News about California Indian Languages and the Survey

April 28, 2015
The William H. Jacobsen Materials on Indigenous Languages of the Americas are now online in the California Language Archive! The materials include original field notes, research notes, manuscripts, and previously undigitized sound recordings from Jacobsen's extensive work on Washo, Makah, Salinan, and a variety of other North American languages during the years 1952-2004. The collection also features other researchers' original field notes from work on Washo dating as early as 1919.

March 6, 2015
The Haruo Aoki Papers on the Nez Perce Language are now online in the California Language Archive! The papers document Haruo Aoki's fieldwork on the Nez Perce language in 1960-1972 with primary consultants Harry Wheeler, Ida James Wheeler, and Elizabeth P. Wilson, including extensive work on Nez Perce texts. The papers also include materials on other North American languages, as well as work on a Nagasaki dialect of Japanese, and biographical materials.

September 9, 2014
We were saddened to hear of the death of William Jacobsen Jr. on August 18, 2014. Dr. Jacobsen was a graduate of the UC Berkeley Linguistics Department, and his 1964 dissertation, "A Grammar of the Washo Language," directed by Mary Haas, endures as the most complete grammar of that language to date. He subsequently became an accomplished and dedicated scholar of several other languages of Northern California and the greater Pacific Northwest, including Makah, Salinan, Nez Perce, and Nootkan. An obituary with more information on Dr. Jacobsen’s life and career can be read here. Our sympathies are with Dr. Jacobsens's family and friends.

August 14, 2011
The National Science Foundation has announced 24 new research grants through the Documenting Endangered Languages program. Two of these grants are to Berkeley faculty members for work on languages of the Americas: to Lev Michael for "The Maihiki Project: Documenting, describing and revitalizing a Western Tukanoan language"; and to Line Mikkelsen and Andrew Garrett for "Karuk and Yurok syntax and text documentation". Two of the other grants are also for California languages — to Nicole Lim (California Indian Museum and Cultural Center) for "Conversational Pomo Documentation Project" and to Teresa McCarty (Arizona State University) for "Documenting Critically Endangered Mojave Bird Songs in Authentic Cultural Contexts" — and we're thrilled that almost 20 of the other research grants are for work on languages of the Americas. Congratulations to all!

June 20, 2011
The California Language Archive is now online! This is a new catalog and digital interface unifying the collections of the Survey and the Berkeley Language Center's Audio Archive of Linguistic Fieldwork; in the future, we hope to include content from the Bancroft Library and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. The CLA replaces the separate, quite distinct catalogs of the BLC and Survey, with an interface that is easy to use and has several new features.

May 30, 2011
The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced nine fellowships awarded for 2011-2012 through the Documenting Endangered Languages program. We're thrilled that three of this year's fellowships are for work on languages spoken in California; grant recipients include Stacey Oberly ("Documenting Naturally Occurring Ute"), Crystal Richardson ("Digital Field Documentation of Karuk"), and Timothy J. Thornes ("A Grammar of the Northern Paiute Language"). Five of the other six fellowships are for other languages of the Americas, including one to Berkeley graduate Rosemary Beam de Azcona ("Coatec Zapotec Dictionary, Texts, and Video Archive"). Congratulations to all the recipients!

May 12, 2011
A nice piece by Matt Krupnick in the Contra Costa Times, posted here, describes the work of Kayla Carpenter, Lindsey Newbold, and other Berkeley students working on the Hupa language. Hupa was the subject of the first Ph.D. thesis in Linguistics anywhere in the English-speaking world, and we're thrilled to see ongoing projects oriented toward language revitalization as well as documentation.

April 20, 2011
We were saddened to learn of the death of Alice (Schlichter) Shepherd on March 17, 2011. Dr. Shepherd received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from UC Berkeley, with a 1985 dissertation The Yukian language family. She was an authority on the Yuki, Wappo, and Wintu languages, the author, coauthor, and editor of several books, including Wintu dictionary (1981), Yuki vocabulary (1984, with Jesse Sawyer), Wintu texts (1989), and Proto-Wintun (2005), as well as a number of significant articles. She leaves behind an important scholarly legacy, not least of which is a substantial corpus of documentary materials on Wintuan and Yukian languages that will benefit scholars and community members for generations to come. Our sympathies go to her family and all her many friends.

April 2, 2011
Congratulations to the recipients of the first Robert L. Oswalt grants for endangered-language documentation: Berkeley graduate students Daniel Bruhn (working on Lotha), Kayla Carpenter, Ramon Escamilla, Lindsey Newbold, and Justin Spence (working collaboratively on Hupa), Florian Lionnet (working on Laal), and Kelsey Neeley (working on Hup). The four languages represented are spoken on four continents (including North and South America)!

February 3, 2011
We are sorry to hear of the death of William F. Shipley on January 20, at the age of 89. One of the first generation of students working under the auspices of the new Survey of California Indian Languages, Shipley received his Ph.D. in 1959 with a dissertation Maidu grammar. He taught at Berkeley for several years, and then moved to UC Santa Cruz, where he helped establish an exceptional Department of Linguistics. The leading scholarly authority on Maidu, he was also an inspiring teacher and generous colleague. An obituary by his student Eric Baković is published on Language Log (here), and a departmental memorial website is here.

December 4, 2009
Congratulations to Dr. Teresa McFarland, who has just filed her Berkeley dissertation The phonology and morphology of Filomeno Mata Totonac, directed by Sharon Inkelas. (A PDF copy is posted here on our Dissertations page.)

December 1, 2009
A piece (by Kate Rix) describing the work of the Survey and the Yurok Language Project is posted here, on the website of the Berkeley College of Letters and Sciences.

November 17, 2009
We are saddened to learn of the death of the anthropologist and linguist Dell Hymes on November 13, at the age of 82. A colleague at Berkeley for several years in the 1960s, and then later at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Virginia, Hymes redefined linguistic anthropology by formulating an approach he called the "ethnography of speaking". He was also a prominent specialist in languages of the west coast, beginning with his 1955 dissertation, a grammar of the Kathlamet (Chinookan) language.

November 8, 2009
To read an article about Yurok elder Archie Thompson, his life, and his work teaching the Yurok language in Klamath and Crescent City, click here. The article by Matt Durkee appeared in the Crescent City Triplicate.

November 3, 2009
The French scholar Claude Lévi-Strauss died on October 30 at the age of 100: an anthropologist of unequalled distinction, an Amazonianist whose fieldwork in indigenous Brazilian communities over 70 years ago inaugurated a celebrated career, and an author whose interpretation of Yurok and other cultures of the North American west coast was pivotal in the development of his idea of "house societies".

October 11, 2009
Governor Schwarzenegger has signed AB 544 into law. The new law requires the state to issue teaching credentials to fluent speakers of California Indian languages as recommended by Indian tribes (with certain additional requirements), and authorizes them to teach Indian languages in California public schools. Many tribes lobbied hard for passage of this bill, which should make a positive difference in language revitalization programs.

Summer 2009
The newest cycle of grants through the Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) program, supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, includes grants for work on two California languages and work by two of our Berkeley Americanist colleagues, in addition to many other grants for work on American Indian languages:

For a full list of DEL awards, click here.