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
Syntax and Semantics Circle
The Syntax & Semantics Circle is a weekly forum dedicated to discussion of the descriptive, experimental, and theoretical study of syntax and semantics, featuring presentations of ongoing research by members of the Berkeley Linguistics Department and other departments, as well as discussion of previously published works. The current schedule can be found here.