Phonetics, Phonology and Morphology

Berkeley phonology PhDs are known for the breadth and depth of their knowledge, which comes from their solid training in phonetics, formal phonology, morphology and historical linguistics and from the empirical commitment to accurate language description which is a hallmark of the department. Berkeley phonology PhDs have gone on to receive appointments in the finest linguistics departments throughout the country.

Research and teaching in PHONOLOGY at Berkeley is colored by the view that universal, typological, and language-specific generalizations concerning the synchronic patterning of sounds systems can be explained only if phonology is approached within the context of phonetics, grammar, and history. Phonetics, phonology, morphology, and historical linguistics are all areas in which the Berkeley department is strong, and Berkeley linguists are world leaders in laboratory, field, and cross-linguistic research. As part of our broad approach to the study of language, the faculty encourage phonology students to pursue scholarly interests in the synchronic and diachronic linguistics of a specific language or language-family and to develop experimental and computational skills in our Phonology Laboratory.

Our work in PHONOLOGY AND MORPHOLOGY has emphasized the ways in which phonological patterns can come to be identified with specific morphological constructions. Both Profs. Larry Hyman and Sharon Inkelas have conducted extensive research into the ways in which phonology and morphology interact cross-linguistically; this interaction is also one focus of the research of Prof. Richard Rhodes, who specializes in Native American languages. A theme in research and teaching of phonology at Berkeley is that understanding the synchronic phonology of a language requires a solid understanding of the language's morphology.

The interaction between SYNCHRONIC AND DIACHRONIC PHONOLOGY is an important component of the phonology program. The commitment to understanding phonological patterns in terms not only of their synchronic properties but also in terms of their historical origins surfaces both in teaching and in faculty and student research. Much of Prof. Larry Hyman's research has treated both the diachronic and synchronic dimensions of such phenomena as tone, vowel harmony, nasality, and prosodic morphology. Prof. Andrew Garrett, an Indo-European historical linguist and an Americanist, has written about the diachronic origins of synchronic phonological patterns in a wide range of languages. Sound change, and the relation of synchronic phonological patterns to their phonetic origins, form a prominent focus of the research of Prof. John Ohala, emeritus Director of the Phonology Laboratory.

Research and teaching in PHONETICS at Berkeley emphasizes the causal role that speech perception, acoustics, articulation, and aerodynamics play in the origin of systematic phonetic and phonological patterns. Prof. Ohala is a world renowned phonetician who maintains an active research profile at Berkeley as an emeritus professor. The cognitive organization of language sound systems is the research focus of Prof. Keith Johnson, current director of the Phonology Laboratory. Johnson conducts research on talker normalization processes in speech perception, on the sociophonetic cueing of talker identity, and on the influence of language experience on perceptual phonetic categories. Prof. Susanne Gahl also studies the cognitive organization of language, primarily by investigating patterns of pronunciation variation in conversational speech. The Berkeley phonetics teaching program includes graduate courses in instrumental field phonetics and phonetic theory.