Ling2-524 Current Approaches to Comparative Linguistics

Course type



This course deals with some of the key concepts of Comparative and Historical Linguistics. It
presents long-standing questions about the comparison of linguistic synchronies and diachronies, linguistic typology (and the origin of languages), and linguistic variation and diversity (see, for instance, Newmeyer 2005, Ruhlen 1994). The course will provide special exemplification of comparative approaches on Proto-Indo-European syntax, and the students will be able to apply the approaches to other linguistic levels (morphology, semantics, etc.), including various aspects of modern Indo-European languages (cf. Longobardi 2003, Lightfoot 1991).

Learning outcomes and competences:
By the end of the course, the students will have gained a good understanding of the idea of
linguistic kinship, the origin of Indo-European languages, and of new tools of current linguistic theory for discovering the past of languages. In addition, the students will be able to evaluate and work with scientific approaches to the history/prehistory of languages and peoples. These will include the use of historical corpora (such as PROIEL corpus and others), reconstruction methods, historical explanations in modern linguistics (and popular debates on issues such as, “Is English related to Greek, and if so, how?”).
Assessment: A final research paper and optional assignments.

Lightfoot, D.W. 1991. How to Set Parameters: Arguments from Language Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Longobardi, G. 2003. Methods in parametric linguistics and cognitive history. Linguistic Variation Yearbook 3(1), 101-138.
Newmeyer, F.J. 2005. Possible and Probable Languages: A Generative Perspective on Linguistic Typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ruhlen, M. 1994. On the Origin of Languages. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


Teaching hours: 3 | ECTS: 10

The course is not currently offerred.