Sociolinguistics Lab at Berkeley


Schedules from previous semesters:

Spring 2023

We will meet every Monday, 2-3pm, in 5125 Dwinelle and over Zoom (reach out to an organizer for the link).

Investigating the impact of long-term bilingualism on filled-pause production and fluency patterns in Afrikaans-Spanish bilinguals

This study investigates the influence of long-term bilingualism on the production of filled pauses (e.g., “uh”, “um”, “eh”, “em”) and fluency patterns in a community of L1-Afrikaans/L2-Spanish bilinguals residing in Patagonia, Argentina. The acoustic analysis originates from a corpus of sociolinguistic interviews obtained from three speaker groups: L1-Afrikaans/L2-Spanish bilinguals, L1-Spanish-comparison speakers from Patagonia, and L1-Afrikaans-comparison speakers from South Africa. In the data analysis, we examined phonetic measures of vowel quality, as well as fluency patterns related to speed and breakdown fluency. The results reveal multiple patterns of cross-language influence (e.g., L1-to-L2 influence, L2-to-L1 influence, bidirectional influence) that depend on the phonetic measure investigated. On a broader level, the findings indicate that the patterns of cross-language phonetic influence observed in the L2 learning of lexical items also apply to the learning of hesitation markers and fluency. These results will be discussed considering Segalowitz’ (2010) blueprint of the L2 speaker.

When Cambodians Don’t Know How to Talk to Buddhist Monks

Traditionally, Cambodian culture is hierarchical and the Khmer (Cambodian) language reflects this hierarchy through its honorific registers—a grammar system that encodes in conversation the social identities and relationships of speakers. This talk focuses on the Buddhist monk honorific register, special lexicon that Khmer-speakers use when talking with and about ordained monks. In recent years, there is a widely held perception that Cambodians today lack competency in this register and cannot talk to monks appropriately. Drawing on data collected from participant-observation, interviews, and the media, I examine discourses surrounding this honorific register to ask: what does the lack of fluency in this register tell us about Cambodians, their relationship with Buddhism, with Buddhist monks, and with society in general? Conversations about the honorific register—about how Cambodians should speak and behave in the presence of monks, and whether the register is still relevant for people to know and use—exposes larger disagreements about hierarchy, morality, and identity in Cambodia. These conversations are not limited to religion; the flattening of hierarchy in society and language cuts across other domains and is prompting Cambodians to contemplate and debate what their society should look like. How should Cambodians speak and behave, not just with monks, but in general? Is the trend away from hierarchy and expression of difference acceptable or should Cambodians resist it?

Fall 2022

Spring 2022

Fall 2021

Spring 2021

Fall 2020

Spring 2020

Fall 2019