The Language Use and Variation Lab

Where language, community, and cognition come together.

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About the LUV Lab

The Language Use and Variation (LUV) Lab investigates how individuals interact with language variation, how community-wide patterns of language use emerge from conversational interactions, and how patterns in language use can lead to language change over time. We employ both laboratory and community-based research methods, and we take an interdisciplinary approach grounded in cognitive science, sociology, psychology, acoustics, and linguistics. Ongoing research projects include the analysis of minority speech patterns in Philadelphia English and the role that cognitive processing strategies play in an individual’s tendency to adapt to variation in their input.

The lab is organized into three research clusters:


The Community research cluster focuses on how patterns of language variation are given value by groups of individuals as well as how those patterns and values change over time due to internal and external factors. We collect sociolinguistic data from community members in the form of personal narratives recorded in naturalistic settings. We transcribe and anonymize these data so that quantitative and qualitative analyses of community speech can be undertaken.


The Cognition research cluster uses behavioral techniques to investigate how cognitive processing strategies influence the way humans interact with variation in language. We are interested in how human beings integrate variation they hear into their own speech (phonological adaptation) and how linguistic features with high social value are processed mentally.


The Computation research cluster focuses on using machine learning and computer simulations to teach us about how idiosyncratic patterns of language variation develop structure over time, as well as the influence of exposure on the acquisition of variable patterns in language. We also use machine learning to develop tools to support other research in the lab.


Grant M. Berry, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Jake Caselli

Cognition Cluster
Lab Manager

Chloe Abo

Community Cluster

Mark Faverzani

Computation Cluster

Emma Pankuck

Community Cluster

Valeria Ruiz

Community Cluster

Camila Pierini

Cognition Cluster

Rina Hanumali

Cognition Cluster
2024 Match Fellow

Claire Donnelly

Cognition Cluster
2024 Match Fellow

Fatima Salman

Cognition Cluster
2024 Match Fellow

Numbers at a Glance

Onward and Upward!

Active Members

Conference Presentations


Students Involved to Date

Ongoing Research

These are a few projects we're working on:

Cognitive Mechanisms of Language Adaptation

We employ behavioral and neurophysiological techniques to investigate how language experience interacts with cognitive factors to influence adaptation to distributional changes in one’s linguistic input.

Minority Language Adaptation

We use sociolinguistic methods and data from the local community in Philadelphia to investigate how habitual exposure to varieties with distinct social evaluations affects an individual's own way of speaking and their likelihood of participation in ongoing language change.

Bilingualism as Adaptive Processing

Bilinguals generally have many more potential variants to select from when processing language than monolinguals do, yet evidence suggests they are better at learning new distributional information than matched monolingual peers. Using behavioral and neurophysiological techniques, we attempt to reconcile these two apparently contradictory facts to determine if bilingualism per se confers advantages to language adaptation in real time.

Computational Models of Language Adaptation

We utilize computer simulations and machine learning to build data-driven models of language adaptation, focusing on factors affecting phonetic drift and sound change.

Get Involved!

Interested in participating in a study? Click the button to sign up!
Note that participation is subject to the studies available and verification of your eligibility to participate.

How to Find Us

You can find the lab in G65-B of Mendel Science Center on the campus of Villanova University. We're located on the ground floor in the north wing (closest to the SEPTA station).

Mendel Science Center G65-B
Villanova University
800 E. Lancaster Ave
Villanova, PA 19085

luv-lab-info [at]