Sociolinguistics Lab at Berkeley
The Sociolinguistics Lab at Berkeley (SLaB) was established in fall 2019 to advance the empirical study of language in society. Our group is jointly housed in the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UC Berkeley. Members include faculty and students who are engaged in research on social, linguistic, and cognitive contributors to patterns of language variation and change, as well as other broad topics in sociolinguistics. We employ a diversity of quantitative and qualitative research methods, including sociolinguistic interviews, laboratory experiments targeting both production and perception, and statistical modeling of written and spoken corpus data.
We assert that variation and change are linguistic universals. At the same time, we recognize that many of the theories posited in the sociolinguistics literature have not yet been adequately tested in diverse speech communities, especially outside majority English-speaking populations. Much of our research tests and refines such theories. As members of a campus community with a long history in language documentation and revitalization, we especially advocate sociolinguistic research in minority and endangered language communities that have not received much coverage in our field.
We are located at a university that at one point or another has been the institutional home of sociolinguists including Dell Hymes, John J. Gumperz, and Robin Lakoff. We carry forward this tradition of sociolinguistic research in the East Bay, exchanging ideas with colleagues at other institutions in California and farther afield.
Note: The "Sociolinguistics Lab at Berkeley" is formally abbreviated "SLaB." In keeping with our respect for linguistic variation, we recognize spoken variants including "slab" and "the s-lab."
The Sociolinguistics Lab at Berkeley meets regularly throughout the academic year. Our meetings are a venue for:
practicing conference and job talks in sociolinguistics;
workshopping abstracts, article manuscripts, and grant proposals;
discussing best practices in sociolinguistics and SLaB members’ specific research challenges;
inviting speakers to share their work;
discussing important published research papers;
presenting hands-on tutorials (e.g., ELAN, statistical modeling, digital maps); and
engaging in collaborative projects, such as creating new corpora and submitting workshop/panel proposals to professional conferences.
Meetings are held in the Spanish and Portuguese Library (5125 Dwinelle) and synchronously over Zoom. We also have two dedicated spaces located on the C level of Dwinelle: room 55 (a research office) and room 57 (a recording studio).