UC Berkeley Phonology Lab

phonetics and phonology.


Phonology Lab

50-52 Dwinelle Hall
University of California, Berkeley


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Welcome to the phonology lab!

Our research focusses on documenting and explaining sound patterns in language. For example, Y.R. Chao (1930) invented a way of writing syllabic pitch shapes (principally for Chinese languages). The so-called 'Chao letters' are now included in the International Phonetic Alphabet. Bill Wang (1969) found that some sound changes progress through the lexicon one word at a time rather than being sudden wholesale change of all words that have the sound. The 'lexical' diffusion of sound change is now recognized as one of the primary patterns of language sound change. John Ohala (1981) identified 'innocent misapprehension' as an important mechanism of sound change and documented several cases in which the listener was the source of sound change.


These three - Chao, Wang, and Ohala - established the tradition that the Phonology Lab continues today. Chao taught at Berkeley from 1947 to 1963 and helped establish the Department of Linguistics. Wang taught at Berkeley from 1964 to 1994 and established the Phonology Lab in 1967. Ohala joined the Berkeley Department of Linguistics in 1970 after receiving his Ph.D. from UCLA and spending a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Logopedics and Phoniatrics, University of Tokyo. He became the director of the Phonology Lab in 1975 and retired in 2004. Professor Keith Johnson became the director of the phonology lab in January, 2005.



The Phonology lab is a research and teaching laboratory in the Department of Linguistics at UC Berkeley.


Facilities that are available in the lab, and links to software and annual reports from other labs.


To get a feel for the social aspect of the lab, including hiking photos, check out our lab life page.


Contact us

Phone: (510) 642-9150
Director: Prof. Keith Johnson (keithjohnson -at- berkeley.edu)
Programmer/Analyst: Ronald Sprouse (ronald -at- berkeley.edu)