Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS)

FS 2023

Master Class with Penny Eckert

Penelope Eckert is the Albert Ray Lay Professor Emerita at the Department of Linguistics at Stanford University. Her research aims to understand the social meaning of linguistic variation through work in the context of ethnographic fieldwork, studying the relationship between variation, linguistic style, social identity and social practice. Eckert's research has focused extensively on the language of adolescents and preadolescents, who she identifies as ‘movers and shakers of linguistic change’.

She is the author of numerous articles, books and edited volumes, including Meaning and Linguistic Variation: The Third Wave in Sociolinguistics, Linguistic Variation as Social Practice, and Jocks and Burnouts: Social Identity in the High School. Eckert is former President, Fellow and Executive Committee member of the Linguistic Society of America and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Master Class events are spread over three days. Participants from the University of Bern can register directly for the Workshop on 30 May via KSL (course code: 48342). Participants from outside the University of Bern can register by emailing the CSLS (, though space for the workshop is limited. Please register for the workshop by 22 May 2023.

Registration for the Public Lecture on 31 May is only necessary for those wishing to receive ECTS credits for attendance. Attendees from the University of Bern can register for the lecture directly via KSL (course code: 484343).

Those wishing to register for a consulting session must email the CSLS ( with a brief abstract/research proposal outlining what they would like to discuss in the session by 10 May 2023. We will do our best to accommodate all requests, but please note that space is limited, and priority will be given to CSLS PhD students and, if space permits, advanced MA students.

Registration deadlines:

  • for the Consulting Session: 10 May 2023
  • for the Workshop: 22 May 2023
  • for the Lecture: registration via ksl only necessary for ECTS credit (UniBern-intern)

Workshop Affect and Indexicality

Date: 30. May 2023

Time: 14:00 - 17:00h

Location: room 220, Mittelstrasse 43, Bern


Public Lecture Variation, Register and Social Change

Date: 31. May 2023

Time: 16:15 - 18:00 Uhr

Location: room 003, Fabrikstrasse 6, Bern

Afterwards, an apéro will be held in the foyer for the entire CSLS with students!



"Silverstein’s (1976) distinction between presupposing and performative (or creative) indexicality offers a window onto the relation between linguistic and social change. The foundational model of variation views variables as presupposing indexes of membership in pre-existing macro-social categories. Current work in variation known as “third wave” explores the performative or creative role of variation in the stylistic construction of persona, or momentary self-presentation. These are best seen not as competing views of variation, but as representing a dialectic between established and imminent indexicalities – between stasis and change. Presupposing indexicality can be associated with highly conventionalized linguistic objects such as dialects, sociolects, and register. This talk will focus on the dialectic relation between sociolinguistic variation and register. Register (in Agha’s [2003] sense) may be seen as a style that has achieved presupposed status, along with its embodying characterological figure(s). Characterological figures are chronotopes, broadly consensual figures that give semiotic form to established places in the ideological landscape.  Micro-variation emerges as speakers construct personae within that semiotic landscape, playing off of, and eventually changing and replacing, the registers and characterological figures."


Individual Consulting Sessions

Date: 01. Juni 2023

Time: 40 minutes slot during the day

Location: tbd


Doctoral and Master's students of the CSLS will be offered the opportunity to discuss their research topics and projects with Penny Eckert in groups of two. 40 minutes per group are planned, with a maximum of 6 groups possible - in principle, first come first served, but doctoral students must be given priority.

In addition, a lunch will be organised with all participants!

Important: an abstract/research proposal must be sent to by 10. May 2023!

Flyer Master Class Penny Eckert