A partnership to preserve Kashaya

Since the 1980s, linguist Eugene Buckley has studied this Native American language, now spoken by just a dozen or so people in northern California. In collaboration with members and descendants of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, he’s built a database of Kashaya words, sounds, and stories.

Michele W. Berger

Mapping words to color

Researchers led by postdoc Colin Twomey and professor Joshua Plotkin developed an algorithm that can infer the communicative needs different linguistic communities place on colors.

Katherine Unger Baillie

TikTok talk

Largely characterized as a Gen Z phenomenon, TikTok is a video-sharing app with more than 100 million active users in the U.S. alone—and it’s changing the way that we speak, says sociolinguist Nicole Holliday.

Kristina García

The influence and importance of language

Labels for what happened Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol were very different from those used to describe the Black Lives Matter movement or the 2020 election results. How much weight do individual words actually have? It depends on the context.

Michele W. Berger

Media Contact

In the News

The Conversation

What makes us subconsciously mimic the accents of others in conversation

Lacey Wade of the School of Arts & Sciences writes about a phenomenon called “linguistic convergence” when people copy word choices, mirror sentence structures, or mimic pronunciations.


Interrupting to show we care

Nicole Holliday of the School of Arts & Sciences interviewed experts about cooperative overlapping, which some cultures perceive as a sign of engagement and others view as a sign of disrespect.


TikTok language rabbit hole

Nicole Holliday of the School of Arts & Sciences co-hosted a podcast episode about linguistics and TikTok.



No shared language? No problem! People across cultures understand clues from ‘vocal charades’

Gareth Roberts of the School of Arts & Sciences weighed in on a linguistic study that found that people can use vocal sounds to mimic parts of the idea they’re trying to convey, such using chewing noises to evoke the word “food.”


NBC Philadelphia

Zoom, social distance, ‘blursday’: The coronavirus has changed how we speak

Nicole Holliday of the School of Arts & Sciences spoke about how language has evolved amid the pandemic. “Social changes can bring sort of a boom of new words that are used more commonly or old words that sort of get resurrected,” she said. “As the whole world has changed as a result of the pandemic, that has opened up some opportunities for new words to spread.”



When Republicans attack ‘cancel culture,’ what does it mean?

Nicole Holliday of the School of Arts & Sciences spoke about the origins and evolution of the phrase “cancel culture.” “It is used to refer to a cultural boycott,” she said. “We’ve had the term ‘boycott’ forever and ever. It just means, ‘I’m not going to put my attention or money or support behind this person or organization because they’ve done something that I don’t agree with.’ That is not new; that’s very old.”