Franklin Institute Symposium

Free and Open to Public

Language Variation and Change:

From Mind to Society

Featuring William Labov

Recipient of the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal

in Computer and Cognitive Science


Labov is widely recognized as the founder of sociolinguistics, the quantitative study of language structure and use. Through detailed analysis of speech across dialect boundaries and over time, Labov has identified general principles governing language variation and change, while shedding light on how the mind assimilates and responds to linguistic stimuli to form internalized linguistic knowledge and representations. He pioneered the use of statistical methods in the study of language, thereby contributing to the understanding of cognition as a probabilistic information processing system. Labov’s research on African American English has led to the recognition of non-standard dialects as complex linguistic systems in their own right, rather than imperfect deviations from the standard variety.


The Franklin Institute Awards Program

School of Arts & Sciences

Institute for Research in Cognitive Science

Department of Linguistics

University of Pennsylvania

Wednesday April 24 2013

8:30AM - 12PM

Breakfast and coffee at 8:30am

Luncheon to follow at IRCS conference room

Due to the Penn Relay, access to Towne requires Penn card;

Enter through unlocked Levine Hall (see Map)

Heilmeier Hall (Towne 100)

University of Pennsylvania

220 S. 33rd Street

Philadelphia, PA  19104


Anthony Kroch, University of Pennsylvania

Introductory Remarks

Dr. Frederic Bertley, Vice President, Science and Innovation, The Franklin Institute

Dr. Richard Schultz, Associate Dean for the Natural Sciences, University of Pennsylvania



Probability, Frequency and Bill (9:30-10am)

Charles Randy Gallistel (Rutgers University)

Data, theory, and persuasion: William Labov and the science of language (10-10:30am)

Gregory Guy (New York University)

Girlz II Women:  Age-grading, Language Change and Stylistic Variation (10:30-11am)

John Rickford (Stanford University)

The child as Linguistic Historian, the Linguistic Historian as Child (11-11:30am)

Charles Yang (University of Pennsylvania)

The Interplay of Technology and Discovery (11:30am-12pm)

William Labov (University of Pennsylvania)

This event is part of the Philadelphia Science Festival