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; in syntax and semantics; pragmatics; sociolinguistics and language revitalization; historical linguistics; typology; and cognitive linguistics. Berkeley PhDs tend to be interdisciplinary and creative, benefitting from interactions with distinguished faculty in such other Berkeley departments as anthropology, computer science, philosophy, psychology, and departments devoted to particular languages. The Department emphasizes research that seeks to discover and provide deep explanations for general properties of linguistic form, meaning, and usage.
In the Spotlight
The Yurok Language Project (Andrew Garrett)
The Yurok Language Project combines active fieldwork with Yurok elders with philological analysis of earlier fieldnotes and recordings to develop a Yurok documentary corpus. The Yurok materials are organized into a single digital archive, publicly available on the project web site, which incorporates information from as early as 1850 to the present day. The goal of the project is both to document and promote scholary research into Yurok and to contribute to the language revitalization efforts of the Yurok community. The scope of the Yurok Language Project includes formal classes in public schools, community language classes, summer camps, and other activities sponsored by the Yurok Tribe and by Yurok community groups.