Linguistics

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

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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Slate.com

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.

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Slate.com

TikTok language rabbit hole

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

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Science

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.”

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