A centuries-old word with a modern twist

The acceptable use of a singular “they” pronoun made official a linguistic trend already in use for centuries. People who are not represented by binary pronouns say it’s a helpful step, but a small one.

Tina Rodia

Singing, speech production, and the brain

This summer, rising second-years Audrey Keener and Nicholas Eiffert worked in the lab of Penn linguist Jianjing Kuang studying vowel articulation in song, running an in-person experiment and built a corpus of classical recordings by famous singers.

Michele W. Berger

Who, What, Why: Kimeze Teketwe brings Luganda to Penn

The GSE master’s student from Uganda taught the first ever course on this language in the spring of 2022. This fall the program continues with another intro class, followed by an advanced class next spring.

Michele W. Berger

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

In the News

Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia accent turns water to wooder. Researchers try to explain why

William Labov of the School of Arts & Sciences co-authored a 2013 paper that examined Northern influences on the Philadelphia dialect.


Al Día

Being bilingual and Latinx in higher education

Nelson Flores of the Graduate School of Education explores the challenges faced by bilingual Latinx students in the United States.


The Guardian

Are you a busybody, a hunter, or a dancer? A new book about curiosity reveals all

Dani S. Bassett of the School of Arts & Sciences speaks on their new book, “Curious Minds: The Power of Connection,” co-authored with identical twin Perry Zurn, which investigates the foundations of curiosity.


Voice of America

The ‘rez accent’: Native Americans are making English their own

William Labov of the School of Arts & Sciences notes that while some Native American accents are fading, others are growing stronger.


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.