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 Máíhɨki Project centrally involves community members that are trained in linguistics by the Berkeley team as researchers, and will develop and test new approaches to language revitalization, including family-based language revitalization techniques. The long-term documentation goals for the Máíhɨki Project include the compilation of an extensive dictionary and a substantial collection of oral texts that document important aspects of Máíhuna history and cultural practices, and the preparation of a comprehensive descriptive grammar and a substantial set of materials for teaching and learning Máíhɨki.