistic documentation and theoretical innovation, making it an exciting and fulfilling place to carry out linguistic research. Its original mission, due to the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and the Sanskrit and Dravidian scholar Murray B. Emeneau, was the recording and describing of unwritten languages, especially American Indian languages spoken in California and elsewhere in the United States. The current Department of Linguistics continues this tradition, integrating careful, scholarly documentation with cutting-edge theoretical work in phonetics, phonology and morphology; syntax, semantics, and pragmatics; psycholinguistics; sociolinguistics and anthropological linguistics; historical linguistics; typology; and cognitive linguistics.

In the Spotlight


Xtone project logo.

Larry Hyman's Cross-Linguistic Tonal Database (XTone) is a web-accessible forum developed at Berkeley to which interested researchers worldwide can contribute basic descriptive characterizations of as many tone systems as possible, with the goal of discovering new language-specific and cross-linguistic tone patterns. While tone is known to be especially prevalent in Subsaharan Africa, East and Southeast Asia, and parts of New Guinea, Meso-America and Amazonia, languages with tonal contrasts are found in almost all parts of the globe. The database has been organized to highlight four aspects of tone systems: inventories of tones and tone-bearing units; inventories of tone alternations; inventories of the tonal melodies found within grammatical domains of different sizes; interactions of tone with other phonological properties.

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