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

The Neural Theory of Language project

George Lakoff and Eve Sweetser's Neural Theory of Language (NTL) project is an interdisciplinary research effort to answer the question: How does the brain compute the mind? Specific research questions include: How can the brain -- a highly structured network of neurons -- support thought and language? How do the specific neural structures of the human brain shape the nature of thought and language? How are language and thought related to other neural systems, including perception, motor control, and social cognition? What are the computational properties of neural systems? What are the applications of neural computing?

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