Welcome!

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

Survey of California and Other Indian Languages

The Survey of California and Other Indian Languages has three main activities: language documentation; archiving; and community service and public outreach. The Survey was founded by Mary Haas and Murray Emeneau in 1952, a year before the present Department of Linguistics, and it continues the linguistic work of the Archaeological and Ethnographic Survey of California, established by A. L. Kroeber in 1901. Its work is currently supervised by Andrew Garrett (Director) and Leanne Hinton (emeritus Director).

The Survey sponsors documentary linguistic work throughout California and elsewhere in the western hemisphere. Most published grammars and dictionaries of California Indian languages are based on work supported by the Survey, usually by Berkeley graduate students, and we have also sponsored extensive research in Algonquian, Mayan, Uto-Aztecan, Zapotec, and other language families mainly spoken outside California. In our permanent archive we have 2000 separately cataloged items (field notes and other unpublished materials), with manuscripts dating as early as 1902 covering 130 separate languages and at least half of the 100 indigenous languages of California. The archive is climate controlled, will soon be managed by a professional archivist (under a three-year NSF-NEH grant), and is in the middle of a project to digitize its holdings and make them available on the internet. Finally, as the state's primary repository of native language documentation the Survey sponsors programs to make its collections accessible to Native people. For example, the biennial Breath of Life Workshop brings to campus California Indians whose languages no longer have native speakers, so they can learn how to use our archives, learn about their languages, and in some cases begin language revitalization projects.

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